Musings

Focus on the Flow and the Letting Go

Caption from photo=”After a few hours this fellow had this jam cleared up just by moving a few key logs.”

For the love of your business…Do both of these gracefully.

The Flow=The things you LOVE doing

Letting Go=The things you can’t wait to hand off (but need to do now, because there’s nobody to hand them to)

Make a list of both.  All of the things you do in your biz go under one or the other.  Write ‘em out.

Things I love:

 

Things I don’t love but commit to do because I love my business:

 

Now, how do you buck up and get things done when they’re on your “Things I don’t love…” list?

What are your best hours of work?

 

Take that time when you can bust anything out and schedule time for both categories.  Even split.  Give your best hours to one OR the other.  NO multi-tasking (cause, who are you kiddin’?  That just means you’re doing both half-ass.)

Now, what happens when you have a major log jam?  When your best hours won’t get the Letting Go items DONE?

1)  Buck up and get it done (not pretty, nor inspired, but sometimes the way it goes).

2) Buck up and pay somebody else to do it for you.

Those are the options.  Or else, you’ll be stuck there for ages.

 

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Trusting

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Pick a Theme, Any Theme

Feeling that feeling of NEW-ness and possibility all around you?  Interested in having a guiding line to keep you all inspired for 2012?

Now is an excellent time to sit down and choose a theme.  It doesn’t have to be fancy.  It doesn’t have to rhyme.  It doesn’t have to impress others.

Hell, you might not even like your theme.

What is most important, though, is that it resonates so strongly with your heart that you know in your whole being that it is The Answer for moving forward in this coming year.

First, you’ll need a place to sit and listen.

Make sure you can get away from the chatter of people, the regular noises of your house, and even the regular chattering in your head.  If you’re most calm in the morning, do this then.  If your quiet time works best around 3:23pm, then schedule it.  Just set aside about 15 minutes to ask yourself the question….

“What is it I need most to move forward this year?”

That’s it.  Simple right?!

Now, sit down, set a timer for 15 minutes, and close your eyes.  Ask yourself the question once and then just be still.  Be silent.  Meditate.  Breath.

Allow whatever comes up into your mind to surface and just notice if there is a message there. It will come to you nice and clean.  Don’t resist.  Don’t argue.  Allow.

When the 15 minutes have chimed, write down the theme (heck, it may even be themes) that surfaced and play with them.  Which feels most right?  What do you know in your heart of hearts is the answer?

And once you’ve got it, post it somewhere.  Put it up to remind you when you’re freakin’ out that your theme is “Peace at all times.”

If you need an example, my theme last year was, “Be open and allow.”  I had no idea what it even meant, but now looking back I can see how many places it showed up and how by holding to it, I had one of the greatest years of my life!

This year, the message is, “Faith in the flow.”  While I have a few hunches what this means, I also know that it will show up in ways to knock my socks off in 2012 (which I look forward to since I like being barefoot!)

Here’s to you, 2012, and themes that knock your socks off!

 

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Getting Out of the Old and Into the New

 

Closing out one year (in all it’s messy and gorgeous glory) can actually take some conscious thought. I mean, there is always some psychic baggage around the things that didn’t quite go as you would have liked as well as overlooking the things that went great!

So, here’s a little somethin’ for you to get clean and clear of 2011 and move into 2012, ready for great-ness!

First, we need to start with the baggage that will hold you back if not properly dealt with. 

(Cause, if we head straight to the good stuff, your mind won’t allow you to see it cause some ick will be in the way!)

Make a list of all the things you’re bummed about not having happened.  This can be (well, should be, but I don’t like shoulding all over you) both personal as well as business stuff.

Want some examples?  These are some common ones:

  • I never once got my newsletter put together.
  • I did not get even close to the income I would have liked.
  • My hubby/wife wants to kill me with how much time I spend working.
  • I didn’t get to the gym 5 days a week.
  • My stack of books to read is just as big as this time last year….not because new ones were added.
  • I still don’t know what the hell Julia means when she talks about getting centered.
  • I have no idea how people cook a dinner AND work.  Just doesn’t seem possible.

I think you get the idea, right?!  Get them all out.  Bitch, whine, cry…but keep on writing.

When you feel like the list is exhausted (and you too), then you can take a moment to breath and contemplate.

Read over that list and with each entry ask yourself these questions:

  • What about this makes me so upset?
  • Is this really something I want?
  • How can I plan for this to happen in 2012?

Now, take the ones you’d like to have happen in 2012 (might be all of them, might be just a few) and put them in order of importance to you…the ones that are very important (they make your heart feel light and hopeful) go at the top, and the lesser this-would-be-nice ones go at the bottom.

Congrats!  You now have a list of things to play with in the New Year!  Start with #1 and incorporate it into your schedule for at least 30 days until it’s a habit.  Then add others as you like.

Whew…so now you have a list of Power Items (no longer dead-weight-regrets) for the New Year.

Now on to the fun part!

And, if you’re tempted to head straight to this part before doing the above, I’m gonna say, DON’T!

Like I said, you have to clear the ick out of your view, but you also need to be clear about what this last year truly held in order to grow from it.  While I DO believe that there is a lot of fun and party in starting a business, there also must be clarity about strengths and weaknesses.  So please do it in order.  It’s for your own good.

Make a list of all the things that went right!  The things you ROCKED in 2011 and feel great about!  Though I hope you don’t need examples, here are a few just in case!

  • I told my friends and family that I was starting a business!
  • I set things up to quit my job!
  • I got my logo designed!
  • I went on a walk at least twice a week!
  • I read that juicy book rather than working!
  • My “list” has 3 people on it NOT related to me!
  • I got my niche nailed down!
  • I got my first full paying client!

These are mini-celebrations, each and every one!  Now, go through and ask yourself these questions:

  • What about this makes me so happy?
  • Is this something I want to continue?
  • How can I plan for more of this to happen in 2012?

Now you have more Power Items, but ones that are more likely habits already.  Just be sure you celebrate them every time you accomplish one.

I hope you can see.  This isn’t about making resolutions so much as having revelations.  How far did you really come?  Where were you more hung up than you’d like?  What will you do to make this coming year the BOMB?!

Happy new year.  Happy new you.  Happy old you realizing that the new you was the real you all along…and just waiting to come out and play.

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What Really Makes You a Success

 

I was sent this video from my lovely friend Angela Croft  after a long talk about how real change (both personally and globally) can come from how we operate our businesses.

So, you might be thinking, “Really Julia?  You think appreciating the simple pleasures is enough to run a kickass biz?  You really want to boil it all down to this fabulously sappy song?”

And my response is, “Yes.  And no.”

“Yes,” in that without being able to appreciate all that you have going on (the people, your surroundings, your experiences that have made you into the person that you now are), it will be nigh impossible to have the inspiration to  get moving and the clarity around what your work is all about (let alone the stamina to continue moving)!

You’re starting your own thang because you want to help people.  I get that.  But, you can do that right now working for somebody else, right?

The bigger thing is that you’re passionate about having the freedom, the creative control (a word I use loosely!), the fun, AND the lifestyle that comes with running your own thang.  True, right?  Otherwise, no way would you venture down this road because it can be a bumpy ride.

But, the big key here is that you have to be able to live that fabulous life WHILE you’re building your business…that fabulous life doesn’t just plunk down when you hit 6 figures.  It can happen right now.

It comes out of knowing, in your gut, in your soul, what it is you are here to do and how you are going to do it so that it gives you the pleasures you want at the same time as serving your peeps in a truly profound way.

It comes from seeing just how perfect everything is and has been in getting you here.  It comes from recognizing fabulous-ness in what you already have, both within and without.

This has to be where you come from.  Otherwise, you’ll be slogging a long, boring, tedious slog.

And, the other side of that answer is “No,” in that you still have to do the work to get your thang to be prosperous!!  (But, the song and the simple pleasures certainly put a smile on your face, so that helps!)

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Business as Nourishment for Life?

“…the new generation of mission-based businesses builds on some very old ideas, ones that predate the Industrial Age.

They seek, as an essential part of their purpose, to contribute to the health and well-being of living systems.  They reject the notion that the sole purpose of business is to make a profit and they regard the quality of relationships between members, suppliers, and customers as the true indicator of success.  In so doing, they are returning business to its origins.

 The oldest Swedish word for business is narings liv, “nourishment for life.”  In ancient Chinese the concept is expressed by two symbols that translate as “life meaning.”   And the root of the English word company derives from the Latin com panis, “the sharing of bread”-the same root as that for the word companion.”

An excerpt from The Necessary Revolution: How Individuals and Organizations Are Working Together to Create a Sustainable World by Peter Senge, Bryan Smith, Nina Kruschwitz, Joe Laur, Sara Schley

When I look around at what is going on in the world, I can’t help but wonder how we’ve all lost contact.  Contact with our clients.  Contact with our colleagues.  Contact with what our decisions actually mean in the world outside our business “walls.”

Let alone contact with our families.  Our friends.  Ourselves.

It down-right saddens me to think of how many “businesses” are more committed to their bottom line than to their clients and to the world at large.  We are here to serve.  Our work in this world is to connect and to help those that need us and our services.

And, not only to connect with each other, but also to something deep inside of us that means more than simple profits.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am committed to making money as that is the form I get to trade for the things I want, but I am only committed to making it when it is of service and moves us all forward.

Basically, I want to feel good taking your money.  And I want you to feel good about it too.  And I want everyone to benefit, including future generations. 

What replaces that furrowed brow of mine with a smiley face is meeting all of the energized, passionate entrepreneurs and visionaries who are effin’ balls-to-the-wall ready to create a new way of doing business.  Across industries.  Across competition.

They have a message rooted in connection and service, that WILL change the world through changing lives.

So, how do you create your own message?  Do you even know what it is?  What would it mean if everyone in the world truly stepped into the vision you have for the future…and how can you bring that into your work?

This isn’t just pie in the sky, I’m talking about.  As soon as I stepped into my own message, my business’ bottom line ate that pie in the sky.  (That’s a good thing!)  It was as if, by speaking my truth ever clearer, ever louder, more of the exact right people came running to me.

So, tell me your vision, your truth, your message…and then go tell everyone else.

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You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Seems simple and straight forward, right?  But, this little bugger blew my mind when I first got hold of it!

A bit more of the actual lesson:  There is a spectrum of learning that applies to everything we do/know/think (or think we know).  I’ve gone ahead and made a handy dandy diagram for ya.

Let’s start with the Incompetence side of things:

  • Unconscious Incompetence (don’t get your panties in a bunch with the word “incompetence”, OK!)- This is the whole area of things, knowledge, experiences we just have not been privy to yet.  We don’t even know they exist, or that we are moving through the world based on assumptions, until something comes along and challenges us.
    • Not to pick on my hubby, but when he first saw a friend washing out a Ziploc bag to re-use it, he had that light-bulb-shining moment that you can’t come back from.  Why not wash out and re-use a perfectly good plastic baggie?  Why not indeed?  (And, I thank our buddy Brooke for intro-ing him to this before he met me…he might have been a little confused by me doing it!)
    • (Now I’ll go ahead and pick on myself.)  When I started my first business, I was under the impression that you can only grow a business based on blood-sweat-tears and hard work.  How NOT fun is that?!  Once I got hold of the possibility of growing my business based on doing the things I LOVED, and in the ways that I LOVE doing things, it all got so much damn easier.  Why not have fun while building a big business?  Why not indeed?!

 

  • Conscious Incompetence-Now, this is that moment right after the Light Bulb has gone off that says, “Oh man.  Now that I know this, what am I going to do about it?”  Now, if you’re anything like me (and I’m guessing you are), there is no going back.  There is only going forward.  And, going forward either means changing my actions based on this new info or going out and learning more.
    • Once I got hold of having FUN in my business to grow it, I also had to figure out what the hell that truly meant, and how to KEEP it fun.  Yep.  Just because I knew in my heart from experience that it could be a good time, doesn’t mean I could hold on to that concept all the time.  (But, in many ways, that’s what this area is about…learning, experimenting, playing, learning.  Warning, there is A LOT of growth that happens here, so be ready for some stretch!)
    • And, let’s not forget starting a business (that’s why you’re here, right?!)  When I started mine, I had no idea what the hell I was doing (True story.)  So, I had to throw myself voraciously into learning everything I could.  Between the investments in courses, the library fees, and the mental taxation (that massage helps with), there was about $35,000 spent.  Buuuuuut, all of that got me over the hump to…..dah, dah, da daaaaaahhhhh…Conscious Competance!  Woopeeeee!

 

Now we’re on the Competence Side (my preferred location.  Do not over-analyze that.)

  • Conscious Competence-This is where you’re gettin’ it!  You see the big picture, you see the nitty gritty.  You’re experimenting, learning some more, and having FUN!  I LOVE the process of getting here, and let’s not forget, just plain being here!
    • For me, this was a stellar moment.  Had the biz in place and started getting OUT THERE.  I felt more wiggle room in figuring out my systems, more flexibility in how I worked, and way more confidence in talking to anyone about what I am up to.   If there is 1 word I could use to describe this space, it would be “confidence.”
    • Once you get through the business foundation stuff (what I affectionately call Square 1), you’ll be in a space of getting clients, developing your skills and style, perhaps getting a signature system down pat, and making the connections that’ll help you grow.  You’ll be confident enough to PLAY with it all!  Another Woopeeeeeee!

 

  • Unconscious Competence-So, now you’ve learned all there is to learn.  And more importantly, you’ve fully integrated it all.  It’s like your new operating system.  You know how it works, so you don’t pay much attention to it.  While I really like “mastering” something and having it become an innate skill, I’m not too good at staying here long term…I like learning new things and pushing the envelope more.  But, this is where you’ll get to be, eventually, with your business (yay, face!)  The bits and pieces, in’s and out’s….they’ll be old news easy for you.
    • Now, if I’m honest, I’m not fully here yet.  I’ve been running businesses now for 5 years, and still find new things to learn everyday, which in a way, keeps things fabulously exciting.  There are always new marketing ideas, new technologies to figure out…hell, there are always new versions of Facebook!  I guess that is one of my favorite things about being an entrepreneur: you constantly get little nudges to grow bigger than you are, be more of who you are, and feel engaged and alive.

 

So, now that you know all this, where on the arc would you put yourself with regards to your biz?  Where would you like to be?  And most importantly, what are you doing about it?!

Here’s to helping you get over the hump with loads of FUN!!!

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Be Optimistic. Not Blind.

 

Optimistic=Doggedly dedicating yourself to seeing what is possible rather than what “is.”  Committing to take a hopeful and positive view of future outcomes as much as possible.  Giving situations and people the benefit of the doubt because you know they deep down want the best for you and the best for themselves.

Being optimistic starting your business means you’re committed to the vision of what your business will bring to you, to those you serve, and yes, to the world.  It is trusting that the freedom, creativity, deep fulfillment, and the moola you’re seeking is within grasp and that you just have to get there.

It means you’re going to work your ass off in faith that the best is here AND there is still some best yet to come.

Now, I LOVE optimism, don’t get me wrong.  It is my motto.  It makes life enjoyable, vibrant, lighter, and more full of good lovin’.  Don’t know if I could breath without using it as my lens to see the world.

But, please oh please, do not allow optimism to blind you.  You still need to create time and space for your business.  You still need to put in some good work to get where you want.  You still need to pay the bills.

So, create the space for both.  Create the spreadsheets for bills and income.  Create the goals with deadlines and tasks to do.  Create the calendar that allows you to work your tushy off when it’s needed.  All the while, looking at it all with a smile and a faith that you will indeed get where you want to go.

A good friend of mine just got an amazing tattoo from the NYC artist Duke Riley.  It’s this lovely lady on a life raft paddling in the middle of the ocean.  Written in lilting script below is, “Pray to God, but  Continue to Row to Shore.”

Let this be your motto.  You pray because you know the Universe wants you to succeed, to have your dreams be realized, to live a deeply fulfilled life.

You paddle, because you know you’ve got to do your part to get there.

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Old Before Your Time

When I was a younger man lookin’ for my pot of gold
Everywhere I turned the doors were closin’

It took every ounce of faith I had to keep on keepin’ on
And still I felt like I was only losin’

I refused then like I do now to let anybody tie me down
And I lost a few good friends along the way

I was raised up poor and I wanted more
And maybe I’m a little too proud

In lookin’ back I see a kid who was just
Afraid, hungry and old before his time

Through the years I’ve known my share of broken hearted fools
And those who couldn’t choose a path worth taking

There’s nothin’ in the world so sad as talking to a man
Who never knew his life was his for making

Ain’t it about time you realize? It’s not worth keepin’ score
You win some, you lose some and you let it go

What’s the use of stacking on every failure another stone
Till you find you’ve spent your whole damn life
Building walls, lonely and old before your time

It took so long to see
That truth was all around me

Now the wren has gone to roost and the sky is turnin’ gold
And like the sky my soul is also turnin’

Turnin’ from the past, at last and all I’ve left behind
Could it be that I am finally learnin’?

Learnin’ I’m deserving of love and the peaceful heart

I won’t tear myself apart no more for tryin’
I’m tired of lyin’ to myself, tryin’ to buy what can’t be bought

It’s not livin’ that you’re doin’ if it feels like dyin
Cryin, growin’ old before your time
Cryin, growin’ old before your time

Excerpts from “Old before your time” by Ray LaMontagne

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re:Birth & Over-used Metaphors

 

Yep.  I am going to use a metaphor that makes me cringe, but only because it is too damned apt not to.

Building a new business around your passion and Purpose in this world is comparable to birthing a baby.  There.  I said it.

Now, I don’t have any babies, mind you, but my lovely sister and brother in law had a new little baby girl (Frankie) this past week, and I am reeling in the excitement of it all.

What has me really going (and going with the metaphor) is that I was obviously around the whole pregnancy, got to be with my sister when she was in labor at home, and then in the hospital after little Frankie arrived.  Now I am thinking of them as they head home, with a brand new baby.

So, here is the metaphor I can’t help but play with:

Pregnancy-You are physically, emotionally, psychologically different.  Some things are out of your control, but exhilarating.  Some things are reallly uncomfortable, and there is certainly some stretching going on, but you know why you’re willing to go through it all.  The restless nights.  The random cravings.  The desperation for a friggin massage.

You’re clear that this is what you want.  That this is your dream.  And that all you go through is helping you achieve it.

You’re getting the house all ready.  You’re creating a calendar and letting people know that you’ll be out of comish for a bit.  You’re checking in with all sorts of professionals on the health of your baby and of yourself (because, if you ain’t healthy, your baby won’t be either).  Getting things off your to-do list so you’re as prepared as you can possibly be.

Towards the end, you are so damned READY.  Ready to get this baby out into the world.  Ready for some stability and comfort (yeah, right).  Just, ready.

And then, you go into labor.

Labor-Holy shnike.  All of a sudden, this moment you’ve been waiting for is NOW.  Your baby is ready to be out in the world, and you’ve got a whole different set of concerns.  You’ve done everything you can do to prepare, now is the time for instinct to take over (and some lovely midwifery help)!

Now, I don’t want to belittle this part, but this is really just the (major) transition point between the long preparation of pregnancy and the ongoing love and attention of raising said baby.

Raising the baby-There is a different intensity in raising a kid than being pregnant or even in labor.  It requires more stamina.  A different focus.  If I can mix my metaphors, raising the little one is more of a marathon.  You’ve got to have a comfortable pace.

So….can you see the links between starting your own business and the whole baby-havin’ process?

Pregnancy=The beginning phase of your business where you are doing as much prep work as possible.  Taking care of your personal health, the baby’s health, your physical environment, etc…

Labor=Getting out into the world.  I mean, would it be wrong to say labor=marketing on a big level?!!

Raising the baby=The long haul of your business.  Adjustments.  Conscious attention.  But more maintenance than anything else.

While I never understood people who loved being pregnant, I have a new-found connection with them because I now get it.

It’s fun to be working towards something you really, really want.  To be preparing for it.  To be imagining what it will be like.

And that is why I love working with people who are just starting their business.  Just stepping into their dream.  Committed to the vision, but need help in getting there.   They’re all preggers and I get to be the midwife.  Nothing could be a better gift to the world, or to my soul.

 

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