Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Power of Vulnerability

In the many years I have been developing myself as a leader and a business owner, and the many consecutive years I have been supporting other artists in honing their leadership skills...there is one value many have struggled with time and time again. This value is often misconstrued in its meaning and impact. Because of this misconception, not only do people struggle more than they should have to, but they miss an amazing and freeing opportunity to strengthen their artistry and their business. This value is vulnerability.

When people hear the word "vulnerability" they often think weakness, or exposing the underbelly of who they are such that they become susceptible to being taken advantage of. The most unfortunate misconception is that vulnerability requires us to trust people that could be considered “dangerous”. But in truth, being vulnerable can be one of the most powerful ways of being that will have people trust YOU.

Two nights ago I realized how far I've come with practicing vulnerability while on a conference call with some of my most esteemed body painting colleagues. We are planning a project together that - if successful - will bring a great deal of awareness to true artistry in NYC. I was to propose my ideas prior to our call so we could discuss it during our phone conversation. For me, us working together and agreeing on a vision and concept was of the highest importance. When getting on the phone with them, I was given feedback that although the concept content was exciting and had potential, the details and ideas I had come up with were not quite there...lacking of utmost potential for impact. I will admit my ego stung a bit for a second and in a moments choice I took on vulnerability and opened my heart and mind to a bigger possibility. In truth my ideas were not fully in alignment with what I wanted to convey...and if I kept my ground out of stubbornness and protecting my ego I could have not only missed the mark but also lost the interest and respect of my peers. By the end of the call we were all pumped and agreed on a concept that excited all of us.

So how do you become aware of and practice the benefits of vulnerability? Brené Brown, a storyteller and researcher has examined vulnerability from the inside out. Her TED Talks presentation shows her personal journey in understanding the power of vulnerability. Some great insights for anyone looking to grow exponentially in personal potential, creativity, and business.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

When you don't feel like doing sh@#....

There are going to be moments during building your business when you quite honestly would rather chew glass than sit down at your computer and do all the tasks you know you need to do to push yourself forward in your business. This lull in motivation could be for a number of reasons; Perhaps because you're lacking inspiration, or you've been working tirelessly day in and day out to move progress forward, but you're not experiencing enough success. These are the times where you'd rather avoid or completely surrender to distraction. So what do you do when you plainly just don't feel like getting shit done, even though the rate of your success depends on it?

Well, you can take a hefty sigh of relief because this is absolutely normal. In fact if you say you have never experienced this you either have not been in business long enough or someone else is running your business for you (that would be nice). I've said it before time and time again that running your own business is one of the hardest jobs you could take on, however it reaps the most satisfying rewards. It is not for everyone. But in those times that you hit a stonewall where you seriously cannot get yourself to send out another social media post or make another sales call, I have some tips that have worked for me in the past. I'd love to share with you what will hopefully get you through the times you don't feel like doing shit.

#1. Give yourself a f$&@ing break!

First of all, if you start to go in that place of "I suck, why can't I stay motivated?" Just stop it. Like I said, we all go through this and it just means "Yes, that's right. You do own and run a business. Congratulations." This happens. So acknowledge yourself for working hard, and being human. Does it mean you need to quit because you are experiencing these feelings? HEEEEEELLLLL NO! Do you cut your finger and run to the hospital to get your arm amputated? I think not. So relax, it's not that serious.

#2. Take A Day Off!

Think about trying to use a marker that's running out of ink. That is what it's like when you try to push yourself to work when you have no steam or stamina. The integrity of the work suffers. Now when things are due, you may need to push yourself over the deadline, but there are days when you may just need to take the morning or the day off. Go to the beach, a movie, a museum...replenish your ink. Sometimes as freelancers even when we design our own schedule we spend everyday working or worrying about/on our business, but don't schedule time to recharge/regroup/or replenish. So do it! Just don't make a habit of it such that your business suffers.

#3 Motivation Loves Company

I'll guarantee you that you're not the only business owner you know who struggles with motivational issues. Creating a buddy system or an accountability partner can sometimes push you and someone else farther than if you were going to do it by yourself . It sounds crazy but having an accountability partner really does make a difference. If you gave your word to complete certain tasks but you are the only one holding yourself accountable, it's so easy to slack. But if you share that commitment with somebody else such that they will check in on you to make sure you stuck to your word, and you them...There is a certain urgency created because it's not just you. My Chief of Operations, Caitlin is my accountability partner. We check in with each other at least three times a week to make sure that we are on task. Of course I pay her, but if you're exchanging this service with another entrepreneur, it could be valuable for you both in the support you give each other.

#4 Create Office Hours 

When you work as a freelancer where your office is in your home and your studio is everyone else's location, your schedule can be kind of erratic and doing the necessary background work for your business can seem overwhelming. When you work a day job you go to the office have a lunch break and then at the end of the day go home and hopefully leave your work at the office. Essentially you clock in and clock out and you know what times are set for productivity. But at home I find it sometimes difficult with the distractions of everything else in my life to nail my butt down to the chair work on contracts, books, marketing and branding, and customer relationships. So I created a set of office hours for myself and I base them around times of the day I feel the most productive. 

I get up between seven and eight, go for my run, come home, shower, and call Caitlin to discuss our workload. By that time it's around 11 AM which is my high productivity time frame where I am most motivated to work. Whether it's blog writing or website updating I do not stop working until 1 PM. At that time I give myself a snack or lunch break and do something non-work related. At about 2 PM I start working on customer relations (my calls or answering emails), or giving attention to the leadership program. Around 4 I switch gears to do something more creative like face charts or designs, or photo shopping pictures. These are things I enjoy to do but is also great for end of the day wind down type activities. I also happen to work really well at night time so if I do not have a webinar or conference call I also take about two hours in the evening after dinner to do some last minute things.

Now on a day that I have a job obviously the schedule gets shifted to another free day of the week. This of course gets more challenging the busier I get such that when I do have a day off the last thing I want to do is office work. This is where I create a set of priorities that need to get handled first versus last such that the more important things get handled but I don't screw myself up.


My latest fun organization system is writing all my tasks down on post its and sticking them to my desk. I reorganize the Post-it's in order of priority such that the ones that need to be immediately handled are at the top and the ones that can be flexible at the bottom. As I finish a task or goal I crumple up that post it and throw it out and re-organize the order. That way I do have a busy week the moment I sit down at that desk I don't have to rethink the wheel and remember what it is I need to do. Motivation is much easier when you need to use less brainpower to get it going. So create a system for yourself that allows you to breathe easier and think less.

#6 Celebrate even the little things

Now I'm not one to pat myself on the back for every little tiny thing that I accomplish.  However sometimes when you don't feel like doing shit, it's because you're staring at the pile of overwhelming crap that you still need to do, and a game of candy crush with two glasses of wine seems extremely enticing (in my case this is creating five Dubsmashes or snap chatting aimlessly for an hour). It's time to look at all the things that you have accomplished as opposed to the things that you haven't. Focusing on the things that you haven't done is a recipe for taking the wind out of anybody sails. So in the grand scheme of what you get to accomplish for your business, look at how far you've come and look at all the hurdles you climbed over. When you complete even a minor project - whether its doing the books for the month, paying the bills, finishing cleaning or packing your kit - take a moment and celebrate the completion of one less thing you get to do. Where you focus your energy makes a huge difference how you feel about what you need to do.

In the end I know that when someone says to me "you're so lucky that you run your own business",  the first thought that runs through my mind "if you only knew". The struggle is real but in reality you're not the only one to goes through it. Everyday there are millions of us out there who have taken a strong amount of courage and the commitment to be their own boss do for a living what they love to do. I emphasize the phrase "get to do" versus "have to do", because in the end, being your own boss is a blessing, and a gift. Not many of us have the stamina to do it. But being grateful and thankful for that gift will take you a lot farther than cursing it every day you "don't feel like it". So remember to give yourself a break, replenish and refresh, know that you are not alone and that you can find partners to support you. Don't be a victim of your grungies (the "I don't feel like doing shit" moments), but create a system that will help push you through them, and celebrate with gratitude every day you get to create the work you love.