In 2019, I graduated with my Doctor of Business Administration from the University of South Florida. This was huge for me.
Success always seemed like a losing battle. A doctorate degree, let alone finishing high school would have been alien to me when I was younger. At 12 years old I was assigned a truancy officer for skipping school too much, and at 13 I was kicked out of school.
When I hit my late teenage years, I found determination to build a better life for myself, and that started with mustering up the courage to take two busses a night to GED study classes. I failed the math portion of the test, but on the second try a few months later I passed.
At 21 with a 6-month-old baby at home, I enrolled in college courses. Despite my worries that I wasn’t smart enough and that leaving my baby at night made me a bad mother, I earned my bachelor’s degree. Then two master’s. Then my terminal degree.
To me, my doctorate degree means: overcoming adversity, successfully navigating impostor syndrome, perseverance, sacrifice, self-love… and finally earning the ‘Dr.’ in front of my name.
After graduation, the time came to announce to the world that I was ‘Dr. Clark’. I was thrilled, but a sense of hesitancy creeped in. For several months and even with my business students, I’d introduce myself as ‘Danielle’ or ‘Professor Clark’ and avoid the doctorate title altogether.
What if people think I’m conceited? What if my students think I have an ego? I feared coming across as arrogant, as some kind of pompous professor shining a stage light on my achievements.
A friend I graduated with had the letters ‘Dr.’ beautifully tattooed on his wrist. I loved the idea of having a visible daily reminder of ‘I can do anything I put my mind to’ whenever I needed the confidence boost.
I told a few people I was considering getting the tattoo myself and each one further fed my fears by responding along the lines of, “Conceited much?”
It took many conversations with myself and others to finally realize I’m the only one who knows if I have ego, and I shouldn’t care what others think. If it feels good to me, why not? If I want to honor my journey and who I am today by introducing myself as ‘Dr. Clark’ in certain situations (like the classroom), then go me!
It’s now been a few years of hearing ‘Dr. Clark’ echoed back to me. Each time I hear it, I experience a ping of pride. And I’ve heard from many others that knowing I am a young terminal degree holder with an at-risk youth path inspires them to shoot for the stars.
I still don’t have that ‘Dr.’ tattoo. I’ve chosen not to get it; not for concern of what others think, but because I’m just not ready for a tattoo yet (this would be my first so I’m taking it slow).
What have you been holding back from because you’re worried others will assume you have ego? Where have you made yourself small to make others comfortable? And the most important question, how can you put others’ thoughts aside and follow your ego-free desires?
Join me in spreading my messages of breaking judgement habits and strengthening intuition even further: forward this newsletter to a few family members and friends. The greater the shares, the greater the impact – They can subscribe here.
PS – Here’s an affirmation to remind you that your desires matter regardless of what others think, ‘I know my intent and truth. I am a magnet for my dreams and desires.’
PPS – Do you want to work on your self-confidence when it comes to owning your growth and achievements? If so, grab your journal and a pen. Jot down areas of your life you’ve grown in the last year (health, finances, career, spirituality etc.) Have you told your family and friends about your progress and wins? And not just the short generic version because you didn’t want to look like you had an ego? If yes, good for you! Give yourself a pat on the back and write yourself a kudos note. If you answered no, write out how you think a conversation with a family member or friend would play out if you humbly boasted about the things you’re proud of. If this person hints at arrogance or ego within you, how will you respond in a courageous way?
My sister and I recently went to see the comedy adventure A Walk in the Woods starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte. It’s about two old friends, Bill (played by Redford) and Katz (played by Nolte) who reconnect and decide to hike the Appalachian trail despite the fact they are both in their 60s, haven’t spoken in decades and aren’t in the best physical shape.
Thanks to the many traveling mistakes made along the way by Bill and Katz, I left with a few new laugh lines and valuable goal setting reminders I can use in the workplace.
Last week, I opened my tea bag and read the inspirational quote attached to it as I always do—only this time instead of feeling inspired, I felt aggravated. The quote read, “Don’t ask and everything will come.”
I felt, and still feel, this is lousy advice and cringe at the idea of people believing it. If you want to succeed, especially in the workplace, you have to advocate for yourself, get support from others and ask for help.
When trying to improve employee job satisfaction, many managers focus on training, communication, and recognition. While these tactics can be helpful, they won’t make much of an impact if employees don’t feel respected.
A Society for Human Resource Management study found 72 percent of employees feel being respected at work is the most important aspect of their job satisfaction. Yet, only 33 percent of employees report being “very satisfied” with respectful treatment of employees at all levels.
As a manager, you can help infuse more respect in the workplace by being clear, holding people accountable and leading by example.
After 11 years in customer service and call center management, I decided I wanted a switch and HR was calling my name. I was missing the direct HR experience but had transferable skills and my self-awareness, research and networking helped me secure a job in human resources management in less than six months.
These are the steps I took to achieve my goal of becoming an HR professional (and hopefully they can help you too)
Engage a career coach
If you aren’t sure whether you should change careers or are uncertain about how to get started, working with a career coach may be a great first step for you.
When I first considered a transition to HR, I did a Google search and reached out to a career coach for direction and advice. I received valuable insight about my knowledge gaps and the potential challenges I may face trying to move into HR. My coach then helped me to put together an action plan to ensure I met my goals.
About a year ago, a good friend of mine and fellow manager introduced me to Mark Sanborn’s book The Fred Factor, his answer to rekindling employee engagement and motivation.
He raved about the book’s lessons, but I didn’t take his advice right away, and instead, I put the novel on my need-to-read back burner book list. Now a year later, I am proud to report I finally read The Fred Factor―I just wish I read it sooner.
Who is Fred?
The star of the book, Fred, is a real-life mail carrier who turns the simple act of delivering mail into meaningful interactions that make a big difference in the lives of his customers. He goes the extra mile for the people he serves, not because he has to or because he is looking for recognition, but because he genuinely cares about people and is passionate about his work and his life’s purpose―a message managers and leaders should take with them.
I was once guilty of thinking I was a leader because I held a management title. I directed people, had control and managed day-to-day activities, and therefore, thought I knew what it meant to be an effective leader.
My leadership strengths were my systems, procedures and subject matter expertise. I took pride in always knowing the answer and being able to help others.
After working at the same company for 10 years and managing the same group for seven, I decided I was ready for a change.
While I was proud of myself for taking a professional and personal risk, I was also extremely worried I wouldn’t be as effective of a leader because I didn’t understand my new team’s systems, jargon, policies and procedures.
Your behavior before, during and after a meeting can have a big impact on your professional image. More often than not meetings are reoccurring giving co-workers the opportunity to notice your behavioral trends and associate you as either a positive contributor or a detractor. To ensure you’re not being associated as the latter, it’s critical to demonstrate good meeting etiquette.
Love it or hate it (I’m guessing the latter) we spend a large part of our workday reading and responding to emails. In a recent study, McKinsey Global Institute found 28 percent of the workweek is spent reading and responding to email. Because email is such a big part of our job most of us have created email goals in hopes of keeping us productive (and if you haven’t you should do this immediately).
Yes, you read the title right. Your desk really can help contribute to your success in the workplace (and no, this is not a Feng Shui article). Here’s how your desk can help you.
Meeting goals and deadlines are critical to success but accomplishing everything you need to can be challenging if you are distracted. To avoid interferences from impacting your productivity, be prepared for them. Write a list of common distractors and then see what you can keep at your desk to help mitigate them.
Do you oftentimes get heartburn after lunch? Then make sure you keep antacids on hand.
Does the heat impact your ability to concentrate? If so make sure you have a portable fan at your desk.
Do your cubical neighbors get noisy in the afternoon? Keep earbuds in your drawer.