Who Do You Credit Your Success To?

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I have been asked, “What is the one driving motivation that helped you become the success you are today?”

I credit my success to the influence of my mother. Because of her life, it became clear to me that beauty starts from the inside out. I grew up in a small Southern town where today many of the women still reflect the charm and the grace of times gone by. Care is taken with their dress, makeup, hair, and accessories. Many women still use that unwritten code of conduct in their behavior and manners.

Shortly after my mom gave birth to her sixth child she became very weak and bedridden. After many years, she was eventually diagnosed at Mayo Clinic with a disease called myasthenia gravis. At that time, the only option had been to place a rubber tube in her stomach in order to pour water and blended food as she could not even swallow her own saliva. I never heard her complain or speak unkindly of anyone as she endured all this suffering without protest. She bore her illness with dignity and grace, and she exemplified a beautiful and loving woman of faith.

The few times she was able to leave her bed, she dressed like Jackie Kennedy with elegance and refinement and when she was in bed, which was eight long years, she wore chiffon lace bed jackets and took care with her hair and applied her lipstick with attention. She taught me an indispensable attitude that can transform and inspire individuals and that attitude was courage, hope, and perseverance.

Two years before her death she developed breast cancer and had two radical mastectomies along with grueling radiation treatments. As a young girl, I would rub baby oil on her chest as the raw, dead skin came off in my hands. She died at age forty-two, and I had just turned thirteen. At this early age, her death had a profound effect on me in dealing with tragedy. As an adult, I grew to understand that her “sense of style” was, in essence, the life of a saintly woman.

My upbringing had a significant effect on me and my desire to teach others to harness their inner beauty, in spite of their brokenness. One can move through life with dignity and grace. You must understand your value, and you can design your life today.

I believe your decisions about allocating your personal time, energy, and talent ultimately shape your life strategy. My life’s strategy has been to see where I was needed, overcome obstacles in my life, become educated, and encourage and care for others. Through teaching special education, parenting classes, and women’s enrichment classes, as a wife, as a mother of five, and now as a corporate leadership trainer, I have utilized my strengths, encouraging others to be effective leaders of tomorrow.

I believe personal image is essential to success.

Personal image is managing yourself to influence others and is the quickest and most tangible way to gain credibility. Personal image has to do with the personal dignity of every individual. Every person has a sphere of influence, whether it is at the coffee shop, grocery store, the workplace, home, or school. You can positively influence others with your use of words, time, energy, and talent.

Successful people understand the importance of creating a positive and lasting impression. We live in a visual world that perceives us through our personal image, and we are judged by the way we look and convey our energy. Consequently, everything has to start from the inside out.

The power of your uniqueness is the most appealing aspect of your image. Your personal image helps you distinguish yourself. It has to become your “uniform.” You always need to be instantly recognized as the person who delivers on your promises, who can be trusted in all business transactions, and who will help find solutions for your friends and your clients.

Your best personal image includes practicing principles of integrity, charity, patience, and authenticity. The notion of elegance remains central to the professional world today. So the individual who lives with refinement and dignity, as well as remaining approachable; reflects respect for themselves and others through attention to the little details of caring for ourselves and others.

As an educator, author and presenter, I believe in raising the bar for individuals to express themselves in the most positive light because their personal image affects every impression they make and can lead them to success in both personal and professional life.

I inspire others to create an immediate and effective impact with credibility through our Executive Presence training.

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