The Law of Attraction

The Law of Attraction

My knowledge of the Law of Attraction comes from three books I recently read (in this order): Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting by Lynn Grabhorn (Grabhorn wrote her book six years before The Secret came out), The Law of Attraction, the Basics of the Teachings of Abraham by Esther and Jerry Hicks and Dr. Wayne Dyer’s The Power of Intention.

Grabhorn’s book was a good introduction to the concept, less “woo-woo”. The Hick’s book helped fill in some of the missing holes. It definitely requires you to open your mind a bit more, but by the time I read it, I was receptive to its message. Dr. Dyer’s book only mentions the law of attraction once but after reading the first two books it was obvious to me what it was about. He comes at it from the perspective of intention, citing Shaman and eastern religious philosophies.

Grabhorn’s book was the first published, followed by Dyer’s and then Esther and Jerry Hick’s book (their book was the catalyst for The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, which I have not read but I did see the video.)

The Cliff Notes version of the Law of Attraction is this: You get what you focus on.

The concept is that we are all made up of energy. Energy vibrates at different frequencies and like a tuning fork (or magnets) like attracts like. Our thoughts and beliefs create energy in the form of our emotions and it is these feelings that determine how we’re vibrating. When we feel good, we are vibrating at a high frequency. When we feel bad we are vibrating at a low frequency. So the key is to direct our focus to the things we want – that make us feel good – so we’ll attract more of it into our life. It’s remarkably simple – in any situation all you have to do is pay attention to how you feel. If you feel good, you’re on the right track. If you don’t, then you need to redirect your focus or reframe your thinking until you do.

Is it easy? Hardly, because we’ve become so conditioned by habits of thoughts and false beliefs that it is hard to tap into that pure feeling of joy. Most of us have been brought up to focus on the negatives. Think of how many times we heard the word “no” or “don’t do that.” when we were children. And it continues into adulthood. We tend to think about what we don’t want (I don’t want to be fat) or what we lack (I wish I had a better job). Even when we do focus on what we want, we don’t believe we can have it (I want a Porsche but…).

This is hardly new stuff. It’s been written about by all the major religions. The great Greek philosophers talked about it. More current (and still popular) contributors include James Allen’s little tome – As a Man Thinketh – written in the early 1900’s and Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich.

I’ve noticed it in my own life and I’m sure you can bring up examples too. I can think back to my last fender bender. It was raining and the thought going through my head was “The road is slippery, I hope I don’t slide into a car” and guess what I did – slid right into a car!

It’s taken me awhile to be receptive to the Law of Attraction. First of all, some might view it as “airy-fairy” stuff. “Sure,” you might say, “all I have to do is wish I had a million bucks and it’s going to be delivered to my door by some genie on a flying carpet <eye roll>”. And reading the Hick’s Law of Attraction is going to require an open mind because the Abraham they are referring to in the title is a collective of beings channeled through Esther Hicks. Don’t let your skepticism keep you from reading it.

But the underlying message does make sense. Admit it – when you’re in a good mood it seems like everything is going your way. And when you wake up on the “wrong side of the bed”, you just can’t seem to catch a break, it’s one disaster after another. You wonder why you bothered getting up.

Applying the law of attraction is simple. All you have to do is figure out what you REALLY want and focus on it. You can tell if you are doing it right because you will feel good. If you feel bad, then you are focusing on a don’t want, lack of or some other negative thought/belief. Change your focus or reframe your thoughts until you feel good. You don’t have to monitor every single thought you have, you don’t have to examine why you have these thoughts, all you have to do is be aware of how you are feeling.

Here’s the thing many people miss, this isn’t about wishful thinking, you do have to take action. Creating is a verb, after all, and the whole point is to deliberately (as opposed to by default – which is a huge portion of the population) create the life you want. The creation process begins in our heads – we must think it into being, we must see it, visualize it and expect that we’ll get it and then we will be inspired, guided or led to take perfect action. Through our vibrations we will draw the people, events, things, ideas, etc into our life so we can create what we want with ease. “Action that comes from the feeling of inspiration is action that will produce good results,” according to Abraham in The Law of Attraction. In Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting, Grabhorn writes “Does this mean we stop doing? Of course not. We just substitute inspired doing for wasted doing by stopping our constant knee-jerk responses to everything…Action becomes a joy instead of a ‘have to’.”

When we work from a negative perspective, when we are desperate, needy, angry, etc. any action we take is like trying to climb uphill pushing a boulder.

So what does this all mean in terms of creating a business?

The big takeaway for me is to be very clear about what you want and focus on it. What kind of business do you want? What problem are you solving? Who do you want to serve (your ideal client) and get as specific as possible. Only when I was crystal clear on what I was trying to achieve with my business (my vision and mission) and who my ideal client was (it took me over a year of working at my business to figure all this out) and focused solely on that, did it start to grow.

What has been your experience with the law of attraction? I’d love to hear your opinions, comments and stories.

#DreamBigBus and Meshell Baker

#DreamBigBus Meshell Baker

Meshell Baker is travelling around the country in a bus (technically it’s an RV…) that says in big bold letters: “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” It’s part of her #DreamBigBus Speaking tour.

My first encounter with Meshell was at a National Association of Professional Women meeting in Austin, right before the launch of her tour. As the Congruency Catalyst, (“Congruency is just a fancy word for alignment,” says Meshell). Meshell’s lives, eats and breathes VISION. To quote her website:

“Why vision? Because it is one of the most powerful developers of clarity, confidence, and courage.  Nothing GREAT is ever achieved or accomplished without a minds-eye view what is possible, in the face of what “appears” to be impossible”

I had a chance to talk to Meshell recently and after we overcame some audio issues (on my part) she oozed presence and charisma. Our talk was not long enough by any means. Meshell is not a woman who is at a loss for words. She has a clear vision as to what she was called to do. She explained to me most of society operates on a Do-Have-Be basis. Do something so you’ll have something so you’ll be something. According to Meshell, it should be: Be-Do-Have. Become the person you’re created to be FIRST then anything you do will be more purposeful and enjoyable and then you’ll have experiences and a life that is amazing.

Meshell’s vision is very clear, “I help people become unwaivering, unapologetic and uncompromising about who they’re suppose to be and how they are called to do it.

That’s bold! But you know what, we need more of that kind of boldness. Over 70% of Americans say they are disengaged or hate their job. In Meshell’s former life as a sales rep she had all the trapping of having “made it”, a six-figure salary, three day weekends, a home, etc yet she was miserable. And she looked around and noticed that everyone else was miserable too! We weren’t put on this earth to slave away in a cubicle most of our lives, reserving the weekends for our “real” life.

Meshell’s message is very clear and it’s very important. What are you called to do? Are you doing it? Why not? Are you living your life as a “gift and a blessing” like Meshell? I know my perspective and priorities have shifted since I started pursuing my dream. Maybe it’s because at my age I don’t feel like I have time for the B.S anymore. Your mortality can be a wake up call for you to get real. Continuing down a path of boredom and mediocrity was no longer an option for me, but it shouldn’t be an option for anyone.

Meshell Baker #DreamBigBus

If you’ve always had a dream, now is the time to do something about it. If you don’t have a clue, thinking “purpose” and “vision” aren’t for you -the only thing that’s calling you is the couch and a chance to binge-watch the latest craze on Netflix – it’s time to reconnect with your passion. Maybe it’s buried under years of stress and pressure to conform or make a living, but trust me, you have it. We all do. It’s time to go on a treasure hunt and find it.

 

If not you, who? If not now, when? Time is not guaranteed.

Meshell walks her talk. “My motto is you’ll be better off for having met me.” I know I am and have no doubt the hundreds of people she’s connected with would say the same thing.

To learn more about Meshell, her vision work and the #DreamBigBus tour, visit her at http://meshellrbaker.com/

 

Ditch the Elevator Pitch

Ditch the Elevator PitchI was at an event not too long ago, talking to a woman and asked her what she did. She laid her elevator pitch on me. I pressed her further on what it meant.

“So exactly what is a ….?” To which she repeated her elevator pitch to me.

“Yes, but what does that entail?” Again, she gave me a reiteration of her elevator pitch. It was obvious my questioning, which was really just curiosity, was making her uncomfortable. She wasn’t able to articulate her services beyond her elevator pitch. She was beginning to sound like a parrot and if I was a potential client, she wasn’t instilling a lot of trust in me. She couldn’t even explain to me what her title meant. I was distracted by another person joining our circle and she took that opportunity to get as far away from me as possible.

Everyone tells you to have an elevator pitch but if you really want to have a meaningful conversation, arouse curiosity and interest and not sound like a desperate used car salesperson, you need to quit telling people what you do and show them. Engage them.

Here’s an example of a conversation I had at a recent event:

Fellow attendee (FA): “So what do you do?”

Me (M):”I’m the Entrepreneur’s Midwife.”

Brief pause here. I’ve called myself a career coach, business coach, entrepreneur coach, etc. I can see their eyes glaze over and the conversation stops COLD. Not what you want. I came up with the Entrepreneur’s Midwife because midwife is a good analogy for what I do – help bring your vision to life – and it also arouses curiosity, enough to keep the conversation going.

FA:”I used a midwife for my second child. Do you know so-and-so?”

M: “I’m not that kind of midwife. I’m an Entrepreneur’s midwife.”

FA: “What’s that?”

M: “Let me ask you a question – Do you love your job?”

FA: “Yeah, I like my job.”

M: “So if you won the lottery you’d continue doing what you’re doing?”

FA: “Oh Hell no!” (Laughs)

M: “What would you do then?”

FA:”I’d pay off my bills, get a swimming pool and buy a Porsche.”

M: “Those are things you’d have. What would you do?”

FA: “I’d take a vacation.”

M:” Let’s fast forward a bit. You’ve won the lottery and you’ve taken some time off to decompress, pay off your bills and buy some toys. What would you do with all this free time now that you didn’t have to worry about a paycheck? What are you passionate about?”

FA: (thinks for a bit) “I love dogs. I would start a no-kill shelter, buy a couple of acres they could run around on. There would be an on-site vet. OH! Maybe I’d set up a visiting dog program for nursing homes or children’s hospitals.” (She’s really getting into it, as she starts talking faster, letting the ideas fly).

M: “Now you got the idea!”

FA: “Of course I would take cats too! And maybe retired circus animals? Give them the chance to spend the rest of their days roaming free instead of penned up and performing.”

M:”Why aren’t you doing this now?”

FA: “Because I haven’t won the lottery!”

M: “Well, as an Entrepreneur’s midwife, I help you expose and remove your ingrained and subconscious self-limiting beliefs, thoughts and habits, such as you need to win the lottery, and adopt a mindset that frees you to pursue your no-kill animal shelter.

One of the top five regrets of the dying is they wish they had to courage to live a life true to themselves, not what others wanted. We are all here to expand and grow into our purpose, whatever we decide that is, but most people shrink, settle for less and stagnate.

Do you feel like you’re growing or do you feel stagnate?”

FA: “The only thing that’s been growing on me is my waistline…”

M: “Les Brown said the richest place on earth was the cemetery because it’s full of unfulfilled dreams – books that were never written, songs that were never sung, business ideas that were never realized. I don’t buy into the ‘life’s a bitch and then you die’ philosophy. We are creators and our biggest creation is our life, that’s why I specifically work with women who want to start a business. Entrepreneurship is more than just building a business, it’s about who we become in the process. At its heart, it’s about creating your life on your terms.

Once you accept and truly believe that what you want is valid and doable by clearing out false beliefs, I have a system that takes you through all the steps to make your dream a viable business.”

After she asked me what an Entrepreneur’s Midwife was, I could have simply said “I help female entrepreneurs bring their vision to life and life to their business.”  The conversation would probably have ended there. She could have thought “that’s great, but what does it have to do with me?”

I made it about her, not about me. I asked her to tap into her imagination, connect with and get excited about her dreams. When she came up with her excuse (“I haven’t won the lottery”), I pointed out an alternate reality – her dream was not only possible, but with my system, probable, not some pie-in-the-sky fantasy.

I didn’t belittle her dream, I encouraged it! As Carrie Green says in her book She Means Business

“…there was a light that had been switched on, the knowing had entered their lives…”

Once you know, you can never un-know. I had sparked her desire. Whether she would pursue it or not was up to her.

That’s the power of showing over telling!

After the event she came up to me and asked for a business card.

 

 

 

 

 

Young Journey – From Passion to Non-Profit

 

Young Journey Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to “inspire young people worldwide to be lifelong learners eager to contribute to society through project based workshops and community events.” I had the pleasure of meeting the founder, Jaha Wilder at a recent Texas Business Women’s meeting. When I heard she had been running Young Journey since 2000 I knew I had to talk to her because that is quite an accomplishment.( I learned it was nothing compared to the adversity she faced as a teenager.)

Jaha is Swahili for dignity – how great is that? My parents were lazy in the picking-out-a-name department. A cursory search said Lynn means “ruddy-complected”. That’s inspiring (not!)…but I digress.

Jaha grew up in east Austin, in a large, musically-oriented family(she’s the youngest of 10). Her experience as a young girl, taking free classes at Rosewood Park eventually came full circle. “I lived with what Young Journey is.”

Young Journey is a real world model for the children that participate. It gives them ownership of what they are doing while instilling a work ethic and providing character lessons while letting them know how valuable they are. Here is an example of their work. They are currently working on a short film and the kids are involved in every aspect from writing, production, marketing, etc.

However, she didn’t start out with grand dreams of starting a non-profit. Instead, she took to the road as an entertainer. After deciding the entertainment business wasn’t for her, she saw how the lower income kids lacked support, their needs were not being addressed. Using her passion for music and lyrics, she wrote a CD called “Young Journey Children’s Music”. Her sister told her to take it to the schools and eventually it grew into the performing arts, media and sports program it is today. Young Journey is in three states – New York, Texas and Tennessee.

We talked a lot but there are several key points Jaha brought up that I believe are pertinent to starting any kind of business, whether for- or non-profit.

Follow your passion.

First, follow your passion. While Jaha describes her position as a “quadruple full-time job”, she said it “unfolded” naturally. She just pursued her passion for music and kids. While it wasn’t always an easy road, she admits that her biggest obstacle was getting past herself (preaching to the choir!)

Young Journey had been in operation for four years before she pursued 501(c)3 status. She’d been stubbornly resisting that step. But through the summer it took her to do the paperwork to set up her non-profit and all of the other challenges, what kept her going was the children she was serving. “It’s challenging, that’s why people want to give up.” When you follow your passion you have a powerful “why” to get you through the rough times.

Jaha said, “Whatever you love will help somebody, don’t do if for the money.” We don’t need to have Mother Theresa aspirations. Jaha proves that everything can provide value, like her music, in unsuspecting ways.

Be clear,  specific and commit!

It’s important to form your vision and articulate it. “We need time for it to unfold in ourselves first. We need to be clear about what we are doing” and why we’re doing it. We need to be committed to it – if we aren’t committed, why should anyone else be? “But as you move forward, you begin to attract the people you need” and who need you.

Collaboration not competition

This brings up a good point. When people come into your life that can help you, it’s important to ask how you can help them. Collaborating with people is a win-win and can go far in helping your realize your vision. As Zig Ziglar said, “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

Ask, don’t tell.

The program grew because Jaha asked the kids what they were interested in. How many of you ask your clients what they want or need and then develop products/services to meet them? Or do you fall in love with your idea without asking if there’s a market for it, investing a lot of time and energy on something that’s a bust?

There is a difference between buying and selling. Buying is willingly purchasing something you want or need. Selling is attempting to convince someone that they want or need your product. No one wants to be sold.

Talk to your clients or prospective clients, get to know their goals as well as their problems. Put more time into researching their pain points instead of selling your products. When you do they will buy from you. When you show an interest in them, they become invested in you.

Good Advice

I asked Jaha what advice she has for women that want to start their own non-profit:

“Do it! My father said ‘Just do it’ long before Nike. Just start doing something everyday, even if it’s small. Learn something about the industry as often as possible and surround yourself with positive people. ‘Get rid of the dead weight’, my aunt would tell me.

Don’t worry if you don’t have the resources at hand. It will come. Just go and HAVE FUN! Enjoy what your doing and learning. Reflect on what you’ve achieved. Remember to be a model, not just to the youth but to each other. Work together and support each other.”

Learn more about Young Journey at www.youngjourney.org.

 

 

 

 

What the heck is Psycho-Cybernetics?

What the heck is psycho-cybernetics?

I happened to pick up the book Psycho-Cybernetics 2000 by Maxwell Maltz Foundation and Bobbe Sommer a couple of months ago. It says on the cover that it has helped millions find greater self-esteem and fulfillment and the premise of the book is “by expanding your self-image you expand the limits of your talents and capabilities.” Bottom line is when you develop positive inner goals you will be able to create positive outer goals. It asserts you’ll never change your behavior until you change your self-image.

You may wonder why I read these books if my focus is on helping entrepreneurs. Shouldn’t I be more concerned about marketing, business plans, financials, etc? While those are all important to a business,what I’ve discovered is none of that matters if you can’t get past your own fears and self-limiting beliefs. That is why I spend so much time learning about how we think and exploring our mindset. The first step to creating a successful business is believing you can.

Much of what the book said resonated with me. As a coach, I think the most valuable part of my training was becoming aware of and questioning the validity of my own thoughts and beliefs. We tend to live with them as if they are unchangeable truths, when in fact, we can choose to change them at any time. But the problem is most of us are unaware of what we think and believe because they’ve become so ingrained and habitual. So we react instead of respond and get tripped up by our own negative thinking or as psycho-cybernetics would explain it, a poor self-image.

What does psycho-cybernetics mean anyway? Maltz believed the mind/body connection regulates our self-concept or image. Cybernetics, according to Wikipedia, is “an approach for exploring regulatory systems, their structures, constraints and possibilities … Cybernetics is used when a system displays a closed signaling loop – a ‘circular causal’ relationship. The action in the system creates a change in the environment and that change is reflected in the system and triggers a system change.”

In English, cybernetics refers to an automatic guidance system. Maltz believed that our brain and nervous system function as a “servomechanism” or goal seeking device. According to Maltz, it is our self-image that determines whether we are successful or not. And what determines our self-image? Our thoughts and beliefs. We always act in a way that is consistent with our self-image.

Like computers (but so much more complex), our brains follow whatever directions we give it. We have a conscious and subconscious mind. Our conscious mind looks at its options and chooses the one it sees best. When it makes its choice, all other options are eliminated at that moment.

The subconscious mind will move in the direction and do whatever the conscious mind tells it.

Our experiences, upbringing, religion, socializing, schooling, etc have all played a huge part in creating our thoughts and beliefs. Through repetition, those thoughts and beliefs have become ingrained and habitualized in our subconscious. Problems in our self-image occur when we internalize negative thoughts and beliefs and we are unable to move beyond them. We think we are bad at math, hence any other options cease to exist so our subconscious mind follows orders – bad at math. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy at this point.

Psycho-Cybernetics is about becoming aware of these habitual patterns of thought and self-limiting beliefs and reprogramming your brain for success.

Psycho-Cybernetics consists of six steps:

  1. Program yourself for success.
  2. Imagine your way to success
  3. Relax
  4. Set goals
  5. Use negative feedback for course correction
  6. Disinhibit your personality

Step one is about being aware of our thoughts. Are they serving or hindering us? Does the belief that you are bad at math serve you when you are trying to look at the financials of your business or do they hinder you, resulting in overspending, low margins, etc. Negative thoughts and beliefs equal negative outcomes.

Our thoughts and beliefs aren’t unchangeable truths. You have a choice. Your subconscious mind will follow whatever you choose, good or bad.

What do you do about those negative thoughts? Maltz offers CRAFT – you become aware and challenge the negative thoughts/ beliefs and replace them with positive ones –

  • Cancel the negative data (actually say “cancel” out loud),
  • Replace it with a positive thought,
  • Affirm your new image to yourself,
  • Focus on the image of a successful you and
  • Train yourself for lasting change (acting as if).

Visualization is also a powerful tool used in psycho-cybernetics. Our brain can’t distinguish between a real or imagined event. By visualizing a successful outcome, you are, in essence, training your brain. Athletes do it all the time with mental rehearsal. It’s the ol’ “fake-it-till-you-make-it” concept.

Programming yourself and imagining success is essentially bringing your thoughts and beliefs into your awareness and challenging those that aren’t serving you and creating a new vision of how you want to be, rewriting a new script, telling a different story, through visualization.

The next step is to learn to relax.The whole point of these books is to take control of your life and create it on your terms. Unfortunately, it can be hard to think clearly or creatively when we are stressed. We actually have three brains. One is our primitive brain – it operates strictly on instinct, one is for emotions and the neo-cortex is what gives us our distinct advantage over other primates. It’s all about higher reasoning and critical thinking. However, when we are stressed, our primitive brain takes over. We are in survival mode. We react, we’re operating on instinct. It overrides all critical thinking. There’s no time for that – we’re in danger.

Managing stress is imperative to being able to achieve our goals.

The key to a lot of modern day stress is to understand most situations are neutral. It is our response to it that creates stress. We also tend to take ownership of problems that aren’t ours. 

Can you depersonalize the situation? Mistakes or problems do not define you. Do not identify with your disappointments. There is a big difference between “I made a mistake” and “I am a failure”. Making a mistake doesn’t make you a failure.

What’s a guiding system without a target, right? Goals give us direction, otherwise we’ll just be drifting along like flotsam in a river, at the mercy of the current. It’s important to choose goals that are yours – not what your parents want, your spouse, your best friend, etc. (I specifically address the goal setting process in my book Stop Dreaming About Your Life and Start Living It). Goals force you to stretch outside of your comfort zone so take small steps. Give yourself time to grow into your goals. And while you should have a plan, remain flexible and take consistent action. If something doesn’t work, try something else. Don’t get caught in the trap of “trying harder”. You didn’t make a mistake, it’s not you. Consider it feedback and do something different. Keep moving forward.

My take on psycho-cybernetics is when we quit buying into our negative thoughts and self-limiting beliefs and replace them with positive, productive ones, we are on the path to achieving our goals.

 

 

 

 

3 Tools to take action on your goals

3 tools to take action on your goals

What percentage of people do you think achieve their New Year’s resolutions? 50%? 33%? 12%?

It’s actually 8%. I’m not surprised. We sincerely want to quit our bad habits, pursue our dreams and be our best selves, but when it’s time to work on our goals, why are we suddenly compelled to clean out the vegetable drawer – or is that just me? Our intentions are good but our follow through, well, sucks.

To make matters worse, when I set goals I think I have superhuman powers and put unrealistic demands on myself and my time – who needs sleep? I never questioned this approach and each time I felt like a failure because not only did I NOT reach my goal, I barely got started.

I thought I lacked discipline but the problem wasn’t me, the problem was my approach. I didn’t need iron-clad willpower, what I needed was a system that took me from planning to DOING. Action is the only way to build momentum and create new habits and I’ve discovered a few tools that helped me move through my fears and resistance to reach my goals.

But first, I’d like to talk about how our brain works. Our brains have 3 parts:

  • the primitive brain handles our survival instincts,
  • The limbic is our emotional brain and is used for building social bonds.
  • The neocortex is the thinking brain, used for logic and reasoning.

For goal-setting purposes, it’s important to know that when you experience fear or stress, the primitive brain is going to override the thinking brain. Every. Single. Time. It’s going to do everything in its power to alleviate that stress. My unrealistic plans triggered some fear and my primitive brain reacted, thus the overwhelming desire to clean the fridge. I needed a subtler approach so my brain worked for, not against me. The tools that work for me are: break it down, the 5 minute plan and low expectations.

1. Break it Down

In my previous process, to use a writing analogy, I tried to jump from never writing to a finished novel overnight. It’s like expecting a baby that just learned how to roll over to start running. I was depriving myself of the learning opportunities in all those little steps and the habits and confidence they built. I finally realized that achieving a goal means growing into it, one step at a time.

2. Commit to 5 Minutes

The 5 minute plan is a another great tool to overcome resistance. I actually thought I could work 3 hours a night, 5 nights a week and another 16 hours on the weekend to work on my goals, in addition to my full-time job and everything else life threw at me. And I wondered why I couldn’t get started! Then a coach suggested I turn it down a notch and start with 5 minutes. It seems counter-intuitive, What could I accomplish in 5 minutes? Never mind that I wasn’t accomplishing anything before

Here’s the thing, getting started is often the hardest part and 5 minutes is ridiculously easy and non-threatening (remember that primitive brain?), that it was easy to commit to. And if you know Newton’s First Law of Motion, an object in motion tends to stay in motion. Five minutes is usually all I need to overcome inertia and get the ball rolling.

3. Lower Expectations

The final tool is lower your expectations. Now, I’m not saying lower your standards, always do your best. Just accept in the beginning your best might not be all that good. But in order to improve you have to practice. I read about a pottery teacher that did an experiment. He told one class that they would be graded on the quantity of pots they made. He told another their grades would be based on one pot. The class that was graded on quantity actually produced the best pots. Why? Practice! They were focused on the process while the one pot class was focused on the product. In the beginning quantity is more important than but will eventually lead to quality. It’s the process, all that practice that matters, not the product, which is just the end result. So quit worrying about how good it is.

Pursuing our goals is gratifying but the path is seldom easy. It’s good to have some tools that we can use that work with our brain to get us started as well as get us back on track if we slip into old habits when the novelty and excitement of our goal wears off. When you are having trouble getting started I challenge you to apply breaking things down, the 5 minute plan and lowering your expectations.

Wisdom from Trailblazing Women

I recently joined the National Association of Professional Women (NAPW) and went attended my first meeting Tuesday evening. The title of the meeting was  Powerful Women at SXSW and included Terri Gruca (KVUE anchorwoman), Brandy Amstel (filmmaker), Laura McCanlies (Business Technology) and Teryn Fogel (producer).

Shame on me because I wasn’t prepared to take notes and there was a lot of really good information and advice. Here are the highlights:

  • Try to be the smartest person in the room, it’s not about IQ or being a know-it-all, it’s about being prepared. Don’t bring up problems unless you can also offer solutions.
  • Take ownership of your future. Don’t wait for permission to do what you want to do. Go after it. This is a huge issue with many women. We wait for someone to make the offer instead of going after what we want.
  • Be the one with the idea or innovation and don’t be afraid to sell your idea. Speak up and be the first to get your idea out there.
  • Be true to yourself (this came up a lot). Realize not everyone is going to like you. (I heard a saying that sums it up perfectly. I call it SW3 – some will, some won’t, so what).
  • Stand up for yourself and for your vision. Don’t be wishy-washy and let other people water it down. Women tend to be pleasers so we’ll back down in an effort to gain approval. We need to stand in our power.
  • When asked what they considered the key principle that brought success they answered with:
    • Trust your gut,
    • curiosity,
    • a willingness and desire to learn,
    • listening,
    • understanding where other people are coming from,
    • connecting with others,
    • reading between the lines.
  • Advice they’d give to women starting out in their business –
    • Take time to get to know yourself
    • Be willing to experiment – it’s how you’ll figure out what you want to do, your talents, passions, etc. Get a broad base of knowledge and then narrow it down (or not)
    • Don’t be complacent. Grown, expand and try to learn something new about your job to love or look for new things to be excited about.
    • Figure out what is really important to you.
  • When asked as a trailblazer, how did were they able to move forward without affirmation. Brandy gave a wonderful answer when she said she didn’t need affirmation from others. Her affirmation came from knowing who she was and following her own path. Her affirmation came from her heart, not from some external source. Terri expanded on Brandy’s comment by saying it is our responsibility to do it for other people even if we don’t get it.

It was an inspiring and memorable panel and I was also impressed with my chapter president, Kerri, who did a marvelous job of asking the questions and moderating the discussion. I don’t know how other chapters do it but I was blown away with the Austin Chapter. It’s obvious that they are truly devoted to lifting each other up.

 

 

The Importance of Self-Care

The Importance of Self-CareWednesday morning I was psyched! I had attended a Texas Business Women’s meeting the night before and was excited about the connections I made as well as the organization itself. By dinnertime I had turned into the Grinch – I didn’t want any contact with anyone whatsoever. All I wanted to do was crawl into a cave and be left alone.

What happened?

The whole episode brought home a very important but often overlooked point – in order to function at our optimal level we need to take care of ourselves.As an introvert, I recharge by being alone. I hadn’t any quality time with myself for over six weeks and I was getting cranky.

It’s a mistake to think you don’t have time for self-care when you have goals you want to achieve and deadlines to meet. But we only hinder our progress if we try to press on when we are hungry, tired, unfocused and/or stressed out. We need to pay careful attention to our physical, emotional and intellectual needs along the way.

Taking care of ourselves can take on many different forms depending on who you are and where you are in life. We need to meet our physical needs for food, water, sleep and shelter. We need to meet our emotional needs with social connections and we need to meet our intellectual needs – to be challenged and grow.

In addition to the standard advice of eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep there are a million little and big things we can do. Some of my favorite are:

  • Making and eating a home cooked meal
  • Watching a funny movie
  • A hot, candle lit bubble bath
  • Curling up under a blanket on a cold day and drinking hot chocolate
  • Being in nature (walking, hiking)
  • Getting a massage, manicure and/or pedicure
  • Decluttering and organizing (yep, I’m weird)
  • Sitting around a campfire and looking at the stars
  • Getting a hug from family and friends
  • Dancing (both country and goofing around the house to good tunes)
  • Laying in a hammock and reading a good book
  • Pursuing a hobby (mine are knitting, crochet and sewing)
  • Wine tasting
  • Having a deep philosophical conversation
  • Swinging (on a swing – I’ll never be too old to play on a swing set)
  • gardening
  • yoga

Make sure you are making time to care for yourself. All I needed was to close myself off in my room, get under the covers and read a good book. It made a world of difference in my energy level and attitude the next day.

What do you do to take care of yourself?

 

 

Who Owns the Problem – Taking Back Control

Who owns the problem - taking back controlDiane is intelligent, driven and stuck in a dead end job. “Why do I always settle for boring jobs I’m overqualified for?”, she asked in a recent session. “I know I have so much more to contribute but whenever I see a position that really interests me, I always seem to find some excuse why I’m not cut out for it.”

Melissa, on the other hand, has been the rising star of her company. She was recently promoted to a managerial position. But her star is starting to look a little tarnished. Her boss sat her down recently because her department wasn’t hitting its goals. She thinks her former coworkers are jealous of her success and trying to sabotage her.

What do these two women have in common? In order to find the solution they need to figure out who owns the problem.

Whenever you are stuck, blaming someone else or making excuses chances are  you are either taking ownership of a problem that’s NOT yours or avoiding a problem that IS yours.

After some further questioning, Diane told me she paid for her college education although her parents footed the bill for her brother. Her father didn’t see any point in a woman getting an education. His expectations for Diane didn’t go beyond getting married and having children. The message she got was women aren’t as worthy. All through college, her father constantly called her “Miss High and Mighty” for daring to want more. And while she did graduate from college, her father’s message became the tape that played in her head. Diane was taking responsibility for a problem she didn’t own. It was eating away at her self-esteem and keeping her trapped in jobs well below her skill level. She had internalized her father’s opinion instead of viewing it as just that – HIS opinion. She didn’t own the problem – her father did.

Melissa charged into her managerial position like a bull in a china shop. She implemented changes and then started micromanaging her team. Her team rebelled and dug their heels in and productivity dropped. Melissa didn’t see how her managerial style was affecting morale and tried to pass off her problem on to her coworkers, blaming them for not hitting the goals. After overhearing one of her employees call her “The Dictator”, she questioned how her behavior might be affecting everyone else. She took ownership of the problem and began changing how she interacted with her team.

We all want control over our lives and the answer to “who owns the problem” is all about who has control. When you are owning someone else’s problem, like Diane, you are letting someone else control you. When you are blaming someone else for your problem, you are trying to control them. The only person we have control over is ourselves so it’s important to take care of our own problems.

 

Scorecard for Success

success is consistently doing the right things

I’m working with a client who wants to start her own business. Her idea is solid; she spent a lot of time researching it and putting together a business plan and website. But when it came time to implement it, she suddenly found herself distracted and losing interest. Her enthusiasm waned and she ignored it for a year. She hired me after she was laid off from her job and the thought of looking for another “soul-sucking” position (her words) made her sick and depressed. She realized it was time to go for it.

With coaching, she saw how her lack of confidence, self-doubts and fear of rejection were holding her back from marketing and promoting her business.

Marketing and self-promotion are vital to the success of any business. It doesn’t matter how good your idea is if no one knows about it. This was the problem my client was running into. She was focusing on her fears and doubts it triggered and stopped her from doing anything.

I’ve been in her shoes. When I created my business I wasn’t getting much attention. I knew the next step was to promote it and I procrastinated. I suffered from the same self-doubts and fear of rejection many of my clients have. (It’s a common issue with many woman). Suddenly it dawned on me. Building a client base is nothing more than consistently taking the right action. It’s a numbers game and a scorecard is the perfect tool. Not only can you track your progress, it also diverts your attention away from all those imaginary goblins in your mind (that trigger your worst fears) by giving you concrete steps to focus on.

Scorecard for Success

Here’s how it works. Write down all the steps needed to achieve your goal. In my client’s case, it’s increasing traffic to her website. How do you get traffic to your website? There are a number of things you can do:

  • start a blog and post regularly
  • offer a freebie for subscribers
  • build a presence in your industry’s community (think Linkedin or professional associations)
  • guest blog
  • be a podcast guest
  • give a speech
  • submit articles

Pick a few things you think will give you the best results and be consistent in your efforts. If you don’t know where to start, look at what other successful people did and start there.

Marketing is about building a presence and trust. It’s not a one shot deal, you need to do it consistently and this is where most people fail. They are impatient, want results too soon and give up. But if you are patient and consistently take the right action, eventually things will tip in your favor.

Create your Scorecard

Create a spreadsheet (or just write it on a piece of paper, it doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated) and write down in one column all your steps. Every time you do something on your scorecard, mark it. I find a weekly scorecard works best. At the end of the week tally up how many times you did each step (i.e. wrote a blog post, articles submitted, etc). Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many things. Start with three things and re-evaluate after a couple of months.

Keeping score accomplishes a couple of things:

  1. Weekly “to-do” list of action items. We tend to complicate things. Having a scorecard creates a system. All you have to do is work it.
  2. Stay focused. In the beginning, you will expend more effort and energy on your goal because you haven’t gained any momentum. Ideally, after consistently taking the right action and things are moving, it will take less effort to maintain your momentum. Focus on your action steps and give them time to work instead of jumping all over the place and wondering why nothing’s working.
  3. Feedback. How do you know if you’re taking the right action? Numbers don’t lie. Try something and give it sufficient time (three months) and if you aren’t getting the results you want, try something different! When you have quantifiable data you can properly asses your progress and switch gears where needed.
  4. Build good habits. When you do something consistently, you end up creating a habit. Good habits simplify life.

The scorecard was a game changer for me and my clients. It’s simple and effective. Give it a try for one of your goals.