As a professional female leader within higher education, I have endured adversities while choosing to remain positive, and most importantly, effective. The unfortunate encounter experienced by racial microaggression within the workplace has led to a few mental breakdowns where my ability to perform was questioned or the introduction of self-doubt was entertained. As a current professional in Higher Education, the common goal is to provide the utmost respect, support, and service for all students, as their needs are unique and specific to their demands. Racial microaggression is used for commonplace verbal, behavioral or environmental slights, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative attitudes toward stigmatized or culturally marginalized groups. I have experienced these types of slights as a professional and was unable to allow my voice to be heard out of concern of push-back. Additionally, I have experienced unfortunate behaviors from supervisors, where they used their professional status to silence me. The luxury of feeling sorry for myself or venting had never been my immediate response as a professional leader experiencing racial microaggression. The lack of available support when dealing with adversity within the workplace, especially as a professional leader, can become daunting while continuing to fulfill your professional role.
I chose to make the switch from Corporate to Higher Education because I was a former Program Director at a group home, and the experience encouraged me to obtain a master’s degree in educational leadership. I was able to apply my business administration background, along with my mentor-ship skills, to assist my clients to create a vision for their future where they could eventually become financially sound. In addition to creating multiple plans on their behalf, I was responsible for creating a Tutoring Program where genuine support was provided incessantly. I have always been a person who enjoys helping and supporting others regardless of the environment. I was at an impasse prior to making the switch to Higher Education because I wanted more, and I knew I needed to do more.
When fulfilling your passion, there is never room to run out of reasons in entertaining what brings you genuine peace. Yes, it can be challenging to deal with or manage individuals, however, your passion should always supersede challenges that are out of your control. The more I chose to help others, the more I realized I was helping myself to accept that change is good and not always a chore. Lastly, the clients I managed indirectly encouraged me to pursue a career change because I was able to connect with them based on their unique and personal needs.
Resilience is defined as the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility or adjustment to external or internal demands. When dealing with racial microaggression within the workplace, you have the option to dwell or rise. I created the motto: "Read, Retain, and Educate," which is a great reminder that we are all students in different unique capacities and can share knowledge, which is a form of education. In addition, I created the acronym of "S.E.L.F." which stands for Standing to Elevate while Leveling your Field. Both mottos are conducive towards my growth, development, and success because I will continue to persevere with intentionality.
I am a firm believer we are all leaders, but not everyone is effective and impactful. As a current director who oversees students and promotes the importance of restorative practice, it serves as a great reminder that every adversity experienced has provided life-long lessons. In return, I have the knowledge to share multiple lessons with students who are seeking additional guidance throughout their collegiate career. The same applies to fellow colleagues, as no one is exempt from learning something new based on unique experiences encountered from the past, as well as the present.
Lastly, understanding the importance of balance can assist you towards your success and longevity. It is best to be intentional by creating an action plan goal every three years. Each time you approach your third year, use this time to reflect to see where you have improved or where you need to improve. Additionally, be transparent and genuine with yourself. We get caught up with our daily responsibilities and alienate self care.
Self care will vary based on the specific needs of the person. I enjoy working out, the spa, journaling, or leisure reading. I have learned over the years if you are not intentional in respecting your personal balance, burnout can cause irreversible damage to your health. Nothing is more important than your well-being and for anyone to be at their best, they will need to find the best way to refuel their internal being. If you are not at your best, then you are unable to produce your best. If your well-being is compromised, then your productivity will be lack-luster. If you are unaware of your triggers, then your emotional intelligence will suffer.
I am more intentional and confident in taking the initiative and time to focus on areas of my life that need addressed. I have experienced panic attacks due to being overworked and did not realize at the time that mental health was a thing to focus on. The transition to higher education has allowed me to learn more about myself and in return, I have been able to teach young mentees, students, as well as co-workers how to be honest with S.EL.F. because your authenticity will speak before you say a word.
If you do not remember anything from this blog, take heed to the following: I matter, because I say so. I matter because I am intentional in reflecting on ME daily, so I am providing my best to align with my passion! No matter where you are professionally, you are responsible for your purpose and you are responsible in seeing it through while dealing with adversities. I shall continue to Read, Retain, and Educate because my experiences, be it good or bad, have prepared me to remain resilient, steadfast, and most importantly authentic.
Dr. Simone Flowers-Taylor is currently a Student Affairs Professional and made the professional switch from the corporate realm to education. She obtained a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Management, a Master’s in Educational Leadership, and a doctorate in Transformational Leadership. Dr. Flowers-Taylor’s dissertation topic focused on the ‘Resilience of Black Female Leaders in Higher Education and Racial Microaggression’. Her passion is mentorship, leadership, student development, professional development, and branding based on S.E.L.F. Awareness. Dr. Flowers-Taylor’s motto is Read, Retain, and Educate, as every individual has the opportunity to be a student, to be a teacher, and to share knowledgeable information with others. Dr. Flowers-Taylor has presented on the following topics: Branding, Time-Management, Self-Development, Conflict Resolution, Restorative Justice, Emotional Intelligence, Microaggression (debunking the Tropes of Black Women); Black History Content, and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI). Dr. Flowers-Taylor is currently located in the north eastern region of the United States. Dr. Flowers-Taylor firmly believes that our purpose can impact others with great intention, and she will continue to Read, Retain, and Educate others within any given capacity.