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 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

Why you might want to start taking cold showers…

Happy Friday!

This morning, my shower was cold. 

But you don’t have to feel sorry for me – it was actually on purpose. 

In fact, I take a cold shower every morning. (Well, if I’m honest, I first take a lovely warm shower…) And then when I’m about ready to get out, I turn the dial all the way to freezing and proceed to force myself to stand under there for a minimum of 60 seconds. And let me tell you, some days it is BRUTAL! (especially during our crazy Toronto Winters!)

Now I do this for two reasons: 

1. It’s good for the body, mind and soul.

(So I was told it was good for you, however wasn’t entirely sure on the actual benefits it provided… until a friend very kindly sent me this article…who knew?Worth the quick read!)  

2. It forces me to be brave right out of the gates!

While I do think it’s important to do things for your health (hence the reason I’m currently drinking hot water with lemon and apple cider vinegar, and was pretty excited to read that article,) I’m actually more excited by reason #2.  

You see, just before I go to turn that dial to the right, I have a moment of hesitation. It’s the exact same feeling you and I get before we do something that scares us a little, or will take us out of our comfort zones. It’s called the ‘The Hesitation Trap’ – and it’s a legit thing! (And if you’re interested in learning the science behind it all, watch this video with Mel Robbins explain in more detail!)

But then I say to myself, if I am brave enough to get under freezing cold water, where else in my day could I get my brave on? 

And so I do it. 

And even though I’ve been doing this now for years, it doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve gotten more used to it! (Although I will say once you’ve gotten into the habit of doing something, it does get a little easier – which speaks to the power of habits!) That being said, it never ceases to make me feel more awake, more refreshed, more alive. 

It’s a small action, and yet it can have a big impact on my day. 

And isn’t that always the case.

You see, too many of us are waiting to feel confident enough, or competent enough, or ready enough to go after what we truly want or to do the thing we really want to do. 

The truth is, we may never ‘feel’ confident, competent, or ready enough to start anything. 

And so we don’t.

We don’t do the thing, sign up for the race, apply for the position. We don’t take the first step. 

And yet here’s the thing:

You don’t need to feel confident before you choose to be brave. 

Being brave means you take action before you feel ready, even when you’re full of fear… especially when you’re full of fear. 

And the interesting thing is, once you take that action, the confidence comes!

Don’t wait to feel. Simply do. 

In the amazing book ‘The Confidence Code’ by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, they define confidence as shortening the gap between your thoughts and your actions. 

Totally makes sense. 

But instead of shortening the gap, you could choose to ignore it all together and just DO IT!

Because in the end, it’s the action that is going to build the momentum you need to feel more confident, competent, ready. 

And all it takes is one small brave act. 

Like taking a freezing cold shower. 

So, if you’re ready to get your brave on this week, I invite you to do one small thing that makes you just a little bit uncomfortable, scares you just a little bit, brings on just a little bit of the butterflies.

Here are some examples:

  • Say hello to someone in the elevator. 
  • Be the first to smile at that cute person in the cafe.
  • Have that difficult conversation you’ve been putting off.
  • Try something new – be it an activity, sport, instrument or dish.
  • Shake up your daily routine, try decaf instead. 
  • Dare to try a new flavour of tuna.
  • Send that email.
  • Apply for that position.
  • Share your big idea. 
  • Volunteer to help with that project. 
  • Say no to something you would normally say yes to.
  • Say yes to something that freaks you out. 
  • Take a cold shower!

Have fun getting your brave on this week.

And then I want to hear from you in the comments below… let me know what you choose to do, and how it makes you feel afterwards!

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!

 

Is it time to lift the instagram filter from your life?

Happy Friday!

Happy March 1st! 

Happy new month, and happy spring-is-just-around-the-corner (at least here’s hoping!)

This week I attended Speaker Slam, a monthly event where 10 brave speakers share their story around a particular theme. This month’s theme was overcoming adversity – and each and every story was deeply moving, super inspiring, and required some real vulnerability. Moreover, they spoke from their hearts and touched mine. I may have even shed a few tears. 

It certainly shifted my perspective on some of the so-called challenges in my life. 

Yet these brave individuals stood strong, shared from their scars and not their wounds, and are making a bigger impact in the world as a result.

One of the speakers included this line: it’s time to remove the instagram filter from our lives.   

Oh so true!

And it got me thinking.

We are currently living in a crazy epidemic of filters, false pretenses, and faux lashes, tans, breasts – you name it. 

But even worse than the fact a friend recently suggested I use some filters and editing to up my online dating profile (yup, being brave here and admitting to the fact I finally got online!) is the fact we’re hiding something even bigger behind those filters. 

I’ve had quite a few deep conversations recently about what is really going on behind those perfectly posed and primped photos… and it’s never what it seems. 

Now I’ll be the first to admit I use filters, too. 

I answer ‘fine’ when I don’t really feel like getting into everything. 

And I look at others’ lives and make assumptions and judgements about how they must have it all figured out. 

Here’s the thing. 

Filters may change how things look on the outside, but they do not negate what is actually going on behind the scenes. 

And when we compare our reality to everyone else’s highlight reel, we can end up feeling pretty awful about our life.

It’s time to have braver conversations. It’s time to get real with ourselves, get real with each other, and get real with what’s actually going on. 

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” 
~ Brené Brown

And when you are brave enough, vulnerable enough to be seen exactly where you are, as you are – the authentic, imperfect, beautiful being that you are – only then will you truly connect with another. Only then will you truly show up in your power. And only then will the world truly benefit from all you have to offer. 

 

Putting it into action:

If you’re ready to let your guard down, and allow your real self – your whole self – to be seen and to shine, try on one or more of these ideas this week:

Be the first.

Be the first to share something a bit more uncomfortable, a bit more vulnerable, a bit more real. When you self disclose, you give permission to the other person to do the same. And self disclosure is the birthplace of true connection.

Take a selfie.

Take a selfie, don’t use a filter, and share with someone you know. Or, take it up a notch and share on social media. Feeling even more daring? Post without any make-up. You are beautiful exactly as you are. Remember that.

Answer honestly.

Next time someone asks you how you are, answer a little more honestly. I know, I know, ‘you’re fine’ ~ but more than likely there’s something you’re struggling with, or something you’re celebrating! Big or small. It’s all relative. Let them in. Don’t be ashamed to share the bad stuff and the good stuff. 

Use your voice, share your story.

You have one. We all do. Perhaps it’s time to come out of hiding. Because every time we use our voice to share a little bit more about who we are and the journey that got us here, we have the power to help another. And likely it’s someone who is only a few steps behind. Maybe it’s with a colleague at work, a sibling, a neighbour. Start small, and you’ll see how liberating it is. 

Don’t get caught in the trap!

If you find yourself getting caught in the social media vortex, comparing your reality to someone else’s highlight reel, or getting down on yourself, STOP THE INSANITY! Turn it off, breathe, shift your perspective. Remind yourself there’s more than likely one or more filters on that stuff! 

 

This morning I put this idea into practice. I gently, but intentionally, opened up and shared one of my current struggles with a colleague. And then BOOM! out came the tears! EEK! I wasn’t expecting that to happen! I immediately turned around and went for the door. But instead I stayed. He held the space, and we’re now closer as a result. Plus, he ended up sharing an extremely helpful tip that may actually be a gamechanger.  

Be brave enough to lift the Instagram filter from your life this week. Open up a little more vulnerably, share a little more honestly, connect a little more deeply. 

Life is way more rich when we get real with one another. 

Have a FAB week!

 

 

 

 

P.S.  My interview for The Confident Woman interview series goes live TOMORROW! It’s not too late to sign up so you can listen in! REGISTER for your complimentary spot HERE!

It’s time to get your brave on.

Happy Friday!

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

That was a big theme in the conversation I had yesterday with one of my brave coaching clients.

There are numerous things you could do… today, this week, this lifetime.

But that doesn’t mean you should.

Now there are some things you absolutely should do. And, there are likely a whole lot more things you shouldn’t do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about saying yes. Saying yes to opportunities, yes to things that scare you, and yes to life. It takes a brave person to say yes, especially when it’s something that’s going to make you uncomfortable. And, it also takes a brave person to say no.

And when there is something you could do, but know you shouldn’t do, it requires you to dig a little deeper and be a little braver, speak a little louder and stand a little taller, and say NO.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what it means to be brave.

Having just been to Africa with an incredible group of women to spend time volunteering with the Dare Women’s Foundation, and then a week climbing Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, I have to say these 12 ladies were absolutely displaying what it means to be brave. (Read more about our epic night to the Summit HERE!)

But you don’t have to go to Africa, or even go any further than your front door for that matter, in order to be brave.

I’m pretty sure there are lots of areas in your life where you are braver than you give yourself credit for. I also bet your bottom dollar there are areas in your life where you could be braver.

Today, I’m more interested in the latter.

Could you be braver in your work? In your relationships? In your commitments?

Where have you been playing small, and where could you be playing a little bigger, a little braver, this week?

Here are some ideas: 

  • Get in touch with that person you’ve been avoiding
  • Have that difficult conversation you don’t want to have
  • Apply for a position or an opportunity you might not get
  • Tell that person you find them cute
  • Start that thing even if you don’t feel ready
  • Say yes to something that scares you
  • Say no to something that you could do, but know you shouldn’t do

When was the last time you got your brave on? Perhaps it’s time to get your big girl pants on, and your big girl brave face on.

And if you’re looking for some inspiration, check out my friend Jana Stanfield’s song, ‘If I Were Brave.’

Cheers to you getting your brave on this week!

And then tell me how it went! I want to hear from you in the comments below.

Have a FAB, brave-filled week!

It’s not about the summit…

It was 11pm. And it was cold.

Although we were strongly encouraged to go to bed after dinner, knowing what lay ahead, most of us hadn’t managed to sleep. 

Perhaps it was the temperature, or the timing, or the sheer excitement. 

I had barely got my mitts on, and was still adjusting my poles to the proper length, before we were off. 

‘Duende!’ 

(‘Let’s go!’ in Swahili)

One by one, step by step, in single file line, we began our final summit night ascent up Kilimanjaro.

I looked up from the path and the carefully trodden footprints to the women in line ahead of me, and to all of the guides on either side of us – with two more than normal there were seven altogether – and I felt both proud and protected. 

‘One team, one dream!’ Hemedi, one of our main guides, had declared our first night together. And it had quickly become our slogan, our proclamation, our lifeline. 

We were one team – and a powerful force at that – with one dream… to make it to the summit.

We continued to climb, but it somehow felt more serious, more somber than before.

Six days earlier we’d begun our climb up Africa’s largest peak.

We’d conquered rain and snow, the famous Barranco wall, and even Lava Tower – our day 3 destination – who’s high altitude had affected the majority of our group leaving many ill and worried they wouldn’t be able to go on.

Although at times challenging, and despite long days of nine plus hours of hiking, I never doubted my ability to get to the top. 

And although physical fitness doesn’t guarantee one won’t be affected by altitude sickness, l was still pretty confident I’d be able to make it happen. 

Until I wasn’t. 

Just then I began to feel it. 

Not only were my hands freezing, my tummy was turning. And then came the gurgles. 

I began to feel it. The altitude. 

It was hours before our first short break. 

And not a moment too soon.

Even then, there was no time to dawdle. It was hurry up and do your business if you must, grab some water, and get back in line.

(Although I certainly felt better afterwards, having to do your business on the side of the mountain, where it was very difficult not to be exposed somehow, and in the middle of the night when the last thing you feel like doing is taking off all of your layers, is not so much fun let me tell you!)

By the time I was back, we were immediately off again in our single file line.  

There was no singing, no laughing, no bubbly conversation as there had been the days previously. 

‘This isn’t fun anymore!’ someone from our group proclaimed. 

My heart sank. I’m sure she wasn’t the only one feeling that way. In fact, I’m pretty sure we were all beginning to feel that way.

Perhaps I’m making it out to be a bit more somber than it actually was. I mean it wasn’t all that awful – at least at first – but it was also no walk in the park.

At first, I was quite enjoying the rhythm of our steps.

I was enjoying the quiet. The nature. The team we were a part of.

I was beginning to realize we were now on a mission that became bigger than any one of us.

But after a few hours, the first in line peeled off. And then the next one. And the one two behind me. 

I was also beginning to realize we may not all make it. 

As a team leader that’s tough. And when you’re not allowed to get out of line yourself to check in on your people, and when you yourself aren’t feeling so hot, it makes it even harder. 

I began to recite a mantra in my mind:

'we will summit, 
we will summit, 
and we’ll be,
warm again.’

It had a distinct rhythm and tune. And I must have recited it several hundred times before we finally made it to the crater rim of the mountain, Stella point. 

And by that point, my stomach had settled a little bit. We had been going for almost 8 hours. 

The next 45 minutes of the climb, also the last 45 minutes of the climb, although not overly physically demanding, lasted an eternity. 

However as the sun slowly began to offer its morning light, I felt hopeful. 

My fear that I may not make it, which was pretty real at some point during the ascent, subsided. It was happening. 

It was freezing, we were freezing, and a few brave members of the group – who had declared more than once they were ready to turn back, and who had been persuaded more than once to keep going – were barely hanging on. 

It was no longer about me making it to the top, and more about making sure all those still with us would make it.

I knew this sign had better show up sooner rather than later!

We began to pass fellow climbers coming in the opposite direction, big grins on their faces (or occasionally very white in their faces!) heading down the mountain.  

‘Congratulations!’ they shouted. And I knew we were close. 

And then off in the near distance I saw her. 

The sign. 

The official post that marked the summit. 

We began to quicken our steps. 

And suddenly, there we were. 

We made it. 

We had reached the peak, summited to the summit, achieved our goal. 

So we took the picture, dug deep to smile big, and then just like that, the moment was over and were already on our way down. 

Blink and you could’ve missed it. 

And if I’m honest, it was almost a bit anticlimactic. 

Now in all fairness it was snowing and very cloudy and there was no beautiful sunrise to be seen. Perhaps that would have made a difference. 

But still, this big summit reaching moment wasn’t what I thought it would be.

And as I began the descent back down, I realized although we may have made it to the summit, it wasn’t about making it to the summit at all. 

It never was. 

And it never is. 

Whether a summit, a destination, a goal… 

Here’s the thing. You’ll never get ‘there’ – yet you’ve already arrived. 

It really is about the experience, the journey, the steps you have to go through in life order to get to where you want to go, and more importantly the person you have to become in the process. 

And that was certainly the case for our climb up Kilimanjaro.

The actual moment of reaching the summit paled in comparison to all of the special moments we enjoyed leading up to it.

The singing and dancing and cheering we did with all of our guides and porters at camp. 

The deep discussions we’d get into in our dining tent on life, love and diamox (to take, or not to take?)

The sharing of our roses and thorns at the end of every evening, which ended in laughter or tears or powerful breakthroughs.

Hard to believe this epic experience of a lifetime has come to an end. But the learnings and the connections are only just beginning.

And these special moments will truly last a lifetime. 

And I am so freakin’ proud of what our ‘one team, one dream’ accomplished. 

So although I will continue to set goals and climb mountains and may even  attempt to once again reach the summit – and hope you do too – I’m going to focus on enjoying the journey (hopefully with less gurgles next time!) 

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that maters, in the end.” ~ Ursula K. Le Guin 

Indeed. 

Have a FAB week!

Lessons from Africa on the power of connection.

Africa is everything you’ve ever imagined it could be, and nothing like you ever could have imagined. 

Granted I haven’t been all over Africa – I haven’t even been all over Tanzania yet – however in the small bit I have seen and experienced, I can honestly say there is something magical about this place.

We are not tourists here… and that makes a big difference. 

We’re staying with a local family in their guest house, we’re cooking with the local ‘mamas’ from the Dare Women’s Foundation while on site (it’s quite amazing watching a small area covered merely by a tarp be transformed into a full on kitchen…) preparing some of the most tasty and memorable meals ever, and our volunteer work in this remote village is building a fence around a property that will one become a community home for women in need.

We pass children in their uniforms on their way to and from school, flashing the whitest of smiles, screaming ‘Jambo!’ while running after our bus, impressively keeping up with our pace. 

We get welcomed by the village mamas in their beautiful brightly coloured dresses and kangas (traditional wraps) with singing and dancing and shaking of hips and whistle blowing (I have never been greeted with such genuine warmth and excitement…) It really does bring tears to my eyes every time.

And we’ve seen giraffes walking along a ridge in the distance, while hearing hippopotami (is that the plural of hippopotamus?!?) snort in a lake right next to us, as we share big dreams and big fears taking the ladies in our group through my ‘Spark Your G.E.N.I.U.S.’ program.

I feel so incredibly fortunate to be experiencing what I’m experiencing and learning what I’m learning right now. 

And, you don’t necessarily have to go to Africa (although I will say, if and when you get the chance, GO! It is INCREDIBLE and so hard to describe…) or another part of the world to shift your perspective or learn important lessons. 

But one of the biggest things – takeaways, highlights, learnings – is not really a new lesson at all. 

I’ve long since understood the power of it, yet being here it’s become even more evident to me.

CONNECTION.

Despite different backgrounds, regardless of various upbringings, beyond obvious language barriers, I continue to truly connect with so many of the local people I meet and have the honour of working with.

And it brings so much more meaning to every interaction.

Connect with others. 

Connect with yourself.

Connect to the moment. 

Last week I spoke about people, experiences, and moments making the world go around. 

Well, continuing on that theme, the next step is to truly CONNECT. 

If you are not connecting with these people, experiences, or moments, you will miss the mark, and the magic.

And so with respect to people specifically, here are three easy ways to more powerfully connect. 

1  See people.

See people for who they truly are. Get to know them. Be let in. Place yourself in their shoes whenever possible. Learn their names. Learn their story.

2  Share Yourself. 

Don’t be afraid to self disclose. Let them in. When you open up, you invite them to do the same. And vulnerable sharing is the birthplace of deeper and more meaningful connection. 

3  Smile More.

Don’t underestimate the power of gestures. Making eye contact, extending a hand, or offering an embrace goes a LONG way. Especially when there may be a language barrier. Smile. A smile is truly worth a thousand words. Smile and the world smiles back at you. 

 

When you want to more powerfully connect with someone, use these three tips and you’ll be well on your way.

After all, human connection is important, and people, experiences, and moments make the world go around.

It’s been an incredible first week here in Tanzania, and tomorrow we head off at 5am towards the mountain to start our climb up Kilimanjaro. 

Wish us luck!

Before you bring on 2019, do this ONE thing.

Photo by Tessa Rampersad on Unsplash

Happy Friday!

The Christmas music is still playing off in the distance.

The last morsels of turkey made for yet another delicious cold turkey lunch.

There are half-eaten boxes of chocolate in the pantry, an impressive amount of empty wine bottles, and the recycling boxes are full to the brim with cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, greeting card envelopes.

All evidence points to a lovely holiday of entertaining and enjoyment by all.

And that it was indeed.

And now we enter into this weird time when a part of you is likely still in festive mode, a part of you is back thinking about or diving deep into work, and yet another part of you is busy looking ahead and strategizing all for 2019.

I’m not quite sure where I am, but I did show up at my girlfriend’s house this morning in my Christmas onesie with breakfast pastries and one last gift, trying to hang onto this special holiday for as long as possible! (also learned a valuable lesson… if your gift requires batteries, you better be sure to have them in tow! Clearly an amateur!)

For me, this time of year has always been about spending time with friends and family and all loved ones, and likely always will be.

And so somehow I can justify my procrastination on the overflowing inbox and strategy sessions by surrounding myself in good company.

At the same time, however, my mind can’t help but wander to a few days from now, where I’ll likely be watching the ball drop, toasting with a glass of bubbly, and if I’m lucky enough enjoy a few kisses and cheers with some of the special people in my life.

And all of a sudden it will be a new year.

A new start.
A fresh opportunity.
A blank page.

And as much as I love thinking and dreaming up all the possibilities for the year ahead, I also tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to have all of these ambitious goals figured out and planned out exactly what it is I want my year to look like before it’s even arrived.

Well, I’m not quite there yet.
And you may not be, either.
And that’s okay.

Because before we jump ahead to dreaming and scheming up the sensational storm that will be 2019, it’s important to do this ONE THING:

Pause and Reflect. 

It sounds simple enough, but it’s not always easy.

All too often we’re in a rush to get to the next thing before reflecting on what just happened.

We experience a breakup, and we’re back on line or swiping left looking for a new mate within days (or even hours!)

We arrive home from a trip, and before we’ve even unpacked we’re thinking about the next one.

We leave our job or position for whatever reason, and we’re jumping into a new project or applying for a new position almost immediately.

When was the last time you took the time to actually pause and reflect on what just happened? On your learnings? On how your perspective may have shifted? On what you want to be different next time? On what worked, and what didn’t?!?

Before we look ahead to 2019 – and all we want to experience, achieve, and feel – let’s first take some time to properly pause and reflect on this past year.

Now there are lots of questions out there and journal prompts and workbooks available for you to complete, but the last thing I want to do is add another something to your to-do list.

So I’m sharing 10 questions with you here… of which you may choose to answer all or one or even none. There is no right or wrong, nor does it matter if you answer with fancy gel pens in a fancy new journal, or simply in your head while enjoying a bubble bath. But I do suggest you at least read the following… as even doing just that will allow you to pause and begin the reflection process.

(And then stay tuned, as next week I’ll be offering my annual ‘Intentions, Resolutions, & Goals, OH MY!’ workshop to get clear on all we want in 2019. Good news? It’s going to be taking place ON LINE… so all y’all can join! *Registration opening soon.)

Reflection Questions for 2018:

  • What are your BIG celebrations?
  • What were your proudest accomplishments?
  • What were the highlights? Lowlights?
  • What is the most important lesson(s) you learned?
  • What do you want more of? Less of?
  • Where were you playing smaller than you know you could have?
  • Who were the big cheerleaders and supporters in your life? (and how will you acknowledge them?)
  • How did you stretch yourself to live BIG in 2018?
  • What do you need to let go of in order to live even bigger in 2019?
  • Who did you need to become to get here, and who do you need to grow into to get where you want to go? 

May you take a moment to properly reflect on 2018… all that it was, and all that it wasn’t. All you experienced, and all you learned. How you grew and who you became.

Take a moment – if only a moment – to pause and reflect, celebrate, grieve, acknowledge, accept.

(And then please share some of your reflections in the comments below! I want to share in them with you.)

And when you do, you truly will be ready to ring in, and bring on 2019.

May it be all you desire and more.

xo,

 

 

 

P.S. THANK YOU for being an important part of my year… your reading, following, supporting, and commenting means more than you know. And I continue to be honoured and grateful to be in this together…

Cheers to continuing on the journey in 2019!