“We are the champions, my friends
And we’ll keep on fighting ’til the end.
We are the champions
We are the champions
No time for losers, ’cause we are the champions of the world.”
I have really fond memories of that Queen song. In fact, we used to sing it back in high school at our pep rallies. Our goal was to motivate our Mighty Mustangs football team on to victory.
According to Joel Osteen, we also need to use words in our daily conversations to motivate and encourage ourselves. Of course, we are our own biggest critics. And, we should be through true self-reflection. But, we should also be our own biggest cheerleaders.
That’s because how we see ourselves largely dictates our actions. And, the actions we take will largely determine our outcomes and our futures. We can’t control everything around us but we can control the choices we make. Why not choose to be your own biggest cheerleader?
I am really big on self-help books, and Osteen’s The Power of I Am is one of my favorites. In fact, it was the opening story that drew me in. Osteen starts by telling the story of a young lady at his church. He described her as smart, attractive and as having a great personality. And, he thought if anyone would be happy it would be her. But, he learned through a conversation with her that she was actually unfulfilled. In fact, she described herself as unattractive, a slow learner and always tired. As a result, she also believed her coworkers were more talented than she was. And, that’s definitely not how we want to feel after all of our hard work. Well, in an aha moment, Osteen concluded that her “I am’s” were holding her back.
What about you? Are your “I am’s” holding you back? Put aside how you describe yourself during a job interview or in your written Executive Core Qualification (ECQ) statements. Rather, think about what you say about yourself on a regular basis when you get up in the morning and throughout the day. Are your words encouraging or inhibiting your efforts? For example, I was talking to a coworker the other day and she used the “I’m getting old” explanation for a slipped deadline. On a more personal level, the “I am” that I use all the time is “I am so much heavier than I used to be.” Now, those may be true statements for both of us. But, these statements shouldn’t be self-limiting or excuses not to do better. But, constantly saying it will likely make it just that.
In fact, we would all do well to follow Osteen’s philosophy. He notes that all throughout the day, the power of “I am” is at work in our lives. Importantly, we need to use that power to motivate and direct our actions. Rather, than using “I am” statements that are deflating, we must cheer ourselves on to victory.
With that in mind, for three years I hosted a “Power of I Am” brunch at my home at the beginning of the year. I hosted upwards of 25 friends each time to kick off the year with positivity. I asked each of them to vow to stop inviting negativity and lackluster efforts into their lives with their own words. I encouraged them to use the power of the tongue for edification. Our words should invite in good things and good efforts.
The good news is we get to choose what follows our “I am’s.” So, humor me. Stop right here and do this exercise that we did each year at the brunch. Take just a few minutes to reflect and write down five personal “I am” statements:
1. I am …
2. I am…
3. I am…
4. I am…
5. I am…
Disciplined, focused, talented, energetic and focused – I am all of those things. And, if I am not currently, I speak it into the atmosphere and speak it into existence. So, let it be written. And so, let it be done.
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Shirley A. Jones, Esq. is a Senior Executive Service (SES) member in the federal government and a certified leadership and diversity and inclusion trainer. Considering herself an employee advocate and a career development trainer, she was recently elected National President of Blacks In Government (BIG). Ms. Jones has had the opportunity to testify before Congress on the lack of diversity in the SES and frequently speaks at events in the Washington, D.C., area. She often addresses a variety of topics related to leadership and empowerment. Ms. Jones has also written Op-Ed pieces for the historic AFRO newspaper, HBCU Connect and other publications.