Stake A Claim On Your Self Confidence

Posted on March 1, 2015

feeling good

This is a guest post from personal development coach Donna Hubbart.

When I look back at my life I can see a clear pattern between how I was feeling about myself at the time and the type of events taking place for me. Focusing in on certain moments where I was feeling good and waking tall, I can see how good opportunities just seemed to appear. Compare this to times where for whatever reason I had lost my sense of self, and the opposite was true. Life just felt harder.

Life’s a journey and we’re all (including us very human & imperfect Coaches…) on a continual road of self evolvement. Something I’ve come to realise through my own personal experiences and hearing those of my clients, is that how we feel about ourselves is not only a result of what we experience in our life, but actually a huge contributing factor.

The Pendulum Effect

Challenging events can and do chip away at our self confidence. However the pendulum swings the other way too. If we don’t take the time to rebuild a positive relationship with who we are, then external events will continue to control us.

Reflecting on some of the more challenging times, I can see that the real problem was not in what was happening to me, but in how I was responding. Instead of taking care of myself, I turned on myself with self criticism. Instead of focusing on making me feel good about me, I looked outwardly for approval. Rather than staking a claim on my self confidence I abandoned it, I left it outside in the rain. Only when I began to invest time and energy into building a better relationship with myself, did things begin to improve.

Is it Time to Reclaim Your Self Confidence?

We usually receive warning signs when our self confidence needs some attention, such as worrying too much about what other people think of us or holding ourselves back in some way. When those signs are there it’s time to act. Phase one, ‘Feeling Good’ (below) is all about shaking up how you feel within yourself on a daily basis, so that this shift in your physiology can begin to open up a better outlook for you. Phase two ‘Making Waves’ will follow in my next blog coming soon.

Phase One: “Feeling Good”

Step 1 – Regroup

First things first, take some time to regroup with yourself by doing the things that make you feel good about being in your own skin. I have seen with my own eyes the dramatic difference jumping back on his bike (literally) made to one cycle mad client, it transformed him. It helped to bring back that spring in his step that he had lost. And that’s because doing the things that make us feel awesome changes our mind set dramatically. The physiological changes these type of activities evoke takes our minds from a place of “No I can’t” to “Yes I blimin can” almost instantly.

What things lift you to a place of “Yes I can”? Can’t think of any? Well ok let me ask you this…What one thing, if you started doing it on a regular basis from today, would make you like who you are more? Would make you respect yourself more? Whatever just popped into your head, go do it and keep doing it. Notice how you start to feel as a result.

Step 2 – Be On Your Side

Life is a lot easier if we can find a way to be our own biggest supporter. And not just when things are going well for us, but especially when the chips are down. The times when we make a mistake, fail or feel afraid, are those when our attitude towards ourselves can quite literally make or break us.

So how can you support yourself more? Is it a case of changing what you say to yourself? Is it giving yourself permission to not have to be perfect all the time? Start to notice when you are not being ‘on your own team’ and choose to think and act in a way that supports you. This way as long as you have you, you will never be alone.

Step 3 – Turn Up as the Real You

Do you ever find yourself not quite being the real you in situations? If you do, then you know how awful this feels. There is probably no more a draining and highly disempowering state to find yourself in than ‘situation acting’. When we do this we are hiding behind an edited version of ourselves because we have decided (whether accurately or not) that those around us won’t like or accept who we are. This coping strategy is incredibly corrosive to our self confidence because every time we do it two things happen;

1) It gives us further ‘proof’ that we’re not good enough – “How come everybody else can just be themselves?”

2) It feels fake and so puts us slightly on edge, making us less effective and more likely to experience a negative outcome.

How can you turn up as the real You more often? What small changes would make a big difference? Would standing in a way that is more natural to you help you to relax? Would it help you to be the real you in that next ‘scary’ meeting if you imagined all of your friends sat behind you rooting for you? The more you practice showing up as the real you the easier and more rewarding it will become.

Your Best Life Enhancement Tool

So what advice would I give to the me of yesteryear when she would lose her way occasionally? Most likely; “Press pause, do all things that make you feel good about You, and then when you’re ready, retake the reins.” In other words (and this is for you too) stake a claim on the best life enhancement tool you have – your Self Confidence.

~ Donna

Donna Hubbart is a Certified Coach and the founder of Be Dynamic Coaching, a coaching company who help individuals to increase your self confidence and walk a little taller. 


The Mind & Body Confidence Event, Sat 7th March, Hampshire

This March we’re celebrating International Women’s Day 2015 by hosting The Mind & Body Confidence Event. If you would like to take a well deserved day for You and focus on cultivating your self confidence, then come and join in the fun. Why not bring a friend and enjoy the day together? For more information or to book your place at this exclusive event, please click here.

The Record In My Head

Posted on February 22, 2015

the reconrd in my head

Do you ever catch yourself planning out your life, in your head? Do you try to imagine all possible scenarios in advance? Do you envision, with certainty, all possible consequences of your potential actions?

I catch myself listening to the noisy record of my thoughts every day and it’s driving me mad!

In the beginning of this year we all created ‘concepts’, our three guiding words, for 2015. Looking back, I really meant every word, but a recent event at one of our DrivenWoman meetings hit home one concept in particular. One of our members referred back to her three words and so eloquently explained why she wanted them to guide her every choice and movement in life. The word that stuck into my mind was – Present. In my own New Year’s planning I had used a different word – Focus. It was light years from where I wanted to be and so the idea of being fully ‘present’ really hit home.

The end on February is fast approaching, before we know it it will be June and we will be kicking ourselves for not accomplishing what we so diligently started out to do. Were those three words just words, or did we really summoned them to guide our everyday actions? And our thoughts?

So what stops us from fully appreciating and embracing our ambitions and plans, for this year or for life?

Here’s my BIG discovery.

I don’t think I can actually say when there has been a moment when I have been completely and fully present in myself.  I am the type of person who would constantly dress rehearse life before it even happens. I would create scenarios, characters, thoughts. I’d build the whole scene in my mind eyes long before it might happen, and to be fair, would never happen.  I must be potty! What a complete waste of time and energy.

I would work myself up without any proven facts or actions to back my silly thoughts and scenarios. My heart would race, I would be muttering to myself thinking, yeah and if that happens I would do that and if they said this I would react with this. Whole discussions, final results, relationship dramas. They could have made a whole series of soap opera from this material! And if there was a fly on my wall in the shower or in my car I would get the number one ‘nut job’ sign, for sure.

But the way this one member explained her goal, to be fully present, it really brought home just how significant it is to be present, to enjoy the here and now. Bath yourself with now, appreciate the moment and make all your decisions and choices based on the reality that is, rather than the scenarios in your head echoing what might be. And know wisely why you are here, look around and draw yourself back.

And this, my dear ladies, is the fact that most likely stops us from achieving what we set out to do this year. Not being present but wasting time and energy in useless scenario building.

I am going to try with all my might to stop myself with running away with my thoughts. At the end of the year I want to look back and commend myself for being present.  I want to deal with situations now and let the results take care of itself.

To achieve this I’m trying out couple of techniques to help draw back and stay fully in the present.

1. Counting meditation to quiet the mind. Count to ten slowly and breath calmly, especially when in an anxious or stressful situation. The breathing helps to bring your body into the moment. I have found this so effective.

2. Using an item to bring me back to the present moment. Some people carry an item in a pocket or wear a piece of as jewellery, so when anxieties rise or the outside world gets a bit too harried and distracting, touching and focusing on that item brings them back to the present moment. I carry a rubbing stone which I find quite relaxing.

3. Music. I recommend this to everyone and I am sure it’s done without a second thought. Playing your favourite music. The song that makes you smile gives you back that lost energy and creates warmth that fills you up and makes you form more positive thoughts.

I’m experimenting with these tools and it has help to quiet my mind. Staying in the present moment takes practice. Conditioning yourself a few moments each day is all that is needed to establish your mindfulness practice. Before long, you’ll notice that you’re much more aware and appreciative of things around you. And the best of all, it stops those silly future scenarios running wild.

Referring back to my sporting life “if you take care on now the end will take care of itself“.

Do share your experience here. What do you do to stay present?

Let’s be present ladies.

~ Jennifer

Woman’s Pound Is Equal To Man’s

Posted on February 15, 2015
terhi majasalmi

Niina Stolt /Studio Onni

The early 90s recession hit Finland very hard. My father was one of the lucky ones to keep his job during the bad times, but eventually he lost it in 1995. That was twenty years ago. Even at the tender age of 16 I realised that even if you are very skilled and eager to work you can lose your job and become unemployed. You can’t always decide circumstances in your life even if you can influence many things.

That time I noticed that even if your income drops you have bills to pay and lifestyle to support. Ever since, I’ve been thinking how I can have an income even if I can’t, or don’t want to, work. I decided that I have to have an additional income that is not related to the work what I do. This is why I started to study investing.

Since then I have been investing in almost everything: stocks, mutual funds, gold, real estates and businesses. Real estate is the love of my life. Investing in businesses has been the most difficult one and there I have made my biggest losses.

What the losses have taught the most is humility. Even if you get experience every day, you have to start many times with a clean slate in your life. With this attitude you don’t expect anything but you check everything. This way I have tried to be better prepared for the potential risks if they materialise.

As a woman I think it’s even more important to think how I will survive financially in the future. But I’m happy to say that my ‘euro’ or ‘pound sterling’ as a female investor is as valuable as male’s. Financial independence will give us the equality we need. So we women should really make use of being smart with our money!

See you in March in London,

~ Terhi

Terhi Majasalmi is women’s wealth coach, investor, author and public speaker. She is the founder of an online wealth coaching service ‘Vaurasnainen‘ that aims to make 10,000 Finnish women wealthy. Terhi is a regular visitor to DrivenWoman and runs our Wealthy Woman Workshops. The next one is on Thursday 19th of March. Find out how you too can become a wealthy woman and book your tickets here.

Temptation Of Being Busy (And My Best Productivity Tip)

Posted on February 8, 2015

productivity

Does this sound familiar… you are a doer, you get things done but still you feel you are not accomplishing the success you’d desire? Are you exhausted from the amount of work and feel like you are catching up all the time? There’s no time to think because there’s so much to do!

I know this feeling better than many as I’m a doer. I love to ‘get things done’. I kick ass. I make things happen. Attacking a to-do-list is a walk in a park for me. But as I’m trying to carve out my little piece of success in this universe I have come to question the benefits of my ‘doer’ attitude. I’ve noticed that I’m in my comfort zone when I’m getting things done thus I easily default into simply doing instead of thinking what I’m doing.

I’ve read every productivity guide and article there is, I know the best time to wake up in the morning ( 6 am ) and the ideal time to drink my coffee (between 9.30 am – 11.30 am), and can access list of the best productivity apps to kick start my productivity. Sadly none of this matters if I’m doing the wrong things.

It’s so much easier to be busy than to make a difference.

Therefore I’ve started to slow down. I’m eager to discover the smallest actions that will bring the greatest leverage and the biggest success.

What has changed?

I’ve started to question if I’m doing the right things.

I run two companies, one of which is a start-up and I’m also building this women’s network, DrivenWoman. I’ve got a family and 5 year old twin boys. It’s very easy to get lured into simply doing things as there certainly is no lack of things to do!

Lately I’ve started to resist the temptation of being busy.

Firstly, I didn’t get myself into this situation to stress myself out. I simply want to put my skills and talent into good use, do work that matters and make some money in the process. So I decided to stop being busy. (You can read my New Year’s concepts here.)

Note, it’s a decision. A decision to change your mindset, that’s all you need to stop being busy.

Instead of just picking up the tasks at hand (=the doing) I’m making time to do more thinking. What I have noticed, however, is it’s a good idea to separate the two for maximum productivity. Here’s how.

1) Think, Don’t Do

Create time for creativity and strategic thinking. This applies for your work and for your life. Make sure you stop, take a break and write down what you want out of life or your business or career and what is truly important. This creates clarity and helps to focus on the important stuff.

Don’t be disrupted at your thinking time. When you respect yourself and value what you are about, you will learn to value your time. And ‘thinking time’ is the most valuable time of all. So make sure you don’t let anyone or anything disrupt you. Put away the phone, don’t check emails or social media and don’t try to do any other tasks at the same time. Simply focus on thinking what matters, what is the big question that has to be solved next and write it down.

The aim is to only do the things that create value in your life or business, so don’t start writing a long to-do-list.

On Monday morning I give my week a theme and pick one or two topics or tasks per day I want to accomplish. These are ideally life/business changing things. Example; a to-do-list filler could be ‘Send out press releases to PR list’ instead I’ve decided to find top three journalists that are most likely to be interested in what I’m doing with Mink&Stone and find out what their angle is. A much more painful and time consuming process but if it works it should give the business a real boost.

I can’t do everything so I allow myself to drop everything non-critical.  Sure, there are some things such as paying bills you can’t ignore, but you get my point.

The problem is that it’s so much easier to do stuff, the shallow, fluffy tasks, than focus on things that really matter.

Why? Because the deep stuff is normally outside of our comfort zone.

I try to challenge myself to evaluate this weekly if not daily. I know what has to be done, but it’s often hard as it’s something I haven’t done before so I don’t know where to start. The more I do my ‘thinking time’ to more convinced I become of the importance of those things outside of my comfort zone and I’m able to identify ways to get started. And slowly I start moving to the right direction. But this happens only because I stop, think and don’t do.

A key rule for ‘thinking time’ is that you don’t do anything. No emails, no discussion, no nothing. Separate the time for thinking and doing. Get prepared. Line up resources, materials or people. And then make sure that you are well prepared when it’s time to do things.

2) Do, Don’t Think

I’ve discovered that when it’s time to get things done I must be so prepared that I can eliminate almost all thinking and simply focus on doing. Kirsten Gillibrand says the most important thing is to ‘know what needs to be done‘.

If you do your thinking time properly you will know what has to be done. And when it’s time to do it, simply start. Don’t think, just do. Don’t start questioning your thinking at this point. Procrastination and self-doubt are the worst ‘time robbers‘! Worry and anxiety can take up a lot of mental capacity and thus reduce productivity (Here’s a post I wrote earlier on this.).

The more relaxed and in balance I am, the closer I’m to my core purpose, the real me; and the less I worry about the outcome and stuff simply ‘flows’. When self-doubt is eliminated from the process I can pump out the stuff like a little bunny rabbit!

If you have to constantly question what you are doing it’s a good idea to go back to the purpose of your work and if it’s going to make a difference (Go back to step 1: Think, Don’t Do).

So simply just do. Focusing on the work at hand is liberating and meditating. When you simply do and stop thinking or over-analysing you can find stillness, balance and even happiness. If you have to dig, then dig. If you have to build, then build. Simple. There’s time to think afterwards. You can evaluate the quality of your work and see how you can improve. But that’s on the thinking time.

Separating ‘thinking time’ and ‘doing time’ is the single biggest improvement I’ve done to my productivity.

I used to think being more productive was about filling every little nugget of time with a productive activity. I remember some evenings when I was tweeting seconds before I went to bed! That was madness. I got myself stressed out and didn’t have very good ideas.

Your ideas are your greatest resource! If you have bad ideas it doesn’t matter how hard you work. Having good ideas and executing them half decently matters. Now that I’ve started valuing my happiness and being present in my work, I’ve started allowing myself to take time out and guess what, I have better ideas. (Well, it remains to be seen how good my ideas actually really are…eh.)

Try it out this week. Assign 1 hour (or 30 minutes if you feel you really are too busy) for thinking. Go sit on a bench. Don’t bring your phone (you can check your social media stats later!) just your note book and a pen. See what happens. And please report back here. I’d love to hear your comments!

~ Miisa

 

What I Learned From ‘The Daring Way’ Workshop

Posted on February 1, 2015

arena

This is a guest post from a DrivenWoman member Manisha Patel. She recently took part in our workshop and captures here what she learned about vulnerability.

It was a Saturday morning and I was up and out early, battling the cold weather and network rail engineering works. I should have been on a city break in Berlin. Why wasn’t I in Berlin having fun? I had made a last minute decision to book on to ‘The Daring Way’ workshop, an all day event held by DrivenWoman at their Soho HQ.

‘The Daring Way’ is a training programme designed by Dr Brene Brown.  Until now, I had never heard of Dr Brown.  I decided to look up her TED talk on vulnerability, to my amazement it had been viewed over 18 million times.  Her talks were in the top 10 of most viewed TED talks.  I was intrigued.  Watching Dr Brown, I was immediately drawn in, her Texan straight talking came across as honest and genuine.  But it wasn’t all just talk, Dr Brown has spent years conducting qualitative research, she has written three books on her findings and theories.

The workshop was led and facilitated by Roxanne Hobbs.  Roxanne is a certified life coach, she shared her own experience of leaving a successful marketing career to do something she loves.  Her own ‘Daring Way’ training involved leaving her young family and spending an intensive week in Texas with Dr Brown and her colleagues.

It was going to be a full day, Roxanne advised that we were going to have to dig deep to really get the most out of this day. Her style was very warm and open encouraging a safe and trusting environment.

Vulnerability and Shame

‘Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness’  – Dr Brene Brown

Our group consisted of six women who outwardly appeared successful, strong and confident.   Interestingly, all of us in the group had our own experiences of shame.  Our internal dialogues that continuously tell us ‘we’re not good enough’, we’re not smart, thin, popular … enough. Many of us, including myself, listen to this internal dialogue on a daily basis.  Dr Brown refers to this as ‘scarcity’ because ‘we’re never enough’.

We shared our experiences of social and cultural conditioning, having to always portray how strong and independent we were.

Vulnerability isn’t commonly seen as strong, or courageous in our society, but yet for us to feel a connection, we look for vulnerability in others.

Dr Brown’s research found that successful, happy people were also vulnerable but they knew how to deal with their internal dialogue, not to feel shame but to apply courage by knowing when and with whom to share their vulnerabilities.  These people were happy to say they’re not perfect. They had a strong sense of self-worth.

The Arena

So, how were we going to deal with our shame and vulnerability?

Dr Brown had developed the ‘Arena’ concept based on ‘The Man in the Arena’ speech by Theodore Roosevelt.

In order to set the Arena we had to get creative.  Roxanne asked us to draw our ‘Arena’s’ on large flipchart paper.  They were to resemble the outline of an ancient amphitheatre.

Where did we want to show up and be seen in 2015?  The answer to the question was to be our centre stage. Roxanne guided us towards setting a specific stage.  For me, 2015 was going to have to be about my body image and self-confidence.  With Roxanne’s guidance I was able to set a more specific stage around health and fitness.  Other group members had set their stages based on career, relationship and self-development goals.

Planning who was sitting in your arena was an eye-opening task.

Who was going to sit in the cheap seats?   Who criticises you?  Who makes you feel you’re not good enough?

For all of us it was clear that we had to sit in the cheap seat along with the other naysayers.   We were our own biggest critics!

The Box Seats – Who are the people who built your Arena?  In my case, it was the critical ex-boyfriends, PE teachers, extended family, The Media, and Me – all fuelling my shame.

The Arena Door

What keeps us from entering the Arena?   What are the messages we say to ourselves to stop us entering?  And what steps do we take to ‘armour up’ when we do show up?  My armour is my make-up, nice clothes and shoes and taking great interest in others.

 Self-Compassion

The second half of the day was focused on how we overcome the ‘shame’ in order to ‘show up and be seen’.  ‘Compassion can be a greater motivator to change than criticism’.  Filling our Arena’s with self-compassionate statements felt quite strange, it’s not something most of us ever do.

Why is being nice to yourself so unfamiliar?

Women are generally so kind and empathetic to friends, family and colleagues when they put themselves down but why don’t we apply this to ourselves? We had to learn to counteract the ‘never enough’ with ‘you are enough’, ‘you are beautiful’, ‘you are extraordinary’, ‘you can get that job’, ‘you can meet a great guy’.

Wholehearted Living

The day ended with us learning about how we could live ‘wholeheartedly’.  Dr Brown has developed her 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted living.   These are focused on concepts such as authenticity, self-compassion, creativity, gratitude and joy.

In pairs, we worked through the guideposts, applied our new knowledge and set ourselves six measurable tasks to commit to, in order for us to ‘show up and be seen’ in 2015.

For one of my tasks, I will be restarting my daily gratitude app and including one self-compassionate statement.

The Daring Way workshop was a thought-provoking, sometimes scary, emotional, but more than anything potentially life changing.  Roxanne’s guidance and facilitation was supportive as well as positively challenging.

As much as I would have loved to have gone to Berlin with my friends, I have no regrets about starting 2015 the Daring Way.

~ Manisha

 

The Wardrobe Secrets Of A DrivenWoman

Posted on January 25, 2015

minimalist closet

Do you sometimes feel you know exactly what has to be done but lack the initiative to finalise a project and take the necessary steps? You can pinpoint the little improvements to your lifestyle what would make a big difference but there’s already enough things on your to-do list.

The great thing about being a part of a community is that you get introduced to ideas that will prompt you to improve your thinking and get stuff done in a new way. For instance, let’s take a popular January topic, clearing out your closet. I started clearing out my closets some time ago but haven’t been able to completely finish the project. I simply have too much to do all the time, right?

Then yesterday one of our members shared a wonderful TED talk ‘The Ten Item Wardrobe‘ by Jennifer L. Scott. Watching this talk suddenly put fire under my backside and completing the wardrobe project became a priority.

That’s the power of a community. So today, here I was, completing the task long over due.

Whilst I was being brutally honest with the items I actually use and the items that have not seen the light of day for many years I remembered something image consultant Joanna Gaudoin from InsideOut said: “Do you own lots of clothes and accessories but they aren’t right for who you are now?

That’s exactly how I felt. After having my twin boys, oh – over 5 years ago – I’ve done a number of wardrobe clear outs, but still seemed to be holding onto items from the golden pre-child era. Why? My inside talk goes something like this… “But this was my favourite piece, I used it so much – back then. Surely I’ll still wear it at some point. It’s too expensive to throw out… I love that colour…

Does it sound familiar?

We express ourselves through what we wear. Therefore holding onto garments means holding on to the old expression of me. Why should I become the person I used to be? I’m becoming the person I’m meant to become and everything I love will take a new shape and form.

Giving up the old makes immediately room for the new.

It’s surprising how holding on to old clothes or other possessions can hold you back in the past.

If you have a need for a bigger household overhaul, get inspired and take the 30DayGetChuckedChallenge. The Telegraph’s Victoria Lambert chucked 465 items in 30 days. (Again, I can thank one of our members for sharing this article!)

Five reasons why you should make time for a lifestyle clear out, now.

1) Make clearing out your wardrobe (or the house/ office) a priority

There’s always a million and one other things that on the surface seem more urgent, but it’s important to make the foundation strong. And it’s time to start respecting your living environment, your lifestyle and you.

2) Your clothes should serve the person you are today

We express our personality, our values and who we are through our clothing, haircut and the whole package, it’s how we show up to our life. It’s important to let go of objects that no longer serve the person you are today, and stop thinking of the person who you were yesterday.

3) Be selective what you invite into your life

If you listened Jennifer L. Scott’s talk you are by now convinced you don’t need a lot of stuff and a big wardrobe. What you need is good quality. Choose items that make you feel great, increase your confidence and express self-love. Select clothing like you select people, only invite the best and the most positive into your life.

4) Less is more productive

I’ve talked about this before,  a well organised wardrobe improves productivity. It sounds like a cliche, but it’s true. You can cut down the time you need getting ready in the morning, knowing everything in your closet works, fits and looks great. And forget the days when the whole day is near ruined due to feeling uncomfortable in what you are wearing.

5) Show daily self-love

Looking good, showing who you are through what you wear, investing in a manicure or a nice hair colour, scented candles or a bunch of fresh flowers weekly is not vanity, a necessity. It’s about expressing self-love. Pay attention to this, even if you work from home. It’s about showing up to your life and enjoying your own company, not about impressing others.

Have a great week!

~ Miisa

 

 

You Don’t Have To Explain Yourself

Posted on January 18, 2015

defenselessness2

It’s been a few months now since I decided to own my greys and step into the unknown of the disproval of others.  This has been quite a journey, a very anxious one at times and constant battle with my strength of character.

I found myself always giving my life story of why I decided to go grey when I met people. Even if they said nothing I would look at where their eyes were focused and if it was remotely in the direction of my forehead I would immediately come out with this spill. “Oh, it’s because… blaah blaah.” It was not until someone very close to me said “Jennifer why do feel the need to give an explanation all the time? Do you really feel that everyone’s opinion really matters? Who are  you trying to convince?” He was so right. Why was I seeking the approval of others? Was it not good enough that I knew myself why I had made the decision and that surely is what counted the most.

I understood from then on how significant it was to know why we make changes and the only way to feel comfortable with our choices is to understand our intentions.

Trust your decision and go with it all in.

Once I had a clear understanding of my decision I no longer felt I had to explain or justify myself.  If I got a negative reaction I just thought that’s fine because I was doing this for me. Going through that emotion was very cleansing. I felt such a relief. I was now back in charge!

It’s astonishing how the language we project and the persona we give has such a profound impact on how we are treated. Now that I’m no longer blabbering my excuses I no longer get negative reactions. I may be met with silence on occasions and the odd peculiar look but that’s fine. Most of the time I’m met with admiration. And how cool is that.

This experience has been an incredible one. It has taught me more about myself than I thought possible. Internally I have grown leaps and bounds. I took myself so far out of my comfort zone that at times I felt very vulnerable. At the end of it I am glad I stuck it out.

I have found a lovely poem for you.

Seeking Approval 

We spend too much of our life seeking approval from others.

Whether it is parents and siblings, even friends or lovers.

It is never a conscious decision that we make.

We don’t give it much thought and that can be a mistake.

 

It is far easier for us to submit, than ask them for respect.

We are paralyzed with fear that you won’t love us, I suspect.

You don’t need to be afraid and if you are refused,

Run as fast as you can, move on, do not be confused.

 

You should choose wisely; for there are those when asked,

Will deny the approval you seek, they’ll be unmasked.

If nothing else, please remember this,

Be yourself, you don’t need approval from others to exist.

 

Sylvia A. Feeley

 

I wish everyone a non-apologetic week.

~ Jennifer

Make 2015 The Year You Dare Greatly

Posted on January 11, 2015

quote brene brown

Whilst December is often a time of celebration and reflection, come January it is time to look forward and plan ahead. I imagine you’ve already thought about resolutions and intentions for the year ahead.  Perhaps a couple of them have already been discarded.  My challenge here is that you think in terms of what you can and will do rather than what you won’t do.  That you think big, rather than think small.  And that these intentions come from your heart and your truth, rather than what you think those around you are hoping for and expecting of you.

How about making 2015 the year in which you Dare Greatly?  How about getting really brave in how you show up for the year ahead?

How could you turn up the courage dial on your plans for the year?  Where do you want to Dare Greatly and truly make a difference?

One of my favourite aspects of Dr. Brené Brown’s work is the metaphor of the arena, and I think it’s a great place from which to think about your intentions for the year ahead. This is the place where you authentically show-up and dare greatly with your most vulnerable self.  Her inspiration for this comes from Theodore Roosevelt:

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again … who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly”

Theodore Roosevelt.

One of the key messages here is to let go of the fear of failure.

I sometimes wonder how much greatness there is hidden behind closed doors across the land; ideas and plans that never come to fruition because of this fear.  How often do you hear people (or indeed yourself) saying, ‘There’s no point trying that, it’ll never work’?

Highly successful people across the world share a common trait – failure does not intimidate them anymore. In fact, many successful people have experienced multiple failures before getting to where they are today.  Rather than letting the fear of failure hold them back, they have reframed failure as a learning opportunity, and as evidence that they are in the arena and Daring Greatly.

The other key message is that this won’t be an easy ride.

Theodore Roosevelt talks of ‘dust and sweat and blood’, whilst Dr. Brené Brown talks about the vulnerability implicit with being in the arena. You may well get your ass kicked in the process as there will be plenty of critics ready to take a swipe at you.  Whilst this fear of other people’s reactions can really make us feel stuck, many successful people have learnt how to develop resilience to this.

Lauren Laverne recently talked about her experiences in covering Eva Wiseman’s maternity leave in the Observer.  She said she realised that ‘people slagging you off is not the end of the world’ and that whilst plenty of people disagreed with what she had to say, ‘only dicks were dicks about it’.  My own technique is inspired by Brené – unless the criticism comes from someone who is also in the arena, getting their ass kicked too, then I’m not interested.

So what’s my arena for 2015?  I long to get my voice out there – by writing, blogging and public speaking.  I realise I have played small for too long from a place of fear – fear that people won’t be interested in what I have to say and fear that people won’t agree with it.  It is time for me to be heard.

What about you?  Where do you want to ‘dare greatly’ in 2015?  If you could operate from your truth, let go of other people’s expectations and criticisms, and learn to manage that fear of failure, what arena could you step in to?

I’m making 2015 the year I Dare Greatly… Who else is in?

~ Roxanne

roxanne hobbs

A quest post by Roxanne Hobbs. She describes herself as on a mission to transform business via the inclusivity of women. Roxanne works with women to help them uncover their authentic leadership voice and make a difference within organisations. Roxanne is a certified coach (CPCC ACC) who lives in Hackney with her husband, two young boys and a crazy puggle. She’s the founder of Hackney Mums.

Got inspired? Do you want to step out onto your own arena? Join DrivenWoman and Roxanne for an all day ‘The Daring Way’ Workshop on Saturday 24th of January 2015 in Soho, London. Get your tickets here.

New Year’s Resolutions – How Not To Fix The Negative But Create The Positive (And How Did I Do In 2014)

Posted on January 4, 2015

new years resolutions

Exactly one year ago I wrote about ‘conceptualising’ instead of setting new year’s resolutions or fixed goals. In this post I want to share with you the results of my experiment, and the three new concepts I’m setting for myself for this year.

But first, a couple of words why I hate empty promises.

The problem with New Year’s resolutions and “This year I’m going to be a better person…” promises is that they are driven by negative self-talk.

Does this sound familiar … ‘I’m not worthy because of my seven extra kilos. My tummy is too floppy and I really shouldn’t watch so much reality TV. It’s time I stop drinking wine, stop eating chocolate, and never spend money on high healed shoes again.’

When you focus on the negative – the issues just get bigger. When I was younger I was on a diet a couple of times and the more I thought about food and how I’m not supposed to be eating this or that, the more I wanted to eat!

Second problem with this kind of negative self-talk is that you compare yourself with an elusive ‘perfection’, some external measure that in reality doesn’t exist (or only exists inside your head). So what if you are seven kilos over weight? Who cares? The dress size doesn’t make you any lesser a person!

New Year resolutions become very quickly empty promises because habits are extremely difficult to change.

Determination is not enough. And negative self-talk is not a very good motivator. End result is that you end up feeling even worse because nothing happened despite good intentions.

I believe it’s better to replace these empty promises with positive self-development.

What can I do better this year? What is important for me in my life right now?

When you concentrate on areas for improvement, rather than negative things to fix, you start the year with a positive mindset. That’s why I conceptualise rather than set goals or resolutions.

A year ago I set out to focus on these three concepts:

1) Accept

I wanted to highlight to myself that things don’t always go as I plan and especially as fast I’d like them to. The gap between expectations and reality only creates stress, therefore I wanted to work on being more in tune with the way my projects grow organically.

The fact I wrote this down in the beginning of the year helped me tremendously and reduced my stress levels. I was able to be more present in what I was doing and thus create more value. I’m going to take this concept to the next level in 2015. More about that later in this post.

2) Connect

A year ago I announced boldly that “I’m going to connect with everyone I ever wanted to connect with.” 

Hmmmph. It didn’t quite happen like that and in fact I feel I’m in the very early stages of building connections for the next level of my personal growth. But what did happen was perhaps more important. I stopped being afraid of approaching people. I stopped worrying about their reaction and whether they’d like me or reject me. I realised I don’t have to care. All I have to focus on is what I do and what I can contribute. I will keep this concept on my list for 2015.

3) Create value

This third concept was very business related. I wanted to ensure I spend my time most productively. It’s very easy to make yourself busy, but it’s much more difficult to choose the right activity that will make biggest difference in terms of results.

I think I’ve succeeded beyond my dreams with this one. A year ago I had no idea I was going to launch a new business in 2014. Oh yes, all the late nights and long hours measuring beads and stones have paid off, and in December 2014 my fashion jewellery website www.minkandstone.com went live. Users can design their own jewellery pieces, and have them made and sent to them.

I feel writing down these three concepts have helped me a lot in my quest for constant improvement. Would I have made New Year’s resolutions I don’t think I’d feel so satisfied with the results.

These concepts where based on inviting better things into my life, rather than fixing negative aspects.

I find it easier to connect daily with a bigger vision rather than get stressed counting how many carrots I’m allowed to eat. I also believe that if you strive to make yourself happier and more fulfilled the little things will fix themselves. As my stress level reduces and I become happier within myself I don’t feel a need to count calories or worry about lifestyle changes.

What next? My three concepts for 2015:

1) Never in a hurry

‘Accept’ was such a good concept and it worked so well for me that I want to take it onto a next level. In June I experienced a panic attack. It was the weirdest feeling ever, like living in a slow motion movie with a massive headache. I then realised it is me who sets the schedule for my life. (Yeah, it only took me 43 years to figure that out.) And I said to myself I’ll never want to feel that kind of self-induced stress again.

Year 2015 will not be stress free, because some stress is good and productive. But I will refuse to be in a hurry. I’m going to stop rushing things. I know there is a gigantic mountain of work I want to get done this year but there is no need to feel overwhelmed about it. I will work focused and hard and become better in switching off and relaxing.

I want to move between focused work and relaxation quickly. With this I mean that I can take a 5 minute break in the middle of the day and rejuvenate my mind. Or that I slot in short holidays and time to do sport and relax with my family and friends. I’m going to set realistic schedules and will not be pushed around by other people’s agendas. I’m the Ruler of Kingdom Miisa!

2) Connect

As I mentioned earlier, I have only scratched the surface with this. Fine. So this concept will stay on my list. Unaltered. This girl will keep connecting – to the left, to the right, up and down. Stay tuned for how I’m doing – I will report back exactly in a year’s time.

3) Think big

It’s time to take the value creation to the next level. My first concept ‘Never In A Hurry’ will be huge asset here as I will ensure I always have the headspace and capacity to look into the horizon, not just what’s next in front of me, rushing from task to task. I will try to learn to select the big ideas from the average, what really matters from the noise. And this is only possible if I’m calm, relaxed and present.

I hope my list inspires you to write down your three concepts and invite good, positive things into your life.

2015 should not be about fixing the negative but creating the positive.

Happy New Year to everyone!

~ Miisa

PS. Please share your three concepts in the comments. It will help you to make them real and become accountable. It’s much more powerful than just deciding something in your mind…

 

Learning To Enjoy The Journey

Posted on December 21, 2014

enjoy the journey

The year end is always populated with ‘the best of’ -lists, but sometimes it’s a feeling of disappointment rather than triumph how the year has gone. Do you think nothing turned out as you had envisioned this year? Did you you have a long New Year’s resolutions list and only managed to accomplish the easiest tasks?

Not achieving our internal or external goals feels disappointing, but most of us are guilty of two things. Firstly, we keep rushing towards an elusive goal, expecting that once we get there we will finally be happy – and if we don’t reach our goal we are complete failures. I’m the first one to put my hand up, I know how easy it is to get pressurised by my own goals. For me the secret is not to meet some internal or external targets but to create positive daily habits that help me to raise my game, and, to enjoy the journey!

The second pitfall is not to recognise that life is actually, mostly, pretty great! It’s so easy to get hang up on the things that are not perfect, not completed and not completely as we’d like them to be. This post by Leo Babauta’s is to the point, “If you had to make a list of all the habits you’d like to change or create, how many changes would be on the list?”

Why is it so much easier to be unhappy than appreciate what we have achieved and what we can enjoy right now?

At DrivenWoman meetings we’ve discussed what we are most proud of, or most grateful of this year.

This is a simple exercise that helps you to appreciate the small wins, personal triumphs and the good things you have in life. The feeling of not achieving suddenly makes room for gratefulness and satisfaction.

a) Write down three things you are most proud of, your greatest personal successes from this year. Something YOU are proud of.

b) Write down three things you are most grateful off this year.

I love what one of our members said after writing down her thoughts. “I think this year has been one of the worst years for me, ever. At least it feels like it. When I started this exercise I thought I can’t possibly find three good things about 2014. But guess what, it’s amazing. When I look at what I wrote down, my reasons to be grateful – my life is actually pretty good!”

Being grateful has positive health benefits, and I strongly believe it helps you to relax and enjoy the journey.

And that’s what life is all about. It’s not about the end goal, it’s about enjoying life every day and doing your best.

I wish you peaceful and grateful Christmas. Let’s enjoy it!

~ Miisa