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If you’re reading this, chances are you are on a journey of progress. You’re intelligent, determined, and passionate about your personal brand. The reality is nothing comes easy! What do you do when you’ve tried everything in your power, and still have not obtained a career-changing promotion? Celebrate the journey, and try one more time. 

Too often we hear encouraging stories shared by others, and less on the details of their struggles that got them there. It is important to share the struggles, which at times can be painful, yet necessary. Just like an expectant mother prepares for the intensity of labor, you too must prepare proactively to bare the sweet gifts life has to offer.

My name is Edwige Robinson, I hale from a small town in the Ivory Coast, a beautiful French-speaking African nation. In my early twenties I won the lottery! Not the Mega Millions, or Power Ball but one just as familiar and rewarding, the green card lottery. Within weeks of receiving my paperwork from the United States, I boarded a flight to New York. Gripping tightly to my English dictionary in my left hand, and a single lightweight suitcase packed with all of my possessions in my right.

Although I came with college-level credentials, I could not speak a lick of English. Alone and overwhelmed, my immediate goals for assimilation were to quickly learn the language, learn the culture, get a J-O-B, then secure a Bachelor of Engineering degree. I am sharing this with you to say that I am not a foreigner to challenges. I worked hard and achieved these goals. However, the struggle thereafter – in corporate America – blind-sided me. Think of it as being lost in a maze.

Feeling alienated, because I am a minority, a woman, and an individual who speaks with a French accent. It was difficult to relate to my peers, let alone find a supporting network. Determination and persistence kept me working long hours to be atop my game. My appetite to increase the status quo led me back to school. I completed my M.B.A. and raked up professional certifications along the way.

Little did I know qualifications alone would not get me to the next goal: senior management. No matter how hard I tried, or prepared, or networked, I was turned down and continuously passed over for promotions. Job-hunting became too emotional. I tuned into motivational talk radio on my daily commutes, periodically releasing tears when reflecting back on the frequent instances of being overlooked. My family and peers still regarded me highly, so the motivational talks allowed me to regroup and reset. I still could not help trying to pinpoint the missing puzzle piece inhibiting my progress. If I could put my finger on it, I could fix it! Life will surely challenge your courage, nonetheless, you cannot give up, and you have to continue the walk. Here is where the Brand Leadership Institute changed my life.

A friend of mine invited me to a conference, and I showed up in solidarity.  There I was introduced to the Brand Leadership Institute. I found a way to secure the required funds and enrolled in the program. The Brand Leadership Institute revived me with tangible tools to smooth my rough edges, and embrace my values. I learned to utilize my uniqueness as an asset and flaunt it with pride. Early on in the program I noticed a change in how my peers communicated with me. It was uplifting! I felt empowered and respected. My personal brand blossomed. The program encompasses more than just leadership development. It provides an opportunity to learn more about yourself…your passions…your vision for life.

Embraced with confidence, many opportunities have come my way like, working directly with our Chief Technology Officer and other high-ranking executives. I’m fearless, mindful, and no longer doubtful. I’m on the path to greatness.

So how can you minimize the challenges you may face as you are embarking in your journey? Here are few tips to add your arsenal.

  1. Be open to suggestions and feedback: Open-mindedness is critical to learn new strategies. Be open to programs such as the Brand Leadership Institute (BLI) to help smooth rough edges; we all have them. Open-mindedness shows that you are teachable and coachable, that aspect is very attractive to mentors and sponsors.
  2. Improve your emotional intelligence: it is ok to be yourself, yet you have to be considered of others and respect their difference, otherwise it will cost you a lot in your career. Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, and those of the people around you. This quality gives individuals a variety of skills, such as the ability to manage relationships, navigate social networks, influence and inspire others. You will need it to move up.
  3. Finally, I have to remind myself of this one last one. Having the dream is not enough; it is the commitment of making the dream happened that would make the difference. In your journey, it will come a moment when you have change roads; you make the choice with confidence, and then let this force greater than you called divine providence be your guide. Just don’t quit, keep moving!!! Have no doubts the universe is unfolding as it should, be at peace with yourself. You are important as the stars.

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”

Mary Anne Radmacher