What “Doing the work” Looks like

work photo

Today I am knee deep in “doing the work.”

We almost always see the glossy , tidy, pretty end result of the work.

That’s why when we get knee deep in the work, we often feel like crap. We look at the polished outcome of someone else and say, “She’s all gussied up, with make up on and has this gorgeous website and video and admiring fans and I’m here in sweats and empty coffee cups strew about hoping it all pays off.”

That is called “doing the work.”

The glossy brochure was born of the empty coffee cup on the table.

No one graduates from school by avoiding the work.

No one discovers success under a rock.

The picture above is what doing the work looks like in my world today.

What does doing the work look like in your part of the world?

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How to change shame culture

If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes and shoddy furniture, let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas and shoddy philosophies. – Einstein

Part of living a self-empowered life means taking responsibility for how we show up in the world.

For me, it means speaking up when I believe something needs to be said.

So, here I am speaking up about shame and what we each can do to empower people to see each other compassionately. This matters in life, business and parenting (big time).

So let’s talk about how to address the yuck of shame culture.

There’s a lot of blah-blah-blah about how a culture of shame leads to abuse, violence, depression, anxiety and worse.

While it is all true, shame does lead to negative outcomes, when we tune into social media we are often faced with an entire screen of shame based messages. Some are direct. Some are indirect. Most are passive aggressive.

People who claim to be healers or helpers are posting about “The 10 things you are doing wrong…” Women’s advocates post about “how to lose baby fat..” Hell, there are whole shows (sponsored by Disney,no less) dedicated to shame, America’s Funniest Videos, right? We laugh at people getting hurt or embarrassed and then they make money off of it.

Being shamed hurts. Shaming others is crappy. And we often aren’t aware we are on the receiving or projecting end of shame.

All that being said, there’s lots we can do to change shame culture. They are easy. Ready?

1. Don’t shame others. Don’t tell people that eating a cupcake is “bad” and juicing kale is “good.” Avoid all judgement about body type, clothing choice and whether or not people look better with make up (or not). Choose the high road. Agree to disagree. Keep your mouth shut when the opinion or judgement doesn’t add constructively to any outcome. Think before speaking. Tell no secrets. When you have to vent (and we all do), vent face-to-face with people you trust with you life. Don’t use public or social platforms to rage or “make a point.” Shaming is a cheap way to make ourselves feel better and every time we do it, we add to a culture that is harmful to all of us.

Oh and don’t post those horrible, “I know most of you won’t like or comment on this blah-blah-thing-about-me, but if you post it on your wall or tell me what body part you like on me the best, it means you care.” This is SHAMING people into feeding your ego. And it’s  a huge yuck-o experience for those  of us reading it who want to like you, but cant’ like your pleas for weird attention.

2. Don’t  allow people to shame you. When someone sneers, rolls their eyes, tells you that you “don’t get it,” or are “too emotional,” or should “do your research” and you know you aren’t wrong, you can do a few things:

  • Ignore them
  • Fight back
  • Shame them, too

I’m cool with ignoring, fighting, not the shaming. You decide what is warranted in your situation. In some cases, I walk away from jerks. In others I stand my ground.

True story –  nothing irks me more than losers who send me personal email complaining that what I write in my blog “offends” them. I’m fine with constructive criticism, but it’s the judgemental ones who say stupid shit like, “your blog is very self-serving,” or “using curse words makes you sound unintelligent,” that I want to punch in the face. So, I do the next best thing, tell them to take up their issue on their own blog and empower themselves to have a voice. This isn’t shaming. This is empowering someone who felt cognitive dissonance about something I wrote,  and rather than stand up straight and look themselves in the eye and coping with their own reaction, decided to try to shame me to shut me up instead.

Sorry, no. I don’t accept that chess move of shame. Stand up and empower yourself. Check.

3. Don’t let others get away with shaming. We all see it and hear it. People saying shaming stuff to others in their space. The ones that make me sad are when women try to “support”each other by holding each other accountable to “be good” on a diet or exercise program. Eating lettuce or running 10 miles doesn’t make you “good.” Helping the homeless, adopting a kitten, holding your child’s head as she vomits are good human choices. Juicing isn’t a validator of how things will turn out at the Pearly Gates, if you get my drift.

So stand up to that BS when you see it. You can be nice. You can be empowering. But don’t let that “You are amazing because you fit into a size 4 dress!” crazy talk into your stream and cheer back,”Size 14 for the win!”

4. Metaphorically and literally high five people. When you see good stuff going down, speak up, cheer it on, share that stuff, join in the goodness. High five all the awesomeness you see and hear.

We think we do this, but we don’t.

Don’t believe me? Try this experiment. Today,post to your Facebook stream a crazy rant about how people suck because they don’t understand you. Whine. Blame. Throw a hissy fit. Notice how much feedback you get. You’ll get all sorts of comments, likes and validation that your hissy fit matters. Tomorrow, post about something good. Share a story about a hero who helps veterans or works for Doctors without Borders. You’ll get crickets on that good stuff. Sure, maybe a few likes, but nothing like the swoosh of feedback you got when you were being a brat. (If you don’t want to do that on your wall, go see how it goes down on other pages.)

We like drama. We are all wired to pay attention to the negative. This is why tabloid papers are still around and really profitable. Shut down the crap and focus on the good. You get what you focus on.

The bottom line is, we get a shame culture because we ALL participate in it. Whether explicitly or implicitly we let shame rule and leave the good stuff to wait for another day.

We are the culture. We are the community. If you feel shame hurts, be part of the shift toward light and compassion. Start today.

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Where We Fall Down on the Path to Success

trees at sunset

We’re all striving for a goal. Whether it be making more money, finding a healthy relationship, losing weight, exercising more, or parenting our kids safety into young adulthood, we all have a goal of “success.”

In my travels and a parent, person and professional, I observe varying levels of people achieving the successes they desire.

Some people seemingly achieve one goal after the other with ease. Others can’t seem to get out of their own way.

The difference, it seems, isn’t in ability or access to information or resources.

The difference in almost all cases is focus.

Let’s consider someone who wants to climb a tree. She identifies the tree, it’s sturdy, she sees the branch she wants to reach and plans a strategy to get there. She grabs the tree trunk and begins her climb. As she goes up she is focused on where to put her hands and feet, pulling herself up carefully. This process continues until she reaches her destined branch and stand victoriously to see the world from up in the tree.

But what would happen if she kept shifting her focus from her hands, feet and tree to looking at the ground, clouds and birds? What if she let her mind wander to thoughts of falling or how she will brag to her friends about this amazing feat or bravery?  If she lets go of her focus on that branch, chances are she won’t ever get there. She’ll fall or stall or second guess her next move. She’ll let doubt creep in, question her sanity, motives and talk herself down–literally and figuratively.

When we lose focus on our goal and the steps we need to get there, we lose all momentum and more often than not, miss our target.

How we Screw Up Focus

Just yesterday I read an article in the Boston Globe about research that found people would rather receive an electric shock than sit with their own thoughts for 15 minutes.

Let us pause and think about that for a minute (see what I did there?).

If you are a person who is constantly reaching for your phone, listening to music or otherwise avoiding your own thoughts, you will struggle mightily to reach any goal you desire.

Why?

Your brain needs time to formulate a plan, create a vision and focus on the steps to get there.

In fact, most inventors and creative thinkers take a great deal of time to sit with their own thoughts. Many are what would be considered introverted and find pleasure in working through ideas.

The answers we need to create something of value are not on our phone or in someone’s quickly written self-help book. The answers aren’t housed in a “secret” vault a business coach invented. Your partner, mom, kids don’t have the map or the code or the magical solution up their sleeve. The success we all desire comes from our ability to focus and move forward accordingly.

If you would rather shock yourself with electricity than focus on your own thoughts for 15 minutes, you are in trouble.

How to Focus

Sustaining focus is  a cognitive skill like reading or doing math.

In today’s world, we can be distracted from our own thoughts 24/7.

In fact, it’s more work to get quiet thinking time,than it is to be 100% distracted, 100% of the time.

So the very first thing you need to do to better focus is to simply decide that you want to focus.

Intention dictates commitment, which leads to appropriate action. So set your intention to learn how to focus.

When working on focus, it’s probably best not to declare you will focus on how to change the world, but rather something less intense and easily achievable.

The second step is, decide on a clear, achievable focus goal.

[Right now, some people will get stuck. The act of deciding brings out all kinds of anxiety. Seriously, if you are feeling stuck get over yourself, do not distract yourself. Just pick a damn goal. Maybe your focus is on cleaning your kitchen, or finishing a book you started, taking a 15 minute walk/run without music or talking, or staring out the window with no distractions. Simple focus goal for now. Trust me, you can add on the complicated stuff later AND there will never be a shortage of things to think about.]

Step three is to go forth and do your thing without distractions.

Sounds simple, but for some of you, this won’t be easy. You’ll find yourself wanting to look at your phone, check in on Facebook, text a friend, check on your kids. In fact, you will probably be surprised just how distracted you are all day long when you try to actually focus for 15 minutes.

Once you focus on the task and get it done, you can go back to distractions. Go ahead. We’re not trying to torture your poor brain.

Your final step is to commit to this practice. Every day, do this exercise. If 15 minutes becomes easy breezy, increase the time to 30. Start to set goals of substance. If you want to blog, use Twitter, write  a book, try new recipes, do these during your focused time.

The success thing…it isn’t rocket science. But you have to want it. And you need to prioritize it.

The difference between those who reach the top of the tree and those who don’t isn’t their climbing skills, it’s reaching up one step at a time to get to the goal without looking down.

On this blog we talk about achieving empowered, authentic success. If you’re down with that and want to learn more sign up for updates below:
 

 

The Conversation We Need to Have About Mindset

Every part of your life sources in your brain.

Your breathing, your heartbeat, your sex drive, your success and your failure.

If you can’t think it, it can’t happen.

If you can’t imagine winning the race, you won’t every finish first.

If you can’t see yourself at Carnegie Hall, you’ll never play on that stage.

However, if you CAN see it in your mind’s eye, you have a chance. You’ll focus your efforts to reach that goal. Nothing is guaranteed, but at least you’re moving in the right direction.

Your brain is THE most powerful organ in your body. Nothing good happens when the brain is out of whack.

And yet, we treat the brain like chump change.

We sleep poorly, eat poorly, drink and drug and let toxins build up.

We fuck up our brains pretty good.

And then wonder why we don’t feel well, can’t succeed or have poor relationships.

It really is all in your head.

People talk about a “success mindset” like it’s a switch in your head.

“Just think good thoughts and good things happen.”

This idea of “manifesting” is bullshit. Complete and utter.

Sure there is energy out there that can help you along, but if you’re tired, unfocused, depressed, all the good energy in the world can’t get you where you want to go.

A success mindset is a realistic mindset. It’s a thought pattern of focus, determination and resiliency.

You have to train yourself to cope when you fail.

You have to have a plan for when the worst happens.

Because sometimes the worst happens.

Hiding our heads using magical thinking that we control our universe is childish.

Every successful person has a failure story. Often many of them.

Every famous athlete has lost a game, dropped the ball, got booed.

They are no different than the rest of us, except in mindset.

They have  a plan to get back up.

They cope.

They fight to play another day.

They see themselves with the trophy, even after they fell down.

Positive psychology is about more than just singing a happy tune and blithely wandering through life smugly expecting your happiness will get you where you want to go.

A healthy mind rides the wave, never expecting to stay complacent in one emotional state or pursuing only one goal forever and ever.

Mindset matters. It’s everything. But it takes work to stay the course, make consistent positive shifts, get up when your thinking is down.

And don’t forget to take care of your brain. It can’t help you out when it’s not feeling well.

On this blog we talk about achieving empowered, authentic success. If you’re down with that and want to learn more sign up for updates below:

The Resilency of Passion

My son, the baseball player, had a rough game this weekend. He struck out, didn’t follow a coaches signs, had a rough inning of pitching, dropped a ball at 2nd base.

He felt bad.

I feel some of the adults around him weren’t optimally supportive. He was confused about something. He asked a question and was shamed. And while I am absolutely NOT OK with that (and it was addressed), that isn’t what this post is about.

After that rough game and the difficult interaction with a coach, Alex started to fall apart. He was anxious, which led to silly, which led to a talking to by dad, which led to tears, which led to a heart-to-heart with mom.

I told him I loved him.

I told him he had a right to be upset.

I told him we had to find a way to solve his confusion.

I told him he has to be better than those who bring him down.

“You have to be better.” Were my exact words.

He blinked through tears.

“You have a goal. You have the skills. You had a rough game and someone didn’t help you like he should. You have two choices – give up or be better, and I’m ok with either decision.”

Then we sat in the car in silence a bit and ate cheese sticks.

After about five minutes he quietly said, “I want to be better, Mom.” We strategized a plan to be better. He went off to execute. I went off to get sandwiches.

When I returned he was smiling, laughing with friends. He shared his ham and cheese with them (But not his chips. Don’t touch the chips, dude). I caught his eye, “Did you figure it out?”

“Yes.”

Then Game 2 started.

He was better. Way better.

He pitched like a champ.

He hit a double, then a single and got two RBIs.

He had clutch play at 2nd base.

The team lost, but Alex knew he had won.

And even if he never plays a game of baseball ever again, I hope he remembers how he overcame a dip, chose himself over adversity, took matters into his own hands and stepped up when he could have chosen to step down.

Because when things get tough and unfair in life, work, relationships and business we have two choices – to give up or to be better.

You always  get to choose your next step. Cheese sticks are optional.

 

Your Calling and the Called

beachDespite shutting down my email newsletter a few weeks ago, I still feel called to do something to help passionate helping professionals build businesses that matter.

I’m just not sure how to be optimally helpful.

I’ve done work for donations to charity, offered low cost, high cost, pick your price options and that community didn’t respond positively to any of them.

And there was always this sense that people were waiting for something, but they didn’t know what it was quite yet.

Some nice people told me that I lost them when I shifted away from solely coaching with therapists.

Ah, guys, I need to be more open minded and bigger picture. I love therapists, I AM a therapist, but there’s only so much to say about that business model. If you give me a few days, I’ll repost my very first teleclass, “The Way of the BizSavvy Therapist.” The model I discuss in it is still relevant today.

My passion really lies in helping others who have a passion to help others. Maybe I’m called to support people with a calling.

My goal isn’t just to assist people in setting up a “good enough to make money” practice, or launch a leveraged income stream because it’s lucrative.

No. I want to support people who have drive and desire and a deep need to use their skills and talents to make a difference in small and/or big ways.

And, yes, you can work on your passion AND make money.

But the money piece isn’t my full focus. Because lots of people can teach you to make money. Not everyone can support you in changing the world and making a great living at the same time.

I see those “make money” marketers out there. They have some blah-di-blah about “mindset, “having it all,” “getting everything you want.” I can’t be down with a self-centered business development program.

You deserve to make a great living, but it isn’t about YOU.

See, part of the reason the world is so stressful and people stoop to lower and lower levels to make a buck is because we value money over people.

So when we focus on making money over being of value, we join the rat race, no matter how we generate that income.

There are ways to effectively leverage the value you offer to make great money. But the thinking needs to be VALUE first.

I’m often shocked how ingrained the money first cultural norm is for many people. And the sad part is, it’s backwards.

Those who often have the most financially offer the most in value. Not always, but often.

So now that we are a smaller community, I’d like to explore what it means to do work that calls you.

And I’m not looking to make money from this process.

I’m considering starting a private Facebook group to talk about building businesses that matter.

It will be a place for conversation about the practice and the emotional sides of business growth and development. Would this interest you? My expectation would be that we ALL contribute in some way, as best we can. It won’t be me listening to myself talk, because that happened with the newsletter and I gotta tell you, it was lonely and depressing.

So it won’t be my soapbox or my platform to wow you with my ideas. It will be a place that where I can lead exploration and moderate process (so we all stay safe).

I’m going to mull this over for a bit. Please feel free to let me know if such a group would interest you. If so, send me a friend request on Facebook. We need to be friends for you to join a private group that I moderate. If enough people express interest, we’ll go for the group. If not, I’ll need to consider other ways to engage in this exploration and conversation. Thanks for considering it.

Last Day to Join SMART Business Academy

As I mentioned in my last newsletter, today (Wednesday, June 11, 2014) is the final day to access my SMART Business Academy business development curriculum.

We have five lessons all ready to go and five more set to launch in a few weeks.

If you are looking for a straightforward, no fluff, cover-all-the-bases small business development program, SMART Business Academy is for you.

It’s the system I’ve used to build all my businesses and it’s for people serious about doing work that matters while living a well-integrated life.

Click here to read more.

I’m taking down this page at 9pm ET and it won’t come back. So, if this is of interest, please invest today.

 

 

A dentist creating a ruckus

MomnAlex

Today I had the special experience of having an emergency root canal.

This unpleasant experience was actually not that bad, thanks to a dentist’s office creating a ruckus.

I know it’s odd to hear someone say, “I love my dentist.” I do. My son does. I mean, really, you have to be doing something phenomenal for a 10 year old to “love” the dentist!

Here’s why we appreciate him. He and his staff care and they listen. The staff know that dental work is painful and they take a thoughtful, mindful approach to procedures. They never rush in to do work that doesn’t need doing, but when things are in need of work, they do it right. When my son was 3, he had a traumatizing dental experience with xrays and an assistant who was not compassionate. When we went to see Dr. Curley his staff made no muss or fuss about x-rays and when they were needed did a non-invasive approach. Alex was so relieved, he’s loved them ever since.

Listening and compassionate

While we would hope all medical professionals would work this way, I think we can all share a few stories where this was not the case.

This past week, there was a weird shadow on one of my routine x-rays. Dr. Curley referred me to an endodontist locally. Over the weekend, the dental issue intensified and I called the office to get an appointment sooner. “Yes. Come in at 10:30 today.”

Oh, how convenient.

Dr. Gilard’s office is in an old mill building. I dig the vibe.

His office as efficient, friendly and professional. As I waited for him in The Chair, I noticed the music playing in the room was acoustic indie. Norah Jones, an acoustic by O.A. R. Huh. I like this music, I thought. It distracted me from my anxiety about the impending root canal.

After more tests and x-rays, Dr.Gilard explained the whole issue with my tooth and said, “If you have a few minutes we can start now.”

I had traveled about 30 minutes to get to his office and while “get root canal” was not on my to-do list today, I was happy to get it started and save a trip and possible scheduling complications.

Even after the procedure, the customer service was excellent. The assistant walked me to the receptionist and explained when I needed a next appointment. The insurance had already been contacted and they knew exactly how much I owed for the day’s events. No crazy invoicing.

I felt cared for. I felt relieved and I felt that this painful experience wasn’t made worse by an abrupt, cold, administrative process.

How is this a ruckus?

In the world today, it is rare to find professionals who are compassionate, organized and efficient. We hear horror stories of long waits for care, bungled diagnoses, doctors who don’t listen.

I’m impressed that in every step of this dental journey, there wasn’t one point in which I was frustrated or annoyed.

And there was Nora Jones in the procedure room.

Hence, this is a ruckus. It disrupts what we typically think when we hear “root canal” and “dentist.” Most folks cringe at those words. Here, we say, “What  a good experience!”

The professionalism, efficiency and compassion disrupt the cultural beliefs about dental work. Hence, this is a ruckus.

This kind of well run business doesn’t just happen. People have to consider how they want to show up, what they stand for and do the work to put into place the systems for the patient/client/customer to feel seen, cared for and special.

Staff needs to be hired and trained to fit into the culture of compassion and efficiency.

Someone decides acoustic indie music is the right vibe for the office.

This kind of branding is part of a business plan and it’s marketing, too. When I have a good experience, I tell others (I’m telling you now).

How to make a ruckus in your business

  • Make a commitment to do your work better than the rest in the industry.
  • Be highly professional. Focus on your client’s experience from start to finish. What happens when they first call? How efficient are your administrative systems? How competent is your staff?
  • Listen and respond accordingly. My son was afraid of x-rays in his mouth. Our dentist made it a non-issue by adapting the typical approach. We are now raving fans. And  all it took was some common sense. Do that for your clients.
  • Be a professional of integrity. Only refer to other professionals of integrity. I’m big on this in my practice. I like to refer my clients to others who are a good fit for their needs I can’t meet. But if someone tells me a referral I made stood them up, charged them unfairly or otherwise was unprofessional, I will never refer to that person ever again. If it inconveniences my clients and it was my referral that got them stuck, I look bad (and I feel badly, too).
  • Prioritize efficiency and ease of accessing your service. When people pick up the phone with a problem to solve, they don’t want to wait weeks to get help. Develop systems that support people as soon as possible.
  • Personalize your business. If you like indie acoustic music while you work, play it. If you favorite color is orange, put it in your logo. If you work in a place where pets are welcome, bring in your dog. “Professional” doesn’t mean cold, sterile or cookie cutter. It means being skilled and confident enough to show up real.

In the age of WalMart and Minute Clinic, being a top notch professional who cares and is compassionate creates a ruckus. It becomes your brand.

Anyone can do this. And if dentists can do it, you know you can!

Get creative. How does your professional business create a ruckus?

We’re developing businesses that create a ruckus during my RUCKUS TOGETHER Retreat in September of this year. We only have a few seats left, so please consider joining us as we develop marketing plans (like the one discussed above) that make a difference and bring you clients. Click here for more information on this upcoming retreat.

New Age of Small Business Marketing – Part 1

The other day I joined an impromptu Facebook conversation with Rhiannon Llewellyn about how small business marketing is changing.

Initially, we were lamenting how what used to work, no longer works. Have you noticed that your marketing that used to make you money now falls flat? Yep. We’re feeling that,too.

So, rather than get stuck in a downward spiral of self-pity, Rhiannon and I decided to host an informal chat about these changes and what we can do about it. Empowerment, baby!

We started a Google + hangout and chatted for an hour.

You can watch the whole conversation here:

We don’t claim to have the “right” answers. We do claim to bringing our smarts and know how and problem solving skills to an ever-evolving small business dynamic.

One of our take-aways was the need to for all of us to “grow up” in our businesses, commit to long-term growth and stand for our values, convictions and take a risk of vulnerability.

Believe it or not, that’s marketing.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Best place to rap is on Facebook.

PS: We’re going to have these chats every Monday at 1pm ET. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook to get the announcements OR sign up below with your email to get the summary and video sent to your email box.

Ownership

Sunset_2014

I own this space.

I OWN this space.

My name, my words, my decisions on what shows up and what does not.

I designed this space. Others made suggestions and I said, “No. Please do it my way.”

Art isn’t true unless it commits to a unique vision. To replicate what others say “works” is to abdicate  our power.

Here is a truth that I know. If your offering is compelling enough, helpful enough, beautiful enough, people do not care what the package looks like.  (Unless your job is to make packages beautiful.)

It’s taken me 45 years to own my space.

That’s about right.

I still have half a lifetime left to live and fill with all of me.

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