Ayshah | Victoria

Living my Passion | Living with Purpose | Living in Peace


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Who The **** Are “THEY”?

The other day I was listening to a lovely lady in her late twenties who was in an animated, high-pitched frenzy over an episode in her life. She was extremely conflicted about how certain people were reacting to her decision to make a huge career change.

Before she could launch into her next angst-ridden tirade about what “they” think about this and what if “they” saw that, I asked her – “Who the **** are “they”?

She paused and blinked at me several times. I wasn’t sure if it was because the question surprised her or because I used a four-letter word.

“Weeell….? “ I prompted

Her forehead creased (no botox here…) as she pondered the question.

Before she could continue, I told her that it really didn’t matter who “they” were. And more significantly, what “they” think about her.  Of course, to properly comprehend that this did not mean she would have to disregard the opinions and preferences of those she cared about, I had to explain the difference between the opinions that truly mattered and those that really didn’t. It turned out that there were far too many opinions that she was concerned with and it was impeding on her ability to successfully attain her goal.  (Her Best Is Good Enough – but she doesn’t know it – yet.)

We like to think that we are in full control of our lives, the decisions we make and the direction we go. The truth is that  we are a lot more affected by public opinion than we would readily admit. What “they” think matters – much more than it should and there are many who feel they have to base every single decision on what “they” think.

This  can happen to anyone who is part of a community, a group, an organization or any social structure. The trick is to recognize the effect of the external influence WHILE  it is happening and counteract* any adverse effects it may have on your decision-making. To do this, you must first identify the source of the influence.

The Good Ones
Many of our friends, family and associates may share their opinions about our lives because they care and because they want what is best for us. It’s natural. But sometimes, we allow their opinions – and as I like to put it, their “preferences” for our lives to confuse our decision-making.  We shift from thinking “this is what I want to do” to “this is what I should do” or “this is what X would like me to do”.  It then becomes difficult to know where to place the emphasis in our thought-process..

For this, I offer one simple solution; listen to their opinions because you care about them and/or because you respect them. Listening does not mean agreeing. It is a foolish person who chooses not to listen to opinions or advice from people they respect, love or admire. However it is up to you to act on their advice. You can choose to do what you feel is best for you – at this precise point in your life. The consequences, good or bad are entirely yours!

The Bad Ones (aka “Haters”)
Any relatively successful person will tell you that you do not achieve your goals – especially the loftier ones, without your share of land mines. Of course there are the natural challenges that will occur along the path to success since nothing worth achieving comes  easily.  But when it comes to people around us, these land mines can come in the form of discouraging remarks designed to put you off your goal. They come from the kind of people who would experience a secret moment of glee if you fail to achieve what you are setting out to do.

They usually fit into one of these 2 categories:

  1. People you know who have already achieved what you are trying to achieve  – but would prefer it if you don’t (the not-enough-space-at-the-top syndrome)
  2. People who do not have the ability, strength or perseverance to achieve what you are trying to achieve and don’t want you to succeed as they feel it would amplify their own inabilities. Unfortunately this thought-process comes from their own self-doubt and insecurities and instead of choosing to rid themselves of such negative feeling, they prefer to infect others with it.

Harsh – but you know it’s true. Now many people in the two categories above tend to keep their negative feelings to themselves and if they are people within your circles,  they will appear supportive outwardly – but will make little comments here and there to dissuade you privately. Some may even speak unkindly about you to others – and if you are aware of this, I challenge you to drop them completely from your schedule (aka life). What’s the point in having a relationship with those who wish you harm?  Of course this method of cleansing and revitalization is not for everyone –  only those that can handle it*.

So who indeed are “THEY”?  They are a combination of the above.  By now you already know who they are – in your world.  Before you go out on a rampage, remember that these people are in your life for a reason. You alone choose how important you allow their voice to be in your head.

You  have to live your life knowing that there will always be others who do not want you to succeed and discourage you at every turn. There will also always be those that take steps to make things difficult for you. HOWEVER the sooner they know that  you do not base your decisions on their opinions,  the good ones will back down.  The bad ones – THEY  will find another person to plague with self-doubt. But certainly not you!

*For more about (A) counteracting the negative effects of opinions that have been shared with you or  (B) for cleansing and revitalizing your circles, ask me!

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When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough… For YOU!

I was thinking about the meaning of the term “BE THE BEST YOU CAN BE” and had one of my meditatively-induced revelations. Being the BEST that you can be has TWO MEANINGS and only one of them is really important in our everyday lives.

The universal thought process behind being “the best that you can be” implies that in whatever you do, you do it to the best of your ability, using all your knowledge, experience, mental and physical faculties and efforts – i.e. – the BEST that you CAN be. Sound about right – right? Well almost…. because I have come to the conclusion that this definition is only a part of it and not the best part either.

I believe this universal way of looking at being the “best that you can be” is synonymous with an automobile’s ability to function at its fastest speed at all times. Operating using all mechanical and electronic aspects of its body. This way, it is at its optimum performance level and in a race, a Ferrari will speed past a Civic. But a Ferarri is a Ferrari and a Civic is a Civic – built to function differently with different purposes and therefore different servicing needs. If that Ferrari has not been serviced properly, a few years down the road, it will break down at an unexpected place while watching the well-maintained Civic stroll by.

In our daily lives, many of us strive for this uber-performance mindset – at work and at home. Being “the best that you can be” has been taken to correlate with developing the characteristics of a “high achiever” which in my opinion is an entirely different thing.  The definition of a high achiever can be generalized as a person who strives beyond the reach of the average thinker to achieve extraordinary goals.

However being the best that you can be (as it is generally written), means to do the best that you are able to with the hand you have been dealt. It also gives the underlining message that you do not have to be as good as the next person, just the best that you yourself can be. In essence – this is true. But should you operate at your optimum mental and physical levels all the time?

Or is there a different meaning of “CAN BE”? I believe there is. For example, if a man has recently had to undergo some difficult surgical procedure and his wife has just unexpectedly left him, I would say that the best that he CAN BE has significantly decreased since he has had to deal with emotional trauma and physical healing. But there is still a “best that you can be” here. It is the BEST way that you can deal with TODAY – with the cards that you and you alone have been dealt. Your Best IN THE NOW!

In this day and age, I find many people suffering from low self esteem and a sense of being “less able” than the next person to “keep up”. We are fed daily – via our surroundings, interactions, the internet and the media with stories and impressions that other people are “put together” and “in control” of their lives in a way that we seem to fall short of. This is a repetitive worry that I find in my practice from people at all stages of their life and career. It really bothered me and I kept finding myself incorporating this simple thought into our sessions which seem to resonate well with my clients – so I am sharing it with others in the hope that it may bring about some much needed peace of mind.

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This note is for …

  • The single mother of 3 who thinks that she isn’t doing enough to keep the kids busy
  • The c-level executive who thinks that he doesn’t have what it takes to do the job she has and is afraid that others will “find out”
  • The entrepreneur who can’t get past the anxiety she deals with on a daily basis
  • The working parent who is juggling so much and feels that others seem to be doing a better job
  • The teacher who feels he isn’t making a difference
  • The broker who strives to be on the front page of the latest real estate publication
  • The doctor who blames herself for the unexpected results of that last surgical procedure.

In short, this note is for everyone who may sometimes get that feeling of “ I am not doing my best. I feel bad about myself”.

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I propose a different take on the notion of being the best that you can be. First, we must eliminate the notion of using the perceived lives of others as a benchmark to measure our progress in life which in turn impedes on our sense of self-worth.

points to consider;

1. There is no one else like you on this planet

2. You cannot control other people’s behaviors, you can only control your reaction to them

3. There is nothing you can do about yesterday – and tomorrow never comes. You live in today and always will

4. The choices you make are yours alone to make

5. Any external negative input should immediately be eliminated before it takes root

6. Each day provides a different set of experiences and these experiences meet a different ‘you’ every time

7. You can only do what you can do with what you have available – mentally and physically

I would like to therefore extend point #7 above to state that the “best that you can be” should mean that you are operating to the best of your ability with the current mental and physical strength you have at this given moment. Sometimes you are mentally stronger than other times – and that’s OK.

You cannot be at your strongest ALL THE TIME, Everything has a season and this extends to your mental and physical health.

It is therefore important to know when you need to “recharge your batteries” – i.e. take a rest, schedule some “me-time” and re-evaluate the path you are on as well as your TRUE goals.

This may sound simple in theory but it is very difficult for most of us to do – because we are always running to catch up with an invisible energizer bunny or superhuman entity. This running is exhausting and you will find that re-adjusting the way one thinks about “being the best you can be” will pay off in the long run by allowing you to achieve more than you initially hoped for without burning out, having a break down or giving up.

We have to listen to our “best selves” and know when we are out of tune with who we really are because we were busy trying to conform to what we think we SHOULD be.

This process requires some introspection but it is truly worth taking the time to reflect and re-adjust how tough we may be  on ourselves.

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Here are 7 Simple, Yet Powerful Habits Worth Developing; 

1. Get enough sleep so that you wake up refreshed

2. Make time for meditation, prayer or introspection in the morning

3. Make the decision to be in tune with your mind and body so you will be better aware of the state of your health. This way you know when you are in peak performance mode and you can adjust your schedule accordingly

4. Frequently connect with people who make you feel good about yourself & terminate negative relationships (old and new)

5. Tackle your daily tasks one at a time and have confidence in your own accountability

6. Trust your judgement about your life and develop your goals accordingly

7. Give of yourself (in a humanitarian capacity) as much as possible – it is a substantial part of your existence

In conclusion (for today…) look at yourself through your own eyes, knowing that you were made (perfectly) to function in your own unique way that may or may not be similar to the next person. Be aware of yourself through the eyes or others but do not live by it.

Originally written: 2010 | All Rights Reserved © A.V.Powers

Follow me on twitter: @StrategicPowers


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My Hidden Agenda: Revealed!

So you want to know why I am helping you.  You want to find a way to ask me what my agenda is? What if I said that I do not have one? Is that inconceivable?  
 
Well let me help you conceive of the notion that some of us GIVE without expecting anything in return – because we are “wired” that way. 
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I help people because I LIKE to help people.  Pure and simple.  It amazes me how many times I have been asked WHY!  It seems that in today’s society it is difficult for many to believe that there are some of us that do not have a “hidden agenda” behind our smile.  It is especially difficult for those whose lives are steered by their own hidden agendas.  
 
Because I am  NOT naturally materialistically-driven, I have others manage the financial aspects of my businesses.  This is the sensible thing to do.  Because I believe in the values of making things clear and legitimate, I have others manage the legal aspects of my businesses. Basic common sense. But regarding how to HELP others achieve their success through coaching, training and facilitating connections, I do so because it bring me JOY to do so.  I don’t have to have any other reason. Really.
 
I have found that increasingly, this blatant love of helping others “just because” has left many baffled.  The response is “why would someone want to do something without expecting anything in return?” 
 
Others express discomfort because they don’t want to feel like they “owe something in return”. Codswallop to that!  To someone who is a natural GIVER these notions can become exasperating. 
 
When I can give freely, I give.  It’s that simple.  The only time I expect something in return is when my time is utilized on a project for a client.  That is business and though I love my pro bono work, I would not be able to be as accommodating without my fee-paying contracts.
 
Of course, I have been in situations where my help has been abused.  I have made some blind decisions to help people who had their own hidden agenda. These things happen and thankfully, once  they become evident, I am very comfortable disengaging from such relationships.  I have no problem burning a bridge that is constructed with barbed wire and poison ivy because there are ALWAYS other bridges.  Seriously!
 
Help others because you LIKE HELPING  not because of what you can get from it.  The reward is is being able to make a difference in another person’s life.  For the true encourager/motivator/coach, this should be enough satisfaction.  Don’t get me wrong,  I am not saying that one should work for free – but the decision to take on the role of helping another person or business succeed should be based on the satisfaction you will get from achieving this goal.  If your decision is predominantly for the monetary results, you will remain unfulfilled and may need to consider spending your time in another field.
 
keep in mind that in business, especially in this time of social media, your reputation is tied instantly with those you associate with so you want to ensure those relationships are a good representation of who you are and how you want to represent your business.
 
So, what is my hidden agenda?  it is this and this alone – I get JOY from knowing that I have made someone else feel better about themselves and their lives.  I get JOY in knowing that I am made for this purpose and I get JOY from the revelation that I am being used for the purpose of my existence. 
 
it’s not complicated. Not to me. So next time you need my help and I help you out “just because I can” – please accept it. Don’t analyze it.
 

Originally written: 2010 | All Rights Reserved © A.V.Powers

Follow me on twitter: @StrategicPowers


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Let It Go…

– You can’t touch YESTERDAY, but TOMORROW is all yours to shape. So why waste time dwelling on things you can do nothing about when that time can be spent enhancing your future?

You have goals (desires, dreams, hopes and wishes) for your life and you CAN achieve them. All it takes is you making the decision to make achieving them a reality. If you are not sure how – ask me.

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Pretentious Crappuccino

PRETENTIOUS CRAP irritates me no end! Maybe it’s because it requires so much effort for me to pretend or feign affection and/or intent. I didn’t grow up in a culture where people said one thing and believed (or meant) something else.

Lessons In Unnatural Behavior
I first learned how to “do” a fake smile (that is – smiling when you do not want to do so naturally) when I worked part-time at a restaurant during my college days in Lomdon. A valuable lesson for me.  The culture in the UK did not embody pretentious  behavior so you found that people showed their genuine feelings (good or bad) and there was rarely a need to decipher what was real from what wasn’t.

When I first came to the US, I found it very difficult comprehending the notion that “hey, how are you doing?” did not mean “hey, how are you doing?” – but actually just meant “hello”. So when friends and family came to visit, I had to let them know this so that they didn’t think interest was being expressed in their well-being. Seriously! I have had to interrupt an unknowing visitor (or two) from giving a detailed answer about how they actually felt! 😉

Of course I have been in the US long enough now to have assimilated my ways and I find there is much to be said for being able to smile on cue or ask how people are (however – I ALWAYS actually mean it). It makes the other person feel better (even cared for) and for no other reason, I love that. Today, I smile without thinking (which is a GOOD thing) and as far as I am concerned, smiling – or such aimless pleasantries that make other people feel good, are valuable in the overall well-being of our society. Our very humanity.

Political Correctness
I believe that political correctness has its place – in POLITICS! Of course there are a number of things to be said for and against political correctness – but I am not necessarily writing about political correctness here. I am speaking here of Pretentious Crap!

Pretentious Crap – Defined
I am talking about pretentiousness and the one-dimensional relationships built on them. I abhor the JANUS-like behavior that has become prevalent is society and the norm in certain industries and groups. However, this must not be confused with politeness, courtesy and warmth. You see, I believe that any synthetic, surface-only behavior is a cold misrepresentation of what we truly are as human beings.
We are living in the era of the two-faced monster

Relationships need not be pretentious for them to be successful, nor does one need to conform to other people’s preferences when they do not match one’s own. It is okay to be true to oneself because at the end of the day, when there is no one around but yourself, you will be at peace with who you are, knowing that you do not have to wake up another day and walk around with a mask on or pretend to have feelings, values and beliefs that you don’t.

Authenticity
There is peace in being comfortable within oneself when one does not have to pretend to be someone one isn’t – or indeed pretend to like a group/genre/class of people when in reality you’d be very far away from such people PERMANENTLY if you could get away with it!

We walk around judging others based on a pre-conceived understanding of what we THINK they are about and lace that judgement with our own insecurities and sense of self-importance. And all for what?

You will be surprised how much more enjoyable interpersonal dealings (at work or at play) will become when one is able to free oneself from the baggage of “performing” one’s persona.

Don’t be afraid to be authentic

So again, though I am thankful for learning how to smile on cue from my American family, I am grateful to my African, European and Middle-Eastern background for being able to be comfortable enough to BE myself at all times and SHARE my true self in as positive a way as possible in order to MAKE OTHER PEOPLE FEEL GOOD about themselves – because, all the polished smiles and empty sentiments in the world will do nothing when the person on the receiving end realizes that it was never real.

P.S. I actually love coffee. 🙂

Originally written: 3/31/10 All Rights Reserved © A.V.Powers

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Bloody Pavement

Know any cantankerous, bad-tempered, difficult, bitter people? Met anyone you may term a grouch, sour-puss or cross-patch who is not happy unless there is something to complain miserably about? Look at anyone who has lived past the age of sixty and you will find that their outlook on life is clearly marked on their face. Is their face set in a permanent scowl or do their eyes dance with light?

Now, I am sure that no one goes through life planning to end up an old curmudgeon,but rather, may become so due to choices made during their lifetime. I know there are those that sincerely believe that you have no choices in how your life turns out at the end; that if your life was meant to take on a stream of unfortunate occurrences then there is little you can do to change the forgone conclusion

miserable people

My point here is that despite how each and every one of us came into the world – completely innocent and pure, we were meant to exist for the purposes that we were created. We don’t have to know what those purposes are because not all of them will be revealed to us.

The conclusion then would be to make the right choice from the information that is available in the environment we grow in and with the people we associate with. Two infants presented with the same amount of clay with which to create anything they please will unlikely create the same thing and the same goes for two identically trained architects when building their own personal abodes.

 I am not speaking here of the whole “nature vs. nurture” argument which has been hacked to death over the decades. I am simply speaking of the uniqueness and significance of every single person alive. Unique because each person is an original and has a choice in everything they do and therefore solely responsible for the results of their own actions. Significant because even when a tragedy occurs in a person’s life that makes no sense as far as one is able to reason with the limitations of our human thinking, the tragic event itself had a purpose. This purpose may never be known for a decade or a century, but could just as easily be revealed in the next 5 minutes.

CONSIDER THIS…

One winter evening on a busy street in Manhattan, Helena James fell from her tenth floor balcony, landing on the concrete pavement below. She dislocated her jawbone, damaged her spine and broke her legs in twelve places upon impact. She was rushed to the nearby hospital and had to have half of her left leg, just below the knee, amputated. The balcony was found to be faulty in its construction and the property builder had to face some harsh questions.

So who is Helena? Did she deserve this? Some may thing that it would depend on who she was and what type life she lived. If she was a pregnant nurse with three young boys to raise and a husband away in the military, some may feel that such a thing happening to her was unjust and cruel and made no sense. However, if Helena turned out to be a diseased prostitute or a drunken child molester, some may feel she deserved her fall. Why do we judge? Perhaps we do so instinctively..…but that is a topic for a separate discussion.

Going forward, Helena is confined to a wheelchair. Let’s say she is the Helena that is described first who now has to find a way to care for her family while her husband is away fighting a long drawn-out war. She lost her baby and is told she cannot conceive any more. There goes her hope of having a little girl. A month after the accident she is told that her husband had been killed in the line of duty. He was a hero. She hadn’t even seen him since the accident and her sons are too young to comprehend the concept of never seeing their father again.

Consider that across from the condominium building where Helena took her fall was a small unobtrusive bar inside which a young girl of about twenty-two sat hunched over her third vodka. Val watched Helena fall and thought she had imagined the whole thing until the noisy ambulance appeared. She  also saw the pain in Helena’s eyes before Helena passed out. Val watched the 3 little boys screaming as their mother was taken away, yet she was too numb to register any emotion at that time. Her vodka was the anesthetic.

While staggering home with her mind on the plan she had conceived over the past few days, she kept seeing Helena’s face swimming before her. Back at her dishevelled apartment, even when she pulled out the gun from the back of the closet, she saw Helena’s face. Val had decided to splatter her blood over the bedroom wall, with the express hope that her stepfather would be the first to find her.

Now instead, Val dropped the gun and fell asleep with Helena’s face spinning in her head. Later that night, she awoke to the sound of the phone ringing. It was her bible-quoting friend Melanie, who kept bugging her about coming to hang out with her. Melanie revealed that ” something told her to just keep on ringing until the phone was answered….” They talked for a long while.

 
Fast-forward a few years an we find that Val founded a center for abused children with a special focus on the effects of incest. She has single-handedly saved countless children from living in fear, self-hatred and hopelessness. She never met Helena, but also never forgot her face. What happened to Helena? Well, Helena learned to walk with a prosthetic addition below her knee and cannot remember not having it. Her experience developed strength in her she never had before which earned her the courage to create a non-profit nursing home for disabled women. 

The complexities of life and the very frailty of our humanity  can create confusion regarding choices. However, making those basic choices in life are simple. Having the right foundation enables us to move through our time on earth with the peace in knowing that being happy is a choice.

Therefore, one can instead end up a perpetually joyful octogenarian without so much as a backward glance in regret. No one on earth knows what it is like to be anyone else other than who they are. It is a choice. It’s that simple.

front row

Originally written: 2006 |  All Rights Reserved © A.V.Powers

Follow me on twitter: @StrategicPowers


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Conniving Creatures

Should you find yourself buried within the depths of an unfortunate catastrophe without a conscious memory of the path just taken, one might assume that though evidentially  only a sub-section of your cerebral functionality may have been in use, there was  nonetheless a decision made by you to act.

So without creating any convoluted excuses for stupendous judgement, it must be concluded that a conscious choice was made during the circumstances preceding said catastrophe. 

The act (or art, in some cases) of indiscretion is within itself a misdemeanor. That which might be purposeful in applying knowledge in an unforeseen catastrophe, must inherently deter from further involvement, should the erroneous act reproduce itself implicitly or explicitly. Inasmuch as one’s personal stance can be attributed to an outcome, it is not unthinkable to adhere to pre-conceived societal norms in such an instance. After all, “they” all do it. Don’t they?

Then to the question of consequential scarring. To allow the musing that you may jump into volcanic lava without damaging yourself must remain in the colorful yet delusional realm of fantasy. By the same token, consequences must follow action, deliberate or otherwise. He whose act was deliberate however, is at an advantage due to the presumptive evidence of expectation. Therefore there is no ground for claims of surprise upon discovering the unpleasant repercussion of said acts.

Originally written: 2006 | All Rights Reserved © A.V.Powers

Follow me on twitter: @StrategicPowers

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