I chat with my former sister-in-law, Arleen, almost daily. Just because we’re no longer connected by marriage doesn’t mean she and I aren’t connected. Earlier this morning she texted me several messages, one included this bold reminder:

This message made me pause and then laugh at the memories of my past when I actually contemplated the half fullness or emptiness of a glass, thinking it had to be one or the other. It’s not. It’s an “and”. Matter of fact, it’s two “and’s”.

The glass is half empty and half full, and it’s refillable—which is an even bigger a-ha! We can always add to it.

This is life.

Half-fullers

For those of you who have a tendency of always seeing the glass as half-full, this message is for you. Stop seeing lack in everything you encounter.

Conditionally Half-full

Some of you reading this may be optimistic in one part of your life but always skeptical and cynical in another part. You may be thriving in your career and tanking in your love life, or vice versa. It’s because you’re failing to see that relationships are relationships, some are just more intimate than others. You truly limit yourself when you approach life thinking that there’s two worlds you’re straddling. There’s one world, you’re just engaging in each relationship in different ways. It’s about the “and’s”.

Don’t limit yourself. When you do you risk not embracing the “and’s”. They do you no good trapped inside of your mind. How many “and’s” are waiting to pour out of you?

It’s Refillable

We have to stop pushing thoughts and emotions down. Stop running and hiding from them. Explore them. Even the uncomfortable and destructive ones. Dissect them and then deal with them one at a time. Determine what works, what doesn’t, what’s for you and what’s not, and then move forward.

Our dreams die because we keep forgetting that the glass is refillable.

Our relationships die because we keep forgetting that the glass is refillable.

We have to keep pouring into those people and things that matter to us. And being mindful and intentional about what we’re pouring in, when, and why. If you pour in junk that’s what you will get. If you ration what you pour in, you will only get driplets in return. If you’re only pouring in when it serves your immediate needs, then you will only receive a short-term gain. If you’re only pouring in for selfish reasons, then you will find yourself always feeling empty-handed.

And while you’re pouring in you need to responsibly pour out.

We’re social creatures, built to give and receive. If you’re hellbent on receiving but not giving, the cup will be filled and that’s it; it’s full but, over time, you will begin to envy and covet other people’s refilled glasses. You may even knock over your glass reaching towards theirs. You will see all of the changes in their life, and you will want what they have not realizing how and why their glass keeps refilling with such variety and splendor.

The reasons they have what you don’t is simple: They aren’t placing limits on themselves, and they put in the work each day that you’re unwilling to do. They pour into others as they’re cup is being refilled. They do whatever it takes to keep that cup flowing. They operate from a mindset of abundance. They see waterfalls while you see dams. They release while you hoard.

Ooh Look at Their Grass

It’s like the “grass is greener on the other side” analogy that people ponder. I’ve written about it before but let’s look at it in yet another way.

Not Green Enough

If your “grass” is green but not as green as the other “yard”, you may think your grass isn’t green enough. Do you call that yard owner or a lawn care service and ask why their grass seems so much greener? Do you ask how to get your grass as green? Do you check to see what they are doing differently? Or do you check to see if maybe you have a different type of grass that needs to be cared for a different way?

Or do you just stew in your envy and grow to hate your yard? Or do you go a step farther and plot and plan to leave your yard so you can go to the other one?

Maybe their grass is greener because they put in the work each day that you refuse to do, don’t know how to do, or just don’t do as well. Maybe.

It can also be the type of grass. Some types need more or less water, cut more or less frequently, etc. Maybe they invested more in better quality grass, while you chose the cheaper route.

If you never ask the questions about the grass and the caretaker you never get the truth, well not initially. Some folks are so busy trying to fence hop, yard swap, that they don’t know the details.

Some people have gorgeous yards because they pay someone else to care for them, or someone else (like a spouse) is pulling all of the weight and caring for that yard. The person you give credit to for the yard merely found someone with the skills to do it for them. But how many people jump at the chance to get their hands on the person they think makes that grass magical, just to find out their choice was wrong?

We see this a lot in relationships where a person pursues a man/woman who is already in a relationship and they assume that the “greenness” they see is solely the result of that one person they are pursuing. They fail to realize that the partner is doing their share. The person they’re pursuing may not be the caretaker of that lawn.

It’s Fake

Some of you are busy bashing your yard not knowing that other super green lawns are actually artificial turf. You’re trying to swap real for fake. Even if you get it, after some time you may find yourself yearning for the real thing. What are you going to do then, pine for your old yard, tear up your fake one and try to lay down real grass? Or will you jump the fence and go invade yet another yard?

It happens a lot when people fence hop and leave behind their yard for another. After awhile, they start looking at that hard work each day (of labor and/or expense) and begin to yearn for their old yard. What is both sad and comical is when people look back at their old yards and realize that “It wasn’t as bad as I thought. I just didn’t want to put in the work”. They now have a new perspective and they don’t like the decisions they made. That’s what happens when we operate from a mindset of lack.

Brown “Grass”

If your grass is brown it’s because you didn’t care for it properly. It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter if you pack up and go to that other lawn because guess what? You’re still you and you’re still bringing your limited thinking over to that green lawn—which means that unless you put in the work to keep that grass green, you will either end up with brown grass or you’re gonna get kicked out of that yard. Whoever took care of that green grass, that you coveted, isn’t going to let you neglect or abuse it.

Fix Your Mindset

Life is not passive it’s active. You have to engage and take part in it. You have to work to block out what’s toxic and unhealthy, and let in all that is healthy and appropriate for you. It requires discernment, clarity, patience, and discipline. Not all that is healthy is for you. You have to find, see, and embrace what’s right for you. You’re a special puzzle and only the right pieces fit. Some of us just keep jamming the wrong pieces in, trying to make them fit. You’re distorting things for selfish gains, which only leads to loss.

Your mental state of lack will always keep you in a deficit. That’s why the grass-is-greener fiasco keeps you in a state of lack.

We want a microwave solution to an oven-baked situation. That’s a problem we face each day and we don’t realize that the solution is to get out of our own way. Our unhealthy selfishness causes us more grief than gain. We also remain in a state of lack when we make everything about us. When we compare what we don’t have with what someone does have, and we think that we deserve what they have because in our minds we put in equal or greater efforts—yet got different results—and we don’t see the flaws in that distorted logic.

When we are the only priority in every circumstance, we’ve unknowingly declared that the glass isn’t refillable. We’ve actually cut holes into it and we’re watching everything drain out. Ironically, we will blame someone or something else for the holes. Because now we must play the role of victim. It’s all about us, until we have to take responsibility for our actions.

To truly live we have to stop this rollercoaster of madness that we’ve created. We can’t handle it, yet, we expect others to jump on and enjoy the ride. We want people to accept and love us, when we don’t accept and love ourselves. We keep wanting it to be all about us yet we expect others to fulfill a role for us that they were never created for. We covet when we should be grateful and content.

Just like our bodies need water we need a healthy source to tap into so that our thirsts are quenched, and we can function as we’re designed. The three-part question now to ponder is:

Who and/or what is your source? Do you go within or elsewhere to access it? How will you stay out of the way so it can do what needs to be done?

~Natasha

Copyright 2020. Natasha L. Foreman.

A few moments ago I was reviewing my list of students who I had sent “life vests” and “life rafts” to in an effort to save them from themselves.

Let me explain.

Some of my students take on a weighted course load and find it more difficult than they expected to juggle school, work, family, and a social life. This is especially the case if they take a hybrid or online course, and then when you add that the course is with me, the stakes really get high.

Now don’t cringe.

I’m not a mean or difficult instructor. There’s balance with me. I’m firm and assertive yet I’m always open for negotiation. I pour myself into my classes because it is my mission to give my students enough information that becomes applied knowledge, that helps them in school, work, and in life. For me, it’s more than the textbooks that they read. I don’t want them memorizing and regurgitating information. I want to see and hear how they applied what was taught to them. I want to see their growth and help support their academic and professional needs. I want to provide them with as many tools and resources as I can; so yes, I’m extremely engaged in my classes. So no, the course work is not easy. There are no easy-A’s in my class. You will earn whatever grade that you receive.

As I tell my students:

Your grade is your paycheck and your GPA is your credit score“.

As an instructor, I’m also serious about meeting deadlines but I’m flexible in providing extensions to those who get clobbered or blindsided by life. The reality is, we all get clobbered and blindsided from time-to-time.

Someone who hasn’t needs to be studied closely.

How can I make mistakes and forget deadlines, yet punish my team for doing the same? Is that not hypocritical? The “do as I say not as I do” rule that our parents embedded in our minds is why we have as many problems in this world. We all simply wait until we gain the power to enforce that same rule on others. It’s ridiculous.

As a college instructor I run my classrooms much like a business. I inform my students that for the length of the term or semester, they are to conduct themselves as though this is a corporation, they are managers, and I am their senior manager. But as a servant leader, I am not here to bark orders and reign supreme over them; I’m also not here to hold their hands and coddle them. They are not babies or small children.

I am here to serve them, empower them, and help to elevate them to the next level.

I encourage them to respectfully challenge the textbooks and readings, and yes, even me. Their minds will only sharpen with critical thinking and by testing and applying tools and skills that they have acquired. I also make sure to frequently ask for feedback and evaluations on how much they are learning and applying from my classes, as well as how well they believe that I am managing and leading them. I frequently ask them to tell me how I can best support their learning and growth needs.

I try to intervene with students who risk falling below a “C”. I don’t want my students to fail my class. Not because of managerial pressures from the higher-ups. Not because of any of the reasons and excuses that most would assume. I don’t want my students to fail because it means that somehow I failed them. It is my responsibility as their manager-leader to help guide them. Just as I would for an employee that I don’t want to see fired or to watch go through the stages of “burn-out”. If I see “red flags” early enough I can step in and provide guidance as to how my students can improve or how they can withdraw from the class (by deadlines) and take it at a later date when life isn’t clobbering them so hard. Usually one of these two interventions work.

Sometimes it doesn’t.

There are some students who choose the chartered path that they know will lead to failure, and no matter how much I attempt to help them help themselves, they are content to splash around in that ocean while watching the life vest and raft float away.

So today as I reviewed my list of students who continue to drown in this academic ocean, refusing to use either or both the vest and the raft that I threw to them weeks ago, I ran across an old email from a student who is failing one of my classes. Weeks ago this person said that they wanted to do well in my class and that they would improve—they  just needed a strategy to do so. I provided the student with the strategy and the deadline extensions that they needed to meet in order to bring their grade up to a “C” or better.

I’m always aiming for better but I won’t force greatness on anyone who would rather be average or below. Everyone should be free to choose.

Weeks later this student still has not completed the past due work and sadly they haven’t completed any current work, yet they continue to log into the course room–most likely so that their attendance is tracked so they don’t lose financial aid and other benefits. Yes, I have students who are motivated enough to log into class to not lose their financial aid, but they aren’t motivated enough to do the work, to pass the class, to keep their financial aid. It’s a baffling logic that they operate by in their parallel universe.

Okay I should stop with my sarcasm.

There is a portion of my email message that I typed to this student that I truly believe needs to be shared with others, with you. Someone out there needs to read these few lines below, because maybe it will be the added layer that helps to snatch them out of their “funk”, their “brain fog”, their whatever is holding them back and keeping them down.

Or maybe it won’t. But I’m sharing anyway.

…your dreams and goals in life are only achieved through the efforts you make. No one will give you anything of worth simply because you show up. You must put in the work and earn the things that you desire. Those that think that greatness will just magically come to them will always find themselves cast to the side, because greatness requires boldness—it requires commitment and dedication despite and because of the odds. 

You must choose if whether you want to be good, great, average, mediocre, exceptional, or just “blah”. Your actions and efforts will align and reflect accordingly. I believe that you have the potential to be at any level that you set your eyes, mind, and heart to achieve. 

If you aim low then you will always fall below that line. If you aim high and run your well-paced race, you may fall short of the desired point but you landed much higher than if you had aimed low to begin with.

Where are you aiming?

What efforts are you making to get there?

No one can do this for you, only you can!

I hope that my student gets what I was trying to convey in my email. I hope that it helps to snatch them out of their pit and motivates them to run, walk, crawl or even roll to the victory line. They may not cross in first place, but they will cross. Every race we start we’re expected to finish.

Love,

Natasha

Copyright 2018. Natasha Foreman Bryant/Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

When we look at the most successful people, professionally and personally, they all have something in common—they are mindful of their inner circle and the people that surround them. They are mindful of their space and who plays a role in their lives, and how those roles are played.

Energy is important to them so they passionately purge out toxic energy, toxic people, and try to steer clear of toxic environments. That’s why they have a magnetic energy that just draws you in.

They have clearly defined boundaries and there are consequences for those who blatantly cross them. They set personal standards and they hold others to equally high standards.

They also have accountability partners–friends and colleagues that they connect with that hold them accountable and vice versa. There’s a healthy push that takes place, where goals stated are encouraged and there are benchmarks to gain status updates. No slacking allowed is the mindset.

Good seeks great. Great seeks excellence.

You don’t see joyful people hanging around miserable people. You don’t see people who are focused on being mentally, physically and spiritually fit hanging around those who could care less about their own health and wellbeing. People who are always seeing opportunities and potential, even in the worst possible moments don’t hang around people who always see the impossible and what they “can’t” do.

We must be mindful of the people we allow in our inner circle. We must be mindful of who we share energy with, and of the time we invest in others. If you’re spending too much time with people that constantly take your time and zap your energy, then how can you replenish and recharge?

You have to find a healthy balance.

For me I’ve come to the conclusion that with the exception of my family and the people that I mentor, if you’re here to “take” and to hitch your “wagon” to me, please keep walking. I have a limited bandwidth just like the next person and I have to be mindful of how I invest my time and energy, and who I invest in.

Family is family, there’s a natural give and take. As a mentor I’m positioned to give so that minds may be expanded and doors of opportunity may be opened. But for everyone else…as the saying goes “iron sharpens iron” and if you aren’t iron then hanging around me won’t make it so. I need to be challenged and to be held accountable—if you aren’t pushing up the mountain as hard or harder than me then you’re working against me not with me.

The fastest sprinter doesn’t run beside the slowest. Instead you seek out and challenge someone as fast or faster than you. Then you push each other to greatness. Neither of you are holding back or holding each other back.

I strive for excellence and in my moments of fear, doubt, insecurity, or worry the last person that I need beside me is a person who is paralyzed by fear, doubt, insecurity, and worry. When I’m looking for solutions I don’t need someone bringing me more problems or making me focus on the ones in front of me. When I’m trying to motivate myself to eat right and go to the gym or for a jog, the last person I’m trying to hang around in that moment is the person who isn’t motivated to do any of those things. When I’m “in my head” I don’t have space for you to also be “in my head”.

I need accountability partners. I can’t have a wealth mindset and you have a broke one. I’m focused on a healthy lifestyle while you’re on a toxic crash course. I can’t be a warrior while you’re a victim. I can’t be pushing forward while you’re going in reverse.

Iron sharpens iron. If you aren’t iron please keep walking!

As we near the end of 2017 look closely at your inner circle. Look at those you invest time and energy in and consider your return on this investment. Is there added value? If not, consider realigning those relationships so that you are free to give more time where it is mutually rewarding, and so you are positioned to be the best version of you.

Remember, iron sharpens iron!

~Natasha

I learn the lesson and move forward, not dwelling on what once was because I’m too focused on what I’m doing now and how it can impact my future. I’m not concerned with those I once encountered who I walked away from because if they were meant to be in my life today God would have kept them by my side…I am not concerned with what once was or if something could have been differently; the woulda, coulda, shoulda is for people who will always be less than where they need to be in life. I am also in no hurry to get to my future for I am still amazed by what is taking place today, the present, and the gifts that I receive daily by just being receptive and accountable. I strive to lead, live and make decisions in and through excellence not fear, doubt, or insecurity. Those who don’t see things that way usually don’t last walking next to me on this path. I lovingly allow them to stay behind or sprint ahead, because I’m on a long-distance mission of greatness that can’t be rushed or held behind.”

– Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

(a portion of this quote is an excerpt from her 12.15.11 “Breaking Bread With Natasha” posts. Check them out here: WordPress and Blogger)
Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.