Faithfully yours… Our triple threat feature this month includes dual features for our Faith Issue. Our second interview is with Deborah Hightower who is not only a faithful but a dynamic leader and speaker in the areas of business, music, finance and more.
Deborah Hightower is a living testimony of where Faith can take you. Whether writing, speaking, singing or consulting, her wide range of talents and expertise all connect to her foundation of faith. She is someone you want to know. Let’s meet her ..
Tell us what is probably the biggest struggle with the F’s of Life for most women? (The F’s of Life being Faith, Family, Finances and Fellowship.)
I think the biggest challenge is balancing it all, although I could use another F word – fortitude. We expend mental, emotional and physical energy ‘being’ in all these relationships and dividing our time between it all can be the challenge. I show my Leadership and Success clients that balance, as we have been taught, is a misnomer.
Often, we are taught that balance is equal parts of everything. However, I have found that balance comes in unequal parts and the sooner we realize and work with those parts, the better. Work/Life balance has become a hot topic but rarely is it a 50/50 balanced split.
How do you take your faith with you no matter where you go, consistently interweaving it into your home and business endeavors?
Faith is an important part of my life. While I may not talk about it in a business environment, I hope the Light shines through in my actions. I believe the best success comes from having a foundation based in goodness, strength, wisdom, love, and other principles that most associate with spirituality.
Is there an order of importance and should that change as the woman changes?
For me, God has first place. Certainly, life brings about change on a daily basis, but for me, God will always hold first place. Then, everything else is added on. The stages of life, in general, can change the way we see our priority list. For example, the beginning of our career may have a more stringent work schedule; a mature career may provide more flexibility.
How do you balance it all?
In one word, organization. Balance doesn’t consist of equal parts, organization is a key component to holding it together. For example, writing deadlines may require 60 percent of my time today; financial planning 20 percent and everything else 20 percent. Knowing the what, how, when and where is the only way I can get it all done. Taking a little time every day to plan my schedule keeps me on task and I am usually armed with a to-do list. Another key point in making it all work is to be clear about my objective.
Expansion and Diversity. These are two key components in your expertise. How do we as women nourish nourishing our lives so that we are continually evolving, growing, enriching our daily lives and most of all BE HAPPY?
Spiritualist and Poet, Thomas Merton said “The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.” Many times, people associate “more” with money solely. I believe we settle for “too little” in many areas of our lives. In my best-selling book, The Secret to Winning BIG: Top Strategies for Winning BIG in Life and Business, I discussways to expand your life. For example, I have never asked someone to tell me what they are passionate and not gotten an immediate answer. It’s the next question that gets provokes pause, ‘tell me what you do every day’. Too many times, the passion and daily activities are not correlated in any way. I believe that’s when people get tired, frustrated, burned out, and generally lose the spark that puts bounce into getting out of bed every morning. I encourage others to look at their life and evaluate what they would like to change. It may not happen overnight, but with proper coaching and planning, change can be made that will expand your life so that greater fulfillment and happiness can be found. Fulfillment and happiness may also be found by learning to ‘re-think our thinking’. Is the glass half empty or half full?
Let’s talk about your music.
Music has always been a love of mine. Past the proverbial choir, solo, party, wedding and funeral, it stayed under the radar until a few years ago. Part of my personal expansion was bringing music to the forefront when the time was right. My first commercially released album, Her Name is Deborah, came at the right time. It garnered four Top 10 hits on inspirational radio and three award-nominations. My current album is LOVE. (period emphasized in title) and is music that encourages kindness and love like God has for us…period. It promotes His unconditional kind-of-love.
Do you do your own writing?
Ten of the 12 songs on LOVE. were written by my husband and me. The cover songs really have to speak to me to be included. I have notebooks filled with lines just waiting for the proper debut.
What overall message do you hope to convey with your musical endeavors? When did you start singing?
My message whether speaking or singing is about uplifting, life-affirming, inspiring, and encouraging others in a genuine and heartfelt manner. I began my music journey as a child. Music took a backseat for a while when I was focused on building a career in corporate America, although the love for it stayed strong. Deep down, I knew the day would come when music would play a bigger role for me.
You are standing in front of a room full of women about to give up…what would you tell them?
I would say YOU HAVE A PURPOSE, YOU HAVE GIFTS AND TALENTS, so let’s get to work finding, defining, and refining your next move. At some point, we all need to a little push to get past the pity party. There is a purpose within all people. But if we never explore the possibilities, then we have sold ourselves short. My Expansion Philosophies Theory creates a way to look at what you already have within and how to transform it into a viable opportunity. As the saying goes ‘timing is everything’ stands true. Your great idea may not be for now; it may have to be shelved for this time. Not to say; however, that it won’t ever come to reality. I believe in the constant state of idea-generation. So, my questions to them would be “what are you giving up and why?” “What are you lacking?” “What do you have?” Quitting is easy. Quitters never win. As people of faith, quitting is not an option.
Tell us about your new Personal Development Program for this year. What can a woman enrolled in your program expect to gain upon completion?
The Program helps individuals become poised, prepared and ready for pursuit of their desire. The goal could be to start a new venture, expand a current career, develop a better financial plan, or to become more spiritually fit. The principles outlined can be applied to many different avenues. I have mentored young ladies and men entering the workplace, coached seasoned professionals, and those wanting to expand their lives through volunteering, ministry, or a second career. The Program begins with a macro and micro self-inventory examination and builds from there. The process creates many ponder moments necessary for a proper foundation from which to start building.
Give us a summary of your book ,”The Secret to Winning BIG: Strategies for Winning BIG in Life and Business”.
The book, co-written with other business professionals from a wide range of industries, outlines ideas and proven methods for success. As we discussed, expansion is one of my favorite topics. How can we expand and diversify what we already have? How can we do things differently that will produce exponentially greater returns? The book is full of answers to those questions. It has resonated with readers – from business owners to recent college graduates – and became an instant best-seller.
There should be a strong foundation of unity in anyone’s faith structure. While sometimes Christian’s may get discouraged by what they see in their churches or on TV or on the news, how do they go about setting an example by making a difference not only in their homes but in their communities, bringing their church families together on one accord and making sure they live are fulfilling their purposes and honoring God?
Faith begins with a personal relationship with God and extends from there. We can only control our own thoughts and actions. To better promote unity among God’s people, we should be problem solvers. We should be the change we want to see in our communities and churches. The foundational purpose for all faith-people should be to honor God through our actions. We are beginning to see just that happening in the movie industry with the success of The Bible, Son of God, Noah and other faith-based films. Will we agree on all the details of production? Probably not, but the Bible provides the foundation from which to build. The big move of Hollywood is helping to spread the Word to those who might not have had the thought of walking into a church. Seizing the moments to share is important. We have a choice, focus on the negative or the positive. I choose and promote the positive. I encourage others to do the same. If we get caught up in the negative (and there will be negative) then we let the negative win.
How can women of faith decompress from the negavity and still come out revived to keep going?
No one is immune to the bad and sad news that infiltrate the airwaves every day. However, I believe if we focus on the promises that God has made to and for us, the impact on our lives will be less. We have choices to make every day about what consumes our mind and body. Are we feeding on nutrition or junk? Are we caught up in obsessing over the bad things or are we working to overcome and produce positive thoughts and actions?
Women are often the backbone of their churches and homes, balancing church activities, duties of mother, wife and more. How can women be ALL that while also taking care of themselves and allowing others to nurture them?
I am a ‘get-it-done’ kind of girl. If my To-Do list still has to-dos on it at the end of the day, I’d rather keep going than take a break. However, that can only be done for so long before a crash happens. So, as much as I push to get things done to the best of my ability, I realize that proper rest must also be a priority. Self-nurturing and self-edification can produce a big ripple effect. Once it becomes evident that when we have time for ‘self’ how smoothly everything else runs, it will become a must-do. My private time each day is filled with prayer, devotion, meditation and contemplation.
I have heard complaints often of faith based businesses not providing “faith service”? When deciding whether you use faith as a business foundation or marketing tool what is the first question you would ask someone who came to you for advice on whether this would be a good idea or not? Feel free to explain your question of choice.
I have heard similar stories and think caution must be used when using ‘faith’ as a marketing tool. A business foundation typically reflects the thoughts of the Owner and Executive Team and any conflicting resolves usually come to light quickly. In other words, if the Owner and Executive Team profess faith but operate the business on with unscrupulous principles, it will come to light at some point. Studies have shown faith communities desire to support faith based business, but only to the extent of convenience and quality of products and services. It seems to me good business is good business whether or not it is tagged as ‘faith based’ and that goes back to the principles of company. Let the company’s actions speak louder than their marketing campaign.
Faith without works is dead…In general anything that is pulling you away from your faith is a bad idea but how can women in general incorporate their faith into their decision making to decipher they are on the right path as well as use their own common sense to know when to walk away from an endeavor, project or major family decision?
We pray for answers but why do we often ignore the response out of fear of “true success” or not wanting to hear the truth and then on the other hand some may feel like they are being led and they are not. How can we stay FOCUSED and FAITHFUL? Often, we ask God for direction and He gives it and we promptly ignore it. That’s part of the human struggle. I believe there is a Biblical principle to answer all questions. I counsel my clients to take ample time to evaluate the entire situation, then explore the options, and then make a decision. In the heat of the argument, or in the midst of a crisis, is the worst time to make a hasty decision. Stop. Think. Explore. Consider. Make Decision. And in that order. There will be a time when a decision will have to be re-considered – and maybe more than one time. If that is the case, restart the process. It is impossible to get absolutely every decision right the first time. However, we improve the chances of making the best decision when we follow that process. Just because we have to reconsider does not mean we have failed – it just means we need to rethink the situation and make needed adjustments. Everything in life is a process and trust me, many adjustments will need to be made along with way.
What are 5 words that describe you in summary? Let me see if I can describe myself in five words. LOL. Fun, Energetic, Smart, Loyal, Conscientious.
What makes you a connected woman? To be united and joined with others through powerful and meaningful communication makes me a connected woman. I sow seeds of encouragement, advice, love, unity, business acumen, elevation, ideas, economic value, and the like.
How can our readers reach out to you?
My website is www.deborahhightower.com.
Anything to add? Thank you so much for inviting me to connect and share with the readers of Connected Woman. We are all some form of connected and what affects you affects me in some way. Let’s work together so positivity reigns – throughout our homes, churches, jobs, communities, states, nations and the world.
Deborah will be appearing at the The 2014 Atlanta Gospel fest 9th Annual Music Health & Wellness Festival in early August. For more information visit http://www.atlantagospelfest.com/
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