When to have faith, when to let go…

Standing in the wings before I would go on stage to perform, I knew my Mum was out in the audience. I could hear her by the sound of her bangles. 

If ever I got lost from my Mum in the grocery store when I was young, I knew I would eventually find her. I would hear her by the sound of her bangles. 

And when she passed away, I knew her signature bangles would keep me connected to her. There were three interconnected – yellow, white, and rose gold. And my father surprised my two sisters and I with the most beautiful gift when he separated her original and made three matching sets for all three of us. We each have one of her originals, engraved with her name on it.

I have worn these bangles on my wrist almost every day for the past 13 years. 

And then last Monday, while paddle boarding on Toronto Island, I decided they would be safer in my dry bag around my neck, instead of on my wrist. 

As luck (or fate?) would have it, at the exact moment I thought to take a photo for my friends as we had a perfect view of the CN tower in the background, and therefore opened up my dry bag to get out my phone, I got bumped without warning from behind. 

I fell off my board, and so did the dry bag. The phone was still in my hands, now in the water, and I watched as if in slow motion as my Mum’s bangles slipped out of the bag and into the black water below. 

I was in shock, denial, and utter disbelief. I began sopping. I mean, it was embarrassing how hysterical I quite quickly became!

I’m still in disbelief as I write these words. 

I immediately went under, and it was black. We then sourced a mask, which took about an hour, and went back down. By the time I got to the bottom of the lake, I could only hold my breath for a few seconds before I had to come back up. And being emotional I had even less breath. 

I figured I needed an oxygen tank. And so while I never thought I’d be able to leave the spot, I did knowing I’d be back. That night we did some research. By the next day I had sourced scuba rental gear and my incredible cousin offered to come with me to search after work.

I was hopeful. 

We went back out to the island. With the flooding that’s taken place we had to wade through water up to our knees along the road with our gear before then bush wacking to the edge of the lagoon. We took turns going down.

Alas, nothing. 

We agreed we needed better light ~ so it was back to the scuba shop to buy an intense underwater flashlight. That would do it.

I was hopeful once again. 

We went back at it the next day, taking turns scouring the bottom, with the help of a giant net thanks to the fireman at the hall just down the road. 

Alas, nothing. 

We were told there was a local on the island who did some diving, and another who did some metal detecting. We managed to find them both, and they said if I could somehow locate an underwater metal detector they would be willing to help me. 

And so our next mission was to source a metal detector, and fast. Within a few hours we were off the island and doing a deal with the guru in metal detecting in an interesting to say the least outskirt of the city. 

My hope returned. 

I met the boys at 6:45am the following morning. They had everything ready, even borrowed their friend’s boat. We went down again, this time with the flashlight and the metal detector.

Alas, nothing. 

They mentioned there was this directory online of ‘Ring Finders’ ~ people who searched for lost rings and other items, and they kindly connected me with someone who knew how to find them. I found a guy in the Toronto area, whose picture looked so friendly, and I immediately had a good feeling about. I contacted him, and within an hour Steve had called me back, and it turns out my gut was bang on.

We spoke on the phone for over 20 minutes, and he could tell just how much it meant to me (he later told me the fact I was still in tears 4 days later had something to do with it! Now ironically I was in the fracture clinic when we spoke, and had just been told my foot was still broken and so only minimal activity for another 6 weeks ~ which also likely contributed to my emotions! Bless the patient in the curtained exam room next to me for bringing me a box of tissues…) 

So even though he was out of town, he cleared his schedule, and agreed to come out the very next day with all of his professional equipment and top of the line underwater metal detector. He was the real deal, and has been ring finding and bringing so much joy to people this way for almost 10 years. 

My hope had returned. 

We met the next day first thing in the morning, and he even brought his treasure hunter intern (who knew!). We rode the ferry across once again, made our way out to the spot, and underwater he went. He went down numerous times, gave it his best shot, until he ran out of air.

Alas, nothing.

He then told me if there was ANYONE else who would be able to find it, it was one of his best friends and the best diver he knew, and together they would be the dream team. The only problem was, his friend didn’t do this kind of stuff anymore, and he’d have to work hard to convince him. And it would cost a pretty penny. 

At this point, it didn’t matter. If he was in, I was in. 

Luckily, he was. So it was on!

The dream team was confirmed – Steve and Ryan – and it was agreed we’d go back out a few days later. 

Once again the tears turned to hope, and this time it was stronger than ever. 

We met before 7am in the morning, and they were serious. They had a plan, they were ready, and they gave it their all. I mean, they brought 6 tanks with them, and were prepared to go all day until they found them. 

Well, they were there all day – we didn’t leave the island until 5pm – and only then because they were out of air. They really gave it the old ‘college try’ as one of them said. The poor guys were cramping up and utterly exhausted. They worked harder than they ever have on a ‘ring find.’

Alas, still no bangles. 

And I can only imagine it being equally as disappointing for them as it was for me to not be victorious after all that. 

But I have to say, it was a special day. We really were a team. I did some cheers for them, we had an all hands in ‘goooooooooo team!’’ before we started, we shared stories and shared lemonade at the end of the day. They saw me praying on my board – literally I was on my knees – and doing a lot of bargaining as to all I promised to do if the bangled bracelet were to be found. They said they had never met someone so connected to something and so passionate about finding it. They also said I was so sweet and kind and even have offered to come back again to give to one more go… 

I just don’t understand it. And oh man the amount of times I’ve replayed that very moment in my mind. Or thought about the hundreds of other ways this situation could have played out differently. And yet of course I know that game is futile and a waste of energy. 

Now I know what you may be thinking, ‘Carol, it’s only a bracelet!’ and in some ways it’s true. But it’s not the material possession. It’s what it meant to me. 

You see, nothing is anything save for the meaning we place on it. Whether that be material possessions, experiences, incidents, words.

And for whatever reason, those bangles represented my mother and our extremely special connection. And in some ways I felt as though I was grieving her all over again. 

I’m not sure I know why just yet, but I’m pretty sure there is some deeper reason this is happening right now… 

First of all, I have met some amazing people over this past week who have helped and extended such care and support and compassion – it’s been incredible. 

From Janet, the local who was gardening and kindly lent us her snorkelling mask on the first day. To Brant at Aquarius Scuba who allowed me to keep the equipment for a little bit longer and told me to keep him posted as to how the story ends. To John the man with the wagon attached to the back of his bike who kindly offered to carry our tank that first day. To Chris and Chris and Brad and Tony and all the fireman at the local Firehall who looked after our stuff while we were in the water, lent us their paddle board and fishing net and rope and weight… even offered us coffee. One of the guys is still texting and checking in on me to see how I am. To Warren, the island supervisor who granted us special permission to take a vehicle across on the ferry when we had 6 tanks and all of the diving and metal detecting equipment. To Jason at security for letting me park my car at the ferry terminal when going across with all the gear. To Caitlin at Starbucks who made my day when someone accidentally took my personal cup and she then gifted me with a new one, as well as a gift card, bringing me to tears. 

Not to mention all of my incredible friends and family and people in my life who have been helping and checking in and praying and sending the love. I feel incredibly blessed. 

And then there are the lessons.

Maybe everything happens for a reason, maybe it doesn’t. Have a little faith. Know when it’s time to let go. See all of the good in people out there. It takes a village. Nobody will die if you’re not on top of your inbox. Trust that when you’re on a mission, you’ll figure it out. And a small act of kindness goes a long way.

I’m not sure this story is over just yet. 

But in the meantime, I’m choosing to have faith and perhaps begin to let go at the same time, and trust there is always a bigger reason… 

Phew… that was a long one this week! Thanks for reading this story all the way through.

I’m curious to hear from you… ever lost something that was incredibly meaningful to you? How did you deal with it and what did you learn? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Carol

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!

Done Is Better Than Perfect

I want to be clear for a second here. 

Simply because I preach about the idea of being braver, doesn’t mean I have it all figured out. 

I preach what I am practicing myself. 

And being brave enough to move beyond perfection is one of those things I’m still working on. 

On Monday, it was #wethenorth day. Well over two million people attended the parade and the celebrations that ensued at our famous Nathan Phillips Square downtown Toronto in honour of the NBA Champions our amazing Raptors! (I still have FOMO as I write these words!) 

Instead of being a part of the festivities, I was at Starbucks working on my powerpoint presentation for a talk I’m giving in Las Vegas at the annual SHRM convention next week. 

Now the deck was almost complete, and yet I was making tweaks here and there, changing the sizes of fonts, switching some of the graphics. Really, I was fiddling unnecessarily.

Why? 


In that moment I allowed my inner recovering perfectionist to come out. I didn’t feel it was ‘perfect’ enough.

As a result, I missed out on a day to go down in history.

And ummm, I LOVE parades! 

Here’s the thing, I am STILL making changes to that presentation, and likely will up until the day before I present.

Is it going to get closer to being perfect the more I work on it?

What does perfection even mean, anyway?

Funny you should ask. 

Here is the definition:

per·fec·tion

/pərˈfekSH(ə)n/

Noun
the condition, state, or quality of being entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings

How is that even possible?!?

I don’t know about you, but it seems a pretty tall order to be entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings. Especially when it comes to something we want to create, the job we are hoping to land, the regular workout routine we want to stick to, the loving relationship we are striving for. How can anything when it comes to real people’s actions and behaviours be without any flaws… I mean we’re human after all, right?

And yet, unfortunately perfectionism is what prevents far too many women from starting the thing before they feel ready, going after the job they really want, doing the thing that really scares them. 

What’s more, far too many women take pride in being perfectionists! They wear it as a badge of honour. And if we’re talking about being braver, as I’ve written and spoken about before, perfectionism is one of the biggest bravery killers! 

Of course we are going to make mistakes every now and again. It’s how we learn. And quite frankly, life would be pretty boring if everyone had everything figured out all of the time!

And so, instead of aiming for perfection – which is an ideal that doesn’t even exist and therefore will inevitably evoke disappointment anyhow – let’s instead be okay with a little bit of imperfection.

Fellow speaker and friend Jessica Pettit is in town from California right now and staying with me. Her company is called ‘Good Enough Now’ (Now if perfection did exist, that name would be it!) Over the past few days we’ve had some very interesting conversations on this very subject. 

Maybe along our journey to be perfect we’ve forgotten to be real, to be human, and to recognise we are good enough now, exactly as we are. 

My presentation is good enough now.

The project you are working on right now is good enough now.

YOU are good enough now. 

Moreover, imperfect action is better than no action at all. 

And done is better than perfect!

Have you been putting off taking that first step for fear of it not being perfect, or you not being perfect?

Have you been procrastinating completing that project or thing in case it is not perfect? 

Have you been stuck in perfectionist paralysis instead of trying the something you’ve been thinking about and might end up really loving, or sharing the thing with the world that may really make a difference?

I just did a once over of my presentation, and I’ve decided I will not be making any more changes to it. 

It is good enough now.

And indeed done is better than perfect. 

What is something you are currently working on that is also good enough now? How are you going to apply ‘done is better than perfect’ to something this week? I want to hear from you in the comments below.

Have a FAB week!


Is it Time For a Little Cheerleadership in Your Life?

Happy Friday!

And, ummm, I only feel it apropos to say a HUGE congratulations to The Toronto Raptors for bringing home the NBA championship for the first time in history! YAHOO!!!

Wow… 

I can still hear the echoes of the honking and the screaming and the chanting and the cheering that took place well into the wee hours of the morning.

I did watch the exciting game, and had no choice but to venture out into the streets to make my way home… and ended up getting caught in the masses for longer than intended.

The streets were packed! And people were everywhere.

Although if I’m honest I didn’t really mind having to walk through the craziness. In fact, I quite enjoyed the energy, the buzz, the celebration. 

The whole city was coming together to cheer and to celebrate the hard work and the final win of Canada’s NBA team, our beloved Raptors. They were the true definition of a high performance team, and no one can argue they were truly deserving of the title.

Throughout the season, and especially during the playoffs, this city – and country at large – somehow came together, and we were cheering for a common cause. And it was powerful. 

Sometimes I think I missed my calling. 

Without wanting to brag or boast, I’m pretty sure I would’ve made a pretty amazing cheerleader! 

I wouldn’t have liked the outfits, but I do love me a good cheer (and luckily I find ample excuses to bring them out ~ especially my all time fave, the banana cheer!) 

Yet in all seriousness, there is something powerful about the idea of cheerleading, and what it represents. 

I’m even working on a concept called cheerleadership, as I think a very big and important part of leadership is lifting up and championing those around you. 

Yesterday I had the honour of attending the WNORTH conference in Toronto – for female leaders in the corporate world. As they described it, a global gathering of women on the rise. And it was an inspiring and impactful day. 

One of the panels was on sponsorship. They explored the differences between mentorship and sponsorship, and had a conversation around why sponsorship is so critical especially for women who want to advance in their careers. 

According to a Gallop survey, when you have someone at work who has your back, who you can trust, and who will support you – you are happier, more productive, and the organization also ultimately benefits. 

We all need champions and cheerleaders in our life. 

And we can all be champions and cheerleaders for each other, as well as for ourselves. And we need to be.

So I shall keep it short and sweet this week, and leave you with these three questions to ponder.

  1. Who do I know that I could be a cheerleader for?
  2. Do I need more cheerleaders in my life? And if so, who do I know that would make a good cheerleader for me?
  3. How can I be a better cheerleader for myself?

Perhaps it’s time to get your BRĀV on and start shaking those pom poms!

May you continue to celebrate the Raptors big win this weekend, and may you continue to find reasons and people to cheer on this week!

Carol 

Why I cried in a Doctor’s Office… (and what I learned)

Happy Friday!

Have you ever felt the tears coming on at an inappropriate moment?!? 
I sure have. Allow me to indulge…

Not great timing.

I felt my eyes beginning to well up.

I was in an examination room, with only a curtain dividing me and the next patient. The doctor was just beginning to give me the prognosis.

Not great news.

PAUSE. Re-reading those first few lines, it appears I’m about to get into something quite dramatic. Which, ironically, is almost making me chuckle… as serious as it was at the time!)

It was yesterday morning. And I was with the nicest surgeon at the fracture clinic at the Toronto General Hospital, as we were examining the new X-rays of my foot together.

‘The good news,’ he said, ‘is that it’s healing. And we’re beginning to see new bone growth.

‘And the bad news?’ I asked cautiously… equal parts eager and nervous. Ready and worried at the same time. 

‘It hasn’t healed yet.’ 

What do you mean it hasn’t healed?!?

I suppose it’s a bone, after all.
It needs time.

But I’ve never broken a bone before and, if I’m honest, I’m getting a tad impatient.

So 3-4 more weeks in this aircast. Frustrating, to say the least.

Especially as this active girl has not only had to put a stop to my training, but had to cancel my Ironman 70.3 altogether.

A few friends have compassionately offered empathy as well as valid nuggets of wisdom: ‘perhaps the Universe is trying to tell you something.’

Perhaps.

And perhaps it’s also an opportunity to buck up, realise how grateful I am it’s only my foot, that it’s temporary, and choose to once again shift my perspective.

My fave concierge and friend Eknoor (who still endearingly calls me Miss Carol, despite my best efforts trying to convince him otherwise!) must have noticed I looked dismayed when I walked in after my appointment. I shared the news, and he said, 

‘This is an opportunity to look on the bright side Miss Carol! And because you’re not used to this, it’s forcing you to get out of your comfort zone!’

Umm… you’re not allowed to use my lines back on me!

But of course you are. And I needed to hear them (I often do!) 

And so, it’s time to once again shift my perspectiveand look for the lessons. 

It’s only a broken foot. 


In the grand scheme of things, it’s really not a big deal. To think of family and friends and my fellow speakers who are dealing with far more serious illnesses, have lost limbs, are permanently paralysed, or have significant challenges they face each and every day ~ a temporary broken bone pales in comparison. 

Look at a situation you are currently facing. (It’s life, the reality is we will always have stressors – some more serious than others.)And, are you making it more stressful than necessary? Is there a way to somehow acknowledge it could have been a whole lot worse?

It’s time to creative! 

One of the most frustrating parts for me is the fact I can’t train or exercise. And yet, I’m realising just because I can’t go on a run, doesn’t mean I can’t do any type of movement at all. In fact, I’m realising I was getting comfortable doing the same activities I was always doing. So, I’ve started to explore some new options. And it’s amazing what’s available on line! Pilates, intense abs, booty workouts… I may look pretty funny sporting a boot while doing leg lifts and other fancy moves ~ but the fact I’m having to adapt many of the exercises is both forcing me to get creative and keeping me on my toes. (And as it turns out one-legged planks and burpees are a lot more intense!)

Where have you gotten comfortable in your life doing the same thing, over and over? Eating the same things, taking the same route to work, doing the same activities… where could you benefit from thinking outside of the box, trying something you’ve never done before? It may be time to get our of your comfort zone, too. 

Gratitude is good.  Smiles are smashing. 

I’ve been diligently completing my 5-Minute Journal (an amazing gratitude journal created by friends and local Toronto entrepreneurs AJ Ramos & Alex Ikonn – a great place to start! And a game changer…) and I have to say it’s forcing me to get out of the ’woe is me’ and start to see all of the good in my life. Also, after recently hearing something about the true power of a smile, I did a little experiment. I threw on a smile when I kinda wanted to wear a frown instead for 30 whole seconds… and you know what? My smile STAYED! (It may have even turned into a little chuckle!)

When was the last time you gave some proper thought to one thing, or a few things, you were truly grateful for? I know there’s a lot of talk on the power of having a gratitude practice, and for good reason. Perhaps it’s time. And then I want you to get your smile on! Even holding a smile for even 30 seconds and it’s hard to not keep it on. Because in turn it tells your brain you’re happy, and then BOOM, you actually dofeelhappier! Try it now… I DARE you.)


So yes, I may be entering into summer dress and patio season making a pretty cool fashion statement, rocking the boot. Guess I’ve gotta get my brave on and pretend it’s even cooler than this season’s newest sandal style! And I’ll no doubt have to continue to share the embarrassing story of me tripping over my long, billowy yoga pants more times than I’d like. 

And, I’m pretty sure I can handle a broken foot for a little while longer. And from discomfort and frustration alwayscomes growth and learning. It’s time for a shift in perspective. 

Perhaps it’s time to shift your perspective a little, too. 


Have a FAB week!


P.S. I want to hear about what you may currently be facing, and which of these ideas you’re going to take on this week! Share in the comments below…

If it’s not a ‘Hell YEAH!’ perhaps it’s a no.

Happy Friday!

If it’s not a ‘Hell YEAH!’ it’s a no. 

I remember first hearing that phrase a few years ago… and it really resonated with me at the time. 

You see, I’m not always the best at making decisions. And yet I’m pretty fortunate in that there always seems to be a plethora of options and opportunities at any given moment.

It’s a blessing and a curse, really. 

Fun to know there are so many things I could attend, take on, get involved with… and yet all the more difficult to know which to say yes to, and which to pass up. 

And so, if I’m honest, I’ve been known in the past to say yes to it all, or take on a tad too much. Until it really becomes too much, and therefore is no longer enjoyable. 

Choices are exciting. And choices are tough. (And if you’ve never heard of Barry Schwartz and his book and accompanying Ted Talk, ‘The Paradox of Choice,’ I suggest you check it out!)

And so, it’s often useful to have some filters to help with the decision-making, and determine what makes the most sense for you at given moment in time. 

Here are some questions I ask myself when trying to put ideas or opportunities through a filter of sorts:

  • Does it excite me?
  • Do I have the capacity to take it on at this moment?
  • How much time and/or energy will it require of me?
  • What are the potential rewards?
  • Is it something important to me?
  • Is it in alignment with my values?
  • Examine the real reasons I would want to say yes – Am I doing it for me? To prove something to myself or others? To please someone else? To be liked? To fit in? 
  • Will it bring me closer to where I want to be, or farther away?

And now, regardless of how rational we may be, despite any fancy test or vetting process we take ourselves through, I have one question that can more often than not bypass it all:

“Is it a HELL YES?”

Because if it’s not, perhaps it’s a no. 

We have SOO many projects and people and options and opportunities competing for our time and attention, all the time. And so why would we give up our precious resources to something that is less than extremely exciting to us?!?

Is there something you are currently facing that requires a decision to be made?

Get honest, and ask yourself if it’s a hell yes. And if it’s not, perhaps it’s a no, and maybe it’s okay to pass on it this time around. 

And there is NO harm in admitting that! 

You will only be doing a disservice to yourself, to others, and ultimately the world wasting your resources on something that doesn’t totally light you up. That doesn’t fuel your fire. That doesn’t get you going deep down in the core of your belly.

Life is short enough as it is. It’s worth passing on the ‘good’ in order to make room for the ‘great.’ 

And it’s worth waiting for the ‘Hell Yeahs!’ Otherwise, it may be time to get your brave on and say ‘Hell No!

Where in your life are you facing an important decision? And what’s it going to be? I want to hear from you in the comments below.

Have a FAB week!

Carol 

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

You’re invited…

Happy Friday!

I don’t know about you, but I love receiving invitations.

Invitations to fun gatherings, experiences, play dates. Invitations to weddings on beautifully designed paper that arrive by mail. Invitations via phone calls for spontaneous coffees with friends or emergency girl nights.

And then there is another type of invitation. One that doesn’t always show up via the mail or phone or email. And it’s not necessarily an invitation to show up somewhere at a specific date or time at all. Rather it’s an invitation to simply show up. Period.

This week I’ve been in beautiful Tofino, British Columbia, attending the Dovetail Summit for female entrepreneurs, masterfully curated by my good friend Alexis Dean.

And on the back of the program and schedule, she shared her favourite poem, The Invitation.

And so I am going to share it with you now. (Apologies if it’s a little deep for a Friday afternoon… but I invite you to – pun intended – to read and be open to what it may mean to you.)

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me

what you do for a living.

I want to know

what you ache for

and if you dare to dream

of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me

how old you are.

I want to know 

if you will risk 

looking like a fool

for love

for your dream

for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me

what planets are 

squaring your moon…

I want to know

if you have touched

the centre of your own sorrow

if you have been opened

by life’s betrayals

or have become shrivelled and closed

from fear of further pain.

I want to know

if you can sit with pain

mine or your own

without moving to hide it

or fade it

or fix it.

I want to know

if you can be with joy

mine or your own

if you can dance with wildness

and let the ecstasy fill you 

to the tips of your fingers and toes

without cautioning us

to be careful

to be realistic

to remember the limitations

of being human.

It doesn’t interest me

if the story you are telling me

is true.

I want to know if you can

disappoint another

to be true to yourself.

If you can bear

the accusation of betrayal

and not betray your own soul.

If you can be faithless

and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty

even when it is not pretty

every day.

And if you can source your own life

from its presence.

I want to know

if you can live with failure

yours and mine

and still stand at the edge of the lake

and shout to the silver of the full moon,

“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me

to know where you live

or how much money you have.

I want to know if you can get up

after the night of grief and despair

weary and bruised to the bone

and do what needs to be done

to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me

who you know

or how you came to be here.

I want to know if you will stand

in the centre of the fire

with me

and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me

where or what or with whom

you have studied.

I want to know 

what sustains you

from the inside

when all else falls away.

I want to know

if you can be alone 

with yourself

and if you truly like

the company you keep

in the empty moments.

~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer

So this week I invite you.

Instead of waiting for permission to fully show up, to share your ideas, to take that first step, know you already have the invitation.

I invite you to dream. To try. To fail. To fly. To do it right. To do it wrong. To be real. To be brave.

I invite you to throw out old beliefs and stories that are no longer serving you. And I invite you to try on new thoughts, new ideas, new possibilities.

I invite you to be grateful. To be imperfect. To be scared and hopeful and trusting all at the same time.

I invite you to be who you are, where you are, with all of your gifts and talents and flaws and idiosyncrasies and questions and curiosities.

You’re invited. All of you. To attend the best party or event or playdate you’ve ever experienced.

And when you arrive in all your glory, let me know how it feels. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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

Anxious or excited? You get to choose.

Are you anxious, or perhaps just excited? 

Did you know that feeling nervous and feeling excited are actually the same thing?

Well, at least according to our brain they are. 

You see, psychologically they bring on the same chemical release within our brains. So the only real difference lies within our interpretation of what is happening. We label one as a negative experience (anxiety) and the other as a positive experience (excitement.)

Seriously?!? The only difference between the two is the label and interpretation we give it?

Yup.

The choice is yours. 

Last week when in Calgary, I’ll admit I was a little nervous going into that talk. (Speaking to fellow speakers can be a little intimidating!) However, I decided to tell myself I wasn’t feeling nervous, I was simply feeling excited instead. 

Did it work? Well, sorta.

I mean, just knowing I could choose to feel more excited was empowering. And it did help a little. I was pumped!

And, I was still a tad nervous. 

Well, luckily we have our whole lives to be a work in progress!

(On another note, I will likely always still get a little anxious/excited before my talks. The moment I’m no longer nervous is the moment I’m no longer fully present or eager to give it my all…)

And, it’s actually not bad to feel this way.

Feeling anxious or nervous or uncomfortable means you’re growing. And if you want to grow, you better get used to feeling uncomfortable.

Comfort and growth cannot co-exist. 

So, we gotta be willing to get out of our comfort zones – be willing to get our brave on – and push through the nervousness (or excitement!) and do the thing anyway. 

Because that is the only way you’re going to grow. 

We can either be willing to get uncomfortable, or we can stay stagnant, play it safe, and play it small.

Again, the choice is yours. 

Hmmm… I wonder if I can change my feelings of anxiety to excitement over other things in my life. Say, taxes? 

Am I the only one who gets a little anxious when it comes to my accounting? And tax time of year can be overly, well taxing (pun intended!)

Okay, maybe there are some things I will never be ‘excited’ about! 

That’s life. 

It’s not always going to be fun. It ain’t always going to be easy. And if we want to grow, we gotta be willing to get uncomfortable and get our brave on!

Are you up for it?!?

I hope the answer is yes. Because you’re worth it. 

Short and sweet this week… it’s Easter after all!

So ‘HOP-py’ Easter, and even if you’re not celebrating, it’s still a great excuse to eat some extra chocolate this weekend!

Have a hoppin’ week!

Carol