On Loving Yourself Unapologetically and Paving Your Path to Greatness!

In honor of “The Greatest” (Muhammad Ali) and to all of you, realize that you too can achieve your dreams and goals and as you travel on your journey in the pursuit of happiness, define yourself for yourself and be unapologetically you. Be original in all that you do! Take pride in the fact that you are unique and be your inspiration to keep rising to the top, knowing that one size does not fit all. Know and believe that you do not have to settle for mediocre because you deserve extraordinary!

What I admired most about Muhammad Ali was his love of life and all people, his unique style, belief in equality for all, how he stood firm in his convictions and his love of self. I admired the fact that he lived his life through his eyes and showed the world that when you have a strong sense of self, nothing and no one can stop you from reaching higher ground. Know that it is okay to be yourself, to be unique, to be different and do not be afraid of not being a part of the in crowd or clique. Muhammad Ali stood out from the crowd and did not allow anyone to force him to fit into a box. In an era where racism, colorism, inequality and injustices ran rampant, he stood firm in his convictions and his tenacity spoke volumes! In a society consumed with ignorance, hate, blindness, and exclusion, Muhammad Ali made the difference through a strong sense of self-worth and self-love.

The Greatest

We live in a society where many are consumed with embracing the culture of ignorance (Culbreth, 2015), the culture of hate (Culbreth, 2016), the culture of blindness (Culbreth, 2015), and the culture of exclusion (Culbreth, 2015) as opposed to embracing a culture of love, a culture of inclusion and a culture of respect. Know that regardless of who you are, where you come from, how you look, your socioeconomic status or education, etc., you may experience negativity from the haters, naysayers, envious and jealous people consumed with trying to pull the rug from under your feet. You may encounter others who are threatened by your intelligence, confidence and determination to reach higher ground. The key to effectively dealing with the haters, naysayers, envious and jealous people and others, is a strong sense of self. When you possess high levels of self-esteem, self-identity, self-pride and self-respect through love of self, you become empowered. No person, thing or situation will be able to break your stride, defer your dreams or diminish your hopes. The most amazing thing of all is when they shoot arrows to bring you down, you will be able to catch them in your hands and break them into pieces. The power of self-love!

When you truly love yourself with every fiber of your being, you transcend to an untouchable state of being, you are empowered and that self-empowerment will render you invincible to the poison of the aforementioned negative cultures and people. Your empowered state of being will automatically send a message to toxic people not to come for you unless you send for them and should the need arise where you need to send for them, they will think twice before coming. God’s favor, your faith, inner strength, confidence in yourself, and zero tolerance for any toxicity to permeate your space will shield you from the negativity – trust me!  When you truly love yourself, have a strong sense of self, and truly know who you are, you will walk with a “can’t touch this” coat of armor. Your inner beauty, self-love, self-esteem, self-identify, self-pride, and self-respect, a/k/a your DIGNITY will radiate on the outside. Believe that you, like Muhammad Ali “can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” The only limitations that exist for you in achieving your goals and reaching higher ground are the limitations that you impose upon yourself. If you believe that the sky and beyond is the limit for you, then you must step out on grace and your faith will lift you higher. Dare to be different and dream in color! The power is within!

I loved the soundtrack from The Greatest (the original movie) and when I was younger, I often listened to The Greatest Love of All over and over again. Today, while listening to George Benson bellow out “I decided long ago never to walk in anyone’s shadow. If I fail, if I succeed, at least I’ll live as I believe” (Masser and Creed, 1977) moved me emotionally. It was that one line that sent me on a journey of deep reflection. I realized that part of my foundation for trailblazing a unique path in all that I do was because I “never wanted to walk in anyone’s shadow.” I wanted to be able to say that I paved a path for myself and as noted in the song, whether I failed or succeeded, at the end of the day, I will always be able hold my head high with a smile knowing that I did what many would never dare to do. I had the audacity to create a space and pave a path where I found myself in a good place psychologically, emotionally, physically and socially, allowing my creativity to blossom in color. I had the audacity to stand firm in my convictions and not waver to appease the status quo. I had the audacity as a woman of color, to create unique projects designed to make a difference in the lives of people of color, to take a stand and address issues affecting girls and women of color, to blaze a trail, and be unapologetically driven to be a part of the change needed.  I had the audacity to take a stand on injustices, inequality, racism, colorism, among other social ills. I had the audacity to believe in racial unity against all odds. I had the audacity to define myself for myself in my pursuit of happiness and as I keep rising to the top, my dreams and goals will continue to be my inspiration!  Like Muhammad Ali, I had the audacity to love myself unconditionally and that self-love empowered me and made the difference. Know that self-love is “the greatest gift of all” (Masser and Creed, 1977).

Have the audacity to refuse to settle, to believe in your dreams and goals, to remove yourself from toxic people and environments, to take a stand against injustices, inequality, racism, bigotry, and colorism, to above all else, love yourself unconditionally. Have the audacity to know that when one door closes, you don’t have to wait for the next one to open. Buy wood, build a frame, install your own door, and when finished, open the door and walk into your space, pave your own path and begin your journey to higher ground. Muhammad Ali had the audacity to be “The Greatest” and he did so by paving his own path built on a foundation of a deep self-love.

Love yourself madly, find your passion in life, pursue your dreams, set realistic goals and be your inspiration to keep rising to the top!  If you must, jump-start your journey into a deeply psychological, emotional, and physical discovery of learning to truly love yourself by standing in front of the mirror every morning and every evening and simply saying “I love you.” Mean it, believe it, begin focusing on really loving yourself, and it will come to pass. Most importantly, be confident in yourself and know that you do not need to be validated by anyone in order to have self-worth. Validate yourself by believing in you and by focusing on building high levels of self-love, self-esteem, self-identity, self-pride and self-respect and you too will achieve the “greatest love of all” (Masser and Creed, 1977).

Continue on your journey with great enthusiasm and a zest for life just like Muhammad Ali. “Live and breathe what you believe” (Masser and Creed, 1977). You will discover a renewed sense of self-love and become empowered to pave your unique path to greatness – to reach higher ground (that “special place”) and in doing so, be unapologetically unique in all that you do.  Most importantly, remember “if, by chance that special place that you’ve been dreaming of, leads to a lonely place find your strength in love” (Masser and Creed, 1977).

Continued Success!

Dr. Culbreth

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Rising to the Top in 2016 (Personally, Professionally & Socially)

Are you prepared to make 2016 your best year ever?  Have you identified personal, professional and social goals that will lift you to higher ground in 2016?  Are you stagnated by toxic negative people, jobs, or situations?  Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired of the same old issues, drama, situations or people?  It’s time for a change. Time to change the way you think, live, and feel about your life, your job and/or the people in your inner circle. In 2016 begin living a fulfilling and significant life, accomplish your goals, and turn your dreams into a colorful reality.

Join Dr. Donnamaria Culbreth, Executive Producer and Host of Complexity Talk Radio – Complexity Live for Rising to the Top in 2016. Learn about the power within and how to live with passion and purpose in 2016 as you achieve great accomplishments. Write chapter 2016 in the book of your life as extraordinary!

Thursday, January 7, 2015 at 8:00 pm EST

Complexity Talk Radio -Complexity Live

Listener Line: 914-338-1308

Listen live, call in to comment, ask questions or share.

Be the change needed in your life in 2016!

Read: Preparing for Great Accomplishments in 2016

Follow Keep Rising to the Top’s blog at: Keep Rising to the Top!

Episode link: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/complexitylive/2016/01/08/rising-to-the-top-in-2016-personally-professionally-socially

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Preparing for Great Accomplishments in 2016

On December 10, 2015, I hosted an episode of Complexity Talk Radio – Complexity Live titled Refusing to Settle: Setting High Standards and Expectations. The episode was part of the Celebrating, Embracing and Empowering Girls and Women of Color Talk Radio Series (in celebration of the launch of the National Girls and Women of Color Council, Inc.). Ms. Sonia Renee Brown and I discussed the importance of refusing to settle, setting high standards and high expectations along three dimensions: personal, professional and social and their relativity to psychological, emotional, physical, and social well-being and growth. During the show I decided to write this post with a focus on great accomplishments in 2016. Listen to the episode: Refusing to Settle.

Was 2015 a good year for you personally, professionally and socially? Did you achieve your goals? Is your job or career fulfilling? Are the people in your inner circle enhancing your journey? Carefully examine events that occurred in your life in 2015 and if you did not accomplish your goals, ask yourself why. Did you allow negative people to infiltrate your inner circle and bring negativity into your life? Did you lower your standards and expectations? Did you settle? Is your job so unsatisfying that it drained your creativity and/or motivation? Did events just happen that threw you off balance? You probably answered yes to at least one of the questions, and that is okay, because now you are aware of what you need to do to get back on track and make 2016 the year of great accomplishments.

New Year fireworks and confetti 2016. Vector illustration

Prepare for 2016 by setting realistic short-term and long-term goals that you will accomplish in the new year. Develop plans for achieving each goal, and when you do, know that it is okay to refuse to settle, understand the importance of setting high standards and expectations for yourself, the reasons why you should never lower your standards, embrace defining yourself for yourself, and know that it is important to live with passion, through your eyes. Develop realistic personal, professional, and social goals that enhance your life and make your journey meaningful, significant, and fulfilling.

The Personal Dimension

This is your life so live it through your eyes. Set yourself up to win big and in style by raising the bar and setting high standards and expectations and refuse to lower them. Personal goals can include a commitment to eating healthy and exercising daily, completing a degree, changing your style, spending quality time with family and friends, preparing to buy your dream house, saving for retirement, redecorating, volunteering, mentoring, starting a non-profit, taking a stand on social issues, planning a trip, or something as simple as writing your memoirs, etc. Regardless of the goals that you decide to pursue, know that you are worthy of the best of everything and then some so do not settle for mediocre when you can have and deserve extraordinary. Focus on pursuing your dreams and turning them into reality by your standards, on your time and by your terms.

Most importantly, set aside time for you. Schedule personal time – time alone to reflect, relax, rest, rebalance, and rejuvenate. You may decide to spend your personal time taking a long walk and enjoying nature, a day at the spa, being home alone, treating yourself to something spectacular, working on a hobby, writing, soul-searching, meditating, or goal setting among other meaningful activities. Regardless of how you spend your personal time, make sure that it is time dedicated for your psychological, emotional, physical, and social well-being and growth. When you are balanced, you will note how other areas of your life seem to flow in a good direction, allowing you to channel positive energy and positive thought processes. You will emerge rejuvenated, rebalanced, and refocused on accomplishing your goals. Focus on thinking positive thoughts, taking positive action, and refusing to allow any negative or toxic people or thoughts to enter your space. Your thoughts and the words that you speak can determine your destiny so focus on being in a good place psychologically, emotionally, physically and socially in 2016. Think positive thoughts in all that you do!

The Professional Dimension

A few weeks ago, I asked a good friend if his job was fulfilling and he responded that he had never been more miserable in his life, and his salary is in the six-figure range. I honestly understood how he felt and suggested that perhaps it was time to move on to something more fulfilling and challenging, he agreed, and shortly thereafter called to inform me that he was changing careers to pursue his dream. The point here is that life is too short to be stuck in a job or career that is making you miserable across the board. Examine your job or career and ask yourself if it is fulfilling. If your answer is yes, wonderful, however if your answer is no, perhaps the time has come for you to make a change. Career changes can be rewarding especially so if you are realistically pursuing a dream. Refuse to settle in a career or job that stagnate your growth and overall satisfaction. Challenge yourself to learn new skills and when you have developed the knowledge, skills and abilities required to enter a new career, begin preparing yourself to make the change. Consider starting your own business by exploring and researching opportunities, developing a business plan, and then moving forward. Know that through hard work, perseverance, and determination, you can be a success story. Set high standards and expectations for yourself and refuse to limit yourself or allow others to limit you. Know that one size does not fit all, you can be bigger, better and bolder, and that change can be good for your mind, body and soul. It is possible that 2016 will be your year to embark on a new or second career. Dare to be different and challenge yourself to reach for the stars!

The Social Dimension  

Set high standards and expectations for your social circles and refuse to settle. If you are focused on reaching higher ground in life, then seriously evaluate the people you surround yourself with and ask yourself if they are bringing too much negative energy into your inner circle. Have they grown significantly over the past five years? Are the people within your inner circle holding you back from achieving your goals? If people within your inner circle are stagnating your growth, it is time for a “come to Jesus” after which, you will probably make a decision about whether they will remain a part of your inner circle. Sometimes people do not realize that they are stagnating you and keeping you from reaching your full potential. Set high standards and expectations and surround yourself with positive people who are like-minded and focused on reaching higher ground. Life is a journey and sometimes you have to sever the ties with people in order for you to continue to grow and reach your full potential. Plain and simple, you cannot take everyone with you. Take charge of your life in 2016 and refuse to settle!

In closing, set high standards and expectations for you in 2016, refuse to lower your standards, refuse to settle for mediocre because you deserve extraordinary. Think, believe, and practice positive thought processes in all that you do. Think positively about you personally, professionally and socially. At the end of each day, before you retire for the evening, think positive thoughts about your journey. Your thoughts and the words that you speak have the power to transcend your life. Regardless of the situation, believing, thinking, and speaking positively will make the difference. Believe, with every fiber of your being, that 2016 is going to be the year in which you accomplish great things. Know that the power is within!

Best wishes for a Happy, Healthy, Successful, and Prosperous 2016 and remember to define yourself for yourself and keep rising to the top!

Continued Success!

Dr. Donnamaria Culbreth


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