"How do you manage other people's judgment of you when you drop the ball?" I get asked this question a lot. Here's the secret: Once you stop judging yourself, other people's judgments won't bother you. People can only make you feel bad or guilty if you've bought into their expectations of you. Watch and learn how to stop the cycle.
Purpose: It's what most people are looking for in their work and lives, but it can lead to feelings of despair if one hasn't technically "found it." Know this: It's not always that easy to discover. We need to dispel the myth about how people arrive at their purpose. It's typically through a myriad of life events; it's not necessarily going to hit you on your way to work one day. Purpose is simply commitment inspired by experience. But if you're really looking for answers and want to find your purpose, here's how to begin.
It's hard to write a non-fiction book that's also a riveting page turner, but Jennifer Romolini has nailed it with Weird in a World That's Not: A Career Guide for Misfits, F*ckups, and Failures. The book opens with a memoir precursor to the direct advice that follows in the second half, reminiscent of Stephen King's On Writing. I appreciated this approach. I mean, if you're going to tell me how to be successful, the least you can do is outline your street cred. And Jennifer Romolini has plenty of it.
She had more jobs in high school than I've had in my entire life. There should be a picture of Romolini next to the word "hustle" in the dictionary. And she demonstrated impeccable grit through several tidal waves that would have wiped out most people: flunking out of college, being broke, getting divorced, battling addiction—all before the age of 30.
By the time she's slayed her way through New York media, leveraging her edge and extraordinary gift for writing to become editor-in-chief of Yahoo Shine and Hello Giggles, and finally chief content officer at Shondaland.com, you are ready to follow Romolini's instructions to the letter: Keep the resume brief, wear a bra, and show up as authentic you. By the end, it's obvious that Romolini's "curse" was never buying in to societal pressures telling us who we should be in the first place. A more apt title for this incredible debut would be Normal in a World That's Weird.
A month ago I was in need of a dress for an all-white wedding I'm officiating. After spending a frustrating hour online, unable to find anything simple, elegant, and timeless, I had one thought: I need Aisha McShaw.
Aisha and I met a few years ago at BET's Leading Women Defined Summit and I have since been captivated by two things. 1) Her warm and generous spirit and 2) Her mic drop style. Because most of our conversations have centered around parenting, it was only this year that I discovered her style secret: She's designed everything I've seen her wear. After a career in banking, Aisha finally said yes to her calling and launched her own design company that delivers timeless elegance for the modern woman.
When I asked her what she's had to #droptheball on in order to fully live her purpose she didn't miss a beat: "Being the 'perfect' mom." Aisha used to feel that being there for her daughter meant her constant physical presence, but she's had to learn to let that go. Now, she feels that she's teaching her teenage daughter to pursue her dreams by modeling what it looks like to prioritize them. Luckily for all of us, Aisha's dreams are jaw dropping. She'll be debuting her Fall 2018 line at the ESSENCE festival later this week. Her theme? Empowered by Fashion. Unfortunately I won't be there to give Aisha a congratulatory hug, but thanks to her artistry I'll be looking fabulous at the wedding.
When you are having one of those days when it feels like everything is piling up on you, you have too much to do, and can't seem to calm down and focus on anything -- just stop for a moment. Think about what you would tell your best friend or colleague if she was having a similar stress attack. Then, take your own advice. No surprise, we are much better at coaching others than ourselves. Watch and learn what you should do next.
My thoughts for this week can be summed up in three words: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Hopefully by now you've heard her name, because this 28-year-old Latina just pulled off one of the biggest upsets in political history. She beat Joseph Crowley, who had been a U.S. Representative for nearly two decades, in a near landslide. The next day, the New York Times ran a headline that announced, "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Emerges as a Political Star." I chuckled. Cleary Ms. Ocasio-Cortez had already been a supernova—the world was just now noticing. She took no corporate money and was outspent by her opponent ten times over. Her secret strategy? Know who you are and meet the people where they are.
Any American who cares deeply about the advancement of social justice was dealt multiple blows this week: the Muslim ban being upheld by the Supreme Court, their backing of anti-abortion pregnancy centers, the lack of a plan to reunite children taken from their parents at our southern border, the Capital Gazette shooting and Justice Kennedy stepping down, just to name a few. But we were also gifted a ray of hope: a young woman from the Bronx. She's the most poignant reminder that in a democracy the government is the people, and that when we exercise our responsibility to choose our leaders we can do so loud and clear. Sometimes our choices are devastating. Sometimes our choices are euphoric. Either way, who is leading us is still our choice.
Photo: Corey Torpie
Are you receptive to feedback? Your answer to this question will impact your future success. My mother-in-law likes to say, "If things are getting easier, it's probably because you're headed downhill." Real growth is hard. A mentor can guide you and help provide clarity, but self-awareness is what will help you grow. Are you ready for it? Try this exercise.
This was a week of highs and lows. I spent most of it doing one of three things: Interviewing women who have applied to The Cru (inspiring high); taking action on the separation of families at our southern border (heartbreaking low); and devouring The Carter's "Everything Is Love" album (ethereal high), which they released in surprise Lemonade fashion last Saturday.
I'm a die hard Beyonce fan so it took a little while for me to adjust to Jay Z's equal billing on an album I downloaded in reverence to her highness. But by the time I got to the final "LoveHappy" melody, my thighs were aching from dancing for nearly an hour and I had officially crowned The Carters the greatest love duo of all time.
"Everything Is Love" is a powerful testament to the fact that even though Beyonce has redefined her craft, the heights of her artistry have been achieved in collaboration with her husband— sometimes painfully. I'd always held onto the theory that she truly upgraded him with their marriage, but listening to the tracks, each one progressively pulsing with their dual heartbeats, I get it now. His imprint on the texture of her womanhood has delivered a Beyonce who is more fierce, has more street cred, and has had to dig deeper to define herself. We all benefit through the music.
The album is a lens into the couple's relationship through the prism of social consciousness, and it is a defiant anthem to black love. Listening provoked flashbacks to my college courtship with Kojo, who was an international student from Ghana. We were syrupy idealistic back then, convinced our union represented diasporic Africa coming together to advance our people. The Carters are clear about their responsibility to advance theirs, too, and the album oozes communal mindfulness. In "Boss," Jay Z raps We measure success by how many people successful next to you. The chorus of "Black Effect" loops I'm good on any MLK Boulevard. In other words, we haven't forgotten where we came from and who we're here for.
In my book, Drop the Ball, I wrote that the greatest privilege men in the workplace have had isn't a corporate or public policy—it's a partner at home. I'm thinking Jay Z doesn't do many dishes, but if "Everything Is Love" is any indication of The Carter's all-in partnership, then Queen B will continue to reign with his wind at her sails. What I respected the most about them, and what is most evident from this latest collaboration, is that they are two people who have dropped the ball on being the perfect couple. As Beyonce sings in the chorus to the final song: We're flawed but we're still perfect for each other.
I hope this insight is just as true for the citizens of this nation as it is for The Carters. It might be the only thing that gets us through all of these highs and lows. Marriage is an evolving experiment, and so is democracy.
Who hasn't groaned over having too much to do? And while a to-do list is a great organizing tool for a lot of tasks, what I learned on my drop the ball journey is that what you do is far less important than the difference you make. Plus, to-do lists don't take into account the constraint of a 24-hour day. Here's a tip: Stop using a to-do list and start using your calendar as an organizing tool. It helps you to be successful in scheduling your day.
This is the most inspirational time of year for me because I love watching commencement addresses. Graduation speakers tend to refer to this moment as the beginning of the rest of your life. But, what I've realized, is that you don't have to just be graduating from high school or college to seize this moment. Anyone can reimagine their future or pivot their path. Watch and learn.