perspective

Business Lessons I learned From Motherhood

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(Halloween 1992)

Recently I was sitting at my kitchen table working on my computer when I suddenly realized it was 3:30 in the afternoon and I was still in my pajamas.

It reminded of the days when my kids were little. There were times I didn’t get a shower until after my husband got home, the house was a mess and I had no clue what we were going to have for dinner.

Starting and growing a business is a lot like raising children.

They both consist of long hours and low pay, only at the beginning of your business, hopefully, or no pay, in the case of motherhood.

You really have no idea whether you are doing the right thing or even if what you’re doing is effective. You want to believe you’re doing a good job raising your kids but you really have no idea until they get to be adults. Same thing with a business, there’s a lot of trial, error and adjustment.

I remember standing over my sleeping child praying that I wouldn’t do something to mess them up too much.  As a business owner, I sometimes wake up at night wondering why in the world I decided to put myself out there for all the world to see if I should fail.

When my kids were in school, we were friends with their friend’s parents. There were always tennis matches, swim meets and school events where parents congregated and communed. The support of other parents was invaluable as we commiserated about the struggles of parenting.

Now I go to networking events and commune with other business women. The support of like-minded successful women has kept me in business.

Being a mom and a business owner has taught me a few things along the way:

  • Beware of people who offer advice, and there will be many. Listen but don’t be quick to take it if it doesn’t feel right for you. As with your children, your business is your responsibility. Follow what feels right for you not what the so-called experts say is right.
  • Learn from other people’s mistakes and emulate their success. My parental role models were women who had successfully raised happy, healthy, well-adjusted children. Who are the successful business women you admire? Surround yourself with them and listen for their advice.
  •  Most of all, enjoy the journey. So many people told me to enjoy my kids because they grow up so fast. That was the best piece of advice I ever received and tried to savor every moment. Now I am trying to do the same when it comes to my business.

Even with all of our struggles and mistakes, we always seem to remember the “good old days.”  Someday, these will be the good old days. Why not enjoy them now?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Procrastination Sabotages Productivity

bigstock-Concept-for-procrastination-an-51568768The number of chronic procrastinators has quadrupled in the last 30 years to nearly 20 percent of the population, according to Dr. Joseph Ferrari, associate professor of psychology at Chicago’s De Paul University. It is an insidious habit that will sabotage your success and drain your energy.

Fear of making a mistake, fear of failure or even fear of success can be causes of chronic procrastination.

Procrastination may be a problem if you:

•Have been financially impacted because you didn’t cash a check on time or delayed filing your taxes to the point of incurring fines or penalties.

•Have become exhausted and/or given up working out because you had to watch just one (or two or three) more episodes on Netflix before going to bed.

•Are constantly making excuses because you are late.

•Friends, family or coworkers point out your procrastination or the consequences of it.

The good news is procrastination is a learned behavior. With the proper structure and lots of practice, new habits can be formed. It will take time and patience though.

“Telling someone who procrastinates to buy a weekly planner is like telling someone with chronic depression to just cheer up,” according to Dr. Ferrari.

Here are a few steps you can take to begin to break the procrastination habit:

•Make a to-do list of 5-6 things daily.

•If necessary, begin by tackling just one and break it down into small steps.

•Pay attention to your thinking — if you notice you want to procrastinate, decide to just keep going.

•Acknowledge and reward yourself for what you have accomplished.

•If you find yourself procrastinating, don’t judge yourself just focus on the next item on your list.

As you begin to take even small steps, you will notice your production increasing, your energy level rising and your happiness begin to grow.

This was written for Rochester Women’s Network’s column Women At Work and was published in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle on April 21, 2015. 

Burning Down The Wall

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In 2013, I took part in a fire ceremony conducted by Marcela Lobos (picture above is me with Marcela), a Chilean Shaman, that changed my life.

It was a cool September morning at the Omega Institute. Down by the lake, a fire had been started and we were instructed to find a stick.

Marcela, dressed in a colorful sarape and a beaded headband, told us that we were to choose something that we did not want to take home with us.  It could be unforgiveness, resentment, anger, ties to an old relationship, etc.

We were then instructed to breathe onto the stick to symbolically transfer that which was to be left behind into the stick.  Then, one at a time, we were to step up, kneel down and place our stick into the fire.

But there was one more thing we had to do.

When one knelt down at the fire, another of us was to come up and stand behind her to cover her back.  This was a form of protection, because our sister, kneeling at the fire, was in a vulnerable position.

When I heard this, I began to weep as I suddenly realized that I had never felt like anyone had my back.

Standing there with tears streaming down my face, I knew this was something I needed to change.

The part of my soul that was weeping longed for authentic human connection, with myself as well as others. But that was impossible because of the wall I had up.  I needed to know that I was ok and that someone was on my side.

When I was younger, I had trusted only to get stabbed in the back. I had been hurt and betrayed so I had chosen not to be vulnerable with the people in my life.  Up came the wall.

I realized vulnerability was not only what would bring down this wall I had built, it was the key to learning how to trust and to living a happier life.

Vulnerability takes practice. It is uncomfortable, it can be messy.  And I  often don’t get it right.  I learned that it is not good to be vulnerable with just anyone.  I can count on one hand the people with whom I can be completely vulnerable.

Practicing vulnerability has deepened my relationships and brought a level of joy I haven’t felt before.

I have learned that life is more fun and less stressful when we can just be who we are and trust that we have people in our life who have our back.

 

 

 

 

Unexpectedly Feminist

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I am not a feminist. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and came to believe that a feminist was an angry, bra-burning woman who hated men.

I love men.  Some of my favorite people in the world are men; my husband, son, dad and brothers are at the top of the list.  So I decided long ago that I was not a feminist.

But what is feminism really?

The definition is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”

This brings me to Patricia Arquette’s Oscar speech.  She said:

“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”

Feminism is not about women being angry and demanding our due.

Patricia Arquette is talking about advocating for ourselves just as vigorously as we do for our loved ones and the causes that we feel so passionately about.  It is about us knowing our worth and working toward receiving the same treatment and pay as men.

We have, for too long, gone quietly about our business take caring of everyone else, giving ourselves what’s left, only to find there is nothing left.

It is time to stop being stingy with our compassion and acceptance when it comes to ourselves.

We must give ourselves permission to ask for what we want but first we must know what we want.

It is time we speak up and let our voices be heard without judging ourselves as arrogant or self-centered.

It is time we help lift each other up and stop calling women who assert themselves a bitch.

Go for that thing that may seem out of reach.  Celebrate yourself if you get it. Heap yourself with the same compassion you give others if you don’t.  Then go out and try again.

If we live our lives modeling feminism then not only will our daughters learn to do the same but our sons will grow up to be feminists too.  We owe it to ourselves to do this, we owe it to future generations.

 

Pay Attention!

Recently our son noticed how his sister loved to play music on her smartphone but had a very cheap speaker.  The sound quality wasn’t all that good but we never heard her complain about it.

Our daughter’s birthday was coming so he decided he would get her a new, better quality wireless speaker even though she had not asked for it.

When she opened the gift, she let out a squeal of delight. She was completely surprised because, although she wanted a new speaker, she had not asked for it.

Her delight was magnified because her brother was paying attention to what she liked (her music) and what she needed (a new speaker).

I think there would be less ugliness in the world if we simply paid attention.

I believe most people want to know they matter and what they have to say matters.  We have a tendency to be so caught up in ourselves that we forget to pay attention to what’s going on around us.

When we aren’t paying attention, our children can think we don’t care, our spouses feel neglected, even the people we meet in the street can be left feeling that we are cold and detached.

My grandfather taught me what a gift it was to pay attention.  Everyone agreed he was a great guy.  When asked why, they would say that he made them feel special. All he did was pay attention.

When I was talking to my grandfather, it seemed like we were the only two people in the world.  He would listen attentively and ask questions that pertained to what I was saying. He made whomever he was speaking to feel special because he payed attention.

I have also had the experience of people who talk incessantly and are not the least bit interested in what I have to say.  Whether it’s true or not, I am left with the feeling that they really don’t care about me.

As a volunteer for Step By Step (a non-profit organization that provides empowering workshops for women who are, have been or are at risk of being incarcerated), I have had the privilege to work with veteran workshop facilitator Sally Kohler.  Sally writes and facilitates the workshops for both women in jail and for when they come out.

Sally pays attention to the women who sit in her workshop. She is accepting and listens intently therefore many of them feel seen and heard for the first time in their lives.

Because Sally pays attention, these women begin to feel worthy of being treated with dignity and respect.

I have witnessed people transform their lives simply because someone took the time to pay attention to them.

The great thing about paying attention is that you can begin now and it doesn’t cost you anything.  I suggest you begin by paying attention to yourself.

Pay attention to the thoughts you have about yourself. If you wouldn’t say those things to your children or your best friend then why are you letting them clutter your mind. Pay attention and let them go.

By paying attention to what and, more importantly, who is in front of us, we affirm that they matter.  That simple act serves to bring more love, understanding and peace to our world.

 

Changing The Golden Rule

You’ve heard of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?   All I can say is it must have been a man who thought this up because no woman in her right mind would ever say anything so stupid.

I agree that the Golden Rule is positive in most situations.  In dealing with the people I encounter, I try to be calm, polite and kind.  All traits I appreciate in others when interacting with me.

However, recently I took issue with my husband treating ME as HE would want to be treated. Specifically when it came to my birthday.

When my husband and kid’s birthdays roll around, I try very hard to give them a special day. When the kids were younger, we had parties. Now that they’re older, they choose between dinner at their favorite restaurant or dinner at home with me making whatever they choose.  And the same goes for my husband.

With my birthday so close to Christmas, it has always seemed to get lost. With all the hoopla over the holidays, everyone is too tired and partied out to have yet another party, including myself.  As an adult, I have learned to accept this.  Or so I thought.

This year, I felt resentful as I thought about my upcoming birthday.  When I looked to see what the cause was, I realized the past few years, my birthday dinner consisted of takeout pizza.  I love pizza, don’t get me wrong, but on my birthday?!

When I thought about how my husband wanted to spend his birthdays recently, I noticed he doesn’t care to make a big deal out of it.  I realized he was treating my birthday the same way.  He didn’t understand that I wanted something more than takeout food.

I knew I needed to have a conversation telling him that I did not want to be treated like he wants to be treated. I wanted to be treated the way I want.

All that meant was either choosing to go out for dinner or having him cook dinner at home, NO TAKEOUT!

In case you’re wondering, he cooked our family a delicious meal of artichokes french, jambalaya and tiramisu. My favorite foods with my favorite people!  It was the best birthday ever because I felt heard and honored! Not only by the people I love but by myself as well. (And it was extra special because my husband doesn’t often cook.)

Where are you expecting your partner to treat you as you treat them?  A hint: Start by looking at where you’re feeling resentful.  Speak up and practice asking to be treated the way you want.

Remember the Golden Rule of Relationships: Do unto your partner as you would have them do unto you, unless they tell you otherwise.

 

 

Better To Be Honest Than “Nice”

In a recent conversation with business women, we examined, at a networking event, how to deal with someone who is only looking to sell and has no real interest in anyone else.

The following suggested replies were offered:

• Tell the person you need to talk to someone on the other side of the room and you’ll catch them later.

• Excuse yourself for a personal need.

• Tell the person you don’t want to monopolize their time, suggesting you re-connect at another time to continue the conversation.

I suggested answering honestly. Tell the person you are not a potential client but would be happy to keep them in mind if you come across someone who might seek their services.

Wanting to be “nice” came up next. According to clinical psychologist George Simon, “Nice people tend to let things slide because they don’t want to seem harsh, but as the saying goes: Give people an inch, and they’ll take a mile.” Be “nice” and you resent the person for having to endure a coffee meeting or hoping they will stop contacting you.

The true definition of nice is pleasant, good natured and kind. For many, “nice” has become a strategy to be liked, avoiding conflict. That makes it more about us than the other person.

Learn a new way of being. Pay attention to your own behavior. Notice when you’re being honest and when you’re not. Recognize that it is possible to be polite, respectful and honest. By doing this, we honor the other person and empower ourselves.

It can be uncomfortable when we begin to practice being honest. Start being honest with those whom you are comfortable, for example your spouse, your friends or a trusted co-worker. As your comfort increases, extend the practice to people with whom honesty is more challenging.

 This was published in the Democrat and Chronicle on October 28, 2014.  The Women at Work column is written by members of the Rochester Women’s Network (rwn.org).

Why DO I Write?

I am participating in a blog hop this week. The theme is “Why I Write”. At the end of this, you will find other women business owners who are also participating.

I came out of childhood thinking that who I was was not ok.

I was thin as a child but I thought I was fat. At least that’s what my brothers and kids at school said.

When I was 10, I had a teacher who chided us for answering a question wrong by laughing and saying sarcastically, “My, isn’t that a gem of wisdom.” I felt average at best.

I learned to stay quiet and invisible so as not to subject myself to humiliation, ridicule or abuse.

Dr. Brené Brown’s research revealed that vulnerability is the only road that leads to living a whole-hearted life.

You mean the only way I can be joyous and fulfilled is to be vulnerable? This does not compute! And you can’t make me!

The child in me is still afraid of not getting it right and being made fun of or ticking someone off and being punished.

I can choose not to coach, not to write and live a quiet life of desperate agony. This I know all too well.

But there comes a time when the pain of not speaking up is stronger than the risk of being vulnerable.

I now consciously choose to be authentic and vulnerable and risk putting myself out there. I choose to write because I am tired of being afraid of being hurt and hiding who I am.

Because of the work I’ve done on myself, I now have the privilege of teaching others how to overcome their fear of vulnerability. Through my work as a coach, I help others shed their limiting beliefs and step into their authenticity.

Each successive blog post I’ve written has gotten more and more vulnerable for me.  I try not to compare myself to other bloggers, coaches or anyone who may seem more vulnerable than I. (Iyanla Vanzant says that when we compare ourselves to someone else it is a form of violence against oneself.)

So why do I write? I write to face my fear of not being being liked, being wrong and upsetting people. I write so that others who feel the same way don’t have to feel alone anymore.

I write to be seen and heard. I write because I have to.

Below are the names of the women participating in the blog hop. I hope you will take the time to check out their blogs.

Ileana Ferreras is a powerful coach who has been transforming lives since 2006. She is passionate about partnering with people who are ready to create the life they truly desire.  Ileana asks the questions that clarify goals while tackling the limiting mindsets that prevent their fulfillment. This winning combination causes clients to design and follow through on the actions that produce breakthrough results.
http://www.imagineandfulfill.com/blog/

Joleene Moody is a client closing expert, business coach and speaker. She helps women entrepreneurs significantly increase their income by finding or creating speaking engagements — and then converting attendees to high paying clients.

A New Perspective

I noticed I was getting a bit bored with my normal walking route lately. So I decided to try doing the route in the opposite direction.

This woke up my senses! It was a completely different set of scenery. The trees, the road, the creek, the traffic… everything seemed fresh and new!

When I took the usual route I came from the opposite direction and was on the opposite side of the road. I never noticed how much the small trees that lined the north edge of my neighbor’s property had grown over the past year.

I also noticed that this route seemed to be ALL up hill. No kidding. And, I found that my mind didn’t wander as it would when I walked my usual route.

I began to wonder about the many things I do a certain way just because that’s how I’ve always done them.

I think about the many times I would drive to and from work and not remember any part of the drive. I was so in my head that I was totally on auto pilot.

That sounds like it would be good, right? But what about life? Am I going through life on auto pilot? Am I so stuck in the past or worried about the future that I’m not paying attention to the life that’s happening right now?

I love routine. It brings me comfort.

I love that my husband gets out of work at 4:30 most days and will be home shortly thereafter. We have dinner by 7pm, talk about our days and discuss what’s happening tomorrow.

By 10pm, I’m on my way to bed as my husband attempts to stay awake to watch the Twilight Zone at 11pm, he doesn’t always make it. Although this may sound boring to some, this routine is comforting for me.

But there are routines that are downright boring for me. For example, a few years ago I was working with someone on my business. They advised me that I should set up my coaching business like any regular 8-5 business with an hour off for lunch.

I did that for a while, got totally bored and rebelled. One of the reasons that I decided to start my own business was so that I could set my own hours.

For years as a dental hygienist, I had to work the schedule the doctors set, usually 9-5, 8-4 or 7-3.

What I notice is that I am happiest when I set my own schedule. Sometimes I don’t sit down to work until the afternoon. Other times I have woken up in the middle of the night and answered emails or sat down to write at 7am or 8pm or on the weekend.

I am learning to trust my instinct and do what feels right to me.

By following a different route or a different way of doing those things we do often, we have a chance to look at things from a whole new perspective.

That’s another reason why I LOVE collaboration. There have been many times I have changed my opinion simply because I was open to hearing someone else’s take.

Listen to what others have to say and then, trust your gut. Choose what brings you comfort and joy but try changing your routine even just a little from time to time.

You might find that’s all you need to add a little spark and a new perspective to your life.

Facebook Frustration

I am sick of Facebook. I can’t go on without getting frustrated and annoyed.

My annoyance is so bad at times that I won’t go on Facebook for weeks at a time. Then I feel like a schmuck because I find out my elderly aunt has been sick and I didn’t see my cousin’s post.

When it seems like someone else is MAKING me feel a certain way, I know I have to take a look at myself. I have a choice to be a victim or be responsible for my interpretation of the situation.

These are my interpretations that are making me crazy!

I feel like everyone on Facebook has life figured out. They have the perfect job, the perfect family and are taking the perfect vacations. Everything in their life is perfect!

I know for a fact that some of the people coming across as perfect are far from it. They are choosing to put on a mask of perfection for whatever reason. Pride, vanity, to avoid shame and embarrassment if they admitted the truth?

I also get sick of those who are constantly complaining about their boss, their job, their friend, their co-worker, whoever has done them wrong. This sort of post seems to get responses from those who want to get the scoop and pass on the gossip and those who want to console the one who’s been “wronged.”

Of course, this is all done keeping the perpetrator’s identity anonymous, but you know who you are. And so does everyone else. And if you can’t figure it out just message them and they’ll tell you. DRAMA!

Ok, now it’s time for me to be a grown up.

Have you heard the one where if we can’t be with something in another person then that’s a part of us we can’t be with? In other words, if I look on my side of the street, I will see where I am doing those very things that really irk the heck out of me.

Am I guilty of putting on the mask of perfection? It hurts to admit it but yes. Yup, nothing to see here, I’ve got it all handled. A big LOL here!

I post about my wonderful kids and husband and they are wonderful, and imperfect. My husband and I have been together for 30 years now and I would be lying if I said we had it all figured out. We are still working on how to communicate on a deeper level other than what happened at work, on the golf course or at the grocery store.

I love both my kids and there are times I say “really?” when my daughter shows up with yet another hair color or mumble “dumb ass” under my breath when my son recounts his antics with his buddies.

And what about the drama? Even though I have been trying hard not to complain to others, there are times that complaints are just bouncing around in my head.

Debbie Ford said, “what we resist, persists.” When I try not to verbally complain and push away any mental complaints it just makes them stronger.

Then when I go on Facebook and see someone complaining, the floodgates burst. I begin complaining about the complainers!

What do I do with all of this? On Facebook, I can and have unfriended people who are constantly complaining and seeming to want to pick fights.

But what do I do about me? I can’t unfriend myself.

First, I choose where I’m going to complain. I have a few select friends whom I can go to and say, “I just need to complain about this.” They let me be victim until I get it out. Then if they hear me complaining after that, they remind me to be responsible.

Second, there’s really nothing else to do but accept and be me. Accept my mistakes, my feelings, my foibles and my imperfection. Sounds easy right?

It would be easy if there was something I could do like run around the house 5 times and poof! Suddenly I am no longer bothered by complainers or people pretending to be perfect. No such luck.

But, as soon as I practice authenticity, I become more accepting and compassionate not only of myself but with everyone else around me. Think I’ll try that next time I’m on Facebook.