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Don’t Be Afraid to Start a Business – 7 Benefits of Being Your Own Boss

You don’t have to be afraid to start a business when you identify your passion and expertise, gain business know-how and form a step-by-step plan to follow.“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction.” ~ John F. Kennedy

A few years ago, I made a decision that has changed my life and given me so many unexpected benefits. I’ve always been fascinated with the positivity and forward-thinking stance of Life Coaching. So, in 2013, I decided to focus and build my coaching practice. I changed my branding, read books and took online courses to get up to speed with this growing field and to feel more confident and competent.

At times, I would feel discouraged and my own inner critic would creep in with statements like: “You were doing just fine, why did you have to go and change things?” Well, that was just fear of the unknown. And no, I wasn’t doing fine, I wasn’t fulfilled anymore. I was just afraid of making the change. 

But in 2016 it happened. My coaching business really took off! Constantly I’m reminded that I LOVE owning my own coaching business. With each new connection, I get to fulfill my calling, changing lives and changing the world for the better.

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

If you’ve ever thought about becoming a business owner, or starting your own private practice, then the following benefits that I enjoy may be enough to convince you that you don’t need to be afraid to start a business …

  1. Turn your years of experience into a business asset. Age becomes a plus in your favor, not a minus like it is in the competitive corporate world. Specialize in what you know best.
  2. Work from home or from anywhere in the world. Technology makes it possible to work with your clients anytime, anywhere.
  3. Set your own pace. One possible downside of owning your own business is that you can get a little lazy about sticking to your business routine. But if you create a schedule and stick to it, you’ll find you have a lot of extra time to fulfill other important life pursuits.
  4. Earn the income you want. If you’re willing to hustle, you can design streams of income that fulfill your needs and wants. For example, as a coach, your high-end offering may be one-on-one coaching in person or via Skype. Other streams could be selling your self-published book; hosting fee-based live group coaching, workshops and retreats; setting up do-it-yourself online classes; and presenting paid speaking gigs.
  5. Live with meaning. You get to define what’s important. Being your own boss allows you to incorporate ways to give back to your community.
  6. Pick the people you work with. There won’t be anyone undermining you or stealing your thunder. What you create is only limited by the boundaries you build. You don’t have to put up with toxic situations.
  7. Discover what you’re made of. Your personal growth will be tested in ways that make you a better person. You’ll discover new reserves of resiliency, self-discipline and self-confidence as you make your dreams a reality.

It’s completely normal to doubt or worry about taking the leap into starting your own business. But if you’re convinced this is the right decision for you, you can make it work. If I did it…so can you! Start connecting with people who will support you and learn all you can about running a business. Create a plan and work your way into it.

If you’re not sure what your next step should be, join me and my friend, Nando, at our Women in Leadership Retreat.  We’ll help you outline a plan of action that fast tracks you toward the launch of a new business. Or feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation, in-person, by phone or via Skype.

Leadership 101: How to Inspire a Shared Vision

If you want to make a difference in the lives of others’, learn how to inspire a shared vision with them by helping them see themselves in the big picture.“I believe the risks I take are justified by the sheer love of the life I lead.” ~ Charles Lindbergh

What does the family who goes on the vacation of a lifetime have in common with the company that consistently exceeds its marketing goals? On the surface…nothing. But when you look deeper, in each case you’ll see a leader who knows how to inspire a shared vision. If you want to make a difference, this is an essential skill you’ll want to master. Let’s take a closer look at each story…

Within the family, the mother sees that the kids will soon be leaving for college. She knows that once they’re out of the house, they may get so busy with their own lives they might not have another chance. So she shares her vision of a great family vacation with her husband. He agrees and together they work out how to make it happen. As the family discusses it, they excitedly pitch in their ideas. Because they’re on the same page, working toward the same goal, it’s not a hardship to stick to a budget or schedule. Their shared vision becomes a success.

In the business setting, the marketing department brings a new strategy to the boss, and she thinks it’s a great idea. She takes that visionary thought and lays out a plan to her employees. She details the vision to them and gets them excited to do their individual and collective best. She knows it won’t happen unless all departments are on board with the idea. And because she connects with each one on the level of their specialty, each department excels.

On the other hand, perhaps you’ve experienced the frustration of working with someone who tries to lead but keeps the details to themselves. You don’t know why something is important and you don’t understand the process because you don’t know all the steps. As a result, the “vision” never succeeds, because you couldn’t clearly see your role in it.

In any case, progress won’t happen by chance. Inspiring leaders acknowledge and welcome the strengths of each person and create an environment were talents can flourish.  They give a clear objective so people know what to do. They give a clear reason why it’s important, so everyone remains motivated to get it done. It’s not enough for the leader to have a vision. An effective leader inspires others by knowing how to share the vision so that it takes on life in the hearts of all those involved. They can see themselves in the picture!

First-class leaders learn to look far into the future, not merely seeing the end of a current project. Instead they see how each project impacts their organization years down the road. In the above example, the mother saw her family slipping away, so she took action to bring them back together. The far-sighted boss saw how one marketing campaign would boost morale and generate customer loyalty. Because they took into account the hopes and wishes of others, those involved became very supportive.

Effective leaders see that it’s important to make time to look ahead and not get consumed with day-to-day busyness. They also don’t feel that they have to be the visionary. But they know that it’s their job to get everyone involved and keep them working at the top of their game.

It’s not always easy to communicate your vision in a way that draws others into it so that they adopt it for their own vision. However, it’s easier if you incorporate metaphors, word pictures, and stories that people relate to. Don’t be afraid to express the depth of your emotional involvement and excitement, because it’s that passion that will fire up others.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but the best way to inspire others for a future project is to connect with them mindfully in the present. If you’d like to learn to inspire others and make more meaning connections in your life, please check out the Women in Leadership Retreat I’m leading with my close friend Nando Raynolds on May 20 and 21. It’s going to be life-changing!

What is Love and How Many Types of Love Are There Anyway?

If you’re wondering what is love and how can you experience more meaningful connections in your life, this post reveals the types of true love you can feel.“Love is an untamed force. When we try to control it, it destroys us. When we try to imprison it, it enslaves us. When we try to understand it, it leaves us feeling lost and confused.” ~  Paulo Coelho

You love your parents. You love your children. You love your life-long best friend you’ve had since grade school.  You love your romantic partner. You love them all, but not in the same way. Each one holds a special and unique place in your heart.

Why is it that we immediately “fall in love” with some people, while not others? Just to give you an example: I’ve become acquainted with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s work (www.chimamanda.com). And I immediately felt a strong connection with her. What she says and her way of being really resonates with me. She’s funny, graceful, authentic, and the kind of powerful person that makes me proud to be a woman. So I’ve fallen in love with her and have adopted her as my new role model.

From a biological point of view, love is fundamentally chemistry. While lust is a temporary sexual state caused by the release of chemicals such as testosterone and estrogen, true love is caused by the release of a whole range of chemicals such as pheromones, dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin and vasopressin.

From an evolutionary standpoint, love can be viewed as a survival mechanism because it holds the family and community together for mutual security and shared resources.

The word “love” is confusing, because in English we have just one word to describe so many emotional states. It would be so much better to follow the example of the ancient Greeks who had numerous words to describe the various feelings of love:

  • Philia – the deep intimacy between close friends or family members.
  • Ludus – the playful affection like flirting. 
  • Storge – affection within the moment similar to when you see a child do something adorable.
  • Pragma – the mature love that develops over a long period of time between committed couples who actively practice goodwill and understanding.
  • Agape – the generalized love for all of humanity. 
  • Philautia – the self-love that we need in order to care for others.
  • Eros – the sexual passion and infatuation, which fades unless it turns into a deeper love like philia or pragma.

Even growing up in Italy we distinguished between love towards family and friends by saying: “Ti voglio bene’” and towards a romantic partner using the phrase: “Ti amo.”

Love is never static. It’s expansive. Your heart will never be too full to accept another love. However, it needs to be nurtured and expressed in acts of kindness, generosity and self-sacrifice to stay alive and active.

You can be open to accepting love, but you can’t dictate how, when and where love strikes. You can’t make somebody love you. Love usually arrives in our lives without warning. You can’t buy it. Sell it. Imprison it.

True love is so powerful that it can never hurt anyone. Although, it may cost you dearly because it gives you the courage to speak up and stand up for what you believe in. While it comes freely, it creates an unbreakable bond, one that can be stronger than death. There is nothing it can’t face. If you have love you have a blessed life.

Yet sadly, too many people live without love. They’ve been abused. They’re too busy. Or their fears keep love away. They feel unloved, unworthy, unappreciated. The good news is that anyone can change their situation.

If you’d like to experience deeper, more meaning connections in your life, remember change starts within you. Please check out the Women in Leadership Retreat I’m leading with my close friend Nando Raynolds on May 20 and 21. Everyone gets to choose their own goal to work on so creating loving relationships could be yours. Or feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation, in-person, by phone or via Skype.

How to Develop True Emotional Intimacy between Friends

Experience the joy of emotional intimacy between friends when you learn how to mindfully accept yourself and can be vulnerable, honest and open without fear“Real connection and intimacy is like a meal, not a sugar fix.” ~ Kristin Armstrong

Does the idea of being emotionally intimate sound amazing or scary to you? Fear keeps many people distant from others. As a result, they become loners or social butterflies that flit from one encounter to another, collecting acquaintances but no real friendships.

Either way they feel empty inside. It’s the difference between having a burger versus an avocado salad for lunch. The first one looks delicious but it has no nutritional value. The second one is deeply nourishing and the benefits can last for a long time.

If you carry such fear, be assured that it’s possible to get rid of the fear. You can experience the exquisite joy of connecting with another person emotionally, intellectually and spiritually – that endeavor we call intimacy.

We all need close friends who are there for us through good times and bad. They are the people who love and accept us for who we are. There are two things that will help you be more comfortable forming intimate relationships.

First, you need to accept yourself the way you are.

When you learn to be mindful, fully aware of yourself, you can be authentic and open with others. When you learn to listen to yourself and trust yourself then you can truly listen and trust others.

Intimacy simply means that the doors of the heart are open for you, you are welcome to come in and be a guest. But that is possible only if you have a heart which is not stinking with repressed sexuality, which is not boiling with all kinds of perversions, which is natural – as natural as trees, as innocent as children. Then there is no fear of intimacy.” ~ Osho

If you long for intimacy, you have to be willing to drop your defenses, repressions, and inhibitions and be vulnerable. If you’re living a simple, natural life there will be no fear of intimacy, only abundant joy and fulfillment. But if there are scars and wounds that you’re trying to hide, these will need to be healed and mended. Otherwise, you’ll always be afraid that someone will “find out”.

These hurts will no longer have power over you when you let them go, because you’ve rid yourself of self-condemnation and judgment. You accept that you don’t have to be perfect. You no longer lose respect, greatness, or ego, because you’re not focused on those things any longer.

Second, you must open up fully to others and let them get to know the person you are inside.

 Platonic intimacy goes deeper than everyday ‘small talk’. It takes time. Lasting friendships grow from having a common interest or shared passion. It’s not that you want to sleep together, but you want to work together towards a common goal. And your differences in opinion and outlook bring richness to the friendship.

Look at the friends or acquaintances you already have and see if there isn’t someone you’d like to get to know better on a deeper level. Look for your common ground and start sharing deeper thoughts and feelings on that topic. Remember, intimacy takes willingness to be vulnerable, to share yourself and risk hurt and rejection. You’ll achieve it only when you’re being deliberate, consistent and exquisitely attentive.

If you’re struggling with how to build intimate relationships, please check out the Women in Leadership Retreat that my intimate friend Nando Raynolds and I are leading on May 20 and 21. We can work with you on this particular goal. Or feel free to contact me and schedule a one-on-one “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation, in-person, by phone or via Skype.

Platonic Friendships – Men and Women Can Safely Pursue Intimacy!

People are starved from true connection in their platonic friendships, yet men and women can safely pursue intimacy in their friendships without fear.“Intimacy is not a happy medium. It is a way of being in which the tension between distance and closeness is dissolved and a new horizon appears. Intimacy is beyond fear.” ~ Henri Nouwen

Your best friend…who is it? What makes him/her your BEST friend? Perhaps it’s because you’ve known each other forever. Or you have a lot in common as you share similar interests, values and goals. Platonic friendships are held together by intentional attention and nurturing. Friendship is a growing and evolving endeavour. And it will fail if it’s neglected.

Life-long friends are rare, mainly because we outgrow our childhood relationships. They were built around circumstances like living next door, going to the same school, attending the same events. But when we moved past these activities, the friendships faded away because there wasn’t much in common any more.

Platonic friendships take emotional and intellectual connection. True friends really understand each other. They connect on an intimate level, not just superficially. True friends see each other’s faults, but because of caring for each other, they don’t focus on these faults but strive to help each other become better people. It means seeing each other for who you are, not for what you can get from them. It means shifting the focus off of self and looking for the good and valuing them deeply.

Intimacy is not the same as sexuality. Sex is simply one way of displaying intimacy. A person can engage in sex without it being an intimate act. Intimacy is when people openly share themselves, fully exposing their inner being, their thoughts, their emotions, their pains, their desires, and their cherished dreams. And many people have a hard time doing that, because somewhere in their past they’ve been hurt and they haven’t learned to let that go.  

Many people are starved from true connection, attunement and deep presence with one another. Some of us bring this drought from childhood where the connections were sparse and scarce. Or we’ve developed the “I don’t want to get involved” attitude because we don’t want to be responsible. Perhaps overtime this has formed from an emotionally sterile home or work environment.

Others find it very challenging to develop intimate friendships outside of their romantic relationships, especially with the opposite sex, for fear of crossing boundaries. So, they’re okay not taking risks and dealing with a deep longing for nourishing connections.
 
There are a lot of insecurities around forming platonic friendships. Some of the following reasons may resonate with you. As you read them, see which ones you identify with… 

I don’t know how to cultivate closeness in a platonic friendship without risking rejection, awkwardness or sexual charge. If there’s intimacy, do I need to be or do anything different? Am I obligated in any way? Cultivating greater emotional intelligence will help you identify your own emotions and those of others so you’ll know what behavior is appropriate.

I am not good enough. If I give people a chance to get close to me, they’re going to find out all my faults and not like me. Everyone has faults. Look for the good in yourself and others.

I don’t trust myself. Being a friend means you can count on me, and I don’t know that I can always be there for you. And if it’s a member of the opposite sex, I know it’s going to become sexual, because I can’t control myself. You can learn to trust and control yourself.

I don’t trust others. I’ve been hurt before and I’d rather be alone that risk that again. Taking risks is what living fully is all about. Stepping into a risk, without having a specific outcome in mind, frees you to experience the moment joyfully and view it as a gift.

I don’t want to be rejected. What if I invest in a person who doesn’t reciprocate? Being rejected is part of life. What about rejection bothers you so much? Not everyone in the world is meant to be your friend. 

There may not be as many established protocols that facilitate building emotional intimacy in a non-romantic setting. But you can develop emotional and intellectual skills to cultivate platonic intimacy.

If experiencing intimacy is what you’re looking for, check out the Women in Leadership Retreat I’m leading with my colleague Nando Raynolds (a very intimate friend of mine!) on May 20 and 21. We can work with you on this particular goal. Or feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation, in-person, by phone or via Skype.

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