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Filtering by Tag: Leadership

Women in Politics: What Does Success Mean to You?

Librada Estrada

Si Tu Quieres is excited to highlight an incredible Latina that has been very active in the world of politics for 20 years and is doing great work to develop others who desire to impact and transform their communities and organizations—Patricia Campos-Medina.

Patricia Campos-Medina is a leadership development professional with the Union Leadership Institute at Cornell University. She is currently the President of Latinas United for Political Empowerment (LUPE PAC) in NJ, and a founding Board Member for PODER PAC, a national political action committee by Latinas for Latinas.  She served as political and legislative director for several unions including UNITE, UNITEHERE and SEIU.  She also worked as a campaign consultant in many local, state and federal political campaigns including US Rep. Bill Pascrell, Mayor Cory Booker and Senator Cory Booker. In 2008, she served as part of the Transition Team for President Barack Obama.  She was born in El Salvador and immigrated to the USA at the age of 14 years old and now resides in NJ. You can follow her on Twitter at @pcamposmedina or e-mail her at patriciaLUPEPACpres@gmail.com


It has been quite a year of presidential politics already.  And as the attacks on Hillary’s record continues, I cannot help but think about the challenges that women who work in politics face daily as they attempt to be engaged and win on their own terms.  Not all women might like Hillary, or might connect with her like some of us do, but what her experiences reveal is that in politics, acting like a man can be an “asset and a curse.”  How we learn to navigate this duality is what helps us stay in the game and succeed on our own terms.

I have been immersed in Democratic and labor politics for the majority of 20 years of my professional life.  I have run labor political programs and have been part of teams that run national presidential campaigns, local mayoral and city council campaigns.  I worked at the highest levels of policy making in Congress, and developed sharp elbows getting resolutions passed at the local city councils in cities across the United States.  I have also been in the backroom cutting deals, and I have been in the streets protesting those who are behind closed doors making those deals.  Through all of these experiences, I accomplished a lot but I have also gotten burned and deflated, been excluded and vilified, and I have been told at times that if only I knew how the game is played, I could have more power and influence.

Learning the Game

So, what is the game?  And what does success in politics looks like for women?  I don’t think there is one easy answer for either question, but let’s start by stating the fact that being successful in politics is not necessarily a measure of your level of financial success or your access to power.  There are some women in politics that have both and yet they still feel as outsiders, constantly fighting for recognition for their contributions.  

Learning to negotiate for your interest and for your agenda is a crucial component of learning the game, but the most important one is your ability to build alliances and make those alliances help you build a record of accomplishments.  You also need thick skin to survive the ride and to accept that the qualities that help men be recognized as leaders, do not automatically work for women.  

Why? Because there is a double standard in politics. Qualities that are seen as positive in men, such as confidence and aggressiveness, are seen as negative in women.  Hence, in order to use those qualities to our advantage, we must master the complex art of duality; you must be self-assured and at the same time intentionally learn to transform your confidence into determination and purpose.

So what is the first step in achieving success in politics?  It starts with having a clear purpose.

Your Purpose for Politics

If your goal is to have a future in politics then you must have a plan and a strategy, and be clear about why you are here, in the game.  Why do you want to get into politics?  Is it to build power for yourself?  For your community?  Or is it to accomplish a policy change you care deeply about? 

There is nothing wrong with wanting influence and power.  Men want that all the time and no one vilifies them for it.  But you must know that the stakes are higher for you. If you are a woman, more often than not, you don’t have a “Godfather” to show you the ropes.  You must negotiate the rules on your own and along the way you must learn to develop men and women as allies who will take an interest in your success. (Look for my next piece on cultivating male allies.)

Politics is a Male-Dominated Field

Once you have defined your purpose, you must understand that politics is a male dominated field with access to the inner circle granted more easily to those who are close to money and power.  For Latina women, those two access points are limited given that most of the time we have neither.  We come to politics from the outside, as activists trying to break down the walls and demanding power by mobilizing our community. 

I came to politics as a union/community organizer, someone with a demand.  I believed, and still do, that politics is a tool in our arsenal to fight economic inequality and to have a voice in the future of our country.  Because I was a good organizer, I was recruited to lead union members political activities and to convince them to contribute their hard earned money to politics.  I had people power and that could not be ignored.

But even with people power, I still had to battle the sexism of politics.  I am after all, an immigrant woman with a thick accent. Even with two Ivy League degrees, I had to prove constantly that I didn’t get the job because someone did me a favor.  In my 20s and 30s, I sometimes chose to brush off sexual advances, ignore sexist jokes, and hold my feelings close to my chest so I wouldn’t be labeled too sensitive and or irrational. 

My constant battle was always to be able to cultivate professional relationships with powerful men that were based on my union’s agenda, my campaign skills and my intellect.  I played the game and while I survived and thrived, I always felt a sense that maybe if I had been a man, I would have gotten more done.  Despite this feeling, though, deep in my soul I always knew I had made the best of every situation.

When I entered my late 30’s and 40s, I decided to take a leap of faith and try something new.  I stepped aside from my union political career to have a family, build my own consulting practice and to focus on helping union members become effective leaders.  Politics is a passion for me so I am still engaged in it as an advisor to campaigns and to other Latina women trying to make a mark in politics.

So, if you are a Latina who loves politics, a Latina who wants to run for office or just a political activist who wants to shake up the status quo, I offer the following tips based on what I have learned in the last 20 years of political and campaign work:

  1. Be clear about why you are in the game and be proud of it: You want to run for office? Awesome. Own it.  Learn from the best political candidates and develop a strategy for yourself so that you can run your own campaign. 
  2. Raise your own money: But if you want to run for office, then learn how to raise your own money so that you can be independent and drive your own agenda.  My grandfather, Papita Chema always said, “el que te da el dinero, te controla,” or “whoever gives you the money, controls you.” So, raise your own money. 
  3. Identify your tribe: You want to change the world?  Fix the educational system in your district?  Great causes.  Organize your tios and tias and all your cousins, high school, college friends and your fellow church parishioners. They have to be your first round of volunteers and supporters who help you both with money and by getting others to join your cause.  Than, map out your next round of supporters based on your agenda and your interest.  You grow as a leader when your base of supporters keeps expanding.
  4. Be prepared and always be willing to learn something new: Learn everything you need to know about your issue(s) and be twice as prepared than the men in the room.  And if you don’t know something, listen to what people are saying. Show empathy but don’t fake it.  Be honest that you are not an expert and that you will research the issue and come back with answers.  Faking it or lying about knowing something doesn’t work for women.  We must find the balance between being knowledgeable and not acting like “know it all’s.” 
  5. Be aggressive on defining your expectations to others: You want to learn a new skill in a campaign?  Ask for the job.  Be confident that you will learn it and be clear that you will not get stuck doing the same thing over and over again.  Even if you start at the bottom, by the end of a campaign, you should be in charge of something.  Don’t just hang around waiting to be recognized for your hard work.  If you are a political consultant, find out what other consultants are getting paid for the same type of work.  You have a skill they need so don’t allow them to undervalue your work.   
  6. Open doors for others: If you are a Latina candidate or a campaign consultant, identify young Latina/o operatives and put them to work on your campaign.  Build a cadre of young activist so you can tap their skills later and build your own network.  Have you ever noticed most campaigns always look like 20s something young male college kids? Well, eventually those young male kids become the top earning campaign consultants.  We must build our own pipeline of campaign operatives who are women. 
  7. Empower other women:  Be intentional about having other women voices and experiences around you.  Make them part of your inner circle and assign them key roles on your campaign that will build their skills set.  And if you are a staffer or consultant, use the “shine theory” to build other women allies; if a woman has a great idea in a meeting, support it and make a point to give her credit for it.  This practice denies men the opportunity to ignore it and later claim it as their own.  Don’t be afraid to let other women shine. By building others up, we also build ourselves up as authentic leaders.
  8. Trust your instincts: Oprah talks about how women most valuable asset is our “gut feeling,” our instinct.  There is something innate that makes us feel when something is not good for us. We feel it in our gut or that place right above the top of your stomach that tingles when you are not sure about something. When that happens, don’t ignore it.  If you are being pushed to make a decision that doesn’t feel right, to hire someone you know won’t work out, or you are being triggered by aggressive behavior, walk away.

I have failed some times to listen to my gut instinct and it has gotten me into some bad situations.  But if you make a mistake, don’t be so hard on yourself.  My biggest learning moments have come from situations that went south—either because I lost my composure or because I made the wrong decision.  My test for surviving such moments has always been staying true to myself, living up to my values, and knowing that my integrity was never compromised.

At the end of the day, politics is like any other career. If you love it, you will figure out a way to be good at it.  And like any other job, in order to be successful, you must have a purpose and a strategy to get to the finish line.  Give yourself benchmarks to meet and goals to reach. 

Today I am still in the game cultivating leaders as a trainer and adviser, helping other women and labor leaders discover their own power so they can become authentic leaders with the courage to transform our society.  I have accomplished more than I ever imagined I would as a girl growing up in El Salvador.  And as I continue in my path to build a better world for my children, I keep Winston Churchill’s words as a mantra; 

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal.  It is the courage to continue that counts.”

So as you find your path, I urge you to have the courage to be authentic, to challenge the status quo, to build other women up and to keep pushing until you get to your final destination.

Your turn: How do you try to affect change in your community?  How do you define success in your life?

P.S. Enjoyed this post? Help us spread the love by sharing it, liking it, tweeting it, or forwarding it to your network. 

 

Shifting your thinking around sexual and domestic violence

Ana Polanco

This month is sexual assault awareness month. Whatever your gender, don't turn away from this blog.  Victims, Perpetrators, and Bystanders can be of any gender and are all affected by violence directly and indirectly. [Note: If you need or want support or to learn more about how to be a bystander at work, home or in your community, a list of resources is available at the end of this blog.]

We live in a culture and society where violence is pervasive. This month we felt it was important to write about sexual and domestic violence and trauma. While all of us are affected by violence, the vast majority of victims of violence are still women. 1 in 3 women will experience some form of violence in their lifetime. This could be you, your daughter, sister, mother, coworker, neighbor or your spouse. 

Here are a few insights that we want to offer as we strive for a world where persons of all genders can live free from violence and in choice: 


Why does she stay?

What was she wearing?

Why was she out so late?

Why are they so weak?

Why can’t they just leave? 

These are the most common questions we hear about women as victims of sexual and domestic violence. These questions are not empowering.  But why?

These questions infer that the woman is doing something wrong at the time of the attack. They put the blame and pressure on the woman to behave in a particular way. We all make choices every day. Some of us have to work late at night. Others want to go out to a party. And still others want to date. All of these things seem harmless as I talk about them. If I told you a girl went to a party with her boyfriend and her friends. You wouldn’t think twice about this story. But if I told you her boyfriend coerced her into having sex at that party and then told his friends about it. Your mind would shift to something she did wrong. If your mind shifted to her I would urge you to pause and ask yourself what about this story changed? Why didn’t your mind shift to him? And if it did, what was the nature of your shift?

Our society's systems and structures have largely been constructed and are reinforced by men. As a result, it is easier to culturally blame and shame victims of violence. This need to blame and shame is largely driven by a need to define people into neat boxes and then make a judgment of the value of that definition. We use all sorts of definitions to make judgments - skin color, weight, how someone dresses, where they live, what religion they practice, etc. When we label or try and define and shame others we should ask ourselves, “what’s important about blaming that person?” Are we seeking to distinguish or “exceptionalize” the situation? Does doing so create a “safety boundary” to separate us from them?

What if we shifted our thinking and asked: Why does he or they abuse? What made the choice of violence more attractive? What’s important about having power and control over another human being? 

You could run through a list of reasons but the final answer is quite simple… it is a choice.

Sexual assault, harassment and other forms of sexual and domestic violence are about making a choice to exert power and control over another human being. Who has the power? How can I take it from them? This affects how we think about what love should look like. Is love about control or power? No. Yet there are all sorts of signals in our society’s culture about normalizing the exertion of power and control in every day life. Here are some examples in the Latino community:

  • Greeting with a hug and a kiss. Not all Latin American cultures greet each other with a hug and a kiss, including people outside and inside the family. Some Latino cultures and families believe a handshake is more appropriate, even between family members of the opposite sex, especially between men and women who are not partners. Consider how often you touch others. Sometimes we exert our own culture on other people without knowing what that person needs to feel confident and safe. If you prefer less touching, consider communicating that to others so they know you are not comfortable with hugging or kissing. Sharing what you need from relationships is key to stepping into your own power.  
  • Silence in the Latino culture. In my childhood, I was told “children are to be seen and not heard.” Children are often discouraged from seeking help by being told that the family will be torn apart or that they will lose a parent if the police get involved. Women are taught to be virginal in all aspects of life and see sex as a mystery to be revealed on your wedding day. Many men are over-sexualized from a young age, seeing sex and sexual prowess as a right of passage to prove their manhood. Later, they may feel forced to engage in hyper-sexualization of women for fear they will lose status with other men if they call out someone else’s bad behavior. These are all forms of silence placed upon us to keep a false concept of masculinity, preventing men from exhibiting all their emotions and allowing others to behave poorly by keeping the status quo in place. We all have a choice to keep or let go of certain culture norms or behaviors in our community. Breaking the silence around these norms can provide personal freedom  and respect for ourselves and for each other across genders, families, and communities.
  • Your behavior at work. Many of my female clients and friends have expressed the need to behave like "Alpha Males" to make it in their industry. Instead of bringing your natural given talents to work, we replicate bad behavior to demonstrate our own prowess and ability to control others. Unfortunately, when men and women mimic this hyper masculine approach, they suppress other forms of essential leadership in the workplace. This usually costs companies, time, money and valuable leadership skills. This element is further contrasted with a great desire by “Alpha Females” to marry a man who is macho, strong, warrior, leader and will protect them because this behavior is valued in society. Instead of leading based on someone else’s behavior, establish your own values and lead from that place. The most successful authentic leaders do not seek to harm others. Instead they use their values as a compass to achieve what they want and bring people along in the process.

We all have a role to play.  So how can we shift?:

  • Letting go of shame and guilt. Shame and guilt are the mental killers for victims and survivors of violence. As a coach and a survivor of sexual assault, I have seen the shame that victims carry around about the perpetrator’s bad behavior. That shame shows up in all kinds of ways – depression, anxiety, modeling male behavior in the workplace and even depressed sexuality. If you are victim, the perpetrator’s behavior is not your fault. Consider putting down the perpetrator’s bad behavior and picking up your own healing. You are resilient and beautiful and this moment in time does not have to define the rest of your life. You can change direction. Consider seeking counseling, coaching or some form of therapy to help you begin to shift and feel more freedom in your life. 
  • Peer to Peer Education: Be a Good Bystander. Step into your power with your peers. Bystanders are everyone who is neither a victim nor a perpetrator. You have great power to shift the culture. Hold others accountable before physical violence begins. Violent behavior begins with bullying and rolls downhill into a number of other behaviors before it ends with rape. While a bully may not turn into a rapist, the road to violence is learned and reinforced by peers. Early intervention can help prevent deeper forms of violence over time. When your friends are making sexually explicit jokes that demean others, tell them to stop and that you don’t think it’s funny. We can each contribute to shifting the violent behavior into something new and positive.  More and more men are standing up and living outside these traditional gender roles and communicating where they stand on these values.  Thank you #HeforShe!
  • Supporting Survivors in Choice. Most of us want to rush to the aide of someone else and pull them out of a bad situation. We want to save the people we love from pain. We often rely on telling victims to get out of there immediately. More power and control over the victim is usually not the answer and may further endanger that person. Allowing a victim in emotional or physical crisis to tell you what they need is key. Make that shift in thinking and become an ally by asking how you can support them. Then be patient. A victim will tell you what they need, when they need it and how they want to be supported. You can become a true lifeline to an otherwise isolating moment for someone trying to escape violence.

Violence comes in all shapes and sizes. While this month is about physical contact most people experience some sort of emotional, economic, religious, cultural or social violence in their lifetime. We can shift our society together. And remember, Love is respect. 

Resources:

  • If you have been sexually assaulted, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
  • To learn more about what healthy relationships look like, check out Love Is Respect 
  • www.loveisrespect.org or call 1-866-331-9474
  • To attend a training or have a trainer come to your place of work contact the National Latin@ Network (NLN) at http://nationallatinonetwork.org or the Anti-Violence Project at: http://www.avp.org/
  • To learn why Violence Against Women is a Man's issue, check out Jackson Katz's TedX talk: http://bit.ly/1jf9C8s

 

 

Creating Problem Solvers By Learning To Follow

Librada Estrada

Over the last six months I have been coaching, along with another adult, my daughter’s Odyssey of the Mind Team. It’s an extracurricular activity that is completely student driven. It’s for students in kindergarten through college.

What this means is that the kids have to select the problem they will be addressing, identify the solution and learn to work with each other as a team. Through the process they learn critical thinking, creative problem solving, and thinking outside of the box. They present their solution in eight minutes at a regional competition. From there the winners move onto state. It's an international competition.

My job as co-coach was to make sure that they followed the guidelines of the competition, had a place to meet, and to provide them with some structure so that they could keep moving forward. It also involved us being sounding boards to the kids without giving them solutions. It sounds pretty simple, right?

Well, it was and it wasn’t. Since this is my second year doing this, it was a “little” bit easier. I had an idea of what to expect.

I found myself frequently using skills I developed as a supervisor, facilitator, coach, mentor and team member to work with a team consisting of elementary students.

Are you creating problem solvers or problem bringers?

When was the last time that you created an environment for your staff where you only acted as a sounding board, followed where the team led you and only reminded them of the guidelines?

How more effective would individual staff learn to be? How much more would they learn to rely on each other instead of looking to you, their leader/manager, to solve the problem for them?

It reminded me of a question I was once asked—are you creating problem solvers or problem bringers?

Followership is a skill to develop

The competition is trying to create problem solvers. The rules emphasize that the solutions and ideas must all be student led.

The biggest challenge personally was learning to be a good follower in service of the team. I had to remove my individual leadership hat more often than not so that I could support each team member to develop as a leader within the team. There were several things that helped me be a better follower.

Step into a new role. It requires you to let go of leadership and to embrace followership. Doing so will help you gain comfort in supporting someone else’s idea. As leaders we are used to standing out, having the answers and being competent. We sometimes forget we need to take a step back to support the growth of our staff and that this is part of the role of a good leader.

Encourage each member to lead the team at different points. Doing so gives them a feel for what leading involves. It provides staff with an opportunity to step into your shoes.  You are able to experience areas that your staff excel in and also identify some spots for potential growth. It helps them gain confidence that yes, they can be a leader as well.

Let them make mistakes. Several times my fellow coach and I had to step away and let the team learn by implementing their ideas. Often it’s not enough to say something won’t work. You have to let them experience success and failure. It provides your team an opportunity to try it their way and to learn what works and what won’t.

Ask open-ended questions. These are the best types of questions to encourage a different way of thinking. You don’t limit the responses you get. Any time the team asked me a closed-ended question I had them reframe it into an open-ended question. You help set an expectation that you don’t have all of the answers and you encourage them to have a different type of conversation.  

Let go of having all of the answers. Somehow you come to believe that you have to have a response all the time. Be okay with saying I don't know. Ask frequently what do other team members have to say. 

Encourage improvisation. When ideas are discussed it is very easy to begin with identifying what won’t work or by shutting them down. Encourage the team to build on each other’s ideas by practicing improvisation. Working with what has been provided encourages following a suggestion or train a thought for a moment to see what is possible. And, it helps team members be more open to proposing things that are not necessarily 100% figured out. You shift the environment and help staff perceive you in a different way. 

When the competition came to an end the team could confidently claim that the play was their work because they had brainstormed the solutions, written the entire narrative, and designed and made the costumes and props.

Your turn: What do you do to grow problem solvers?

P.S. Enjoyed the post? Help us spread the love by sharing it, liking it, tweeting it, or forwarding it to your network. 

Moving from Cafeteria Action to Transformational Engagement

Ana Polanco

Two weeks ago, Librada and I gave a talk about conscious leadership and how to hold your power responsibly. At the end of the talk, an organizer asked me how to mobilize a particular constituency group that is largely undocumented. She was having a hard time engaging them. She wanted them to help her achieve her goal.

I have heard different versions of this question over the last five years. It is a long standing theme among non-profits, unions and other institutions. Are you a cafeteria (transactional) organizer or transformational one? 

Organizers are often called to hold education sessions, rallies, public actions, conferences, political events, G.O.T.V. You name it, we have mobilized for it. Over time these activities start to feel like a menu of options at your nearest cafeteria or diner. You pick and choose the activity that best matches the goal. And after a while, your leaders and activists commitment fizzles and only depends on the individual leader they are in contact with. But how do you get supporters to have that level of commitment to the whole organization? The truth is that cafeteria organizing will only get you so far.

This week as Bernie Sanders spoke about a revolution, I thought, lots of progressive leaders in different sectors are saying to themselves “I love this but it will never happen.” Many people feel challenged by transformational change because it requires that we slow down and engage our neighbors and friends about what they think is important. As organizations, it requires that we get to know and invest in our constituent base in the way benevolent societies did in the 1800s.

Meeting people where they are is a very personal process, where organizers often stand witness to the transformation of others. Taking the time to get to know your constituency base and letting them get to know you is the key to transformational change.

By doing so we create the opportunity to build a strong and solid foundation that can’t be toppled so easily by the opposition. When difficult times come, we can lean into those relationships to create transformational opportunities for engagement. That revolution is something deeper. So how can we begin the process of transformational engagement while still feeling productive at work?

Here are some simple ways to move from transactional to transformational change:  

1.      Live your values. Many organizations are wearing their staff thin in the name of transforming the organization. I find non-profit, foundation and union staff working 60-80 hours a week to get work done without the appropriate resources. This sends a conflicting message to your members and to the staff. How can you be for creating a balanced work week and living wages, and yet keep that opportunity from your staff. Begin clarifying the message of values, focusing on what’s important and learning to say no to those things that don’t grow the mission. Don’t wait for a financial or membership crisis to hit. Instead take stock now and find ways in which your staff can actually tell you what’s wrong.   

2.      Hold Space for the Unknown. It means shifting your vision from having to carry all the answers for the staff and activists in front of you. Often times we are called to solve, resolve, and conclude work. But sometimes, the best answer we can give is an empowering question. Sometimes an empowering question can change the trajectory of the entire conversation and exceed the goals you have set before you.  Through empowering questions, staff learn to co-create change that is based on the realities of the organization.

 3.      Seeing your coworkers as a fountain of ideas. What if you thought of your coworker as a whole person, filled with an unlimited set of answers and ideas? Your one and only job was to simply find the best solution together as opposed to carrying the load alone? Many of the struggles we have with feeling overworked come from the sense that we have to have all the answers in order to seek praise that will keep us employed. What if you could let that burden go and really work with others?  

4. Hit Pause before saying Yes. Telling a funder, a partner or another manager that you need to check with your staff before agreeing to a project is the most responsible thing you can do to secure the relationships around you. Making commitments that can’t be accomplished will breach trust between you and your staff or leaders and often can disrupt the entire organizational ecosystem. It can also breach trust with a potential funder or partner if you can’t deliver.  It’s better to hit pause and check in with your team so you can see the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead and take a realistic account of your financial and human resources. 

Your Turn: How can you bring transformational change to your organization or business? 

P.S. Enjoyed the post? Help us spread the love by sharing it, liking it, tweeting it, or forwarding it to your network.

 

10 Reasons To Invest In Your Own Talent

Librada Estrada

As my kids prepared for the start of the school year I felt a little jealous of them. I love learning, and the idea of being in a setting with classmates was a reminder that I have not taken a formal class in while. It also made me reflect on how much I have invested in myself and about the value of life-long learning.

Over the years I have earned an undergraduate and graduate degree. I have completed several certifications both related to and outside of my field. I am a graduate of multiple fellowships. I have developed practical skills beyond what I learned in school through various opportunities, trainings, and other resources that helped me do my job better.

I have also invested in myself for personal reasons. I chose to work with a coach to learn how to look at things from a different perspective and have access to an objective sounding board after feeling stuck for a while and realizing that the answer was not rooted in technical know-how. At a time when I was longing for creativity I discovered stamping and paper crafting and reconnected with photography. I pushed myself mentally and physically when I wanted to improve my overall wellness and trained for the Marine Corp marathon. 

The trainings that have had the biggest impact are those that have helped me develop soft skills—abilities and traits that help you communicate better and build stronger relationships. I became a better team player, leader and coach, not from developing technical skills, but by learning to negotiate, empathizing in different ways, and broadening my perspectives. Through these I learned about raising my self-awareness and taking the time to self reflect on how to be different and improve interactions. The impact was so powerful that I now work with others to develop their soft skills in my practice. 

There are so many opportunities, paths, I would be missing if I did not value learning or did not spend time on me. For instance, I would not be in partnership with Ana. I would not have the skills or confidence to have a coaching practice. My children would not be exposed to different opportunities. We would not travel internationally. More importantly I would not be as satisfied as I am in different areas of my life.

This is what I have learned as a result of investing in me:

1.    If you don’t see yourself as an investment, no one else will. Be willing to invest the time, energy and/or resources on yourself. There have been many instances where I have paid for my own professional development out of pocket. Why?  Because I think I am worth it!

2.    You are never too old to learn. My business does not function like my previous job. Now that I am an entrepreneur I am developing different skills that it takes to run a business, social media, and contracting. If I wasn’t open to learning new skills or processes I would not be able to serve my clients or stay competitive.

3.    Choose something you will enjoy. How you want to grow may differ from how others define growth. Don’t let others opinion about how you should develop hold you back from what you enjoy or fuels you. I went through coaching school even though that was not a focus of my job at the time. 

4.    Spending on yourself is more than just about money. People automatically look at the cost of something and the reality is that you have to determine the time, energy and commitment, in addition to the dollar amount. Consider the impact on your schedule and relationships. More importantly, look at how this will help you achieve what you want personally or professionally.

5.    It’s more than just about growing your capacity to earn more money. Expanding your knowledge base, honing a skill is also about you becoming more satisfied in how you interact with others, the quality of your relationships and the depth of your expertise.

6.    You may expand your way of thinking. A few years ago I took a class and a nugget that I came away with is that when you gather new information one of three things may happen. You are either confirming or maintaining your existing capacity, adding to your existing knowledge or changing what you know.

 7.    You benefit professionally AND personally. When you invest in you, it is a chance to connect with individuals that may have similar interests as you and expand your network. It’s an opportunity to improve your quality of life either at work or home by gaining satisfaction that you are doing something for yourself or to carry what you have learned into other areas. I use my coaching skills on a daily basis in my personal life and I regularly recommend books to friends and colleagues.

8.    You stay competitive and up to date. Theories, processes, and technology change on a regular basis. By devoting time to your craft, you are staying ahead of the game.

 9.    Investing in you can take different forms. You can make it as easy or complex as you want. You can educate yourself for next to nothing or pay a premium price. Decide if you want to do something with others or on your own. Spend as little or as much time as you want. 

 Examples include:

10. Your knowledge, skills, abilities or experiences are transferable. No one can take away your knowledge, skills, abilities or experiences. Where you go they go.

And, speaking of investing in yourself, if you are looking for a professional development opportunity in the Metro DC area, look no further. On October 6, Si Tú Quieres is partnering with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), with support from State Farm, to lead a one-day professional leadership seminar at their 2015 annual conference in Washington, DC.

We will be sharing tools, tips and resources related to emotional intelligence during the morning and courageous conversations in the afternoon. We are very excited to partner with CHCI where Ana and I first became friends. You don't have to be a member of CHCI to attend. For more information on this and other events: situquieres.co/events We hope to see you there! 

Your Turn: How have you recently invested in yourself?

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