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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 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!
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.
When you get a great idea, how do YOU begin executing?
It’s been a long time coming, but I realize that I do have a process that may seem cumbersome to the onlooker, but it works for me as I distill down from the lightbulb moment to ‘opening day.’ I’d like to share the basics with the hope that it helps you.
First I create a mindmap (this one is from a retreat I ran several years ago) where I visually dump my ideas on paper beginning with the central BIG IDEA as the jumping off point. From there, the component parts radiate out from center with more spokes emanating from each bubble of a thought.
You may be more comfortable with a formal outline style, but I have never been a linear thinker, so this method works best for me.
Once I can see everything that was in previously my head on paper, I take it another step and make each bubble a sticky note that I put on a wall. This gives me the flexibility to shift ideas around, to add and subtract, and to stand back and change my perspective.
This wall in my apartment now holds yellow sticky ideas plus some longer form pieces that I’ll be using when I launch my Soul Proprietor Community on February 1.
The next, and final step, before going live, will be to assemble these notes in a page format in the order I will be presenting them. Each page will have a large printed label for easy referral: EXERCISES, QUOTES, STORIES, etc.
The call will not be scripted, but I will use the bullet points I’ve created as my talking points.
I just read Seth Godin’s blog post today about what makes conferences (meetings, too) work. This is exactly what I’m going for:
Something that happens in the moment and can’t possibly be the same if you hear about it later.
I didn’t know that was what I wanted to create when I first drew the Soul Proprietor bubble in the center of the mindmap I began in December. But now I know it in every fiber of my being. And I can’t wait to go live.
What’s your process of getting from A to Z, and how is it working for you?
My goal buddy, Sandy, and I re-connected this week after my July hiatus. It felt great to begin committing my plans to a like-minded woman entrepreneur. I’m so excited about my upcoming Mastermind Intensive being offered to the women I’ve worked with in the past. I told Sandy that I would have my ‘editorial calendar’ prepared by the time we speak again.
In order to accomplish this goal, I blocked out time on my calendar, made an appointment with myself, settled into a comfy chair with my pen and a large pad of paper to mind-map the year ahead.
The hardest part of any task, I find, is getting started. Every email, social media site, mote of dust on the computer keyboard seems more urgent than changing gears and starting something new.
Once I sat down, though, the ideas flowed. Now I’m even more inspired. I will invite experts to speak monthly on topics that are vital to all entrepreneurs: social media, branding, communicating your message, creating joint ventures, financial planning, etc. What got me totally psyched was going through my mental Rolodex (remember those?) of colleagues whom I’ll invite to share their expertise with my remarkable women.
Wouldn’t you know that as I was sitting with this mind-map, my phone rang with one of my most admired colleagues calling me for some advice? I had one particular slot to fill matching an expert with a topic, and her timely call was the gift from the Universe affirming my plan. She’s the perfect person to talk about strategic planning and creating joint venture opportunities.
Do you have a goal buddy to commit your plans to? What forcing mechanism do you have in place to get you out from behind the computer and into pro-active mode?
Last week I gave a webinar on how to get outrageous publicity. Shortly after that evening session, I received a call from a TV producer whom I’d met at a networking event a month or so ago inviting me to be a guest on Channel 8 in New Haven.
It was immediate reinforcement of every principle I taught last Monday night from creating a media contact list, to networking, following up, and having all of your identity kit pieces current and available.
When Sue, the producer, called me to make an appearance, she listed what she’d need from me: a photo, bio, logo, press release (or questions the interviewer could ask during our conversation), a link to my site and a copy of my book. It felt like a nod from the Universe saying, You got it right. What great reinforcement that being media ready is essential to capturing an opportunity when it’s presented.
Please, someone, anyone, remind me that I’m a smart person. Because I’m surely not feeling it lately. There’s something about tax time that raises my self-doubt to the tipping point. (Or maybe it was the addition of a rough stomach virus that had me considering retirement yesterday…)
I just called Lauren at my payroll company because I received something from the Department of Labor declaring 1.90% as the minimum contribution rate for 2012 followed by the number 73. Huh? I brought this sheet to my accountant yesterday who referred me to the payroll people. I have no idea what this means. But when I called my payroll processor, she said, “Oh, no problem. Fax it over and we’ll make that change.”
There’s a high level of trust here, because I’m truly in the dark and don’t even want to ask the first question. Do you EVER feel like that?
My meeting with my accountant went well. Until I got tripped up on the part where he said that the charitable contributions I’d made aren’t business expenses, but are deductible in another way. What’s the difference?
If you’re reading this and thinking, “But, Jane, everyone knows this stuff,” please give me a call and really dumb it down for me.
What I’m really curious to hear about from you is: what puts you over the edge? We’re all operating at such a high level in so many areas of our lives. When I’m tripped up by my lack of knowledge, I don’t want to minimize my brilliance, as I am wont to do. I’ve got good recovery skills, but would love to prevent the deep dive.
What I’m truly grateful for is that there are professionals out there who can guide me through…and not judge me. I don’t have to understand it all, so long as I have good people in place who do.
I met with a group of women business owners recently, where one participant whom I know and adore, shared a challenge about how crazy-busy she is. She felt frantic and incapable of prioritizing. The proverbial fires were all burning equally in her arena. Taking time to deal with one over here could cause a huge conflagration over there.
I could feel my stomach begin to get knotted up.
And then I realized that I didn’t have to fix this for her, nor do I believe she desired a solution. She wanted to vent, to be acknowledged, understood and appreciated. Don’t we all?
I asked her permission to share an observation, which she welcomed. “I’ve known you a good 20 years, Barbie (not her real name).”
She immediately interjected, “And I’ve been complaining about this issue all along, haven’t I?”
I nodded. “What I get about you is that this is how you thrive. You’ve been wildly successful in this competitive and male-dominated industry you’re in. You’ve always made your deadlines, and you actually seem to thrive on the chaos of it. Why not re-frame your attitude about the situation and enjoy the ride? Instead of beating yourself up for not being better organized, how about some new and different self-talk? Try saying, ‘I’m really good at dealing with a million balls in the air. I always pull off these presentations. All nighters are the price of admission in this field. And I love it!’”
I wasn’t sure what kind of reaction I would get from that piece of truth-telling and coaching, but Barbie’s face went from drawn to relieved. She felt heard and understood and didn’t have to change a thing about her work method, except her attitude about it.
When I emailed her this morning to ask her permission to share the incident, this was her reply:
You certainly may blog about it!! I can’t tell you how great it was to hear your words!!
I know that Mercury is in retrograde, so I understand that my technology dependency is being tampered with. But today I received an error message when I tried to access an email in my inbox. I wasn’t even allowed to open it because my C:\Documents and Settings\JaneP\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\outlook.pst had reached its maximum size. Huh?
I noticed that my trash folder had over 45,000 messages in it. I began some heavy deleting. I got aggressive, dumping hundreds of messages at once. I became ruthless. Held down the shift key until I was removing months of old emails en masse.
Now, I just spent the last 30 minutes unsubscribing from over 80 organizations that habitually flood my inbox. Enough!
I enjoyed the purging. However, will you please let me know what incredible deals I’m missing from L.L. Bean and Groupon. YOU I trust!