Leadership: The One Person You Absolutely MUST Lead

Being a brilliant entrepreneur, a brilliant mom or a brilliant partner requires one thing. To succeed we need to be able to calls forth the best of ourselves every day and in every way.

As the leader of your life, there are so many people who look to you to take their cues: your clients, your children, your partner, your colleagues, and your neighbors. Mompreneurs in particular are often caught trying to find that elusive balance between work and family, between joyful creation and stressful chaos.

But the true test of leadership is this – are you practicing your own internal leadership? Would you be inspired, motivated and decide to follow yourself?

One of my teachers used to say that the first person you must learn to lead is yourself. Attending management courses and reading the very finest leadership literature is good, but the greatest arena for learning about powerful and lasting leadership is … within yourself.

Having a strong and resilient emotional foundation is a key ingredient to one’s success and impact. So I believe we must always be willing to do our own emotional homework to ensure that this internal foundation is strong enough to hold the business we desire.

Here are some tips to help you diagnose and up-level your self-leadership!

1.  Do an Integrity Check

Do a scan of your life to see if there are areas where what you are doing is different than what you are saying. Are there places where things feel out of integrity? Are you tolerating things that are incomplete? Are you walking your talk? It might be finishing up a product, making a call you’ve been avoiding, or letting clutter overwhelm your office. This scan will tell you where you have the opportunity to recommit to the leadership of your life. Write them down and come up with a plan to tackle these areas that are energetically eroding your leadership.

2.  Get in the Driver’s Seat

It’s tough to lead your life, let alone a business, if you allow other people to be in the driver’s seat. Self-leadership requires you to take responsibility for your thoughts, words and actions. When you’re in the driver’s seat of your life, you get to decide where you’re going, the route you’re going to take, and how fast you want to drive to get there. Yet sometimes we subtly concede that driver’s seat position to others – a spouse, our children, a business partner, a demanding client, or a parent, to name a few examples.

3. Perfection is Not Required, Shifting is

Don’t forget that we’re all human, and we definitely make mistakes. So even if you see there are areas where your ability to lead yourself isn’t what you want it to be, don’t despair! Perfection is not required in order to move forward to unleash your brilliance. Self-awareness and a consistent choice to shift out of limiting behaviors or patterns is. Being able to see what’s not working and shift it quickly, and with confidence, is critical so your true brilliance can shine brightly in the world. Learning to lead yourself with confidence and ease is the goal.

© 2011-2012 Carolyn B. Ellis All Rights Reserved

Stop Lying, Making Excuses and Blaming – Why You Need to Own Your Results

Guest Article: Carla Young, MOMeoMagazine.com

Ever listen to a conspiracy zealot explain how the absence of proof is even MORE proof of a conspiracy? It seems no amount of evidence to the contrary is sufficient to sway them from their firm belief that the world is out to get them.

That’s what you sound like when you dodge fault in every situation. This idea failed because the system wasn’t set up to allow your success, that campaign flopped because the economy crashed, this big thing never got off the ground because fill-in-the-blank.

The truth is that whenever you say things like “But I can’t do that” or “If only this would change, I could”, you are giving up before you even start. Even worse, you are giving up your power to change your world by leaving it to mysterious outside forces that may (or may not) smile on you.

Why You Need to Own Your Results

Let me be blunt. You can’t change what you don’t own and other than a piano falling on you and other very random occurrences, chances are you own every result. So when you make excuses and blame outside forces that are beyond your control, you get stuck with the same bad results because of the problems you refuse to own.

To learn the 5 reasons why you need to own your results.

#1: You can’t see the real problem – If you don’t own your results (or rather the hand you played in them), you can only see the symptoms and never the real underlying problem.

#2: You can’t learn from what you don’t own – People make mistakes – accept that fact and get over it. The next step is to learn something from it. Start connecting the dots. What was the chain of events that lead to the catastrophic failure? Now you know for next time and that’s a powerful tool.

#3: You can’t fix what you don’t own – You can change everything around the problem, but if you are the cause (or somewhat responsible) the problem will continue to exist because you are the weakness link.

#4: You can’t seek advice on what you don’t own – What is your adviser to say when you tell him or her that all these random bad things just happen to you for no apparent reason? Probably something like “That’s terrible. Better luck in the future.” Owning your results gives you the tools to seek relevant advice.

#5: You can’t move forward from what you don’t own – No ownership means no growth and that means you are suck repeating the same bad habits again and again and again.

Carla Young is Founder and CEO of MOMeoMagazine.com and MOMeoCommunity.com. If there’s living proof that women can have it all – and then some – it’s Carla Young. Building her multiple businesses on a virtual work-at-home model, Carla is an inspiration to other mothers who want to start a lifestyle business. Realizing that “doing it all” was unhealthy and unsustainable, Carla started by getting organized to the extreme, developing support systems for both her work and family. She is dedicated to supporting moms at work, at home and at play (because every mommy deserves a little me-time)!

Finding Your Balance After Divorce

Q. “My question is really an intricate combination of how to keep myself in balance and go forward instead of wallowing in rumination about being unemployed, parenting three kids (9, 11, & 16) and navigating the mediation process all at the same time! My house is a disorganized mess, my finances are slim and uncertain, and the kids are struggling with self-image, anger and silence. It’s hard to even get up in the morning, especially those days I’m alone.”

A. You are certainly in the thick of the upheaval that separation and divorce can create. I remember those days well and it can be a very bumpy road. Divorce is like having a tornado touch down and hit your life. Every major part of your life – your children, finances, friends, emotional state – feel like they have been strewn about. The stress from all of this is enormous, so I really honor you for asking this question and reaching out for support. While I can’t answer everything you’ve asked here, let me at least identify a key priority area for you and recommend some useful resources to get you started.

There are so many moving parts here, it can feel overwhelming to even know how to begin. The first piece of the divorce puzzle that I recommend you attend to is yourself. Your self-care practices are critical. You can get stretched very thin as you cope with lawyers, finances, children and your own feelings about your separation. The unfortunate thing about divorce is that you’re asked to make such important choices at a time when your emotions are running high. And when emotions run high, the ability to make considered and savvy decisions tends to run low. By ensuring you do whatever you can to recharge your batteries, it will help to stabilize you and support you in dealing with all the other important relationships and issues you are currently facing.

What does that look like if you were to uplevel your self care? Start writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal instead of bottling them up. Simple and inexpensive things like taking a walk in nature or getting yourself flowers can help. Ask for help from family and friends in specific ways. For example, having a clutter busting party at your home might help you get an important “win” in short order. You may want to reach out to trusted friends or a divorce coach for support.

In my award-winning Divorce Resource Kit, I address this subject specifically and there’s even a checklist with 52 easy, inexpensive self-care strategies in it. There are also many tips and principles there to help you create your own road map through divorce, and to help you set your priorities. I would also recommend “The 7 Pitfalls of Single Parenting: What To Avoid to Help Your Children Thrive after Divorce.” This award-winning book addresses many of the issues you are facing with your children, and will help you to cut your learning curve of being a divorced parent considerably.

The bottom line here? Take it one step, and one day at a time. Be gentle and caring with yourself. Don’t try to take on everything at the same time. And above all, don’t reinvent the wheel on how to cope with all the issues divorce is raising for you. There are so many great resources available to help you.

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3 Tips to Getting Over Yourself and Into Action

(If you prefer to listen to the audio version of this week’s article instead, just click “Listen Now” below!)

“Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.” ~Benjamin Franklin

A big challenge brilliant entrepreneurs face is we get tripped up getting in our own way. So with the deepest love and respect, I suggest we all get over ourselves! What do we need to get over? Just a few wee things that stop us from getting into some serious action – things like our perfectionism, our doubts, our
“reasons” why we can’t have what we want.

Have you ever had a great idea blossom in your heart, only to find yourself losing steam and courage? The perfectionism kicks in as you wonder whether the idea will be “good enough” for your clients. Or perhaps you delay product launches because you want to keep tweaking the copy, the packaging and the marketing because your doubt that people want what you have has been taking you down a side road. Maybe you decide you need just one more seminar in something and THEN you’ll be ready to take action. Does any of this sound familiar to you?

If it does, you are not alone

Tip 1. Take Imperfect Action

On the one hand, a desire to offer excellence in service is a beautiful thing. But when getting your products and services out there gets side-lined with a need to have everything be “perfect” that is a problem. Creativity is an energy that needs to stay in circulation. When you stop taking action because you’re tinkering with small details, that creativity and inspiration turns quickly into a form of emotional and spiritual constipation.

One of my mentors says, “Imperfect progress is better than perfect inaction.” Waiting until all your ducks are in a row before you green light a new idea is a way to stifle your brilliance. Your market and the rest of the world are moving and you may be missing out on some valuable opportunities as you tinker to get everything “just right.”

Tip 2. Keep Your Eyes on the Horizon

Remember there is a whole big world out there full of people who need to be touched in some way by the gifts and services you offer. So keep your eyes on the horizon so you can get the bigger picture.

Getting in your own way means you’ve just narrowed your perspective to only see your own issues and obstacles. And that ultimately robs those people who have problems you can help solve get the relief and solution they are looking for. Plus, it robs you of the ability to be compensated for your gifts and grow your business and influence even further.

Tip 3. Eat the Elephant One Bite at a Time

Feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to start is another way to get tripped up. To get into powerful action, remember to break things down into manageable chunks. As the story goes, the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

Keep asking yourself what is the next actionable step you can take, and then take it. That way you won’t let the scale of a project give you an excuse to sit on the sidelines while you figure it all out.

STEP INTO YOUR BRILLIANCE
Scan your project lists – both business and personal. See if there’s an area that is calling out for you to “get over yourself.” Identify one bite-sized piece of imperfect action you can take. Take action on it within the next 7 days.

© 2011 Carolyn B. Ellis All Rights Reserved

Divorce and Separation: Letting Go of Your Past Married Life

Q. “How I let go my life for the past 23 years?”

A. Finding the energy and will to move forward into uncharted territories after divorce can be a really tough challenge. It’s uncomfortable standing at that turning point of ending a relationship and facing an unknown future.

But staying stuck in a place of looking back at the past with regret, sadness and longing is problematic because you do need to step into a life after divorce. Imagine trying to drive a car, but you’re only ever looking in the rearview mirror. It’s tricky to get to where you want to go unless you shift your gaze to your life ahead.

Here are just a few tips to help you get the courage to move ahead. First, harvest the wisdom that you’ve gained in those 23 years. How have you grown? What strength and insight do you have now that you didn’t before? Our partners are often our greatest teachers, so even though the relationship is ending there are gifts you’ve received from your union. This simple exercise will help you realize that amidst the pain and sadness, there are absolute life jewels you’ve received from this process.

Second, use what didn’t work in your relationship to get clear on what you DO want to have in your life going ahead. In divorce most of us have a laundry list of all the things that we didn’t like about our ex-partner. So why not use that to your advantage to get clear on what your values and priorities for future relationships are? For example, if your husband didn’t share some important interests in you, or was dishonest, now you know that finding a partner who shares your passions and values honesty as much as you do is important for you to have.

If you’d like more strategies to help map your life after divorce, I’d recommend you check out my award-winning Divorce Resource Kit. It will guide you in simple yet powerful ways to getting your emotional feet back on the ground, and how to find the courage and energy to step boldly into your new life.

Divorce and Separation: When Your Friends Divorce You Too

Unfortunately, divorce often leaves a big wake of broken relationships in its path. There are ripple effects that spread out far beyond the initial “Ground Zero” of your relationship ending. It can be very painful, and hopefully you can take some small comfort in knowing you are not alone in feeling the sting of either betrayal or friends retreating from you.

So why does this happen and what can you do about it?

Divorce isn’t easy for anyone, and friends and family members will often take their cue from you. If your separation is dramatic and contentious, chances are higher that those around you will feel a greater need to “vote with their feet” in terms of picking sides. I believe it’s important not to force people to choose sides in order to prove their love and support of you. You can address this by letting those around you know that you know it’s not easy to see two people they care about get divorced, but that your relationship with them is important and you’d like to find a way for that to continue on post-divorce.

It’s important to realize that inevitably people’s relationships will change after divorce. This is especially true of how you relate with family members of your ex. In some ways, the relationships that do fall away easily were likely not strong sources of support for you in any case. View it as an opportunity to find out who you can truly count on, through even the tough times, rather than feeling a false sense of security by having a large stable of fair-weather friends.

Remember that you are responsible for your own thoughts, words and actions. Work through feelings of betrayal or anger with the help of your journal, a coach and aim to be able to let it go. We can’t control the actions of other people. Be willing to speak your truth. Realize that everyone is doing the best they can with the tools they have. Ultimately, what you need to do about it is to focus on your journey and your healing.

Stressed out? 5 Self-care Survival Strategies

Are you feeling stressed out? Isn’t this time of year when families and friends come together to celebrate special holidays and connect supposed to be a time of joy and peace? Then why are so many people out there feeling stressed out, short-tempered and run down?

A key ingredient for success is to make an unwavering commitment to your own self-care. Practicing meaningful self-care can be a hard challenge, especially for those of us who get so much joy and passion from offering our services and wisdom in a desire to make a difference in the world somehow.

I remember learning the lesson of taking self-care seriously when I was going through my divorce years ago. I realized that ignoring my needs and pushing myself to my limits wasn’t helping me make clear decisions for my future and for being the mom I wanted to be for my three children. In my award-winning book, The 7 Pitfalls of Single Parenting: What to Avoid to Help Your Children Thrive after Divorce, I coined this phenomenon “going for the martyr medal.” You get so preoccupied and consumed with making sure everyone else is taken care of first, that your own needs fall by the wayside.

If you are trying to capture a medal for being a self-sacrificing martyr, I have some news for you. There are no medals for martyrs. The International Olympic Committee is not adding it to their event list anytime soon. Nobody, particularly your children, will come to you at some point in the future and say, “I appreciate how much you sacrificed your own health and well-being for us – and how you let us know about it all along the way!”

Your commitment to self-care is one of the most important gifts you can give yourself – and your children. Here are some strategies to get you started.

1. Give Yourself Five Minutes a Day
Self-care doesn’t have to be big, fancy, expensive or time-consuming. Carve out at least 5 minutes a day to breathe, become still, let yourself daydream or sing along to your favorite tune. Imagine that each breath you take is refueling and grounding you.

2. Find Emotional Support
It’s always great to ensure you have the support of like-minded and like-spirited friends. If you hit a bump in the road, draw upon your support network. If the challenge you face is particularly tough, like going through a divorce, a downsizing or health issue, tap into people who have specialized experience in that area. Getting strong emotional support structures in place upfront will save you time and heartache in your healing journey.

3. Delegate as Much as Possible
When you’re feeling stress, stop and assess everything you have piled on your plate. Are there any responsibilities you have now that you can delegate or defer to someone else so you can give yourself some time off? Bulk up your babysitters and repair person lists. Make progress, not perfection, your goal.

4. Appreciate Yourself
A big reason people become self-sacrificing martyrs is because they are really seeking acknowledgement and appreciation. There is a much more reliable way to get that 24/7 which is by acknowledging yourself. Celebrate each and every accomplishment, new insight and decision you make. Writing them down in a self-appreciation journal will help make your progress more tangible and clear.

5. Be a Role Model for Your Children
Parents under stress often make the mistake of trying to keep a stiff upper lip around their children. Yet parents are powerful role models for their children. Children experience stress too. Remember, they will do what you do, not what you say.

Help build some healthy habits by teaching your children how to manage their own stress. You can start by naming the feelings you’re having. Share that “Mommy is feeling overloaded right now.” Next, ask yourself what you need to do in that moment to take care of yourself. Demonstrate this with your children by saying “Daddy needs to take a five minute break to collect my thoughts.” Taking responsibility for your feelings and your self-care is a powerful legacy to leave your children.

© 2010 Carolyn B. Ellis

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete statement with it:

Success Strategist, coach and best-selling author, Carolyn B. Ellis, is the founder of ThrivePrinciples.com, empowering you to thrive no matter what your outside circumstances are. To get free tips on turning adversity into opportunity in order to improve your relationships, increase your self-confidence and reach your highest potential, visit www.ThrivePrinciples.com.

A Conversation with The Inner Critic

Have you ever noticed that when you take on a new goal, that little voice in your head will immediately kick in and start telling you all the reasons why you can’t have what you want. Whether it’s finding a new course to take, losing those last 10 pounds, improving the quality of your relationship or getting out of debt, the Inner Critic that lives within each of us really seems to turn up the volume.

Our Inner Critic tells us, “You can’t do that!” or “What will people think of you!” or “Well, you haven’t been able to lose weight before so why should now be any different?” To shed some light on this universal phenomenon, and to see how we can achieve our goals, despite our Inner Critic, I’ve been able to interview mine. I hope that this conversation with my Inner Critic will shed some light on how you can create a better working partnership with your own Inner Critic.

Carolyn Ellis (CE): It seems like I’ve always heard your voice in one form or another. When exactly did you become a part of my life?

Inner Critic: I’ve been a part of you since the time you were born. When you were really young, you were so fearless! My initial function was and still is to look out for you and keep you safe from harm.

CE: I think I’m old enough now to know when I’m in physical danger. Why are you still here then – simply to torment me?

Inner Critic: I’m not trying to torment you – I’m just doing my job the best way … Continue reading

Big Costs of Tolerating the Small Stuff: Lessons from a Light Fixture

Warning. This is a true story and it ain’t a pretty one. It’s actually a bit embarrassing too because, as a teacher and trainer, I should “know” better not to get stuck unconscious behavior. By sharing this personal examples I hope to illuminate for you more clearly how tolerating those little distractions, clutter and incomplete “to dos” can siphon away your energy and hold you back.

Recently I took care of an annoying little problem that had been bugging me for a very, very long time. The wall sconces in my main bathroom had been on the fritz for a long time. The lights continued to flicker and go out. High-priced electricians were baffled. I ultimately decided the fixtures themselves needed to be replaced. So I bought new fixtures and … stuck them in a storage room. I finally got those new fixtures installed after they collected dust for about 18 months.

Sad but true! I had been tolerating having dim, unsatisfactory lighting in my bathroom for about 385 weeks. Not being able to see clearly when putting on my makeup in the morning. Feeling my energy drop when I entered the room and saw the 4 colorful wires sticking out of my mirror. Explaining to my kids that I … Continue reading

Unlearn Your Way to Success: A Spring into Action Plan, Part 2

“What have you unlearned today, dear?” I bet that is a question that most parents don’t ask their children when they get home from school! Children aren’t the ones carrying around a lot of emotional and behavioral baggage though – we grown-ups are.

So asking ourselves what we need to “unlearn” is actually an important question to ask. Why? Our journey to success and conquering new challenges is actually dependent on our ability to shed and release old baggage that no longer serves us. I’m talking about the old limiting beliefs that tell us we’re not worthy, or old “habit hangovers” like procrastination or minimizing ourselves because we don’t want to draw “too much attention” to ourselves.

If you missed Part 1 of this series, you can find it here.  I shared some strategies for unlearning unhealthy food habits and toxic self-talk. In today’s issue, I wanted to offer 3 more pieces to this “unlearning” curriculum to help round our this internal “spring tune-up.”

Unlearning #3: Unlearning Tolerating Chaotic Environments

Take a quick scan of your physical environment of your home and your office. Look at the interior of your car, your purse, your wallet, your gym bag. What about the inside of your cupboards, closets and drawers. Notice what happened to your energy as you even mentally just reviewed your environment. Do you feel energized or drained by your physical environment?

If you are tolerating clutter, disorganization and confusion in your physical environment you are setting yourself up for … Continue reading