It feels like my life has been waiting on hold for over a decade.
While other people were celebrating career wins, I was living at home waiting for my "big break." I believed that if I just kept my head down and worked hard, eventually that would be rewarded with a promotion.
Instead, I found that the more efficiently I did the service work, the more service work was thrown in my direction. People were under the impression that I really "needed" the hours. I realized that my reflection spoke, "Need". My image said, "She's desperate for the money," and their treated behavior reflected pity instead of respect.
After weeks of back-to-back 16 hour days, I'd reached my breaking point. I was tired of being an hourly, graveyard shift employee who couldn't afford a day off without making life decisions about eating or having enough to afford public transportation to and from work. I constantly saw the executive, predominantly white, women around me discuss their lengthy vacations and spa treatments. Meanwhile, my coworkers were often sick, injured, tired, and stressed out.
The morale was crumbling around me and, I decided I wanted more. I was more.
I stopped making excuses for my condition and started observing the C-Suite and the women I secretly envied. I boldly asked them questions in dirty scrubs. I implemented five rules that not only catapulted me out of CNA scrubs and into a pencil skirt, but increased my salary by 35K in ONE year. I had discovered the habits and rules of conduct that changed not only my circumstances, but how I viewed myself.
1. Your Bedroom Is Your Boardroom
I ran home, took out an old lipstick, and started writing my war plan on my bedroom mirror. The bedroom is the place where the wig comes off, the makeup comes off, and we are naked to the truth. It's where we write our hopes and dreams. It is our sanctuary. However, transforming it into the board room and the place where affirmations, concepts, and the vision for my life was created, allowed me to see the roadmap clearly.
Creating a business plan for your life is so important to have a clear view of what aligns and doesn't align with it. That one move to wake up to affirmations and end the evening with a review of whether I completed that day's goals, gave me direction. I no longer felt like my future was left to fate alone.
2. Busy Is Not Better
Studying the executives that walked around me, I noticed they were strategic in the positions they took and the titles they fought for. They negotiated quality of life perks like working from home twice a week. Some even wrangled companies to pay for their living expenses. Be strategic about the commitments you make.
In the beginning, I threw all the balls in the air. The busier I was, the more productive I thought I'd look. The goal is not to "look" busy, but to be busy, checking off the goals that you created in step 1. The object is to manage your commitments to stay productive not necessarily busy.
3. Progress Is Better Than Perfection
I heard a podcast featuring Paul Brunson where he said, "Some people point, aim, and aim, and aim so long the gun gets jammed and they never fire." I was a chronic "waiter" I waited for the right time, the right money, the right temperature, the right flight price. In pulling the trigger, I realized that having a unique skill set outweighs multiple degrees and certifications. I have the power to make people believe that I can produce the impossible, and I have the fortitude to see it through. When I realized that, I was able to land a job within an industry that was "lily white."
Embrace the experiences that make you unique, and a position will create itself.
4. Fly Before You Walk
When I began to see myself as an Executive while collecting urine samples as a CNA, my actions started to emulate my thoughts. I began to walk like a suit in conversation and demeanor before ever leaving scrubs. In fact, people started to see what I felt and ask me things like, "Will you consider joining our committee? You should apply for..." A family member told me, "You learned to fly before you learned to walk."
In other words, see yourself in the positions and places you want to be and then create the action plan to get there. The same people who projected pity were now asking me to assist them on projects. Because I learned to display the value and unique perspective I brought to the table, they recognized that they could not ask for assistance without offering something return. They offered to pay me for my assistance. Now, a position that had once only provided one paycheck, provides multiple. #wingsandthings.
5. Name Yourself
My aunt used to say, "It's not what they call you, it's what you answer to." The more that I understood what I brought to the table, the more other people began to call for me to address the needs within the organization. However, where there are supporters, there are also people who question your ability. The retorts of, "She was just a CNA, she's not credentialed to speak on these things," sought to halt me from achieving purpose. However, part of step 1 was identifying my weak spots.
On the weekends, I sought online certifications in order to shut the haters' mouths and leverage myself into higher positions. I recognized that ascension does not come without controversy. Some of the executives of whom I sought guidance from now give me the cold shoulder. I could not understand why until I heard Tera Carissa Hodges say, "People are not very often envious of your things. They are envious of the time you have left."
Pursuing purpose requires a clear action plan that most do not find until the second half of their lives.
If you are fortunate enough to tap into it early, not everyone will be a fan. However, we do not have time to focus on who is not a member of our fan club because that is only a distraction.
So this is for the service workers, the women who ride the bus to work, the women who did not grow up with mentors or a clear path and feel like they are in dead end, thankless jobs. This is for us. There is a scripture that says, we "call forth those things that are not as if they already are" Romans 4:17.
What are you calling forth in 2018? Your journey to the boardroom begins now. Let's go.
Featured image by Getty Images