F.E.A.R

Face Everything And Run

OR

Face Everything And Rise

I let out a long exhale before I sat down to write this post. This topic is one I’ve been wanting to write about for some time and yet, I’ve been apprehensive, worried about people’s reactions. Well, I guess it’s time to face that fear 😉

Fear can be paralyzing, causing time to almost stand still as you watch your life pass before your eyes. It can also lead to unnecessary arguments, violence and acting without thinking. I’ve experienced how suffocating fear can be. For me, I’ve always been fearful of events I can’t control and situations I’ve seen other people in.

Money is a perpetual fear of mine – not having enough, losing my source of income, the list continues. Why? Because I’ve watched people lose it all and because it was so devastating, they can’t recover and are crippled by the aftershocks. On days when it becomes particularly difficult, I remember that I’m not those people. I’m an entirely different person, with different circumstances and different goals. It’s doesn’t mean I go charge up my credit cards but it does mean I can enjoy the benefits of working hard.

Fear of the unknown is also a challenge for me. Something as little as not knowing travel plans can cause an anxiety spike. Despite being an extrovert, social situations can cause tension. When I start a new relationship, whether it be at work or personally, I’m always fearful of not knowing how people will reaction or respond. It’s debilitating and I spend hours convincing myself of alternatives.

And yet, I forge on. Why? How? Well, for starters, being full of fear is no way to live. Unless you’re in inherit danger, there’s no need for it. It’s downright bad for your health. Life is so much more enjoyable when you let go and go for it versus standing on the sidelines. Sometimes, you will get feedback on how to change an approach or your tone. That’s okay! It’s the only way you’ll learn how to do it better next time.

fearSome of the most profound relationships in my life are with people who look, sound and think differently than I do. Yes, I was fearful when these relationships were starting out because I didn’t know. There are still days when I’ll rewrite a text message because I’m anxious about how it will land. Well guess what?! These people are now my friends, they’ll tell me if it doesn’t land and we’ll move on. We all assume positive intent and know it’s okay to disagree.

Could we all commit to operate with less fear and more understanding? Less judgement and more kindness? A lot of issues I see in the world today are because of fear. Fear of not knowing. I challenge you to override your fear of the unknown and be curious about that someone who operates differently. You won’t know unless you try.

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Silence IS Golden

I’m the type of person who can talk to a wall. For most of my life, this didn’t have disadvantages. It allowed me to make friends more easily and fed my curiosity.
Then I entered the real world, full of conference calls, where there was never enough time for everyone to speak. Thanks for a courageous director, I received the very helpful feedback to pause, be more intentional with my words and embrace silence. I wish someone would have told me that sooner!
Before that conversation, silence held a negative connotation for me. If you were silent after I spoke, you disagreed with what I said or were disengaged. In actuality, that’s not always the case. Often, especially in virtual settings, silence can mean that someone is processing what you just said, so they can share a thoughtful response.
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I had been practicing this notion of embracing the silence when I began coach training in March. There again I got the feedback to slow down a bit and give my coachee time to process (hold the space as we call it). It wasn’t always easy but the more I did it, the more it paid off.
Then, this radical idea occurred to me. If I want to slow down, be more present and intentional, then maybe I too needed more silence in my life. Since I’m the type of person who constantly has music/podcasts on, this idea intrigued me. So after my March coaching class, I tried it out – silence for the first few minutes of my morning and the last few minutes of my night. Here’s how it’s helped:

 

  • If I’m overstimulated (think post board meeting or networking event), the silence helps me center and come back down, making it easier to fall asleep.
  • I find it easier to visualize my intention for the day when it’s quiet. This exercise provides me with clarity on what my immediate and long term priorities are.
  • I am more intentional when I share on calls at work, really thinking about my reason for speaking and the words I’m selecting to articulate.
Believe me, I still play a lot of music but I’m learning silence has its benefits. Now at work, I recognize how talking too much can have its drawbacks. There’s a place and time for all voices to be heard but overuse can lead to a belief that the person who speaks that much likes the sound of his/her voice. That’s not what I want my brand to be. I’ve noticed too that staying silent in meetings allows me to absorb what people are saying and hear what’s not being said.
Don’t worry, my voice is still definitely heard…now the words are making more of an impact.
What’s your feeling about silence? Share in the comments!

Braaaaave

That’s how the final scene from the First Wives Club starts. Bette Midler’s character reminds her girlfriend to be braaaave and they all break out into song. If you’ve never seen the movie, go watch it now.

Recently, the word brave keeps coming up for me. I’ve seen people make brave decisions, taking leaps of faith into an unknown world. Or being vulnerable in front of a group of women who she doesn’t trust. Most recently, I spent the weekend at my third CTI course as part of my journey to becoming a credentialed coach. I can’t even describe what happened other than everyone showed up and were brave; brave in how they coached and in how they shared.

What do I mean by brave? There are plenty of definitions. Mine include:

  • Leaving your comfort zone
  • Speaking up because you know it’s the right thing to do even if the words are hard to say
  • Holding space and embracing silence
  • Taking risks even if that’s as small as trying a new restaurant.

You get my picture.

It’s a privilege to witness acts of bravery, big or small and they occur every day. The thing about being brave is that it has to matter to the person. Maybe asking a provocative question to a stranger is easy for you. But maybe trying Indian food isn’t. It’s all a matter of perspective.

I’d offer if you’re feeling stuck, trying on your brave hat (or shoes or shorts) might help. Find a quiet, like actually quiet place, where you won’t be interrupted and close your eyes. Slowly, take a few deep, deep breathes. Now listen. What’s that inner voice or rockstar as I call her say? What shift do you need to make? How could you show up differently?

For some, that exercise might be brave. If that’s the case, go you for trying it! Being brave is personal, it’s listening and trusting yourself to act or pause or say no.

Now I need to walk the talk right?! I had to practice coaching Saturday night and asked my friend, a coach himself with a wealth of extraordinary experience, to be my client. And I coached him. And I didn’t suck. When I did the same thing back in June, I most definitely had an anxiety attack. #babybravesteps #itshard

There’s my moment of bravery for the month, rockstars. I have a few more all around courageous conversations that I can share with you. Comment with yours if it feels right. I’d love to hear them!

Please, Call Me Bossy

Powerful. Ambitious. Bossy. Raise your hand if you’ve been called these words. *Raises hand.* Now tell me, were you viewed in a positive or negative light when someone used these words to describe you? Let me guess…

This post is likely going to trigger some strong emotions, dear reader, but stick with me. Of late, I’ve had what feels like hundreds of conversations with talented, experienced lady friends, who are walking around their respective workplaces walking on eggshells. Many are struggling with confidence or are letting past descriptions dictate how they show up in current roles. I’ve heard “I need to take back my power but don’t want to come off as intimidating” or “I feel like my team needs direction but I don’t want to seem bossy” Insert eye roll here.

our deepest fearLadies, I’m here to tell you, you’re likely going to be too much for some and not enough for others. That’s life. My question to you is: “What words would you use to describe yourself when you’re at your best?” If it’s powerful or ambitious or honest, so be it. These are not dirty words that shouldn’t be spoken. Powerful women stand in their own sun, radiating light for all to see. Ambitious women strive for more and are hopefully bringing others along on their journey. Bossy women don’t take no for an answer. To me, these are all beneficial actions. Sure, there are bossy women who are bitches, ambitious women who sell others out. I hope that’s the minority of women AND we have the opportunity to rewrite this story.

Take a few colleagues who you trust and discuss these words. How are they received in your workplace? What can you do to help other women embrace their power, their ambition? Corporate cultures are hard: typically they’re well-defined by only by a subset of leadership. They’re big on collaboration and you’re definitely working in teams. So how do you bring your powerful, ambitious self to work without ruffling all of the feathers?

It’s a balancing act for sure. I’ve been told I’m too much: too extroverted, too talkative, too honest. So I’ve started having conversations about my big, bold, beautiful personality upfront. Let’s make some agreements on how we’re going to work together so we both claim our power, so I’ll know when to ease up so you can step up. It’s not a magic potion that works every time but it’s absolutely helped. I encourage you to give it a try.

The quote above is what sparked the idea for this post. It was read to me during a coaching class and immediately tears filled my eyes. I pride myself on being authentic, yet if I dim my light because I perceive that others can’t handle it, am I really being my true self? It certainly made me reflect and step fully in my power.

Just Say Thank You

If you follow me on social media, you know that I was recently promoted to manager. It’s a career milestone as spots don’t come around that often and I actioned specific feedback to get here. It brought many emotions: I’m so very proud of myself and have endless gratitude for all those who invested in my development. And yet, after the initial shock and awe worn off, it felt weird, almost awkward to share my news. But why?!

I’m not a fan of talking about myself or being the center of attention. So all this attention has been hard for me. Every time someone congratulated me, my instinct was to deflect and find a way to make it about them. I was aware of what I was doing and after a friend called me out, I started to just say thank you.

I’m a big believer in humility, yet it turns people off when you start explaining why someone shouldn’t be giving you a compliment. Here are a few of my observations on why you should just say thank you:

  • You should acknowledge the other person’s opinion, regardless of your reaction to it. Clearly, the person has thoughts that should be validated.
  • Don’t turn a positive thing into a negative one. By saying thank you, you’re continuing to keep the good vibes flowing versus deflecting, which deflates the conversation.
  • Gratitude is good for your mental and emotional wellbeing. So by saying thank you to said compliment, you’re increasing your positive emotions as well as the other person’s. You can also use the thank you as a segway to how the person may have helped you achieve the goal they’re referring to. Win-win for both parties!
  • Um, hello, did you ever think you deserve said compliment?! You’re not cocky or gloating if someone is recognizing you! Perhaps that dress does look fabulous or someone witnessed the hard work you put in to get your promotion. You’re allowed to stand in your sun as long as you wear sunglasses.
Public recognition can be hard. Ease it to it and tell your inner circle that you’re working on it. Give them permission to (kindly) call you out when you start to deflect. Please share any other tips as I still struggle with this!

 

Compliments

Our Obsession with the Good Old Days

“Maybe these are the moments. Maybe I’ve been missing what it’s about. Been scared of the future, thinking about the past while missing out on now” – Macklemore 

If you type ‘Good Old Days’ into Spotify, you’ll get over a dozen results. Why? Artists have picked up on our obsession with the idea of the “good old days.”

As someone who’s spent the last eight years trying to embrace adulthood, I get it. There are moments when it feels overwhelming. As an adult, there is literally always something…appointments to make, schedules to coordinate, the list continues. And this is without a significant other and kids. OY!

Yes, I’ve longed for my college nights out when I could sleep all day afterwards. I’ve wished my days away, wanting these moments to be something else. Then I’m jolted back to reality when I hear about people my age losing the rest of their days.

I could waste time and energy living in the past or planning for the future. But as Macklemore says in his Good Old Days song, then you’re missing out on now. Maybe it’s about redefining what good old days means in this life phase and each one after. I’d imagine for a new mom snuggling her newborn, that feels just as good (if not better) then celebrating the end of college. Live your life creating those memories that will make you smile when you remember them, not ones that will make you pine for the past.

How you spend your Friday nights might change. Your relationships will certainly evolve. The good news is you get to choose. You decide how to spend these moments. Bring the fearlessness you had at five and the fun you had at 17 to each next step. Don’t change yourself or think you’re too old. Age is a mindset, not a number. You define your moments and create your good old days.

Despite disagreeing with our obsession over the “good old days,” I do like Macklemore and Kesha’s take on it. It’s true, you don’t know the best moments of your life as they’re happening. You won’t ever get another day like it. Perhaps the idea of “good old days” is our reminder to stay in the present and soak it all in. I’d love to hear if this resonates with you!

Sick of Somedays

How many times have you flopped on your train home and said “I can’t wait for this day to end?” You don’t mean it literally, of course. We’ve all uttered these words but do we mean it?

I’m typing this on my flight home from Houston after a work conference. A few hours ago, not too far from Houston, yet another school shooting occurred, another set of innocents lives taken for no reason. Unfortunately, these shootings aren’t new headlines, as it feels like some massive tragedy is almost a weekly occurrence. Lately, it’s not only mass shootings that have me thinking about morality in general and how truly fragile life is. I’ve heard of people being at work on Thursday and gone Friday. People with plenty of life left to live. Let me be clear, death is scary and upsetting regardless, but when high-schoolers are shot or a relatively healthy 30 year old dies, it makes you pause.

Everyday matters

From the book, “Where Will You Be in Five Years?” Highly recommend!

I’ve seen or heard too many of these examples lately. Sometimes, there’s no reason why. All of these too close to home scenarios have me reprioritizing. As I’ve confessed before, I’m your typical type-A planner, who obsesses over the details. These personality traits come in handy most days. But it can leave me with somedays instead of todays.

The obsession and anxiety can be so paralyzing that my couch is the only place I want to be. It’s doesn’t happen often because I’ve learned to recognize it, yet I still catch myself spinning or avoiding tasks. My guess is this won’t ever go away. However, the obsessing is slowing down. You hear these tragic stories that bring the cliché “life’s too short” to fruition. There’s only time stop and smell the roses if you make the time. When’s the last time you looked up at the sky? Or gazed at the stars? If that’s not your thing, find what is. And make time for it. I’m not saying go quit your job and backpack Europe (maybe!) but slow the hell down.

How you ask? I’m still figuring it out. Some days it’s simply working outside so I can feel the sunshine. Other days it’s spending over an hour on the phone with my mom. For the month of June, it will likely mean living out of boxes as I refused to give up my social life to move. It’s thinking bigger. No one is going to say, “Wow she created a fantastic spreadsheet” at your funeral. They’re going to talk about how you made them feel and the memories you created. Drastic example, I know. But, asking myself the question, “If you look back at your life, do you like what you see?” has made me be more intentional with my time.

I’m not saying don’t strive for more. I know I always will, it’s in my DNA. And some of Diane Ackermanthat striving brings me a euphoric high that I’ve never want to lose. Yet, I find myself being more resilient and letting go of things more frequently. Screwed up a communication at work? Let’s debrief it and move on. Didn’t exercise today? Ok, I’ll try again tomorrow. Had a horrible date? On to the next one! Life really is too short to waste precious energy on things that won’t matter in five minutes, let alone five years.

And even for the big things that do matter, if I can’t change the outcome, then it’s not worth my energy. It’s not worth wasting a minute of my life. Because it’s all mine and all yours. Not your parent’s or your spouse’s or your kids’ or your employer’s. It’s yours, stand up, own it and give up the somedays.

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