What is your passion?

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The Oxford dictionary describes passion as:

1. A strong and barely uncontrollable emotion

2. Intense sexual love

3. An intense desire or enthusiasm for something

4. A thing arousing great enthusiasm

When one has a passion for something, they will give their full commitment and attention to it. They will be willing to sacrifice their time, money and home comforts. When I think of just how much missionaries give up; most had a stable life and a regular monthly income yet they gave this up in order to pursue their passion, their cause. Gone is the house they made into a home, the family and friends they spent time with, the income they comfortably lived on.  Some (not all I know) live in basic accommodation, are required to learn a new language in order to communicate with the locals, are required to change their diet and climatise to a new country.

It takes passion (and purpose) to take this bold step. I have the upmost of respect for people who follow their passion. It is impossible to do anything whole heartedly if you do not have a passion for it. When the challenges come (which they will), you will begin to step backwards questioning why you took on the task in the first place. 

The late Steve Jobs quoted:

“You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you are not passionate enough from the start, you will never stick it out.”

I cannot agree enough with this quote.  Key figures in society, past and present, have one thing in common – they knew their cause and it was this very thing that kept them moving forward even in times of adversity. The late Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa are a few ‘game changers’ who come to mind.

I have two main passions; one is to teach and encourage others and the other is to write.  I will happily sacrifice my time in order to feed/fulfil these passions and have done so in a number of ways. 

Your passion is personal to you. It should not be measured by someone else’s passion.  It is yours to run with – go to it!

Are you working in line with your passion?

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Do you embrace your ‘role’ as a woman?

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The late Margaret Thatcher once quoted the following;

“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”

She had a point.  Women are doers. We just get on with it, some of us may complain, but we do what is required at a given time. Obviously I cannot speak for every woman but the majority of us will not hesitate to accommodate the needs of our immediate families, extended families, friends and so on.  It is in our nature to go above and beyond the call of duty. It is the way we are made – born nurturers. 

I often think about the many roles that women carry; wife/partner, mother/guardian, employee/business owner, cook, cleaner, counsellor, nurse, tutor, driver.
*This list is by no means exhaustive!

I must stress that my husband is very hands on.  He takes his role as a father seriously, he enjoys spending time with our children and does his fair share of housework.  It is possible that I take on too much to begin with. My husband jokes that I am like a robot and he would like to wind me in just a little! 

The truth is I need to learn to relax at various intervals during the day and not just in the late evening when the children are asleep and my husband is tapping away at his laptop.  Maybe then I would not feel so overwhelmed by my responsibilities.

I am always inspired and challenged when I read about the virtuous woman in Proverbs chapter 31 verse 10-31. She truly embraces her role as a woman. I am not quite there yet and have to remind myself to enjoy the journey which can be likened to riding on a roller coaster – fun but there are times you want to ‘get off’.

It is a privilege to be a woman and I often take this for granted. I had the joy of carrying and nursing two children, people entrust me with matters close to their heart and I put the seal on making our house a home.

Do you embrace your role? 

Perhaps you do not like being defined by a role as such? 

 

Leadership – what characteristics does one require?

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“True leadership is not defined by power, notoriety, authority, prestige, status or job title.”
Angie Morgan


This is such a wonderful quote and highlights that leadership is not entirely about having authority over others. It is what you do with the authority that has been placed in your hands and the positive impact that you have on the lives of those whom you lead.

You may operate in management roles in your place of work, voluntary groups, church ministry and in the running of your home.
Does this in itself make you a leader? 

Below I will outline my top eight characteristics of a true leader (in no particular order); 

1. A leader believes in those who are walking with him. He expects them to succeed. I say ‘walking’ rather than ‘following’ as leaders raise up leaders and managers simply have followers. 

2. A leader identifies the areas of strengths and weaknesses of those he leads. He works with them to develop on both, to bring out abilities they did not even know they possessed. 

3. A leader has passion. He is positive and believes in the cause. His passion inspires others to give their best. 

4. A leader has integrity. He does what he promises to do and has a valid reason if he cannot. He is honest with what he is able to deliver and does not give false hope. He does not take short cuts or focus solely on his own gain.

5. A leader can laugh at himself. He is confident enough to allow the ‘joke’ to be on him. He does not take himself too seriously. 

6. A leader does not think he has all the answers. He is aware of his limitations though he may not shout them from the rooftop!   He knows he can learn much by listening to the ideas of others and running with them if they are viable.  

7. A leader values people. He believes everyone has something to offer.  He appreciates those who go above and beyond the call of duty and has no problem in telling them so.

8. A leader works to understands people; why they act in the way they do. He identifies how he can work with those deemed as difficult and he cares about the things that concern them. 

So, to round up, these are eight qualities that I believe will enhance your effectiveness as a leader. You may already possess some of these qualities or indeed feel that some are not necessary for the journey you are taking.

Are there qualities you would add to this list?

Are you a leader and in what capacity?

Social media – is it taking over our lives?

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Board any form of public transport and you will find the majority of passengers face deep in their mobile phones. Some may well be texting or making notes on an organiser app but most, I guarantee will be on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. I am one of them!

Due to my blog and make up business, I spend time on Facebook as I run two business pages. I also enjoy networking on LinkedIn and am part of various discussion groups for bloggers, writers and small business owners. LinkedIn has opened up a new world to me and I am happy to embrace it.

I use social media on my commute, lunch breaks and late in the evening when my children are asleep. Whilst at home I like to switch off and focus on the family. At times I am simply itching to respond to a comment on my blog or business page but I choose to prioritise my family. Being ‘present’ is highly underestimated and I feel social media can (if you allow it) take up too much of your time. People are literally, eating, sleeping and breathing it!

Gone are the days when one went out and the emphasis was on taking in the sights and the ambience. Now, photographs are posted on the hour with statements of what fun one is having. Why not post on returning from your day out and choose to enjoy that moment with the people who are actually there with you in person?

I rarely post when I am on a day out and never when away on holiday. I deliberately wait until I have arrived home. There is good reason for this; I generally do not like to disclose my movements.

The majority of teenagers document their entire life on Facebook. At a fast rate, they are becoming more and more disengaged from family members. They put themselves under immence pressure to have a constant presence on social media in case they are somehow forgotten.  There is a specific term for this and it is known as the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO).

In my youth, I visited friends and sat in their bedrooms chatting away for hours or we went to our local shopping centre to ‘hang out’.  I was able to detach from my peers and had no idea how they spent their weekend/school holidays. The youth of today do not have the pleasure of enjoying the simple things that we took for granted. For this reason, I will subtly discourage my children from joining any form of social media for as long as I can. 

Do you allow yourself to disengage every so often from social media?

How much does social media impact on your interaction with others?

Contentment – do you have it?

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“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have” Socrates

What a powerful quote!  

We are taught to value education, excel in our studies, seek a career with a lucrative income in order to buy the four bed semi-detached house with a white garage on a tree lined road. Not to mention two long haul holidays a year – flying business class of course! 

Absolutely nothing wrong with having any of the above (I rather like the idea of two exotic holidays) but when does striving for more turn to greed?  At what point will we be satisfied with “our lot?” 

As we are informed that we can attain more, the likelihood of us reaching for this increases. It is human nature. We are survivors and generally will do what it takes – some with far more integrity than others, mind. 

I laugh when I think back to working part-time and had this wonderful idea of significantly increasing my direct debit payment to a children’s charity once I left university. Naively, I did not consider that once working full-time I would grow to enjoy using my disposable income to travel, buy clothes, eat out regularly.  Is this not the done thing though, at least with young people – spending according to what you earn?

The city banker earning, let us say £200,000p/a is striving to earn £300,000. He knows exactly how he will spend the additional income; private schooling for the children, ski-ing, holiday home in France.  His ‘brother’ earning £100,000 believes he will be so much better off if he earned £200,000. Little does he realise that he would increase his standard of living then go on to dream of earning £300,000 just as his ‘brother’ had.

I admit that being financially stable gives you one less thing to be concerned about.  Also, being in nice surroundings and free to spend as you wish (reasonably) makes one feel good about themselves.  

It will serve us well to count our blessings, most especially when we feel downcast or disappointed. It is at this time that we are more inclined to look at what we do not have and allow our hearts to be discouraged. 

Are you content with your life? If not, what would you like to change? 

Is there anything you can do to make the change possible?

Decision making – not for the faint hearted!

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I have been pondering over a number of big decisions that my husband and I will need to make in the coming weeks. Feelings of anxiety have tried to push their way into my mind as I battle not to carry this weight. Worrying will do nothing to change my circumstances but it will do a mighty great job of stealing my joy – only if I allow it.

By nature I am not a procrastinator but I do over think the repercussions that may come after I have made a decision.  I feel a great sense of responsibility whilst reluctantly accepting that I will have to live with my choices, regardless of the outcome.  

We all make decisions daily, some may well be small but they are decisions nonetheless. Even deciding which train to catch, what to eat for lunch, which client to call and so on. Our lives are panned out by the decisions that we make – quite deep when you truly give it some thought.  Perhaps this is why I do not take decision making lightly.  

I came across this quote from Elbert Hubbard;

“It does not take much strength to do things, but it takes a great deal of strength to decide what to do.”

Making key decisions, say in the corporate world requires an element of ruthlessness along with an assurity and complete ownership of your decision whether your plans come to pass or not. The proud need not apply!

If you look at top entrepreneurs, Sir Richard Branson and Bill Gates, you will notice that they are determined, competitive and confident in making decisions. Sir Richard has admitted to failing a number of times and has quoted that in the world of business, one needs to lick their wounds and get back on their feet. Bill Gates takes two weeks out in every year to spend alone to focus entirely on his challenges and opportunities in order to make key decisions.

Are you decisive?

How much ownership do you take when making decisions?

What is your attitude when life does not go according to plan?

Coping strategies for the growing demands on your time!

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Let’s face it – life can be busy!

With the growing demands from your job, family, running a home and other responsibilities, one can feel overwhelmed and question how you can possibly fit everything in. 

The truth is often you cannot do everything you set out to do. You start with good intentions but then realise you have over committed yourself. How many times have you tried to squeeze in far too many tasks in one day and then panicked on realising you could not complete them?

The key is to prioritise the people that need to be attended to and the tasks that are of the most importance. This is where your focus should lay.  

To do lists are ideal for planning your day. I would advise that you list tasks in order of importance. A list will keep you on track and it feels great to tick the tasks off as you complete them!

Here are four changes that you can make to your life;

1. Switch off your television!
According to the Telegraph, people in the UK spend an average of four hours watching television every day. I used to spend around two hours an evening watching television but put a stop to it over a year ago. I now only watch particular programmes. I do not miss it and once I put my children to bed I use my evenings to catch up with my husband, work on my blog/make up business.

2. Wake up earlier to prepare for the day ahead.  Spend the first part of your day alone – read, pray (optional), reflect. Naturally I am NOT a morning person but I have adjusted to very early morning starts due to my change of working hours. I quite enjoy my brisk walk to the station – the crisp air, quiet roads and my thoughts.  

3. If you commute to work or place of study, use this time to catch up with emails, telephoning friends/family, making appointments.  The key is to make the best use of your time. I rarely spend my evenings in conversation on the phone, however I will send the odd email or text message. 

4. Be good to yourself! 
Take a few hours out of your weekly schedule to do something that you enjoy. Whether it be having a massage, a manicure, reading a book, catching up with a friend over a meal. You are more likely to cope with your ‘load’ when you step away from it all once in a while.

How do you cope with your responsibilities? 

What do you do to unwind?

Perhaps you have some tips.

Light hearted tips and advice from an organised lady!