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The Rise (and Fall) of the GirlBoss

If you scroll through Twitter or Instagram (or any social media site really), you’ll see lots of posts with #girlboss attached. If you Google #girlboss, there are over 1 million hits, including an entire website dedicated to providing inspiration for ambitious women. I’m down with that!

I’m happy to see women stepping into their power, striving for more and supporting one another during the process. And yet, when Aarti Sequeira shared her frustration about this phrase on Instagram a couple of weeks ago, I had a visceral reaction.

It seems these days that everyone and their mother (literally) has a side hustle. Sales director by day, wedding planner by night. Kindergarten teacher by day, cake decorator by night. I can’t judge…I’m currently doing the same thing 😉 Social media becomes a hamster wheel until you run yourself into the comparison ground.

So, here we are, running so fast to keep up with our fellow #girlbosses that we’re exhausted, depleted and serving absolutely no one. If you’re find yourself feeling this way, here are three questions to realign your priorities.

  1. Where are your expectations coming from? Who says you have to do all the things all of the time and share them all with your social media followers? You are allowed to take a break or have an off day. For me, someone who is an extrovert, having off days is especially hard because people notice and think I need fixing. In reality, I need wine, Grey’s Anatomy or sleep (other options possible too).
  2. For each project or area of your life, ask yourself, how is this serving you? Not how it’s serving your brand or your business but how it is serving you the person? Start by visualizing what lights you up during the day and really feel it in your body. What do you dread? What can you eliminate or delegate? Set specific intentions for each project and reevaluate them as often as you need to.
  3. Get granular on your timeline. How long will you dedicate to each project? Are certain projects a means to an end, meaning do you need to upskill for your new job so you’re ahead of the curve? This is YOUR timeline that you create on YOUR terms. It’s not meant to be a check the box exercise or to self inflict pressure. It’s to help you move forward on your goals.

I’m here for the #girlboss as long as there’s intention behind wearing the label. Carry on my side hustlers, influencers, rockstars, moms trying to get through the day, superwomen, #girlbosses and don’t lose sight of your why.

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!

To My Sisters

Lent started on March 1 and if you’re a practicing Catholic, you give something up. So, I gave up apologizing, casually throwing around “I’m sorry” when it wasn’t needed and certainly when I didn’t mean it. I also made a point to find at least one woman, each day, who left on impression on me. Maybe she showed kindness, or strength or listened when I needed it. Plus it’s Women’s History Month, why not focus on my fierce lady friends!

sistasMy little mission yielded a few lessons or maybe observations is a better word for what I saw. In 31 days, women close to me and complete strangers influenced the trajectory of my day. Each, in her own way, raised me up: with encouragement, compassion, advice or a mug of wine. I didn’t struggle to identify someone each day; in fact it was the opposite, I couldn’t choose one name!

As I paid close attention to the women I interacted with, I also paid close attention to my apologizing tendency as well as other negative language I use without even thinking about it. I saw myself really thinking about  saying I’m sorry. I only did it when I truly meant it. It made such a difference!

Word choice and the language we use especially when talk about ourselves is important. In the last month, when I listened more closely to these same women, they were far less empowering when it came to speaking about themselves. I heard women struggling to accept compliments, be recognized, say thank you and talk positively about themselves. It wasn’t always the case but happened more often than not.

It’s been an enlightening 31 days and my intentionality around apologizing and language will continue past the month of March. Now my PSA: Ladies, our paths are different from our male counterparts. That is fact, however, don’t forget where we as a population have come from. We must own our power as women, to set the example for those behind us. You are whole, you are strong, you have God-given talents that no one else possesses. They are uniquely yours. Own them!

The way each woman who crossed my path this month acted is how we all must treat one another. With respect, humility, compassion and grace. We must raise each other up. When one succeeds, it is a victory for all. It sounds preachy and idealistic, I know. However, it’s the only way to move forward and to make sure everyone knows and appreciates a woman’s worth.

What’s With Well-being?

Whirling. We all do it. When the thoughts in our head race so fast we can’t keep up. When you’re so restless at night thinking about the next day’s to do list. When the days fly by and you forget to eat, sleep or pause for a breath. Yes, this is the whirling. I was (and some days still am) in need of a way to get the whirling to stop. Luckily, I found one.

About a month ago, the Center for Healthy Minds did a live event with the Dalai Lama. It was the most enlightening 90 minutes I’ve experienced in a while. The Center is dedicated to helping people change their minds, so they can change the world. Richie Davidson, the founder of the Center, spoke passionately about the four components of well-being:

  1. Resilience: How fast or slow we recover from adversity. Richie believes this is a learnable skill.
  2. Positive Outlook: The ability to see the basic goodness in every human being and savor that experience.When you see the world in a more positive light, your body’s stress hormones are lowered.
  3. Attention: A wandering mind (aka a whirling mind) is an unhappy one. There are strategies for managing attention including mediation.
  4. Generosity: Acts of giving activate circuits in the brain that regulate emotions and lower stress.

When all of these aspects are combined, a person can achieve well-being or the state of being comfortable, healthy and/or happy. Richie cites different pieces of research that prove these concepts improve your overall physical, mental and emotional health.

Dalai Lama

Inner peace is another way to say happiness

As for me, I just wanted the whirling to stop. I listened to Richie and the Dalai Lama speak and show real scientific proof and thought might as well give it a shot. I started by mediating to fall asleep at night. It got me to focus on my breathing instead of my to do list. I fell asleep faster and stayed asleep all night. Win #1 for meditation!

Resilience has been the hardest concept for me to implement. When things go wrong, either at work or at home, I tend to get hung up on them. I replay the mistake or challenge over and over again and lose all confidence in myself. This is definitely not a good place to be in. One thing I’ve started doing was writing down any challenge, heated moment or incident that triggered me. By writing it down, I’m letting it go. Still very much a work in progress, but it’s a start.

You can start today too. Well-being isn’t something you inherit, you can learn as you go and pivot as needed. I absolutely feel better and in times of high stress know how powerful even a few deep breathes can be.

 

 

 

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