Appearance – how much importance do you place on it?

The well known saying “First impressions count” is absolutely true. We have only one opportunity of giving a good impression. After this, people will have already made up their minds of whether they wish to pursue an interest in our business or employ us.  

The way in which we dress and present ourselves speaks volumes. It tells others that we care about ourselves and mean business.  If we are a business owner or an employer, our dress code represents our company/the company.  I would naturally expect a Hair Stylist to have a good cut. Likewise, I expect a Sales Adviser on a beauty stand to be wearing well applied make up.  

I would be extremely reluctant to use either of these services if the persons selling them do not correctly represent. Clients need to be convinced that the product or service you are selling will add something significant to their life. You set the tone.

When watching the news, I never fail to notice how immaculate the News Readers look, from head to toe. The women wear well structured clothes and complimentary make up and the men wear sharp quality suits.  

One may argue that they are not “the type” to dress formally. This is perfectly fine if you are a stay at home mum or dad or you run a business from home where clients do not see you face-to-face. Even then, consideration to your appearance should still be given but perhaps you can adopt a more casual approach.

To end, while our outside appearance has absolutely no bearing on our character or ability to perform, we cannot disregard that it does influence the way in which we are perceived by others. 

How much value do you place on appearance? 

How important is it in your line of work or business?

The dangers of pride

The well known saying “Pride comes before a fall” is taken from the bible in the book of Proverbs 16:18.

The actual scripture is “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Too much pride can have devastating consequences on an individual and those around them. It can ruin relationships between friends, family members and acquaintances.

1. Pride can distort one’s perception of a particular situation. 

2. Pride can lead one to think only of himself, his personal gain and his image. Proudful people tend to be very inward thinking.

3. Pride can make one arrogant, believing he is ‘better’ than others due to his education,     wealth or talents. 

4.  Pride can lead a person in a position of authority to abuse his power.  

5.  Pride can lead one to make silly mistakes due to overlooking simple but important factors. A proudful person is less likely to 
accept and run with the ideas of another.

Is pride in itself a bad thing? No, it is good to recognise your talents and achievements. This encourages you to move forward in life pursuing your goals. However too much pride can give you an inflated ego and cause you to believe you are indispensable.

Modesty and humbleness are underated in today’s ‘every man for themselves’ society. Some people are self centred, driven only by their own needs and desires. They want to be centre stage.

There have been specific times in my life where pride consumed me and I immediately recognised it for what it was.  I knew it derived from my insecurities and ‘owned’ it rather than blaming it on my situation or another person.

I have learned that you cannot control the situations you find yourself in but you can control the attitude you choose to maintain throughout.  

Do you recognise when pride creeps in?  

How do you deal with pride?

What is your passion?

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?

Do you embrace your ‘role’ as a woman?

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?

“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?

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?

“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?

Light hearted tips and advice from an organised lady!