I had a friend over for dinner the other week. I just finished giving her updates on my life, how my recent trip back East went, what was hard, what was new. After I finished, I was met with a “that’s good” type of response. Not much more. It was like talking into a well, with no feedback, affirmation, insights, commiserating … nothing. Then, she launched into her updates, and I spent the remainder of the evening listening, supporting, ad-hoc coaching, and offering feedback to her on her relationships and challenges.
Reflecting on the evening, I felt a little sad and, truth be told, a little used. Why is it so hard for someone to listen thoughtfully and to let me know I’ve been heard? I listened to her; why can’t she show me that she’s actively listening to me? All of this got me thinking about what makes someone a good listener.
Let’s start with recognizing what it is to not listen well.
You are quick to interrupt.
You are quick to hear someone and you generally interrupt them to offer a thought or response before they can finish what it is they are saying. This shows you are not holding space to sufficiently take in what you hear. Rather, you are already trying to craft an answer, rebuttal, opinion, or respond before fully listening. Note: if you are a coach, you may be taught to intrude for the purpose of keeping your client on track, but for the rest of you, you probably aren’t listening well if you continually interrupt.
You take up 80% of the space in your conversations. You are concerned with expressing yourself and making sure you get heard but leave little room for others.
You tend to multitask while someone is talking.
Unless you are knitting, walking, or doing something that takes unconscious competence to do, chances are you are not fully listening to the other person when you are doing something else at the same time. It is impossible to be a good listener if you are typing an e-mail or reading the news on your phone. The brain does not multitask; it can only do one thing at a time. Although you may think you are successfully doing many things at once, in actuality your brain is switching back and forth from task to task and your attention is being divided.
You automatically apply what someone is saying to your own situation. In other words, you don’t take the time to show you are understanding what they are saying and feeling. Instead, you bring the conversation back to you and how you would feel if you were in their position. This is different from empathizing with someone, as you are not genuinely trying to understand the other person’s feelings as much as you are projecting your thoughts and feelings onto their situation.
See any of these behaviors in yourself? If so, you may have a great opportunity to grow your leadership skills by becoming a better listener.
In coaching, one of the first things we do is learn the 3 levels of listening. Level 1 listening is all about self-referencing per the example above. For example, if your friend says something, you immediately think of yourself and say, “Oh yeah, I remember when that happened to me." In other words, it’s all about referencing what someone is saying in relation to you and your experience. It’s not a bad level, per se. It is the level we probably most often encounter in our relationships. But it is not the most powerful level of listening.
Level 2 is when you can actually start to listen to someone and stop referring back to yourself. You really hear what it is they are trying to say. You are focused on them and not on yourself.
And level 3 is about listening to all the things that are NOT being said, but that are present in a conversation - the energy of the person, their intonation, what you are hearing between the words, what your intuition tells you. This is where you as a leader really have the power to achieve deeper understanding and, ultimately, effect better outcomes through listening.
Here are some tips for achieving level 3 listening:
1. So what I’m hearing you say is …
This is a great phrase that sets you up for an attempt to understand and reiterate what it is you heard the other person say. If you are listening well, you should be able to sum up what it is you think the person is trying to say. You can also use other versions of this phrase, such as: It seems like … I hear you. It sounds like … Using any of these phrases will not only help you synthesize what you just heard, but will indicate to the other person that you are truly trying to understand what they are saying..
2. That’s curious. How did that make you feel? …
Being curious about what the other person says will help you listen better. Asking them how something made them feel can help them reflect more on what it is they are saying and also give you another angle to understand what it is they are trying to say.
3. Simply ask those around you whether they think you are an effective listener.
If it’s a “no,” or you get a wishy-washy response because they are afraid to tell you the truth, ask, “How could I improve?” You’ll be surprised at what they say. Maybe they will tell you not to interrupt so much when you didn’t realize you were doing that. Maybe they need a nod or more eye contact from you. Maybe they just need an acknowledgement of some sort. If you don’t ask, you won’t know!
Challenge yourself in your next conversation: go in with the intention of listening and making the other person feel heard. Challenge yourself to not respond, offer advice, or self-relate until the person is finished speaking. See how long you can go just listening!
As you practice better listening, you’ll likely gain new insights about yourself and about the person you are listening to. Getting curious while listening can prompt you to ask the right questions for solving problems and demonstrates that you are truly present in the interaction. Most of all, growing your listening is growing your leadership.
Try these listening tips and leave a comment below about the differences you notice in your conversations!
Like what you read? Sign up for my monthly e-news!
The other month I delivered a talk to a group of 50 some people at a large technology company. The executive that preceded me had gone over her allotted time in the presentation. Unfortunately, the moderator did not make up for lost time in the Q&A session. As a result, I found myself having to cram an hour-and-20-minute presentation I had so carefully planned into 50 minutes. Yikes!
Moreover, after the executive presented, half of the audience got up to get food, and some people left. I went from feeling excited and prepared to feeling rushed, uneasy and nervous, wondering how I was going to fit everything in. I actually started to feel like nobody wanted to listen to me. For a moment, I could feel myself losing my composure. I knew my saboteur, that inner voice of criticism and negativity, was about to get the best of me. Fortunately, I was able to self-manage and get through the presentation just fine. Here are some things that helped me get through this unexpected situation with grace and ease.
1. Put Things into Perspective
Rather than get annoyed at the way things were flowing, I had to pause and put things into perspective. I reminded myself that there have been far greater offenses in similar situations, and to much more distinguished people in a much more complicated performance environment! I had a flashback to world-class Indian artist, Pandit Chitresh Das* who I had the benefit of studying under for over a decade. He once lost his entire microphone system during a major dance performance in India. I watched as he was in the middle of a solo and his mic just shut off. Despite him being in the middle of a composition and getting thrown totally off, he kept going (though he looked quite annoyed - who wouldn't be?), finishing his compositions until the sound could be restored. Taking that lesson to heart, that’s what I did. I told myself this wasn’t the end of the world. It didn’t have to be perfect and, I should be nimble enough to go with the flow and improvise. I also thought about surfing and the way the ocean has taught me this lesson thousands of times in it's ever changing, unpredictable way, often reminding me what a speck I am in the grand scheme of the world. I started calculating in my head what I was going to cut. I also got clear with what was most important in the moment: how I showed up, as my attitude and mental state would either make the talk or break it. Putting things into perspective helped greatly in managing this snafu.
2. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!
I continued my talk just fine. I almost got through all of my slides when I clicked on the next one, only to realize none of my animated bullets made it into the master deck compiled by the company, which guided all my talking points! Surprised and embarrassed, I quickly grabbed my paper notes from the side and revealed verbally each point, one by one.
Even with 15 years of public speaking experience under my belt, I can’t stress the importance of being as prepared as possible for whatever presentation or project you may be doing. You just never know what will happen, and you want to feel comfortable enough with the content that you can improvise on it if you have to.
For a 20-minute talk, I often put in hours of prep time, as I’m not a natural, on-the-fly orator. I know my slides and points like the back of my hand. I made sure I had backup notes, just in case the slides clonked out. Instead of expending energy scrambling as a result of not seeing my bullet points on the slide, I put my energy towards grabbing my notes and presenting from there. Though it wasn’t completely polished, it was fine. And, I was able to get my points across with no problem, while still feeling confident in my delivery. This would have been hard to do if I were less prepared.
3. Get as Much Experience Under Your Belt as Possible
The more experience you have, the better you’ll be able to manage through unexpected bumps in the road. For speaking, experience can range from presenting something to your roommate or friend or spouse, to presenting at a full-blown conference. It doesn’t always have to be in the context in which you are doing your work. For example, I taught dance for years. Being in front of students and presenting to them absolutely contributed to the development of my public speaking skills. So, get as much experience as possible. The more experience you get, and the more the experience can mirror the conditions under which you have to perform, the more comfortable you’ll feel, and the better you will be able to manage on the fly.
When I was in high school, I was presenting an original oration at a forensics conference in Boston. It was my first time speaking and competing in that particular division. I felt so unsure and doubted my speech so much that I lost my confidence in the middle, and wasn’t able to finish it. I just sat down, feeling a bit ashamed, embarrassed and defeated. I was usually very comfortable speaking, but this was a new topic area for me, and I was out of my comfort zone. After everyone had completed their orations, the judge came back to me. He was kind, and gave me the opportunity to go back up on the stage and present, but I still did not do it.
When I talk about gaining experience, I mean facing situations that you may not be able to get through at that time, but that will stretch you, and yes, even scare you a bit. Contrast this story to many years later in my professional career when I’d find myself presenting in front of an audience of hundreds of women halfway across the world at a major women’s business conference (and getting paid thousands of dollars to do it). Things went fine, but I would have never gotten there without both the positive and not so positive experiences under my belt. Gaining that confidence takes time, and there can be some humbling experiences along the way. But just keep doing and learn to appreciate the experiences, even if you don't come out on top for all of them. Most athletes and artists get this at a visceral level (why they have a thing called rehearsals and practice), but what about taking that mindset to our professional work?
4. Know Your Purpose
During the unexpected bumps in my recent talk, it occurred to me that I could stay rigid to the way things were SUPPOSED to go and, as a result, fall apart or complain when they didn’t go as planned (this is a very left-brained way of seeing the world). Or, I could swing over to the other side and allow for a little possibility, a characteristic associated with right-brained processing.
On my way down to the talk, I was in a funky mood. I decided to close my eyes and did a meditation on the plane. I focused on my breathing and imagined a heart with a chocolate ice cream cone in it (hey, I was taught as a kid to meditate on ice cream cones throughout my martial arts training. It stuck so it’s fair game in my book. The point is to keep your mind focused on one thing). This was followed by a vision of what I call ninja love – spreading love through the sending of hearts all around me, in the shape of heart discuses. I know it sounds strange, but this is just what came to me. It was through this meditation that I connected with my purpose for the day. The content was important, but more than anything, I realized I was there to inspire, and - I know this will sound woo woo - to spread love. I realized that delivering a perfect presentation was far from the point. The point was all about how I showed up in relation to the people I would meet and what intention I had for them in the moments I was able to connect with them. The more relaxed, centered, connected and focused I showed up, the greater impact I’d be able to make with my words.
No matter what the chaos, I truly believe that the attitude and energy we cultivate in our space makes all the difference. This is not to say that it should have been all on me to make my talk successful. In the end, I was able to debrief with their team and share with them ideas for how to better manage these events, as well as make a checklist of what I needed to prepare going forward, should I encounter a similar scenario. Even better, the team members who organized the talk evaluated themselves, and they picked up on most of the hiccups so that next time, things could run smoother. Remember: there are no mistakes in life - just experiments with results as touted author, Gregg Levoy, says!
In the end, the participants were elated. They were engaged, and we got very positive feedback on the event. And that’s what mattered most.
Performance is a complicated tapestry of inner mental work, readiness and practice. (Note: That’s a tweetable. Tweet away!) Improvisation always needs a solid base. When things don’t go as expected, we need that base and mental readiness to move forward, whether we are an athlete, motivational speaker, or performer.
What strategies and techniques do you use to manage your performance when unexpected glitches happen? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the Comments section below!
Like what you read? Sign up for my monthly e-news!
My answer to whether the risk is worth taking is, it depends. Here are four recommendations I’d make to anyone who is contemplating making a really radical life or business change, yet is seemingly paralyzed by the fear of losing job security, balancing family, or other practical, modern-day considerations.
1. Make sure you are “on purpose”.
Before you can answer whether the risk is worth taking, ask yourself this: Is this my purpose? Is this truly what I’m about and the reason I was put on this earth? If you come up with a resounding yes, then the risk may very well be worth taking. Consider for a moment you found your purpose which, for many people, often takes half a lifetime. Now that you know your purpose, why would you want to waste your time on anything else? Your life will go by quickly. You don’t want to be on your deathbed wishing you had done things differently, do you? When we are on purpose, we resonate more, we feel excited and invigorated, and we attract the resources and people around us that we need to achieve our vision. That resonance will have more impact on us being successful than if we were just given a big pot of money and told to create something we weren’t that into.
Purpose is the platform to our vision, which in turn drives our everyday actions and choices.
You can’t ever succeed if you don’t risk it. But risk it with purpose. You will often read in popular entrepreneurial writings that entrepreneurs hardly ever do something because they are driven to make a lot of money. Many of the ones who became successful did it because they believed in their idea so much and were driven by the value it could bring to the world. If you believe in something that much, then the risk is worth it, because with that drive and passion, you are that much more motivated to find the right path forward.
2. Minimize the risk.
Leaps don’t just happen over night. I think it’s time to insert a surf life metaphor for you. A big wave surfer doesn’t just drop down Mavericks (a big wave in Northern California) one day without first having started in baby waves. She practices for years and years and keeps pushing her limits. She trains. She visualizes. She gets her mind as well as her body prepared. She grows her competency. In other words, she does things to minimize the risk.
The concept is similar when thinking about risks on land, in life and in business. When I started my first social impact organization, I had contract jobs on the side and worked on my idea with the other part of my time. I didn’t start by renting office space and carrying monthly payments, making a website and then looking for clients. That would have opened me up to too much risk. I thought about minimizing the risk through partnerships, and through making baby steps by collaborating with other programs and institutions to serve their clients first. Then I spun off. Whether it’s considering leaving a career and going after the idea of your dreams, or taking a leap of faith with a courageous conversation, think about how you can start to do a pilot run of it.
Test the idea. Take baby steps. Shrink your idea into parts.
Be sure you can answer these questions:
Why am I doing this?
What do I want to get out of it?
How will I do it?
3. It’s more about persistence and less about failure.
In my work as a social entrepreneur, I actually had to deal with the difficult decision of winding down an organization. It had succeeded in meeting its mission for women for 11 years. On the outside that seems like 11 successful years! But the truth of the matter is, there were many failures over that 11 years, too. Looking back, if I stopped everytime I failed, there would not have been an organization. But I chose to be persistent, and that is the reason the organization kept going. So, you will fail. It’s actually inevitable in many courageous and creative pursuits. But it’s not the failure that matters; at the end of the day, persistence is most important.
How many waves does a surfer wipe out on before they can pop up on just one? (Yes, here I go with the surf metaphors - they're just so good!) Many. And it’s not failure - it’s learning. We need to have a growth mindset when thinking about courageous transitions. Instead of seeing failure as failure, see failure as learning and move on.
4. Forget about what others will say.
This is perhaps the #1 biggest fear I see in people – fear of how you will appear to others and the shame you might feel if you fail.
Take it from me, if you live your life fearing what others think of you, you WILL be held back from your potential.
When you are worried about what others say, you are relying on others to define your potential and (worst of all) to give you permission. I learned this the hard way in my leadership. As a young leader with some amount of organizational power, there were some times I uncomfortable with the power, and would rely on seeking permission from others – from my board, from my colleagues, from advisors, from my team. At the end of the day, I wasn't listening to what my voice inside me said. It is very common in organizations for many people to work through the leader and it is important for the leader to hold multiple stakeholder’s agendas. At some point, however, you might find yourself needing to make a decision for yourself, and only YOU know you best.
Now, when I am in a highly creative state of change or new creation, I purposely distance myself from certain critics and people or just don’t offer too much information on what I’m doing. If they aren’t resonating at the same frequency that I am and are doubtful of my plans or ideas, they often become critical and quick to judge. This makes it harder for me to be successful, as I then find myself in a spiral of doubt, and well, doubt doesn’t help anyone. Surround yourself with the people who aren’t going to judge you for the moment, and keep yourself at a distance from those who are. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying to avoid people who can give you honest and critical advice, but at the end of the day make sure they are in support of YOU and not just projecting their own fears of risk onto you. It can make all the difference.
Have you found yourself in a position where you feel stuck and are afraid of venturing down a new path for fear of failure? What did you do to decide whether the risk was worth taking? Inquiring minds want to know!
Like What You Read? Subscribe To My Newsletter!
A lot of people come to Surf Life Coaching to get help making a bold transition, or to figure out how to get to the next level in their careers or personal lives. Most of the time, they come stuck in their safe zone. They are afraid, and by staying in the “safe zone”, they do not grow and challenge themselves to get to where it is they really want to go.
When people start to step out of their comfort zones, a number of things happen. For entrepreneurs, it can mean the difference between really starting to differentiate themselves in their industry vs. being just another plain business. For individuals, it can mean paving an opening for going after what they really want vs. feeling stuck in their status quo lives.
To take a leap and get past the fear can take a lot of work. Sometimes, people are afraid they will fail, or are afraid of what others might think of them. But what they don’t realize is that some amount of risk is what will also make them grow. Any failure they might experience will be in service to a much greater personal self-growth and discovery.
I know it’s one thing to list the logical reasons for stepping out of one’s comfort zone, and it’s another thing to FEEL the need to do so. For the sake of this post, I’m going to stick to logic:
1. Grow your leadership: Stepping out of your comfort zone can aid in developing your leadership and self-growth. As an example, a few years into running the nonprofit organization I founded, I was struggling in a relationship with one of my most important employees and fellow leaders. Most of the time, we found ourselves burning the candle at both ends and were very overworked and tired. We were stressed, and tempers were often short. I knew we needed to have a critical conversation about what was going on, but I remember neither of us really wanted to have it. We didn’t know HOW to have it, AND it was uncomfortable.
As I was the so-called ‘boss’, I’m sure it was hard for her to bring up our discordant dynamic. And truth be told, I was equally afraid because back then, I wasn’t very versed with head-on, to-the-point conflict. I was afraid of being blamed or worse yet, that she might leave. (Yes, bosses have fears, too.) We danced around this dynamic for a bit until it finally came to a head and we both had to have the conversation. It was uncomfortable and I felt vulnerable, but it was so good to get things on the table. Truth be told, tears were shed and thoughts and feelings were expressed. And afterwards, it was as if we were in a whole new space. I really understood her perspective and what she needed, and she understood my perspective, too. Stepping into this zone of discomfort took me to a whole other level in my leadership.
Conversations on difficult subjects after that with other employees, family and friends never seemed hard at all. I had forced myself to be out of my comfort zone with this, and looking back, what I realized was that it was one of the best skills I developed in my leadership arsenal for the years ahead. No conversation after that ever seemed quite as scary.
2. Stand out from the crowd: Being uncomfortable is often the path to differentiation. For example, I coach a number of entrepreneurs, and sometimes they end up sitting in their comfort zones in their business or lives, and nothing seems to be moving. When they realize and come to terms with that big, scary idea or passion they have been stuffing away all these years, and start to move towards it, it feels uncomfortable. They get scared, and often the voices of “can’t” and “sabotage” get in the way and give them every logical argument as to why they shouldn’t step towards it. But, stepping towards this is when they start to grow. If you are not in a place of feeling slightly uncomfortable, not stepping into new territory, how are you to find what makes you different?
As an example, before I started Surf Life Coaching, I was just a coach – a “vanilla” brand coach for leaders and entrepreneurs (though some would say I’m too brown to be vanilla, but you know what I mean!). Many friends and coaching colleagues would suggest that I somehow integrate surfing into my approach, since I loved it so much. Well, I stuffed that idea so far down that I didn’t want to consider it – I was afraid. But it was an idea that kept popping up again and again that I couldn’t seem to bury. After much introspection, months of coaching and a day-long seminar on finding my true calling, I realized I could stay on land and do traditional coaching and trudge along in my business, or I could create something unique with little road map or knowledge of how to do it, and try to deliver my coaching service in a new and better way.
I remember when I saw the path of where I needed to go. I knew I needed to go all out with this surfing and coaching concept. It had me terrified. In the end, I got over the fears and developed my own methodology for Surf Life Coaching. What this did was allow me to differentiate my services, and stand out. It was not the comfortable path by any means, but it helped set my approach apart, allowing me to deliver my unique skills and talents to those most in need.
3. Gain new insights: Getting out of your comfort zone can often bring you to new ideas and insights. When we surround ourselves with the same people, images, thoughts and media all the time, we are just reinforcing and trying to build on what we know. When we can get out and see the world, connect with someone other than who is in our normal circle, we not only gain new perspectives, we also gain critical new insights for ourselves.
This is why you might find business leaders choosing to hike up big mountains with Sherpas during their vacations, or activists bridging the worlds of technology and entrepreneurship to build hybrid models to get to something new. Getting out of their comfort zones forces them to experience things in a different way, and to gain valuable perspective that can often lead to new creation.
Great leaders may take risks and hire people for a position with little to no experience in their industry, but with know-how on the general concepts. It’s a risk for the company or organization to bring in somebody without the industry knowledge, but what they gain through this is an entirely different perspective and way of seeing things that often ends up becoming a competitive advantage more than anything else.
4. Build resilience: My second job out of college was as an Americorps/VISTA (sorta like the domestic Peace Corps) volunteer at a start-up social venture helping low-income women entrepreneurs to start their own businesses. When I arrived on site to the job, I had no desk, no computer, no office and essentially, no physical place to work. I had to find it all. I worked out of my supervisor’s home office, borrowed a desk at central administration, and then worked out of a site for a homeless jobs program before landing in a commercial bank – all within the span of 12 months. I know – yikes! It was the most uncomfortable situation to go from a structured academic environment in college to having to fundraise to get your own computer and a chair to sit your butt down in!
But what this discomfort did was pattern in me a solutions-oriented and troubleshooting mind. I would come to use those skills to start the next two social ventures and my business. It gave me insights on how to attract and leverage resources, and how to stretch a dollar 5 times around the block, so to speak. It also got me comfortable with mobility, and being able to be productive no matter what the environment. These skills would come in handy for my entire future career in entrepreneurship.
And then there was the time I found myself in Western Samoa in a village with a shack for a bathroom, sleeping on a mat on a plank with no walls. Another seemingly uncomfortable situation, but I was not intimidated. ;)
Anyways, the discomfort seeded in me a resilience for change, and detachment to space. These have been critical lessons learned along the road that have helped tremendously in my life transitions, and in creating and building things. Resilience is invaluable currency.
5. Grow your capacity for respect and humility: When you step out of your comfort zone, you actually connect more with the world, and learn to have a healthy respect for others. For example, when I take people surfing for the first time - let’s face it - they usually have their asses handed to them. They fumble, wipe out, roll in the surf, and then pop their heads back up wondering why they weren’t able to get up on their board. Some of them are used to being in control of everything in their businesses, careers and lives, but why can’t they get a hold of this?
When they finish, they have such a different respect for the ocean, and a whole new respect for people who charge the ocean on bigger waves. It also is a process that flattens ego, and can be a very rich place for self-discovery and for learning humility.
I’m curious - where in your life or career have you felt stuck, but then ventured out of your comfort zone? How did you do it and what did you learn? I want to hear from you!
Like what you read? Subscribe to my newsletter!
Do you ever feel like you are stuck with a business idea or career? Kinda like you were into it on paper or in concept, but when you got out there and actually did it, you couldn’t find energy within yourself to like it? Does it feel like you SHOULD have mojo for this, but that you don’t? Pay attention to this feeling. It means something is off, and you might have to do a little detective work to figure out what is going on.
We all want to dream of big ideas and ideal careers, but are we sure that what we are dreaming will truly make us fulfilled and happy? If you are still in your discovery phase, whether it is in your business or career, you likely haven’t quite figured out what makes you tick. You may fall in love with an idea or direction you may want to head in, but in practice, find it’s not as fulfilling as you thought it would be. Or, you may have loved the what – the idea - but not the how – actually doing it -or the other way around. Either way, you haven’t figured out what your unique recipe is for what is going to make you go out there, overzealous and energized, and speak to the world about what you do with passion.
If you are feeling this, first of all, it’s OK. And if you’ve tried things and abandoned them over time, that’s OK too. With each trial and result, you come a step closer to discovering what will truly resonate with you. It’s actually an opportunity to connect and get clear with what really drives and inspires you. In my work with leaders and individuals in transition, I rarely see people figure out exactly what they are going to do the first time around. Rather, it’s a process of exploration and discovery that happens over time, and taking shape as you become more clear of your values and purpose. Here are some things I did to get to the core of my what and how on my own journey of transition, and you can do them, too.
1. Get Your Feet Wet
At some point after running my non-profit for 11 years, I started to explore and wonder what it was I really wanted to do next. As a creative individual, I had this awesome idea to create conservative warm water swimwear for women. I had all of these ideas on it. I didn’t really sew, but I had designs and patterns in my head. I spoke to a pattern maker and did some research, and bought a book on sewn product manufacturing which I read front to back. I learned the ins and outs of what it would take for me to create a piece, from understanding how to choose the right material, to the importance of finding a good pattern maker. It turned out that making even one suit comprised so many technical details. By the time I got to the last chapters of the book, my head spun. It felt more like a career for a creative engineer than anything else.
2. Realize When Things Don’t Resonate and MOVE ON
I loved the idea of the suits, but knew I wouldn’t enjoy even trying to make the first one. The how wasn’t something that resonated with me, though I did like the big picture aspects of design and branding, and the impact the suits would have on the water wear industry, promoting a sense of confidence, athleticism, and fashion to sporty women. I decided instead I’d run with the things that truly gave me energy in the how. If down the road the opportunity came where I could partner with someone to make the suit for me, I’d do that. But until then, the how of this idea was more of a project than I was ready for. Doing a little research and talking with people allowed me to get my feet wet first, to see if this idea was something even worth pursuing. It allowed me also to discover more about myself and what I was passionate about.
3. Get Clear on Your What and Your How
In the end, I learned it was so important to be just as excited about your concept as you are about implementing the concept. And for entrepreneurs, running your business should feel akin to running off to indulge in your favorite passion. If you are in love with the what, but are not crazy about the how, you can always figure out how to outsource it, or shift your idea. If you are in love with the how, but are tired of the what, start to craft what your ideal work would look like – whether it’s the ideal dream job, a new business, or how you want your future relationship with your partner to look. At the end of the day, it’s about getting clear on the what and the how, doing the things that are true to your values, and taking out the things that don’t honor those values.
In my work helping individuals and leaders with career or business transitions, I often explore key questions to help them get clear on their what and how:
1. What’s the ultimate impact you want to have?
2. What is the best way to achieve that impact? Does it resonate with you?
3. Is the how the best way to achieve that impact?
4. Where do you feel dissonance in you career or business? Is there a value you feel you are compromising if you continue to do it?
So, as an exercise, ask yourself to answer these questions. See what you come up with. Are you someone who once lost your career or business mojo? What worked for you in your exploration? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!
Like what you read? Subscribe to my newsletter!