November 19, 2011
This is the place to leave your comments and questions about my e-workbook called
If you haven’t gotten your complimentary copy yet, just click the image above to get more information. If you arrived here already knowing about the e-workbook and want to sign up to receive it, just put your name and e-mail in the form below.
This workshop in an e-book is designed to help people who want to take their ideas and make them real. It’s not an easy process. In fact, sometimes it’s really hard. But it’s definitely possible.
These 10 power sources will help you generate the energy you need to move forward and keep going. When you get stuck – and you will! – they are your resources to overcome obstacles, pull yourself out of the mud, climb out of the rut, or break free of the box.
What thoughts do you have as you read through and do the exercises? How has it helped you so far?
What questions do you have? I want to help you apply these ideas to yourself and your circumstances so you can take charge of your life, accomplish your big goals, and bring your ideas to life.
November 18, 2011
This surprised me at first. I coach and train people with themes like “don’t follow the herd” and “free yourself from the hive mind.” I mainly work with people who are leaders or are becoming leaders, stepping up to take charge so they can bring their ideas to life. Adaptable, flexible, and creative are abilities I want to keep improving in myself and help other people develop and improve.
So when I first realized I was a worker bee, and I liked it, I was surprised.
This year is my third year on the board of directors of a non-profit agency in my area, and my fifth volunteering as a committee member. As this commitment started winding down (I’m letting it wind down because it’s far enough away that meeting for an hour and a half takes up to four hours of my time with travel) I looked for a different volunteer opportunity.
My younger son started middle school this year so I decided to look for an opportunity there. It’s also his first year in public school, after spending his elementary years in a wonderful Montessori school. It’s a huge adjustment for him. The public school structure and format are completely new to him, the school is enormous compared to his two-room elementary, and, well, it’s middle school.
It’s a big adjustment for me, because I knew the administrator and the business manager and my son’s teacher very well. The Montessori cycle keeps a child in the same class for three years, and with some changes as the school downsized my son had additional years with one teacher.
I also knew two of the teachers in the youngest classroom because they had worked for us at the preschool my family owned. The Spanish teacher, who was also the art teacher, became a good friend, as well. They are like extended family. No, forget that! They are like the extended family I wish I had. They are special people who have been a huge part of my son’s early life and left an impact on both our lives. Heck, a lot of them are even friends with my mother since she volunteered and substituted at the Montessori school.
At the Montessori school I volunteered with “student store,” as I recount in Demystifying Marketing. I went on field trips. I even helped teach creative writing for a few months one year.
So when my son left his second home, the wonderful Montessori school, and headed off to the gargantuan new school in the brand new building with six hundred other students, we both lost an important part of our lives. I wanted to have some kind of connection to his new school, even though it couldn’t possibly be the same. And I was looking for a volunteer opportunity with little driving involved.
When the volunteer opportunities were listed “library” seemed like a manageable commitment so I checked it. At the orientation I signed up for a couple of shifts to give it a go.
I found out I like it. I can choose to volunteer once a week to once a month. I can even take a month off if I need to. I go in for two hours and fifteen minutes, and the total drive time round trip is twenty minutes or less. It’s a new library in a new building so sometimes I help organize shelves. Sometimes I help label shelves. Sometimes I put returned books back on the shelves, and sometimes I put the books back in the correct order.
I also laminate and cut out laminated pieces. Yes, they trust me with the machine with the heating coil and the heavy rollers!
Sometimes I check out books when students come to the library, and sometimes I check books in.
None of this is very difficult. Most of it takes little thought. I do a simple organizing task or laminate and cut out a stack of printed pieces. I don’t have to figure out much. I don’t have to solve challenging problems.
And I like it!
For the two hours and fifteen minutes, I have a list of things to do. By the time I leave, either I have finished a project or two, or completed one section of a larger project. The work is mainly about putting things in order. Books go in order on the shelves, labels are printed to direct people to the right shelf, cards for math class are covered in hot plastic and trimmed to be useful materials. I don’t have to figure out what to do or how to do it. I just follow a list.
I definitely wouldn’t want to do that every day. I would go nuts if most of my work were this way. But for a couple of hours two or three times a month, it’s a peaceful respite. I think it might be similar to walking a meditative labyrinth.
At the end of my time a task is done, order is restored in one corner of the universe, and entropy is resisted once again.
And I leave refreshed and ready to tackle some prickly challenges with my adaptability, flexibility, and creativity, in true Trailblazer style.
November 17, 2011
I’ve noticed a theme in the self-employment blogosphere and ezineosphere lately.
Is ezineosphere even a word? It is now!
The common message from several business consultants, marketing experts, and coaches is…
Don’t do it yourself!
I’ve read a lot of posts and articles lately on the importance of getting help with some tasks so you’re free to shine you’re beautifully shiny shine in other tasks.
Makes sense. Except when it doesn’t.
I just spent a frustrating few hours – maybe three or four cumulative over the past twenty-four – wrangling with my autoresponder to send out my latest newsletter. It may be that there were updates to the system that I have to get used to. It may be that I haven’t sent out a newsletter since we were in the long hot siege of endless days over 100 degrees. But it was pretty d@*&!# hard to get everything right this time.
The last hurdle, or hassle, I had to overcome had me stumped so I had to call customer support. The guy reminded me I didn’t pay for a support package, but he helped me anyway (thanks, dude), because my problem was:
“I can’t send my newsletter!”
Turns out there’s something glitchy in the way the editor panel deals with HTML code when you paste it in. The hard line breaks disappear, and then the system warns you that your HTML lines are too long. It takes your breaks and then says YOU screwed up!
Did you just get confused by that last paragraph? Then I’m doing well making my point. You see, after these hassles, one suggestion would be for me to hire someone to take my words and format my e-mail and send it out. But if I did that, I wouldn’t understand why there was a problem or know how to prevent it in the future.
Other than my insatiable curiosity wondering how things work, I could probably be fine outsourcing my newsletter publication. Okay, probably not fine, but I think I could handle it. The thing is, I work with a lot of solo entrepreneurs and I have lots of colleagues who are solo entrepreneurs. I help people learn how to do basic marketing things so they can use the confidence that comes from new skills to stand up to their fear and uncertainty.
I coach and train around the theme of Trailblazing, for goodness sake! That’s about being adaptable and flexible, ready to take on new challenges so you can take charge in your own life. While it’s possible for people to get help (or hire it) for all the areas of their projects and businesses they don’t know how to do, it’s more empowering to learn some new things along the way.
So I like being in charge of formatting and publishing my newsletter. That means when I’m talking to someone who wants to start a newsletter, I can talk about what I do. It’s not that advanced and it doesn’t involving hiring someone, which most people at the start-up phase aren’t ready to do.
And if I keep things simple enough that I can manage them, then I’ll be teaching self-employed people skills that are simple enough that they can manage them, too.
I do wonder if it’s a justification. Am I being too controlling, or maybe too cheap?
Could be! But mainly I want to be able to tell someone, “I know you can do this. Let me show you how.”
What do you think about hiring help versus doing things yourself? Join the conversation by leaving your comments.
October 6, 2011
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” ~ Steve Jobs
In other words… Live like you mean it.
September 8, 2011
The return of cooler weather has stirred my appreciation of whimsy and reawakened my hope. Not abstract political hope, like “maybe things will change,” but real, true hope that comes from a hint of proof that important things are beginning to happen.
By important things, I mean, No, my brain did not bake completely in the heat wave. As the siege of heat ends, I again have room in my mind for more thoughts than just seeking shade. Yes, I can still catch the quirky moments. Maybe, just maybe, Pedro Almodóvar is directing scenes in my life again.
Standing in the slow-moving line this morning at Einstein Brothers’ Bagels, I was trying to practice ideas I’m reading in Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting out of the Box. “That droopy faced, hunched over young woman in line is a person, not just an object in my way. Maybe she’s not spreading her miserable mood and seeking pity. Maybe she just feels bad today.” People, not objects. People, not objects.
Then, finally, it was time for the two objects – I mean people – in front of me to give their orders. They were a man and woman, probably a couple based on both their mutual disinterest and their familiarity with one another.
The order taker asked, “Name?” and the gentleman replied. I didn’t hear, and neither did the order taker. He looked directly at the man and hummed, “Hmm?”
“Karen,” the man responded. The look of surprise disappeared nearly immediately from the order taker’s face as he bent down to write the name on the order. The man smiled a little, pointed at his female companion, and then slowly reached out to touch her lightly on the shoulder, in a playful way, as if to say, “Today, we will be you, not me.”
Or maybe he was just gesturing to show the order taker that he was not, in fact, named Karen, but his companion was.
Several minutes later, the orders were slowly being filled by the people – not objects – behind the counter, people with perfectly good reasons for going slowly, I kept reminding myself, thinking about the self-deception book. Eventually Karen and company got their bagel sandwiches. The guy delivering them to their table asked if they had gotten their mocha cappuccino yet, and they hadn’t. He went behind the counter to make it and Karen headed across the room to get forks and napkins.
The mocha maker called out, pretty loudly, “Hey, Karen! Do you want whipped cream on your mocha?” Karen turned, looked at him, and then spun towards her companion, sitting at the table across the room, and swept her hand towards him, as if introducing him on stage. As if to say, “You wanted to be Karen today, so now you get to be Karen!”
He looked back at the mocha maker and replied, “Yes,” strongly and clearly.
I had to hold the chuckle back and only smile a little, because they were complete strangers in a public setting. Even though it was staged with three people at distant points in the restaurant, even though it resembled theater in the round, it was not meant for my amusement. At least not by the actors. I think the scriptwriter was enjoying giving the spectators a good time at their expense.
I have no idea if this scene translates well in writing. I have no idea if other people would enjoy the humor of it if they witnessed it as I did. Maybe I’m just a story nerd, enthralled by things others find mundane. But I want to capture it and share it, because in doing so I capture the whimsy that gave me hope by telling me the siege of summer is over, life is not just a heat endurance test, and there is time to relax and enjoy now that fall is on the way.
Have a great day, Karen!