“It is a grand thing to rise in the world. The ambition to do so is the very salt of the earth. It is the parent of all enterprise, and the cause of all improvement.” ~ Anthony Trollope
There is an ingrained, cultural bias to think it’s wrong to feed your ambition, if you’re a woman. Women with ambition have gotten a bad rep…they’re called selfish, b**chy, pushy, and unlikable. For example, there was a very revealing study conducted by the Columbia Business School. Half the class received a case study about a venture capitalist named “Heidi”; and the other half received the same case study with the name changed to “Howard.” While everyone in the class judged the content to be equally important, the ones reading about “Heidi” said she wasn’t likable, whereas the ones reading about “Howard” said he was likable.
It also illustrates the fundamental challenge to women’s leadership…qualities traditionally associated with leaders (assertive and authoritative) are not traditionally viewed as attractive in women. Both men and women are making judgments from this outdated paradigm. It’s time for a more expansive worldview that begins with finding the answer to this question:
How can you maintain joy and balance, as you feed your ambition?
While there’s a place for networking and finding support among “women’s only” groups, this exclusivity can reinforce the gender divide. A more integrative approach allows women who have extraordinary leadership qualities to do extraordinary work within any organization. Women don’t have to try to be like their male counterparts. They simply need to nurture and recognize their leader within and make that their strongpoint.
As I practice this within my own life and career, I’ve formed deeply meaningful leadership connections with men and women. At present, I’m partnering with Nando Raynolds, and we’re training both men and women over at our Institute for Professional Leaders website. I’ve also partnered with Louise Santiago to lead an annual all-woman retreat in Mindo, Ecuador.
Would this have happened if I was pretending to be what I’m not? No. These connections are based on being our authentic selves and bringing our unique talents and gifts to the table. We’re successful because our focus is on being the best leaders we can be, not making an issue over gender.
While the world, in general, is still dismissive of women with ambition, there are shifts in accepting people who feed their ambition in an authentic way. I recommend reading an inspiring article about three very ambitious women, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, and Tory Burch. Here are three very transformative messages I gleaned from their struggles and successes that will help you feed your ambition in a sustainable way:
1. Feed your ambition, by believing in yourself. If you see an opportunity, don’t hold back. Trust your instincts; learn all you can about your topic; and create a step-by-step plan for making it work. Don’t take no for an answer.
2. Feed your ambition, by deeply knowing you deserve success. While it’s helpful to look for role models, don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to them and putting yourself down before you even get started. This is where the issue of deserving it or not rears its ugly head. If you put in the work, you deserve the success. Believe that with all your heart, because it’s true.
Stop worrying about what others will say. Don’t ask for permission or be apologetic. Erase from your vocabulary hesitant words like, “Is this Okay?” “It’s not as good as I’d hoped.” “I wish it was better, but…” If there’s room for improvement, make it! Don’t apologize for a job half done. Finish it. Polish it. Make it shine! However, beware of stalling out on the fine line between being a perfectionist and being good enough to put it out there into the world. You can adjust and tweak as time goes along.
3. Feed your ambition, by owning your success. We’re taught that it’s not polite to brag, so we hold back from speaking about our successes. Here’s a much healthier mindset to adopt: it’s not bragging; it’s sharing information that can help others to succeed too. Become more mindful and notice what internal shifts and external actions led to moments of success, whether small or large. Then you can turn these steps into a success story that has real value for those who listen to you. This, in turn, grows your own confidence immeasurably.
Are you ready to feed you ambition? Within days, my colleague, Louise Santiago, and I will be traveling to our annual retreat entitled: “Women, Wisdom & Presence – Evolving our presence in the world.” Make plans now to join us next year. Together, we’ll be exploring how to recognize, name, and support the leader within you. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.
“If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.” ~ Charles R. Swindoll
It’s hard to stay motivated day in and day out. One day you’re fired up, the next day you might feel like you’re walking through sludge to get anything done. And we’re constantly being bombarded with distractions. Many people call it suffering from the “Bright Shiny Object Syndrome.” It’s so easy to lose focus. And without focus, you’ll lose your motivation. If you’d like to know how to keep your motivation high, despite whatever happens in your life, please pay attention to the following tips.
How to keep your motivation high through life’s ups and downs…
1. Know and always remember your ‘why.’
Your goals and plans are fueled by your big ‘why’. Why you want something determines how you’ll go after it. So what do you really care about? What are you willing to sacrifice to get it? How can you achieve it, while staying true to yourself, your values, and your dreams?
2. Create an action plan every night.
When you go to sleep with your next day planned out on paper, you’ll sleep better and get more done the following day. Make sure you list two or three action items that get you closer to your big goals. This will keep you focused on what really matters, so you can wake up early and get much more accomplished.
3. Keep your strength up through restorative sleep.
Without sleep, you won’t have the energy you need to keep your motivation high. Resist the urge to stay up late into the night, pushing yourself because you hope to get everything on your to-do list done. Sleep deprivation assures that you won’t function properly that night or for days to come. You’ll accomplish more, with higher quality of work, if you make sleep a priority. Cut work off at a reasonable hour, relax and get your 8 to 10 hours.
4. Begin each day with constructive “me time”.
In order to keep your motivation high, it’s absolutely necessary to start your day by becoming centered and setting your intentions for the day.
5. See distractions for what they are and avoid them.
There are so many things that vie for your attention, so it’s important to make sure of what’s really important for TODAY and ignore or avoid everything else. It helps to carry a notepad and capture ideas you want to try in the future. Then it’s okay for your brain to get back to focusing on today. You don’t have to be continually trying new tools, apps, or methods.
6. Regularly seek inspiration.
Just as you need a regular supply of nourishing food for your physical health, you need a regular supply of inspirational food for your soul and spirit. Seek out inspirational people who are already living the life that you want to live, and avoid people who affect you negatively.
7. Fight procrastination.
Once a minute passes, you can’t get it back. Becoming more mindful helps you notice how precious each moment is, so you choose not to waste time. Greater awareness of your needs and desires helps you make better decisions. For example, you’ll say, “No I won’t watch TV, because I want to watch this video so I can learn this new skill.” Mindful decisions will help you get the most out of every second of every day.
How will you keep your motivation high? Which one of these tips resonated most with you? Does one highlight an area in which you’d like more accountability? If so, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
“Never pull away suddenly from a negative thought or experience. Stay with it until you are indifferent to it or until it turns beautiful. Look at it, love it, then let it go.” ~ Thaddeus Golas, Author
Have you noticed that you intensely remember a bad experience from years ago, but the pleasure you experienced last week is easily forgotten? This isn’t just a matter of long-term or short-term memory. Instead of taking in the good, our brains are hardwired to remember painful or bad experiences, as a way of protecting us from possible harm in the future. If we get anywhere close to repeating something disturbing, our brain sends us down the rabbit hole of negativity, to keep us safe.
The brain learns from our experiences and how we process or “file” them. Think about how you’ve been “filing” every experience in your life. If you’re like most people, you tend to see the bad in them, so your brain files them into one of your over-stuffed negative files, like your “Resentment File”, “Grudge File”, or “Self-Doubt File”. Some examples:
- A confrontation with your spouse made you feel bad, so anytime disagreements arise, you get angry and defensive, because you don’t want to feel powerless again.
- A snake scared you, so every time you see a snake your skin crawls.
- Your neighbor, Stephanie, hurt your feelings, so every time her name is mentioned your brain retrieves resentful feelings.
Was there any good in these experiences? Probably. However, you didn’t see it or you resisted taking in the good. In all of these cases, your brain only retained a snapshot of negativity and erased the rest of the whole picture, which included a lot of good that could have brought you happiness.
Whereas, if you change the way you process your experiences and lean toward mindfully savoring the moment and taking in the good, you’re telling your brain to file them in your “Happiness File”, or “Gratitude File”, or “Love File”. Instead of automatically dumping each experience in one of your negative files, you’re teaching your brain to see, enjoy, and use the good.
“Everything that is created begins in the mind.” ~ Ruth Fishel, Author
An effective way to rewire your brain is to use the H.E.A.L practice coined by Rick Hanson, Ph.D. In his book, “Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence,” he explains a process for deliberately and mindfully taking in the good. Here’s how this acronym works:
Have a positive experience in real time or as a recent memory, like when Stephanie took care of your dog while you were away on vacation. Feel the good emotions that go with it – pleasure, contentment, joy, etc.
Enrich it. Stay 15 to 20 seconds with your positive thought with a broad, open body, mind and spirit. Enhance and expand that good feeling by experiencing what it feels like in your body. Do you feel light? Warm? Safe? Loved? What other pleasant sensation do you notice about the experience?
Absorb it. Mindfully let it sink into your body, mind and spirit. Breathe with it and stay soft and open.
Link positive and negative material. Briefly recall a negative experience that you want to rewire, like when Stephanie hurt your feelings. Bring forward the positive, enhanced, absorbed memory, while keeping the challenging moment in the back of your mind. Let the two mingle together, until the positive takes on more importance and then anchor this new resourceful state. The next time you talk with Stephanie, you’ll feel a profound shift within yourself, because you’ve made this transitional link.
As you practice savoring the moment and taking in the good every day, you can turn your experiences, into lasting inner strengths, such as resilience, balance, and self-compassion. Remember that practice involves using your new skill repeatedly. If you’d like guidance and accountability on your journey toward a more positive outlook, please contact me for an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to meet you!
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Where are you headed in life? Are you on the right path? Are you feeling lost? Is it time for a course correction? Every so often it’s beneficial to ask questions like these so you can assess your wellbeing, dreams and desires…and then change what isn’t working for you any longer.
Take a moment to experience how your body reacts to the following seventeen areas of life. Does each one make feel free and joyful, or do some of them make you experience pain, loss or other negative effects?
- Growth & learning
- Daily relaxation
This exploratory exercise helps you identify the areas of life that are making you feel lost. It takes courage to give attention to these feelings, but it’s the first step to feeling whole again. Over the last few years, I’ve been coaching people to extraordinary personal success. Along the way, I’ve gleaned some life lessons that you can use to create more joy in these lost areas of your life. Here are three of them that make the biggest impact:
1. Be the boss…take responsibility…make the hard choices. I’ve found that so many people struggle with taking ownership of their own lives. Somewhere along the way, they’ve given away their power to things that don’t serve them anymore. They don’t feel like they control their own lives.
But at some point, you have to realize you chose those things…the job, the family, the life. You may not be able to change your past, but if you want your future to reflect your desires, start managing your life.
I don’t mean quitting your job, divorcing your spouse and abandoning your children. Instead of following the whims of your past, mindfully shift your thoughts and experiences to ones that bring you joy. No matter what the circumstance is, you can change your focus. Rather than fixating on an annoyance, look for the positive in each experience. As you make this your new way of being, you’ll find that the former irritations and annoyances bother you little, if at all.
2. Distinguish healthy habits from mindless routines. Pay attention to how your daily habits may be shutting you off from new experiences. For example, when you work for yourself, you sit at home in front of a computer a lot. This creates tunnel vision. If you don’t go out to lunch with friends; if you don’t leave the house; if you don’t get outside stimuli…life begins to stagnate. Your daily routine imprisons you, without you even realizing it.
Look for ways to shake things up…eat a different breakfast, try a different exercise routine, accept more invitations to get out. Become more mindful and self-aware of what you say “yes” or “no” to. In that way, you make each decision a choice, not just a reflexive habit that may not be serving you any more.
3. Ask for and accept help…often. Independence is especially prized in Western culture. But think about this: what dreams could you pursue, if you relied more on others who want to help? Let go of that voice that says you have to do it by yourself. (If you’re curious about exploring a coaching partnership, but you still have reservations, please reach out to me with any questions.)
When you’re feeling lost, it’s important to actively choose systems for living that help you become the person you want to be. If you’d like to dig more deeply into assessing your state of wellness, I invite you to download my free 7-Point Wellness Assessment. It’s one of the tools I use in my coaching practice to start clients on the journey to finding their personal truth.
“You seem like you’re miles away.” It happens to all of us, doesn’t it? Your body is there but you’re mind is somewhere else. Conversely, it’s also easy to be engaged mentally, but not physically. You know (the brain function) how to do something (lose weight, quit smoking, run a business, be a parent) but you don’t do (the body function) what is required to follow through.
If this only happens occasionally, that’s not a problem. However, if that’s your continual state of being, it’s a sign that you’re not fully connected with yourself or others. Not being fully present causes great strain on your relationships. And even more damaging, it makes it impossible for you to listen to what your own body is saying. It prevents your parts from being fully integrated.
There is great value in paying attention to your whole body as a source of wisdom and learning. You can learn to minimize distraction and become more fully present by incorporating somatic practices in you day-to-day activities.
What are somatic practices?
Somatic practices create an elevated level of self-awareness. Rather than focusing solely on thoughts and emotions, somatic coaching incorporates your entire body. The word somatic comes from the Greek root word “soma”, which means “the living body in its wholeness.” The body, mind, emotions and spirit influence each other constantly, even when you’re not aware of it.
Our society teaches us to concentrate on doing brain work. In school we memorize facts and pass tests, but we’re not taught how to live as a wholly integrated person. In business we sit at computers and strain our brains to the limits. But by the end of the day we’re exhausted mentally and just want to “veg out”. However, the body hasn’t been stretched or worked, so it’s too keyed up to settle down, therefore sleepless nights ensue.
By integrating simple somatic practices, you will get your work done, plus feel more centered and less tired. By bringing your whole integrated self to the table, your head is not doing all the work, and you’re not fighting with the parts of you that are distracted.
What are some basic somatic practices you can do to create deeper mind/body awareness?
- Mindfulness. Daily make a practice of noticing your body sensations and emotional responses.
- Monitor and become more aware of your breathing patterns. Here are some resources for you:
Tap into the Powerful Anatomy of Breathing to Promote Better Health
Five Breathing Exercises for Balancing Your Life, Your Mood and Your Relationships
Breathe Your Way to Wellness With the Yoga Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique
- Suspend judgment as you scan your body. Self-acceptance, self-awareness and self-motivation empower you to let go of self-judgments.
- Centering. Find that space within you that keeps you calm and at peace. Here are some resources to discover the best centering practice for you:
How to Center Yourself to Achieve Greatness.
10 Centering Techniques to Live an Embodied Life.
Discover Centering Practices That Promote Excellence.
- Grounding. After you’ve centered yourself, connect yourself to the ground. Move your attention from your head down the length of your body – your heart center, belly, legs, and feet. Feel yourself connected to the ground. Think about the time someone pushed you before you were aware that they would. You almost toppled over, didn’t you? Then think about how being aware ahead of time makes you able to hold your ground. You instinctively use your awareness to drop your energy and settle more into your body to ground yourself.
- The Feldenkrais Method®. Create a daily practice of body awareness through movement. I continually use this method to resource my back and make my body more resilient to stress.
- Visualization. Mindfully use the power of your thoughts to your advantage and engage your body in the new awareness.
- Reframing exercises. Rewire your brain to handle any negative event in a positive way and anchor the new action into your body.
- Anchoring techniques. Preset your response to specific situations by choosing positive somatic states.
These are just some of the somatic practices I use to help my clients feel more resourceful and excel in life. It’s empowering to know that you can mindfully choose to respond in a way that leaves you feeling whole and at peace. It just takes practice. With practice, your body will become more flexible and resourceful and you will become the person you want to be.
I’d love to explain further how you can use these and other powerful somatic practices. Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).