Corporate Mom: Discipline and Determination

Sheryl Sandburg is the Chief Operations Officer of Facebook
and a working mom and wife.

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She is also the author of Lean In: Woman, Work and the Will To Lead.  Over and over in her book, Sheryl points to something that seems to be missing in many of our daily lives:  discipline. Without discipline, you will never achieve your dreams because you will not have the organization and strength to move toward them in a way that guarantees success.

Discipline is not a difficult concept to understand, but it is sometimes very difficult to put into action.  The word comes from the Latin disciplina which simply meant to “teach or guide.”  Later, the word took on a negative connotation:  to scourge or beat into submission.

I prefer the original Latin meaning.  Discipline means teaching yourself or someone else to follow a pattern that brings success.  It also embodies the idea of choosing to improve and setting your sights on the future.

Let me give you an example of how discipline should work.  Let us suppose that you have the goal of running a 5K race and placing in the top 10.  Remember, the more specific your goal, the more likely you are to achieve it!  What does discipline and learning have to do with this goal?  Plenty, as we shall see!

First, in order to place in the top 10, you must find out what the top ten average speed is.  Are these people running a 15-minute mile or a 10-minute mile?  The faster they are, the more vigorously you will have to train to reach your goal.  As for running 5K, if you have never run before, it is time to start thinking  about getting out there and putting the feet to the road!  However, you are probably not going to run 3.1 miles your first time out.  How do you get from sitting on the couch to running a 12-minute mile?  Discipline is the answer.

I promise you that if you get up this morning, put on your shoes and walk 3.1 miles at a brisk pace, then increase your speed gradually every single day over the next three months, you will be running that 5K.  This is because you are disciplining, or teaching, your body to accept that type of physical activity level.  As your body gets used to the work, it becomes easier.

Be it your career, relationships or motherhood- It is vital to put a focused, diligent effort into what you want to achieve. Discipline is one of the best qualities to carry when leading by example.

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Stay Positive

Even When Situations Are Painful,
You Can Choose A Positive Attitude.

You may not realize that your attitude is a choice, but it is! You can change your attitude and your outlook just by changing how you approach a subject or by thinking about something positive. Think positively, make the best of things and soon you will find your circumstances are beginning to change, as well.

I fully believe that we have power over the things that happen to us, and can change those things for the better by changing our attitudes. Joyce Meyer says, “A positive attitude gives you power over your circumstances instead of your circumstances having power over you,” and this is absolutely true! When you allow your circumstances to control your attitude, get ready for a wild ride because you are going to be on a roller coaster of emotions! Instead of responding to everything that is happening around you, what if you looked deep inside and drew strength from a positive outlook? It is like building a shelter around yourself in the middle of a hurricane. No matter what happens, your inner attitude stays the same, giving you a bedrock foundation on which to build and move forward.

I know that it is hard to stay positive sometimes. When you feel sadness, negativity, anger or despair creeping in to your life, acknowledge it. Being positive does not mean being silly! Of course there are going to be time when our circumstances are challenging. What I am saying is not that you should never be upset; instead, I am saying that when you are upset, you should be able to turn inward, assess your position calmly and stay positive. If you can do that, you are on your way to controlling your circumstances instead of having your circumstances control you.
When you think positively and make the best of things you are not operating from a position of weakness. You are operating from a position of power. Your life will revolve around positive steps that can make you much more productive and give you resources to handle life’s problems!

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Ambition is NOT a Dirty Word

I have met many people who seem to believe that being called “ambitious” is an insult.

AMBITION

Even worse, some of these people have no problem with a man being called “ambitious” but feel that it is insulting to a woman!  Ambition is not a dirty word; in fact, it is the gas that fires up the engine that gets many things done all over the world every day.  Are there dangers associated with ambition? There can be.  Ambition should never rule us, but it should drive our decisions and our actions, especially in the realm of personal development.

The definition of ambition is:  “Having a strong desire to succeed.”  There is nothing wrong with that!  We should all have a strong desire to succeed and be willing to do what it takes to make success a reality.  Most ambitious people have a “never-give-up” attitude.  They already know, before they start something, that it will become difficult at some point and they have already made up their minds that they are simply not going to give up.  If you decide not to give up before it becomes hard, you can work through the difficult times more easily.

There is another thing that I believe people misunderstand about ambition.  You choose to be ambitious just as you choose to have a positive attitude.  Many people think that you are simply born ambitious or positive or negative or whatever personality trait is in question.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  Perhaps some people find it easier and more natural to be positive, but anyone can cultivate a positive attitude.  Similarly, anyone can cultivate an ambitious attitude.

Remember that ambition is not a dirty word!  It is something that you need to grow in your own life if you want to be successful.  Some people call it a “stretch goal” or a “big dream”; I call it ambition at work!  Set your sights high and work hard, and you can achieve anything you want to achieve in your business and in your personal life.  Make a goal and chase after it, and when people call you “ambitious,” tell them “Thank you for the compliment!”

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Success Means Making Lemonade Out of Lemons

When Life Gets You Down and Things Happen That Were Not Part of the Plan, The Most Important Thing You Can Decide To Do is Move On!

It is going to happen, no matter how well-organized you are, how hard you work or how nice of a person you are. You are going to come to a point where you simply run out of luck and skill and something goes wrong. If you want to achieve success, you will have to address this issue, learn from it and move forward. When the only thing you can do is move on, keep going and do not look back!

It may not have anything to do with you but it may affect you. Sometimes these “down times” can be devastating: the call from the doctor’s office you did not want to hear. The person in your life who suddenly and inexplicably turns against you. The sibling to starts a family quarrel and tries to draw you in. The employee who is rapidly becoming a liability instead of an asset.
You have been there, as have I. We all know that sinking feeling we get when we realize that things are going very, very badly. However, there may be little we can do to halt the process of something negative. Sometimes, we just have to move forward.

C.S. Lewis said, “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing the monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” What are you holding on to that will not let you move ahead? Is it an old relationship that still has a hold on you, even though you would be better off without it? Is it a feeling of guilt or shame? Is it fear of the unknown?
Whatever is hindering your success, move forward. You can learn from it if you move on and keep going in the right direction. Ultimately, if you put one foot in front of the other, you will come out successfully on the other side a wiser, stronger and better person for your experiences!

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There Is No “We” In Motivated, Just “I”

You Are a Strong, Powerful, Motivated Woman!

Nancy-Brinker

Nancy Brinker is a woman whose name you may never have heard. However, I am willing to bet you have heard of her greatest accomplishment: the Susan G. Komen Foundation that focuses on research for a cure for breast cancer. Did you ever wonder who Susan G. Komen was or why her name is attached to this incredible organization? Here is the story of Nancy Brinker and how “be motivated” could be her motto!

Nancy Brinker’s sister, Susan G. Komen, died of breast cancer at age 36. While this was devastating, Nancy could have taken the attitude that this type of thing happens all the time and it was just “bad luck.” Instead, she used her powerful motivation to send a message to the world: a cure for breast cancer is possible if we believe and work hard.

She began the foundation and sponsored walks in various neighborhoods to raise breast cancer awareness. She adopted the pink ribbon as the symbol of dedication and motivation to finding a cure for cancer. By the year 2009, her organization was so large that the president awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the land, and she was named one of times “100 Most Influential People.” Her hard work and dedication paid off not only in recognition but in the cultural change she enacted almost single-handedly. Her refusal to allow her cause to be ignored resulted in truly great strides forward in breast cancer research.

Nancy Brinker was motivated by her sister. All of us have something that motivates us. Perhaps your motivation is your family or some other group. However, no matter what your source, motivation is what drives you to success. A motivated woman is an ambitious woman. As I show you in my new book, The Ambitious Woman, without motivation it is hard to drive yourself as you will have to do in order to succeed.

Be motivated. Be strong. Think about all the things you can accomplish and what women before you have accomplished simply by grounding themselves in strong motivation! While teamwork is important, there is no “we” in motivation; when it comes to pushing yourself, it is up to you to do the work!

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Ambitious Women NEVER Arrive

 You Never Actually Get To A Place Where You Can Say, “I Have Arrived.

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I never have to set any more goals and I never have to work to change myself in any way again.  I can simply stay right here and be happy.”  I wish I could tell you that the work stops at a certain point, but it does not.  Frankly, I am actually glad, because if we were allowed to “rest on our laurels” most of what we achieve would probably never happen!  Keeping ourselves busy and always setting new goals is what keeps us vibrant and engages our brains, keeping them quick and agile even into our sunset years!

It is amazing to me how the older a woman gets the more incredible things she can accomplish.  While I love my young friends, and I am so proud of the amazing work young women are doing in today’s business world, I have to say that in my experience the older ladies really have the experience and knowledge necessary to do incredible things.  We spend our entire lives gathering the skills and the know-how to run a business or achieve other goals, so it is no surprise that “experience counts!”

Whether you are young or old, however, the same rules apply to be an ambitious woman.  You must be accountable, be humble, be consistent, be loyal, be ambitious, be empowered, choose wisely and have the right attitude.  Ultimately, when you change yourself, you begin to make changes in the world around you.

You’re ready to make a difference!  Ambitious Women want to march forth, bringing others along with us, and make an impact on our world.  However, we cannot do that without being willing to do the hard work necessary to make ourselves successful.  Bill Bradley put it well when he said, “Ambition is the path to success.  Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.”  Stick to your goals, work hard and develop the right attitude about your work and your life and you, too, will make a difference as an Ambitious Woman!

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Something Is Only As Scary As Your Mind Tells You It Is

Confidence is the Secret to Success!

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One of firebrand Sarah Palin’s most famous quotes is, “You know the only difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull?  Lipstick!”  Some people criticized Palin for that remark, but it can certainly be true!  Your level of confidence has a direct effect on the results you achieve, whether you have a lot of confidence or none at all.  If you do not develop confidence, you cannot ultimately achieve the things you want in life.

Confidence certainly worked in Sarah Palin’s favor.  She was the youngest woman and first female governor of Alaska, and she was also the first Republican female vice presidential candidate.  Sarah Palin knows the secret of success:  confidence.  It is foundational to every major achievement and sets you apart from everyone else.  The larger your confidence, the larger the level of dreams you can carry!  If you dream big, you must develop the confidence to carry those larger dreams.  Otherwise, the world will convince you that they are impossible and you will eventually give up.

Confidence does not mean that you are self-centered or self-aggrandizing.  It is rooted in reality.  Having no confidence is, in a way, just as selfish as having too much!  Your confidence level must reflect who you really are, but it should also motivate you to stretch for higher goals.  I would have to say that most women suffer from too little confidence rather than too much.

Tia Singh wrote a poem entitled “You Are Amazing.”  In it, she describes in detail the qualities of an Ambitious Woman:

“Warm. Giving. Generous. Quirky. Sexy. Funny. Smart. Flawed. Whole. Scared. Brave. And so, so, so. much. more.”

Being an Ambitious Woman is not easy.  However, it is so rewarding that it makes the work you must do to attain the title worth every moment!  When you focus your time, energy and passion on a goal and make it your own, you do become a “pitbull with lipstick!”  While some people may take that as an insult, I take it as a compliment.  An Ambitious Woman knows what she wants, goes after it and ultimately gets it!

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Everyone Needs a Break!

If you are feeling down or are
not getting much accomplished,
you may have simply pushed yourself
too hard for too long.

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The solution? Take a break! Then you can return to the things at hand, and you will see things in a different light. When you clear your mind then revisit the tasks you need to accomplish, you will find that you are getting much more done more effectively.

There is something about our brains that resists long-term repetition. Think of this as if the brain were one of your body’s muscles. You know that if you overuse a muscle, it becomes less effective. In fact, workout experts say that the most effective types of workouts involve “body confusion.” This means that you are not making the same motions over and over again. The reasoning behind this is that your body will find the easiest way to handle repetitive motions, and in doing so will burn fewer calories and build less muscles.

Now, apply that analogy to the brain. Our brains are created to do things efficiently. When we are looking for inspiration and creativity, efficiency is not necessarily what we want. In fact, efficiency, although we usually think of that as a “good” word, can be a “bad” word when we are trying to take on a multi-faceted task! Instead of efficient, think of repetitious work as “tedious.” This helps us understand why we must “confuse” our minds and shake things up occasionally when we are working on higher-order tasks.

Now that you understand that repetition and tedium is not good for your brain, what can you do about it? Fortunately, there seems to be a natural remedy for this problem: stop what you are doing and do something else. Just a few minutes of stretching, a walk around the block, taking time to cook something or even a short nap can completely change your outlook on a difficult task. If you want to change things, take a break, clear your mind and revisit the task after you have taken time to refresh yourself. You will do a much better job in the long run!

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Live a Loyal Life

We talk a lot about loyalty,
but how many of us understand exactly what that concept really means?

Loyalty

If you are an ambitious woman, it is vital for you to understand how loyalty is related to success.  Without loyalty—our loyalty to others and their loyalty to us—we cannot truly feel complete, and our victories will be very hollow indeed!

Colin Powell said, “Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty and persistence.”  I have every reason to believe this is the truth.  In my own life, I have found over and over again that loyalty is one of the key factors that separates the truly successful from those who are unsuccessful or have only the appearance of success.

Let me put it another way.  In the Bible, Jesus said, in Mark 8:36, “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”  Think about this for a minute.  We all know of people who are financially successful but live miserable, defeated, lonely lives all the same.  Does this describe you?  Are you successful only on the surface?  The reason could be a lack of loyalty.

Everyone needs someone to be loyal to them but they also need to be loyal themselves.  Demanding unquestioning loyalty from someone who cannot expect the same from you never works.  Instead, you must live with consistency and loyalty in all your actions in order to inspire loyalty in others.  This may also mean cutting people out of your life who have proven they are disloyal.  If you have been faithful and they are disloyal to you, get rid of them.  You do not need people like that dragging you down.  Instead, choose friends, colleagues and co-workers who are loyal and who will support you in your efforts to find success.

Creating loyalty may be hard work but the rewards are tremendous.  When you surround yourself with people to whom you are loyal and give loyalty in return, you can relax knowing that even if you stumble, someone will be there to pick you up, and that you can pick others up in return!

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We All Need Attitudes

Ralph Marston said, “Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.”
Is This True For You?

Do you have an attitude of excellence?  You might be saying to yourself, “I am not even sure what that means.”  An attitude of excellence is an attitude of assurance, of capability, and of “can-do” that never gives up, even when the obstacles are large and may seem insurmountable.

If you want a little inspiration, let me introduce you to Nick Vojicic.  Nick was born with no arms, no legs and only a tiny flipper on one foot.  Incredibly, Nick is one of the most positive people you will ever meet!  He made a decision not to allow his physical limitations to become a reason that he could not accomplish goals.  He travels around the world, sharing his story, and blogs regularly on his experiences.  In one blog post, he writes:  “Dream big, my friend, and never give up. We all make mistakes, but none of us are mistakes. Take one day at a time. Embrace the positive attitudes, perspectives, principles, and truths I share, and you too will overcome.”

I am willing to bet that you are not facing limitations such as Nick Vojicic has, so how can you possibly have a less positive attitude than he does!  Nick’s attitude has enabled him to live more than many people who have no physical handicaps at all.  No matter what happens, Nick has learned that staying positive is the key to achieving your goals.

A positive attitude of excellence will help you achieve more than any amount of training or even any infusion of cash in your business life, as well.  Stop making excuses and start living positively.  Surround yourself with positive people; nothing drags your attitude down faster than a “naysayer.”  Support others with achieving their goals and you will find yourself better able to achieve yours!  Remember that attitude is the most important thing that will probably determine your success or failure in any endeavor, so do an attitude check today.  How does your attitude measure up; are you positive enough to climb any mountain and overcome any obstacle?

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