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The Courage to be You: 12 Inspirational Women

Courage is a character trait that is rarely associated with women because we are socialized to be overly cautious and perfect. In her inspirational Ted talk “Teach girls bravery, not perfection”, Reshma Saujani describes the damage that is done to individual women and our society as a whole by socializing women to be overly cautious.  She recounts an HP report that shows that men will apply for jobs if they meet 60% of the qualification criteria, but women will not apply unless they meet 100% of the qualification criteria. That difference creates significant gender differences in the career trajectories and incomes of men and women. In addition to limiting the career potential of women, this over cautiousness also limits their family’s earnings as well as the growth of our national economy. As Saujani states, “ our economy is being left behind on all the innovation and problems women would solve if they were socialized to be brave instead of socialized to be perfect”.  This illustrates the deep connection between our personal development and collective development on a local, national, and global level. The world is significantly improved by you developing yourself and your abilities.

So how do we correct our national deficit in bravery? Reshma Saujani suggests that  “we have to show [women] that they will be loved and accepted not for being perfect but for being courageous…. women who are brave and who will build a better world for themselves and for each and every one of us.” In response to Saujani’s call to action, I’ve decided to dedicate this week’s post to 12 courageous women who gave up the pressure to be perfect in pursuit of being their fully authentic selves in the world. Through their courageous choices, these women made the world a better place for themselves and for us all.

12 Women of Courage

Let's encourage our females to choose bravery over perfection.

Let’s encourage females to choose bravery over perfection.

 

  1. Fannie Lou Hamer

It took courage for Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer to attempt to register to vote in rural Mississippi in 1962. Her act of bravery resulted in her being fired from her job as a sharecropper and her and her husband losing their home. Rather than see these negative results as a reason not to take a stand, Mrs. Hamer became even more resolute in her commitment to courageously pursuing freedom for herself and her people. Thank you Mrs. Hamer for your courage to stand up for justice regardless of the personal costs.

  1. Arianna Huffington

It took courage for Arianna Huffington, an ambitious entrepreneur and founder of The Huffington Post,  to redefine success for herself. Although her personal definition of success conflicted with larger cultural expectations, Huffington reorganized her life according to her priorities. In her book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining success and creating a life of well-being, wisdom, and wonder, Huffington describes the risks involved in rejecting the culture of the rat race and prioritizing sleep, family, and generosity. Arianna Huffington courageously refused to sacrifice personal and family well-being in pursuit of an external definition of success. Thank you Arianna Huffington for your courage to form your own definition of success and for encouraging us to do this for ourselves.

  1. Jillian Mercado

It took courage for Jillian Mercado, a woman with muscular dystrophy and confined to a wheelchair, to submit her photo and letter for an open casting call to model for Diesel jeans. She risked rejection, ridicule and destroying her lifelong dream of working in the fashion industry. Jillian Mercado’s courageous act has created modeling opportunities for herself and for other individuals who aren’t typically including in fashion. Mercado states “I kind of took it on as a challenge to make sure that I represented all those girls that didn’t see themselves in the industry.” Thank you for Jillian Mercado for your courageous act to show your unique beauty and creating a more inclusive space for us to do the same.

  1. Robin Emmons

It took courage for Robin Emmons to leave a 20-year career in corporate finance to nurture herself, her family, and her nation. After placing her brother in a mental health facility, she witnessed first hand the damage that is caused by regular consumption of unhealthy food. Emmons bravely dedicated herself to providing fresh produce to individuals and communities that have limited access to healthy food. Through her courageous act of founding Sow Much Good to address head on the systematic injustices creating food deserts and poor health outcomes in working poor and minority communities, Robin Emmons has provided thousands of people who are food insecure with the opportunity to have quality nutritious food to promote their health and well-being. Every time I eat a fresh delicious apple, I think of Robin and thank her for her courage to propose new strategies to solve our pressing social problems.

  1. Adrienne Rich

It took courage for Adrienne Rich to refuse the National Medal of Arts in 1997 because she disagreed with the politics of the White House administration. She risked public shaming and the end of her career as a beloved poet. Yet, Rich was brave enough to protect her personal integrity even at the loss of public support. Thank you Adrienne Rich for producing years of courageous social justice poetry and for showing those words in action in your own life.

  1. Cynthia Cooper

It took tremendous courage for Cynthia Cooper to publicize the fraud of WorldCom, a company in which she was the Vice President. Her career and professional reputation was on the line and it would have been easier to ignore the fraud that she discovered in her internal audits. Yet, Copper’s bravery protected the financial security of many Americans who were being tricked by the telephone company’s misrepresentation of their financial status. Cooper received a public thank you for her bravery in 2002 when she was named by Time magazine as one of the “People of the Year”. Thank you Cynthia Cooper for demonstrating the public benefit of courage and honesty.

  1. J.K. Rowling

It took courage for J.K. Rowling to continue to pursuing her goal to be a novelist in spite of the numerous rejection letters she received. Had she not continued to risk rejection, we would not be able to enjoy the “Harry Potter” series. However, J.K. Rowling also did another courageous act of publicizing a recent rejection letter she received while writing under a pen name. She wanted to make her rejection public as a way to encourage other aspiring writers to bravely pursue their own paths. Thanks J.K. Rowling for courageously making your private failure public so we could be emboldened to take our own risks.

  1. Toshonna Ross

It took great courage for Toshonna Ross to commit to living after enduring years of physical and emotional abuse. In fact, the pain of her life was so great that she attempted suicide multiple times. Yet, Ross found the courage to commit to herself and to build a life for herself that was better than what she had experienced thus far. As Ross rebuilt her life, she courageously shared her experiences with other women in similar situations. The bravery that Toshonna Ross’ demonstrated in rebuilding her life and sharing her experience reminds us all that our tragedies can be triumphs if we face them courageously. Thank you Ms. Ross for your inspirational courage.

  1. Zenzele Johnson

It took great courage for Zenzele Johnson to resign from a successful career as a youth educator. She was well loved by her students and served as a strong advocate from them, often going above and beyond the call of duty. Yet she knew that continuing to be in this position would lead to burnout and a compromise of her health. Johnson’s brave choice to prioritize self-care was a bold declaration of the new life she was creating. As Johnson states “Taking care of oneself is a true testament to growth and for that it will always be a step in the right direction, it will always be brave.” Thank you Zenzele Johnson for courageously valuing and protecting yourself and reminding us to make the same brave choice.

  1. Mo’ne Davis

It took courage for 13-year old Mo’ne Davis to step into the national spotlight and dominate little league baseball, a sport that for decades has been thought of as male only. Numerous women who have courageously played “male” sports recount the taunts that come from players, opponents and fans. It takes tremendous fortitude to remain in such settings, let alone thrive. A significant part of Mo’ne’s success on and off the field is her unwavering confidence, even in the face of her obvious difference.  In describing her dominance on the field, Mo’ne explains “I throw my curveball like Clayton Kershaw and my fastball like Mo’ne Davis.” Thank you Mo’ne for having the courage to be uniquely yourself in the national spotlight and inspiring us to do the same.

  1. Me, Dr. Kesha Moore

It took courage for me to risk my professional status as a social science researcher and commit to engaging and helping women through life coaching. I risked losing the esteem of my colleagues and my financial stability, but the opportunity to have this knowledge applied and used to make people’s lives better was worth that risk. Now as I witness the growth that my choice has produced in myself and my clients, I am so glad I exercised my courage.

    12. You

Although I may not know you personally, I know that you have tremendous value, a distinctive set of talents, and a unique perspective on the world. I realize that your uniqueness may not always be celebrated and it takes courage to be different. Your acts of developing yourself and your talents are valuable contributions to our world. I thank you for exercising the courage to be your authentic self and share that with our world.

 

Practice Courage

Making our unique contributions to this world, requires us to act courageously.

Making our unique contributions to this world, requires us to act courageously.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the willingness to act in spite of the fear. As Arianna Huffington explains “Fearlessness is like a muscle. I know from my own life that the more I exercise it, the more natural it becomes to not let my fears run me.” Courage is a skill that can be learned like any other skill set. Courage is best learned in “small moments” when the stakes are less high. It takes courage to raise your hand in class and ask for clarification. It takes courage to voice an opinion different from those around you. It takes courage to speak of your dreams and ambitions that are outside of the norm. Practice taking these small risks daily and you will see your courage muscles grow.

Please share below your small and large acts of courage so that we all can be inspired to courageously be our unique selves.

 

Failing to First Place: How failure can promote your success

Failure is a key to success

Unlock your key to success

Failure is something that invokes fear in us and that we often seek to avoid. However, if properly embraced failure can catapult us to our success. In the video below we see Heather Dorniden (now Heather Kampf) fall on her face in her second lap of the Women’s 600 meter run. Yet instead of being immobilized by her failure, Heather pushed herself up off the ground, focused on rebuilding her momentum, and eventually finished in first place! Heather’s effective response to failure catapulted her into winning the race and winning the hearts of millions of people around the world who learned of her success through the youtube video. In an interview with Brent Yarina of BTN.com, Heather offers us insights about how we can use our big and small  failures to promote ourselves to first place as well.

The Gifts of Failure

Failure teaches us things we have not previously understood about ourselves and our world.

Failure reveals what is missing or incomplete in our understanding . Approaching our failure like a scientist or engineer will help us to learn key components to our success from failure. This requires asking ourselves important questions and answering honestly. “Why didn’t we get the result we were expecting?” “How do we need to adjust our understanding or behavior to get better success?” Even when we have a long history of being successful in an area, failure can show us what we need to learn in order to reach a new level of success. As Heather Dorniden reflects on her epic fall, she states that she “didn’t account for enough space for my long stride, because I felt my heel get clipped once, and then on the second time I knew I was going down”. Even experienced and successful runners still have more to learn about themselves and their craft that will improve their performance. Failure can be an excellent teacher.

Failure gives us an opportunity to reconnect with our original vision.

Failure can help us get clarity on our vision.

Get clarity on your vision.

How do we get the motivation to get up and keep going after we’ve experienced an epic failure? Dorniden recounts that “the positive vision of what I was hoping to accomplish in that race was stronger than the adversity I faced”. If we use the experience of failure to ask ourselves what we wanted to achieve and why it was important to us anyway, we can reconnect with our original vision in a way that motivates us to success. Failure does not mean that our goal was unworthy or that we are incapable of achieving it. Failure is teaching us critical steps to accomplishing our goal, but we must remain engaged in the process to learn. By reminding ourselves of the value of our goal, we affirm for ourselves that it was and still is worthy of our effort. The clarity of this vision is what enables us to push ourselves up and keep running.

Failure helps us to focus our energy on the process, not the outcome.

Failure helps us focus on the skills we need to succeed.

Focus on the skills you need to succeed.

When we are learning from failure, we realize that our goal is worthy but that we don’t yet have all the tools necessary to accomplish that goal. Failure focuses us on identifying and developing those mission critical tools that will enable us to achieve our goals. There is social science research that suggest that focusing on the process, rather than the outcome, is better able to produce successful results. This makes sense because when we are too focused on the outcome, we can become immobilized by fearful thoughts that we are never going to make it. However, when we focus on doing what is immediately in front of us well and better, we build up the talent and momentum to reach our goal . As Heather remembers:

“all I really thought was I need to keep running, because if I finish I’ll at least earn one point. As I started running, I began to gain on one girl, and then the rest of the pack didn’t seem that far away. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I caught them all?”  Then, on the final curve, I heard the in-house announcer say, “Watch out for Heather Dorniden!!” and I thought, “Yeah!! Watch out! I’m coming!” And from there, it was just this incredible surge of energy and an effortless press for the finish line.”

Failure reveals how strong and talented we really are.

Failure reveals our true strength.

Failure reveals our true strength.

There are few things that raise self-confidence as much as accomplishing something that you couldn’t do before. I love jigsaw puzzles and find them quite addictive. What makes them so pleasurable to me is how proud I am of myself when I successfully make a puzzle out of what used to be a table full of nonsensical pieces. Making sense out of what used to be nonsense to me reveals to myself how smart I really am. The things that cause you frustration and difficulty now will become your future trophies of your talent and strength.  Heather Dorniden reminds us that the most inspirational component of her epic win is what it reveals about her internal strength. She states, “I always tell people this race isn’t just about never giving up, it’s about discovering what you’re capable of when you are given the opportunity to rise above adversity.”

Keys to failing intelligently

Practice failing intelligently.

Practice failing intelligently.

So what distinguishes the failure that ruins lives from the failure that brings success? Simply speaking, it is your response to the failure that will determine the impact of that event on your life. Here are two ways you can ensure that you fail intelligently in a way that brings you to your ultimate success.

Accept the “gifts” of your failure.

What are the lessons embedded in your failure. What new skills, behaviors, understandings can you learn from this event? Why is failing or succeeding in this endeavor important to you?

Get up and finish.

Get up and keep going!

Get up and keep going!

This requires implementing a process where you develop and practice using the insights you’ve learned from your failure. As you methodically place one foot in front of another, you begin to see you increased distance from where you were and proximity to where you want to be. Steady activity based on the insights gained from your failure will lead you to success. Heather Dorniden shares:

“I would have never guessed that getting up and finishing that race would have made me a “YouTube sensation.” Not every fall I’ve had has been quite so epic, but I learned that it’s worth getting up every time. “

Imagine what success you can achieve if you get up and finish!

I’d love to hear your reactions to this inspirational story and moments in your own life when you have used your failure to promote you to success. Please share below.

Wisdom from Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou teaches us how to live a life of joy.

Maya Angelou teaches us how to live a life of joy.

          In a previous post, I discussed the how the life of Maya Angelou teaches us how to triumph over life’s obstacles. Her life serves as a guide post for us about how we can create lives full of joy and success; lives that leave a definitive impact on the world. In that vein, I’d like to share with you some of the words of Maya Angelou that have been particularly motivating for me. I constantly surround myself with my favorite inspirational quotes to remind me of who I am and what is possible. These are my top 10 quotes from Maya Angelou that inspire me to show up and share my life in spite of feelings of fear and doubt that may arise. I hope they also inspire you to courageously be your authentic self and share your unique gift with our world.

10 Quotes of Wisdom from Maya Angelou

  1. Develop enough courage you can stand up for yourself and then stand up for somebody else.”
    The value of courage

    The wisdom of courage

  2. History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
    The courage to face history

    The wisdom of history

  3. Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
    The true definition of success.

    The true definition of success.

  4. I do my best because I’m counting on you counting on me.”
    The value of community.

    The wisdom of community.

  5. If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”
    The value of individuality.

    The wisdom of individuality.

  6. You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.
    The wisdom of creativity.

    The wisdom of creativity.

  7. Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”
    The wisdom of female solidarity.

    The wisdom of female solidarity.

  8. If you don’t like something change it, if you can’t change it change your attitude.”
    The wisdom of change

    The wisdom of change

  9. Living life as art requires a readiness to forgive.”
    The wisdom of forgiveness.

    The wisdom of forgiveness.

  10. Don’t be a prisoner of ignorance. The world is larger, far more complicated, and far more wonderful than ignorance allows.”
The wisdom of expanding your worldview.

The wisdom of expanding your worldview.

 

So that’s my top ten list of inspirational quotes from Maya Angelou. I’d love to hear which quote inspires you the most or which one you’d like to add to this list.

 

 

 

 

The Secret of Maya Angelou: A legacy of triumph

The Phenomenal Legacy of Maya Angelou

The Phenomenal Legacy of Maya Angelou

In 1928 Marguerite Annie Johnson, the great spirit that we have come to know and love as Maya Angelou, began her life journey. Maya gained strength and wisdom from her family and community that enabled her to thrive in spite of the oppressive force of Jim Crow segregation. Through her writings, Maya Angelou taught us how to transform our own suffering into triumph . As I reflect upon her legacy, I am struck by three major themes that shaped Maya Angelou’s life and writings. These themes present important life lessons to us about how we can transform our suffering, maximize our joy, and impact our world.

 

Maya’s Legacy to Us….

We too can transform our adversity into success.

Transform our adversity into success.

  1. Use the power of your voice

As a woman who enjoyed a long and prosperous career as a writer, poet, actor, and singer, it is hard to believe that Maya Angelou’s voice was ever silent. Yet from the ages of 7-12, Maya experienced selective mutism. Maya Angelou was sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend. Shortly after her telling her brother about the abuse, the man who abused her was found dead. Maya refused to speak believing that her speaking caused his death. Even her silence was a result of Maya’s belief in the power of voice. Fortunately, Maya regained her willingness to speak and through her writings has helped so many people who were also victims of sexual abuse also find their voice.

 

Maya Angelou quote

 

The first of her autobiographies, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, discussed this traumatic event and other painful memories of growing up under racial segregation. This book was an immediate national and international success, catapulting Maya Angelou onto a worldwide stage. It also made literary history as the first non-fiction best seller written by an African American woman. Maya Angelou’s willingness to courageously voice her truth paved the way for her success and enabled her to help countless people around the world who have read and benefited from her work.

Use the power of your voice to shape your world.

Use the power of your voice to shape your world.

This is the power of voice. Imagine how your life can change and how other people can benefit from the contribution of your voice. Do not shrink from the challenge of the task by playing small and suggesting that there is nothing for you to contribute. Your challenges and triumphs have given you a unique perspective that will add value to others if you are willing to give it voice. If there is something you want to say, chances are there is someone who wants to hear it . Activate the power of your voice.

  1. Never stop growing and contributing

    Love Life quote

    Live your life passionately!

Maya Angelou’s artistic career began in her late teens and continued until the time of her passing in 2014. She was always producing without recognition of the clock of ageing and cultural expectations about slowing down. Maya Angelou published her first memoir at the age of 41. She began her academic career as a college professor at the age of 53 and was invited by President Bill Clinton to write a special poem for his Presidential Inauguration at the age of 65.

Much of the reason for Maya Angelou’s longevity in her career is the vitality with which she approached life. She was always learning and growing which enabled her to continually make fresh contributions to our world. The writings of Maya Angelou are not recycled versions of her earlier work; they reflect change and growth. Maya demonstrated a willingness to engage in new forms of expression and start new careers past the age when society expects us to retire from life.

Lifelong learning is the key to vitality and longevity.

Lifelong learning is the key to vitality and longevity.

Maya Angelou serves as a positive model for aging, especially for women who are often taught to connect our vitality to youth. I remember the wisdom she shared with Oprah about the glory of life after 50. Although I was barely 20 at the time that show aired, I remember thinking how excited I am about turning 50! And then Maya returned to the Oprah show to report that 80 was even better!

Maya Angelou showed us that our beauty, vitality, and ability to make valuable contributions to the world does not stop at any age . Her commitment to life-long learning and her openness to sharing makes Maya’s legacy so impactful. She did not shrink from the painful, dark places both internally and externally. She faced them with courage, humor, and love and invited us to do the same.

  1. Expand your horizons through travel

Travel teaches us new things about ourselves and our world.

Travel teaches us new things about ourselves and our world.

Maya Angelou spent much of her time in the 1960’s living abroad. She lived in Egypt for some time and worked as an editor of the English language weekly, The Arab Observer. Later Maya Angelou move to Ghana where she worked as a freelance writer and editor of The Ghanaian Times. These extended travels outside of the United States helped to expand Maya’s understanding of herself and her place in the world. She later returned to the US to help her good friend Malcolm X build his new organization, the Organization of Afro-American Unity(OAAU).

The experiences and relationships that Maya formed during her travels expanded her understanding of the human struggle and the possibilities for our collective future. Travel can do the same for us. Too often we remain in our comfort zones, interacting only with people who share our identities and perspectives. Whether we are traveling across town, across the country, our across the world, travel can disrupt our comfortable notions of ourselves and our world . This disruption is valuable because it requires developing a bigger, more comprehensive perspective that can incorporate the new perspectives and experiences of the diverse people we encounter through our travels.

 

Continuing Maya’s Legacy….

 

Be the hero for this time and this place.

Be the hero for this time and this place.

Maya Angelou has given us a precious gift by sharing her life and her art with us. Although we can no longer ask her questions about the new challenges of our day, we can continue to draw upon her wisdom. We are the beneficiaries of Maya Angelou’s legacy and we can commit to making sure that this powerful legacy does not end with us. We can choose to share the courage, wisdom, and love that Maya shared with us . We can give the gift of our voice, commit ourselves to lifelong learning and growth, willingly share our contributions with the world, and expand our horizons by engaging people and places outside of our comfort zones.  In doing this, we rise to greet the possibilities of each new day with the hopefulness embedded in Maya Angelou’s poem “On the Pulse of Morning.”  Please listen to the poem below and imagine Maya Angelou speaking to you about the power and potential that exists within you at this moment.

 

I invite you to share your own reflections on the legacy of Maya Angelou for you below.

What No One Tells You about Success

Have you ever considered what history has to do with your present level of success and the likelihood of future success? It’s more than the proverbial statement “those that don’t know their history are bound to repeat it.” Recent social science research reveals that the knowledge of history improves our resiliency and increases our success.

Resiliency is a pre-requisite for success

 

Knowledge of our history can enhance our resiliency and provide each of us with the resources to succeed.

Knowledge of our history can enhance our resiliency and provide each of us with the resources to succeed.

Current social science research reveals that resiliency is a significant predictor of future success. Resiliency refers to our capacity to bounce back from traumatic life events or situations. We know that resiliency reduces emotional stress, increases life satisfaction and increases likelihood of success. Whether measuring athletic accomplishments or academic achievement, research shows that resiliency promotes optimal performance. In all areas of life individuals’ who have more resiliency experience more success.

 

We can not control where we start in life. Life often presents us with substantial challenges and negative situations beyond our choosing. However, Dr. Joy DeGruy’s research documents that knowledge of family history increases resiliency and success for at-risk youth. In other words, the more history a young person knows, the greater likelihood of success in spite of the challenges of the social environment.

 

3 Ways history can increase resiliency and success

#1. Knowledge of history creates a system of personal accountability

History can create a sense of accountability that promotes our success.

History can create a sense of accountability that promotes our success.

We stand here today as the result of great efforts from others on our behalf. Some examples of the individual and collective work done on our behalf include: our family’s efforts to provide for us until we could provide for ourselves, unknown soldiers fighting for our political freedom, and social activists fighting for our social and economic opportunities. Whether they know us by name or not, we are beneficiaries of of these people’s work. This knowledge places responsibility upon us to behave in a manner that honors their investments in us. I can still remember everyday before going to school, my mother’s instruction “Don’t do anything that will embarrass me.” It was clear to me from a young age that my behavior at school and in public did not only reflect me, but my mother as well. My mother is a woman of great pride and dignity who has worked hard to protect this dignity in spite of varied assaults and I would never want to do something that would bring shame to her. Detailed knowledge of the efforts of others for us instills a sense of personal accountability beyond ourselves.

#2. Knowledge of history provides emotional support

We are not alone, we have an entire community of supporters cheering for our success.

We are not alone, we have an entire community of supporters cheering for our success.

Although we may be physically standing in a classroom or boardroom by ourselves, our connection to our family and collective history reminds us that in spirit we are surrounded by a community of supporters cheering us on. This awareness provides us with the strength and confidence to succeed in spaces that are not necessarily welcoming or comfortable. It is difficult to be “the only.” The only person of color in a white classroom, the only woman in a male dominated field, the only person from a working class family in an elite profession. Visualizing our family with us is a way of claiming that social space as our own and asserting our right to be there.  In situations where you are the minority, there are numerous subtle and not so subtle messages that you do not belong. However, when you recognize that you are not “the only” one and that you have a larger community of people standing there with you, there is a renewed sense of strength and belonging. This provides you with the confidence needed to succeed in the face of others’ questions about your ability.

 

#3 Knowledge of history identifies us as overcomers

History reminds us that we are overcomers.

History reminds us that we are overcomers.

Reviewing our history reminds us that people have faced similar or greater struggles and have overcome through determination and effort. That struggle could be as individual as your grandmother being left alone to parent eight children on her own but rising to the task and doing her best to make sure every child was fed and loved. Or it could be a collective struggle, like remembering your grandparents who survived the Jewish Holocaust or the Armenian genocide in Turkey. These personal stories remind you that you are not the first person to experience devastating hardship. You come from a people that have experienced intense suffering and yet have been able to survive and transform that suffering into personal triumph. You are a product of their success and you have inherited this legacy of being an overcomer. The same spiritual, social, and emotional resources your family and community used to succeed are available to you at any moment of need.

 

Fuel your success engine with history

You can now see the wisdom of Carter G. Woodson’s decision to start “Negro History Week”, which later became “Black History Month”.  The activities of this month help to educate non-Black people about the value of the Black community’s contribution to America and the world. Yet I believe that the biggest impact of these activities is the strength and resilience it gives to people who identify as members of the Black community. These stories of history infuse Black people, young and old, with psychological and spiritual resources to succeed.

 

The act of sharing the stories is passing on a gift of strength and resilience that fuels our individual and collective success.

The act of sharing the stories is passing on a gift of strength and resilience that fuels our individual and collective success.

Regardless of whether you are a member of the Black community, I invite you to consider how you can participate in this powerful act of using your history to promote your success. Dr. DeGruy’s research reminds us that intimate knowledge of our personal family history is just as important as knowledge of our collective history in increasing our resilience and success. Take time to learn about and reflect upon your individual family’s history. How can you use these stories to increase your success? In addition, make sure to share your personal history with others as a means of promoting their success.  Your experiences and choices have taught you important lessons about yourself and the world. These lessons don’t have to packaged in a neat bow or be confined to a particular month of the year; they are gifts of wisdom that can equip others with the resiliency needed to succeed.

 

If you would like to share a story about the gift of resiliency that fuels your success or the success of others, please do so below. You have no idea of the power of your story until you tell it.

5 Little Known Ways Your Smart Phone Can Double Your Productivity

Multitasking doesn't increase your productivity, but these free apps can.

Multitasking doesn’t increase your productivity, but these free apps can.

Want to increase your productivity? Yeah, there’s an app for that! As someone who is constantly concerned with how to work more efficiently, I regularly download new productivity apps. Most do not meet my expectations and are soon deleted. However, I’ve listed below five apps that are worth every megabyte of storage space because they enable me to work more efficiently.  If you want to increase your productivity without exerting more time and effort, consider adding the following apps to your smart phone:

 

  1. Productive

    Our body, relationships, and achievements are the outcome of our regular habits.

    Our body, relationships, and achievements are the outcomes of our regular habits.

If there are aspects of our life that we are unhappy with or would like to improve, we need to change the habits that sustain them. The Productive app helps you develop positive habits by providing the two necessary components of a habit: a cue and a reward. In order for you to participate in a new behavioral pattern long enough to become automatic, your brain needs a cue to start the action and a positive reward after completing the action. The Productive app allows you to schedule your new habit into morning, afternoon, or evening routines (for the paid version you can schedule specific times). It will remind you to perform the habit (cue) as well as track how many times you’ve successfully completed the habit. This app creates cool charts for each habit. Having an uninterrupted run of success creates a compelling internal reward that reinforces the habit.

 

  1. Google Keep

Being able to sort my to do list according to my location increases my productivity.

Being able to sort a to do list according to location increases productivity.

Keeping track of all the great ideas that emerge when you’re away from your desk can be a constant challenge. Google Keep allows you to record your thoughts using text or voice and access them from any device. These items are stored in the Google cloud so you can always have the information at your fingertips. What I like best about Google Keep is the ability to be reminded of things only when I am in a location where I can act on them. This functionality allows me to clear my mind of clutter and focus only on what I can do at the time.

 

  1. Focus Zen

    Sound therapy reduces stress and enhances performance.

    Sound therapy reduces stress and enhances performance.

Sound therapy has long been a part of ancient healing traditions like Ayurveda and more recently has become an important component of Western medicine. Music therapy is used with a variety of populations (people with depression, people on the autism spectrum, people with Alzheimer’s) to increase attention, recall, communication, sociability and emotional regulation. Focus Zen puts the benefits of music therapy at our fingertips, providing sounds specifically designed to promote productive brain wave patterns. The free version of this app comes with four sound compositions developed to increase attention and focus. I regularly listen to Focus Zen’s “Attention Enhancer” soundtrack while writing and have experienced significant improvement in my concentration and productivity. Try them all and choose the one that works best for you. Playing these soundtracks in the background while you work can dramatically enhance your performance without any additional effort.

 

  1. Inkflow

    Mind mapping enhances creativity and productivity.

    Mind mapping enhances creativity and productivity.

Mind mapping is a powerful brainstorming tool. It allows you to quickly generate ideas and make connections without the rigid, hierarchical structure of an outline. Inkflow lets you to do mind mapping with the simplicity of a pen and paper combined with the flexibility of digital technology. This app enables you to write your ideas on a blank digital sheet with your finger or a stylus. I find that handwriting allows me to access more of my creative brain than typing on a keyboard. Unlike mind mapping with a pen and paper, you can use Inkflow to easily resize components of your mind map, move them around the page, add images, and share your mind map via email or social media. The app’s sharing functionality increases the speed and effectiveness of collaboration.

 

  1. Omvana

    Meditation sharpens your focus and productivity.

    Meditation sharpens your focus and productivity.

Meditation is linked to numerous physical and psychological health benefits, including: lower blood pressure, improved immune functioning, reduced stress levels, and increased concentration. Omvana provides a wide selection of guided meditations designed for the beginner as well as less structured meditations for people with more experience. The meditation selections cover a broad range of topics including: Energizing Meditations, Happiness and Positive Living, Career and Entrepreneurship, Love and Relationships, as well as Parenting and Family. I love the meditation selections that use a letter of the alphabet to focus on a specific quality of character (F is for Faith, B is for Being). I use these meditations regularly to clear my mind of the cultural “noise” and refocus on my core truths. There are a range of time lengths of meditations (starting at 3 minutes) so everyone can incorporate this powerful practice into your daily schedule. The Omvana meditations help me to relax, clarify my focus, increase my decision making speed, and improve my effectiveness.

 

Technological tools enable humans to surpass our limits, accomplishing goals more quickly and easily. These five technology tools help me to be more productive without expending more energy and I believe they can do the same for you!

 

I’d love to learn more about your success with these tools or other apps that you find helpful in enhancing your productivity. Please share below.

 

 

1

Visualization: Dominate Your Career Like Serena Williams

Visualization helps Serena Williams

“What separates winners is the mental game” Serena Williams

Serena Williams has won over 20 Grand Slam singles, multiple Olympic gold medals, and a series of double titles with her sister Venus. Serena is one of only six women to complete a career Grand Slam: holding all four of the major tennis tournament titles simultaneously. To what does she attribute her success and longevity? You may be surprised to learn that visualization, not physical skill, strength, or endurance, is the key to her success.  According to Serena Williams:

“Mental fitness is much more important to my game. To be at this level, everyone has great physical tools. What separates winners is the mental game.”

Serena Williams uses visualization to rise to the top of her industry and stay there. Tapping into the power of visualization can help you achieve extraordinary success in your life and career as well.

 

 

As the above video clip illustrates, Serena’s father taught her and her sister the technique of visualization in order to “prepare us for greatness.” Regardless of whether your chosen activity is athletic performance, public speaking, or creative production, visualization can distinguish you among the top performers in your field. While learning the basic nuts and bolts of your industry is critical to creating a successful career, learning the technique of visualization is critical to creating an extraordinary career. Here I explain how visualization can contribute to your success as well as provide you with simple guidelines to effectively use this powerful technique in your life.

How can visualization help me?

Visualization is defined as “a technique involving focusing on positive mental images in order to achieve a particular goal”. This technique can be applied to virtually any goal that involves human performance. Visualization is valuable because it improves your physiological performance, enhances your motivation, and increases your confidence. Taken together these alterations in your mind and body take your performance from great to extraordinary.

Visualization strengthens existing neurological pathways as well as creates new ones. Through visualization we “rewire” our physical bodies. In 2007, the North American Journal of Psychology published a study reporting that athletes accomplished almost comparable gains in strength through mental exercises (visualizations) as those who actually did the exercises on weight machines. If visualization is this powerful alone, imagine how it can improve your performance when combined with physical practice.

In addition to enhancing your physiology, visualization improves your psychology as well. Through visualization, you come to see yourself, literally and figuratively, as a peak performer. The psychological research on the self-fulfilling prophecy documents that people perform at levels consistent with their expectations of themselves. Visualization raises your self-perception and thus your performance as well.

How Do I Practice Visualization?

Now that you know the power of visualization, here are some practical guidelines to help you effectively use this technique in preparing yourself for greatness.

  • Using all five senses, repeatedly imagine yourself performing the task with the desired result.

The more senses you engage in your visualization, the more powerful the physical and psychological changes produced within you. Rather than simply “seeing” yourself performing the desired activity, ask yourself questions about what you hear, taste, smell, and feel as well. As I visualize myself giving a dynamic and wildly successful speech, I can hear the cadence and rhythm of my voice changing throughout the talk. I also hear the sounds of the audience laughing and clapping at the appropriate times in the speech. I feel the warmth of the spotlight on my skin and the stability of the podium under my arms as I lean in closer to connect with my audience. I can even smell the scent of my perfume lingering in the air as I walk to different parts of the stage.

Life is a full-sensory experience and so is a powerful visualization. The more we engage all of our senses in each visualization, the more we respond physically and psychologically as if this mental image is “real”.

  • Imagine yourself as the “hero” in the story, not the outside observer.

Part of the effect of engaging multiple senses in our visualization is that it moves us from watching the action to experiencing it. Effective visualization requires that we experience these events from the first person perspective as the “hero” of the show. Visualization requires that we are active creators of the outcome, not passive viewers. As I visualize myself making an awesome jump shot, I see the ball through my perspective as the shooter not the wide angle lens of the audience. Visualization is a powerful technique because it blurs the line between our imagination and reality. The more vividly we see from our perspective as the doer, the more concretely we understand ourselves as one who is capable of creating this desired outcome.

  • Practice visualizing often.

Everything requires practice, even visualization. The more you incorporate this activity into your daily preparation, the more easily and vividly you will be able to visualize yourself performing at your peak level. The more vivid the visualization, the better your performance.

I encourage you to develop your mental fitness through visualization. Visualization is a skill that can be used in every area of your life because it can easily be generalized from one set of behaviors to another. Visualization works as successfully in enhancing your physical fitness as it does your work productivity. Please share below ways in which you have (or intend to) use visualization to enhance your performance. Unlock your greatness!

1

Tactics to Address Poisonous Thoughts

Are you drinking poison on a daily basis without even knowing it? Most likely, you are. Negative thoughts limit our potential, drain our energy, and create dis-ease in our physiological and psychological states. Like ingesting poison, accepting these thoughts is a silent killer of our well-being. Here I’ve identified types of poisonous thoughts you may be ingesting daily. I’ve also provided you with the antidotes to restore your energy, improve your relationship, and restore your sense of well-being.

Types of Poisonous Thoughts

Self-limiting beliefs

Self-limiting beliefs are self-imposed limitations on our actions and goals based on what our beliefs about what is possible. Our beliefs serve as the horizon that frames our understanding of ourselves and our world. We shape our behavior to conform to such beliefs. For example, it was once believed that humans could not run a mile in under 4 minutes. Once Roger Bannister broke that record in 1954, it expanding our thinking about what was humanly possible. Now highly trained athletes commonly run a mile in less than 4 minutes. That is the power of breaking a self-limiting belief.

All of our self-limiting beliefs begin with the phrase “I can’t because….” I can’t do that because I’m not good enough. I can’t do this because people will reject me. I can’t try because I will fail. Once we pronounce that we can’t we have imposed an upper boundary on what is possible and we limit our dreams and behaviors to remain within this narrowly defined limit. Through this thought process we condition ourselves to play small, not to try, and to shrink our desires. Self-limiting beliefs are a silent, but deadly, killer of our passion and potential.

Fundamental attribution errors

Psychological research has documented a pattern of behavior known as the fundamental attribution error. These pattern reveals that we are much more likely to attribute the cause of a person’s behavior to internal factors (character traits), rather than external factors (situational causes). Thus, the person who cuts us off in traffic is doing so because he is rude and selfish, not because he’s just received a call that his son has been taken to the emergency room.  The interesting thing about this attribution error is that we do it with everyone, but ourselves. When we are running late, it’s because there was heavy traffic or something unexpected happened; while when others are running late we assume they are just irresponsible.

The fundamental attribution error leads us to see the world as a dangerous place filled with people who are fundamentally unlike us. On an individual level, it produces feelings of isolation and disconnection from others. On a larger level, it undermines group trust and shared identity. Our heightened feelings of fear, stress, isolation, and anxiety are consequences of a daily diet of this particular brand of poison.

Fixation on the negative.

Have you ever gotten feedback on your work or performance that was overwhelming positive, but afterwards you exclusively go over the critical component of the feedback? Trust me, you are not alone. Many of us have the deadly habit of fixating on, almost to the exclusion of everything else, the negative events of our life. So when I give a talk that was well-received by most of the audience, I may spend the rest of the day thinking about the one person in the front who sat with her arms crossed and didn’t laugh at any of my jokes. We may frame this to ourselves as a necessary step for “improving”, but this fixation on the negative impedes our development.

Whatever we focus on becomes magnified. When we fixate on the negative events that happen to us, our perspective of ourselves and our life becomes disproportionately negative. Instead of seeing our strengths as well as our weaknesses, our challenges seem to loom large and our perceptions of our strengths shrink in comparison. Our energy is drained and we begin to see ourselves as incapable, incompetent and unworthy. We may try to act as if that judgement is not true, but the content of our self-limiting beliefs reveals what we truly believe about our power and potential.

The poisonous thoughts that we ingest on a daily basis damage our bodies, emotions, and relationships. However, solving the problem of negative thinking reconnects us to ourselves, our community and provides us with the energy and resources needed to pursue our life goals.

Solutions to Negative Thinking

Ingesting these daily will provide you with increased energy, joy, and well-being.

Ingesting these daily will provide you with increased energy, joy, and well-being.

Physics teaches us that two distinct forms of matter can not occupy the same space at the same time. So you can not think poisonous and healthy thoughts at the same time. Rather than focusing on trying not to think poison thoughts, I encourage you to identify a replacement thought that you will begin to think about the moment you notice yourself ingesting a poison thought. Below I identify the antidotes: the specific replacement thoughts designed to counteract the effects of the three brands of poisonous thinking. Each time you observe poisonous thoughts entering your system, administer these antidotes and they will increase your joy, energy, and well-being.

Self-empowering affirmations

Reading stories about people, like Roger Bannister, who have gone beyond what we think of as possible for ourselves challenges the validity of our self-imposed limits and encourages us to reach for more. Self-empowering affirmations also have the power to shatter those false limits and motivate us to take necessary steps toward achieving our goals. These empowering statements affirm our ability to grow beyond our past and achieve above our previous expectations. I encourage you to write down a specific affirmation that reminds you of the tremendous creative potential within you and review that affirmation daily.  You can use an affirmation you’ve seen elsewhere or create your own for the specific circumstances of your life. By reciting these self-empowering affirmations on a daily basis, you will expand your vision of yourself and your expectation of what you can achieve.Some sample self-empowering affirmations are:

Acknowledgements of our shared humanity and dignity

Supporting ideas that affirm our share humanity shatters our self-imposed isolation and makes collective action possible. We can replace our experience of isolation with an experience of social connection by choosing to adopt different thoughts. The truth is that this is our choice because we truly don’t know what motivates other people’s behavior. In fact, we are still in the process of discovering the complex forces motivating our own behaviors. Since our knowledge of others is always incomplete, why not start by granting them the compassionate light that we tend to use in assessing our own behavior? This is a cognitive version of the Golden Rule: think about others as you would think about you. This basic reframing allows us to recognize our shared humanity and replaces feelings of anger and judgement with empathy. Acknowledging our shared humanity and dignity promotes feelings of empathy and trust within us and our communities.

Expressions of gratitude

Gratitude invites us to focus our attention on the positive within ourselves and our world. Since what we focus on becomes magnified, practicing gratitude magnifies our positive emotions and supports an optimistic sense of our future. Psychological research reveals that people who practice gratitude regularly report higher rates of happiness, better relationships with others, less stress and better sleep. One way to incorporate gratitude into your life is to keep a gratitude journal. Writing regularly in this journal the things that you are grateful for increases your joy. By focusing your attention on the “small gifts” placed in your day, you solidify the memory and the positive feeling associated with it into your mind.

Our thoughts are real things that shape both our internal and external reality. While we might not be able to exert full control over every thought that enters our minds, mindfulness allows us to notice and engage our thoughts in a manner that promotes our physical and emotional well-being. Once we notice the presence of poison thinking in our minds, we can quickly apply the needed antidote to restore our sense of balance and well-being. Practicing such mindful engagement with our thoughts on a regular basis reprograms our thought patterns.  Now that you have the tools to do exactly that, doctor heal thyself!

I’d love to hear which poisonous thoughts are prevalent for you and how you replace them. Please share your insights and successful practices below for others to benefit as well.

 

4

7 Essential Rules for Creating an Award Winning Life

You too can design an award winning life with the help of a few helpful rules.

You can design an award winning life with this success formula.

Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to win the Nobel Prize, an Oscar or a Grammy? Thousands of people in the audience clapping for you. Your family and friends sitting by your side, rejoicing in your achievement. Video cameras and photographers capturing every moment. You taking center stage to accept this public recognition of the value of your contribution. And don’t forget the after parties!

While only a small percentage of us will ever win the Nobel Prize or an Oscar, each of us can experience a celebration of our unique contribution to this world. What will you be celebrated for? Like a Nobel Prize, such celebrations of lifetime achievements are reserved for those who have made the required investments and demonstrated the value of their contribution. Achievement awards are granted to those with a long-term track record of productivity and progress. Here I’ve listed an easy to follow formula to help you build an award winning life. By following these rules, you will enhance your productivity and effectiveness in achieving your life goals.

Success Formula

  1. Clarify your values.

    Your values identify what you believe is important in life. They clarify which goals are worthy of pursuing and what types of activities are appropriate for accomplishing those goals. When we are acting in line with our values, we experience joy and energy. When we are feeling drained and stressed, it is often because our activity is out of line with our values or we have values that are in conflict with each other. The more specific you can be in identifying your values and distinguishing which ones are higher priority, the easier it will be for you to make decisions about the best way to use your time and money. I’ve found this free website helpful in identifying core values and in ranking them hierarchically. 

  2. Write a personal mission statement.

    Businesses have them. Non-profits have them. Do you have one for yourself? The value of a mission statement is that it focuses investments of valuable resources (time, money, people) in order to achieve maximum results. Rather than trying to do everything and ending up with mediocre results, a focused mission statement helps you make choices about which sets of activities will produce the best results. Activities in line with your values and purpose will increase your productivity and impact. Make sure that your personal mission statement and life values are congruent. If you have not already done so, write out your personal mission statement. It is not enough to have a general idea of your life focus in your head; it must appear on paper. The simple act of writing down your goals increases your likelihood of achieving them. Place your personal mission statement somewhere that you can see it daily. Perhaps tape it to your bathroom mirror or use it as your computer’s screen saver. A daily reminder of your mission statement energizes you and will enable you to make decisions more quickly and easily throughout the day.

  3. Planning for regular times of reflection will increase your productivity and joy.

    Planning for regular times of reflection will increase your productivity and joy.

    Reflect regularly.

    Reflection gives you an opportunity to reconnect with your life goals and values. It provides you with the crucial space to evaluate your current behavior and activities and revise them both in order to build your optimal life. Journaling can be a valuable tool for reflection; but so can meditative walks or conversations with a trusted friend. Regardless of the form, find a way to incorporate reflection into your life on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis. The insight and energy you receive from such periods of regular reflection will fuel your success.

  4. Speak your truth.

    No one ever receives an award for being just like everyone else. You have a unique set of experiences and combination of character traits that give you a distinct perspective. Share that perspective with others. If you are wondering why something that is needed isn’t already being done or why people aren’t approaching a question/problem/issue in a specific manner, it’s likely because you have not yet shared your unique contribution. Others do not think like you and will continue to grope in darkness without the benefit of your light. If there is something that you want to say, chances are there is someone who wants to hear it. To live a life worthy of celebration, you must be willing to publicize your distinctive voice.

  5. Create new habits.

    Our lives are the cumulation of our habits. What we do on a daily basis creates the patterns that shape our future. If you want to accomplish more than you already have achieved, you will need to add new habits to your arsenal. The content of these habits will vary based on your goals, personality, and interests. However, the willingness to create new habits signals a willingness to learn and expand beyond current limitations. Such an orientation is necessary to achieve your maximum potential. There is no such things as being “too old” to learn, grow, or change. There is a wise saying about teaching “stop learning today, stop teaching tomorrow”. In order to be an effective teacher, one must be constantly learning. This truism is not limited to teachers. I say “stop learning today, stop living tomorrow“. There are too many people who are alive, but they are not living. They’ve lost their zest for life, their curiosity, their joy. This need not happen to you. Commit to being a life long learner. Challenge yourself to constantly add new habits that are in line with your life mission and watch your effectiveness and impact grow exponentially.

  6. Invest in others.

    I believe that everyone of us should be in at least two types of mentoring relationships. One relationship where we are gaining knowledge, skills, and support from someone who has already achieved something that we aspire to. The other is a relationship in which we are sharing the insight we’ve gained along our journey with someone who is striving to attain some of the accomplishments we’ve earned. As a mentor, we invest our time and resources in actively supporting these people. By continually placing yourself as both a mentor and mentee, you can make sure that you are continually learning and building a legacy.

  7. Forgiveness provides us with the keys to grow beyond our mistakes and the mistakes of others.

    Forgiveness provides us with the keys to grow beyond our mistakes and the mistakes of others.

    Forgive.

    Nobody’s perfect. We make mistakes and so do the people around us. Forgiveness provides us with the keys to grow beyond our mistakes and the mistakes of others. Even in forgiving others, we are really giving a gift to ourselves. The release of that anger frees our body and mind to learn from the situation and heal. Byron Katie has a great book, titled “Loving What Is”, that can help you move to forgiveness by asking four simple, yet powerful questions. These questions allow you learn and grow from even the most painful situations. Practicing forgiveness protects our joy and purpose as we go through the typical and atypical challenges of life.

Just like following driving rules allows you to safely navigate the roads and arrive at your desired destinations, these rules help you to identify, protect, and nurture your unique contributions to our world. These seven rules ensure that you are able to implement your distinctive contributions with effectiveness, consistency, and in harmony with your personal values. I’d love to hear your thoughts on creating an award winning life.

Are you ready to create your award-winning life?

I’m on a mission to more fully use my gifts to build a business and a life that makes a positive impact on my future and our world. I would love for you to join me!

I believe that when each of us connects with our purpose and passion, we are empowered to build a better future for ourselves and others. This is the heart of productivity: accomplishing goals that are meaningful and rewarding to us.

Join us for the FREE 5-Day Productivity Challenge: 5 Days to a Life Filled with Energy and Passion.  This challenge teaches you the insider tricks to creating more energy and passion in your life so that you can drastically reduce your stress and accomplish the goals that are most important to you.

How would it feel to be filled with confidence, energy, and be extraordinarily productive? 

Whether you are struggling to stay above the growing to-do lists or wanting to get the most out of each day, this 5-Day Productivity Challenge will give you simple and powerful tools to help you tap into your unique talents and energy to create the rich and rewarding life you deserve!

Get from under the pile of unending tasks and reclaim your life. Click here to join our 5-Day Challenge to a life filled with energy and passion!

3

5 Reasons You Need The X Theme

X is not your grandmother’s WordPress theme, and we want to prove it to you. Here are the top 5 reasons you need to buy X today!

Stacks, Stacks, & More Stacks

Instead of being stuck with one design for your next project, X is a gift that keeps on giving. Built with our custom Stacks, X is the most versatile premium WordPress theme on the market today. Think of Stacks like full site designs built into the theme with each one giving a totally unique look and feel. There are currently three Stacks to chose from: Integrity, Renew, and Icon.

Point & Click

X is not only one of the most cutting edge themes on the market today, it’s incredibly easy to customize using the latest innovation from WordPress: the Theme Customizer. Instead of clicking through pages and pages of an admin panel only to have to click back and forth between the dashboard and your live site, with X you can change every aspect of your site while viewing it through the Customizer. See in real time how every color, layout, and pixel will look then click “Save” and you’re done. Customizing a theme has never been so easy.

Built By Experts

We weren’t satisfied with just making “another” WordPress theme…so we decided to do something different. We reached out to many of the top business and internet marketing minds of today to ask them about things like conversion, copywriting, layouts, squeeze pages, SEO, and more. X is the culmination of over a dozen of the smartest marketers on the planet who shared their expertise to build into this truly ultimate theme. You can learn more about the experts who contributed in our features section.

Future Proof

HTML5. CSS3. Fully Responsive, and more! X is not only built to be the most beautiful and powerful WordPress Theme of 2013, it is ready for the future. With a sharp development team that stays on the cutting edge of all that WordPress has to offer, you can rest assured that any site using X will be steps ahead of the pack employing the high-end functionality your site demands.

Simply The Best

Don’t just take our word for it. See for yourself. First time users frequently report how fun and easy it is to customize X exactly to their likings. Whether that’s boxed or full width, dark or light, multi colors or minimal, large fonts or small — X is like nothing you have ever seen!