Stop pleasing the teacher!

Happy Friday!

On Monday morning, my alarm went off at 4:45am. 

Now I enjoy mornings, but I wouldn’t really call myself a morning person per say. And while I have quite a few friends and colleagues who are a part of the 5am club, I am not one of them!

But I got up at that time because I’ve signed up for swim training again. And, well, it begins at 5:55am. And seeing as how the pool is about 40 minutes away, I was already cutting it close. 

On the way there, I was feeling a tad anxious. 

So I tried to ask myself where it was coming from. 

Part of it was due to the fact it had been a long time since I’d been in the pool…

But another part of it, as embarrassing as it is to admit, was me feeling worried about what the coach thinks of me! Because I was off for a large part of last season due to breaking my foot, and because I missed our first session last week, I kinda have this belief she thinks I’m not dedicated enough, not good enough, or she simply doesn’t like me!

I’m a grown woman, and I am still worried about pleasing the teacher!

Indeed it’s a bit ridiculous. 

Growing up, I was a bit of a people pleaser. And although I’ve come a long way, I still do certain things in an effort to make others happy. Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with that, mind you. I mean, it’s nice to be nice to people. We all like nice people. And I do try my best to be a nice person. But there is a difference between wanting to be nice, and needing to please. 

Now people-pleasing, as I’ve shared before, is one of the Big Bravery Killers

And it’s one of the things that can prevent us from doing what we truly want to be doing, and what we’re truly meant to be doing with our lives. 

We like gaining approval, recognition, validation. We like being liked. 

But sometimes, we can go to great lengths to please others. And to our detriment. 

I’m sure you can think of a time you said yes to something or someone, when perhaps you should have said no. And every time you do that, you are then saying no to something, or someone else. And all too often that is you

Yes, it’s about creating strict boundaries, honouring your limits and taking care of you.

But more that that, it’s about pleasing YOU, above all. 

In the famous article, Top Five Regrets of the Dying, which I’ve expanded upon in a past blog, Bronnie Ware shares what she discovered over the years through her work in palliative care. The number one regret of the dying is wishing they had had the courage to live a life true to themselves, instead of a life others expected of them. 

And if we’re going to live a life that is truly true to who we are, we may have to do a little less pleasing of others, and a little more pleasing of ourselves. 

Now perhaps it’s worth examining the motivation behind this pleasing.

Why are we wanting to please? To make others happy, or ourselves happy? Are we doing things we don’t even really want to be doing sometimes merely to please? And are we ever going to be truly happy if we are only ever doing things thinking and hoping they will please? 

Maybe we need to focus less on pleasing, and more on serving. 

And I think there is a distinction that needs to be made between the two. 

  • Pleasing others may elicit actions we don’t actually want to do. Serving others more often elicits actions from a genuine want to do so.
  • Pleasing others elicits actions motivated by a desired outcome. Serving others elicits actions motivated by a desired behavior.
  • Pleasing others may not stem from us being our most authentic selves. Serving others requires us to be our most authentic selves. 
  • Pleasing others may not necessarily leave us, or others, feeling empowered. Serving others is all about empowerment.
  • Pleasing others may lead to exhaustion, burn-out, failure. Serving others is invigorating, energizing, inspiring.

Perhaps it’s time to switch the narrative… perhaps it’s time to trump service over pleasing. 

Because so long as we are looking for others’ approval or validation, we will never get it. Whereas if we are truly operating from a place of service, we’ll likely be operating from our most powerful, authentic, bravest selves. And moreover, wanting to serve means we’re dedicated to making a difference… both with the people around us, as well as in the world. 

Perhaps it’s time to re-think. Life is short. Better to spend energy and time with those that already get you, like you, love you. 

Maybe I’m going to have to be okay with the fact my swim coach may not like me. I think I’ll survive. 

Maybe it’s time to focus on those who get me, and those who I want to serve in my life, instead of those I want to please.

So it’s time to get honest. 

Is there a ‘teacher’ in your life that you are trying to please? Perhaps it’s a boss, a parent, a colleague, a sibling, a friend. Are you trying to get them to see you? To give you their approval? To offer validation?  

I want to hear from you in the comments below!

 

It’s None Of Your Business!

Happy Friday!

It’s true, it’s none of your business. 

Not everything of course, but only your business is your business. It’s not everyone else’s business, nor is anyone else’s business your business. 

Allow me to expand. 

So my most recent video was picked up by Power of Positivity and went ‘viral’ – whatever that means. (Well, I guess it means it’s been seen by a lot of people, almost 600,000 so far, and getting lots of shares and comments.) 

Now, many of the messages coming in are lovely. And I have to say after sharing my story pretty darn vulnerably, and then disclosing a few items on my own ‘If I Were Braver…’ list and being very nervous about it to boot, it’s good to know the talk is inspiring others to also be braver. 

And then there are some of the messages that are not so nice.

One of the most recent read: “Wow, she looks a lot older than that, life must’ve been rough on her!” (after I admit in the talk being worried about being single at my age and still wanting to find my match and have babies… so not really what I needed to hear!) 

Now luckily, it only made me laugh when I read it, however nasty comments don’t always float off my back so easily.

And for whatever reason, our human brain is wired to focus on the negative, even if it’s one small negative comment to way more positive!

Why is that?!?

In his best-selling book ‘The Four Agreements’ (great read, by the way…) Don Miguel Ruiz proposes four beneficial agreements that if made for yourself, will have a significant and positive impact on your overall state of well-being. 

While expanding on argument two, ‘Don’t Take Anything Personally,’ he goes on to say what other people think of you is simply none of your business.

And he’s right!

Often easier said than done, of course. 

Yet this is exactly what causes us so much pain!

This week I was listening to an interview with Oprah and Byron Katie, who is the author of a book and philosophy called ‘The Work.’ And one of the topics they were discussing, which really resonated with me at the time, was this whole idea of whose business is whose anyway. 

Katie talks about the three kinds of ‘business’ that exist:

  1. Your business
  2. Other people’s business
  3. God’s business (or the Universe, or a higher power, or whatever you believe…)

She goes on to say your own business is a full time job! And there is no room, and no need, to get into anyone else’s business. And God – is doing what they need to do, and it’s out of your control. 

The idea is that if we only concern ourselves with our own business, we can control what we can control, and change what is no longer working for us. 

All too often the problem lies in wanting to change something that is out of our control. And that is what causes suffering. Yet, we’re bringing it on ourselves.

So, it’s time to stop it!

Here’s the situation that immediately came up for me. 

Sometimes I can be pretty hard on my Dad. 

I want him to eat healthier, be a bit more active, and have commented on more than one occasion on some of his habits. 

It always comes from a place of love, of course, because selfishly I want him around for a long time to come! However, it’s not my job to tell him what he should or shouldn’t be doing. Moreover, whenever I do pipe in, we all lose. He gets frustrated, I get frustrated, and nothing changes anyhow!

And then it dawned on me. 

The choices my Dad makes for himself are simply none of my business!

And suddenly, I felt a wave of relief come over me. 

It’s true, simply taking care of our own business is hard enough! So I am going to stick to that ~ do the best I can to be the best version of me for me ~ and then not worry about anyone else. (Well, at least not too much, anyway!)

I mean, let’s be honest, I’m human and so are you – so it may be a tad more difficult to simply stop caring all together. But perhaps we can start by caring just a little bit less. 

Stop caring about what other people think of you, because it’s actually none of your business. 

And stop trying to change the behaviours of others around you, as again it’s none of your business.

Imagine how freeing it would be to stop caring so much!

So this week, I dare you to get your brāv on, and start caring a whole lot less. 

Let me know in the comments below, one area of your life, or one person in your life, you are going to apply this idea to! I can’t wait to hear all about it. 

Have a FAB week!

You’re not too old. And it’s not too late.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

~ Chinese Proverb

When I was younger, like, I’m talking Carol in her very early teens, I realised I loved musical theatre. The problem was, I wasn’t a dancer. And I wanted to learn.

My immediate thought: I’m too old to start now!

And so I didn’t.

The following year, the feeling came back… I mean I really wanted to pursue musical theatre and I really wanted to learn how to dance.

My next immediate thought: “But I’m too old to start now!”

And so I didn’t.

And so it continued for a few years… until I just couldn’t take it anymore. 

I found myself at theatre camp, where I was having such an incredible time, I ended up staying for an extra two weeks. To do an intense dance camp. Yup, I finally started. 

At that point, it was the Summer before going into my junior year of high school! (Oh man, and to think I thought I was ‘old’ back then?!? Hilarious…)

And you know what, I LOVED it!

So when I got back to school, I decided to actually continue and enrol in dance classes. But not just one class, no no no ~ I was told if I really wanted to get serious about dancing, I needed to study all forms. 

So I signed up for ballet, jazz, modern, and tap. 

Almost every night of the week I was in dance class. 

Picture a 17-year old Carol, awkward enough as it was, in beginner ballet class where I was double the height and twice the size of these pre pubescent little girls, wearing a mandatory pink leotard and white tights. (And you should have seen the shiny bright turquoise unitard number that I had to wear for modern class! My roommate would literally roll around on the ground in hysterics every time I put that thing on!)

I digress.

So there I was one day in ballet class, and I was told I needed to work on my turn out. 

Now being the ever keener and people pleaser I was, I became obsessed with impressing the teacher and earning her affection through what I decided would become an incredible turnout. 

So during one of my next grand pliés, I turned out so much that while my thighs turned outwards, my knee popped inwards. 

Yup, I had popped my patella right out of place. 

I basically fell to the floor, but not wanting to appear weak in front of all the much younger girls I held back the tears as best I could and got back in position.

And then it popped out again. 

Perhaps I wasn’t cut out to be a dancer after all. 

I never went back to ballet class, and not long after that I gave up all of my dance classes altogether. 

Just as well, as it would have been ridiculously embarrassing to be in the recital with girls half my age and half my size dancing circles around me!

Or, perhaps it would have been ridiculously brave of me to stick to it. 

In any event, my dancing career ended before it ever began. 

Until it started again. 

You see, I did eventually get back to dancing, as I ended up pursuing theatre in university, which meant there were lots of dance classes. Now I was never going to be a Radio City Rockette (although how cool would that have been!), and remained scarred from that terrible experience in ballet class for quite a while mind you, but eventually I connected to the joy of what it felt like when I first explored dance. 

And I will have you know, after all these years away from it, I just signed up for a new 10-week dance program (for people my age thank goodness!) starting next month, including a mandatory recital!

So, what’s the moral of the story?

Never enrol in dance classes with children half your age and size if you actually want to stick to it! 

Just kidding. 

The moral of the story is you are never too old and it is never too late to start something you’ve always wanted to do. 

Be it dance classes, cooking, a new language, a new sport, writing, speaking, etc… 

And if ‘too old’ has never been your thing, get honest with yourself about what your driving excuse is. 

Which of the following are you saying to yourself?

I’m too old. I’m too young. I’m too busy. I’m too in debt. I’m too disorganised I’m too out of shape.  I’m too _____

Name your poison.

And then STOP IT already!!!

The more you say it, the more real it becomes. 
And the truth is, it is NOT the truth!

Besides, it will never be the perfect time, and you will never be any younger than you are today. And it’s only going to get harder the more you put it off!

And if you really want something, that desire is never going to go away. 

So, it’s time to identify:

  1. What it is you REALLY want?
  2. Which of these lies have you been telling yourself?
  3. What is the first next step you can take to start making it happen?

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

Chinese Proverb

I challenge you to get your brāv on and answer these three questions in the comments below. I look forward to hearing from you!

AND MARK YOUR CALENDARS!!! There are two exciting LIVE EVENTS coming up for all of you in the Toronto area!

1. Sept. 19thLinkedIN Local Meetup– How to be BRĀV through career transitions 

2. Sept. 26thGet Your BRĀV On!Lunch and learn for female leaders at The Verity Club!

I hope to see you there!

Have a FAB week!

Because I am brave…

Happy Friday!

Well, it turns out I’m not the only one who wants to be braver!

Thank you for your thoughts and comments and answers to last week’s blog, ’If I Were Braver…’ 

I think we’re onto something here, folks!

I did this exercise earlier today with a leadership group within the Nanaimo Ladysmith District School Board, where I am now (such a great group and such a beautiful part of the world!)

It made for some very powerful conversation, and some even more powerful brave action commitments!

And you know what I’m learning?

It’s not a one and done kinda thing.

It’s a practice. 

It’s contagious. 

And so even though I shared my very own ‘If I Were Braver…’ list from the stage last week, speaking live in front of a group is one thing. Sharing the video online is quite another!

But because I am brave, I did it. 

I posted it for all the world to see on social media, and the response has been overwhelming. 

And so I am going to continue to get my brāv on and share it with you now. (EEK!)

Here is a mini excerpt to peak your attention:

‘What if courage isn’t an act of doing, but an act of being?

Of being brave enough to take on our lives. To declare what it is we really want, even if we’re terrified it may never happen. 

Of being brave enough to be you, and brave enough to be me. With all of our flaws, fears, and foibles. And in a world that desperately wants us to be someone else…’

Here’s what else I’m learning.

Fear ‘aint going anywhere any time soon. 

Yet if we continue to give into it, neither are we. 

The way I see it, we have two choices. 

Stay where we are, stay comfortable, and stay safe – OR – be willing to take that first step, to be uncomfortable, to be brave IN SPITE OF our fear.

If you were braver, what would you do that you’re not already doing? And who would you be that you’re not already being?

Go ahead, I DARE you. 

For those of you who already took a step of brave action last week, WAY TO GO! What did you do? And what happened as a result?

And for those of you who are still in Dr. Suess’s ‘Waiting Place,’ ~ what are you waiting for?!? It’s not too late to re-commit and start again.

Be BRĀV enough to share your comments below!

Have a FAB week!!!

P.S. Our next cohort of Brāv Leader program begins on Oct. 15th! 

If you’re interested in learning more about this powerful 6-month transformational development program, let’s hop on the phone! 

I didn’t win. And I’m still alive!

I like winning. 

I mean, who doesn’t, right?!?

But maybe it’s not always all about winning. Maybe it’s about doing the thing. Period. 

That was certainly the case and the lesson I needed to learn this week. 

And that thing I am referring to, was the fact I competed in an event called Speaker Slam. 

Now I love speaking. Speaking is my profession, and I take it very seriously. But I have never spoken to compete (well, unless you count reciting poetry for our annual middle school competition!) 

So, when I was first asked to participate at Speaker Slam – an event sharing inspirational stories around a monthly theme – as a competition – I was somewhat reluctant. 

I think the organisers are fab, as is the community they have built. It’s extremely supportive. However, I had been a judge for this event a few times, including at Grand Slam (the annual event that brings in all monthly winners to compete on a massive stage with at least 500 in the audience…) and wasn’t sure how it would feel to be on the other side. And besides, I am already lucky enough to speak for a living… what did I have to prove?!?

But here’s the thing… I’ve kinda been trying to prove myself in some ways most of my life. 

And the truth is, the real reason I was hesitating was because I was scared. 

I was scared to compete, and to be honest I was scare to lose. 

And that moment I got honest with myself as to the real reason I was saying no, was the moment I knew I had to say yes. 

If I wanna practice what I preach, I have to get my own brāv on and do the thing that scares me!

And so that’s what I did. 

I said yes to speaking and competing. 

And I am so grateful I did. Because Tuesday night something magical happened. 

I didn’t win!

Now I know what you’re thinking… ‘WHAT?!? You’re celebrating the fact you DIDN’T win?!?’

Well, sorta. 

Allow me to expand.

In all honesty, I told myself before the event it really wasn’t about winning. Because the goal was to say yes in the first place, and then honour the theme of courage, and be brave enough to be more real and vulnerable than I ever have been in a talk.

And I did, and I was. 

So no, I wasn’t actually as disappointed as I thought I would be! (until the next day, when between you and me, I found out I went overtime which is what prevented me from getting a place on the podium! So now I’m only mildly upset with myself for talking too much… I knew I was cutting it close in rehearsal!)

In any event, it unfolded exactly as it was supposed to. 

‘If I Were Braver’ ... 

This is a phrase I often ask audiences and the people I work with to complete. 

Yet I wasn’t doing it myself. 

And so, a few months ago I created my very own ‘If I Were Braver’ list… and have slowly been making my way down the list ever since. I shared some of these items from the stage. (If you’re curious, you may just have to wait for my video to come out ~ let’s hope I’m brave enough to share it with you at that point!) 

The feedback I’ve received made the vulnerability hangover, as Brené Brown would call it, totally worthwhile.

So many folks came up to me after my talk, or have messaged me since, saying how much it moved them. There were lots of tears, lots of people saying the story resonated with them, and even more exciting lots of brave stories being shared in return. 

Being brave has nothing to do with getting it right or wrong, succeeding or failing, winning or losing.

We need to stop trying to get things right, stop trying to be perfect, stop living in a binary world. 

Being brave is about doing the thing in the first place. Regardless of the outcome. It’s about the experience. 

So in my mind, it was a big win on Tuesday. And yes, I am celebrating that!

And now, I have an important question for you, and an even more important challenge. 

QUESTION:

If you were braver, what would you do that you aren’t already doing?

CHALLENGE:

Identify the first, small brave step you want to take. And then DO IT! (And then PLEASE tell me about it so I can cheer you on!)

I want to hear from you in the comments below.

AND, some exciting news to share! We are getting ready to launch the next cohort of our Brāv Leader program at the end of September!

If you’re interested in learning more about this powerful 6-month transformational leadership program, let’s hop on the phone!

It’s time to get your brāv on!

And that is all. 

Back to Summer Friday fun!

Have a FAB week!

Let go of expectation, say goodbye to disappointment.

Happy Friday!

First of all, THANK YOU for your emails, your messages, your love notes and your positive thoughts.

Apparently the story I shared last week of watching in sheer horror as my mother’s bracelet ~ my most precious possession ~ fell into the black depths of the water below, struck a chord. 

I think because you and I both know it wasn’t about the bracelet at all. It was about the love and connection it represented. And we can all relate to that. 

The story isn’t over, and it’s time to move on. (at least for now!)

But for the first time in a while, I’ve been stuck on what to write about.

Right now I’m in Calgary, fortunate enough to be spending time with family to celebrate my sister’s 40th birthday. 

So I thought maybe I could speak about family, and how special it is. Even though some days you may love them, while other days you can’t wait to get away. And how some days you feel you fit in, while others you feel like a total misfit (or maybe that’s just me!)  

Then I thought maybe I could speak about how quickly time goes by, especially in the Summer, and how it may be time to play hooky for a day, an early afternoon off, or eat ice cream for breakfast. 

And while I was pondering, I was also kinda procrastinating. 

Now I tend to clean or organise when I procrastinate. And this particular time, it was dealing with the numerous folders I have saved in my ‘Notes’ app on my phone and laptop. 

I came across the note file I began while watching ‘Finding Joe’ ~ an amazing movie about Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey. And this quote stuck out:

“We must be willing to let go of the life we had planned in order to make way for the one that is waiting for us.”

Ah yes. Now this idea is one worth discussing and expanding upon.

I alluded briefly last week to the importance of letting go. 

And I’ve written in the past about the one thing that really causes upset and disappointment: expectation.

More specifically, thwarted expectations. 

It’s never the thing itself that causes upset. It’s only when we are holding onto an expectation of how something will turn out, and then find out it doesn’t exactly pan out that way, that we end up experiencing disappointment.

Think about it. 

Chances are you wouldn’t be upset if it rained on Saturday had you been planning on staying indoors and hadn’t even bothered to look at the weather forecast.

Now imagine you were planning a big party outdoors and had gone to a lot of trouble to get your garden ready, expecting to host a beautiful event in the beautiful sunshine. Chances are you’d be pretty disappointed if all of a sudden it called for a torrential downpour!

It’s not the rain itself that would upset you, it’s the expectation it wouldn’t rain that would cause real upset.

So maybe it’s time to learn how to let go of expectation, in an effort to also say goodbye to disappointment.

It’s not necessarily that I didn’t expect to lose my mother at such a young age, it’s that I expected her to live a long and vibrant life. 

It’s not necessarily that I didn’t expect to get hit while paddle boarding and lose her precious bangles, it’s that I expected them to be safe in the dry bag and assumed I’d have them forever. 

It’s not necessarily that I didn’t expect to break my foot, it’s that I expected to be able to finish my training and compete in the ironman last week. 

And it’s not necessarily that I didn’t expect to be single at 38, it’s that I expected I would have found my match and be building a family by this point.

On the flip side, and on a more positive note, I also didn’t expect to be speaking to incredible audiences of 1000s, to have started my own business, and to have had the opportunity to live in 16 different countries and connect with incredible people all over the world. 

And because I wasn’t expecting any of those things to happen, it makes it all the more exciting and me all the more grateful. 

So maybe the trick is to detach from expectation wherever possible. 

Although easier said than done, I know! 

So here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Start small – let go of all you expect to accomplish in one day! 
  • Gain an awareness as to any and all expectations you may be placing on certain events, certain people, even yourself 
  • Try to live in the present moment as much as possible
  • Have faith things will work out exactly as they are supposed to
  • Trust the Universe has your back
  • Let go of certain timelines and practice going with the flow
  • Express gratitude for all you have right here, right now
  • Connect less with big expectations, and more with what truly matters

Now I don’t have it all figured out, trust me! And I’ll be the first to admit it’s HARD to put into practice. Luckily, we have our whole lives to be a work in progress :-).

And awareness is always the first step.

So notice when you may be putting expectation around something or someone this week. Catch yourself in the act, and try as best as possible to be brave enough to let it all unfold how and when it’s meant to unfold.

When you learn to let go of expectation, you also let go of potential disappointment.

And life is too short to live in the land of disappointment. Wouldn’t you agree?!?

Listen to Joseph Campbell:“We must be willing to let go of the life we had planned in order to make way for the one that is waiting for us.”

What thoughts come up for you when you read this quote? And what idea will you be brave enough to put into action this week? I’m curious to hear from you in the comments below.

Have a FAB week!

Conversations & Connections. Why they matter.

Happy Friday! (And Happy Friday before the long weekend!) 

It’s been an amazingly full week. 

And by full I mean my bucket is full, my mind is full, and my heart is full.

I started the week off in Las Vegas, as I had the honour of speaking at the SHRM 2019 International Conference.

Sunday had a lovely evening with the inspiring HoF speaker Barbara Glanz, followed by a gondola ride in our beautiful Venetian Hotel with another fellow speaker friend. 

Monday morning began by listening to – and learning a ton from – Brené Brown. Pretty darn amazing. And that afternoon had the privilege of delivering my session to an incredible audience. Now I love speaking to all crowds of all sizes, but when there is standing room only in your room with over 1000 chairs (we even filled the overflow room bringing us to 1250 in all!)there is an energy exchange that is pretty powerful. 

That evening, I was in awe as I watched Le Rêve, an incredible show in water put on by one of Cirque du Soleil’s directors. It was truly breathtaking and magical. 

Tuesday was travel day – which I surprisingly love – and was met at the airport back in Toronto by a friend and whisked off to see Hugh Jackman live for his AH-MAZING musical show.

Wednesday enjoyed an intimate dinner party with some other special speaking colleagues – and friends – and then went home to visit my Dad and his best friend who just arrived from Wales. 

And finally last night was invited to attend a very special Mess Dinner at The Canadian Forces College and met some extremely fascinating and inspiring individuals. 

Now I’m not sharing to brag or boast. First of all, this week was a bit of an anomaly ~ my weeks are certainly not always as full! (And it looked very different than last week I assure you!)

The reason I’m sharing is because as amazing as some of those events were, what actually made my week so full were the people, the connections, and the conversations I enjoyed. 

An experience isn’t truly an experience unless shared. Even if you take part in an experience on your own – which I often do – what makes it meaningful is sharing about it through conversation after the fact.

The dinners, the shows, the traveling, even the speaking was made so much more meaningful through the conversations I enjoyed with the women after the talk. And plane rides wouldn’t be nearly as fun if I didn’t engage in conversation with the people sitting next to me. 

A lot of my learning and ideas and ahas take place while in conversation with others. In fact, I was taking notes about what I wanted to say in today’s blog while sitting on my hair stylist’s chair, as we were ironically in conversation about the importance of conversation!

Think about it. It’s only through connection and conversation that we can truly make meaning about what is happening to us and all around us. 

For me, that is how I define whether my days are full.

As I’ve mentioned before, most mornings I write in my five-minute journal. One of the questions in the morning is ‘What would make today great?’ and one of the questions at night is ‘3 amazing things that happened today…’ 

And almost everyday, both answers have something to do with a connection or conversation with another I hope to experience or was able to experience.

So this week I invite you to be brave enough to engage in more connection and more conversations.

Courageous conversations. Meaningful conversations. Deep conversations. Curious conversations. New conversations. Transparent conversations. Generous conversations. Spontaneous conversations. Real conversations. 

Here are some tips to engage in more conversations that matter.


1. Be The First

Be the first to say hello to a stranger, to ask someone’s name, to ask how someone is, to begin the conversation at all. 

2. Give a Compliment

Not sure how to begin a conversation? Who doesn’t love a compliment? It’s a great way to break the ice and build instant connection. 

3.  Get Curious

Ask good questions. In order to be a great conversationalist, it’s actually less about how up to date you are with current affairs, and more about your willingness to ask good questions and to be curious enough to listen to the answer. 

4. Engage in Active Listening

Listening does not always mean hearing. Active listening means you are really in the conversation, and by using both verbal and non-verbal cues you show that indeed you are right there with the other person. 

5. Be Present 

It’s hard to turn our minds off, I get it. Work hard to be present in your conversations, avoid distracting thoughts or making your grocery list in your head, and choose to be all in. Only then will truly meaningful connection take place. 

I hope you engage in some meaningful conversations this week, and enjoy some meaningful connection as a result! Let me know which tip came in handy and what happened…

I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.


Have a FAB week!

Why it’s time to give yourself your own gold star.

Happy Friday!

Okay, confession time. 

I enjoy positive feedback. 

I love hearing how my talks or presentations had a positive impact on someone. 

And I admit I’m a recovering gold star junkie.

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, and also a self-proclaimed gold star junkie, speaks about how wanting or needing gold stars for our work, our actions, or our behaviours, can be pretty darn dangerous!

Think about it. 

So long as you are relying on others to give you a gold star (ie tell you whether they think you’ve done a good enough job to warrant recognition and approval) you are living by their standards and measurements of success, and from their perspective. 

Why should it be up to someone else to decide, anyhow?

Not only does it mean we’re giving up our own power, it also means we’re putting our bets on others’ abilities to know better than ourselves how well we did, or how good we are.

Easier said than done, I get it. 

Especially if our work is rooted in wanting to help others, impact others, bring happiness to others. And if we are in any way in the creative space, it’s even harder. We rely on reviews from our audience, or our end users, as they are the folks it was ultimately created for. 

And yet, there will always be people who resonate with your work, and those who do not. A lot of it is opinion, after all. 

Indeed there is truth to the idiom: ‘different strokes for different folks.’

On Tuesday, I had the honour and privilege of delivering the opening keynote at the Company of Women annual conference. This year’s theme was ‘If Not Now, When? Make Your Someday Happen.’And my talk was all about how to get your brave on, and make your someday today. 

It was a great crowd, I got a standing ovation, and received some very kind words and positive comments from numerous women throughout the day. 

And yet, for some reason I didn’t walk off that stage feeling like I had knocked it out of the park. (I will admit I felt better after receiving some of the feedback mind you…) 

Why?

A few reasons.

In my wanting to hit a home run, I became too obsessed with wow-ing the audience, I moved away from what it was all about in the first place.

I was making changes to my talk up until the last minute, and forgot some of the lines I intended to use. 

I was somewhat embarrassed at the fact I was delivering a keynote on an aircast for the first time (broke my foot… boo!), and there were moments I was in my head and wasn’t fully present. 

Perhaps I shouldn’t be so open with you – however I gotta practice what I preach – and there is power in honesty and vulnerability. 

So here’s what I’m learning. 

Instead of the goal being to knock it outta the park, maybe the goal could be to give it your all, to do your best, and to be present enough to enjoy the experience.

We have to change how we measure success, and how we determine whether we did a good enough job or not.

While I do appreciate positive feedback from others after my presentations, I need to learn to create my own internal barometer for success.

And so, I’ve come up with a few different measurements I am going to use, and invite you to use, also. (now this does somewhat refer to delivering presentations, and yet you could adapt to work for any potential project you’re working on…)

  1. Did you put in the effort? How hard did you work and did you sufficiently prepare for the thing in advance? 
  2. How present were you during and in the moment?
  3. How have you grown through the process – did you perform better than the last time you did x? Was there learning?
  4. Did you make it about your audience or your end user? How connected were you?
  5. How do youultimately feel about your presentation (or project?) If you ignore any feedback you did or didn’t receive, what rating would you give yourself?!?

Gold stars are nice to receive, there’s no doubt about it. 

And, maybe it’s time we re-evaluate what is gold star worthy. Moreover, maybe it’s time we give ourselves our own damn gold stars! Because if you put in the effort, if you gave it your all, you deserve it.

Where in your life are you waiting for a gold star from others? And how could you give one to yourself today? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Have a FAB week!

Carol

It’s time to get outside!

Happy Friday!

And greetings from where I write to you on board flight AC 181, seat 14K. Yup, in the air again. First to Vancouver for a night, then tomorrow off to beautiful Tofino on Vancouver Island where I’m pumped to be a part of the Dovetail Retreat for female entrepreneurs (think hiking, kayaking, surfing...) And then next week I jet off to the UK again where I’ll be speaking for Unilever. 

Thank goodness I love traveling!

I have to say the highlight of this week was delivering the closing keynote for the first annual #AdminsRock conference – such a fun group and an amazing day! – closely followed by the splash of sunshine we enjoyed yesterday. I even saw some folks on patios. 

Being outside in the sun always brings a brighter smile to my face. 

And so, it made sense I was all set to talk about how important it is to get outside (also in honour of Earth Day!) and then typical, this morning as I left Toronto it was absolutely POURING with rain! 

Well, even despite the rain, even in the rain, it’s still fun and important to get outside.

I think dogs have the right idea. 

I used to babysit one of my neighbour’s dogs on occasion. Every time I walked in the door he’d be waiting to loyally meet and greet me with the biggest tail wag and some kisses, and one of his paws would already be practically out the door. I mean, he was just desperate to get outside! And who can blame him? Besides likely having to burst, there was a big, bright, beautiful world out there just waiting to be seen, sniffed, run around in and yes, peed on.

There really is a lot going on outside. So many sights and sounds and smells… it’s like a giganic playground. Everywhere you turn there is something new to discover, and even scenes or routes that have been trod on before will never appear exactly the same again. 

I don’t care how impressive your 52-inch LED or LCD or whatever diode-type flat screen complete with surround-sound and other fancy features you can boast about – there is no way you’ll ever be able to see the crispness and depth and the multitude of color tones you can experience in real life – from a pixilated image.

Being outside offers lots of perks and benefits, too.

You can breathe in fresh air. It exposes you to Vitamin D, which we all need. It allows you to be active. To feel the sunshine on your skin. To smell nature – and the roses. To see green.

It creates space in your mind. It helps to breed fresh ideas. Make friends out of strangers. Grow. Explore. Discover. Play. It gets the creative juices flowing and stimulates your seratonin levels.

It makes you feel happy!

And beyond getting outside in the literal sense, there is also something to be said about getting outside of ourselves… out of our comfort zones, out of our heads, out of our routines, and out of our expectations and ideas of how things are supposed to go, what should or shouldn’t be, what is and isn’t possible. 

All of the amazing inventions we simply cannot live without, wouldn’t have been invented if it weren’t for people who were willing to think outside of the box, the norm, the easy, the expected.

Innovation cannot exist if you are not first willing to take a risk.

SO, depending on where you are in the world and what the weather may be like – get your brave on and go grab your wellies or your flip flops, lace up your runners or dust off your bike – and get outside and into that wonderful, wide world out there. Something magical happens when you allow yourself to be out and fully present in nature. And it’s yours to discover.

(And once you do get outside, let me know what you did and how you felt afterwards!) I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.

Have a FAB week!

Carol

Do you know how fabulous you are?

Happy Friday!

And Happy International Women’s Day!

Today, and every day, I celebrate YOU.

Even though I hope we don’t need a special day to realise how fabulous we are.

(And you know what, I don’t necessarily want to exclude the men today. I really don’t think today should be about a battle of the sexes. There are so many incredible men who have supported, encouraged, been our cheerleaders on the sidelines, and continue to be.)

But it is a day to recognise the incredible achievements of women, and to empower each and every one of us to continue to go after our dreams, to help us see and believe that anything and everything is possible.

There have been some incredibly brave and extraordinary women in our history that paved the way. Women who believed in the power of their dreams. Women who didn’t take no for an answer. Women who were prepared to fight for what they truly wanted. Women who really did make things happen, despite their circumstances, their age, their sex, their naysayers, their sometimes extreme battles.

We’ve come so far.

And maybe we still have a long way to go.

But I think it’s time to focus less on what we don’t have, and more on what we do have.

And moreover, less about seeking external validation, and more about realising we have all the power to achieve whatever we want within.

It’s about being brave enough to be ourselves in a world that all too often wants us to be something else.

In past blogs around this time of year, I’ve spoken about how fabulous women are. And let’s be honest, we ARE!

If we’re lucky enough, we can give birth and create new life. We are mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, aunts, girlfriends, powerful professionals, caregivers… and sometimes all at the same time. We can rock it in anything from leather pants to yoga pants, from short cocktail dresses to jeans and a tee. We have big hearts. We nurture. From suffragettes to style icons, women inspire others to fight for their rights and go after their dreams. We have vision. We come from a place of love, compassion, and caring. We put others before ourselves. We have spirit. We have grit. We are beautiful. We have the power to bond pretty profoundly with one another. We take care of each other. When we see someone crying, we sit with her and find out what’s wrong and we comfort her. We have a natural ability to look after those needing comfort, support, love, friendship. We care. We are strong and capable yet gentle and kind. We come together and help each other. We are each other’s cheerleaders. Women fill up each other’s buckets. We can roar. We are brave and vulnerable and real. We can raise society up to a higher level by making value-based choices. And we women empower other fabulous women to step into their fabulousness.

Now you may not resonate with each and every idea above, but chances are you’re feeling you deserve a good ol’ pat on the back right about now.

And you DO! So go ahead, I’ll wait.

You really are pretty amazeballs. I hope you take a moment to realise it.

But you don’t need me to tell you that, your boss to tell you that, or the world to tell you that.

And we don’t need a special day to remind us of that.

You need to KNOW that. And believe it.

However, it is International Women’s Day. So take a moment to celebrate YOU today. And take a moment to celebrate the other special women in your life today, too. Reach out and tell them what they mean to you, and express how fabulous they truly are. And then reach out to the special men in your life, and let them know what their support means to you also.

I shall leave you with some inspirational quotes from some pretty inspirational ladies.

I shall leave you with some inspirational quotes:

“If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.” – Katharine Hepburn

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Anais Nin

“When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.” – Helen Keller

“If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.” – Margaret Thatcher

“The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it’s all that matters.” – Audrey Hepburn

 

Have a FAB week, you fabulous woman (or man!) you!