BTW - if you'd like to listen into the call itself and dig into Empathic Awesomeness, go here. It's my gift for you.
I have stacks of self development books, some paper and some ebooks, and very few that are finished. Sometimes I judge myself for reading only a few chapters, or a few lines or even just the cover.
And then I pause... is it more important to receive ONE juicy ah-ha or to finish reading the book? Is it okay that I sample the buffet and get a full plate only when it's really really good?
So I have stacks of books that I have tasted, tiny morsels of deliciousness, like squares of dark chocolate melting on my tongue. And I have a smaller pile... ones that I have devoured, page by page, word by word until I lean back feeling as if I will explode with fullness.
Each have nourished me in their own way, waiting there for seconds when the craving hits....
Ah... the website, window to your business and reflector of your soul. If I could tell you how many conversations I have with women about their websites - they're working on it, it's coming soon, the copy's not quite right, is this okay, should I list my prices, does the giveaway so on the left or the right?
Seriously, it's just a website. It can be changed. It SHOULD be changed (but that's a different conversation for another time).
I launched this site in 2 days. Start to finish. It was up and getting me clients in 2 days.
It was no where NEAR perfect when I hit that publish button, I mean I have edited it 1,137 times to date. The point is that it really is just a website - people spend seconds or possibly a few minutes here. It doesn't define me or my business.
What I've learned is how frightening the idea of thousands of people judging you in a few moments is to you.
And I want to tell you a few things... the site isn't a reflection of how good you are or how successful you are, nor does a good site make you successful or good. I see some beautiful sites every day for clients who aren't making money. Gorgeous investments in time and money sitting there waiting to be noticed.
And, I personally know coaches making 6 and even 7 figures who have sites that are just Fugly (it's a word). Embarrassingly outdated, home-made versions of the 1990's Blogger template (was Blogger a thing then?). And they are killing it at business.
Want to know why? They don't care about the website. They care about connecting with their people, have found ways to communicate with them regularly and in a nutshell, they understand that a site is only as good as your ability to gather followers from it and then turn them into clients.
The site is a placeholder, a way-station, a necessary part of the machine.
Oh and the only component all of those successful Fugly sites have in common that you really need to focus on is that they are very clear about what they do, who they serve and how they serve.
It doesn't mean it can't be beautiful - my site is gorgeous lol. It's just that the money isn't in the website - it's in the clarity of your message and in your ability to tell that message over and over again. Stop agonizing on it's perfection and launch it and then move on to the things that really earn you your clients ;)
We're a few days out from Christmas when I am sitting down to write this post and I realized that at this moment I'm not stressed out about it. I should be - I didn't do any shopping until yesterday when I had a marathon shopping and wrapping session. I don't have dinner planned or the house cleaned for my guests. I am completely and totally behind schedule - I didn't even get my cards out this year! And yet even as I write all of the things I haven't done I am still not stressed.
Because I trust that these next few days will be a perfect regardless of what I do or don't do.
My Holiday Wish for you is that you stop worrying about the first batch of cookies that got burnt, if the presents are wrapped nicely (you can see my pathetic attempt at wrapping in the photo), if you forget to pick up the batteries (there is always a store open somewhere), if the tree is crooked or the Menorah is bent or even if your loved ones won't be present. In your frenzy to make this holiday season perfect you're forgetting one thing... if you are fully present to the joy and love that is surrounding you, you will no longer doubt that everything is already perfect.
We have the option to just experience and enjoy - we can even smile in the long lines and the people rushing around us because we can hold magic in our hearts. We can laugh off our mistakes and look forward to the story we will share about it. We can honor the loved ones who are no longer with us and feel their presence in the rituals of the season.
My Holiday Wish for you is that you feel in your heart every second of love and joy through the Holidays and into 2013.
Hugs, love and light to you, my friend
I'm a little stuck... see in the process of writing my book I created a great outline of everything I want to write to make sure I don't forget anything uber important and it makes it easier to sit down and write if I know where I'm going.
I've been staring at the section on Comparisonitis for over a week now. I know how much comparing yourself to others is harmful - either to yourself or to them. I can name a thousand times a day when I catch myself in the cycle and have to take a deep breath to redirect the monkeys in my brain. I fully and completely agree with Theodore Roosevelt when he said "Comparison is the thief of joy."
But I don't know how to write down the words for something that is so feelings-based, that is ingrained in every fiber of our lives whether we consciously know it or not. It's in our competitive nature to want to be better than others. It's in our self conscious nature to feel inferior others for one thing or another. It's self preservation to point out to ourselves all the ways we are superior. We notice these things everywhere, from the scuff on that woman's heels to the roots showing in her hair to that person's awesome website that makes you realize that you'll never, ever be able to have as good of a site as that to the fact that your friend looks better in those jeans than you and then back to omg, do they ever wash their car? We float in and out of "I'm better" and "I'm worse" within nano seconds without even skipping a beat.
How do I express the craziness of this pattern? It's like pinning down pieces of floating dust. Some of the thoughts that we have are so itty-bitty that most of them float by without us even registering that we had the thought in the first place. And some are so great big that they stop us in our tracks, distract us from our dreams, contaminate our day.
I want you to really understand what these thoughts, big or little, are doing to you and to your ability to be happy. I would like to tell you that you are enough. I need to give you a great big hug and then smack you upside the head. And I have to do it within the confines of one little section of typed words in a book that is meant to inspire...
I'm a little overwhelmed with the importance of conveying the cure for the disease Comparisonitis even though the cure is quite simple... but perhaps that's the trick to writing it down in book format. Perhaps I'm comparing my writing to what I think a book should be rather than just writing what I want to convey. Perhaps this blog post is the chapter I've been writing in my head. Comparing my thoughts to those of thought leaders I admire is forcing me to overcomplicate my words, to want to live up to their example instead of being the great writer I am.
So today I'm going to finish the section because I'm clearer now. I'm going to shed the Comparisonitis I didn't even realize I was involved in and just write. Writing gives me joy and taking it ever-so seriously because an author should do that is totally robbing me of the fun I have when I am typing...
This morning I was sifting through my draft posts figuring out what to write and I grabbed a post about Facebook and the pros and cons of being online. So I just spent the last 30 minutes or so editing it to the ground until I realized that I really didn't care. Not only did I not care what I was writing but I couldn't figure out what the heck I was writing it for.
Actually I do know why I was writing it - I was writing it to produce something, to have something to post up on my networks, to be sure I had blog musings for my newsletter. I was writing it because it was on the schedule and I've been behind on my blogging. It was an obligatory writing assignment like the essays you'd have to turn in when you were in school. There was nothing wrong with the post, I totally would have gotten an 'A' on it, but I deleted it anyhow.
Why? Because it wasn't authentic. It wasn't really who I am or what Living ImPerfect is about. It was just another post for posting sake and honestly, it felt like a fun sucker. And I bet you would have read it and been like - that was okay, there were giggle moments and head nodding moments tossed in there. But would it have moved you? Because if I'm not moved on my end would you feel it in my words on your end? So, this is my second attempt for the day - it's me letting you know that I didn't shine this morning.
I was playing small.
I was acting in a role: blogger, business owner, coach, head inspirational diva - pretending that you would care. How many things do I do each day that are because I'm obliged to so I go through the steps, uninspired? Is it possible to feel like I'm bringing who I really am to the table? I pulled back that post because it wasn't me - and now I'm redoing it. It's the same result - I have a post for my networks and newsletter and all the other things a post does for my business and for you, the reader. The difference is that I can feel these words. I can tell you that approaching this task from a heart felt direction is so much more powerful than just doing something on my list.
And boy do I have a list... it's filled with things I am avoiding because they are un-fun. And like the post I deleted, I can tell that if I do those things with the attitude I had this week, they won't be great.They will just be unfulfilling moments in an already short life and I'm worth more than that. I deserve to be inspired and happy to be doing even the dishes.
The lightbulb comes on... see it's not the tasks or the post or the to do item - it's me and how I approach every single thing in my day. I can look at things like I have been this week, like more crap to do on top of crap. Or I can have a serious AA (attitude adjustment) and trick myself into looking forward to doing the previously dubbed crap. I love writing in this blog but I forgot that when I approached it as an obligation.
No more posts just to post, no more doing stuff because 'I have to' or "I should". It really is as easy as hitting delete and starting with a different attitude. Heart wide open... let's seize this day and make it big and fun and meaningful okay?
Big changes in my household and I'm handling it like I always do - I'm painting. Okay, I don't always paint but when things feel as if there is upheaval I usually go into nesting mode where I control the only thing that I am capable of controlling, which is my home.
So last week brought a few biggies, my son broke his collar bone in football, he started Middle School and my daughter moved into her first apartment near her school. Those are big emotional pulls. I mean the kids are growing up before my eyes and I'm one step closer to being totally alone with my husband - heaven help me! It's bitter sweet. I mean it's our job to raise the kids to be independent and we're doing a good job at that. Of course I will miss my baby girl and my boy is no longer a little boy so there's a sadness mixed in.
But at the root of the issue, them growing up is something that I am not in control of - it's going to happen no matter what - and it leaves me feeling a little powerless.
And when I start feeling like something in my life is out of control, I start cleaning, purging closets and cabinets, rearranging furniture, swapping out photos or painting rooms. We moved the girl out on Saturday and I was painting the boy's room on Sunday. Last week I cleaned out my closet and got rid of three huge bags of stuff. Next week I'm painting my daughter's old room (I already picked the color - it's a beautiful warm gray).
My point is, there are times in life when things happen that are beyond our control. Our first instinct is to focus on the chaos and see if we can contain it and make sense of it and yes, to figure out if we can control it. We can't, but we try. If we let go of the need to compartmentalize and just feel the loss that's great, but I've found that unless I grab hold of my present world and dig into something solid I still feel like I'm careening out of whack.
Focus on the things you can control so that you can let go of the things you can't.
There are things we can control and manipulate. I give myself space to nest like a crazy woman because it gives my brain a place to relax and it makes me feel grounded again. It gives me the space I need to process the changes occurring around me and to feel okay about them. I purge the kitchen cabinets and sometimes tears purge out as well. By fixating on the things in my present world it allows me to let go of the emotions caused my events beyond my control. Sorting through my old clothes gives me the strength to let go of the past. Painting a room helps me look forward to a new space, a new future filled with beauty and inspiration.
So what can you control when you are feeling totally upside down, running around with your hair on fire? How can you ground yourself so that the chaos around you is more manageable? Oh and if you need help then I will be completely selfless and offer up my garage for you to organize - it will totally make you feel better!
This morning I found a gem in the underlying message of an email sent to me by DailyOm about keeping it real. I have to say that I was nodding and agreeing, ignoring the author's inference to let go of makeup and accept my wrinkles (as if that's going to happen!) until I really stopped to think about it. The idea was that we wear masks to cover ourselves and that we'll never truly be authentic until we take off those masks.
"People who keep it real don’t hide behind a mask to keep themselves safe from their fear of how they might be perceived. They don’t present a false self in order to appear more perfect, more powerful, or more independent. People who keep it real present themselves as they truly are, the good parts and the parts most of us would rather hide, sharing their full selves with the people who are lucky enough to know them... Whenever we feel that who we are is not enough and that we need to be bigger, better, or more exciting, we send a message to ourselves that we are not enough."
Makes sense right? I almost totally agree. Almost. I really feel that we can mold ourselves into anything we want to be - outgoing, happy, loving, free. We can be all of those things because they are already a part of us and who we are - sometimes buried deeply in the recesses of our being. And that's great to be able to express those aspects of ourselves, but sometimes it's the mask that helps us live up to that potential.
I'll tell you that one of the things I have always struggled with is being completely myself in every situation. As a child I was extraordinarily shy. Now people who have met me in person always look at me strangely when I say this, as if this outgoing confident woman in front of them could ever have been shy. Actually, it still pains me to meet new people and go into situations where I don't have anchors in the room. Introversion is my natural state and I force myself to get past it.
For many years I would go into full blown panic when I would go to a networking event. I mean what if people found out that I was odd, that my office often looks like a hurricane ran through it, that I hide my dishes in the oven if I don't feel like washing them, if they see that my head is too small for my butt (yes, it's an issue- don't judge me), or that I just wasn't as funny as I am in my own head? It wasn't that I didn't know my own self worth, it's that I just didn't know if others would.
So I put on a mask. I would be a super perfect woman and as long as I had on that mask I would fit in. I would find a role to keep me busy and of use so I wouldn't necessarily have to mingle - no one questions the woman filling the cups. I get that putting on this mask of perfect wasn't being authentic but I also get that it served a really important purpose - it helped me make friends. It helped me get past my fears of meeting new people and being put in new situations. And the more comfortable I felt, the more authentic I became. In a way this mask I was wearing became the gateway to actually being more me.
The more I forced myself to be outgoing, the easier it became to show glimmers of me. I could be my own quirky self, I could admit to being deeply flawed because I started to believe in myself more and more. I could fit in to places where I had previously felt like an outsider. So I totally agree with the message from DailyOm, "Whenever we feel that who we are is not enough and that we need to be bigger, better, or more exciting, we send a message to ourselves that we are not enough".
It's true - I always feared that I wouldn't be enough. But the message is also wrong. Masks serve a purpose when we are on our journey. To assume that we are all strong enough and confident enough to let our true selves out in every moment of our lives isn't realistic. It's something we can strive towards. We can bring more of ourselves into every situation. And we can use our masks to bring out parts of ourselves that we didn't know we were capable of being. Perhaps putting on that mask and starting to act in a way that we want to be ultimately results in a behavior that is second nature.
We can fake it until we make it so to speak. As a means to an end where in the end we are the best version of ourselves, why not use a little stage presence to get there, right?
We have people all around us (who perhaps are us) who work all of the time to be perfect. From the PTA moms who have a full time job at the school volunteering to feel fulfilled to the person in your life who is a chronic do-gooder, always trying to fix other people's problems because only they have the right solution to them. I was at the park yesterday with a gal giving her 3 year old a Martha Stewart birthday party when all the kids really cared about was playing in the sand.
I recognize these women as aspects of myself - the self I've been trying to break down and get rid of that is. It's exhausting to always be right, to have things be 'just so' and to keep up with the Jones' and to keep up the appearance that I've got it all together. And the thing is, it also turns you into a ticking time bomb... like the 2 liter bottle of soda that got forgotten in your trunk, rolling around in the heat for a week.
It's going to blow.
This week both a client and I had someone (different someones) lash out at us. Unexpected and settling for sure. And yes, it was hurtful of course... and yes, here's the lesson I had to take from it.When people work so hard at being perfect all of the time, the perfect PTA/dance/girl scout/gymnastics mommy or the perfect community role model or whatever, their energy of who they really are backlogs until it starts exploding all of the place in the most ungraceful of ways. And they justify it by standing on their high moral ground, because clearly they are perfect and you should want to be more like that.
That's what we're trying to get away from - from trying so dang hard to be a perfect anything. We are by nature flawed. We are not meant to fit in cookie-cutter style. We look different and so we are. And the lesson for us is that the more we try to be that perfect person, the more we bottle up our essence like that soda ready to explode.
It's really easy to pass the buck on this one and blame others for their perfectionist tendencies... but it leads me to ask - where are you trying too hard? Is there a place where you are, well, just faking it? (Bedroom issues require a different coach - I don't want to know k?) You know what I mean... where you paste on the smile or judge others for not doing it the right way. I do it all of the time, but I'm getting better. I'm starting got recognize when I'm not being authentic because here's the thing, the more true to ourselves we become, the harder and harder it is to deviate from that. It physically doesn't feel comfortable, as if the gasses from the soda bottle are real.
So keep the cap off of the bottle for a while, let those imperfect tendencies spill out - because at some point, exploding is no longer the right way to go even if you look perfect doing it.