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What people say

Jon Hansen You have given words to a process that defies words. And you’re constantly in a position to help me continue to hone that, deeper and deeper and more and more resonantly, who I am and what I offer, which is truly invaluable. — Jon Hansen, The Remembering Room, Richmond, Illinois
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Jenn Whiteford Givler I love the way you take the energetic and esoteric aspects of business birthing, and tell us how we are going to bring them into the physical. People like us — we see the vision, and we know that’s our subconscious telling us that’s where we need to go. But it’s not always easy to get from the esoteric to the physical. You are BRILLIANT at that. This work is amazing, and I’m so glad we’re working together!
— Jenn Whiteford Givler, Blended Yoga, Cain Township, Pennsylvania
Daniel Stone Working together was absolutely key, and I think that’s what made it such a great experience. I felt like you were my partner in this. I felt like my success was your success. To me, someone who has that attitude and the skills to go with it — that’s an unbeatable combination! — Daniel Stone, www.danielstone.com, Washington DC, New York City, Delaware, South Carolina, and India
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Bev Dwane I have a website I’m proud of — but for me, the hugest benefit has been increased self-confidence. Because of the process we went through, and the validity that came with the process, I trust what I think and I trust myself to speak about it. I have greater confidence and clarity in my message about who I am and what I do. — Bev Dwane AICI CIP, www.bevdwane.com, Durham, North Carolina
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Eric Klein If someone’s looking for a thought partner, not so much an expert to tell them what to do, but someone who can help them think more clearly and more completely so that they can take action, then I would say that you’re a good choice. If people want to work at a deeper level than simply tactics or strategy, if they want to be connected to a sense of purpose that goes beyond the cognitive, your process is really powerful. And it’s simple. Anyone can do it, and it gives immediate access to the generative, creative energies that are often untapped.
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Limitation or invitation?

It’s easy to let ourselves and our work be defined by what we believe are our limitations.

But those definitions keep us from being who we are and doing what we want to do – and therefore from helping the people who truly need us, who are waiting for us to show up and help them out of the chaos we know how to solve.

What if our limitations were invitations to grow and opportunities to receive?

Limitations are simply an expression of our humanness … until we allow them to become a closed door shutting out our dreams.

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Do your work!

DO YOUR WORK!

(Yes, I mean to yell!)

You have to do your work in order to know what it is.

You have to do your work in order for it to evolve into what it’s meant to be.

You have to do your work in order to see the impact it has on your clients and discover the difference you make in people’s lives.

If a tiny price is all you can bear to ask for, go ahead and do your work for that minimal amount at first, as long as you DO YOUR WORK.

Because you have to do your work in order to know what to charge for it.

It’s only by doing our work that we can truly come to feel – in our bones and blood and soul – the value of that work.

I don’t advocate undercharging, and I’m not a fan of free work.

But no one can be convincing in presenting what they do at a price they don’t believe in. So don’t sweat the pricing until you really begin to see and feel the value of the results your clients get when they work with you.

Also, please note that “free work” is different from “marketing.” Doing a free talk or a mini-workshop for a group that’s an audience of potential clients is effective marketing, not free work.

So … DO YOUR WORK!

Any questions?

 

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What’s really in a name?

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,”  wrote Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet.

But … would we stop to smell the flower if it weren’t called rose?

Knowing the flower is a rose, we know what to expect, and we stop to sniff.

Names have power.  Ancient and traditional cultures know this, and use names with care and respect.

Modern marketers know this as well, although sadly with a lot less respect. Just think of all the manipulative headlines that come into your email in-box or drift through your social media feeds!

And if you’re anything like me, that’s made you hesitant about creating names for your work that speak to the full depth and breadth and power of who you are and what you do. Whether it’s a headline for your blog post or a title for your latest service offering, that everywhere-you-look hype has you holding back. You don’t want to be one of those marketers!

The problem, though, is that if we don’t call our work what it is – a ROSE! – but instead name it a daisy or a dandelion … we’re doing ourselves, our work, and our clients a serious disservice. Because even if they like daisies and dandelions, they know a daisy or dandelion isn’t a rose, they know it doesn’t smell like a rose, and they’re not going to stop and sniff.

If you don’t call your work by names that speak to the essence of what you do and the real results someone can get by working with you, then your audience won’t read your articles or your program descriptions, and they’ll never know what you offer.

There’s a fine line between hype and honesty, and we each have to find our own balancing point.

I want to encourage you, though, to push your comfort zone on this. Recognize that you can make promises about the potential of your work. You’re not solely responsible for outcomes; it’s up to your clients to do the work in order to turn potential into reality.

(Maybe it’s just me, but I used to struggle with making strong statements about the results someone can achieve when they work with me … until I finally really got that my clients are equal partners in the process!)

What would it mean to tap into the essence of your work and create names from that place?

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No gain without change

To get what we want requires making changes.

Even as simple an action as getting a drink of water requires us to change – change what we were doing when we realized we were thirsty so we can get up and take the action of filling a glass with water and drinking.

This may seem like a trivial example, but how many times have we all been so engrossed in whatever we were doing that we resisted making the change despite the body’s discomfort of thirst? Whether as unimportant task as surfing the Internet or as crucial a task as being with a loved one in a moment of connection, or even being deeply immersed in a moment of solitary peacefulness … in that moment, we prefer whatever we’re doing over the desire for water. And so we resist making the changes necessary to satisfy that desire.

How much more, then, might we (do we) resist the changes necessary to achieve the larger desires of our lives? We want fulfilling work, we want meaningful relationships, we want peace, joy, abundance, and success. Yet somehow we can’t quite get ourselves to do what’s necessary – or perhaps even to realize, to become aware of, what’s necessary – to achieve our deepest desires.

There are reasons for this that go beyond the scope of this post.

But the biggest reason is avoidance of change. As the old saying goes, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again yet expecting different results. Instead, we must commit to change and then take action.

It’s easy to say we want something. It’s even easy to say that we want it a lot. It’s not so easy to make the fundamental shifts in ourselves – our belief structures, thoughts, habits, and actions – that will move us toward what we want.

I have a client who calls me every eight to ten months. Every time she tells me the same thing, almost word for word. Every time she makes a commitment to change. Yet eight or nine or ten or maybe eleven months later, there she is again.

I used to think this was somehow my fault, that there was something I could do or say that would create the shift for her. But no. I am here to help and guide, but I cannot create someone else’s internal will to change – nor would I if I could. It must come from each person’s own heart and soul.

There’s no gain without change, and yes, change is frightening. We have to be willing to show up differently, reveal more of who we are, go deep, and take risks without any guarantees if we want to be and do what we are truly here to be and do.

The choice to change is not an easy choice to make, and it’s not a choice to make lightly or quickly. The last time I realized the extent to which I was being asked to change, I knew I wanted to do it. But it took time – time thinking, time doing chores around the house and garden, time in meditation – to acknowledge the depth and breadth of what I was committing to, the consequences of not committing, and to truly take on the commitment itself.

There’s no right or wrong. We each make our own choices about who we are, what we want, and how we want to be in the world.

But if you’ve ever wondered why, even with deep desire and powerful intention, you haven’t reached the goals you yearn for … ask yourself how willing you are to change.

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The cost of help

In the early years of my business, I was completely averse to – not to say phobic about – spending money on getting help. It got worse when I grudgingly spent some money, and got very little return for it.

At that time, my choices were based on emotional cost, not financial cost. I had money in the bank. But I was bound and determined that until I had a decent revenue stream to ensure I would keep having money in the bank, I wasn’t going to spend money on getting help. (Can you see the fallacy there? Mmhmmmm…)

And I was just as stubbornly convinced that I could Do It All Myself. I’d been a corporate executive, running a complex department and responsible for seven-figure budgets; surely I could figure out this self-employment thing on my own … right?

Those were costly choices.

  • I scrimped on what help I did buy, and got what I paid for: not much.
  • I tried to convince myself that I didn’t really need help, and floundered through a lot of painful learning experiences.
  • I fell into a trap of my own making by telling myself that I wouldn’t hire help until I had a solid revenue stream. But of course it was when I didn’t have that revenue stream that I most needed help.

I’m not being hard on myself, honestly; I have great compassion for that past self, and for anyone struggling with this. But boy, do I wish someone had explained all this to me back then, when I was dealing with fear, insecurity, and wondering what to do next!

We all have to make our own choices about how much financial risk we can tolerate. I’m not going to draw that line for anyone except myself.

BUT – and this is a very BIG but – if you’re in business for yourself (or hoping to be), the cost of not getting top-quality help can be far higher than – for instance – the interest rate you’ll pay if you choose to put that help on your credit card.

As I said, that’s a decision you have to make for yourself, and different people have different views on how acceptable it is to dip into savings or incur debt.

And of course you’ll need to do your research in order to find the best help for your situation, your business, and who you are. Which is scary in and of itself; I get that.

But if you’re up for digging a little deeper to see if a particular risk is one you might want to take after all, try asking yourself these three questions.

  1. Do you know what help you need and what results you want?

    Be really clear here. I know real clarity is hard, especially when you’re just starting. But if you’re not clear, ask if you can have an introductory session with the person you’re considering so both of you get clear. They should be open to talking with you for at least 15 or 20 minutes to answer questions at no charge.

  2. Is this something you truly believe can and will help you be more successful in your work and in your life?

    Your life and work are not separate. If something helps you personally, it will almost certainly benefit your business as well, and vice versa.

    And, be cautious. “Any port in a storm” isn’t a good way of choosing, so if you’re struggling and anxious, be careful about jumping too quickly. Trust your instincts, but be sure that it’s the voice of instinct you’re listening to, and not the voice of fear, an impulse to hop onto a bandwagon because “everyone else is,” or a knee-jerk reaction to hype-y marketing claims.

    Which leads to the third question.

  3. Do you trust the service provider – are you convinced that he or she can deliver on the benefits and results you want and need? Have you made sure it’s a fit for your personality, style, and approach?

    Just because someone attracts all your friends and colleagues to work with him or her doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for you. It may be, and it may not be. You’re the only one who can tell – and that goes back to trusting your instincts.

If I could go back in time and tell my beginning-entrepreneur self just one thing, it would be: get help now. Don’t wait.

If I could tell her a second thing, it would be: be smart about choosing who you hire. Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish; help that’s worthwhile is worth paying for. And that person who doesn’t feel quite right? She probably isn’t. However, the one who feels amazingly right? Go for it!

These two pieces of advice, if I’d taken them (!), would have saved me a lot of time, money, and panicky desperation.

And … sometimes I still need to hear them. Because hiring the right help is never a wrong choice, no matter where one is on the entrepreneurial path.

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Define your terms

John A. Toomey was my ancient history professor at Bard College.

He assigned a paper every week. Most of his students thought that was a lot, but as a writer, I didn’t mind, and as someone who was learning to think, it was invaluable.

One of the things he pounded into his students was this:

Define your terms

These days, we casually throw around a lot of big words – success, potential, credibility, integrity, authenticity, transformation, awesome – on and on. Many of these words have become so over-used that they’re almost meaningless. Others carry weighty cultural baggage that makes us nervous about using them or claiming them for ourselves.

Last month, a colleague said to me, “Language is philosophy.”

That’s huge, and so completely true. Her example involved the various ways that different cultures define “table.” She pointed out that someone in France will draw a different table than someone in the U.S. or someone in Denmark or someone in Japan. And these definitions of “table” impact how people in each of these cultures gather around that table, sit at the table, and use it in general.

And perhaps you thought I meant a table in a document or spreadsheet, rather than a physical table that we put things on top of and pull a chair up to.

Your definition of “table” impacts your experience.

That’s just one example of how the terms (language) we use shape our philosophy, and therefore also shape our experience of life and work.

If I believe that success means I have to work 80-hour weeks with no time for myself, I probably won’t want to be successful.

If I believe that authenticity means sharing all my deepest, most private feelings and experiences, then I’ll probably judge myself for being inauthentic.

If I believe that awesome means being perfect and sparkly every day, I’ll probably feel exhausted before I even get out of bed in the morning.

Language is philosophy. Define (or re-define) your terms, and you change your experience.

My definition of success includes sustainability and nourishment. This is something I can wholeheartedly say that I want.

My definition of authenticity includes honesty, vulnerability, and privacy. Now I can feel safe, even as I challenge myself to share more of who I am.

My definition of awesome is playfully passionate, engaged, and in the moment, and allows for the humanness of mistakes and my need for silence and stillness. There’s space here to be the best I can be in each moment, without driving myself to impossible standards of perfection.

Notice, by the way, that when you start defining your terms, you’ll probably need to define some of the language you use in your definitions. For instance, in my definition of success, I also need to define sustainability and nourishment.

Define your terms.

Make the words work for who you are and what you want – and see for yourself how this changes your experience.

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Eating with a fork

You eat dinner with a fork.

You use a hammer to pound in a nail and a lawn mower to cut your grass. You drive around town in a car and access your favorite online shops and social media sites from your computer or smartphone, running a piece of software called a browser.

These are all tools.

You take your car to a mechanic for service. You hire a plumber to fix the leak in your kitchen sink, go to the dentist to take care of your teeth, and the doctor when you have the flu.

In a way, and not meaning to de-personalize any of those service providers, they too are tools: tools that you access when you need help or expertise you don’t have.

Having the right tool is important. When you have the right tool, everything works better. Using the wrong tool – for instance, a bicycle when you need to travel 30 miles to attend a business meeting, a dentist when you have a case of laryngitis, or your friend the software engineer when you want to learn marketing – is exhausting and unproductive.

It’s also expensive, in time, emotional wear and tear, and money.

As business owners and self-employed professionals, we often skimp on the tools we need. We might believe we can tough it out on our own, or think we can’t afford to pay for help, or feel overwhelmed by all the choices and end up making no choice … believe me, I’ve been there and gone down each of those paths (and a few more besides).

Denying ourselves the tools or the help we need doesn’t save anything. It certainly doesn’t save time, and in the long run not getting help tends to be far more expensive – emotionally and financially – than doing the work to determine what help we need and how we can get it.

Yes, it’s hard to know whom to trust. I’ve certainly poured money into coaching relationships and training programs that didn’t yield the results I wanted. That sort of experience is frustrating and frightening and tends to reinforce the “do it myself” determination.

But when we put off getting help, we struggle for longer than necessary – which is, to say the least, painful. And, as I said, expensive.

It’s possible to eat your dinner without a fork (or a spoon, if you’re having soup), but it tends to be messy and not very enjoyable.

Where do you need help?

Can you open to receiving the help you need?

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Receive more, resist less

Why is it so hard to receive what’s offered to us?

Why do we deflect compliments, secretly (or not so secretly) disbelieve praise, and resist acknowledgement?

I do it, my friends do it, my colleagues do it, my clients do it.

I’ll bet you do it.

The deflection takes many forms.

Sometimes it’s overt.

“Hey, I really like that shirt!”

“Oh, this old thing?”

Sometimes it’s subtle.

“You do such good work!”

“Oh, you’re too kind.”

Perhaps we’ve been taught that it’s uncool or arrogant to accept positive acknowledgement as a true reflection of who we are and of the worth and value we offer to the world.

Maybe we’re deeply caught up in feelings of being undeserving and unworthy.

Whatever the reason, we do this deflection thing.

And it hurts.

It hurts us, and it hurts the person who’s offered the appreciation to us.

In disbelieving, deflecting, and downplaying the acknowledgement, we disbelieve, turn away from, and downplay ourselves, cutting ourselves down to smaller than we are.

And we disbelieve, turn away from, and downplay the person making this offering to us.

To receive, openly and without defense, requires vulnerability. We cannot flee behind our internal barriers. Instead, we must stay present for what’s happening, for ourselves, and for the person from whom we’re receiving.

Someone was vulnerable enough to speak their truth of what we mean to them.

Can we be vulnerable enough to receive this from them?

Receiving can be hard work.

But if we cannot receive the open-hearted warmth of people who appreciate who we are and what we do, we close ourselves off from so much else in this world.

When we lock the doors of our vulnerability against others, we lock them against ourselves as well. We won’t ever have access to the love that we are if we don’t allow ourselves to receive the love others offer.

And in locking those doors, we close ourselves off from all forms of abundance.

Which means that if your business isn’t doing as well as you’d like, you might want to look at how open you are to receiving what’s offered to you in every aspect of your life.

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Rules of engagement

Engagement: the ways people interact with you and your business.

It changes all the time, so yes, that “rules” word in the title of this post is tongue-in-cheek.

As human beings, we have a tendency to get stuck in how things are, even when “how things are” shifts into “how things were, but aren’t any more.”

Things change. The rules of engagement and interaction shift all the time. We can ignore this if we want, but if we want to be successful in business, it’s more effective to stay open and receptive to what’s happening and allow ourselves to move with the flow.

That flow probably isn’t the same for you and your business as it is for me and my business.

I recently made the choice to turn off comments on these blog posts. (I’ll explain why in a moment.) I announced this on Facebook, and was surprised by the number and variety of the comments that ensued.

Some people agreed. Others didn’t. It turned out that those who agreed, and said they’d done the same with their blogs, did so for a wide range of reasons, reasons that were different from each other’s and from mine. And those who disagreed had a similarly wide range of explanations for why they’re keeping comments turned on for their blogs. So much was going on behind this apparently simple decision to leave blog comments on, or turn them off!

Why have I turned off comments?

Once upon a time, people commented on my posts and we engaged in conversations here.

Over time, as I engaged with more and more people on Facebook, the conversations shifted. Now my blog posts tend to get quite a bit of comment and conversation on Facebook, and none at all on the blog itself.

By turning off comments on the blog (and putting a note at the bottom of each post, as you’ll see here, that anyone who has a comment or question can find me on Facebook), I’m doing two things:

1. I’m encouraging people to connect with me where the engagement is actually happening. When someone comes to the conversation on Facebook, they get my answers to their questions and thoughts and they can see what other people have to say. It’s important that I direct people to where the conversation is happening so they can participate (even if “participation” for them is simply “reading and observing”).

2. I’m making it clear that people are engaging with me and my work. Frankly, a blog with comments turned on but without any comments posted looks unloved, unrespected, and unworthy of attention. However, the conversations – sometimes quite lively! – that spring up around my posts on Facebook show that people find my writing anything but unlovable or unworthy.

For me, keeping comments open would be an attempt to deny reality.

For other people in other situations, keeping comments open is absolutely appropriate.

Being sensitive and responsive to the ways change is flowing in your business is one of the most important skills you can develop.

Want to talk about this?  Come find me on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/gracejudson

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Create more, convince less

This is a guest post by Christine Claire Reed.

Grace asks amazing, thoughtful questions in her private Facebook group, Platypus Practices, and her question about more and less was one of her more powerful ones, as I am still – a month and a half later – finding new layers to my answer.

She asked what we wanted more of in our business and what we were willing to do less of to make room.

My “less” answer came to me immediately.

I was raised in a house where discussions were always debates and you better have your sources ready for citing and you better be prepared to prove yourself.

It has taken me until recently to realize that I have continued to function from this set of rules, and I function from them in all of my relationships, not just in my work.

I am always ready with the next bit of information or the book that would back me up. (I am … most of the time … not an asshat about this and find that my sourcing is typically greatly appreciated.)

This is a sad way to live for many reasons, not the least of which is the energy expenditure.  No wonder I am so tired by early evening!

So when Grace asked this question, “less convincing” popped into my head in less than a second.

I have been working with the Bhagavad Gita now for just over a year, and I was trying, in particular, to let go of the fruit of other people’s results.

My work is my work. I give it to them and they do what they will and what happens happens.

That’s hard for a control freak! I want you to have a certain experience and I want you to be happy, damn it!

Grace’s question, though, showed me that I wasn’t JUST attached to the fruit of outcome via my process. I was attached to convincing people that my process was for them.

This is, of course, partly my job but also not my job. I supply the information and the roadmap, and that’s all I can do. The rest is up to the recipient. Period.,

Convincing less means that I have more room for creation – creating content and not argument, creating art and not proof.

But there’s more …

Just within the last couple of days, I noticed yet another deeper layer of this convincing.

I am constantly working to convince myself!

I work on convincing myself that I am doing the right thing, that the next step makes sense, that this or that is worth my time, that my work in this world is my work in this world, that the fears are not worth listening to, and on and on.

Rather than just acting, I think about and analyze my actions.

Which brings me right back to the Bhagavad Gita, in which Krishna teaches Arjuna that all he can do in this life is fulfill his dharma, live his life’s purpose, take the next step and then the next one, and trust that if you are working from this place of truth that nothing else about it is really any of your business.

Just act. Then move on.

Create more. Convince less. I think Krishna would approve of the simplicity of that.

Christine is the creator of Reed Dance Sadhana™, breath-based movement experiments for the soul and dance as spiritual practice. She creates online workshops and virtual movement experiment experiences via various media. She is currently creating an international choreography project, working with dancers/non-dancers from all over the world. She owns/operates Girl on Fire Movement Studio in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Christine has had a variety of trainings from Kripalu Yoga Center in the Berkshires, including Somatic Healing, Yoga Dance teacher training, Yoga Dance for Special Populations teacher training, Movement for Trauma with world-renowned psychiatrist Bessel von der Kolk, restorative dance, and the art of Butoh with internationally acclaimed Butoh/movement artist Maureen Fleming. She has also started her biomechanical alignment training with Katy Bowman, MS. She has studied dance since she could walk and yoga for over 18 years, including an almost exclusive focus on Kundalini yoga for the past 13 years.

You can read more from Christine at her blog, www.girlonfiredance.com

I’ve had the great pleasure of working with Christine as her student. If you are at all interested in dance as a form of personal expression, as a way to tell your story to yourself, as a way to open yourself to who you are and to what your life might be - or just as a way to play and have more fun! – then I urge you to join her private (and free) Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome, and see what her work is all about. (You’ll need to “friend” her at www.facebook.com/christineclairereed and then ask her to join the group.)

I’ve also had the great honour of working with her as my client. 

It was a particular honour – and a huge gift – when she wrote a blog post about her experience working with me. It’s a beautiful expression of what is emerging in my work now, and I so appreciate this reflection from someone so articulate and so willing to share a vulnerable experience. Thank you, Christine!

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