On the twentieth entry of The Link Up with Latesha, our incredible host Latesha Byrd, founder of Byrd Career Consulting, discusses the first three I’s of transformation – intentionality, initiative, and investment in improvement. She also talks a bit about how success can be scary and how to combat that fear.
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Latesha: Hello, hello. Welcome to The Link Up with Latesha. I am so excited to be back with you all today. Happy February. January was a long year. January was a long year. Like, why was January 565 days? If you’re like me, you’re probably feeling a sense of relief now that it is February. If you all have set New Year’s resolutions and set New Year’s goals, and maybe it didn’t go as planned in January. I know mine didn’t, so I’m here with you. Start over. Start over. It’s okay. You can always pick back up and start over. I did not hit my gym fitness goals for January, but you know what? I have been in the gym for the past week and I feel wonderful. So focus on where you’re going, not where you’ve been, all right? So what we are talking about today, we are talking about transformation. We’re talking about the five I’s of transformation. That is what the focus is. 2020 is going to be such a phenomenal, impactful year for many of us. This is going to be a year of change. I really believe that this is going to be a year of transformation. So no matter where you are in your professional journey, whether you are starting a business, wanting to take your side hustle into a full-time hustle, looking for a new career–new year, new career. Maybe you are trying to get promoted and move up, going after that big promotion this year, or maybe you just started at a company. You’re really just trying to get your footing and you want to hit the ground running and do a great job. This, today’s episode, is for every single one of you. Transformation is something that is important for me this year, because where I want to go is going to–in terms of my goals, my business goals, my personal goals, it’s going to require a different version of me to get there. It’s going to require a different level of discipline to get there. The motivation is there. Sometimes it’s not though, which is why discipline is so key. [laughs] And it’s going to require a different level of focus. If you feel like this is you, I think you will get a lot out of today’s episode. This is actually going to be a two-part episode because there’s so much meat and gems in here I don’t think I can get this in just in one episode. So in terms of what I have going on–thank you for asking [laughs]–what you all should expect to see from me, at least over the next couple months, is still doing a lot of speaking engagements. If you are going to be attending the Black Enterprise Women of Power summit in Vegas, I will be leading a panel discussion and doing some on-site coaching. So that’s in Vegas March 5th through the 9th, I think. Wonderful conference. I love going every–well, this is my second year going, but I love that conference, and I hope to see you there. So I’m still continuing to do a lot of speaking–I’ma pull up in your city. So, you know, if you or your organization needs a speaker, maybe leading an ERG discussion, a roundtable, keynoting, a workshop or anything related to career development, you know how to find me. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Hit me up. So speaking of Black Enterprise Women of Power summit, I’ll be in New Orleans in a couple of weeks speaking. I will be doing a workshop with the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce with their young professionals auxilary board. And outside of, you know–I’m probably leaving a couple of things out in terms of speaking. I’m speaking at a women’s tech conference here in Charlotte here called Fleurix. But outside of speaking, I’m going to be–ah, man, I can’t tell you guys too much just yet. Just know that one of my goals this year is to build an online shop where I will be selling a ton of digital products that will help you in your career. So you will see resume templates, interview guides, courses. I just did a LinkedIn course last week. That will be on my site up and running over the next week or two, so stay tuned for that. Let me know what you all want to hear from me. I’m planning on doing another digital course or masterclass on I believe interviewing, so more to come from that. I want to make sure that the information that I’m providing, the value I’m providing, to everyone is easily accessible so you can pick it up whenever you need it or whatever period of your career you’re in. You know, I watn to be able to meet your needs and meet you where you are and provide that insight and value. So let’s go ahead and hop into it for today. A lot of things to cover. I’m gonna be getting really personal about my journey and what I’ve been through to focus on this thing called, you know, a complete transformation. Over the past five years I have been on a quest to just change my lifestyle, change who I am, and it has definitely, you know, birthed a new person. I have grown so much since starting my business, since, you know, progressing throughout my career, being in different spaces, so I wanted to share a little bit about this. I actually did a keynote at UNC Chapel Hill for a women’s empowerment brunch with about 120 undergraduate and graduate students and faculty, and in this keynote this is when I really shared the five I’s of transformation. When we think about women’s empowerment sometimes it can be–like, we think “Oh, we get cute, we get dressed up, and we just sit around and talk about how great the world is and we sing kumbaya and we tell everyone to do their best and “You’ll be okay,” right? So when I was asked to do this women’s empowerment keynote–now, y’all know me by now. I’ma be really, really real. [laughs] Like, I am not going to sit up here and say, “You are gonna be great, and you just keep on going.” Like, nah, bruh. You know? That’s not me. So I wanted to kind of break it down in a way where this framework can essentially be followed by anyone if they’re looking to not only feel empowered but they’re looking to make a transformation. So going into it, like I said, today’s part one, next time will be part two, so please listen to both. The first thing I want to say when it comes to women’s empowerment is that–well, I don’t even want to say women’s empowerment because I know we have some male listeners out there. Shout-out to y’all. But empowerment in general, any time where I’ve really had to feel empowered or where I have felt empowered, I have been scared out of my mind. Why is an emotion that’s supposed to feel so powerful also extremely scary at the same time? For example, the most empowering moments I have experienced have stemmed from me doing something completely out of my comfort zone. Breaking up with a boyfriend, leaving a job, [laughs] letting go of a toxic family member, right? Things that were supposed to be the most empowering have stemmed from me doing something completely out of my comfort zone, knowing that not only was it necessary but it was a requirement in order to get me to my greater self. So I personally think that empowerment is just a lot more than feeling empowered. It’s really about pushing past the fear of failure, the fear of rejection, the fear of starting over. Not only is that empowering, but it’s frightening, yet freeing, at the same time. So if we can be really real about empowerment, empowerment is not just waking up and feeling great about what you’re doing. It’s about pushing through the fear of the unknown. That’s how you get to that point of feeling empowered. So I want you all, all of my listeners, to just think about a moment in your life when you had to push past the fear, you had to push outside of your comfort zone, and you felt although maybe really scared kind of going into it, you ended up feeling completely empowered after doing so. So just take a few seconds and think about that. “When was the last time I have pushed past my fear?” Was it negotiating salary for a job? Was it actually applying for a job? [laughs] Not being sure if, you know, you would hear back? Was it interviewing for a job? On the personal front, finally joining a gym… but actually, like, showing up to the gym, [laughs] and showing up consistently, or hiring a personal trainer. I mean, there’s so many different ways where we all can feel empowered, but again, it takes us making a choice to do something maybe that we’re not as familiar with. So my most empowering moment–and again, this was really when I began this journey of transformation. Again, transformation isn’t overnight. It’s gonna take years, years and years. So my most empowering moment took place when I turned 25. I was going through what some might call a quarter-life crisis… and yes, this is a real thing. [laughs] Career publication The Muse calls it “a period of intense soul-searching and stress occurring in your mid-twenties to early thirties, typically because you’re feeling you’re not achieving your full potential or you are falling behind.” That’s the definition of a quarter-life crisis, and according to The Guardian, a quarter-life crisis affects 86% of millennials who report being bogged down by insecurities, disappointments, loneliness, and depression. That is what they have said about the quarter-life crisis. So, like I said, it is a real thing. Anyways, I hit my quarter-life crisis and made a decision to embrace this newfound journey of transformation when I realized I just wasn’t happy in my job, I wasn’t fulfilled in my career, and yeah, I may have been getting paid–I was able to take trips with my girlfriends, I was able to pay my bills, you know, but I just was going through the motions of life, and I came to this realization that I wanted no more, and that’s when I started to completely transform. So just for some context, I was 25 years old. I was working a boring corporate job. I was in a dead-end relationship. You know, my boyfriend was kind of schmoozing off of me. I worked and paid the bills, and he did not work… yeah, ladies, trust me, I’ve been there. Been there, done that. [laughs] I won’t go into too much detail, but I was very unhappy in all facets. But the crazy thing was is that I was told “If you do all of these things, you’ll be successful. You’ll be happy. Go to school. Get the degree. Get your corporate job. Get a good man,” right? So I went even further. I got a Master’s degree, and I was working at one of the largest professional services firms in the world. I had bought a brand new car off the lot. I lived in a really cool loft. And from the outside in, it seemed like everything was great. Like, I would see people and they would say the usual “Oh, girl, you’re killing it. You’re doing your thing. I see you out here.” Y’all know how we gas each other up, or people would say–this is my favorite one–“I see you out here living the life,” right? [laughs] And I would just smile awkwardly and brush off their compliments, knowing that although their intention was to be thoughtful, they did not know that there was a mask on my face, and I was hiding behind a mask that portrayed a strong, ambitious, focused young woman, but on the inside I was actually confused, burnt out, and unfulfilled, wondering if all of her work was in vain. Have you all ever been hiding behind a mask for so long that it’s like you put on this front that everything is going well on the outside, but you know that it’s not, and then you also can feel guilty maybe about that feeling of unsatisfaction or unfulfillment. You can feel guilty about it. Like, “How dare–” And this is how I felt. Like, “How dare I be unfulfilled or unhappy when I have this wonderful job?” You know? I’m getting a paycheck, right? So I was wearing this mask. I was wearing this mask, so when people would say “Oh, you’re living the life, and everything’s going well,” you know, you just smile, brush it off. I know I’m not the only one that’s been there. But like I said, from the outside looking in, it all looked amazing, but from the inside looking out, man, I was hiding. I was hiding. So there’s this book that I read called You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living by Jen Sincero. I love, love, love that book. So when I decided to make the decision to start transforming my life, this book was something that truly, truly helped me. And so in the book she says that, you know, people don’t deem themselves as creative. I used to be that person. Like, I have friends that are painters and writers and musicians and interior designers, and they seem to be super creative, and I would always tell them, like, “Y’all, I am not a creative person,” and they say, “No, you are creative. What are you talking about? You create things for your business. You create ideas and strategies. Like, you area a creative.” So in this book she says the people that they’re not a creative person, everyone is creative. If you are alive, you’re creating. You are an artist, and masterpiece is your life. Your world is the canvas. Your ideas are the sketches. Your thoughts, words, and attitudes are the paint. Your actions are the strokes. And if you don’t like how your painting is turning out, you can evaluate your painting style or the tools you’re using to figure out what needs to be changed in order to master and switch up your approach. So that being said, y’all, we are all creating our own reality. We are all creating our own future. And so from me a feeling that I could not go on anymore and I had to make some tough and hard decisions, plus the desire of really wanting to tap into my most fullest, truest, and highest self. This is when I started to make some changes, and I started to think about “What will not happen if I stay here?” Not what will happen, but what will not happen. And then often times we realize that we have so much more to gain than we have to lose. So since 25, if you guys have been listening to the podcast you know my journey. I changed careers completely, launched a busines, Byrd Career Consulting. We’ve served almost 1,000 professionals domestically and all over the world. Last year was a phenomenal year for me. I made 150 in revenue, projected on to earn a quarter-million this year, and since being committed to this journey of transformation, it’s really brought me on some stages that I honestly would have never imagined, like being featured in Forbes, Black Enterprise, Vogue Business, Magazine [?], being able to speak with you all here on Living Corporate. I’m on NBC Charlotte once a month giving career tips, and I have helped a lot of people find their own way in their journeys and professional lives, but the most important thing for me now, five years in, is I have found my peace, I have found my purpose, and I have found my stride. So I want to go ahead and start breaking down the I’s. I think I said the five I’s earlier. My bad. It’s actually six I’s. [laughs] Six I’s. So the first one, the first one is intention. Set a mental image of what you want to be. Before I kind of go into intention a little bit more, have you all heard about something called chronophobia? This is actually a real thing, and that is the fear of the future. That is the fear of the future. There is this–I’m on Twitter a lot, as you guys probably know by now, and so someone had Tweeted something and said, “Whenever I worry about the future, I remember that I make it myself.” Whenever I worry about the future, I remember that I make it myself. I thought that was so profound. Just remember, yo, like, we create our own futures. You do not need to have chronophobia, the fear of the future. Not when you are responsible for creating it. And you don’t have to accept the life that’s been given to you. So to make a transformation, the first I is intention, setting a mental image of what you want to be. There is this quote that I heard, and I don’t know who said it, I wish I could credit that person, but they said, “Visualize your highest self and then start showing up as her or him.” So when I decided to embark on this journey of entrepreneurship, my goal at the age of 25 was to become the most well-known go-to person in my industry as a career coach. I wanted to be that person for all things career and professional development-related. Again, my business started as a hobby, y’all. I didn’t know that this was what I would be doing. I did not know that this is what I would be doing. My business started as a hobby. It started as me helping those around me, and then I said, “Oh, more and more people want help with their resumes. I could make money from this.” So I set the intention to become a business owner, and not just a person running a business, but an authority in this field. And so when I set that intention, I actually had to show up as that person that I wanted to be. That took me researching, reading up on anything career development related. I have so many books on career growth, on navigating corporate America. I started to brand myself as a speaker in this area. So it’s all about intentionality. No one gave me permission to start this business. No one gave me permission to call myself a career coach. Now, keep in mind I do have certifications. I’m a certified career coach, certified life coach, so I’m not just out here calling myself a coach just because. [laughs] But understand that intentionality is important. We only have one life to live. And this actually will–when it comes to being intentional, yes, set that mental future image of yourself, but it’s also going to take some vulnerability, you know? And that means knowing where you want to be and knowing where you are not and being really honest with yourself about what it will take for you to get there. So that’s the first I, intentionality. The second I is initiative. So once you’ve set that intention, that second I is initiative. This is when you really need to start taking ownership of your career. I realized that in order to completely take the power back and get in control of my life I had to take some initiative, and Fast Company–there’s an article in Fast Company that talks about how to feel less anxious about the future. One it’s saying to be open to uncertainty, so once you take that initiative you have to be committed to the journey, not necessarily the destination, and be okay with, you know, the journey, knowing that the result may not go exactly as planned, but you have to be committed to the journey. When I set an initiative or a new thing, for instance, starting to launch these masterclasses, my first three were completely free. My last one I ended up charging for because I was giving out so much value, and I had to be okay with having one person pay, two people pay, or, you know, five people, but I was committed to the journey, not necessarily the result. So take initiative. Be open to uncertainty. The other thing is to let yourself imagine the best. Don’t go into it having these self-limiting thoughts and beliefs, because we can be our own biggest enemies. Often times during my coaching sessions, my clients, I will tell them when they sound really discouraged or feel like giving up, “You are speaking and operating from a place of defeat, and that’s not what winners do.” So if you want to see a real transformation here, you have to let yourself imagine the best. So the first I intention, setting that intention, and the second I is initiative, actually starting to execute, starting to plan out that journey and, again, be committed to it. The third I is investment. So there’s two kind of I’s for this, but the third is investment and improvement. Those are my two I’s for this. It was hard for me to choose between one or the other, but I said, “Oh, we actually need to invest in our improvement.” [laughs] So it kind of goes hand in hand. So investment and improvement. Sometimes we may be really, really good at setting goals and setting that intention and taking initiative but then not staying committed. For those that may set New Year’s resolutions, you know, it’s now February 7th, so we’re about, what, 38 days into the new year? Studies have shown that 90% of resolutions fail, okay? So as you all have been setting your goals, you’re thinking about that future image of yourself, who and where you want to be by the end of this year, you are ready to take some action, you have to make sure that you are investing and improving every single day. Consciousness needs to change before your behavior can. Understand that. So your thoughts fuel your actions. Your actions become habits. Your habits become a lifestyle. Those things and goals that you want to achieve will be shown improvement through your everyday intentions, your everyday actions, but it first starts with the mindset. Are you scared of living up to the standard that you set for yourself? Because sometimes success is scary. For me, I come from a household where we didn’t have a lot growing up, and so honestly when I hit my first six figures in business I was like, “Oh, shoot. I cannot–wait, what am I supposed to do? Oh, my gosh,” you know? [laughs] And now it’s kind of like, “Okay, six figures. Not a big, big deal.” I mean, it is, but I got a lot of people I pay, other things I want to invest–you know, use to invest that money back into my business. Like, now I’m trying to make even more. Anyways though, sometimes success can be scary. The more attention and eyes on you, the more people looking up to you, more family members maybe asking you for money, right? So it’s important to make sure that you are best investing in improvement, and I mean personal improvement. That book that I mentioned written by Jen Sincero, she talks about going into the spiritual gym. So she talks about studying self-help books, defeating self-defeat, meditating, listening to powerful podcasts or interviews or motivational speeches, journaling, making gratitude lists, exercising, listening to music that makes your soul feel good, you know? I love Lizzo. I love Solange. And I’m not gonna lie, I love Meg thee Stallion, and her music makes me feel empowered. [laughs] Even when I’m in the gym, like, that’s basically what I listen to. Writing your goals down, reading affirmations and saying affirmations and affirming yourself. You have to make self-improvement a lifestyle, a lifestyle of daily improvement. So be committed to getting better each day, taking on each new day as an opportunity, but most importantly I want you all to, as you set your intentions and you think about taking that initiative and now you’re investing into this daily improvement, take your goals and then break them down into actions, and these actions should turn into habits. You can set goals all day. You can set a goal of wanting to lose weight, but if that’s not tied to any actions–and not just go to the gym and eat healthy, but where is your meal plan? What days are you going to the gym? How much time are you spending in the gym? What is your workout that you’re doing? How are you able to make it easy in your life for you to do these things? I keep my gym clothes hanging up right by my mirror that’s, you know, on my way out of the bedroom, so I’m reminded every time or every morning, “Girl, put them gym clothes on and go to the gym.” So I’m gonna stop there for part one, so I will pick back up in part two. I hope that this is helpful, man. This is the six I’s of transformation. We’re trying to transform all 2020, so stay tuned for part two.