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Archive for May, 2011

Self-Reliance: A Guidebook for Escaping Mediocrity

May 25th, 2011

Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson has always been one of my favorite books. (My Mother The English Teacher quoted it to me even when I was little.)

One of my old copies has more underlined sections than not-underlined sections. Ralph has such a way to capturing the voice and thoughts of those who are desperate to break from the rabble and make their own way in the world.

I’m going to share a few of my favorite lines in just a sec, but I have something awesome to share with you. You can get your hands on a free Kindle edition (that can be read on any mac or pc) today and tomorrow (Tuesday, May 25 and Wednesday, May 26) through The Domino Project and compliments of IBEX, a very cool outdoor wear company.

Don’t miss this chance to own this amazing guidebook to Escaping Mediocrity. You can get all the details and links here: http://bit.ly/j7CKSg

To give you a taste of what you will find among the 73 short pages, here are some of my favorite quotes:

There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction tha envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide.

 

What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think.  This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness.

 

…truly it demands something godlike in him who has cast off the common motives of humanity, and has ventured to trust himself as taskmaster.

When you get the book or if you already have it, I would love it if you shared you favorite quote in the comments. :-)

Oh – and be sure to pass the link for the free download along to your friends!

Dementors, Courage, and Making a Way

May 23rd, 2011

The Young Turk is a fairly recent Harry Potter devotee. We are reading through each book at night and watching SOME of the movies. (Voldemort’s appearance in the graveyard gives ME nightmares. I’m not about to let him watch that part – yet.)

As always, I am struck by the deep insight into the real world that J.K Rowling deftly illustrates through her magical characters.

“There are dark days ahead, Harry “days when we will be forced to choose between what is right and what is easy.” ~ Albus Dumbledore

And is there any greater harbinger for “dark days” than the utterly horrifying dementors?

For those of you unfamiliar with the world of Harry Potter, here is the description of a dementor:

Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them… Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself…soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.
—Remus Lupin

The reason I find these creatures so completely terrifying is that I’ve been around very real people who are like this.

In fact, I was surrounded by them during my very last gig in the employ of someone other than myself over 10 years ago.

I’d been called in to turn around an organization that had crashed and burned. Poor management, little revenue and blinding egos had driven this entity into the ground. So much so, that the parent company fired the local team and brought me in the re-build.

Now here is a critical fact you need to know: the mission of this organization was to help an incredibly vulnerable and under-served group of people. The organization existed to provide resources, support, direction, and most of all, hope.

When I came in, I certainly did not expect any help or support from the former employees – they got fired after all. The thing that surprised me is that they used their connections and influence to make sure I got no help from anyone else either.

Their position was something like this: if we couldn’t make it succeed, we are going to make damn sure she doesn’t succeed either. They became thoroughly and completely invested in my failure and the failure of an organization designed to do something good in the world.

They were not interested in the vulnerable population they were harming. This group was willing to suck the peace, hope and happiness out of these weary lives in their hunger to be right.

I wish I could say this experience was an isolated incident. Sadly, I see  these kinds of people every single day. They are so blinded by their own egos that they become committed to seeing other people fail. They become committed to draining the world of something that could be wonderful and bright and good.

I say this not to frighten you. I say this because I don’t want you to be surprised when they show up. :-)

How do you fight real live dementors? (Sadly, I have yet to put together a decent Patronus Charm.)

There are two things they cannot stand: 1) courage and 2) tenacity.

Dig down deep and tap into the well of courage that I know you have and then throw in the audacious tenacity to make a way in spite of all. Stand firm in spite of the dementors and all the fear and doubt they want to spread.

Make a way.

Is this easy? Not at all.

“There are dark days ahead, Harry “days when we will be forced to choose between what is right and what is easy.” ~ Albus Dumbledore

If you are doing the right thing, you know what choices to make.

Oh – and in case you’re wondering how my story turned out, I quickly reached out to a whole different group of people to help me turn the organization into the beacon I knew it could be.  In two short years, our revenues were up 200% and we were helping twenty times more people than had ever been helped before.

And the dementors were dumbfounded.

As always, I’m intensely curious about your thoughts and experiences, so I hope you will share them in the comments. :-)

P.S. If you want to continue this conversation about Courage, I would love for you to join me for a special call tomorrow: http://bit.ly/CIPEquation

Getting To Your Essential Self: An Interview

May 18th, 2011

Last week I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Dana Reeves of Daily Success Deals about my mentor, Martha Beck, life coach columnist for O Magazine and best-selling author. Martha trained me as a life coach over 5 years ago and without her I would not be the person I am today.

You can read more about my thoughts and experiences in my interview here.

The Gift of Clarity

May 16th, 2011

I’ve found myself talking about clarity a lot over the past week or so.

How to get it. How to maintain it. What to do when it simply won’t appear.

For years I struggled with gaining clarity – especially around my business. (And truth be told, there are days when I STILL struggle with it.)

Then one day I realized (with the help of an amazing coach) the number one thing that was blocking my path. and preventing me from gaining the clarity I so desperately craved.

Certainty.

I wanted 100% certainty that I was 100% accurate before I was willing to move forward on my own behalf.

My attachment to certainty far surpassed my desire for clarity. And it became a deathtrap, pinning me in a cycle of frustration and pain.

With encouragement and support, I slowly but surely released my grip on the need for certainty. I focused on taking just one step in the general direction I wanted to go. Then another. Then another.

Sometimes I was right. Sometimes I was wrong. But the forward motion started to gain momentum and my judgment about what next step to take got sharper and sharper.

Compare that to just sitting there, paralyzed, waiting for clarity to bop me over the head. Clarity, it seems, doesn’t arrive on it’s own. It’s something we must actively seek.

So if you are struggling for clarity, the very best strategy I can recommend is to choose a single step that seems most likely to take you in the general direction you want to go, then TAKE IT.

Then get your bearings, figure out the next step in the right general direction, and take it.

After a while, you will be walking, then jogging, then running to meet your destiny. :-)

I have a lot more to say about Clarity – and the Confidence it brings.  In fact, they are the first two components of my Creating Irresistible Presence Equation.

So that I can share more practical strategies and introduce you to entrepreneurs who are employing them right now, real time, I’ve put together a free two-part call series that starts this Tuesday, May 17.

Find out more and reserve your seat here: http://bit.ly/CIPEquation

I’m also intensely curious about your relationship with clarity, so I hope you’ll share in the comments below. :-)

 

What Do I Do Next?

May 11th, 2011

Along the lines of Monday’s post, 5% Better, today I’m musing on another challenge I often hear from people who know they are meant to do something significant. Often they know what that thing is, often they don’t have th foggiest idea.

But both of these groups are in a holding pattern because of the same thing: they don’t know what to do next to get there.

In the time I’ve spent on this Escaping Mediocrity Journey, I’ve learned one big thing. Any action is better than inaction.

Or, as I said on two different phone calls this week, standing there, looking over the edge of the cliff isn’t going to make jumping any less scary.

I also know that random action isn’t really that useful either. No one wants to feel like a hamster on a wheel.

So, what do you do when you don’t know what, exactly, to do next?

Just one simple thing. Determine to the best of your ability what the single next indicated step is. Just one step, not the whole map. If you really don’t know, make your best educated guess, then move.

Once you take that step, you will have a ton more information at your disposal to determine what the NEXT indicated step is. So figure that out and take it. And keep repeating the process.

Some of the steps you take may not be 100% right. But you won’t know that until you take them. The more steps you take, the more accurate your compass will become.

Falling into the trap of thinking we have to know the entire sequence of steps to take before we take any is a trap. And it keeps so many people locked down, not moving toward their destiny.

Don’t be on of those people.

My challenge to you today is this: figure out one single step you can take that will move you in the general direction of where you want to go. And take it.

And, of course, I would love it if you would share the step and the results in the comments. :-)

Good Luck!

Five Percent Better

May 9th, 2011

So often people tell me that they really, really want to escape mediocrity, that they want to stand out from the crowd with excellence but that it feels SO hard to do.

I sympathize. When I first started on this journey, I, too, thought it was going to require super-human effort. And while I do know that resisting the subtle pull of the mediocre crowd involves persistent vigilance, I’ve discovered that being UN-mediocre really isn’t about leaping tall buildings in a single bound, or exerting exhausting effort day in and day out.

It’s about doing/being five percent more than everyone else around you.

I know, I know. Fiver percent doesn’t sound like much. It sounds too small to be worthy of thought, much less to be a worthy quest for those who’ve signed up to be more than mediocre.

Let me share my thinking.

What if:

- You delivered 5% better customer service than any other company you know about?

- You gave 5% more value in your products and/or services than anyone else?

- You focused 5% more time on being an excellent parent than you do right now?

- You learned 5% more than the people around you?

- You gave 5% more of your time, money and talent to a cause that mattered to you?

- You improved your skill set 5% over those who are in the same market space as you are?

- You revealed 5% more of yourself in your most meaningful personal and professional relationships?

Get the idea?

So often we get trapped in thinking that to be UN-mediocre, we’ve got to be 200% better than everyone else. And because that sounds so difficult, our thinking keeps us right where we are.

So what if today you focused on just being 5% better? And tomorrow, 5% better than that?  Where might you end up a week from now? A month from now? A year from now?

I would love to hear how you will put Five Percent Better to work so please share in the comments. :-)

 

 

When It Doesn’t Go As Planned

May 6th, 2011

I sent this out to my newsletter list yesterday (Not on that list? You can fix that here: http://bit.ly/EscapeNotes.) The response was so overwhelming, I decided to post it here.

Last Wednesday a tornado unlike any other razed part of my city andneighboring communities with devastating force. 

The next day, I got on an airplane and flew to Chicago for SOBCon.My heart was pulled in two directions the entire time I was there. One part of me delighted in being with my friends, making new ones,and learning some really cool stuff. The other part of me was riveted to the television at every break, trying to get news from home and trying to figure out how to help. 

And, while all of this was happening, I had to make a decision aboutwhether we would hold or postpone our TEDxRedMountain event,scheduled for May 19. The program we had planned was wonderful and stimulating, butglaringly irrelevant in light of the disaster and the disaster recovery. 

Did we have the people, the time and the resources to re-invent andre-build this event practically from scratch? Or would it be betterto wait until things had settled down and everyone had more focus?
Combine this decision with hosting an amazing retreat for my privateclients earlier this week, and it just seemed easier to throw up myhands and say “Never mind.” 

But then, some unexpected things started happening. Offers of helpfrom total strangers. Offers of equipment from companies I hadnever spoken with before. Personal words of encouragement from Chris Brogan, Tim Sanders and many others. 

And just when I thought I was going to drown because I didn’t have the time to figure out how to organize and deploy thenecessary resources and still run my business, something amazing happened. 

Today I was supposed to take my son to a special dentist twohours away. It would consume my entire day. No internet. Nophone. No way to work on much of anything. Then I had car trouble. Nothing earth-shattering or terribly expensive, but enough that it wouldn’t be wise to go on a four-hour round trip drive. 

It seems that God (or whatever higher power you believe in)decided that I needed today to sit and think and organize andget sh*t done.  Which is exactly how I spent my morning. 

The event will go on. I will stay sane. And my family will havea mother who isn’t stressed out of her mind.
And none of it is going according to plan. :-) 

Love you!
Sarah 

P.S. I’m working on a free call series around Clarity + Confidence +Courage = Cashflow for later this month. Watch your inbox for details.