Guest Post: What My Darkest Times Have in Common

In my book Your Belief Quotient, chapter four is about Creating Connectedness, with ourselves, with others, with our God.  Bill Baren is a coach who describes the importance of connection in a post borrowed from his lastest newsletter.

What My Darkest Times Have in Common

by Bill Baren

As human beings we tend to compare. We compare other people’s highlight reels with our own backstage happenings. We often can’t help it…

The reality is always more complex than it looks.

When I think of my life, I have had my share of failures. I’ve had struggles. And I’ve had times when I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. It’s definitely not my highlight reel.

Yet when I sat down this week to think about what these darker times had in common for me, I was able to boil down my failures and struggles into three little words:

Lack of Connection

Whenever I’ve lost the connection to what I am doing
Whenever I’ve lost the connection to the people I am doing it with
Whenever I’ve lost the connection to the people I am doing it for

Whenever that happened – I failed, I struggled and/or I got depressed.

As a heart-based entrepreneur, connection is vital to your success. And if you’re not creating a connected business, if you’re feeling alone and isolated, it is more likely than not that you are struggling.

That’s why so many business owners are disenchanted with just marketing on-line, which often doesn’t easily lend itself to creating a community and isn’t conducive to creating the human connection we crave.

What many of the business owners I speak to are finding is that when they carve out a place for themselves as the go-to resource in their own community and when they do more business locally, they tend to lift the veil of isolation and bring in a sense of belonging and connection
into their lives.

So I invite you to create a daily practice of connecting to who you are and what you do. And I urge you to open up your marketing and your business models to being more connected and a lot less isolated.

It will pay off for you with joy and financial success, too.
Bill BarenBill Baren Coaching
http://www.masterofenrollment.com/

 

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What Kind of Door are You?

Last week I was on a coaching call with the Wealthy Thought Leader mastermind group led by Andrea J. Lee.  If you don’t know Andrea (If you’re a coach, have you been living under a rock??), she is the consummate coach, and always seems to have a question or exercise that makes me go “hmmm…” If you’ve worked with me, you have benefited from Andrea’s work as I often pass gems like this one along.

This exercise is about having a clear picture of what the door to your business looks like. If your business is a big beautiful building, what is the door like? The woman Andrea was coaching in our session is a silver-haired wise woman, with an earthy vibe, a potter and lover of nature. We all chimed in with what this wise-woman-business-coach’s door would look like, and by the time we were finished we had a beautiful sense of who Kaya is, as well as what attracts people to her business.

This exercise hit me at just the right time. I’m revising my web site and struggling once again with brand angst. I don’t want to waste time on navel-gazing and certainly don’t want to lose what is working with my brand – but how can I refine it, better define it, and embrace it?
For me, as a part of this exercise, it meant looking at doors. I’ve been collecting photos of beautiful, interesting doors on Pinterest a long time – you can take a look at my board here: “Behind this door, down this path“.

After finding doors that I love and felt were “me”, I talked to a few trusted friends, clients, and my favorite source of wisdom: my mom. I asked them which doors represented my business to them and why. The responses touched my heart. I learned that I do have a brand that my clients recognize, and now I have words and phrases and images to share it with others.

stained glass doors tree

Welcoming, safe, nurturing, a catalyst for growth, an artist.

How would you or your trusted confidants describe the entry to your life and your business? Not sure… go look at a few doors.
Here are a few of mine…  What kind of door are you?

blue grillwork door

There is light streaming from your door inviting those wandering in darkness to come in and find clarity and direction.

yellow arches

Layered, deep wisdom, spiritual

paned window door

Always looking upward, outward and forward.

yellow door

Both traditional and progressive; elegant and fun

Angkor Wat

Timeless wisdom, journey to the center, soul surgery to abolish lies and reveal hidden truths

Sturdy, yet vulnerable; old (experienced) but not weathered or tired; firm foundation

Sturdy, yet vulnerable; old (experienced) but not weathered or tired; firm foundation

teal door

A gem in a uniquely crafted yet highly secure setting.

The Cycle of Abundance

[Excerpted from Your Belief Quotient: 7 Beliefs that Sabotage or Support Your Success]

Abundance is the belief that there is more than enough. In an abundant universe, you have plenty of time, money, health, energy and wisdom. Abundance is the knowledge that you can give it all away and there will still be enough for yourself. Abundance expands with heartfelt gratitude and humility.  At its core, an abundance mentality springs from a healthy sense of personal worth and builds on one’s personal and spiritual values.  Dr. Stephen Covey coined the phrase “abundance mindset” in his best-seller The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. According to Covey, an abundance mentality is “a paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody.”1

Nature gives us wonderful examples of abundance, particularly in the growth cycle of trees and flowers. After a period of dormancy, a fruit tree bursts into blooms and is covered in an abundance of flowers. Wind and rain might buffet the tree and destroy many of the flowers. An average of 75% of the flowers will fall, but those buds remaining will eventually grow into fruit. A fruit tree is not designed to have every flower pollinate and grow into fruit. The tree does not have the resources to sustain every flower. The larger and stronger the tree’s branches and internal supports, the greater the capacity it will have to bear more fruit.  Once the tree bears fruit, every piece of fruit contains seeds, and every seed contains an incalculable number of trees and fruit.  This is abundance!

Leif Nilsson Studios

This illustration fits the human experience of abundance well. We also go through periods of dormancy. These periods are times of quiet growth and strengthening. During dormancy, a fruit tree rests and its sap slows. It is the perfect time to prune away dead branches and treat any disease.  As humans, we need time to pull back and reflect on what needs pruned away. We need time to heal and refresh. The end of dormancy comes after the tree has been exposed to chilling temperatures and the weather begins to warm. People awaken and grow as they warm up to new ideas and opportunities. Tree growth during the spring is dependent upon the quality and quantity of sunlight, water, and soil. Our growth as individuals is equally dependent on how we feed ourselves: body, mind and spirit. Abundance requires preparation. Once those flowers begin to emerge from the branches, only the most resilient survive to become fruit. The initial beauty of the petals fall away as the fruit emerges and ripens. The intoxicating sweetness of fully matured fruit arrives after being warmed by the summer sunlight.  Wind, rain, and heat are metaphors for the challenges we must face to grow and be prepared for abundance.  Once we begin to bear fruit in our lives, we witness firsthand the ever expanding cycle of abundance.

I go into the detail of the growth cycle of fruit trees for a purpose:  Abundance does not magically appear.  There are myths circulating that we can engage in wishful thinking and expect abundance to appear.  This is simply not true.  That is not to say that abundance, when it occurs is not surprising.  Manifesting abundance can seem magical, but it is always the result of a cycle of preparation. It is my intention to help you understand how to be ready to receive abundance in your life. Your beliefs about abundance are crucial to your success in life and business.

Excellence

“We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”  ~Aristotle

Excellence is seen as a requirement for success in today’s culture.  Somehow to simply do a good job is not enough.  Average has been branded as mediocre and very good is barely enough.  The problem with this thinking is it creates unrealistic expectations.  No one can be great at everything all the time.  Comparing ourselves to a certain standard of excellence can be beneficial and challenging in a healthy way.  Comparing ourselves to others can be defeating and discouraging.  There is a quote that has been floating around social media:  “Don’t compare someone else’s highlight reel to your behind-the-scenes bloopers”.   It is time to rethink our definitions and rebuild our beliefs around excellence.

In researching The Belief Quotient it was surprising to discover the high number of people who believe they strive for excellence but how few of these people believe they ever achieve it.  Digging deeper we found skewed perceptions about mediocrity, excellence and perfectionism.  Many of those we interviewed believed that if they were not the best in their field, they were not excellent and therefore were mediocre.  This definition of excellence is based on comparing yourself and your work to others.  The weakness in this method of defining excellence is that the measure is a moveable object and very subjective.  Excellence needs to be based on an objective measure, goal or target.

We also talked to a number of people who believed that excellence means perfection.  These folks analyze their efforts and scrutinize for any possible flaw.  Praise for their work is discounted because they can always find something that could be better.  They cannot claim excellence because perfection is an impossible goal.

Rebuild your beliefs around excellence by focusing on these statements:

1. Excellence is a process, not an outcome.

2. Excellence is a reflection of character, not achievement.

3. Excellence allows for learning from mistakes, not harsh criticism.

4. Excellence sees others in a supportive role, not an adversarial role.

5. Excellence is willing to wait for mastery to be achieved and does not expect immediate results.

Anne Lamott says it well:  “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”

(Excerpt from The Belief Quotient, due out this summer!)

Five Belief Barriers to Team Success

ImageYour team has had their cheese moved and discovered a sixth dysfunction while having a crucial conversation.  You’ve tried to drive their purpose, test their passions and find their strengths.  Profits are down, tensions are up and you are wondering what ever made you think you could pull this group together.  And there lies the problem.  Do you actually believe it is possible to connect with the members of this group and work together toward positive outcomes?  Does each member of the team have a similar belief?  Teams are made up of individuals, and those individuals each have belief systems that either support or sabotage their ability to create meaningful connections.  When teams are stressed, limiting beliefs can derail any forward momentum.  Knowing and believing that you can create strong, healthy relationships is the first step toward building a team.

Henry Ford said it well, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”  Your personal beliefs are the filters that influence every thought, action, decision and relationship you have.  Your belief system began being formed in early childhood, and every relationship you’ve ever had has contributed to your belief about the next one.  So what do you believe about your ability to connect, build, maintain and deepen relationships?

There are five belief barriers to creating healthy connections. Identifying these barriers is the first step in creating healthy beliefs about your connections to others.

1.  Defensiveness stems from unresolved conflicts and unhealed wounds from past connections with others.  A false sense of self-preservation drives us to put up walls to prevent new hurts before they happen.  There is an injustice to this defensive posture as we hold ourselves from new connections because of what someone else did to us. The problem with this is that we are assuming this new connection will be just as harmful as the ones that hurt.  We fail to realize this new connection could bring healing and joy to our lives.  To eliminate defensiveness, we must develop the belief that we are resilient.  The word resilient stems from the Latin word that means literally “to leap back”. The resilient overcome obstacles.  “The Fraud Factor” shows up when someone believes they must cover up real or imagined faults.  This lack of authenticity can grow into a lack of integrity.  When a member of a partnership or team puts on a front, the others usually sense it on an unconscious level.  Transparency about your personal strengths and weaknesses is the best way to build trust, an essential component building relationships.

2.  Dependence stems from a false belief that you are not able to accomplish your objectives on your own.  An unhealthy dependence on others grows out of fear that without the strength or support of others, you are not enough.  This faulty belief usually has its root in early childhood where you were not given opportunities to overcome obstacles and excel.  Confidence is built slowly, one success upon another and confidence is the antidote to dependence.

3.  Comparisons can be an equally destructive barrier to connection.  It is human nature to do some comparing as you begin new relationships.  When two people first meet, they compare differences, noting how each is unique.  The danger comes when one of the parties in the relationship fail to meet some unwritten standard or criteria.  Uniqueness can be an attraction factor or something that makes you feel awkward and disconnected.  Diversity can be divisive or add variety and spice. Thinking “you’re not like me” or “I’m not like them” can be the beginning of a belief that either weakens or builds a connection. There are two potential routes your thinking can take:

“I’m not like them, so I don’t belong and never will.” or “I’m not like them, I can contribute my unique strengths and perspectives.”

4.  Distractions take our focus off the priorities important to the relationship.  Every relationship, partnership and team has values, goals, agendas and ideas whether they have been clearly communicated or not.  When one member is distracted by conflicting activities, the relationship suffers.  Believing in the vision of the team requires vigilant focus as well as the willingness to sacrifice personal agendas.

5.  Finally, personal preferences can be a belief barrier to creating healthy connections.  Certain personality types need more time and space than others.  They prefer to recharge their batteries with time alone.  They might need time to consider ideas and their responses.  They could have a greater need for quiet.  Believing that the relationship robs you of what you need to function will create tension and limit your ability to contribute generously.  Individuals need to be responsible for nurturing themselves and making sure they come to their relationships as healthy and whole as possible.  Communicating personal needs and taking time for yourself will help others support you in being your best.  Then you can come to the group refreshed and ready to take on any challenge.

Do You Have “REACH”?

Every time you make a genuine connection with someone, you create REACH.  It doesn’t matter if it is in your personal or professional life – you have  established a relationship with some degree of influence.  Imagine you are getting ready to launch a new product or service.  You    know you need help with this project, so you REACH out to a few of your key contacts and enlist their support.  The strength of your connection and influence determines the length of your REACH.

Why REACH is so important should be obvious.  Marketing has shifted in the last few years.  Relationship marketing is one of the strongest trends ever to hit the business world, and it isn’t going away any time soon.  People prefer to do business with someone they know, like and trust.  When you have REACH, you are that trusted business.  Your marketing messages get read and people believe your products are good because you say they are.  REACH creates sales with loyal customers.

In other arenas, REACH is just as important.  As a leader in your home, church, company or community, you need REACH.  Author John Maxwell says that leadership is influence.  According to Maxwell, “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.”

How do you create REACH?  Consider the people who have REACH with you.  What are the qualities that attract your loyalty?  Integrity, authenticity, consistency, follow through, dependability are probably on your list.  Take a look at what you deliver and honestly assess what traits might be limiting your REACH.  What you put attention on will grow stronger.  Focus on being that man or woman that has REACH.

The Domino Effect

What do Bono, Charlie Sharpe (founder of Ozark National Life and Heartland Dairies), and most of my clients have in common? They are all business owners who have used their success and influence to create positive change in the lives of other people.  My husband Duke and I   attended the U2 concert in Minneapolis a week ago. It was AWESOME!! Bono, the Edge, Adam and David all performed with passion in the pouring rain. The music was outstanding. The technology (you’d have to see the Claw in person to understand just how amazing it is) was incredible. But for me the concert was even more inspiring because of the example Bono and the members of U2 demonstrate of using their platform to create change. Bono is well known for his support of Amnesty International, Project One and the Red project. He personally meets the hungry, disenfranchised and politically oppressed and does what he can to improve their lives. During the concert 58,000 fans were privileged to view a Skype message from Aung San Suu Kyi, the woman elected president of Burma. She was just recently released from prison after two years of oppression. Her crime: being elected in a democratic election. She was so thankful to U2 and their fans for her freedom. It moved my heart and made me glad to be a part of something even bigger than a rock concert.

Charlie Sharpe is not a household name, but thousands of people owe much to the lifelong commitment to service and integrity of this man. Charlie is the president of my husband’s company, Ozark National Life. Charlie had a vision for offering what he calls the Balanced Program of insurance and investments, and when the company he worked for as a young man didn’t support his ideas, he went out on his own and started Ozark. Now people around the country are saving and investing and creating wealth. But Charlie’s influence only begins there. After he had created this highly successful company, Charlie had a vision of creating a place where people could come and get free of alcohol and other addictions. He built Heartland on farmland in northern Missouri where he grew up. The men in his program needed work, so he built Heartland Dairy. The dairy needed trucks and other businesses to support the dairy, so he built those. Later a lodge, restaurants, cleaners, beauty parlor and other small businesses were added. At the center of this growing city is the church, school, and now a small college. Visiting Heartland last June was awe-inspiring as I couldn’t stop thinking about the Domino Effect of one man on so many lives.

How are you creating a Domino Effect with your time and resources? As a successful business owner, executive or entrepreneur, you have much to be thankful for and so much more than so many others. I realized not too long ago that almost every one of my clients is creating a Domino Effect of their own – transformational leaders in their work, their community and the world.

Let me know what you are up to – I’ll be highlighting transformational leaders here in the coming months and on a new radio show I’ll be launching in the fall!