The thing about our stories

For the last ten years, I had this story that I wasn’t capable of quitting alcohol.Close-up of female hands holding teacup in front of opened book

I knew my life would be better without it. I knew it wasn’t serving my most beautiful vision for my life – the one where I am vibrant when I wake in the morning, completely present when I talk with my husband in the evening after the girls are tucked in bed. I knew I was using it to numb out – to take the edge off of what often felt like too many little (and big) things to do.

And yet, even with crystal clarity about the ways in which using alcohol was keeping me at distance from my vision for my life, I had this powerful story that I simply couldn’t give it up. That the edge-softening experience my evening wine brought me – the permission (and physical assistance) it gave me to relax – would always overpower my desire to live this cleaner, more present life.

I tumbled around with this struggle for a while. About three years, at the peak of it. Waking up angry at myself for making choices that I absolutely knew weren’t in service of my vision for my life.
Then, one day, in spite of this persistent story that I wasn’t capable of quitting –  I decided to “not drink for a little while.” I called it my alcohol sabbatical. That night, instead of pouring a glass of wine after work, I made myself some tea.

I went that whole night without having my ritual evening glass(es) of wine. To my absolute astonishment, I did it again the next day. And the next.

Pretty soon, that story about me not being capable of living my evenings without alcohol changed. I had this new story – the one where I wasn’t drinking for a bit, where I was “taking a break” from alcohol.

My alcohol sabbatical is coming up on three years in September. I really like the way I feel. I like not drinking. My life is more vibrant and peaceful. I get along with my amazing husband way better than I did before. I am peaceful and present for my daughters in the evening because I’m no longer hurrying to get to my glass of wine. I am living in congruence with my vision for my life and I love that.

Here’s the thing: alcohol may not be your issue. I know lots of people who have a glass of wine or a beer at night and all is well in their world. They are happy with that. Alcohol is not the problem for them. Instead, maybe…

  • You have a story that says you aren’t capable of getting up on stage and delivering a speech that moves people.
  • You tell yourself you aren’t ready to offer your services at rates that will sustain your business.
  • You believe that you can’t handle all that it takes to have a full and lucrative career and care for your family or your health.
  • You can’t imagine ever figuring out how to fit exercise into your life given the overwhelming list of  things you really must do to be successful in your work and family life.

Or maybe your stories and the beliefs those stories feed are different than these.

Of this I’m sure, though:

There IS a story at the base of whatever is happening in our lives. There is always a story.

Stories are powerful engines. They drive behavior. They energize and they deflate us. This is why, if we want to make a real difference in the world and feel peaceful inside while we do it, we MUST shine a light on the stories that are driving our lives.

We must look clearly and openly at them, the ones toward the surface (“I’ve got way too much to do, I’m not organized enough for this life I lead.”) and the deeper ones (“I’ll never be good enough to make a living doing this work.”)

As you may know, I have created some clear, actionable frameworks for doing great work in the world and crafting and delivering awesome presentations (Speak So It Matters™ and Soul Power to Your Message (my book) are both expressions of these frameworks). I’m proud of those frameworks and know that, when applied full-heartedly, they are excellent guides for brilliant speaking and contribution.

Yet – here’s the secret underneath these frameworks – and all other “frameworks” and “programs” and “systems” you see out there in the world: None of these programs work if we aren’t doing the foundational story and beliefs work to support them. Our stories and beliefs are the underlying, fundamental drivers of all of our behaviors and choices. Which means, they are the wings upon which our future success soars. So, what does it take to turn these stories around?

Turns out, it’s really quite simple:

  1. Shine a light on the stories that drive our behavior
  2. Look at how those stories are serving our vision for our life (or not)
  3. Actively question those stories – play with them, reframe them, hold them lightly, try-on their opposites – and allow the most peaceful and powerful stories to lead

No, I didn’t say “easy.”

The truth is, though, we really do get to decide what stories we buy into.

We decide which ones we play over and over in our mind. We also decide which ones we want to release – both in our minds’ movie-playing experience – and in our day to day action choices. (In the case of alcohol, I had to both begin a story that said I could live without alcohol and I had to create a daily action story that included tea and quiet-time as my end-of-day treat.)

I’m not going to pretend that this stuff is easy. While it is simple in process, our stories become habitual movies in our brain. We’ve got whole deep neural pathways built to keep them in motion. We need support and reminding sometimes to help us build those new pathways for the more-empowering stories in our brain.

Here is what I know for sure, after almost three years of increased peace and freedom from changing just one of my stories: It’s so worth it. Ridiculously, unbelievably awesomely worth it.

 

My whole life really did change when I changed that story about alcohol – and then took daily action on a new story.

If you are ready to release the stories that are blocking you from getting out there powerfully as a speaker and thought leader, your stories beliefs are the most powerful place to start.

In future posts, I’ll share with you many of my favorite tools for revealing and transforming our beliefs and stories. Stay tuned!

 

The Simple Steps to Set Up Your Business to Magnetize Clients

howtosetupyourbusinesstomagnetizeclientsWhen I decided to go into business for myself five years ago, I went to the bookstore to find a book on how to start a consulting business. Isn’t that what we all used to do – go to the bookstore when we had a great new idea? Or maybe even the library? (I went there, too, but I do love a brand new, all-mine book so much.)

I bought that “How to start a consulting business” book – along with a few other gems that I found in the entrepreneurial inspiration section. Those books took me on a heck of an unexpected adventure. They introduced me to the possibilities of online business, of virtual coaching and self-study programs, of branding and “expert status” and so much more. It was delicious, learning so much rich new stuff. I became a scientist with my own new business lab.

How to Manage Your Energy at Events

toesatbeachfloridaI just spent three days at an event with more than 400 other soulful business people who want to make a real impact in the world with their message. It was a-m-a-z-i-n-g!

And… it was intense. Overwhelming. Beautiful. In some ways, it was too much for me.

We had 90-minute modules that were jam-packed with information I wanted. We shared stories with our neighbors and shared our insights on breaks. We had assignments over lunch with colleagues and homework at the end of the (very late) evening. Seriously, there was so much goodness to take in and relish.

And yet, by dinnertime on day two, I was absolutely full. Saturated. I felt myself going numb. I even noticed myself losing confidence, wondering if I was cut out for this because everyone else seemed so thrilled to do more and more and more. We still had a whole module left after dinner that evening and, although I really wanted this information and the connection with these beautiful souls, I was dreading this evening session.

Then I remembered – I’m an introvert.

And I hadn’t given myself the time to refill my core energy vessel.

As soon as I realized this, I knew there was nothing else to do but go away and get myself filled up. I could push through (goodness knows I know how to push through – I’m a master of persistence on these kinds of things) but it would only make things worse. And truthfully, I wouldn’t be showing up in my own greatness in this kind of shape.

So I quietly left the conference room and took the elevator to my room.

I peeled off my fancy clothes and slid into a pair of crop pants, a t-shirt and flip flops. I jumped into my rented Chrysler and drove 50 minutes to the nearest beach. My soul lifted with every mile.

Except for a sandpiper and its babies and a thousand shells dancing in the shallow waves across the sand, I was alone. It was sunset. My toes curled into the wet sand and I walked and sat and breathed in the salt air until I thought I’d pass out from bliss.

I spent about 30 minutes at the beach sitting and walking and picking up sea shells to bring home to my daughters, then I drove the 50 minutes back to my hotel.

If you could measure my insides, you would see that in those 30 minutes I went from a cracking dry energy vessel to a glistening vase of crystal clear energetic fuel.

I spent the next day absolutely giddy with engagement and focus.

I enjoyed insights, beautiful conversations and made connections with ease. All day I kept thinking to myself, “I am so happy I listened to and honored my energetic needs!”

I write this to you with the hope that you will do the same, next time your insides are calling to you to replenish your energetic vessel.

Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert – or you don’t identify with those terms at all, your energy is the foundation of your beautiful work in the world.

Please listen inside and honor what you need to keep your energetic vessel shiny full. For you it might mean a night of dancing and easy conversation after a day of intense listening and thinking. We’ve each got our own ways of filling back up. The key is that you listen to what you need to care for your energy and you respond accordingly, no matter what.

If you’re like me, you might be tempted to feel guilty about skipping out on part of the training or missing the evening networking event. But here’s what I know from my experience this past week (and the many other times I’ve made a contrarian decision that honored my personal energy needs):

You will get way more out of the whole experience if you take care of your energy.

When I got back to my training conference, I was more engaged and focused than I would have ever imagined. I met exactly the right people that evening, began conversations that are still going on even now that I’m back home and I experienced insights and breakthroughs I could not imagine the day before when I was too saturated to think straight.

This experience was so powerful for me. I want to empower you to manage your own energy at your next event.

Here are four simple steps to help you take really good care of your own energy:

1. Inquire Within Ahead of Time to Get a Baseline. Before you even head out to the event, begin noticing how your energy system works. What types of activities fill you up energetically – and what types tend to drain your energy. Important to note: just because something doesn’t fill you up, doesn’t mean  you don’t love it. I love being with people, dancing, deep conversation. My life is far more exciting and beautiful when I’ve got a bunch of those things going on. However, these activities do not fill me up. I fill up when I am by myself (a classic introvert characteristic). What about you? What activities give you energy and what activities use up energy that you need to replenish in other ways? Make a list and bring it with you to your event for reference.

2. Check In As You Go. As you go about your engagement at the event, quietly check in with yourself. Two ways you can check in on energy are:

  • Your self-talk: if you notice yourself thinking things like, “Oh, wow – I am getting so tired.” or “Jeez, this is such great stuff! Why am I having so much trouble taking it all in?”, then you may need a little energy fill-up break.
  • Your physical energy: If you notice you are struggling to keep your back straight, your eyes are drying out or you are slouching in your chair, it’s time for an energy fill-up.

3. Honor Your Energetic State with Appropriate Action. This one is simple, though sometimes hard to get ourselves to do. When you notice that your energy is depleting and you cannot re-engage with the content or the people in a way that feels fabulous to you, do whatever it takes to replenish. Maybe this means a brisk walk with someone else that has also mentioned being depleted or over-saturated (you might shock them with your idea to leave the event, but they will thank you later if they join you!). Or, like me with the beach, you might want to leap into the car and give yourself the gift of your most replenishing place on earth in complete solitude. Really, just do exactly what is necessary to rehydrate that vessel of yours with beautiful, vibrant energy.

4. Step Back In with Gratitude and Focus. I will admit that I can get sidetracked by the bliss of a getaway. Even at an event as truly excellent as the one I just attended, the call of an extended vacation at the beach was enticing. But I was fully committed to using this replenishment to serve my greater goal of making the most of my training and connecting at this conference. I knew there was so much more for me to take in and I had lovely human beings to get to know and deepen my relationship with. I didn’t want to miss out on that. Get back to your event with gratitude for your commitment to self-care and the newfound levity and focus you will carry with you. Make the most of the rest of your time there. And smile kindly at others who may not have thought to give themselves the break they needed. Just maybe you can provide a moment of peace for them, carried back from your own lovingkindness break.

I hope this simple four-part plan serves you with peace and focus at your next event. I know that writing it out for myself will allow me to use it even earlier next time, so I’m grateful for that. Thank you for being here to inspire this writing.

Now, I’d love to know from you – do you have special ways that you care for and manage your energy at events? I’d sure love to add more ideas to my own toolkit, as I’m sure would others here. Please share in the comments.

Thinking Outside the Box Exercise

BlogRegularlyImage-300x225I just did this with a client today and she LOVED it. It broke up some stuckness she had been floundering in for two weeks. (Know what that’s like? Yea, me too!)

Here’s what you need:

Color pens (everything is better with color!)
8.5 X 11 sheet of blank paper
25 or more index cards
some space to move around on the floor

The first thing you do is draw a box on that sheet of paper and write the issue you are struggling with inside that box – nice and big, so you can see it from a distance. Then, set that sheet of paper down in front of you on the floor, as you stand above it. Move your feet so that you are actually standing inside that box (even if it’s just your toes that are inside the box).

Now, take some steps outside that box (get it – you are literally moving OUTSIDE the box?!) toward the upper right corner.

As you move in that direction, simply ask yourself: what options might be available from this angle? What things are possible over here? Let your mind go in any direction it wants. As things come up, jot them down on index cards – nice and big. Set that idea on the card down in that area where you are standing. Do this at least 3 times in that same spot, moving a bit if you feel stuck.

Then, move to another corner of the paper and repeat the same process, allowing as many ideas as possible to flow out from your mind and onto those index cards.

After you have done this in each corner of the paper, go back to that first corner where you have all those cards on the floor. Stand on one of those idea cards. Any new related ideas come to you? If so, write that down and set it near that card. Repeat until you feel like you have revealed all of the ideas your brain can rain onto the floor.

Now – step back and take a look. What do you see? Themes? Surprising new directions? Ideas for exploration? Ideas that feel totally wrong? (Check out the image above of one I created as an example) Pick and move the cards as you see useful until you feel like you have a great new unstuck place from which to make your next move.

Enjoy the unstuckedness!!