People are always asking me if I think there’s a “formula” for success [side note: I have a formula for everything: how to get the most out of being stuck in traffic, how to never spend unnecessary time at an airport, etc. so this question isn’t as random as it seems].
While I believe that success is not a neatly definable idea, and think that people can expound it differently, these are three tools that will help you on your way to whatever definition of success you are striving towards.
Tips on finding mentors as awesome as mine? Choose a mentor whose life, and not just their career, you are inspired by.
I've been extremely lucky to have a small group of impactful mentors who both inspire me and give me the honest feedback I really need to grow. You’re never going to find one mentor who can be everything for you. They each have different and equally helpful sets of skills that can help me as different obstacles get thrown my way. It's rare for me to use a sports analogy, but it really fits here so think about baseball; you have your coach, and you have individual trainers for specific things – a batting coach, a pitching coach, etc. That’s exactly what you need in mentorship.
Find people who have values aligned with yours. Some may have done amazing work that they are proud of, but have they managed to balance their health? Do they have a supportive family? Do they attend their children’s football games? Have they also explored their interests outside of those things? Human beings aren’t linear – I won’t ever be making a decision just as a businesswoman. I’ll also be making them as a sister, a mentor, a partner, and a designer. You want someone in your corner who can help you see the big picture.
The relationships you have with your mentors are ones that can (and ideally should) span many years, and likely several careers. The best way to ensure longevity is to make sure that you are giving back. Just because you are younger and earlier in your career, doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything to offer them. What are you better at than everyone else? Can you help them with a certain technology? Can you help their kids with an introduction? Don’t forget to take the time to ask them what they need.
Having a coach is actually vastly different from having a mentor and I'm a big believer in both. Coaches help you with proactive development on a more micro level and are trained and certified to help with things like management and strategy.
I’ve been working with my coach, Tim Porthouse, for over a year. We meet twice a month in person or on FaceTime. He helps me define (and redefine!) my goals and then make sure I’m held accountable for taking steps to achieve them.
Tim will often prescribe specific exercises in order to help me both understand what it is I really want and then assess opportunities that will help me get there as well as beat the obstacles that I need to move past them.
My sister, LisaMarie, who is also my business partner and best friend, is always joking about my powerful manifestation practice. I say I want something to happen and she's like, "You are so crazy, did you write it down? You'll definitely get it then!" She's right. For a long time I plan something that doesn't seem like you can plan for it, I write it down and then I find it in my life. As a way of tying the above together, as well as working in my more personal goals, I create vision boards. Usually once a year (around my birthday) I sit down and map out what I’m trying to accomplish. The result of every goal, whether it be eating less sugar or decreasing my email response window, aligns with a longer term value.
Whether you define success by pennies, moments, growth, or something else altogether, I hope the above formula can help you determine who you need to have in your corner to help you get there.
In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.
For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.
Believe it or not, I am happy about that.
The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.
It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).
These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.
So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.
Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.
The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."
In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.