Please Stop Doing This!

May 31, 2011 by     Leave a Comment

When is the last time you heard someone say something like, “You know how it is…” and you nodded in agreement?
Please stop doing this.

To get a good understand of how agreement can hurt us, read the first chapter of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, about “domestication” of the planet. Here’s an excerpt:

“As children, we didn’t have the opportunity to choose our beliefs, but we agreed with the information passed to us…by other human beings. The only way to store information is by agreement. The outside… may hook our attention, but if we don’t agree, we don’t store that information. As soon as we agree, we believe it.”

Our belief creates 100% of our reality and results in life. Nodding in agreement when someone makes a statement that is limiting is a habit that has you actually enter information into your subconscious as a belief. Oh no!

“Oh, but it is so hard to get clients, you know?”
Nod, yes… Uh-oh! A new belief – a new reality.

“In this economy I can’t expect people to pay for __(insert your service)__”
Nod, agree – new reality.

Here are 5 highly damaging “agreements” that I see people nod to, and therefore take on for themselves and keep alive:

1. Being an entrepreneur is hard.
2. People aren’t willing to pay for ____(service they need)____ even though they need it.
3. You can’t make a living doing ____(thing you love)____.
4. That’s just the way _____(person, circumstance)_____ is.
5. ___(Type of person)____ are ____(negative descriptor)____.

Which of these types of statements have you agreed to recently?

Now, you may have lots of EVIDENCE that a statement is TRUE. Take, for example, “Teenagers are difficult.” This a common agreement people take on in our society.

What might be different if we took a stand and started agreeing to something like “Teenagers are creative.” “Teenagers have great ideas.” “Teenagers are energetic.”

What about these? “Being an entrepreneur is a fun adventure.” “People are willing to pay for something when I help them see the value.” “We are designed to make a living doing work we love.” Etc.

How do I reject an agreement?

What do you do when faced with another individual in your life who wants you to store information by agreement that does not serve you?

1. Simply take in the information. If this is a non-primary relationship in your life, you may choose to simply hear them, without nodding or agreeing. Allow them to say what they will, and let the information bounce right off of you.
2. State and reaffirm your own opinion. If this is someone you find yourself spending time with regularly, at minimum you want to take this route. “Actually, I choose to believe ________.” And then let it go.
3. Challenge their thinking. If this is a primary relationship in your life, or someone important enough to you to risk being uncomfortable, please challenge their thinking. (Also if they are speaking about something that will directly affect the “agreement” about your line of work.) This would look like. “I’d like to challenge your thinking here. I’m sure it makes sense to you, but where did you get that idea?” And even, “In my experience, ________ is actually true.” Or, “I choose to believe ____________, because my beliefs influence how I operate in this world. You are welcome to have that opinion, and I love you, but I request that you don’t share it around me.”

Does that third line of conversation make you squirm? Yes, because, by agreement, we don’t generally speak that directly in our culture. By agreement, we tend to get on board with each other’s pain, rather than take a stand for something different.

Be the change!

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Challenging status quo thinking really is the first step. You may influence someone to rethink old patterns. But at minimum, you are actively choosing the beliefs you agree to store. When your beliefs literally create your reality, this is a pretty important choice to make.

REACTIVE OR CREATIVE?

April 19, 2011 by     Leave a Comment

This is a word scramble that makes all the difference.  In speaking with a client the other day, I had asked him to recap and CLAIM the shifts he had experienced in the recent month of coaching. His response was brilliant.

“I’ve gone from living in a reactive place to living in a creative place.”

Of course I immediately wrote this on a post-it note to remember to write this article:

“REACTIVE v. CREATIVE”

And I noticed, how interesting that just moving one letter (the “C”) creates a world of difference! Let’s explore.

Reactive = concerned with or responsive to stimulus; precipitated by an external cause.

When we are reactive, our external circumstances are in charge of our lives. It’s not intentional, but we are consistently responding to our subconscious programming – the “hot buttons” we have developed over time that help us to: 1) Stay Safe, 2) Be Right, 3) Avoid Responsibility. We are reacting to the way we learned to interpret life and survive.

You will know if you are in reactive mode if you have that sense that you are stuck – that you are repeating the same behaviors, yet don’t know how to do it differently. We become reactive when we are stuck in, what I call, the “hallways,” having a hidden commitment to disempowering behaviors motivated by pleasing, fixing, controlling, blaming, etc. (If you missed my Power in the Hallways program, and want it, send an email inquiry!)  We carry out these behaviors without being conscious of how we’re being in life, as we learned them as survival tactics early in life.

Creative = resulting from originality of thought or expression; originative, productive

In order to be creative in our life, or be the creator of our own life, by definition we must release the old reactive mechanisms. Creative actions and decisions come from within. We are making conscious choices about what we want. We are choosing the thoughts we think, and attracting the results we desire based on what we think about. We become the master of our destiny.

Example:

Reactive: I am between jobs, and a friend offers me work. The work is not at all interesting to me, but because I have beliefs that “I should take what I can get” and “It’s important to make other people happy,” I say yes to my friend without even bringing conscious thought to the decision. I then feel stuck in the job, and I missed the chance to create what I want next.

Creative:
When offered the position, I would run the thought through my conscious mind and ask, “If I were creating my life, would I create it in this way?” If no, I’d have a straightforward conversation with my friend about what I am REALLY wanting next. Who knows? The friend may be able to help me create that. Sharing what I want will help the creative process.

Business Decisions

This same thinking could be applied to any business decision. There is a reactive path, based on automatic thinking, and a creative path, based on conscious thought processes. We will always be happier and more fulfilled when we are creating.

Before You Brush Your Teeth

April 13, 2011 by     Leave a Comment

toothpasteWhat is the one thing you must get done tomorrow, BEFORE YOU BRUSH YOUR TEETH?

I have an accountability buddy who I speak with twice a week :-D .  For a time period she took to holding me accountable for brushing my teeth.  I’d get so caught up in projects for my business that it would be dinner time and I’d recognize I’d forgotten to brush my teeth.  My dental hygiene actually is important to me, but I just had a lot to do!  So I’d get a text from her from time to time in the evening, “did you brush your teeth today?”

I really did need to take time to prioritize this.  But then there is the flip side…

I just got an email from a client, whom I absolutely adore, that said, “I haven’t had time to get back with that person about the contract I sent.”  She is looking to close a big contract with a potential client, and hasn’t had a chance to do it!  Now, I haven’t actually spoken to her, so I am not writing this to her necessarily, I don’t know the details, but it did spark a little rant for me.

What do you need to do tomorrow, that is so important that you’ll do it BEFORE you brush your teeth?

I know that it was not necessarily healthy for me to be so busy working that I ignored basic self care.  That is not what I am committed to.  But I will say that those priorities built a business.

If you are finding infinite numbers of small details of things to perfect (website, email, dishes, laundry, oral hygiene :) ) BEFORE you take the actions that will bring your money, please ask yourself each day – what one thing is so important it would be worth not brushing my teeth for?

Do that thing.  Then brush your teeth.  Thank you.

Aggrandizement or Making a Difference?

March 28, 2011 by     Leave a Comment

5 signals and 5 tips for more fun and better results

My intuition speaks to me in words. I know I need to write about something when I find the topic crossing my path multiple times in a short period of time. When it’s a word like “aggrandizement” it’s got to be more than coincidence.

Aggrandize = to make greater in power, wealth, rank, or honor; to make something appear greater.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to increase your power or wealth. (When your definition of power is ‘being fully yourself without fear,” rather than trying to be in charge of life). The problem comes in when we focus on making ourselves greater above making a difference.

Most of my clients are interested in making a difference in the world. They are on a mission for themselves and their family, and for our society as a whole. Yet, we are human beings having a human experience, and it can be easy to get caught up in making or appearing greater, rather than focusing on our real goal.

5 Signs you might be caught up in self-aggrandizement:

  • You spend a lot of time thinking about how you are going to be perceived by the world at large, rather than focusing on your ideal clients, even at the expense of serving the clients you have.
  • You are writing your website copy, articles, or blog posts in order to sound smart or use the right buzzwords for the “experts,” rather than writing from your heart about what YOU BELIEVE makes a difference.
  • You are analyzing the “competition” and get disappointed when you discover or believe that your offering has “been done” or is not unique.
  • You are never satisfied with your results. Whatever business you create for yourself is not enough, generally as a result of comparing your business to how you think someone else is doing. They SEEM to be bigger than you.
  • You are attending every networking event or function possible to become seen and known, to the point that you are highly ineffective at follow-up, and even sacrificing self-care. Everyone knows you, but you are broke and sick.

So, if you’ve got the sinking feeling that this could be you… First, breathe.

Next, recognize that you are not alone.

In our culture of information, it is easy to get caught up in a desire to be “on top,” and also easy to perceive others as more successful because you see them everywhere, or they have a nice website. To top it off, many of us are programmed with subconscious belief systems about the need to be unique or special to be valued.

So here are some new thoughts to keep in mind to REALLY make a difference:

  • Think small. (Strange coming from me, I know.) Focus on serving the clients right in front of you. Overdeliver on your promises to them and trust that word will get around. Give up the need to be famous. Be famous among your tribe – however small. It only takes a dozen committed clients to build a 6-figure business. Seth Godin built his tribe one person at a time.
  • Write your website, articles, etc. to ONE PERSON, your ideal client. You are here to make a difference with that audience, not the whole world. Keep your focus on them and your message will ultimately gain more traction.
  • By the nature of being the only YOU on the planet, you are unique. There is no competition if you are being true to yourself. There is nothing that hasn’t been said, thought, or done before in one way or another, (unless you’re in a new technology) so give up the need to be original. Then remember no one else can do it exactly like you.
  • Celebrate your results, focus on one “sale” at a time, and refuse to speculate on the results of others. Just because someone appears successful, it does not mean that they are, or even that they define success in the way you do. I do a happy dance every time a new client allows me to serve them in my business. Every time. That will ALWAYS excite me more than being “known around town.” I regularly meet well-known entrepreneurs who are making very little money, and therefore very little difference.
  • Take action to meet clients, but follow-up is key. You must have a strategy and a structure to your potential client process so you can easily follow up with people and invite them into your tribe. While systems make this efficient and less personally time-involved, you cannot leave this to chance. Just being seen and known is not enough.

Be teaching potential clients how to work with you, and make it easy. Always.

So why am I choosing to write about this?

Because I get it. I’ve been there. At one point I had “making a difference” (a.k.a. Saving the World ) all laid out as a vision in my mind that looked like I speak and the world listens. That kind of desire is paralyzing, and completely unrealistic. And I see it stop people in their tracks. In big “throw in the towel” ways, and in little self-defeating thought processes. The fastest path to being well known for who you are? Be well known for who you are! Starting with the people right in front of your nose.

10 Steps to Time and Peace of Mind: Getting confidence in managing your schedule

March 21, 2011 by     Leave a Comment

When people consider the transition from J-O-B to Entrepreneur, they often hesitate and wonder, “Can I really do this? Can I really pull this off?”

One of the prime themes around this, and a theme that immediately pops up after someone makes the decision, is “I am not sure if I trust myself to manage my time.”

And it makes perfect sense.

Unless we’ve been running someone else’s business before starting our own, we’ve never truly had to practice managing 100% of our time. Someone else was setting priorities, so of course it’s a bit of a new skill.

Most of us have also been raised in a culture that doesn’t encourage setting our own priorities. We go to school at a certain time and do the homework they tell as to by the deadline we’re given. We’ve never been trained or encouraged to consider when we want to work or how we work best.

In addition, most of us are no good at saying “no.” In alignment with our social system, we are generally taught to prioritize what others want us to do over what we, ourselves, want to do.

This is very disempowering, but it’s become the water in which we swim.

That explains it.

This is why people freak out when it comes time to manage our schedule. We don’t have the tools (“way of being” tools or practical, tangible tools) to do it well.

Here’s a cheat sheet.

I just spent a part of a VIP day with a client working through this process – give yourself some time to create your schedule. This is the same process I used intuitively from my first day as a full time business owner, and still use. I knew I needed to assign myself a structure, or I’d be in trouble.

  1. Take out a piece of paper and draw columns for the days of the week. (See photo for a tool I developed for my business retreat – I used post-it notes, but not necessary).
  2. Ask yourself, in an ideal world, when would I most like to work? Be specific. (I like to work “normal business hours” but at least one day I want the freedom to go do something fun in the middle of the day when others are at work, and I also like to work one evening, to mix it up a little).
  3. Create time blocks in each column to represent the hours you most want to work. I like 2-hour increments. Feel free to include and note your leisure time too.
  4. Ask yourself, in an ideal world, how would I like to see myself flowing toward the work? In other words, within the natural way I work best, how will I structure my days? (e.g. I love to have “client days” and “creation days” in my business – I also like having a ½ day structure for some things so I can have 2 types of activities in one day. A designer client of mine said “I would absolutely love it if I could have a full day to just design with no interruptions.”)
  5. Now sketch in work activities into the blocks of time to reflect your response. Try not to limit yourself based on what you think you have to do – we’ll get creative next. (The same client fully believed that full days of uninterrupted time were impossible.)
  6. Add in time for things like e-mail, administrative stuff (contracts, money management, etc.), writing or other content-creation, self-care, and the all-important marketing & sales. (In the beginning this will be at least ½ of your time!) You may include a little buffer time… but not too much!
  7. Be both general and specific. Be general enough that you know you can flow to what needs to be done each week. (My “creation” time can be used to write newsletters, plan a launch, or connect with my network depending on what I’m up to.) Be specific enough that you don’t spend unproductive time trying to figure out what you meant or what you should do during that time. (“Marketing” may be too broad. You may put “Networking Events” or “Calling for Speaking Gigs” or “Call Potential Clients.”)
  8. Get Creative. Even if it seems as if you can’t design for your ideal way of doing things, spend some time thinking of possible solutions, starting with “How could I….?” Can you work with clients in groups to save time? Can a few hours on a Saturday save you from working weekends? Do you need to hire an assistant for a certain time period each week? (Back to the designer client, she was blown away by the thought that she could actually put an “out of office” message on her email twice a week while she was having “design day.” OR hire a Virtual Assistant for those hours. She could even include a calendar link for them to schedule time during her “office hours” so she didn’t need to return the email herself! To embrace this idea required giving up the old thought that whatever someone else needed was more important than how she wants to work!)
  9. Use tools and systems to streamline. There are many tools I love. I love http://www.timetrade.com/ for an inexpensive & easy scheduling tool. I’ve created “systems” (consistent ways of handling) for new client inquiries, for networking & speaking follow-up, for how to repurpose my written content. (The autoresponder with a calendar link above is a great example. We put into her calendar “set autoresponder” the night before her “design day.” We blocked out 3 hours on the calendar the day after for folks to schedule into while she’s out of the office.)
  10. Be both flexible and structured, and always reschedule your commitments. If you have scheduled a certain time for a for specific marketing activity, for example, and then someone calls and wants to inquire about working with you, or someone invites you to lunch, by all means, enjoy the freedom of working for yourself and change your schedule. Be sure to ask yourself whether the change in plans in is line with your overall commitments. (Remember it’s OK with saying “no” just because it doesn’t work for you.) If you do choose to sway from your calendar, be sure to reschedule that commitment for later in the week. If it was important enough for you to schedule, it’s important enough reschedule! (In other words, don’t always forgo “make sales calls” for a lunch date or you’ll be out of business!)

I trust this gives you a little more courage to go for it. You can design your schedule to work perfectly – perfectly for you that is!