What I’m excited about letting you guys know today is all about me. Who IS this Dr. Ali?
Officially to most I’m Alisha Griffith, and somehow affectionately (it was actually birthed from my coach Lisa Nichols) I became Dr Ali.
I am that down Brooklyn girl that is birthed from Caribbean parents. Both of my parents are from Guyana, which is a beautiful country in South America. I also have been highly impacted by my step dad, or my other dad, and he is from Trinidad. So I have this distinct accent. Even though I have these Caribbean roots, I was actually born in a small town called Still Water, Oklahoma. That’s where my parents went for grad school. They actually received a scholarship from Guyana, and they came up to do their Masters in the U.S.
Then they had this beautiful, bouncing, lively baby girl on September 6th, 1976. Yes, I’m ok saying what year and date I was born because I was actually born on Labor Day y’all. This is the time of the year that you will ALWAYS see me celebrating my birthday. In Brooklyn Labor Day is a big Caribbean experience. There’s lots of parties, lots of introduction to our different Caribbean islands, and it’s just a fun time. That speaks a lot about me – I love to have fun, i love Soca, I love dancing, I just love celebrating life.
It wasn’t always like this. I had a childhood where my parents separated at a very young age. It was very difficult for my mom, and I saw her going through life almost in that state of always having to fight to survive. As a child I remember trying to do everything I could do so I wouldn’t bring her any additional pain. I know for a major part of my life that there was pain, you could feel it. You didn’t have to say it, but you could feel her pain.
So that started my journey to perfectionism, the first big thing I want you to know about me. Yes, I was going to be this perfect child, this perfect girl who was going to go to school and listen to her mom. I did it mostly because I wanted to be a source of joy for her.
So I sit down and I think about “how does that apply to my mindset?” From a young age, I shifted my mindset from being someone else towards being this perfect person, and really trying my best to be that light for my mom. That really began this mindset work. As I sit down and I reflect, I now realize that began the work to where I started creating strategies in my head of what I needed to do to be that perfect child.
Fast forward ahead, I pretty much had that same concept for my son. Here I am, I’m pregnant, I pretty much did things the way I’m supposed to do. I went to school, I took my prenatals. Now here I am doing the things that I think are supposed to be “perfect,” having a child and expecting him to be perfect. Now the roles are reversed. There I was, trying to be perfect for my mom, and now thinking I’m going to have the perfect child.
Well, I was rudely awakened with the fact that he was diagnosed to be on the autism spectrum. I’ll get into a lot of the stories and details and how I dealt with that situation in the future, but the key I wanted you guys to know about me is that there was this place of perfection that was ingrained in me. I don’t know if any of you guys feel that out there, where you’re looking for this place of perfection and you pretty much want everyone else around you to be perfect and live up to the standards of what YOU think they should be doing.
Fast forward to knowing that my son was not perfect. He LOOKED what I thought was perfect – he had two eyes working, nose was working, mouth was working, ten fingers, tend toes. But now he’s dealing with a different a ability, a different way that he was going to have to traverse life. That began the reality of there was NO SUCH THING AS PERFECTION.
Boom. That hit me.
If anything else could have hit me in my life, that was one of the things that made me realize I didn’t have to be perfect, neither did I need him to be perfect. I stopped expecting everyone else around me to be perfect.
In future blog posts I’ll talk a little more about strategies I’ve used overcoming the obstacles in my life. Through me sharing what I’ve gone through and sharing the strategies I’ve learned along the way, just realizing thats just the way my brain was set up – I always see strategy results, I see graphs in my head, I see the reason behind certain things.
Then applying how it is to go through divorces, how it is to go through feeling completely abandoned, and now how it is to parent a child that does things so uniquely different that no textbook, no amount of education or training is ever going to prepare you for. I’m sure you can use that same comparison to what’s going on in your life, whether its special needs, or a health challenge, or a mental or a spiritual challenge. Some of the strategies I’m going to share with you I know will help you because it helped me, and it helps many others when I get the opportunity to go speak.
Another thing I learned about me is I was a leader from the get go. I was always the leader in the pack. I was always the one who was striking out on my own and doing something that was uniquely different. Then somehow people were always going, “hey that looks pretty cool, I’m going to come follow that too.” I never understood what it was that made me a leader. I don’t think I was just necessarily born ingrained a leader, I just think my mindset was that of “why not, like lets give it a try.” I was curious about ideas and actually implementing them, so I would have the idea and I would do it. Yes I failed a lot of times, and yes I made a lot of errors along the way, but I also got a lot of wins through this. What I began to realize is that when I turned around I would see others doing the same.
I remember specifically when I was in a step class when I was in my upper 20’s. I was stepping away, and I would stop and take a sip of water, and my instructor came up to me one day after class and he was like, “Ali every time you stop people stop around you.” I’m like “what are you talking about? I’m just here to step, I’m not here to lead. I’m not here to do anything like that. I’m just here to have a good time.” He said, “No, I want you to take look at that. Take a look at what’s happening around you.”
I’m telling you this because I want you to understand where that mindset shift towards being a leader really kicked in. When he told me to look around and notice that when I stop others stop to get water, and that when I powered through others were powering through with me – at that moment it was the beginning.
Now being an example for positive also works for negative. So if I’m going to stop, if I’m going to give up on myself, look around to see who’s watching because others are going to do the same. Boom.
I know someone out there just really internalized that part of knowing that you are a leader because you were placed here to lead in your unique gifts. The minute you stop, the minute you give up on yourself the minute you tell yourself i can’t, is the moment others around you are impacted with your decision.
The last thing I wanted to share with you about Dr. Ali is that I have the ability to connect with people. What showed me this is the fact that when I speak you listen, and when I listen you speak. As simple as that sounds, it’s what made me realize why I connected so well with others. I started to realize through my experiences, challenges, growth, wins and loses, that my voice matters. And so does yours. As I began to listen more (did i mention that I’m a speech pathologist and audiologist?) it really made me understand not only the science of peeking and listening, but the art and the humanitarian aspect. It made me understand why we need to improve our listening, and why we have to think twice before we speak – because others are listening, they are tuning in.
I connect through speaking, I connect through listening, and most importantly I connect through the heart. My heart space is one of my big gifts that I have, I have a gigantic heart. My Zachary was given this same heart. So imagine him being his unique quirky self, and now having this big gigantic heart.
In the future you’re going to get to learn some more about that, and you’re going to get to hear from Zachary himself.
So what I ask of you today is to do me a favor. I just poured into you, can you do me a favor and pour back into me? Take this and share it with five other friends or family members that you know need to hear this. Leave comments below and tell me how you feel.
One more favor I have to ask is for you to check out my brand new podcast, The Dr. Ali Griffith Show. I’ll be sharing more stories like the one you’ve read today in more depth about me, my son Zachary, and all things mindset, motivation, and meditation. I’m figuring it out along the way and I don’t have all the answers. This is not going to be perfect, because guess what? I took that perfection thing I was trying to do and threw that out the window and just say “take me as I am.” And I’m hoping you do the same.
If you’re ready to unsubscribe from the negativity in your life, listen to the Dr. Ali Griffith Show: