I practice gratitude. I focus on what I’m thankful for. It isn’t always the big stuff either. It’s the grin I received from a child that made me smile in the grocery store. It reminds me that I get a chance to witness something so special in a world that often misses the little things that surround us daily.
Partnership Broker. Relational Leadership Junkie. Connector. Author/Speaker/Trainer. Co-Founder, HERitage Giving Circle.
I am intrigued by relationships, particularly building networks to address issues in organizations and communities. Because of my extensive background in leadership, nonprofit management, partnership development, training and education, I’ve been quoted in Forbes, Ozy, Bustle, Huffington Post and other media outlets around the world. As Director of Community Affairs for the State Fair of Texas, I manage a department focused on community initiatives, educational programming, partnerships and philanthropy.
In addition, I have been asked to speak on a variety of topics such as social capital and networking, leadership, diversity, and community development to national and international audiences. This included serving as a workshop presenter at the United Nations in 2013 on the Access to Power. One of the most impactful life events for me was being a part of the documentary, Friendly Captivity, a film that followed a cast of 7 women from Dallas to India.
I consider myself so fortunate to be honored for my work which includes: Semi-finalist for the SMU TEDx in 2012, 2012 Outstanding African American Alumni Award from the University of Texas at Arlington, 2009 Woman of the Year Award by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and Diversity Ambassador for the American Red Cross.
Graduating with a PhD from Antioch University in Leadership and Change with a focus on social capital and relational leadership has offered me the opportunity to have a scholar/practitioner lens in all I do. I attended the Jean Baker Miller Institute at Wellesley for training in Relational Cultural Theory and completed facilitator training on Immunity to Change based on the work of Kegan and Lahey of Harvard. I have also completed training through UNICEF on Equity Based Evaluations. I am the author of 2 workbooks for women, Ready for a Revolution: 30 Days to Jolt Your Life and Rules of Engagement: Making Connections Last as well as a writer for several publications around the globe.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
As a kid, I always wanted to help others. I knew I wanted to be a doctor but I thought I was going to be in medicine. Math courses in high school informed me I needed to go another route. I became interested in law and while in college, I was exposed to leadership on campus. I learned to develop programs, create budgets, build relationships and advocate. I’ve been in roles since that time that allow me to do some combination of those skills.
What does it mean for you to live “on purpose”? Can you explain? How can one achieve that?
I think it means being intentional about your path. Even when you aren’t clear about next steps, it is being committed to you. Through many losses of loved ones in my life, I recognize that we have limited time on the planet. Every funeral I’ve been to, I’ve never heard people get up to talk about the deceased’s job, car, or house. We remember people for how they made us feel. Living on purpose is about creating a legacy that matters.
Do you have an example or story in your own life of how your pain helped to guide you to finding your life’s purpose?
Losing my dad and my uncle within two weeks of one another was mind blowing. That’s a story in itself. I’ll never forget at the cemetery at my dad’s service when someone came up behind me and said ‘this is a gold mine of buried dreams. Will you do the same?’ I was shocked that it was stated but it was true. My dad could have been like Emerill, the chef. He had so much talent and he allowed his demons to control his possibilities. It was in that moment that I believe served as a catalyst for me to be more intentional about how I wanted to live. So many people in that graveyard never realized their potential. I didn’t want to be one of them.
The United States is currently rated at #18 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low?
It’s difficult when there is such a divisive climate that it’s hard to have any level of stability. From day to day with the influx of information that we receive instantaneously, you can be fine one minute and receive news within the next minute that’s devastating. Although having news at your fingertips is positive, I think the type of news that we are inundated with is typically negative and mean-spirited. We don’t see a lot of positive, encouraging stories on television or online that are the first stories we see.
I think the other reason could be what we focus on as success can be problematic. Our definition of success is often tied to materialism. There is nothing wrong with ‘stuff.’ The problem is if the sole purpose of our existence is to have ‘stuff’. There is more. The stuff provides temporary satisfaction.
Lastly, many of us suffer from time poverty. We are limited by longer work days, fewer moments of ‘chilling’ or nothingness, and as a result, we are not resting, relaxing and making life- giving memories. We are so busy and struggling with being anxious, depressed and overwhelmed.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I am connector. If you look at my Facebook or LinkedIn pages, I am dedicated to sharing information to help others. In my work daily, I bring people together and resources to solve for challenges in the community. I mentor young people and I write hoping that my experiences would help others.
What are your 6 strategies to help you face your day with exuberance, “Joie De Vivre” and a “ravenous thirst for life”? Can you please give a story or example for each?
I incorporate several strategies to get moving and excited about my day when I’m struggling. Here are four:
1. I sow into others. I text encouraging items to friends like quotes and memes. I believe that by sowing goodness and love into others to inspire them comes back to me. It is the concept of reciprocity in action. I sow what I desire in my life.
2. I reflect. I think back on the previous day(s) and remember the moments of success and joy. I then start my day with expectation knowing that if it has happened before, it will again.
3. I practice gratitude. I focus on what I’m thankful for. It isn’t always the big stuff either. It’s the grin I received from a child that made me smile in the grocery store. It reminds me that I get a chance to witness something so special in a world that often misses the little things that surround us daily.
4. I listen to inspirational affirmations on You Tube like Louise Hay or read devotionals. If you pour into others a lot, you need to create spaces that feed you and set you on fire to continue the good work you do daily.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?
I love the work of Louise Hay. Her affirmations are wonderful and inspiring. Ash Said It is an uplifting podcast to inspire others by listening to the stories of overcomers of various challenges.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that relates to having a Joie De Vivre? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
There are two: “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” Lao Tzu
It isn’t always about accolades. It is empowering others to make a difference by showing the way.
My other favorite quote:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
This reminds me that I have something to share and by hiding, I hurt myself and others.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am working on my third book. It is a series of life lessons for my daughter who recently left for college. I hope this workbook helps young women in transition to college, a new job or role. I hope it helps young women to know that they can make it. Life can be hard but there are some time tested lessons that can serve as a guide.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’d inspire people of difference to sit down in safe spaces to have very difficult conversations. My dissertation research brought a diverse group of women together and through readings and guided facilitation, these women who were ranging in age from early 20s to late 50s, some immigrant, Christian, Muslim, and other faiths as well as a variety of occupations and backgrounds were able to come together and discuss some very challenging topics, and in doing so, they revealed some very very painful and personal stories. Stories often have emotions connected to them. We may not understand the experience, but we can identify with the emotion more often than not. I would love to see groups comprised of individuals from various experiences to come together in small groups to connect through their stories to acknowledge their commonalities and appreciate their differences.
About The Author:
Dr. Marina Kostina is a life and business fulfillment coach. She uses research and energy work to help professional women find their purpose and turn it into a profitable business. Dr. Kostina incorporates innovative marketing strategies and the creation of engaging, lucrative online courses to scale their businesses. As a result they enjoy what she describes as a “ravenous life” — a life filled with the passion, pleasure, playfulness and abundance that come naturally to those who dare to be authentic. Her book “Find the G-Spot of Your Soul” is available January 2018. Download a free gift from Dr. Kostina- an MP3 Meditation Album “Find The G –Spot Of Your Soul” and get unstuck.