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Develop Your Professional Expertise by Keeping 3 Steps Ahead

Learn to gain self-confidence as you develop your talents into a professional expertise that you can use to build a satisfying and successful business.Would you like to turn your personal talents into a business that you love? You can when you discover your genius and build your professional expertise around the things you love to do, working with the kind of people you enjoy. Does this idea appeal to you? Do you wonder if it’s possible for YOU?

I know it is, because that’s exactly what I’ve been able to do. It takes work and effort, but if I can do it, so can you.

“But Maria”, you might say, “I don’t know what my genius is! I don’t have a specialty. I’m too ordinary.” If that’s how you feel, don’t despair. You can become an expert.

Usually the thing that makes developing a professional expertise so overwhelming is that you think you have to know everything about a subject before you can consider yourself an expert. Let me tell you a secret I’ve learned along the way… you don’t need to know everything. You just need to stay three steps ahead of the people you’re serving. And that makes it very doable!

Why three? Our brains seem to more easily grasp things in threes. It forms a pattern that we remember better. Add more to the mix and we become confused. Just think about some common trios: red, white and blue; blood, sweat and tears; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; mind, body, and spirit;  A,B,C’s; 1, 2, 3; three blind mice; three little pigs; the three musketeers; and Larry, Curly, and Moe. People who originated these concepts intuitively recognized that three is a powerful number.

This principle of keeping three steps ahead applies to any business you have. Whether you’re providing a service, coaching an individual or leading a large group. Your community will see you as an expert if you teach them something they don’t know, or if you can do something they can’t do. You don’t have to know everything to be an expert.In fact, it’s impossible to know everything. You just need to know more than the person you’re teaching or leading.

Staying three steps ahead puts you in the place where you can do your best work. It keeps you in the sweet spot – not too far ahead that you forget what it’s like at their level; and not too far behind, which is so stressful.

 For example, if you’re ten steps ahead, you may forget part of the process and not be able to connect as deeply as they need. On the other hand, If you’re only one step ahead, you probably haven’t integrated your learning enough to have “worked out all the bugs” as the saying goes.

Part of living a healthy life is making sure we’re not staying at the same level personally or professionally. We, as creative humans, are happiest when we’re growing and expanding our knowledge, skills and expertise.

As you expand your professional expertise, you’ll find that there will be things that you outgrow. Over time you’ll weed out what doesn’t bring you joy, and you’ll pinpoint the things that keep you excited and engaged.

Don’t try to hang on to something just because it’s familiar or you’re afraid of trying something new, or you think you owe it to the people in your community. If you’ve outgrown it, be assured there’s someone else out there who can step in and fill that place.Keep yourself in your sweet spot of being three steps ahead and you’ll feel comfortable enough while still feeling challenged. That’s what keeps life exciting and fresh.

So what is it you love doing, or that you do easily? If you’d like help identifying or stepping into your professional expertise more fully, feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). Let me  guide and support you as you explore your options.

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.

Grow Professionally with 5 Rapid Transformation Strategies

If you want to accelerate your professional growth, here are 5 tips anyone can use to grow professionally and enjoy life more fully - tip 4 may surprise you“Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.” John W. Gardner

Isn’t it amazing to watch people completely transform themselves? One moment they’re a shy person and the next moment they’re confidently leading others. It’s as spectacular as seeing a beautiful butterfly emerge from a cocoon. How do they grow professionally, seemingly overnight?

The truth is this kind of transformation doesn’t happen overnight, does it? We aren’t born professionals – it takes time and concerted effort. However, there are strategies that you can use to grow professionally that will fast track your transformation as a confident leader in your field. Take a look at five of my favorites below:

1) Take advantage of targeted education. 

New practitioners, therapists, and coaches often struggle with maintaining focus, because there’s so much to learn when you’re starting your own business. It’s normal to get sidetracked. In order to grow professionally, you’ll want to fight that tendency and keep your goal foremost in mind.

Focus allows you to pick the most appropriate education for your current situation. Education is easily accessible via local or online courses, books and audios, podcasts, and joining specialized online communities, so take full advantage of these, but please do so purposefully. When you master one thing, move on to the next.

For example, over the years I’ve studied both traditional and non traditional methodologies. I started with western psychology and added specializations such as Hakomi, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Self-Relations and Ericksonian Hypnotherapy. But what really accelerated my transition from therapist to Somatic Coaching is the deep study of The Feldenkrais Method® and Neuro-Liguistic Programming.

Just as a caveat: searching for a “perfect” program may become an excuse for not taking action. You may find that working with a personal coach helps you focus on the most effective path toward your goal.  

2) Ask for specific feedback.

It boosts the ego when someone says they like what you’ve done. But without specific feedback on what’s working and what’s not, you won’t be able to grow professionally.

It takes time and effort to establish a reputation of excellence and it starts with the right attitude. For example, professionals aren’t defensive when they receive criticism, because they know that, somewhere there’s a nugget of truth they can use. Then they willingly invest in themselves to become the best version of themselves possible.

3) Network for progressive advancement.

Whom you associate with directly affects how you grow professionally. You may not view yourself on the same level as well-known people like Stephen Gilligan, Byron Katie, Robert and Diane Masters, or Richard Strozzi-Heckler, but you might be pleasantly surprised at how approachable influential people can be when you sincerely reach out to them. Social platforms let us show interest in what they do and how they do it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. (For example, please feel free to post your questions or comments about leadership, professionalism and personal growth on my Facebook page. I’m happy to chat with you.)

4) Go the extra mile.

Even if others are happy with a so-so result, hold yourself to a higher standard of excellence. Since an “okay” experience is quickly forgotten, push yourself to perform something truly memorable. Think creatively about how you can make it easier, more enjoyable, or more valuable for your clients.

5) Before saying “Yes” or “No”, mindfully consider your options. 

Some choices can be scary and that can make you say “No” reflexively. On the other hand, out of embarrassment or pride, you may be tempted to say “Yes” before fully knowing the scope of what’s required. Slow down and ask yourself why you’re reacting as you are. Then ask clarifying questions to ensure you fully understand the project at hand. By being willing to try new things, you demonstrate self-confidence, which inspires others to have confidence and trust in you as well.

Many years ago, one of my most influential mentors said to me: “When you are asked to do something, Say YES and then figure out how to do it!” This bold approach can bypass all the fear and anxiety of trying something new. It’s not for the faint of heart, though!

Which of these strategies are you ready to try? If you want to grow professionally it’s essential to have a plan. So, what do you really want to accomplish and how will you do it? Why not schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation with me so we can explore your options? I’m happy to meet in-person, by phone or via Skype.

Starting Your Own Private Practice? Five Things You Should Know…

Starting your own private practice or life coaching business will be more successful and less stressful if you consider these five things before you begin.Does starting your own private practice appeal to you? This can be a big transition for therapists, counselors, social workers, life coaches etc. But maybe you’re tired of the 9-5 job or you want more freedom to spend time on what’s really important to you. If so, there are some things that you should consider first so the transition to being an entrepreneur is easier and less stressful.

While it may seem tempting, it’s not wise to hand in your resignation without first having your new business up and running. And it’s not enough to build your business around something that you’re passionate about. Your new business must fit into what supports the kind of life you want for yourself and your family. It’s important to know that you can really make a living at your new business.

Consider the following questions before starting your own private practice:

What kind of life do you really want to live? A day-to-day existence isn’t enough. Life is meant to be enjoyed to the full! Now is the time to mindfully reflect on what it is that you really want and the values you hold dear. What personal goals have you been putting off? What do you want your life to look like 5, 10, 15 years from now? How do you want to renew your purpose in life? What are you going to do when you start to feel stuck?

How will you finance the new business? Starting a business on credit card debt is very stressful for you and your family. Start saving 20-40% out of each paycheck. Within a year, you’ll be in a good financial position to start your own business. During this time, learn to live on a budget and eliminate as much debt as possible. Put yourself into a position where you can live without a paycheck for a year, plus have extra for an emergency fund.

What’s your business plan? What’s your big picture dream for starting your own private practice? This is the time to fill notebooks full of all your ideas. What services or products will you offer? How will you deliver them? What does the sales process look like? How much money do you need to make monthly? Annually? How many sales do you have to make to fulfill that goal? Will you have employees, partners, sponsors, investors, etc? Where will your office be? What will your website look like? Which social media platforms will you find your clients on? How will you keep track of everything? A good online resource for getting started is enloop.com.

Who will buy from you and why will they want to? A business isn’t a business unless you have clients or customers. Start telling everyone that you’re starting your own private practice. Tell your friends, family, and acquaintances. Ask them if they would be interested in becoming a client or if they know of anyone who would be interested.

One of the biggest hurdles is narrowing down to a niche or audience that will really buy from you. If you try to appeal to everyone…you’ll appeal to no one. So don’t be afraid to be very specific about who you want to work with. It’s important to create a very clear marketing message of who you serve and what value you bring to them.

What kind of learning curve are you up against? There’s a lot involved in starting your own private practice. It’s time to assess what skills you have and what you still need to learn. Do you need further training in NLP? Do you need more computer skills? How about business finance and operational skills? What about marketing skills? Learn as much as you can now, because once you start your own business, you’re going to be really busy.

I enjoy helping fellow practitioners who are eager to build their own business, integrating personal excellence, core values and originality. If you could benefit from some one-on-one coaching, contact me and we can discuss your options.

To give you a super solid foundation for starting your own private practice, I also want to invite you to attend Institute for Professional Leadership fall class, Creating Your Dream Practice. As one of the instructors, I can personally guarantee you’ll walk away with a compelling business vision, clarity on your unique business identity, and a better understanding of your relationship with money and marketing. Feel free to contact me and ask any questions you might have.

Strong Convictions – The Secret to Becoming an Influential Leader in Your Community

Learn how you can model strong convictions in your leadership and experience greater success as you avoid alienating others by being wishy washy or arrogant“A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done.” ~ Ralph Lauren

Have you ever eaten a dish of food that was ho-hum and boring, and then someone adds a secret ingredient that really gives it a zing of excellence? In life and business, the secret ingredient that gives you a zing and makes you stand out are strong convictions.

When you’re strongly convinced that what you do and say matter and that what you offer is of great value to others, your energy shifts and you become more attractive and persuasive. The people you work with feel more at ease. It engenders a feeling of security. It helps everyone concentrate on doing their best work, because they see that everything is under control.

In contrast, uncertainty – the opposite of conviction –is perceived by the brain as a threat. It actually causes a release of the stress hormone cortisol, which disrupts your memory, and puts your physical, emotional and mental health at risk.

How can you model strong convictions in your leadership without alienating others? If you lack conviction, you can gain it through introspection and self-awareness. If you already have strong convictions, you can learn to express them in a pleasantly persuasive and compelling manner. As you read the following section, give yourself a rating on the scale of 1 to 10 for each one, so as to determine your strengths and weaknesses.

 “The Seven B’s of Strong Convictions” that will make your leadership skills outstanding:

Be informed. Know your topic forwards and backwards. When you have an excellent grasp of a subject, you can be absolutely convinced that you’ve chosen the best course of action. You can effectively apply what you know about the subject to real life situations.

Be strong. Make a stand for what you believe to be important and you won’t be swayed by everything that comes along. Use your strength for the good of others. Have the courage to make difficult decisions, take responsibility and do what’s best for the people you’re leading. This means you don’t give up when the going gets tough. You’re willing to take the bullet for your people. You back them up, never shifting blame. Leaders with true conviction are able to encourage others to openly speak up and share their viewpoints even if what they say is hard to hear.

Be tuned-in to your intuition. Your intuition or “gut instincts” are like a sixth sense where you quickly read a situation because you recognize subtle cues. It’s not the same as jumping to conclusions. Rather it takes time and mindful effort to increase your emotional intelligence. Once you learn to identify when you’re being influenced by unfounded assumptions or unresolved emotions stemming from unrelated experiences, you can filter these out. Then you’ll be able to trust your intuition and stop second guessing yourself or playing the “what if” game.

Be positive. See the good in everyone and everything, even in difficult times. Positive thinking gives your brain a chance to focus on stress-free thoughts, quieting fears and irrational thinking. Learn to choose a positive state, and you’ll be amazed at how it boosts your energy level.

Be passionate. Believe in yourself. Believe in your ability to make things happen. Of course, realistically we all have limitations. But the trick is not to accept any limitation without constantly testing their boundaries. Maybe you can’t do it today, but with training, increased knowledge and experience you can do it tomorrow. Don’t give up on your dream.

Be humble. Jump in and do the dirty work when it’s needed. Only ask your followers to do what you’re willing to do. Support, inspire and encourage those around you. Through your actions, prove that you walk the talk, never adopting the “do as I say, not as I do” attitude.

Be friends with change. Change is not your enemy. It’s natural to want to feel in control rather than being at the mercy of what life throws at you. Life happens. It’s not a personal failure when you can’t control what happens. However, how your react to it is totally within your control. Focus on that.

When you act with conviction, everyone around you unconsciously absorbs this belief and emotional state. Whether you’re leading a team at work, or you want to increase your self-confidence and grow as a person, or even if you want to be a better role model for your children, conviction is essential to your success. It creates a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Get a jumpstart on fine-tuning your conviction by attending our special talk: Choose Life Enhancing Beliefs on Thursday, August 25th. Nando Raynolds and I will be meeting with you at 600 Siskiyou, Ashland, Oregon to share how NLP can expand your abilities for happiness and excellence. Learn more about it by clicking here or contact me for more details. We’re looking forward to seeing you there.

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