Do You Have to Be Vulnerable to Be Strong?

vulnerability

Vulnerability is an area that I struggle with. You see, I grew up in the era of “never let them see you sweat”. I mean, I’m not going to lie about any of my weaknesses but I’m certainly not comfortable with just handing them over to you.

What if people judge me? What if my vulnerability undermines my credibility? What if they figure out that I really don’t have my crap together?

After all, Merriam-Webster defines vulnerable as “being open to attack”. And who wants that? Certainly not me.

I feel compelled to discuss vulnerability in this post because of three conversations that all took place within a week of each other. These conversations have encouraged me to look closer at vulnerability and in particular, my vulnerability.

The first occurred in a group discussion setting. I facilitate a discussion series on a pre-selected book. The book we are currently reading is full of exercises and self-discovery for the purpose of leading our most successful lives. Our very first week we were tasked with identifying areas in our life that need improvement and what we were willing to do to take responsibility for that improvement.

We were encouraged to share our thoughts with the entire group. I went first. And of course, I played it safe by sharing something easy. To be fair, I’m leading the discussion and its with a group of women I’ve never met before. No need for them to question whether or not I know what I’m doing by throwing my biggest area for improvement out on the table.

We went around the table with others playing it safe as well. Then one woman answered in the most honest way a person could answer. She shared something that could have been really easy to pass judgement on. She didn’t down play it. She just said it was a real issue and she needed to take responsibility to fix it. Then she apologized by saying, “maybe that was too personal for the first day.”

But then a beautiful thing happened. The next person looked at her and said, “thank you for being so real. I was going to share something little but it wasn’t what I really wanted to share. Because you just gave us the gift of your vulnerability, I’m going to say what I really want to work on.”

Vulnerability is a gift.

The second conversation was with an entrepreneur who shared that her drive to succeed in her business caused her marriage to fall apart. She was ashamed that she was the one who had caused it because she wasn’t able to balance it all. But she wanted to share her experience just in case someone else was struggling to balance it all as well.

Vulnerability is honest.

The third conversation was with a client who is struggling to present her services to the world because she feels like her life is a mess. She is concerned that people will see her as a fraud because they will see through her and see the mess. But the truth is, we are all messes. And seeing her triumph over her personal mess will encourage others to take on theirs.

Vulnerability is encouragement.

I’ve sat on this topic for a few days not really knowing what to do with it. This morning I was reading my daily devotion before I started writing and I was struck by the message. The biblical passage was 2 Corinthians 12:10. “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” The author of this verse is Paul. Paul is saying that he delights in his weaknesses because they give him opportunities to showcase God’s grace and power.

My additional takeaways from this reading were:

·       Being transparent builds trust

·       Sharing weakness makes me more approachable and less intimidating

·       Being vulnerable encourages vulnerability in others

·       That when I am weak, I am strong

While I appreciate and respect the vulnerability in others, I know that I will have to put conscious effort into my willingness to share my own vulnerability simply because it’s a defense mechanism I have used my whole life. But today I found a new definition for vulnerable and I’m going to try to focus on it instead of the old definition.

The Urban Dictionary defines vulnerable as “someone who is completely and rawly open, unguarded with their heart, mind, and soul – being vulnerable happens when you trust completely.”

And that’s the type of vulnerability – that’s the type of strength – I want to shine through me.

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Tips to Unleash the Power of Goal Setting

right side of brain From Manuel de L'Anatomiste  Morel and Duval  1883

Research shows that our brains are wired to be goal-seekers. Whatever goal you give your subconscious mind, it will work endlessly to achieve. So how do you unleash the power of your brain to achieve your goals? Here are 5 tips to get you there.

1.       Be very specific

A vague goal will net vague results. Be as specific as possible when creating your goals. Include dates, colors, features, weights, amounts, and any other details that will bring your goal to life.

2.       Know the difference between a goal and just a good idea

For a goal to be more than just a good idea or wish it must have criteria for measurement. The goal must be measurable to engage your subconscious mind.

3.       Write it out in detail

The very best way to get clarity and specificity on your goals is to write them out in detail. Pretend that you are creating a purchase order and every detail must be included for you to receive the right goal.

4.       Create a breakthrough goal

It’s pretty easy to turn your vision into a set of measurable goals and then break those down into quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals. Most of these goals will represent incremental improvements to your life. In addition to all of those, Jack Canfield, author of “The Success Principles” encourages people to create breakthrough goals. These are the goals that represent quantum leaps in your progress. What is that one thing, that if achieved, would dramatically change everything? Make sure you have one of those written down as well.

5.       Look at your goals daily

The only way you can activate the powers of your brain to achieve your goals is to review them daily. Two to three times per day is ideal but at least once per day as an absolute minimum. Read them out loud with emotion and visualize them already complete. This exercise increases what psychologists call “structural tension”. This is what makes your brain want to close the gap between your current reality and the vision of your goal. This in turn creates the motivation and stimulates the creativity you need to make it happen.

We all know that people who set and then write down those goals have over 40% more chance of achieving their goals. Adding these 5 tips to the equation just helps you get there even faster.

If you’ve struggled with goal setting or following through on achieving your goals, give me a call to see how I can help. You can contact me at stacy@minerva.partners.

Reacting vs. Responding

reacting

We each have a tremendous number of decisions to make in our lives. We have to make personal decisions that range in importance to “what will I have for dinner” to “am I really ready for marriage.” Likewise, we have to make a ton of career and business decisions as well.

While no one is a stranger to making decisions, how we make decisions can make a huge impact on our future and those around us. Sometimes we make decisions by reacting out of frustration rather than responding out of confidence and assurance.

Does it make a difference? Of course it does.

Reactive emotions are the root of irrational moves that lead to mistakes or a feeling of constantly spinning.

Here are a couple of things to consider the next time you are faced with a decision to ensure you decide from a place of response instead of reaction.

1.       Clarity

You’ve heard me say this before. It is impossible to know what decisions to make to get you where you want to be if you don’t actually know where you want to be. Remember, this is big picture thinking. This is not about having a detailed plan on how to achieve your goal but simply knowing where to aim.

2.       Confirmation

Once you are clear on the “what” take the time to write it down. Writing it down gives it substance and makes it tangible. Now, share it with someone you trust. This part of the exercise is not to seek permission or someone’s blessing. This is simply to confirm that your goal/vision is clear. So be sure to share it with someone who is not going to judge or be critical. You need someone who will provide an objective opinion on the clarity of what you want to accomplish.

3.       Change

Your decisions can now come from a place of responding rather than reacting simply because you now have the proper foundation to build upon.

When you clearly know what you want you will start to become aware of solutions and the proper steps to get you to your desired outcome. And having that clarity will also allow you to decide what makes the most sense to accomplish the vision you now so clearly envision.

Are You a Starter and Not a Finisher?

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.

 

Oh, no! Not again! Yep, another word of the week!

I won’t promise this is the last one but it’s the last one for a while.

So this week’s blog is going to tackle self-discipline: the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses or the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.

One of my favorite quotes on discipline is by Jim Rohn. Jim says that “discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” And I think he’s pretty dead on.

How many times have you set a goal and never accomplished it? How many times have you started a program that you never finished? How many times have you had an idea that you never implemented? I can’t even count the number of times I’ve not followed through. My guess is that you’ve experienced similar shortcomings as well. We are all great at starting things but struggle to see them through to the end.

Why do we let this happen? We understand our “why” and we visualize the outcome but we still can’t seem to take our ideas and goals to completion. Usually it comes down to self-discipline. Even when we have the best of intentions we let fear and self-doubt derail our efforts. Unfortunately, self-discipline is thing that will bridge the gap between our goals and success.

Fantastic, Stacy! You’ve just explained that my lack of self-discipline for developing self-discipline is keeping me from being successful. How in the world do I fix that circular issue?

The good news is that it can be done. You can build and strengthen your self-discipline with 3 easy steps.

  1. Start small

When you create goals for yourself, they are usually ambitious and lofty in nature. I mean why wouldn’t they be? They wouldn’t be worth the effort at all if they weren’t a bit grand. But most of us stop at creating the large goal. If it’s a worthwhile goal, then the goal in and of itself is going to feel overwhelming. Breaking the goal down into manageable and reasonable steps makes it feel less intimidating and easier for you to be disciplined.

For example, let’s say you are in network marketing and your goal is to recruit thirty new people to your team. Thirty may be a large, ambitious goal for you. Because you fear that you can’t do it, you may not work on anything that gets you closer to that number. It’s easier to work on other things than to make yourself sit down and work on recruiting each day.

But instead of looking at thirty new recruits, what if you looked at it as all the little things that need to take place to recruit one person? For instance, before you can close a recruit, you have to have to pitch. And before you can pitch, you have to get to know people to see if they are a good fit. And before you can build a relationship, you have to meet them. Then start by focusing on meeting people instead of focusing on recruiting thirty people.

  1. Take a step every day

Once you have your small steps defined, then commit to taking a small step each day. I’m going to go back to my earlier example. You’ve decided to start your focus on meeting new people each day. Let’s say that five new people per day is your goal. Start your morning working to identify and introduce yourself to your five. It could be through social media, referrals, or networking opportunities. But commit to working on it each day. If it takes you an hour, great! If it takes you four hours, then hang in there until you reach your goal.

Once you’ve become disciplined in this first step, then add your next step, building relationships with the people you’ve met and feel connected to. Once you’ve become disciplined in spending time to develop these relationships each day, then you can move on to determining which people may be open to hearing your pitch. And, so forth.

  1. Build on your momentum

As you become more disciplined in each step in the process to reach your goal, you’ll be more excited about working toward your goal. You will also start to protect the time you need to develop your craft and keep moving forward. And before you know it, your self-discipline will get stronger and stronger.

It takes perseverance, focus, and action to develop self-discipline. But it is a trait that can be developed. Once you begin to develop it in one area of your life, you can use the same steps to develop it in every important area of your life. You are too fantastic to let you stand in the way of you! So, start small, take a step every day, and build your momentum. Let nothing get in your way of practicing self-discipline a bit each day.

Unexpected Ways to Practice Self-Care

self care

Self-care. Hot topic, I know. The importance of taking care of yourself is undeniable. There is a reason why flight attendants tell you to secure your own oxygen mask first before trying to help others.

For every article written about self-care there are a thousand ways you can practice self-care. Everything from meditation to spa dates to not caring what anyone else thinks all count as self-care. Well, here are 3 more to add to that list that you may not have thought of.

Schedule Problem Time Early In the Day

What does that mean? Does it mean that you need to schedule quiet time each morning for problem solving and brainstorming? Yes. Research shows that our brain power is at its highest first thing in the morning and then is depleted throughout the day by even the smallest of decisions. Then it regenerates or refills the stores overnight so that you are ready to hit the ground running the next day. So, it goes without saying that tackling larger issues right off, before your brain power begins to deplete, makes a lot of sense.

But this also means resolving conflict, including family conflicts. Dealing with conflict, especially family conflict early in the day instead of waiting until bedtime does a couple of things. It allows the conflict to be addressed while everyone’s brain power is at its highest. And, it allows all parties to process the resolution through the day instead of right before they are ready to go to bed. This, in turn, allows for more peaceful sleep – which is a much needed form of self-care.

Interrupt a Roll

Often times when we are on a roll, with work or something around the house, we will say, “I’ve done all of this so let me keep going to see what else I can get done.” There is nothing wrong with this. Especially if you had been lacking motivation and then started to pick up steam once you got moving. I use this technique a lot when I’ve been dragging my feet on something. But, what if instead, you just do what you need to do and then go spend the remainder of the time for yourself? What if you used that extra time specifically for self-care? Our number one excuse for not spending time on ourselves is that there is no time to spend on ourselves. So, the next time you’ve completed everything you need to complete and have some time left over, shift your attention to activities that re-charge and re-energize you.

Set Time Boundaries

Boundaries. We all know we need them but are so afraid to define and then enforce them. We don’t want to let people down. We don’t want people to think we aren’t there for them. And we certainly don’t want people to think we are being selfish. Setting boundaries is not selfish. It is necessary. Most of my clients are getting better with setting boundaries with their clients but still seem to struggle with setting boundaries with their friends and family. Remember that you can’t be helpful to them when you are stretched too thin. Or you end up being helpful but it comes from a place of bitterness and contempt instead of love and caring.

I am the team mom for our daughter’s travel volleyball team. We were at a volleyball tournament recently and was trying to manage something like a thousand requests/questions and trying to coordinate an impromptu team meal and trying to figure out when and where our next match was…and then our daughter threw one more on the pile. And I completely exploded. At her. Because I didn’t set time boundaries with everyone associated with our team, I took it out on the one person I was there to support. The most important person I was there to support. Instead of showing her how to properly manage all of it, I showed her a melt-down. Melting-down isn’t exactly the best way to show her how to manage these types of situations in her life as she grows and matures and takes on additional responsibilities in her life and career. I missed the opportunity to set the example.

And that’s what self-care is ultimately about. Setting the example for those around us. Especially our kids. Taking care of yourself allows you to be a better mom, a better wife, a better business person. It teaches our children and those we care about how to be much more flexible and accepting. Yes, self-care is about us. But it is also about them.

4 Questions To Ask To Avoid Dumb Ideas

dumb idea

If you’ve been thinking about starting something new, you are probably neck-deep in fear and lack of clarity.

Making big decisions about starting something new, whether it be a new career, business, or product/service is a big deal and can be a scary process. It requires a well thought out plan, courage, faith, and the willingness to take risks to get it right.

Here are four questions to ask yourself when trying to determine if a new idea is the correct path or just a dumb idea.

1.       Is this new thing in alignment with the story I want to tell about my life and tell to my children?

In other words, does this new thing support your desired legacy? If this turns out to be the only thing people will remember of you, will you be proud of being associated with it? It all goes back to having a clear vision of your overall life goals. Understanding what you really want to accomplish, the impact you want to make, and the feeling you want to get from it should drive the decisions you make in life and your business. If your new thing makes sense in that context, then I would encourage you to look into it further. If not, then I would encourage you to really evaluate the why behind wanting to move forward.

2.       Is this a real opportunity or am I making it into something it isn’t?

This is a tough question because we are usually too close or mired in the details to look at opportunities objectively. Especially when it’s something we are excited about. I always recommend finding a trusted advisor to help you think through the viability and feasibility of something new.

3.       Will I be excited to do this regardless of the outcome?

You’ve probably never thought about asking this question before. Will you be glad you tried even if it doesn’t work? Will you have grown and appreciated the process if it turns into a huge failure? Can you stay motivated to succeed, even if it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done and it still doesn’t pan out?

4.       How much am I willing to lose if this doesn’t work?

I remember having this conversation with my husband before launching my company, Minerva Management Partners. We spent many hours talking about worst case scenarios and what would have to happen if it didn’t work. The worst we could come up with is that I’d have to go find a job working for someone else. And that was definitely a risk I could tolerate. Now, the stakes aren’t always that manageable. Sometimes the stakes are so high, involving monetary resources, human capital, and reputations, that you aren’t willing to take that risk. And that’s okay. It’s an important factor in making the decision to launch anything.

So, if you are in the middle of making some big decisions, take the time to ask yourself these questions and then give yourself some space to process the answers. And if you are having difficulties sorting through all of the thoughts and feelings, then find a trusted advisor to help. Having a sounding board in these situations can really help cut through the noise and help you make smart decisions.

To find out how Minerva Management Partners can help, please visit www.minerva.partners or contact Stacy Oldfield at stacy@minerva.partners.

Someone Is Admiring You

admiration

I love reading Ash Ambirge’s posts. She tends to say the things that we are all thinking but never have the courage to say out loud. She is also very profound at times. A few months ago she posted something that I can’t quite get out of my mind. She writes,

“Right now, someone out there is admiring you, greatly. They may have not said it. In fact, they probably kept it to themselves.”

“No matter who you are, you have changed things for someone. You have made them rethink their career. Rethink their stance. Rethink their makeup. You have made them bolder. Brighter. Less afraid to use their voice. You have made them hopeful. Hungry. Reinvigorated. You have shown them what’s possible, simply by showing up as you are.”

Her words have made me think a lot about why we are here. Maybe it’s not about building things or living our passion. (Not to say it can’t include that. But maybe that’s not our purpose for being on this Earth.) But rather to live as examples to those who are watching and admiring us. Maybe our purpose, as Ash puts it, is to be tiny guideposts to those around us. That everything we do becomes a guiding light to someone around us. The way we conduct business. The way we treat others. The way we say ‘yes’ and the way we say ‘no’. The way we love. The way we show respect. The way we share ideas. The way we choose to get involved.

What if our purpose is to put goodness, integrity, graciousness, love, creativity, and tolerance out into the world so that others see it and return it?

What if we lived every day knowing this? How would it change how you move through the next 24 hours?

As Ash so elegantly writes, what if everything you do today “is not just an act but a flare helping someone else find their way home?”