4 Thoughts On Making Most Of My Holiday

Posted on July 20, 2014

lake

I have a confession to make.. I was actually looking for ways to slack off (!) this post. A short cut, anything that could have saved me from the real work after a hot day on a lake… (I’m writing this as my holiday has just started. I promised myself to have all my three week blog posts written in advance. Well, no such luck, the days were just too busy.) So here I am, sitting in the old summer house, typing away, waiting for the men to return from fishing – very old fashioned isn’t it!).

I was exhausted coming here, Finland. We fly on Friday night and on Saturday morning drove 4 hours up to our place in the country. I was absolutely exhausted.

It felt good to feel exhausted, though. I felt I had deserved my holiday.

That feeling of ‘deserving’ made me think of how I could make my two weeks ‘off’ as special as possible.

1) Get all the stuff done before you go

Oh yes. I meant to finish this and all the other two blog posts due in my two week holiday! It’s such a great feeling going away when absolutely everything is done. Finished. Clean desk. Empty mind.

2) Let things wait

And because you finished what was urgent, now you can let other things wait. Sorry, but if you have some complicated DrivenWoman Membership requests while I’m off, they simply have to wait until I’m back in normal routine in August. Most things aren’t urgent at all (we just want to feel important) and all we have to do is to set up our automatic “I’m on holiday” response message.

3) Let things happen

Our summer place is where the family and friends gather. People come and go and there are always a lot of people to feed and entertain. I was always a bit too organised about all the lunches and dinners but have learned to chill a bit more now. I let the day take it’s natural course. What we end up having at the dinner table may be a result of many surprises, including luck on the lake.

4) Holiday is wasted if it’s not a holiday

I’ve just seen some pictures of me when I was 14, spending my summers in this old family house by the lake. All that excitement! Now I want to reach that care-free feeling of my teenage summers. I want to feel that total zero-responsibility again (to the degree one can, with small children). That’s the most efficient way I can spend my holiday.

All of this may seem obvious to many, but for those who are immersed in their project it’s a good reminder.

I admit it’s difficult to be on a holiday. I’m normally so excited about what I’m doing that I don’t want to stop. Or there may be a feeling of guilt, to make the business flourish one should be working on it at all times. (Screw that..)

I know the more I rest, the better ideas and sharper thinking my mind will deliver. There should never be a doubt in driven woman’s mind to go on a well deserved break.

Enjoy your summer!

~ Miisa

How To Handle Disappointments Like An Athlete

Posted on July 13, 2014
Photo by nuchylee via Free Digital Photos

Photo by nuchylee via Free Digital Photos

This is the time of the year when, in my business as a Sports Agency, so many emotions rise to the surface. Athletes have spend the last 12 months intensively preparing for the competition seasion, and will now have to put themselves to the test. Some will succeed and others will not. There’s more losers than winners, that is for sure.

How do they pick themselves up time after time when disappointment occurs so frequently? How do they go from one race to the next having less than 48 hours to turn their feelings around, and having to correct previous mistakes at the same time? It surely is tough even for the toughest.

Disappointment is an inevitable reality in the world of an athlete. Learning to handle the disappointment appropriately is crucial, especially when you add a short time frame to the mix. This could effect the beginning and the end of a season in a matter of days.

We all know that disappointments left unchallenged can lead to sadness and low self esteem. But when disappointments are properly dealt with they can be turned into a positive learning experience and ultimately a point of internal strength. Many athletes would admit that facing their most challenging disappointments and defects have taught them a valuable lesson and increased their strength mentally, emotionally and physically.

The best way to deal with disappointments like an athlete is to take intentional and definite steps of action when your life doesn’t go your way or you find yourself on the losing side. The way the athlete handles the sets will effect what she requires in the future competitions.

So how can we adopt some of the most effective strategies and deal with a disappointment like an athlete.

1. Acknowledge

If you are to reach your goals you must first acknowledge what went wrong, what part you played and what can you do in the future to correct or strengthen those areas.

2. Have a plan of action

Understand where mistakes were made and look at them with a critical and honest, yet constructive eye. List them if you have to, and don’t be afraid.

3. Set the wheels in motion

Do what has to be done. Take immediate action straight after the disappointment to deal with the issues. Deal with people (this is the difficult part), change a location, or handle objects: whatever it may be in order for you to put right what went wrong.

4. Give yourself a time frame

You know how quickly you have to act, give yourself a deadline. It’s good to be honest and realistic. Fantasizing gets you nowhere fast.

5. Visualise your way to success

The great thing about visualisation is that when you are going through a tough time and everything is negative you can take yourself out of it, and in your mind create the world you want. Feel the way you would like to feel once you have achieved your goal.

My life has had just as many highs as it has had lows. So many times when the chips have been down I would quiet myself  and research my inner thoughts.  Sometimes I would quickly be spot on what the reasons were that took me to failure, other times I would have to wait awhile but the answers would always came in one form or another.

What keeps me going is the resilience inside of me. The button I keep pressing that pushes me forward. And I remember to embrace the feeling of accomplishment when I do succeed.

I guess the athlete will always be there.

~ Jennifer

Please comment and share your thoughts on how you’ve handled disappointments.

 

4 Ways To Develop Your Resilience to Stress

Posted on July 6, 2014

daydream2

It’s difficult to stay driven if stress takes over. We’ve invited Donna Hubbard, life coach from Be Dynamic Coaching, to share her tips on how to build resilience to stress.

On a scale of 1 – 10, how stressed would you say you feel today? Wherever you place yourself on that scale right now, stress is something that can seriously affect all of us at times. The S word can negatively impact our productivity, decisions and overall happiness. So what exactly is stress and what can we do to minimise the level we experience in our lives?

Stress is…

“The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or demands placed upon them. Where those pressures exceed the person’s current perceived resources and coping ability.” International Stress Management Association, 2013

The best way to overcome something is to understand it more. Looking at the above definition we can see that it is hinting at the 2 areas we can focus on in order to develop a better stress management system for our lives. These areas are 1. our reaction and 2. our perception towards stress inducing situations. We’ll come back to cracking both of these things later…

But Isn’t A Bit of Stress Good For Us?

If we feel we have the resources both internally and externally (e.g. self confidence, experience, support etc.) to cope with a situation, then we will experience pressure and not stress. So even if we feel a little nervous about the outcome, all the time we perceive ourselves as being in the driving seat we will most likely enjoy the buzz this positive pressure (as it is sometimes known) gives us. Hands up if you are a little addicted to this feeling and recognise it as a positive force in your life that drives you? You certainly aren’t alone there…

Developing Your Resilience To Stress

Here’s 4 ways you can develop your resilience to stress and lead a happier, more balanced life.

1.Pinpoint the Gremlins

If you feel stress may be affecting your life, then the first step is to take a brave look at what is going on and why. So grab a pen and bit of paper and work through the questions below to pinpoint the gremlins (i.e. stressors) in your life right now.

- What situations are currently causing you stress? – Why do you think this is? What about this situation concerns you? – What impact is this stress having upon you and your life?

2. Evaluate What You’re Seeing

Here we tackle the perception part from the definition of stress above. Our perception has a profound impact on our experiences in life and here’s why…

What we Perceive /Think affects how we Feel, how we Feel affects how we Act and then our Actions further feed our Perception of a situation.

This is known as the Think – Feel– Act cycle founded in psychology and it explains why we do the things we do. Compare how you view the situations in your life that excite you with those that scare you, what’s the difference? Do you know people who are excited by the things that scare you and vice versa? This all comes down to the difference in our perceptions.

Look at each situation you noted as a stressor in your life and ask yourself:

- How am I currently viewing this situation? – Is this perception helping or hindering my ability to cope with it? – What evidence tells me that I do in fact have what it takes to deal with this? That everything will be ok? – What would a more helpful (i.e. that would help me deal with the situation better) perception be?

3. Put On Your Circle of Influence Hat

Now it’s time to look at the reaction part from the definition of stress above. In life there are things we can control and things we can’t. How much time and emotional investment we spend on the things within these categories has a direct link to how stressed we feel. The more time we spend on the things that we can control the happier and more empowered we are. The reverse is also true, if we spend most of our time and efforts on the things we can’t control the less happy and more disempowered we become. The latter approach to life is both a contributor and accelerator to stress, therefore we must remind ourselves to wear our Circle of Influence Hat as much as possible.

circle of influence

Source: Jari Sarasvuo, the model has been adapted from Stephen Covey‘s Circle of Influence.

How much time do you spend worrying about all the things that are out of your hands?

If you were to focus this time on finding a solution that is within your control instead, what difference would this make to you?

4. Take 5

In the heat of a stressful moment our autopilot response can cause us to be reactive. Whether that means we say something we regret or behave in a way that doesn’t serve us, being reactive is a symptom that we are not feeling in control and it can make situations much worse. So it’s helpful to find a way to take ourselves off of autopilot and fly with our minds fully engaged for a while!

To help you ‘take 5’ and respond constructively in a stressful situation, perhaps sing the first chorus of your favourite song to yourself in your head (sound nuts but it may just work…) count to 5 or think about a person you care about for a few minutes. Changing focus for a while helps you to regain perspective and gives you a chance to think before you act.

Now as we are all wonderfully human we may not win the war with our autopilot all of the time, but if we can take charge of our emotions and manage our behaviour a little better even just 30 – 50% more of the time, the positive outcomes will be huge.

I’d love to hear about your experiences so please do get in touch with me or share your comments here on the blog.

Donna
Founder Be Dynamic Coaching
E: donna@bedynamic.co.uk
TW: @BeDynamicLife
LI: Donna Hubbard

Donna Hubbard

About Donna
Donna supports women in bringing the goals that really matter to them, to life. She helps individuals to develop a resilient and empowered frame of mind so that they can create the lives they want. This is what she calls the dynamic effect. What goal do you want to start creating?

 

How To Stop Constant ‘Juggling’

Posted on June 29, 2014

girl ball

Do you have a feeling you have too many balls in the air at the same time? Are the everyday life pressures keeping you from your own personal goals? Do you feel there’s always something that requires your attention that distracts you from the things you are trying to improve?

Sounds like ‘juggling’, the activity we women are sometimes almost proud of. Or at least we have decided to own it so profoundly that it surely comes up in every female executive interview (‘how do you juggle family and work?’) and dinner conversation between friends.

I was recently at a lovely dinner with seven brilliant and bright ladies who all manage to combine meaningful career and family life. After hearing my story of running one company, building a women’s network and doing a tech start-up, whilst spending time with my husband and five year old twin boys, one woman asked me how on earth do I manage to juggle all of this?

In that very moment when I answered I realised what the secret is, I’ve stopped juggling. Until recently I was very stressed out thinking I should do all of these things at the same time. That didn’t work. A couple of weeks ago I got a mild panic attack! But like any set back or obstacle in life, it thought me an important lesson.

I’m not supposed to keep all the balls in the air at the same time. I’m supposed to push each ball separately at my own phase.

I’ve learned to be fully present at what I’m doing and I don’t try to do more than one thing at the same time. This means that when I’m with my kids, I’m with my kids. I don’t try to write emails or send Tweets at the same time. I fully enjoy my kids company.

And when I’m working I  will let them know that ‘mummy has to work now and doesn’t want to be interrupted.’ It works because I’ve explained that if they want to sit at the front of the plane any day soon, they will have to let me work.

Here’s 8 tactics that have helped me to stop juggling:

1) Delegate

You have to give up part of the workload and delegate to others. We have an au pair who lives with us. Yes, it felt odd at the start to have someone stay with us, but I find it’s a small price to pay for a clean kitchen and flexibility with childcare.

2) Trust others

Once you’ve delegated tasks, It’s important to trust others to do the job. They may not do it the same way as you’d do it, but not all jobs need to be completed to the highest standards.

3) Focus on one thing

When you are focused on a task, don’t let yourself be distracted by other unfinished tasks. The world (and especially a family household!) is full of unfinished tasks. Most can remain unfinished (at least for now).

4) Create habits

My weekly schedule looks pretty much the same from week to week. I’ve dedicated time slots for all three businesses and the schedule repeats. Apart from standard weekly meetings I don’t take many meetings. I know I have to allocate time for getting things actually done.

5) Say ‘no’

I let un-critical things fall by the wayside. I’ve long given up perfection on things that don’t really matter (like keeping the playroom tidy) and I’ve stopped doing things because I think I should.

6) Batch

I wrote a post on this earlier. The idea is to hold tasks until a dedicated time slot and do all similar tasks together. Stops you from working reactively and bouncing to every impulse or request thrown at you.

7) Complete

If you got so far as to focus on only one task, and have blocked all distractions, it’s important then to capture that moment to complete what you started. Get that one ‘ball’ over a finish line so you can ad an item to your ‘Done List‘. It can be a sub-section of a larger project but important thing is to finish what you are doing to avoid juggling.

I’ve visualised ‘focusing on one ball’ as opposed to ‘juggling many balls in the air’ in my head. This mental exercise has helped me to appreciate everything I do more and not pile up unnecessary (=unimportant) tasks. I try to ‘let go’ as much as I can.

Do you find ‘juggling’ a problem? What methods or tactics have you used to stop ‘juggling’ or to reduce stress?

~ Miisa

The Problem With Female Success (And What We Girls Can Do About It)

Posted on June 22, 2014

female success

I very much liked what Rania Habiby Anderson had to say in her The Next Women business magazine article. “Yes, governments, policy makers and institutions have much to do to level the playing field for women. But, we cannot just wait for them to do so. There’s a lot we can do on our own to enable our own business success!”

It is not enough for the government policies to change or companies to adapt a more female friendly approach. The reason we founded DrivenWoman a year ago was our fundamental belief that women have to change the way they view their own opportunities in life, and start improving their career or entrepreneurial prospects by taking initiative and adopting a more proactive approach. We can have all the funding or support we like, but if we as individuals don’t believe in our own possibilities to succeed or don’t work hard every day to improve our resources, no-one is going to spoon feed us the ingredients of our success.

I think too often we are tempted to blame the outside world or male-dominated practises for the lack of female success. But it’s not a zero sum game. Female success is not taking anything away from men, it’s building more wealth and happiness on top of it! I don’t believe in confrontation nor the idea that we should behave like men to succeed. Everyone can create their own opportunities. If the current male-dominated environment is suffocating, then we must leave and start over, work bloody hard (and push that boat baby!) to create something that better reflects what we are about.

I believe there’s also a definition problem. We still tend to refer to success like men – through tittle, wealth and status. However, everyone should be entitled to their own definition of success. It just means someone has to be a little brave and stick their hand up to offer an alternative point of view. It’s scary to say you don’t want only career success, but also meaning in your work, and happy family life and time to keep yourself healthy. But shouldn’t this be the standard rather than a discussion?

And finally, perhaps the biggest problem is that women view success in absolute terms and it can be paralysing. I look at Sheryl Sandberg or Sophia Amoruso and think “I’ll never be as successful as them“. But rather than comparing myself to some miracle-women, I’ve discovered that success is granular rather than absolute. Like happiness, there is no such thing as absolute happiness (and we should stop chasing it). The book ‘10% Happier‘ by Dan Harris captures the concept. Now I strive to lay tiny bricks one after the other, every day. And the only measure of my personal success is that each brick I lay brings me learning and experience, and I can see I keep moving forward.

I’ve stopped staring at the horizon for that magnificent mansion and just concentrate on each little brick at a time. Gone are days of procrastination, a regular time waster of absolute success seekers.

What do you think is the main obstacle holding women back? Is there one? And what can we girls do about it?

~ Miisa

 

Time For Feedback

Posted on June 15, 2014

feedback

I decided that as part of my personal growth journey I was going to find out whether or not Jennifer Stoute was Jennifer Stoute or just a bag of hot air.

Trying to understand who you really are and what talents lay beneath you can be quite challenging.  You can go through life thinking you have it all sewn up and that people see actually what you want them to see. You can think you are what you portray. But is this completely true? Do our friends, colleagues and even family members see us in the same way as we see ourselves?

I was not sure at first how I was going to embark on my task or where to start from. I had an idea of getting an image of my brain and having a good look at how that works, and maybe list my skills and people around it to find the answer. Ha, funny, but I may still do that.

Then the idea just hit me. In order for me to get the result I wanted (the truth!) I would have to step out of myself, and put what I thought I was in the hands of others to tell me how they viewed me and what they thought my skill sets were or what I needed to improve.  Family or friends wouldn’t qualify as they would tell me what I needed to hear. I needed an established and successful individual, someone who knew me, but just on a casual bases. I made a phone call to an business man who’s daughter was in the same class as my daughter. He is a widower and has two children. I was very nervous. I explained my reason for the call and he complemented my openness immediately. He said he’ll give me FEEDBACK which will open me up to the good and bad side of peoples view. Priceless.

We met up a couple of days later. It was quite nerve wrecking to say the least.

He’s first question to me was why did I choose him. My answer: because I felt he was a higher achiever.  He immediately said “Wrong answer.”

Never look at anyone as better than yourself. Measure yourself as what you create, not what you are.”

He also explained how powerful feedback was and how effective he found it when he implemented it in to his work force. Feedback is not criticism. Feedback fuel to success!

He began to describe how he saw Jennifer. Neat, high energy, great enthusiasm like a dog with a bone (interesting), open but yet guarded.  Hmmmm,  I thought. Not far from the truth.

I then asked him what he thought I would need to change in order to move further in my life. He replied I should learn to be being calm and quiet. This would be more effective in negotiations.

“Take a step back and slow yourself down and observe, silence is powerful. The tone of your voice speaks volumes. Don’t rush.”

I have to say I do feel a little uncomfortable in awkward in silence. But I know being uncomfortable is a sign there is something important there I need to learn.

He then addressed the way I looked. He called it ‘bullish’  (ugh). He explained that whenever he saw me I always wore trousers and safe clothes and I didn’t use my feminine side enough. “Don’t be a afraid to be a woman” he said.  I laugh inside, as there was an air of truth in this, as somehow over a period of time I kind of became a safe dresser for convenience.  He agreed that the label of a man’s world can be intimidating, but I don’t need to dress like one to compete. (Ha ha I will brush that one aside for a bit.)

He then gave me a small exercise to do, which was very clever and it enabled me to understand personalities in my life, the ones who were dominant and others whom I felt at ease with. The sheet of paper was divided into four: Analytical, Driver, Amiable and Expressive.  I had to look at four main individuals in my life and explained where I saw them in the matrix.

One box or a combination of three whatever the case would be.  I had to then say where I saw myself. I described myself as a Driver, too Amiable at times and Expressive.  Then out of the four individuals I had to say whom I felt at ease with and why. This was surprising to me as they were totally opposite to how I was.  They were slow and calm, Analytical and Expressive.

There is your answer, he said.

What?  You have taken a persona that you have used in your athletic environment. It has become the persona for your everyday life.  Wow. Quite eye opening!

He then said I should step back a little. Allow people to want to find out who Jennifer is, and not to push it to them all in the first sentence in order fill the silence. (Yep, I noise up the silence to stay in my comfort zone.)  He said even now I was trying to fill in the gaps!

Oh Jennifer, I thought.

Hearing what he had to say was constructive criticism, feedback. It gave me a view of how my past life and mothering skills had almost limited my inner strength to a degree and explains why in certain situation I was always quite emotionally drained trying to keep the peace.

Yes it’s only his opinion, but I found it extremely valuable. I will take on board what I need now and park bits for another time.

I will seek other people who can give me feedback to hear more as I am finding this experience quite fascinating.

Have you been open to feedback from your loved ones or half strangers? How do you find it being exposed to constructive criticism? Have you learned something important about yourself? Please share your experience so we can all learn from each other. It’s called feedback, and it will take you far.

~ Jennifer

What Pink Shoes Can Do For You

Posted on June 8, 2014

pinkshoes1

Last week I wrote about the tools and resources you can use for success and personal development, and this got me thinking about where my journey actually began. What was the spark that kicked off this journey to a better me?  It wasn’t the Tony Robbins seminar in London in 2006, neither was it any of the books I read. Even my divorce from my first husband in 2005 was just a consequence of what I had put in motion a couple of years earlier in Milan. What happened there was more significant: I bought a pair of pink shoes.

It was one of those ‘girls’ trips’. I had come to Milan with my best friend and we were, of course, shopping. We came across a Luciano Padovan shoe shop, not a very known brand at the time, but his shoes were quite radical. It was love at first sight. All his designs screamed disobedience. And that’s exactly what I wanted to indulge in that day. My conscious mind wasn’t aware of it at the time but love is experienced at a much deeper level. I was guided by my emotions when I bought that pair of pink sling-backs.

A chain of events unfolded. My ex-husband strongly disproved of the shoes. ‘Hookerish’, he pronounced them. But I was desperately looking to break free from the ‘perfect wife’ image I had created in order to be the person he wanted me to be.

Fast forward two years and our marriage was on the rocks and a year later we were divorced. I’m convinced that my husband hated the shoes because it was from the moment I brought them home that he felt he was losing his grip on me. I have never let anyone bully me to believe anything about myself based on my shoe choices since!

It was my subconscious mind at work in that shoe shop in Milan. I needed a tool, a weapon, but I didn’t choose it consciously.

We can also use material objects deliberately to announce we have chosen a new direction in our lives. It’s common to sport a new hair cut after a major life change.

I love Juliana’s story. She came to the DrivenWoman groups last summer as she wanted to learn to express her personality better and to appear more feminine. Her first daily task she set for herself was ‘to wear mascara every day’. This may sound quite trivial to most of us but for her it was a powerful tool to remind herself of the journey she was embarking on. She’s flourished ever since but it was the mascara that got her started.

Has your personal journey got a material manifestation? Any pink shoes in your wardrobe? What items have been used as a vehicle for change in your journey? Please share your story!

~ Miisa

Please comment here.

Resources For Learning And Growth

Posted on June 1, 2014

magazines

This is a second part to the article I posted last Monday about tools and resources that are helpful on a personal journey. Everyone’s experience and tools will be different, but the key point is not to put too much pressure on any single resource or channel. No-body has all the answers and we must keep turning a lot of stones before we will find the treasure.

I certainly don’t want to go through life thinking I know it all, or that what my capabilities are now is how it’s always going to be. My goal is to keep exploring and learning, building new things and making new connections, as much and as long as I possibly can. And to that end, I’m using multiple resources, books, tools and forums to expose myself to new ideas.

I wanted to share some of these with you, and would love it if you can post any tips and recommendations you have found useful and why to the comments.

Events

I attended the Anthony Robbins  ‘Unleash The Power Within‘ event in London in January 2006. It was a fantastic experience, including an experience walking on hot coals, and it gave me a lot of material that has enabled me to become much stronger within myself. I can sincerely recommend this to anyone who wants to get a good kickstart to self-develoment. Worth every penny!

I’ve recently been attending various tech talks and networking events, and have found dinner talks by TableCrowd quite a nice way to hear about the topic and meet new people.

Blogs

I have been following a number of bloggers for many years and can warmly recommend the following:

The Art Of Non-Comformity by Chris Guillebeau. He writes about life long journey, success and living the life to your own terms. Chris is the author of ’100$ Start-up’.

Live Your Legend by Scott Dinsmore is about doing the work you love, helping others and connecting with anyone. He’s created an inspirational global community and helped many people to leave the 9 to 5.

ZenHabits by Leo Babauta is definitely one of my all time favourites. It’s is about finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives. Leo started making changes to his everyday life in 2005, which included losing 65 pounds, quitting smoking and trippling his income! He blogs about small daily habits that will ultimately change your entire life for the better.

Robin Sharma, leadership expert and author of ‘Leader Who Had No Tittle’. I was introduced to Robin Sharma by one of our DrivenWoman members not long ago. I love his message of mastery and what makes a genius. I recommend this short video to get to know what he’s about.

(By the way, it’s funny we are more likely to go into personal development when it’s called leadership training. That’s how i got lured in to it in 2005 when I started a leadership program called TrainTheTrainer.)

Sparkline by guys at Fizzle. Sparkline focuses on topics relevant to independent online entrepreneurs and covers anything from building an email list or how to define your audience. Sounds very on-line specific but most of their work is very relevant for any early stage entrepreneur. And, is anyone building anything that doesn’t involve an online presence anyway?

BothSidesOfTheTable by Mark Suster is one of my favourite blogs. It’s about raising capital and starting a business, but he actually writes about great variety of topics, and life in general. His style is very humane and genuine, and I hope that if I’ll ever be in a position where I need to raise serious capital for a tech company (… you never know..), I’d have a chance to meet him.

Note: It’s good to read blogs that are outside your area of expertise and current understanding. How else could you expose yourself to new ideas that may turn out to be very useful in the future?

Books

All the books recommended by DrivenWoman can be found at the ‘Resources‘ part of this blog, I’ll pick three of my all time favourites here. I would say that these books have influenced and helped me more than any other books.

Zen And The Art Of Falling In Love by Breanda Shoshanna

The ultimate book about falling in love with the opposite sex, with life, with business with.. well, anything you do or be. I’ve read the book four times, no less, and not only did it help me to get over my divorce and learn a ton about myself and my choices, it has thought me lessons in letting go, giving and receiving and not living for the outcome. I’ve bought countless copies of the book to my friends and anyone who invites me to their wedding is going to get this book as their wedding present!

Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

This unbelievable classic covers desire, persistence and how to use the unconscious mind to succeed in your chosen path. Originally written in 1937 every sentence, every example in the book is still completely valid today. Read this book if you are ready for it… And for making money.

The Seven Spiritual Laws Of Success by Deepak Chopra

This book got me out of the stress I had created last autumn pushing DrivenWoman forward with all of my might. Chopra’s idea that success should not be forced, it is not difficult and should come to you naturally (if you just keep making a reasonable effort) stuck with me. I’ve been working more efficiently and enjoying what I do every day, the work, and I’m not fixated on the outcome anymore.

Chopra made a practical joke on me. As the book arrived from Amazon I felt slightly cheated and disappointed. The book is tiny! I thought: “Is this book really going to offer value.. it’s so small!” Yep, big is not necessarily better and reading the book was one of the best hours I’ve ever spent. (It only takes one hour to read it.)

PodCasts

Fizzle Show by Fizzle. The show is put together by the same guys who write the Sparkline, and mostly on similar topics. It’s a bit ‘blokey’ put I like them and in addition to some very useful information about building an online business they make me laugh. Fizzle Show is my companion in the car and I get through approximately one episode per week, exactly their publishing schedule.

Magazines

I love reading magazines because I can learn about topical ideas and companies, and find interesting people who have created successful concepts. I always keep my notebook at hand when I read magazines as I write down my thoughts and also internet links that I’m going to explore afterwards. Currently my favourite magazines include Forbes, Inc., Wired, FastCompany and Red Magazine. Keep your reading list varied and buy something that feels useful but difficult.

I hope you find some of these resources useful. Please add your own recommendations below in the comments.

~ Miisa

 

Remembering Maya Angelou

Posted on May 29, 2014

maya angelou

When I woke up this morning I felt a strong urge to to write about this amazing woman Maya Angelou, who passed away yesterday. I got up, walked out and was in a coffee shop by 7.30 am. I felt compelled to arrange time and space to put down my thoughts. I could have written this piece at home but somehow I was captured by this urge and this felt important. I wanted to place myself in a different environment and make the most of the opportunity. My girls are spending half term with their dad I had to seize the moment.

It was great! Just me and my thoughts, and the smell of freshly brewed coffee and croissants. A great backdrop for writing a little story.

When I was a young girl, studying for my “O” levels I did a project about American women and Maya Angelou featured heavily in my work. She captured me beyond my years and taught me how to embrace the very essence that life had to offer. When my life became difficult I sometimes felt unjust to grab it with both hands and shake it like crazy, and then smooth myself down so to become all dignified and elegant and march my way through difficulties. Her voice, her smile, and that meaningful soul. What a woman she was.

Maya Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of seventeen, and brought her international recognition and acclaim. I still have this book after all these years. It has followed me everywhere I go. It talks about her life struggles, how she was abused at a young age and deciding not to speak for five years. It’s a truly breath-taking book. She believed in womanhood and that life had so much to offer to women.

I grabbed the Guardian newspaper whilst sitting at the café this morning, and read an article about Maya. Another rare treat for me, but very symbolic. It was about her response to her age “I am the same I was back then, a little less hair, a little less chin, a lot less lungs and much less wind.  But aint I lucky I can still breathe in.“ That is exactly the type of person she was. She always looked at what she had, not what she didn’t. One of her motto’s were about your life, you only have one that is brief and frail, and if you don’t take ownership of it nobody else will. The article also describes her saying her life has been long and believing that life loves the liver of it. She has dared to try many things some trembling but daring still.  Her description of words is impeccable. She described herself as a woman who was determined to go through life with passion, compassion humour and some style (I laughed).

Maya you opened my world and allowed me to feel my way through life. You gave me the tools to keep on searching for greater heights. You took that young unconfident girl with a stutter and made her believe in herself. I’ll always remember referring back to your book when I was trying to find the answers. I have followed you with so much admiration throughout my adult life and your ability to create beauty and strength with your words. My achievements to date, thanks to you, had started from that day in the classroom back in the late 80s when I read the first page of your book.

Your are Maya Angelou as fine as wine in the Summertime.

~ Jennifer

Don’t Shout At The Shovel (And Other Thoughts On Personal Growth Tools)

Posted on May 25, 2014

shovel2

I recently sent an email to all DrivenWoman members asking if they’d be willing to increase their commitment by showing up to monthly members meetings. Our suggestion was that a member would only be allowed to skip a meeting once in six months, or twice in a year. We wanted to tighten the rules so we’d only have members who are committed to their journey. Why? Tools only work when you put them to use.

Like any resource, DrivenWoman membership is a tool. It’s not a miracle cure or a magic pill. Our membership must be put to good use to get any benefits. It’s effective when used to its full capacity: showing up to every single meeting and making an effort. Most of our members understand this so we passed the change in membership rules almost unanimously.

The principle of ‘showing up’ applies to every tool and resource in life. A shovel is as good as its user.

We must keep digging for gold. It doesn’t matter how many shovels we buy, our luck won’t change until we start sweating and showing up to dig persistently, every day.

I’ve used a lot of different tools for personal development over the years. The kick start to my personal development was attending a leadership training course called ‘Train The Trainer’ in 2005.

I’ll list the ones I’ve found the most useful in next week’s post, but first a critical word about the whole ‘self-help’ industry.

What really gets me is the number of ‘easy salesman’ pitches for success littered around the internet. ’30-days to create a successful business’ – oh, really? Or ‘Get your free success tools and catapult your bank account into overdrive’ – yep, I’m sure this will do it! Everything out there is ‘life-changing’ and ‘fast’. And yes, many of these things that are supposed to change your life in an instant are, of course, free. I don’t believe in the concept of something-for-nothing. Sure, you can get helpful tips and ideas from free online courses and eBooks, and you can find some really good material from honest, quality sources. (like our first free DrivenWoman eBook, coming soon.)

But we can’t expect too much from the resources and tools we find, whether free or paid for. One single resource or tool is not going to change your life. Whatever you use it’s you who will still have to do the work. And it’s your attitude and commitment that will help you keep finding more good resources you can work with.

A mentor who has had perhaps the greatest influence on my development once said: “You can use tea leaves, dear, for all I care, as long as you do the work!”

To close the gap between where you are now in your life and what kind of person you want to become you simply need to work on yourself.

Here are some tips I’ve learnt:

1) Don’t rely on one tool or resource

Find a combination of methods that give you different perspectives and also allow you to learn through different media: personal interaction, networking, reading, listening and writing.

2) Commit to exploring

It’s your attitude and mindset that is going to make a difference. Everything you experience every day can lead to ideas and ‘aha’ moments. Keep your eyes open and your notebook handy.

3) Persistence

Don’t give up at the first obstacle (or success!). Not all methods suit everyone, but often it is a question of sticking with it and doing the work rather than switching between different resources.

4) Dedication

Having a gym membership is not going to make you fit. I’m paying for an online business training course and I was very happy when I joined, but I haven’t actually spent enough time listening to the courses, so I have only myself to blame.

5) Show up

You have to commit to using your resources: pick up the book, write down your thoughts, come to a meeting. Nothing is more powerful than you showing up to your own life!

It doesn’t matter what methods and tools you use, but make sure you always do the work.

Next week I’ll be revealing which tools – courses. blogs, podcasts, books and publications – have been the most useful in my own personal development. I’d love to hear which ones you recommend.

~ Miisa