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“I’m killing myself!”
“I’m going at breakneck speed.”
I recognize that these expressions are intended to demonstrate some kind of value in the marketplace, or on the domestic scene, but from the ‘taken-out-of-context’ perspective, read what these words are expressing.
Is this really what you want in your life? Is this the message you want to be putting out there and hearing yourself say? Does it sound familiar?
Right now I’m none of the above, and I’m okay with it. I consider myself to still be in transition from the end of a marriage two years ago and relocating to New York City last fall. Although I’m one who enjoys having a full plate, I’m learning to be with the peace and open space that being “not busy” creates.
I’ll never forget meeting a woman with a cast on her foot. When I asked her what had caused the injury, she said that for weeks she’d been saying, “I need a break! I need a break!” Walking out to her mailbox one morning, she tripped on a pebble and broke her ankle.
What message are you affirming to the Universe, and is it the one you want heard?
In my spiritual fellowship, where meetings are the primary source of connection and inspiration, I’ve often heard this expression: If you’re too busy to go to meetings, you’re too busy.
Does this apply to you?
I’ve been in NYC for seven months now and had my first up-close celebrity siting on the subway this morning. I recognized Christopher Palu, one of the finalists from Project Runway- Season 10, a design show I have avidly watched since its inception*. Anyone who watches any of these reality shows knows how close you feel to the contestants. We watch them not only demonstrating their talents, but also in their hotel rooms eating breakfast, quibbling with each other and dissing the competition.
But I refrained from greeting him by name in the subway.
I should have said what was on my mind. “I think you are amazingly talented, and I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated watching your creative process during the season you were on Project Runway.”
Instead, I was trying to be a cool New Yorker, accepting that celebrities walk amongst us, and giving him his space. I said nothing.
Why I regret it is, like many other business owners and ordinary citizens, I question my gifts on a regular basis. And then I’ll receive an email, like I did this weekend from a former client letting me know that she appreciates what I’ve contributed to her life. She wrote:
You never know where your face is shining. I just tossed a Mary Oliver book back in this basket (in my bathroom) and the books rearranged themselves to show your face. Made me smile. You’re sandwiched between Rumi & another Mary Oliver. Good company!
And I feel lifted up and re-energized. Yes, I would have survived another day without that input, but it was like a booster shot that added extra zip to my spirit for the day.
I want to go on record and encourage each person reading this today to share a good word with those you admire. Let them know. Say something positive to someone who has inspired you, touched you or made your life a bit brighter. Some of that karma may find its way back to you. And how would that feel?
It may be a little Pollyanna-ish, but I’ll cop to that and advise this anyway.
*At first I rented the DVD’s from the library to get caught up on the years I missed. Now, not being the owner of a television set, I download the show from iTunes when it’s in season.
I have a several accounts with Wells Fargo Bank including one that allows me to use ‘foreign’ ATM’s without incurring an additional fee.
I used to think that the fee was only what the competitor’s bank charged for my use of their ATM–as much as $3.00 per visit. But, a month ago I found myself with little cash and the need to get some in a neighborhood that was Wells Fargo-less. I remembered that special card, popped it in for my cash withdrawal, pushed the OK button acknowledging the $3.00 surcharge, appreciating that as a valued customer it would be removed from my the transaction by the time it reached my account.
It was not removed. To add insult to injury, Wells Fargo charged me an additional $2.50 for the ‘foreign’ transaction.
After many phone calls that made me feel less like a platinum customer than I already did, it was resolved. I had been issued the cards in Connecticut, and the New York City banks were not recognizing my special status. Wells Fargo generously, and wisely, refunded my money and explained that if I opened a NY-based account specifically, I could approach ‘foreign’ ATM’s three times a month free of charge. I partook of that agreement.
I had held onto that new card for awhile when I began getting notices that I should initiate it by using it or calling in to have it confirmed. I didn’t really need cash in any outside neighborhood, but figured I’d give it a shot to begin the process. But then I hesitated. Are they (Wells Fargo) just going to reimburse me the $2.50 per transaction for using a ‘foreign’ machine? Will I still be charged the $3.00 fee from the competitor? I hate using an ATM to just get out a small amount of money and paying percentage-wise a larger amount. I don’t mind losing $3.00 if I’m taking out $300, but resent it if I’m only withdrawing $60 to test the system.
This took up space in my head for at least a week. I didn’t want to spend any additional time going through a phone chain to ask that question, and the website is hopeless for finding out that specific piece of information. I finally got tough with myself and thought, “Here’s a $3.00 investment in banking knowledge. Once I do this, I’ll know.” Sure enough, I withdrew $100 and accepted the $3.00 fee at Chase.
The good news was that when I did my daily online accounting the next day, I saw that the $3.00 fee was reversed by Wells Fargo, and there was no additional fee added. The transaction cost me nothing. And took me a week of stewing and fretting to even attempt.
Now, if you can’t indentify with this on some level, then my hat’s off to you. Because every (truth-telling) entrepreneur I’ve ever spoken to has allowed this kind of pre-meditatitive thinking to stall action on things way more important than a $3.00 bank fee. Not knowing the answers is a scary place to be, but inaction is an even more frightening location to operate from.
Now, if I would just take my own advice more often. I know the answer to analysis paralysis. It is ACTION. Do something and get a result. Then move on from there.
All progress is a matter of baby steps. What millimeter action forward do you need to take today?
The ‘impostor syndrome’ came up recently in a group I was leading. One member, who by the way had recently received major recognition in the media, described that less-than feeling she was experiencing. I encouraged her to share her feelings, because they’re real, painful and need an outlet. But I also wanted her to know that she was not alone. I asked if anyone else in the room ever felt that way. EVERY hand went up, including mine.
The best method I have for overcoming or dealing with envy of the competition is to drill down to what it is about their business model you wish was yours and use that information to grow your own company.
In my book Soul Proprietor, Lesson 9 is: In changing what is into what can be, we learn what we need to know.
That issue came up big time for me when I was first exhibiting my artwork. The jewelry display, and its proprietor across the aisle from my booth, were the objects of my jealousy. Not only did she have an elaborate set-up with brown ultrasuede walls dripping with her masterpieces, she also had a mob of women with fistfuls of money seeking her attention and products. There were other sales people in her booth helping her. In short, she had everything I wanted, but with a different craft and more experience.
That didn’t mean anything to me. I wanted instant recognition and fortune. Who doesn’t?
After a bout of unrewarded pouting, I began to analyze what it was she was doing and how she may have achieved her success. I had time on my hands as my booth was not busy at all giving me time to think and plan. Of course, you’ll have to read the lesson yourself for the details, but suffice it to say, my methodology worked. I became successful and stopped looking over my shoulder.
The impostor syndrome doesn’t go away, but now I can recover from it much faster or ask myself the question: Is that really what I want? The answers are changing.
You never know where inspiration and motivation will strike.
For me it was late Friday in a new chiropractor’s office staring at a sign on his wall. Under the emboldened saying were the words: “Five Dangerous Words to Say” and above that were the words themselves:
“Maybe it will go away.”
It doesn’t matter what the IT is. In this wellness provider’s office, it was body pain. But, no doubt, you’re familiar with that thought pattern even if it doesn’t land you in a health practitioner’s domain.
“If I don’t do anything,” it says, “it may get better.” And sometimes that’s so.
Last night, as my computer sputtered and stalled in the Outlook phase of my deskwork, I insisted, “Maybe it will go away.” The dreaded thought I continued to have after I abandoned ship for the night was that what I really needed wasn’t the new monitor I bought and installed last week, but a whole new system. Perish the thought.
This morning, however, I sailed through my inbox leading me to believe it was a connection problem and that everyone in my building was sucking the Time Warner cable lines dry at the same time. I won’t choose to dig deeper until the pain is too great and I have to.
You get to pick your challenges and where to check your foundations. You can sail along in your work/personal life for a long time without feeling the pain. But at some point, it catches up with you, and demands your attention. As it has with the back/leg pain I’ve been enduring for a while now. I know I need to look at the greater system and stop applying bandaids.
Where else that applies in my life is directly addressing issues as they arise and not sweeping them under the rug. It’s seeking out and going to a new doctor, asking for the contract IN WRITING, gently confronting the issue at hand IN THE MOMENT and not hoping it will go away. I’m not 100%, but I’m moving towards the goal of living in the moment, addressing reality and dealing with what is now.
My desktop computer monitor died yesterday. There were warning signs which I tried to ignore, but eventually the screen went totally black, and I knew. It was over. This is when the little brat inside me took over and had a tantrum.
“I shouldn’t have to do this! This shouldn’t be happening! I hate this stuff!”
Then the grown-up, executive-functioning part of me quietly comforted the brat, got on the phone and ordered a new monitor. The grown-up has only little more idea of how to do this than the little one, but for a moment, there’s relief. We’ve taken action and made a decision. For now, this is comforting.
The new monitor arrives before 9am, and the adult speaks gently to herself and says, “I’m a smart person. I can do this. Let’s lay out all of the pieces in an orderly fashion, read through the instructions and get this puppy up and running.”
At the first glitch, of which there are many, l’il Jane starts in again, “I’m a girl! I don’t do tech.”
Amazingly, with patience and persistence, the monitor lights up and even reveals everything that had been left behind yesterday. Hooray!
But, wait! A dialog box comes on the screen and says: Input signal out of range. And the screen goes dark.
This is when it starts to get ugly. I call the help line who requests the serial and product numbers*–which are discreetly hidden between the pedestal base (see image) and the back of the monitor making them nearly impossible to discern. Many tantrums, one magnifying glass and a dollop of patience later, it’s determined that this is a Dell issue and not an HP issue. In other words, begin again.
I won’t belabor this any longer, but suffice it to say, it was challenging, the clock was ticking, and I have a few things on my list to accomplish besides hanging on a help line. Bottom line, what got it all going perfectly was the strategy I had forgotten that always works.
This post is being written using my beautiful, new HD monitor and it looks damn good!
*No one at the help desk mentioned that the numbers also appear on the box in which the monitor was packed. I started getting all suspicious of the company that sold me the product. I went into a dark fantasy of this reputable business getting monitors off the back of the truck, having to repack the damn thing and start from square one. Trust me. I was not someone you’d want to be around this afternoon. I would have preferred to toss it out the window and start over. Now that it’s all over, I love my new HD monitor and all is forgiven.
No doubt you’ve heard the saying that when you point the finger at someone else, there are three others pointing back at you. May I tell you how much I hated that adage?
I far preferred to place the blame on anyone but moi. Me, wrong? Can’t be!
I was fueled by self-righteousness and perfectionism. It’s a great smokescreen for insecurity and feeling ‘less than.’ If I could place the blame squarely on anyone else, I could remain on my perch as the hero or the victim, but never the architect of misjudgment or wrongdoing.
Last Friday I was unable to log onto the dashboard I use for administering my monthly call to my Soul Proprietor Community. I entered the usual URL for the conference line, but kept getting an error message. I remembered that my VA had requested my new credit card number for the May billing cycle. But it didn’t even occur to me to stir up anger at her, because even if she hadn’t gotten to that task yet, it wouldn’t have remedied the situation at hand in that moment.
I couldn’t start the recording as I normally would have, so thought quickly and explained to the group that I would offer the session a second time and record it then. I proceeded to conduct the rest of the call without benefit of the muting option, but it went smoothly nonetheless.
Two very cool things happened. One–the recorder went on automatically unbeknownst to me so the call did get recorded (perfectly, btw), and I did not need to duplicate the effort. The second was this message from a participant:
I learned a wonderful lesson today on our conference call. There were some technical mishaps with recording and sound feedback. If I had been in Jane ‘s shoes I would have gone nuts. However, it was so refreshing and eye opening to see how Jane handled the situation. As a participant I found that her attitude did not cause stress to me (the client/guest) and in fact made me find humor and humanness.
I’m about to get on the phone with my assistant,(who had paid the monthly fee for me) and navigate how to NOT have this happen in the future. I’m very grateful that I didn’t blame her for something she didn’t do to relieve my anxiety in the moment. Relationship and sanity saved.
For as long as I can remember I have had set goals: to go to college, to graduate, to get a job, to get married, to have and raise children, to write a book, to become a coach, to speak publicly, to succeed in my own business, to work on my relationship(s), to achieve peace and serenity, blah, blah, blah.
I did all that.
I’m at a point now that feels like a mid-life crisis, but it’s a tad late. I feel goal-less.
The career stuff has lost its appeal. I go onto LinkedIn to look at discussion threads and go right back out. I’ve heard it all before. It feels competitive and repetitive.
Let me be clear that I adore my clients, my groups and the community I’ve created. I look forward to those calls and meetings immensely. It’s the marketing for new opportunities and filling the pipeline that has lost its appeal for me.
For the first time ever, I am waiting for a goal to define me.
While I know that I am in a lull and looking for some form of manifestation to come knocking at my door, I constantly remind anyone who works with me, or for that matter knows me and listens to my opinions (!), that in order to get what you want, you have to be very specific and offer it up in excruciating detail.
So here’s my want ad (versus my goal) to the Universe in the hopes that putting it out there in this form will be useful:
My vision is to coach men (new, I know) and women to become their best and highest selves; to integrate their insides with their outsides, and to be joyful and present in the process.The companies that hire me (I am free lance, not employed) recognize the importance and value of coaching, and that the act of sharing the truth in a safe, confidential and receptive place will add to their bottom line measured by employee productivity, satisfaction and retention.
I visit three different places of business three days a week (Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Fridays are for MY private groups and communities) in New York City where I am the resident coach. These are small (up to 100 employees), conscious (this description is touching their hearts and souls), green (environmentally aware) companies who care as much about their employees as they do their products and services.
My role is to share my experience, strength and hope with those who work there and who feel the need:
- to be visible
- to hear themselves speak about what’s real
- to share a current struggle
They appreciate that my path as business owner, wife, mother, divorcee, woman in recovery and world traveler equips me to hold space for any and all issues that may arise. The outcome of these coaching relationships is more productive, happy and courageous employees.
The salary for this position is commensurate with the value I bring to each company and is abundant, prosperous and satisfying to all parties.
I’m often the guinea pig of my own coaching. I had a task I’d been putting off and putting off for at least 10 days–creating a warm letter to send to clients, friends and colleagues about the upcoming holistic cruise I’m participating in.
I knew I had the necessary information (dates, early bird discount and itinerary) somewhere on my desktop, but when my desk is messy or I have too many windows open on my computer, I can feel overwhelmed.
First, I would have to locate those details, and second create an opening paragraph describing my excitement. Well, that excitement was buried under the mess as well, the same as it often is for the women I work with.
When I’m coaching a client who is procrastinating, in addition to getting beyond the stuckness, I am always curious to hear more about the to-do that’s paralyzing her. Articulating the situation helps break through the first level of resistance. I can hear the pressure being released and relieved. Then I come in with the zinger.
“Exactly how long will it take to do this?”
That’s the question I asked myself earlier this week. How long will it take to actually compose the letter? It felt like the answer would be “Two years!” but my higher self knew the truth–under an hour.
And so I applied this technique, shared it with my goal buddy, and accomplished it within the hour. Not only that, I personalized 15 versions of it, hand wrote a special message to each recipient, and put all 15 letters in the mail.
I’ll send out another 85 by next week. The ice has been broken. It’s downhill from here. And you know what? Now I am really excited about this amazing opportunity.
I had the privilege and pleasure of seeing ANN, a play written and performed by Holland Taylor based on the life of Governor Ann Richards. I was inspired not only by watching someone who brought to fruition a 6+ year labor of love including the research and writing, but also the marvelous window she opened into this extraordinary leader’s world.
My particular favorite part was that the audience got to see Ann at work in her office, where she:
- Fielded calls from Bill Clinton
- Made a life and death decision concerning a man on Death Row
- Navigated family dynamics among her children regarding the playing of charades and her sensitive son’s feelings on the matter
- Paced nervously because her speech writer had not yet faxed her a talk she’d soon be delivering, etc., etc., etc.
For me, the greatest demonstration of her character was the way she handled what at first seemed to be a favor, but quickly turned into an expensive debacle.
A constituent had arranged a flight for her on a private plane. When she discovered that this ‘favor’ could be used against her politically, she offered to pay for the flight. It cost her over $8000, and she promptly wrote a check out of her own account, down to the last 40 cents worth. She called out to her offstage secretary that she should notify the bank that this large check that would be coming through. I loved how, even though it was a painful, expensive lesson, she didn’t hesitate to do the right thing.
I often congratulate myself for how much I get done in a day. Now, I’m going to laugh at my grandiosity when I think about what Ann Richards accomplished in an hour. Humbling, but truly inspiring.