Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Turning 40 and ready to own it

My husband Karim takes pleasure in reminding me that I’m old. He's been doing this for a few years. There's a six year age difference between us so I’ll always be older than him.  

This Friday is my birthday. I'm turning 40. I'm not sure what 40 is suppose to feel like, but it's not old.

If I had the power to turn back the clock my 12 year-old self would agree with Karim and say, “Forty is old.” Let's fast forward a few years; My 25 year-old self was dreading this day. Fast forward 10 more years and my 35 year-old self was beginning to make peace with the idea. 

Probably because I realized it was around the corner. Now that corner is just two days away. 

Enough time has passed. I’m okay with turning 40. I’m actually better than ok, I’m finally ready to own it. And while I’m proud to own my 40th and the years I have ahead of me, I would be remiss if I didn’t  acknowledge I live in a society where I may be the exception and not the rule. 

Ageism is a real negative force women have to reckon with in our society. It cuts across race, religion, and class. Turn on your TV, watch a commercial, go online, or go read a women’s magazine. Look at the ads. Youth is king and beauty is queen. While there are more ads with older women, it’s likely to be for Botox or another product promising to help a woman maintain her youthful glow with clinically proven results to minimize those fine lines. These ads seek to help us ignore the fact that those fine lines are a natural part of the aging process. And rather than accept it we must fight to hold on to our youthful beauty.  If we don’t we'll lose our value in society.

The women's health and beauty industry takes in billions of dollars each year marketing products and services to give us a so-called upper hand. My younger self bought into this false narrative. That’s the power of media. 

Recognizing this problem in our society doesn’t make dealing with the reality any easier. Like many women, I have my set of creams and products I use to protect my skin. Some of these products claim to slow down or reduce the signs of aging. There’s no magic cream, pill, or surgery that will stop me from aging. It’s apart of life. I’ll consider myself lucky if I’m blessed to be healthy and enjoy my old age. 

I would love to hear  your stories of turning 40 and how you owned it!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Be more productive by being a better listener

Are you fully present when you’re talking with colleagues, family, or friends? If you said, “no,” I’m not at all surprised. There are many distractions clamoring for your attention. If your day is something like mine you’re doing your best to manage work life with family priorities. The lines between our personal and professional lives constantly blur and intersect. And thanks to smartphones we’re only one swipe away from the next distraction. 

Additionally, it also doesn’t help that the average person remembers between 25% and 50% of what he or she hears according to various studies. Before you have time to focus and then process what you’ve heard you’re already onto your next task. But, if you want to be more productive or a better leader, research suggests actively listening to others and being fully present in conversations will make you more effective. 

Listening is hard work

There are a many reasons we check out. Some popular examples are:
  • You’re not interested in the topic
  • You’re avoiding a difficult conversation
  • You’re being critical 
  • You disagree with the other person’s approach or idea

Don’t fret! You have the ability to be a better listener. Here are five tips to help you:

Stop talking – Remember, you can’t listen and speak at the same time. Take a pause to listen more and talk less.

Remove distractions – Pay attention to the things distracting you and take it out of the equation.
  • If it’s your cell phone, turn it off.
  • If you’re at a conference and/or meeting, give the speaker you full attention.  Make eye contact or ask a question.
Pay attention to your emotions – If what others say creates an emotional response in you, take the time to listen carefully and process what you’re hearing.

Be patient – Some individuals take longer to make a point, give the person time. Don’t cut another person off or try to finish their sentence. If you have time constraints let the person know up front.

Empathize with others – Take a moment and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Look at the situation from their perspective. Did you know empathy is highly correlated to effective leadership?

G.I. Joe says, “Knowing is half the battle.” Now you know but knowing isn’t enough. Make time to put these tips into action. Remember, we all get better with practice.

I would love to hear tips or advice on this topic. I look forward to your comments.