Practice Practice Practice

Practice! That’s how you get to Carnegie Hall. I know, because I’ve been there before.

One of my many extra curricular activities is teaching people how to sing. Over the weekend I was giving a voice lesson to a young mezzo soprano, and I caught myself being a hypocrite. A good teacher always reminds students about the importance of practice. I gave my student a few specific exercises to practice once a day for at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I have barely been practicing music myself.

Like anything else, if you want to be good or improve upon your skill then it is vital to practice. In my case, I should be practicing music every single day. It is the one thing in the world that makes me feel complete. Music has steered me through some rough times and helped me grow as a person.

Do you know what happens when you practice? You build upon your skills, break through boundaries and reap the rewards. When you stop practicing the skills that you once developed begin to decay and may eventually fade away. First you lose your refinement, then your agility and finally the rude awakening that the ability is gone.

So what can you do to prevent this? Make the time for this skill and build it into your routine. For me it will be the same as what I preach to my voice students – at least 10 minutes each day in the morning. Building that 10 minutes into my morning routine will help me to commit to practicing.

Voice Lessons

Voice Lessons (Photo credit: formulapuff)

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Your Halftime Show

This year’s Super Bowl halftime show will feature the incredibly talented Ms Beyonce Knowles. More than 100 million people are expected to watch the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers go head to head next Sunday in New Orleans, which means Beyonce will have the largest audience of her life. What does it mean to have so much attention on you? 

Super Bowl, halftime show, 2013, Beyonce

I’m a singer, a performer, an actor, and a speaker, but I still worry about the moment I step on to a stage – no matter how large the crowd. I cannot imagine what Beyonce must be going through during the week leading up to her biggest performance. No matter how well practiced we are or confident, it is so easy to get presentatoin anxiety.

We all experience the feeling of uncertainty about our abilities. Do you ever walk into a presentation for work and have a “moment” where you freak out and think that you are going to fail? Deep down you know that you will be fine, but an evil voice in the back of your subconscious will always make you question yourself. Tell that voice to shut the heck up! Delete that voice from your head. Look in the mirror and acknowledge what is going on, then stop accepting the negative beliefs.

One of my goals this week is to develop a strategy for blocking the negative thoughts about my own abilities.

Step 1 – Face My Fears. Why do I feel anxious or nervous about a presentation or performance?

Step 2 – Accept my own limitations. It is okay if I am not perfect in everything that I do.

Step 3 – Recognize what events and experiences cause me to feel self conscious.

Step 4 – Smile. Once I decide that it’s going to be okay, then it will be okay.

Keeping a List, Checking it Twice

We should all be keeping a “To-Do List” everyday, right? This is one of those concepts we are  taught at a young age. When you feel overwhelmed, forgetful or disorganized making a list helps you to put things in perspective. Many business coaches recommend making a list at the beginning of each day with your short term and long term goals in mind. According to MindTools, “By keeping a To-Do List, you make sure that your tasks are written down all in one place so you don’t forget anything important. And by prioritizing tasks, you plan the order in which you’ll do them, so that you can tell what needs your immediate attention, and what you can leave until later.” Much like this blog, to-do lists keep you accountable for completing tasks throughout your day. I have tried to wake up early and make one of these lists, but have not been the most successful so far.

Today I tried to connect my planner and my to-do list and it helped me. Now I have two calendars – a traditional notebook style weekly planner from an office store and my digital calendar on my phone with reminder alarms. I use the notebook calendar to look at my week/month overall and think about what I want to achieve. Will this week be about my volunteering or possibly about building new connections? Once I have the overall plan for the week, I enter any of the small goals with a specific date & time into my Google calendar and add a reminder time. My phone collects all of my events – Facebook, Work email, Personal email, Google Calendar, Meetup, LinkedIn etc – and puts it into one place for me. This has been KEY for me. I need those reminders ringing on my phone. Why? Frankly, I am 29 years old and my phone is rarely far away.

Mobile, Calendar, Sync Calendars

*Here is a funny blog about living without your mobile phone: My Year Without a Mobile Phone

Accountability – it is such a simple concept and we find it so easy to follow while at work, but when it comes to our own personal goals the tasks seem enormous.

What does it take to keep you accountable?

Empowering Young Women

One of my goals for 2013 is to dedicate time toward an organization with a mission I really believe in. I chose GENaustin (the girls empowerment network) and it is such an incredible organization. Thursday was my first day with clubGEN – the after school program for girls in grades 4 through 12. It was also the first meeting of the new year/semester for the girls. There were three sixth grade girls at club, and we had a blast together. We played a series of “getting to know you” type of games. As expected, we all took a little while to open up to each other. However, we eventually felt comfortable and the girls were sharing.

Too many young women lack confidence or do not stand up for themselves. As a gender we accept lower pay, less respect and yet we work twice as hard for it. “Women remain hugely underrepresented at positions of power in every single sector across this country,” said Barnard College president Debora Spar at a White House conference on urban economic development.

My hope is that my time and influence with the young ladies in clubGen will help them to make good decisions and see themselves as I do -beautiful, smart and capable. I challenge myself and other women out there to stand up for what we want.

You are Beautiful

Negative Thoughts

 

This week I’ve been thinking about negative thoughts and how they affect me. There are so many young women out there who never succeed – not because they are incapable, but because they lack self confidence. Where does this come from?

I was lucky to grow up in a loving and supportive family. From a young age I was told that I could achieve anything I wanted. Despite the positive reinforcement in my life, there have been plenty of moments when negative thoughts ruined potential success or joy. Too many women experience this same issue with negativity. How do we get past this to grow, change and succeed in our endeavors?

I read an article recently titled The 10 Phrases to Ban from Your Vocabulary from the blog Prolific Living. Two items on that list stuck out in my mind.

I’m just not good enough…” This is how I see my musical talent. Even though I love to sing and music is absolutely one of my greatest joys, I rarely feel like I am good enough. One of my new goals is to accept myself and admit that I’m rather talented.

There isn’t enough time for me to change…” I am definitely not the only person using this negative line. There have been several good opportunities that I shied away from because there was a big change or a situation that I felt stuck in. My second new goal is to be more open to the world – this includes people, opportunities, change, and my big dreams. I shouldn’t let anything stop me from doing the things I really want to do.

Finding My Authentic Career – Know Yourself

 

Earlier this week I took a series of personality tests with hope that I may find a career to match me. My values, interests and passions are the driving forces behind finding my match.

My entire career has been all about marketing. Everything from using barter, events, street teams, print pieces, radio spots, digital ads, mobile, and integrated strategies. I’m a creative problem-solver, which makes me a great addition to any marketing team. However, I feel like I can do so much more and give back to my community.  And yet, I’m not in a rush to figure it all out. “I would rather wait a week for the right answer than hours for the wrong one” – Downton Abbey.

In order for me to be true to myself I must begin to admit some things:

  • I am highly driven and achieve the goals I set 90% of the time. However, I do not always set the most logical goals.
  • I absolutely love music, but I am not talented enough to truly make something of it.
  • Time after time I have been praised for my honesty, but I am still learning to be an effective communicator with those who My Name My Careerprefer things more sugar coated.
  • Though I’m a hard worker, I become lost in my work and lose sight of larger goals. 
  • At the office I am highly organized and know how to prioritize, but in my personal life and with my personal goals I am terrible at keeping up.
  • Working with children gives me such joy, but I know that I do not want to be a teacher – at least not a traditional classroom teacher.

Taking all of this into consideration along with my strengths (leadership, helping people and relationship building) leads me to believe that I need to make some changes in my life…and not just say that I will.

Change #1 – This week I begin volunteering with GEN Austin – The Girls Empowerment Network. – in the clubGEN program. My instincts tell me that a group of middle school girls are going to change my perspective on many things.

 

Personality Test

Remember when your high school or college counselor gave you the Myers-Briggs personality test? We thought little about the results and didn’t attribute it much value. Especially in college, I felt solid in my understanding of Me. My years of self discovery taught me that I like working with people and I wanted to inspire others. That was the profound understanding…ugh. I was such a young inexperienced mind, thinking I knew it all. There was so much more to it…more for me to learn about myself.

Now I am on a new path of self discovery, and starting over at the place where it all began – a personality test. Over the past week I have taken several of these tests. It’s actually stressful to think about where I may fall in the scheme of personality matching up to a career. What if it turns out that I would be best as something I have no interest in?

After about 6 different tests of varying quality, I discovered a few things that repeated. From a scientific standpoint, that is what I was looking for in this experiment. Most of the time I come out as an ENFJ

  • Leadership. This repeated over and over again. That my personality type is an en excellent leader because I am both conscientious and motivating to others. 
  • Structure. Another repeat word. I like a structured environment that involves team work.
  • Helping. The world is full of needs and people who I can help. It is my duty and what drives my hard work – helping people.
  • Relationships. This didn’t surprise me at all. I am very human-oriented. I believe in making face-time (a reason why I love Skype), and picking up the phone over sending an email. It is clear that I love relationship building and networking.

Over the next couple of days I will be digesting this information and relating it to my work and life experiences. Maybe this focus in meditation will shed some light for me in my next steps of growth.