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How to Find Compassion When Judgment Arises

Wolf Picture as reminder

In my office hangs a picture of a wolf. When I was a tween, my mother won first place at the Orange County Fair for this picture. She shot it at a small zoo in Big Bear on a family vacation. It reminds me to be a compassionate teacher.

Wolf packs have a natural hierarchy with an alpha male and female leaders, who are also often parents to the rest of the pack. Each pack member plays an important role within the pack, and if one member becomes injured or dies, it greatly impacts the survival of the pack as a whole. They’re strategic hunters and fierce protectors of each other.

Yet, the alphas are playful and extremely patient teachers. Watching adult wolves play with pups, one would liken them to any domesticated dog. They recognize that to lead, teach and inspire requires a light touch. I try to take the same approach with my coaching.

When we’re compassionate, we see all as one, equals on different parts of the same journey toward peace, joy and freedom. From this perspective, we can understand others from deep within ourselves and as a result, our actions and words come out of love. And we are inspired to be playful in our interactions.

It’s not always that easy to approach every one we come in contact with, with compassion. I, too, can be judgmental when my ego feels wronged or self-righteous. When I see myself as separate from the other, when I don’t have a common connection to link me to empathy and compassion, I drive a wedge between us. That wedge is burdensome and takes away from my work and purpose.

What helps bridge that gap is to become an alpha wolf. Even if I can’t immediately see myself in the other, I know that most often the actions that I perceive as wronging me are merely a misstep by a young pup that is still learning. If they’re caught up their own mind’s fear-chatter, they don’t know what they don’t know yet. And THAT stage of life I remember. That lights my compassion fire.

From that heart-space, I find patience and am inspired to playfully engage them as an alpha wolf, who is ready to lead by example and help them find their place in the pack. Because each of us has a role to play, and each of us is critically important. We wouldn’t be here otherwise.

When you find yourself judging or feeling separate from someone who triggers you, I invite you to also become an alpha wolf. Ask yourself, “How would I engage with this person if they were my child?” My hunch is your word choice and actions would dramatically change. Try coming from that place’s perspective and watch what happens.

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Why High Achieving People Resist Resting

Lion Resting

Our thoughts are sneaky little buggers. They’re so good at telling their delicious little lies that play to our ego’s weaknesses. Disguised as protective capes whispering, “I’m helping you. I’m just looking out for your best interest. You need me.”

I’ll be the first to admit that, even as a coach, I have not quite broken my tendency to over-effort and fill all my time with doing. I’m a work in progress and have come quite a long way since my corporate workaholic days. I do know that the more limiting beliefs I dissolve and the more I rewire my brain with antidote thoughts, the closer I get to breaking this habit.

Constantly working is not sustainable mentally or physically. At some point, I know that my body will revolt with a sharp and painful lesson. And frankly, resting feels so…damn…good…if we can give ourselves permission to lean into it.

So why do we resist resting when we know it’s good for us? Why do we push ourselves to breaking?

For me (and many of my clients), there is a whole collection of limiting beliefs tied to our sense of personal value. Each one dressed up as a motivational speech on how to be the best you can be. Some of the most common include:

  • I am not enough unless I…
  • I must do more.
  • I’ll look lazy.
  • Resting (or playing) is wasting precious time.
  • I have to get ahead.
  • Successful people work harder than everyone else.
  • If I stop or slow down, I will lose (my job, income, others’ respect, reputation, motivation…)

These all sound enticingly convincing; tell me where I’m wrong.

I’ve worked each one of these thoughts and yet, just last week, I found myself resisting leaning into a natural lull in my business projects. I have a book that is in my designer’s hands and an online course offering that is going through a beta test. Both are going to take the time it will take. When these necessary steps are done, I will be spending a great deal of effort launching these products.

Yet, I felt myself become agitated and look for another project to start. When I couldn’t immediately think of something business-related to do, I turned to house projects. When I hit hiccups with that, I became extremely irritated and impatient. These emotions are red flags for thought work, so I asked myself why.

I went back through the above bulleted familiar tunes and none seemed to hit the mark. They weren’t specific enough and thus why I hadn’t completely dissolved the root belief. And then I realized, the real problem with my allowing a natural lull was the thought: “Not doing is wasting my potential.”

There it was. I hit gold. My potential: all this future opportunity that could be mine if only I did more and pushed harder.

I worked the thought. (And if you’re not already familiar with Byron Katie’s The Work ™, I highly recommend you visit her site. Life changing.) I’ll share my turnarounds with you in case this thought sparks a flicker of familiarity:

Opposite Thought: “Not doing is burgeoning my potential.”
Supporting Proof:

  1. Rest is a natural part of our living cycles.
  2. “Not doing” allows my subconscious to work its magic and creativity.
  3. Recharging allows me to work at my highest potential when it comes time to work.
  4. Not doing it all myself allows experts to take over and do their thing, which allows the potential of my project to be more and go farther.

Additional Opposite Thought: “Doing is wasting my potential.”
Supporting Proof:

  1. Doing for the sake of doing is wasting the energy I need to create when it’s time to create.
  2. Spinning on useless things wastes my mental capacity, which is my potential.
  3. My potential is best utilized when it has space to formulate creative ideas.
  4. Constantly doing and going makes my body break down (headaches, back aches, etc.) and if I’m sick or in pain, I am definitely not creating.

Thought turned to Other: “My potential is wasting not doing.”
Supporting Proof:

  1. My potential is my creative process that is internal and I am wasting that opportunity by busying myself with external doing.
  2. Might as well take advantage of the space to do things I enjoy, which is one of the many benefits of self-employment.
  3. I can use “not doing” to my advantage with creative play that fills my heart. Some of my best ideas come as a result of play and rest.

Thought turned to Self: “My thoughts are wasting my potential.”
Supporting Proof:

  1. Spinning in my mind is a complete waste of me and the present moment and my creative, problem-solving potential.
  2. When I believe my painful thoughts, I am unnecessarily wasting my potential.
  3. Self-criticism is never motivational.

So what did I do with these newfound thoughts that are so much truer than the original? Well, you may notice that this blog is coming out a week later than usual. Rather than working, I took long walks at the beach with my dog and sketched a bunch of art with a new set of colored pencils. I post-processed some photos as a form of creative play. I revived my yoga routine and gave myself permission to take afternoon naps. I started reading a new book that a friend gave me. Essentially, I played and rested in the ways that feel good to me.

If you find yourself resisting resting into a natural lull in projects, I invite you to locate the driving belief behind that resistance and do The Work. If you want me to walk you through it, let’s schedule a coaching session.

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Why it’s Important to Test our Edges

Las Torres del Paine National Park

One of the most physically challenging experiences I have ever had was climbing to the base of the namesake towers in Las Torres del Paine National Park with my husband. My pedometer clocked 12.8 miles round trip from Hotel Las Torres at 443 feet in elevation to the base at 2,870 feet in elevation and back. It was basically like climbing a ladder straight up and then straight down for 10 hours.

We departed at sunrise and returned to the hotel right as the sun was setting. I almost didn’t make it.

In the last two miles of the ascent, it felt more like rock climbing than hiking. On a few occasions, I relied on my hands and arms because my legs were simply giving way. I stopped more and more frequently as the space between us and the members of our tour group increased.

It was in these moments, I wanted to quit. I wanted to give up. My fearful mind told me, “You’re not strong enough. You can’t do this. It’s too far. You’ll never make it.”

The other voice I heard was that of my husband’s, who said, “You can do it. You got this. Just a little farther. We can stop as often as you need to as long as we commit to continue. We came too far to give up now.”

He was right. We traveled 6,668 miles to visit Patagonia. We trained for months leading up to this trip. We looked forward to this hike and testing the edges of our capabilities.

We challenge ourselves not because we’re masochists, but because we want to stretch ourselves. We want to reach farther. We can’t know what we’re capable of if we don’t. We dream bigger and push ourselves because it brings us alive.

When I told myself that I could do it, I did. If I let myself believe I couldn’t, I would also prove myself right. It was all in my perception.

When we reached the base, my joy and sense of pride was immense (not to mention my relief)! We had done it! We made it to the top! While the view was incredible, our sense of accomplishment was even greater.

In ancient cultures, especially that of native Americans, tribe members who came of age would set out on vision quests as a rite of passage. They would be left on their own far away from their village to test their competences. Up to that point, it was merely potential. Returning to their village, they knew their edges, their personal strengths and how these contributions would best serve their community.

The next time you experience a daunting challenge, ask yourself this, “What is this trying to teach me? What am I gaining from this experience? How will I feel once I’ve overcome it?”

My hunch is, you’ll find your personal power and one more reason why you are absolutely necessary to this world.

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Feeling Stuck? 8 Steps to Find Your Next Step

Steps Forward in Sand

We can only make educated guesses about outcomes. Despite copious amounts of research, planning and strategic analysis, the future has infinite possibilities. So how does one make a clear decision when outcomes are unknown?

The path to truth is intuition. We trust our gut, which speaks to us in physical sensations, metaphors and a sense of knowing to do. This sometimes runs contradictory to our logical mind’s analysis.

Trusting one’s intuition can be challenging. We second-guess urges and inklings with all the rules we try to follow in our mind. This can leave us in analysis-paralysis.

When my clients find themselves stuck and unable to move forward, it’s usually because their mind and gut are at odds. Sometimes the mind tells them there’s so much to get done, or that a goal is too big, that it blocks taking the one next step their intuition knows to take. Other times, their beliefs about what they should be doing is telling them the opposite of what their gut says to do.

During coaching sessions, we use tools to help separate their limiting beliefs from their intuition. When a client becomes still and tunes in to that part of them that knows, there is always an answer and a next step to take. The outcome doesn’t have to be clear to know what to do.

One of my friends is a clairvoyant astrologist. She has learned to quiet her mind and simply allow whatever comes up to come out of her mouth – no filter, no pausing, no challenging. What she sees is what you get. To the extent that she often forgets what she has said because it is so fluid and in flow. If she stops to think about it, she cuts the connection. Too many cut connections and she could completely block her gift. So she just goes with it, trusting it absolutely.

Our gut works the same way. The more frequently we tune in to it and follow it without question, the stronger that skill grows. The more we trust it, the more intuition we are given. We build it like a muscle until it becomes our natural response.

One way to bypass over-analysis stuck-ness and tune into our intuition is by connecting with the creative, visual part of our brain. We do this by using our challenge as a metaphor. I invite you to practice the following with a particular obstacle you’re stuck in a decision about. Keep your eyes closed throughout steps 1 through 5 of this process and observe this visualization play out.

  1. With your eyes closed, take three, slow, deep inhales and exhales.
  2. Ask yourself: If this particular challenge were a person, place, animal or object, what would it be? (Go with whatever first pops in your mind, even if it’s silly and especially if it doesn’t make sense. Just go with it.)
  3. Notice and describe this symbol with as much detail as possible and call upon all of your senses to do so. Explore it in depth…size, weight, location, where you are in relation to it, what you see, hear, taste, touch, smell. Go deep and be curious.
  4. Ask yourself: What do I want to happen in this situation I’m visualizing? How can that be acheived?
  5. Visualize that happening and notice the details of it playing out.
  6. Open your eyes.
  7. Look at this visualization metaphorically. What does your solution (what you wanted to happen) represent in regard to your original challenge?
  8. What next step do you want to take?

I’d love to hear about your experience with this visualization exercise. Please leave a comment and let me know! (And if you found it too challenging to do on yourself, I invite you to schedule a session with me and we can explore it together.)

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5 Lessons for Trusting Gut from a Recovering Rule Follower

Intuition Guiding Meerkat

Are you a rule follower that becomes frustrated when people break them? When things don’t go according to plan, does it cause anxiety? If reality doesn’t match expectations, do you get annoyed? If so, then read on!

I’m an organized planner by nature. I find comfort in structure and I love when there are rules and formalized processes so that I have a box to work within and a path to follow. It gives me a sense of stability. (Sound familiar?)

Spoiler alert: Life and people don’t operate this way.

When I get caught in the minutia of the plan, the way things are supposed to go – and more often they don’t – I have become frustrated and confused. I usually attempt to right the course and get back on track. And in my corporate career, I was paid very well for this skill. My motto was: “Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.”

I once heard a coworker say, “Disappointment is expectations minus reality.” His point was to set expectations reasonably. My desire was to elevate reality and fill the delta. That meant I pushed my employees hard and myself even harder because heaven forbid that my boss could ever be disappointed in the results.

Coaching has been an interesting experiment in allowing myself to follow intuition instead of a process. Yes, the tools we’re taught have a specific formula that we practice past the point of competency into habit. I’ve noticed something interesting happening now that I have engrained these tools.

I’ve started to play with them. I’ve given myself permission to veer outside of the process. I follow that little voice inside that says, “probe here…ask this…” Pre-coaching, I’d call that “winging it.” Something I would never have attempted for fear of failure.

You know what? It works. Even better than following the process.

Recently I was given an assignment to provide feedback to a coaching peer on a particular pre-recorded session (with permission from the client). In my mind, the rule was to identify where the coach was following the process and where she strayed. Then, we were both asked to assess that feedback with six of our peers listening in. (No pressure!)

She had accepted all of it as-is. My internal monologue reaction was, “Push back. Tell me where I’m wrong.” When I probed a bit as to why, she revealed a limiting belief that perked my ears. With her permission, our feedback exchange morphed into doing The Work ™.

In that moment, the formal series of questions fell away and I felt into what wanted to be asked next. I let my intuition guide each step as we took it. Was it exactly how we were taught? Partly. Was it messy? Sometimes. Did she find insights? Yes.

I broke the rules twice. First when I veered off expectations given by our instructor to discuss feedback about feedback. Second when I remixed The Work ™. And it was fine! More than fine. Not only did the sky not fall, but it also achieved the intention for which we set out to accomplish.

If I may impart any lessons from this experience to you, it would be this:

  1. Rules are intended to be a general guide and there are always exceptions.
  2. Processes help create habits, but if followed too rigidly, they can inhibit innovation and growth.
  3. Trust your intuition. You know what to do.
  4. Let your intention be the cornerstone for action.
  5. At the end of the task or project, did it work?
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How to Avoid the Compare & Despair Trap

Long Road

It’s easy to get caught in the compare and despair trap when others appear to have more, achieved farther and look better. From this limited perspective, we can always find someone who has “figured it all out” leaving us to judge our own lives harshly in the shadow of their apparent success.

I’m not immune from this, either. I am a relatively newer entrepreneur who is hustling to grow her small business. If I’m tired and allow my mind to compare my business to the myriad of successful coaches, authors and photographers out there, my ego can find lots of proof to support why I am not as spectacular. It’s all in my thoughts and perspective.

Social media is breeding ground for the compare and despair syndrome. Most folks only share the shiny-celebrations unless they’re looking for attention for the misfortunes. Let’s take Instagram as an example. Its purpose is to perpetuate pretty pictures of perfection. Pinterest is similar with its gorgeous, professionally taken photos representing what we assume is an average Jane selling her smart, creative DIY solutions. All germinating admiration and, in extremes, jealousy for what others can do or experience that we can’t or aren’t.

As a former coaching instructor once said, “Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.” Things aren’t always as they appear. We only have to look at celebrity suicides to recognize the picture on the outside doesn’t match the storm raging on the inside.

It’s understandable, though. Our mind is always searching for context and where we fit in the world. Our logical brain is labeling and organizing. Socially, we naturally create a pecking order. So, what should we compare ourselves to if not others?

When you start to judge yourself, my suggestion is to compare your current self to your former self. Where are you now in relation to the past? What do you know now that you didn’t know then? What growth has happened? Where are you better off than before? What skills, knowledge and experience have you gained?

When I can see myself through the lens of former versus current self, I acknowledge the many ways I’ve grown, learned and successfully moved my business forward. I appreciate my accomplishments and challenges I’ve overcome. I notice the powerful impact I’ve made in a relatively short time. I give myself permission to learn from my mistakes and travel at my own pace.

As long as we are moving forward – and everyone who is not in a coma is – then we’re doing this thing called life the right way. Each of us will have a different experience. Pitfalls and setbacks are growth opportunities. Struggles are guidance systems. Happiness is all in our perspective on how we choose to look at it.

Some of my greatest gifts were also my hardest challenges. My hunch is, if you can find a way to give yourself credit instead of tear yourself down with comparison, you’ll also find self-perpetuating motivation and strength.

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How to Find Your Driving Motivation & Why it’s Important to Achieve Your Goals

Lion Scratching Head on Bush

What we think we want is not always what we truly want. Often, there is a deeper desire hidden underneath the surface. When we connect with that driving motivation, it helps guide us more clearly.

The longer I coach and the more people I work with, I’ve realized that most often our root desire is freedom. (The others are either joy or connection. For the purpose of this blog, though, we’ll focus on the most common.)

Take any goal or desire, and ask yourself, “Why? What do I get from that?” until you can’t find another driving motivation beneath the last.

Let’s take money, for example. Often my clients come to me with a goal to make more money. When asked what more money (or a certain goal retirement amount) will get them, their response is “stability” or “security.” When asked what stability or security gives them, they usually respond with some sort of variation of, “the freedom to do whatever I want.”

If I have a client who wants to lose weight, we often find she simply wants to feel confident or accepted. At the root of that is connecting with the freedom to be herself without fearing other’s opinions. Sometimes it’s even finding freedom from her own self-judgment.

Another client wanted to be healthier. What did he think a healthy body would get him? The freedom to do all the activities, and go all the places, he enjoys.

My entrepreneurial clients, who are building their own businesses, are driven by the freedom that enables. They’re free to work on the projects they want to, work with the clients they want to, hire the people they want to, and set their own schedules. They have the freedom to work wherever they want, however they want. That autonomy is much juicier to them than the alternative of working for someone else, who would dictate their time, projects and goals.

Why do people enjoy vacations? Yes, it offers the opportunity to recharge our batteries. It is also a socially acceptable excuse to spend that time completely autonomously.

If you want to lounge all day and dance all night, you have the freedom to do so. You are free to go wherever and do whatever you want (within budget and legal constraints, of course). You are free from household chores, errands, work responsibilities and whatever burdens you carry at home. And if you’re like me, I also give myself the freedom to eat and drink whatever I want because, hey, it’s vacation!

What is it you want? Ask yourself “Why?” Dig into what that thing will give you. Keep asking until you’re at the root cause, your driving motivation. You might surprise yourself where you end up.

Once you find your driving motivation, ask yourself if there are other ways to achieve that right now. Finding that feeling state doesn’t necessarily require reaching big, far-off goals. It can often be found in simpler, quicker ways.

Use this driving motivation as your touchstone for decision making. When deciding between two paths, which one will get you closer to achieving your root desire — whether that be freedom, joy or connection?

I’m curious what you uncover. Please share your experience with this exercise in the comments!

 

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Animal Guides Back from Extinction

Over the past week, there have been a surprising amount of news stories on animals, which were once thought to be extinct, now showing up. I can understand going into hiding to survive. So why are they now re-exposing themselves? What does it mean?

Last Wednesday, The New York Times reported that for the first time in nearly 100 years, there is “confirm[ed] existence of a black leopard in Africa, and the first in Kenya.”[1] Yesterday, the BBC reported on a “sighting of the Tengmalm’s owl believed to have been the first of the breed in Shetland in over a century.”[2] Today, Gizmodo reported that Wallace’s Bee, “the world’s biggest bee, once thought extinct, has been found alive” in native Indonesia after four decades of absence.[3] Also on February 21, USA Today published that a Fernandina Giant Tortoise, “believed to be extinct for a century, was found on Santa Cruz Island.”[4]

I don’t know about you, but this feels like an inordinate amount of animals in a short period of time reappearing as if it were a sign of something big to come. What could that be?

Our ecosystem is at a critical time right now and requires a united effort from around the world to save it. Have these animals come to help remind us of what might happen if we don’t act quickly, or are they here to join in the effort to save the planet? One could only wonder if a mammal, bird, insect and reptile — a representative cross section across nature — are the ones to lead the way.

I’m a firm believer in the reciprocal healing relationship with nature. If we heal nature, nature heals us. And we (the collective we as a human species) both are in need of some deep healing. My hunch is that this Black Leopard, Tengmalm’s Owl, Wallace’s Bee, and Fernandina Giant Tortoise are our guides to do so.

This also brings me hope. We’re like these animals, none of us are past saving. Each of us has a chance to rise again no matter how dire the circumstances may look to be.

I’m interested to hear your thoughts on it. Why do you think they’ve reappeared?

 

[1]https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/13/world/africa/black-panther-leopard-africa.html

[2]https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-47304318

[3]https://earther.gizmodo.com/worlds-biggest-bee-once-thought-extinct-has-been-foun-1832785689?utm_medium=socialflow&utm_campaign=socialflow_gizmodo_facebook&utm_source=gizmodo_facebook&fbclid=IwAR1HQssh3_O7LD80lycUONzeHjMNX56wPyRH1ylwvaha-wWfZz1rfvX8vNA

[4]https://apple.news/AX8nNq-W-Q128sk7kOCN6eA

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What my Mom’s Suicide Taught me About Love

Open Heart Love

After my mom’s suicide, I read her prayer journals. The final six-months of entries were variations of the following:

“Please, Lord, let me feel love. Let me be loved. If I can feel love, I can make it through anything. Without it, I am lost.”

Between Hollywood’s Rom-Coms and the annual commercialization of Valentine’s Day, we’ve been socialized to believe that the feeling state of love is found from external sources. In 2018, Romantic Comedies grossed $241 million in North America alone.[1] According to the National Retail Federation, consumers spent $20.7 billion on Valentine’s Day this year.[2] We’re constantly bombarded with the message that to be happy, we need love from a partner, family members, our friends and our pets.

Love is not found in others; it can only be generated within. Each of us is love; we simply get confused sometimes. When we allow that confusion to take up residence in our head and continue to seek it outside of ourselves, we live in a state of lack and non-fulfillment.

I was named after Guinevere from my mother’s favorite movie, Camelot. She was enthralled with the idea of two men loving one woman so deeply and tragically.

Growing up, I lived in a menagerie of sorts. Name any domesticated animal and we had it…dogs, cats, rodents, birds and reptiles. My mother was continually adding new pets to the household.

Once, I remember walking into our living room and seeing my mother crying on the couch reading her Reader’s Digest. When I asked what was wrong, she handed me the magazine and told me to read the story.

It was about a woman who owned a parrot. She had tried for years to teach her parrot to say, “I love you” without success. Then she had a medical emergency that put her in the hospital for months. When she recovered and returned home, her parrot greeted her with, “I love you.” Cue the tears.

The next day, my mom was highlighting the Penny Saver’s Pets For Sale section. Within a week, we had our own parrot.

Another time, I remember overhearing an argument between my mother and stepfather.

“You never say I love you anymore,” she said.

“Why do I need to say it?” he asked.

“Every morning for the past two years, I’ve walked you to your car and tell you ‘I love you’ before you go to work,” she said. “And every morning, you drive off without saying it back.”

“You’re exaggerating,” he said. “It hasn’t been that long.”

Perception is a powerful force. And I’m not blaming anyone for my mother’s suicide other than her perception of whether she was loved. When she believed she needed others to love her and thought they didn’t, she suffered. She based her happiness and self-worth on external validation.

It didn’t matter that her kids frequently said, “I love you.” We were all affectionate with each other. We spent copious amounts of time on family activities like hiking, riding bikes and crafts. Yet, no amount of “I love you,” quality time, or pets were going to satiate something that only she could provide herself.

If you are also looking for love and coming up empty, I invite you to assess how often you seek it versus how often you give it to yourself. If you’re looking outside more than inside, here are five ways to practice loving you:

  1. Tell yourself in the mirror, “I love you.”
    Look in your eyes and mean it. Each time you pass your reflection, whether you say it aloud or silently, give yourself some love and appreciation.
  2. Be kind in your thoughts about yourself and your worth.
    If you catch yourself talking smack about you, notice it and without more self-judgment, simply acknowledge it as unkind. Take a breath and start over again with a more loving and compassionate thought to replace the original.
  3. Trust your judgment.
    Follow your intuition and trust that you know what is best for you. If something feels icky, then it’s probably not right for you. If something feels zingy, more of that, please!
  4. Respect yourself.
    Set boundaries and keep them. Treat yourself with respect and others will treat you in kind. And if they don’t, respect yourself enough to walk away.
  5. Treat yourself with the same tender, loving care that you give to your loved ones.
    This is the Reverse Golden Rule. Treat yourself the way you treat the most treasured people in your life.

At your core, you are love. The big “L” love. You are your own happily ever after. You are your own knight of the round table.

 

[1]https://www.statista.com/statistics/668722/romcom-box-office-gross-north-america/

[2]https://nrf.com/media-center/press-releases/fewer-consumers-celebrating-valentines-day-those-who-do-are-spending

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Stop the Pretense of Success to Actually be Successful

Sprout in Hand

Building a business from scratch is extremely hard. AND it’s profoundly rewarding. There’s truth in the expectation that entrepreneurs will invest about two years of solid hustle before their business is profitable. I’m proof to support that.

It’s like planting a seed. It takes time, tender care, the proper environment and resources (sun, water, nutrients) to grow. You may not even see the sprout break ground until it’s time, and yet so much is happening under the surface to get there.

For the first two years of my business, I admit that I didn’t want anyone to know that I only had a half-dozen clients. I didn’t lie about it; I just danced around the answer without giving one. Like somehow not being an instant, rolling-in-the-dough success meant that I was failing.

I knew my clients were glowingly happy with our sessions and offering unsolicited referrals and testimonials. I was learning, growing and building expertise in a completely new industry for me. And yet, I had attributed my value as a coach to how much money I was making…to what was showing on the surface.

I feared that if my clients (or potential clients) knew they were only one of a handful that they’d assume I must not be good at what I do and go find a better coach. (Talk about limiting belief!)

Then I explored Acuity (a scheduling SaaS) and saw the feature “Make me look busy” with the customized option to block any percentage of time available. I realized that I’m not the only one pretending to have more clients than I do. To be a feature, this must be an in-demand need of small businesses. Make me look busier than I really am.

So I started having blunt conversations with my peers. Even the excellent coaches that I greatly admired weren’t as busy as I’d assumed or they let on. They were relieved to know I wasn’t either. Well, imagine that.

Anyone who sells overnight success with a simple and glitzy, new fandangle process is preying upon our desire for instant gratification. Like the old adage, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Yes, manifesting is real. It’s not all work. Resting and playing as forms of self-care is an important part, too. And yes, overnight demand explosions happen…but it’s the exception, not the rule.

The Hero’s Journey is real. It requires persistence, patience and passion. If you are passionate about it, it makes all the patience and persistent effort worth it. Coaching, to me, is absolutely worth it. I love what I do. I even love the planning, marketing and learning how to run my business better. I would start at the beginning and do it all again if I needed to because I love being a coach. It’s one of the best feelings in the world when my clients have insights and breakthroughs.

The sooner we own up to the fact that starting a new business takes time and a whole lot of effort, the sooner we can all be more successful because we stop comparing ourselves to others who are also pretending to be wildly successful. We can stop believing that we must be doing something wrong because our peers have more clients than we do. Or thinking the coaches who are charging more must be better coaches. When we release those limiting beliefs, we actually do better and accomplish more.

I’m breathing easier knowing that it’s supposed to be hard and take time. I can relax into the process and allow it to unfold as it is intended to. For all you entrepreneurs out there with a vision, keep going! It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t worry about your speed, you’ll break the earth’s surface when it’s time; and when you do, we’ll all admire the sprouting beauty.