find your voice
I sat listening to a friend who was recounting a meltdown she had recently. Someone had pushed her buttons and suddenly, she found herself saying things she never thought she was capable of.
Afterwards she felt such regret and said, “This is not who I want to be.”
It became clear that her automatic reaction when triggered was to fight. She had developed that survival instinct as a little girl and it’s still there even though she’s an adult.
Chutzpah is a Yiddish word that means “shameless audacity.” I think of it as having guts, nerve or backbone.
I think this woman has chutzpah. And not all of us do.
There are those whose first reaction is to run away when there is confrontation. I fall into this category.
However, when I avoid the uncomfortable situation or person, I end up feeling defeated. My confidence and self-esteem take a hit.
A few years ago, the leader of an organization was continually putting me down. Even though they stepped over the line, I lacked the chutzpah to say, “I won’t be treated this way.”
Because I am a person who chooses to lead with my heart, I mistakenly viewed standing up for myself as being arrogant. But each time I backed down, I felt weak and like I dishonored myself. This was not who I wanted to be.
I had heart and not enough chutzpah. My friend had chutzpah and not enough heart.
Chutzpah by itself can come across as arrogant or mean. Heart alone can be viewed as weakness and a doormat.
The sweet spot lies where we have both heart AND chutzpah (heartzpah?! :). It’s not easy to find that place, it takes practice.
For fighters, it means forcing yourself to take a time out before you start saying things you’ll regret.
For those of us who take flight, it means giving yourself permission to stand your ground.
I think Brené Brown said it best, “Don’t puff up, don’t shrink back. Just stand your sacred ground.”
It can be scary and uncomfortable as we practice something new. But that’s where our growth lies, in those scary, uncomfortable places. And there is great joy and peace of mind knowing that you can handle anything or anyone who crosses your path.
In order to be the person you want to be, what do you need to practice more of, chutzpah or heart?
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?
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
I recently heard an interview with Tim McGraw where he said something that made me angry. He said he always knew he wanted to be somebody.
Does that mean that there are people who aren’t somebody? What does that make them? Nobody?
Chances are we’ve all said or heard this saying and I’m sure Mr. McGraw didn’t set out to tick me off. But I was curious about what got me all riled up.
I notice that I feel the same way when I watch TV shows like the Real Housewives of Wherever and the Kardashians.
Why do we care so much about these people?
It seems to me we are a society obsessed with fame and trying to be somebody.
If fame can’t be achieved by getting on a reality show, then some people try getting on TV by leaking a sex tape, doing some idiotic stunt or, heaven forbid, an act of violence. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, right?
We wonder why so many people in this country have mounting debt. We’re all just trying to keep up with the Kardashians.
As an adult with half a brain, I realize that these shows are anything but reality and are on the air because they make the networks money.
However, children and teens can fall victim to thinking they are a nobody because they cannot live the same lifestyle as the people they watch on TV.
As a volunteer with women in jail, the majority come from abuse and addiction. A lot of them don’t know how to live (or parent their children) because they were never parented.
Are these women somebody? According to Tim McGraw and I dare say our society, I would guess no. It’s too easy to dismiss and forget about those who are struggling to live; the homeless, the mentally ill, alcoholics, drug addicts.
What is missing from our society and culture that is creating this?
I believe it is because we have forgotten our inherent worthiness. What does that mean?
It means that just by our mere presence on this planet, we are somebody.
Worthiness is something that is born in each of us. It cannot be taken away but we can forget that it is our birthright.
We think that if we are famous and have adoring fans, then we will feel and, therefore be, worthy. Then we will be happy right?
But what if those fans never come? Or what if they come and then go away? This is a set up for disaster.
How many stars have turned to drugs or alcohol when they found themselves no longer relevant?
If we know our true worth, then it doesn’t matter how many followers we have on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Even if we lose them all, we will know that we are still somebody.
How do you measure your self-worth? What can we do as parents and a society to help our children cultivate a healthy self-worth?
What do you need to do to be somebody in your own life?
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.
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.
“Hi, my name is Linda and I am a recovering people-pleaser.”
My people-pleasing was created as a child because I was looking for my mother and father’s approval. At its peak, it left me feeling tired, drained and disconnected.
I thought this was how I was supposed to live. I thought I needed to put other’s needs and opinions above my own.
Before I knew it, I found myself caring way too much about the opinions of strangers.
At times, I didn’t know who to please or what to believe. I ended up confused and wanting someone else to think for me.
For example, my father was not a golfer. He thought it was a waste of time chasing a little white ball around. He would rather be out riding his horse. My husband, on the other hand, loves golf. Horseback riding… not so much.
Who was right? Was it my dad? Was it my husband?
What if they were both right?
We all look at life through a filter. The filter I created said I needed to make other people happy in order for me to be happy. Not only is this not true, it’s a set up for true despair.
To my dad, golf was a waste of his time because he did not enjoy golfing. To my husband, horseback riding did not bring him the same joy as golfing.
There are endless examples in the world. One person says GM cars are the best, another says Ford and others say BMW. Still others say don’t drive, take the bus or ride your bike.
Look at all of the opportunities we have to choose what’s right or wrong, good or bad for US.
In my peak people-pleasing days, getting it right meant constantly trying to figure out what the person in front of me wanted to hear. This meant that no one got the real, authentic, speaking-my-truth Linda.
I didn’t even know what my truth was so I came across as bland as plain yogurt.
And that was how life occurred for me, bland, no rainbows, no kittens, no chocolate almond ice cream! I learned that it is our thoughts and opinions that add flavor and spice to the world.
The great thing about my filter is that I created it so I can choose to create something different. Now I get to explore MY truths, opinions and likes.
By losing our people-pleasing filter, we are able to step into our authentic power. And by doing that, we inspire others to do the same.
That is truly what the world needs now, not a bunch of “yes” men.