Trust Yourself, Trust Your Life.

Trust Yourself, Trust Your Life

Trust yourself, trust your life.

Yes, call the psychic, book the session with the astrologer, and consult your pendulum (don’t get me wrong, I usually do all three). Make the pro and con list, think about the options, explore paths A, B, and C. Call your financial adviser, your mentor, and maybe even your grandma.


But most of all, call upon yourself. Tune in deeply and listen. And trust that whatever is happening right now is likely exactly what’s meant to be.

Tune In. Take Action. Create Change. 8.30.19 Edition.

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As you’ve probably read, the Amazon is burning, and has been for awhile.

Forest fires in the Amazon aren’t new. Fire is a common tactic used by some farmers to clear space for cattle grazing for beef production.

This time, though, the fires have reached new magnitudes and new levels of concern.

As we watch “the planet’s lungs” burn from afar, here are some things that we can do.

Tune In. 

  • Learn More. Follow Earth Alliance and the Rainforest Alliance to read more about what’s happening and how to get involved.

  • Read labels. If you eat meat, look at where it’s coming from. Many of the fires are a product of deforestation for cattle grazing – ultimately in service of beef production. Consider buying locally and ethically raised and produced meat. When possible, purchase beef at your local farmer’s market or directly from farmers.

Take Action. 

  • Plant a tree through One Tree Planted. $1 plants 1 tree. Maybe plant a few.

  • Change your default browser to search via Ecosia instead of through Google. They donate 80% of their profits, use searches to plant trees, and don’t track or sell user data.

  • Purchase Rainforest Alliance Certified products when possible.

Create Change. 

Even from afar, there is always something we can do.

Thank you for reading and for taking in action in whatever way feels right for you.

School Supply Shopping for Grown-Ups

school supplies for grown ups - fueling creativity

It’s back-to-school season, which means that the grills and outdoor rugs and patio furniture and colorful poolside goodies have been replaced by pencils and colored folders and notebooks since early July (insert sad violin songs here for those of us who want summer to last forever...). 

The bright side is that shiny new office supplies can be fun. There’s something thrilling about opening up a brand new notebook or writing with a previously-untouched Sharpie or peeling back the wrapper of a new stack of Post-Its. 

On that note, here’s a list of my favorite office supplies for grown-ups. 

*Note: you don’t need any of these things to start a business, become an entrepreneur, go to the networking event, or attend the workshop next week. We humans have a funny way of not starting [fill in the blank] until we have purchased [fill in the other blanks] which can lead to never doing the things we really want to do and buying a lot of crap that we don’t actually need. 

Notebooks 

  • Leuchtturm 1917 Dotted. These are far and away favorites. They are slightly wider than the similar Moleskine notebooks, making enthusiastic note takers like me very happy. They contain page numbers and an index at the beginning so you can actually organize (and later find) your notes - which can be a game changer. 

Pens & Pencils 

  • After much experimentation over the last 6 years, I’ve recently returned to the Pilot G2 for my daily pen of choice - specifically, the ultra fine (.38) version which keeps things a bit tidier for those of us who write a lot. The ink is easily replaced, helping to reduce the amount of used plastic pens in our landfills. (The EPA estimates that Americans throw away 1.6 billion pens each year).

  • For more colorful notes, I like the iBayam Fineliner pens. They are smooth and don’t bleed through thin sheets of paper. The downside is that they are not refillable, and they don’t last forever - so I try to use them sparingly to cut down on waste.

  • For pencils, I’m excited to check out The Good Pencil Company next time I have a need; they are certified as a B Corp and through 1% for the Planet, and they donate a pencil to a school in need with each purchase. Read more about their impact here. 

Paper 

  • There are few things quite as thrilling as a big, blank sheet of paper. For this, I find that a big chunk of recycled printer paper does the job best. This is what I use for client notes; the blank pages photocopy and photograph easily for clients who want to take copies with them. 

Brainstorming 

  • I wish I didn’t like Giant Post-Its as much as I do, because they are absurdly expensive, comprised of paper, and I do not have tiny handwriting. However, in the six and a half years I’ve been running my business, I haven’t found any sort of suitable replacement for when I’m leading retreats, courses, or workshops in spaces with limited or no whiteboard space. I find that the Sharpie Flip Chart Markers to be the best and last the longest (even over some more expensive brands like Neuland which have the absolutely perfect chisel tip but seem to run out of ink more quickly). Speaking of markers - tip: BYO whiteboard markers when leading anything where you’ll be using a whiteboard. 80% of white board markers in conference rooms and retreat venues across the country seem to be dead upon arrival (insert that sad violin again) so I like to bring my own to be safe. Board Dudes White Board Markers have been going strong for the last several years.

Idea Capture 

  • For this, it can be best to stick with the classics: index cards and post-its. Index cards are great for mapping out ideas and projects in a way that can be easily moved around and re-ordered. A stack of post-its, in various places around the house, are great for capturing impromptu grocery lists, reminder notes to loved ones, and thoughts that are swirling around when we are trying to go to bed.

Electronic Organization 

  • For storage: I am not the best person to advise on this topic because I have a deep love of all things analog when it comes to writing and reading and note taking. “Real” books, real notebooks, real paper, and handwritten over electronic notes for any in-person conversations. However, this system can get a bit cumbersome for a long-time journaler and paper lover. I’ve been working on scanning and uploading some of this paper over the last few years. Google Drive , DropBox, and Google Photos have been the systems of choice. Both might require paying a small monthly fee if you have a lot of files, but I find the small fee to be worth the peace of mind that all documents won’t be lost in the instance of spilling an entire cup of coffee on one’s laptop. Not that this situation has ever happened, though………

  • For project tracking: Trello is great (and free) if you’re a visual person. I’m thinking about trying out Notion at the recommendation of a trusted friend and client. 

  • For note taking: I like to keep it simple with Google Documents. They are easy to use, easy to share with others who need to edit or collaborate, and Google Drive is relatively searchable (though the search function can be a bit spotty). Many clients adore Evernote but I’ve never been able to convert fully. 

It’s sometimes said that September is the new January - a time of fresh starts and new beginnings. Sometimes, a fresh notebook feels like the perfect supplement to whatever it is that we’re starting - whether it’s school, a new project, or tackling a goal we’ve been thinking about for awhile. 

For other fun reading on this topic:


Any favorite grown-up school supplies on your list?

Tune In. Take Action. Create Change. 8.23.19 Edition.

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It’s been a bit quiet over here because, quite frankly, most things have seemed unimportant and irrelevant in the context of what’s been happening in our country. How do we continue to talk about everyday things, post pictures of our lunch, our way of #weekending, or our epic workouts while our fellow humans are being shot while shopping for school supplies or out and about enjoying a summer evening? Or while children are concluding their first day of school to find that their parents have been arrested - not sure if or when they will see them again?

What does it say about the state of our country and our humanity that these types of events have become so commonplace that we can go about our daily business and our regularly scheduled hashtags, turning the other way and going about our lives, as if it’s just another ordinary day?

On one hand, yes. We of course need to go about living our lives. If we were to stop living our lives in the wake of tragedy and disturbing news, we would have all stopped living long ago.

But on the other hand, what can it look like to keep living *and* to keep paying attention? To turn toward instead of turning away; to choose action over acceptance of the idea that this is the blind fate of our country and that there is nothing we can do; to feel empowered and committed rather than hopeless or helpless or like we just don’t have the brain space to think about these things? 

Not having the brain space to think about these things is a privilege reserved for those of us who are lucky enough not to have to think about them. 

As with most instances of privilege, we have a choice about how we use it.

In an effort to turn some of my own disgust about our current reality into constructive action, my commitment is to, each week, for the upcoming weeks, share three invitations:

  • Tune In: one thing we can do to tune into what matters to us and what’s on our mind - in a way that cultivates courage, resilience, or compassion.

  • Take Action: one way to take micro-level action in our own life, to create more kindness, more intention, or more alignment between our values and our actions.

  • Create Change: and one thing we can do to chip away at the collective, macro-level change that we wish to create in the world around us.

The goal of this initiative is to provide invitations for action that can fit into the rhythms of everyday life, that will take less than five minutes and cost less than $5, and that will attempt to address the three most common barriers I hear:

  • I feel helpless.

  • I feel hopeless.

  • I don’t have the brain space to think about these things.

Join along if you’d like in the way that feels right for you. A few possibilities include:

  • Accepting the weekly invitations for action as you feel called to do so.

  • Sharing your actions using the hashtags #tuneintakeactioncreatechange and #concreteactionconsciouschange.

  • Inviting others to join in the next time you hear the words “I feel helpless,” “I feel hopeless,” or “I don’t have the brain space to think about these things.”

Together, perhaps, we can create just a few positive ripples in service of a more loving, more accepting, and more human world.

And with that - this week’s round up.

Tune In. 

  • Fill out the Circle of Concern and the Circle of Influence. Here’s how:

    • Draw two circles - one that takes up almost the whole page, and another inside of it. 

    • Inside the biggest circle, write down everything you’re currently concerned about - big or small. 

    • Then, inside of the smaller circle, write down everything that you could do - big or small - to somehow take positive action toward your concerns. There is always something we can do - often, more than we think. 

Take Action. 

  • Download the Goods Unite Us app. (It’s free.)

    • Look up brands you buy and places you shop in the app. 

    • Look at the reports and the percentage of money that each brand spends supporting different political parties. 

    • Discover what politicians you might unintentionally be supporting through your purchases.

    • Begin to make small shifts in your buying habits accordingly. 

Create Change. 

  • Go to 5calls.org

  • Enter your location. 

  • Pick a cause that you care deeply about. 

  • Let the app guide you through the process of making a call to your representatives - complete with a script, and a way to track your call result (voicemail, contact, etc).

Contributing vs. Accomplishing

contributing vs accomplishing

Contributing vs Accomplishing.


Which are we chasing?


In our current world, there is a lot of focus on accomplishing: more followers online; 6-figure revenue and then maybe 7; more investment; the promotion; the better title to go along with it; our goal time in the marathon.


While pursuing mastery is a deep human desire, what if this desire for mastery could be framed in service of contribution? Around the question of how we might use our gifts to give back, to put a positive dent in something bigger than ourselves, to serve others - versus how we can get somewhere bigger, better, and faster?

Some possible questions to ponder.

Inspiration credit: For the spark of this question, Damond Boatwright. For the stunning flowers, Amanda Schulze.

Copycats

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Many entrepreneurs, creatives, and makers who have been at their craft for awhile have had the experience of finding their work, their products, or their content repackaged, duplicated, or plagiarized by others at some point in time. Sometimes, it’s a newer entrepreneur or artist taking “inspiration seeking” to a whole new level. Other times, it’s a massive corporation or brand that has used the work of an independent artist without permission.

Most entrepreneurs and makers I work with deeply value creativity and originality - meaning that it can be difficult to look around and find that someone else has seemingly copied our idea, our product, our content, or in some cases, our entire brand. (A dear friend and client found her entire business - the name, the logo, the website, and even the social media images - plagiarized and up and running as its own business in Asia).

On the flip side, when working with new entrepreneurs and coaches, one of the most common things I hear as an intended early step is “I’m going to go out to [insert name of someone I want to be like]’s site and see how she did it.”

While seeking inspiration can be helpful, the greatest inspiration often comes from looking within - or looking around out in the world - versus looking at other people’s websites or products, especially if those people are in the same industry as we are.

Below, some thoughts on what to do if you feel like you might fall on either side of this equation.

If You Think You Might Be the Copycat:

Have a heart to heart with yourself.

Ask yourself: are you seeking inspiration, or have you moved into imitation? Signs that you might have moved beyond the “inspiration” point: repackaging phrases, content, other people’s wording, descriptions, products or programs; visiting certain websites regularly for inspiration; becoming a bit of a cyber stalker of your favorite entrepreneurs or brands.

Seek inspiration from outside of your industry.

Find inspiring people who do distinctly different work than you do. Get curious about cool things happening in other industries. Ask yourself if it serves you to follow the people who you’re following in your own industry. 

Stop looking around and start looking within.

Take the time you’ve been spending on other people’s websites and LinkedIn pages and Instagram accounts and blogs and redirect that time into reflection and quiet space. Meditate. Go for a walk in the woods. Take time to find your own voice, your own style, and your own way of thinking about and speaking about things. 

Consider: what could be possible if you trusted yourself enough to create your own content and tune into your own ideas, rather than pulling from other people’s?

And what’s currently getting in the way of doing so? Is it a lack of confidence? A lack of trust in yourself? Not being able to find your own voice or your own perspective? Get quiet, spend some time tuning inward, and see what you discover. 

As Marie Forleo, who is often imitated but will never be replicated, says:

“The world needs that special gift that only you have.”

If you think you might have a copycat:

Pause. Take a deep breath. 

In talking with entrepreneurial soul sisters about this topic, I’ve discovered that this can be one of the most hurtful and most triggering things that we encounter as entrepreneurs. We pour ourselves into our businesses, and to find our content recreated, oftentimes by people we historically have trusted, can be a particularly awful experience. First things first - we need to pause and take a deep breath. 

Ask: Is it True? 

Take a page from Byron Katie’s book. When we feel that parts of our business have been repackaged or recreated by someone else, we can ask:

“Is it true?”

And, “can we be absolutely certain that it’s true?”

Oftentimes, the answer - especially to the second question - is no. We cannot be absolutely certain that it wasn’t just a very intriguing coincidence. These questions can help us to move out of a place of unhelpful inner dialogue, and into a place of calm acceptance. 

Remember that it is inevitable. 

If we put our content out into the world, it will be available not only to our communities and our clients, but also, of course, to our competitors. As Seth Godin says, “The easiest products in the world to develop, option, license and get to market are copycat products. They are beyond reproach. They feel safe.”

The truth is that many people want what is easy and what is safe. As a result, copycats will not go away anytime soon. That said, copycat products are rarely as good as the originals. Often the originals are creating more than a product or service; they are disrupting an entire industry and forging a whole new path that others will want to follow.


This is part of the package, and how awful would it be for us to hold back on our content or ideas, for fear of others stealing them? This would be a modern day version of The Miser and The Gold - tragic for everyone involved.

Take a page from my friend Mike’s book. 

A few months back, I asked him how he felt about the number of people who have openly expressed a desire to create an exact replica of the organization that Mike has created. His response? “Good luck! It’s a lot of f$#king work.”

I can’t help but smile to myself each time I think of his response.

Take Oprah’s advice.

“How far you are from the center - from the diveness of yourself, your source energy, that which created you - is how out of sync you are with your life. When you are aligned with this, nobody can touch you.”

Focus on aligning with your center. Put your head down. Make something awesome. Keep creating. And remember that no matter how many words or phrases or pieces of content others might take and repackage, they will never be you. 

Additional Resources, Reading, and Watching:

Freedom

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Beyond the fireworks and barbecues, the Fourth of July provides an opportunity for reflection - what does freedom mean to each of us, and how can we show up and take a stand for the things that matter most - related to freedom in our world, and freedom for other humans?

Below, a few types of freedom to consider.

Freedom From Stuff (and the related impact of stuff):

Freedom From Thoughts and Stories that Don't Serve Us:

  • Try Byron Katie's "The Work." The process? Ask these four questions on any thoughts, stories, or notions that are floating around in your head.

    • Is it True?

    • Can I Absolutely Know that It's True?

    • How do I React When I Think That Thought?

    • Who Would I Be Without That Thought?

Freedom For Human Beings who are being detained in overcrowded facilities at our borders, without access to basic necessities such as soap, and for children who are being separated from their parents:

  • Read the reports. Go to the website of the Office of the Inspector General and see the "Latest Reports" section on the front page. Factual reports on what is currently happening at our borders.

  • Download the Goods Unite Us app to see what causes or politicians you might unintentionally be supporting with your dollars. Search for your grocery stores, your banks, and your services to see where their funds flow.

  • Make a donation to an organization whose work and mission you resonate with. A few possibilities to explore, if you feel called to do so (Note: several of these organizations identify as "center-leaning,” rather than leaning one way or another politically):

  • Contact your elected officials. Get involved locally. Volunteer.

  • Stay informed. Keep turning in even when it feels easier to look away.

"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference." - Elie Wiesel

Overcoming Present Bias: Thinking About Tomorrow When Making Decisions Today

future self and decisions

Research suggests that many of us make up to 35,000 decisions each day or 2,000 decisions per hour if we account for sleeping.

We make small micro decisions about things like what to wear and what to eat; we make big decisions about launch dates and budgets and whether or not to accept that job offer. We make decisions that form (or break) habits, decisions that move us toward (or away from) our goals, decisions that build (or sometimes unintentionally harm) connections and relationships with others.

How can we make it easier to make the best decision, especially when there isn’t a clear “best” option? How can we make decisions in the present that move us toward our desired future? And how can we be more intentional about the small, sometimes unconscious, decisions that we make in the moments that have an impact on what will follow?

Research on present bias tells us that we give stronger weight to pay-offs that are closer to the current time. We tend to value immediate gratification over long-term gain.

In other words, we tend to value what our present self wants, over what might be in the best interest of our future self.

We hit snooze because our present self is tired, even though our future self will be stressed out and rushed. We have another glass of wine because our present self wants to, even though our future self will have trouble sleeping. We go to the networking event because our present self feels like we should, even though we know our future self will be looking at the clock, eager to leave.

#YOLO, right?

While #YOLO certainly has a place, the research suggests that if we only value the needs and desires of our present self, we won’t actually form the habits or meet the goals that our future self deeply desires.

One of the tools I use almost daily is a check-in with my future self. I’ve written before about checking in with our future self (5 years, 10 years, 20+ years out) for big decisions related to career or the path of our lives. We can use this tool for small, everyday decisions as well, by checking in with our future self an hour, a few hours, or a day from now.

Here are a few examples of how it’s been helpful for me.

When I was training for Ironman in 2016, I frequently dreaded my swimming workouts. Traipsing to the gym in the middle of the cold, dark, Wisconsin winter to jump into a freezing cold pool, to rinse off in an almost-as-cold shower at one particularly unfortunate local swimming destination, was basically the worst combination of events that I could dream up. Each day, if I had a swim workout on my schedule, I would tell myself, “I’ll do it tonight.” What I quickly learned, though, is that my future self - my evening self who had already showered and gotten ready for the day - never went swimming. My future evening self liked to be home on those cold winter evenings, and my future evening self hated swimming indoors even more than my morning self. If swimming was going to happen, it was going to happen early in the day. (Note: this could also describe why my present self has taken 8 year hiatuses between any triathlon-related activity; she knows how my future self feels about indoor lap swim in the dead of winter).

This week, I stayed up late two nights in a row, eating lingering dinners with girlfriends and talking about life. The second night even involved an impromptu 10:30 walk with the pup - a delightful turn of events for a Wednesday evening, but way past my usual bedtime! When it came time for my optional mastermind meet-up the next morning, I considered skipping it. My current self was tired. But I thought about my future self - and remembered how I felt last time I attended the mastermind. I remembered leaving the meeting, on a beautiful sunny morning, feeling inspired for the rest of the day. I knew that my future self would feel the same this time around - it was even another beautiful sunny morning - and I decided to go. I was so glad that I did.

I know that my future self is always happiest when I bike commute instead of drive, meaning that my present self needs to plan accordingly - both in wardrobe and timing. (Hilariously, this week, my present self totally neglected to check the weather before heading out via bike for a meeting, resulting in my future self stuck in a downpour at the exact time that the meeting ended. #oops. I never said that this framework is flawless!)

My future self is often cold at restaurants - which means that my present self always needs to pack a sweater, even if it’s 90 degrees.

My future self often spends too much money at Whole Foods when running across the street for a snack between client meetings, so my present self tries to keep granola bars stashed at the office.

The list goes on.

The basic idea is this: when making a decision in the present, fast forward to consider the needs, desires, and goals of your future self. This helps us to make better decisions in the present that we can look back on with contentment at the end of the day, the week, the month - and hopefully, at the end of our lives.

A few additional resources to support the cause: