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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.
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 invited Lilli, an organizational expert, to address the women of my Mastermind Intensive yesterday. She focused her talk on Evernote, an online application which 50 million people, other than me, have found useful. Count me in now–50,000,001–since her demo and explanation made me a convert.
Lilli had tons of useful ways to implement Evernote, but my favorite line was her over-arching theme: “Your mind is not a storage facility.” She compared Evernote to how we use a calendar. When someone asks you for a meeting on May 29, chances are you need to consult a calendar to check your availability. No one expects you to retain that kind of information for instant recall.
The way she explained Evernote is that IT becomes your brain in multiple other ways. “Get it out of your brain!” is her mantra.
Another tool she introduced to our group is a portable scanner. “If you’re still using a flat-bed scanner, you’re driving a 1984 Buick.” Shhhhhh. I am. That’ll be next on the agenda once I get flowing with my life on Evernote.
For years, I’ve employed my own gross sort method of organization. After yesterday’s demo, I can avoid that cumbersome technique for something more agile and portable.
Thank you, Lilli!
Often I get passionate about an idea, then make it bigger and bigger so that evenutally it becomes impossible to make any progress. Then I use “failure” as an excuse not to try anything like that ever again. Telling my husband about it, I explained it like this: when building a fire, it’s smart to get rid of the old ashes, light some crumpled-up newspaper, then put some twigs on. After the twigs have caught, put on some small logs. When the small logs are burning nice and hot, then larger logs can be added. All too often, I plunk a large log onto the newspaper shortly after it’s caught fire. The flame is snuffed out and I say, “see, it didn’t work” and then sit in the cold, pouting. So in keeping with my analogy, I’m going to sit and watch my twigs burn for a while.
Our next session is on Friday at noon (EDT).
I started my Soul Proprietor Coaching Program on February 1, have held two sessions with the entire community and two group coaching sessions so far.
There’s buzz going on in our private Facebook area and comments being posted as our members begin to take on the challenges I’ve offered.
My sense is that it’s well-received, but only when I read the feedback do I gain a clearer picture of my impact. Are you like that?
In our virtual world, what’s the best kind of response for you? Until I hear from my participants, I feel a bit on edge as to whether or not my message is being transmitted.
Today I posted the challenges I put out to individual members, like writing a letter to existing clients announcing a price increase, networking proactively (i.e. soliciting time with the people you really want to meet), editing a LinkedIn profile, and immediately began hearing from my members. I also got excited to read all the exciting things these soul proprietors are taking on. I feel inspired as well.
I feel so lucky to do what I do.
Every day I interact with women business owners who share intimately with me and in the groups I lead. Running a business is a vulnerable and courageous commitment to self-actualization. It’s a statement that you believe that something you do or create has value and that others, when made aware of your gift or talent, will pay money for it.
Since you’re self-employed, there aren’t the feedback systems in place that there are in corporate environments. No one is evaluating your performance or giving you reviews. So how do you measure how you’re doing?
I heard a succinct and apt answer to that question at my Mastermind Intensive last week. One of our members stated, “If you want to know how you’re doing, look at your actions.” Couldn’t be simpler than that.
Here are my questions to you: Are you stuck in analysis paralysis, waiting to be perfect to get out of the gate? Are you marketing regularly through in-person networking and/or social media? Are you generating ideas on a regular basis? Do you have a plan, and are you working it? Are you following through on your commitments to yourself?
I’d love to hear what action you’re taking today to develop your business.
I’ll never forget my daughter Laura’s pride in her accomplishment when she announced to our family that she had spent the afternoon getting her bookshelves organized in her room. I think she was all of 8 years old at the time.
My expectation was that they would be in neat rows starting with Alice in Wonderland or an author with the last name beginning with “A” then working the length of the shelf to the z’s. But instead, she very excitedly escorted us into her bedroom where my jaw dropped at the beauty of her rainbow-colored arrangement of her library. It worked perfectly for her.
Stephen Covey includes Sharpening the Saw as the 7th habit in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Today I used the essence of this dictum:
Balance and renew your resources, energy, and health to create a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle
when I took time to modify a resource I’ve been using for several years.
I keep a document on my computer with all of my passwords. Every time I get a new password, I simply cut and paste it into this document. I know that my expedia.com username and password are there along with my AAA membership number. It’s a handy reference for my family’s Social Security numbers, should I need to access them or the bridge line conference number I use weekly.
But each time I needed to look up one of these figures or phrases I’d make a mental note to myself: “I should really alphabetize these one day.” Then I’d curse a bit as I scrolled down the list looking for my JetBlue membership number or some equally seldom-used bit of trivia. “Yeah, I really should do that.”
Today I did it. I printed out the entire list (4 pages) and arranged them in order for future usage. It feels really good to have taken the 20 minutes to save me far more than that in the future. Plus, I like that really satisfied feeling I get, like I did just a minute ago, when I added a new resource. I signed up for a new website that allows me to download royalty-free images and added that new password to my list.
I joined La Leche League in my last month of pregnancy with my first child. I knew that I wanted to breastfeed my baby and needed to learn how. That was the premise of the meetings–to place yourself amongst other breastfeeding women to learn and observe the in’s and out’s of this seemingly natural process.
Here was a wonderful group of young women with healthy-looking, robust infants. The literature said how terrific it was for the well-being of both mother and child, and everything I observed at the meetings validated that. But there was so much more.
Even though the process is supposed to be instinctive, and even though every mother and child looked peaceful and serene, it was the deep down, honest, true-to-the-bone sharing that captured me. “This is harder than I thought,” was a sentence I heard more than once.
I’m launching the Soul Proprietor Community on February 1 for the purpose of providing women entrepreneurs what La Leche League provides for new moms–a haven of support, encouragement and knowledge shared woman to woman in an atmosphere of safety and confidentiality.
This will be a place where you can say, “This is harder than I thought” about being a business owner in 2013. It didn’t used to be this hard, but it is now. And I want to offer a water cooler environment where this difficult truth can be shared, heard and honored. In my business life I have found a safe haven or two to reveal my deep-down truths. But these oases are few and far between.
I am making this offer to women entrepreneurs who identify with the importance of stating what is, being heard, validated and offered suggestions (when requested) to help them move beyond the obstacles and stuck-ness.
We all want to present our best selves and our babies aka our businesses in their best light. In order to accomplish this feat, it’s necessary to have a place to go where you don’t always have to put on “the face.”
Somewhere, sometime, there needs to that haven where you can take off the lookin’ good mask and tell the truth. If you want to find that space too, join me on February 1 to get real and free yourself from the burden of having to look perfect all the time.
I had a great send-off by good friends in CT, and a warm welcome from family and friends in NYC. I received MetroCards, guidebooks for non-tourists, flowers and invitations for upcoming events.
But this morning, I received the most creative and welcome gift I could have imagined. A colleague who has lived on the Upper West Side for many years offered to meet me at the Amsterdam Avenue Branch of the NY Public Library (I’m sure I would have overlooked this resource for months if not years) for a walking tour of her favorite places.
With each shop visited I became more and more excited about my new environs. I’d peeked into places, even made some judgments about them, but this woman’s detailed tour opened vistas for me I may never have discovered including the organic department and cafe (2nd floor) at the Fairway Market, the housewares section of Zabar’s, her vetted favorite dry cleaners (for price and service), where to get the best color copies, as well as who had the best deals on generic cotton balls. I want to know this stuff, but would never have thought to ask.
Although I’ve taken the 79th Street Boat Basin exit off the West Side Highway hundreds of times, I had never before entered this riverside eatery. I now have the menu and got to experience a tantalizing glimpse of what watching a sunset from there will be like.
In addition to garnering all this delectable information with a hands-on, feet-on-the-ground tour, I got to enjoy this woman’s company and receive an inspiring view of her lifestyle choices (we share similar taste in movies–she was returning a copy of Take This Waltz which I’ve been dying to see) for nearly two months.
I have so much gratitude for all the gifts I’ve received. This morning’s treasure hunt was no exception. And all within walking distance of my new apartment!
I just came across this photo of my first ‘studio’.
You’ve heard about businesses starting on a kitchen counter or the back of a napkin. Well, take a look here! I started my business using the edge of a counter in our kitchen.
My jars of dye were located under my jars of beans and grains. There’s a small patch of bulletin board exposed for inspiration.
The silver lamp was set up to focus light directly on the egg I was applying wax to at the time.
It’s a wonder that a business developed from this small, chaotic piece of kitchen real estate. (Notice the cut-off view of a high chair in the foreground to get a full picture of my life as a mompreneur–before that word existed.)
What I’m here to say is that you can start a business anywhere under any circumstances. I knew I wanted to create, and I found a way to turn my passion into a business.
I want to remind you (and myself) that it is a slow and steady process.
Here I am today in a Manhattan apartment figuring out exactly what’s next for me. As in the past, I will trust that process, follow all leads, and see what calls me forth next.