You, coming out of hiding, now

As the new year begins, we tend to feel full with the energy of possibility, with all that we most want to create and make happen in our business in the coming months.

Now it’s almost a month later and we’re no longer poised at the exciting threshold of the year, but already well into it. So how is the unfolding of your vision and goals going?

hiding_behind_leaf.jpgOne of the biggest things that can impede our progress on behalf of our vision is all the ways in which we hide – consciously and unconsciously.

Feeling in our heart how much we want to do great things with our work, make an important contribution, share a significant message with the world – but then avoiding taking the kind of action that will support the unfolding of such greatness.

So we procrastinate and spend our time doing busy stuff that doesn’t actually further our vision and mission. Or we engage with it enough to feel like we’re working hard and actively moving forward with our vision, but we’re inconsistent and so the outcome we’re after is never fully realized.

We eagerly sow the seeds of new possibilities, but don’t nurture then sufficiently and consistently so they can actually germinate and put down roots.

Or we pretend that we don’t really know what our calling is and we act confused instead. We put our precious energy and attention into searching and seeking, asking questions we already know the answer to but are afraid to acknowledge because then we’d have to take action on them.

We compare ourselves to others and decide that someone else has already done what we want to do, so we can’t – as if a world of 7 billion people could be well-served by one person doing something, with two or more becoming redundant.

We’re afraid to do something imperfectly and risk being judged by others, held captive by the younger part of ourselves that’s terrified by this fairly remote possibility. Or we fear not knowing how to respond smartly to the questions or challenges of others and cringe at how foolish we might feel.

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Not your same old business-as-usual take on vision

SpiralOverGoldenField.pngIt’s the time of year when everyone is talking about creating a vision, strategy, plan, and goals for 2016. Think about it. How many emails have come into your inbox in recent weeks promising to help you finally get crystal clear so you can rock it in the coming year?

It’s natural, of course, with the current year approaching completion and a new year inviting like a blank canvas, awaiting the brush strokes of creative expression.

We love the sense of wide-open possibility it offers. Wild, generative, fecund.

And so we immediately want to slap some order onto it because god-forbid we enter into such raw potentiality without having a rational plan!

I’m not for a moment saying that having a vision isn’t important. Vision is the starting point. Out of it we craft some degree of strategy, plan, goals, and/or projects to serve as a guide.

Yet my experience is that vision is often approached from a rather left-brained, primarily strategic, even static perspective. And if we’re not careful, it can also end up coming too much from the ego, which can color it with fear.

So there’s this idea that to do anything you have to first get crystal-clear on your vision so you know exactly where you’re going.

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The complex nature of gratitude on this day of Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving here in the U.S.  It’s our national day of gratitude, a day to pause and count our blessings as well as to gather with family and friends and stuff our bellies with an over-abundance of delicious food.

And yet, it seems important to acknowledge that this country came into being through a brutal history of conquest and colonization that killed vast numbers of the native people who were living on this continent long before Europeans “discovered” it.

Likewise, for the last several hundred years, our modern lifestyle has devoured so much of the natural world as resources-for-the-taking to drive the machine of our comfortable contemporary lives.

So while we each have much to be grateful for in our personal lives, if you follow the threads of history back in time to the origin of this country, and if you consider our relationship with the more-than-human world, collectively we have paid a high price for the abundance we live in.

I mention this because I’m a big-picture person by nature, and it feels important to round out the focus on “go gratitude!” that today is all about. Oddly enough, holding this wider awareness and the grief it engenders can actually deepen our sense of gratitude for all that we have, because of what it’s taken to get here.

On a personal level, at times it can be challenging to feel truly grateful, especially if we’ve experienced loss or are navigating a tough situation. And yet gratitude isn’t just something to feel after the fact, when life is flowing the way you want it to.

If you’re like many folks, when asked what you’re grateful for, you’ll probably acknowledge your health and well-being, the relationships of your heart, the purposeful work you get to do, the incredible freedom you possess, the fact that you can make choices most of the world can’t, the multi-faceted abundance in your life, and more.

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Business wisdom from the Grand Canyon: terror, power, and becoming a person of power

scouting-rapid.JPGWe’d tied up the rafts, hiked down river on the well-worn trail, and stood high on the rocks, looking into the frothy maelstrom that was the first big rapid on our Grand Canyon river trip.

It’s always a good idea to scout the bigger rapids in this way, to get a big-picture sense of the rapid before you enter it, to notice where the current is going, where the “must avoid” danger spots are, and where the sweet line through is. You identify Plan A, then tuck Plan B, C, and so on into the back of your awareness to be pulled out in a heartbeat if needed.

As much as I appreciate scouting big rapids, they’ve always been a bit of a mixed bag for me because they offer plenty of time for the terror to build. The truth is that despite decades of rafting some pretty gnarly whitewater, I’ve always been deeply afraid of it.

When I was a wee one of three, I almost drowned one hot summer day at the beach. One moment I was playing with my little pail in the wet sand and the next moment a large wave knocked me off my feet and swept me out into deep water. [Read more…]

Business wisdom from the Grand Canyon: doing, being, and business

canyon-1.jpg“Is it too early to go to bed yet?” we asked each other, collapsed in our chairs on the warm sand of a Grand Canyon river beach, with dinner complete, the kitchen battened down for the night, and the lingering glow of the day still lighting up the sky to the west.

It had become a ritual evening question, asked as the exhaustion of the day finally claimed each of us. If the sun is still glowing on the canyon walls, it’s too early for bed. If you can see the first stars, it’s late enough to be bedtime.

Sometimes I’d grab a few minutes to myself at this exquisite edge of the day to meander down the beach and commune with the river, before falling into the tent and sleeping nine hours through the night in a way I never do at home.

But those moments of quiet reverence were too few and far between, given the extensive amount of work it took each day to cook breakfast, break down camp in the morning, rig everything securely into the rafts, travel 15 or so miles downstream, navigate the rapids we encountered along the way, set up the entire (very heavy) camp again in a new location, and prepare a robust dinner – day after day, for our little group of eight.

The morning of day four I remember getting up in the dark, grabbing my headlamp, and heading up Buck Farm Gulch, the side canyon where we were camped. Because my husband and I were on kitchen duty for that camp, it was the only time we had for the hike.

buck-farm-cyn.jpgAnd what a wonder it was! A meander of cool clear water flowing through curvaceous rock. A profusion of verdant ferns tumbling from unlikely crevices. Wild flowers perfuming the morning air with their intoxicating scent. Frogs singing to each other in search of a mate.

I yearned to spend at least half the day exploring that magical place, but only had half an hour before it was time to hurry back and start cooking the eggs, bacon, and hash browns that were for breakfast that day. (No, I don’t eat like this at home but it’s normal on a river trip.)

Honestly, I would have traded that substantial meal for a handful of dry granola if it gave me the time to truly be with the majesty of that exquisite little canyon.

Some days later, we arrived at Blacktail Canyon, a deep, dark, swirling slot canyon where you can place two fingers of one hand on a particular seam on the rock wall and be spanning a gap of 1.5 billion years. Life takes on a very different perspective when you can hold such expanses of time in your hand. [Read more…]

Business wisdom from the Grand Canyon: widen your radar screen

“Wow, this isn’t what I expected!” I lamented to myself as the reality sank in of how much hard work was involved in this Grand Canyon river trip each day.

Never mind actually rowing the raft through the rapids, which was easy by comparison, and a joy. It was setting up and breaking down camp each day that was so bloody labor intensive.

Several folding metal tables; a giant 6-burner stove; a firepan and grill, plus bags of firewood; a couple of large propane canisters; a heavy commissary box filled with pots, cast-iron pans, dishes, and more; another box with utensils; a spice box; several 8-gallon water jugs; a handwash system; a dishwash system; food for the meals; the river toilet; folding chairs; and everyone’s personal stuff – all needing to be hauled up the beach and set up each afternoon and schlepped back to the boats and tied in securely each morning.

Add in the considerable time spent cooking robust meals and cleaning up afterwards and it took several hours each day, meaning that there was precious little time left over for basking quietly in the glory of each river camp, marveling at the shifting play of light on the red walls, or wandering leisurely up the local side canyon.

It was only the second day of a 3-week trip and already my whole body ached from becoming a Sherpa overnight. My legs sported several purple bruises the size of flank steaks from bashing into these many hard objects in the close quarters of the raft, and each day brought new additions. My younger self definitely didn’t remember it this way!

susan-gc-2-newsletter.jpgIt’s hard not to have expectations when you’ve waited seemingly forever for something, and especially when it’s something you’ve experienced previously, so you think you know more-or-less what it will be this time around.

Having done this trip three times already, I had drunk deeply of its astonishing beauty and I knew in my bones what an extraordinary experience it is. I was eager to immerse myself in that sweetness again.

Having waited 19 years for National Park Service to grant us this most recent private permit, there was plenty of time for anticipation to build, and expectations to take shape, even without my awareness. [Read more…]

Streamlined strategy for creating your transformative programs (Pillar 4 case study)

Are you a highly educated, extensively trained, passionately committed, transformative practitioner who’s perplexed because even with all that going for you and all that you’ve got to give, you still feel like you’re just getting started in your business?

Even after all this time. And despite all the money you’ve spent on various business training programs you were sure would lift you out of perpetual idling and infuse you with momentum.

Gabrielle-Taylor-200.jpgIf so, Gabrielle Taylor’s story will inspire you. She’s a kindred spirit, infused with a glorious new momentum!

Gabrielle is an exquisitely sensitive woman with a passion for going deep into the inner world with clients. For several years, she’d been dancing back and forth between whether to continue on with her psychotherapy practice or say yes to her growing desire to start a transformational coaching business.

The dance wasn’t getting any easier, and meanwhile, she wasn’t generating much of an income in either. She found the uncertainty to be quite confusing and the marginal income to be very frustrating.

She shared with me, “When you’ve done all these programs and you’re not getting results, it feels awful”.

Part of what drew Gabrielle to being a coach was that she loves the idea of working with a specific audience focused on a particular need, whereas in her psychotherapy practice she worked with a broad spectrum of clients on a wide variety of issues. Here’s a woman who was actually excited about the idea of having a niche! And eager to create programs!

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Crafting your transformative program (Pillar 4)

Pillar-4

We’re in the home stretch now. Once you’ve partnered with the soul of your business, connected with the heart of your people, and created the body of your work, now and only now is it time to craft your truly transformative program. This is the fourth and final pillar in the essential foundation your business needs to thrive. You need to have something clear and compelling to offer your people!

Seriously, don’t skip over any of the first three essential pillars and try to design a program out of thin air and a bit of imagination – unless you have a lot of spare time and money to throw willy-nilly at various marketing efforts.

What can happen with that approach is you can pour a ton of your energy into designing a program that’s primarily what you want to offer, crafted from your perspective and not from the perspective of your ideal clients.

And then you go looking for someone who hopefully wants to do your program just as you’ve already created it – instead of designing a deeply transformative program that resides in the sweet spot where what you have to offer lines up with what your people want, need, and are willing to pay for.

money-basket.jpgOr the perfectionist in you can spend forever trying to fine-tune your program and never actually get it out there in the hands and hearts of the people who desperately need your help. Either way, this approach is a sure-fire recipe for tossing money in the trash while exhausting you in the process.

Instead, once you’ve taken the invisible magic you make happen and structured it into your body of work, it’s very easy to pour it into all kinds of different products and programs to serve the people in your niche at a variety of levels, degrees of access to you, and price points.

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How to turn an over-stuffed medicine bag into a living body of work (Pillar 3 case study)

Work is love made visible. So said poet Khalil Gibran, and it’s especially true when the work you do is transformative in nature and an expression of your heart’s calling.

It’s even truer when you find the sweet spot where all the goodness in your medicine bag – your gifts, talents, experience, knowledge, and life wisdom – come together to meet a compelling need in the world you’d love to serve.

When the people who have that need are willing and able to invest in resolving it, this becomes the fertile ground where your business can sink deep roots and flourish wildly. The place where you can thrive in service to yourself, others, and the world.

What’s your sweet spot? Have you found it yet?

When you’re starting out in business or even when you’re taking your business in a new direction, it’s essential to figure out what need you’re called to serve, in everyday real-world terms. And who exactly struggles with it. These are your people!

Then, it’s immensely helpful to sift, sort, and structure your particular mash-up of magic so that it becomes an integrated body of work to serve your people.

Having that can carry you a long way in your business. Yet creating your own body of work isn’t always easy to do, especially if you’re trying to figure it out by your lonesome or with the not-right-for-you support.

SharonRosen.jpgThis was the crux of Sharon Rosen’s challenge. She had a 25-year history as an accomplished massage therapist, with all the clients she needed simply showing up. No marketing required!

Yet Sharon also had a long-time passion for mindfulness and years of training in meditation, Kabbalistic teachings, energy healing, and holistic approaches to wellness. Plus a whole lot of wisdom that came from being a life-long seeker and synthesizer.

She hungered to go beyond hands-on bodywork to serve her clients in ways that felt deeper and richer to her heart. There was another aspect of her love yearning to be visible!

Her medicine bag was overflowing – so much so that she didn’t know how to best make use of all those great tools and deep wisdom. In fact, at times she even forgot all that was in her medicine bag because so much was crammed in there and out of sight.

Looking back, she described herself as “a massage therapist who knew a lot of other stuff”. Yet despite her growing desire to be of greater service, she didn’t feel confident enough to offer her bodywork clients something more comprehensive that would include the many other ways she could help them

So she stuck with massage, and resorted to handing bits of her wisdom to clients on hastily scribbled scraps of paper as they walked out the door at the end of their session.

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Creating the body of your work (Pillar 3)

Pillar-3

Once you’re clear on who you’re called to serve with your great work, next you need to give form to how you help them.

If you’re like most visionary entrepreneurs, you’re carrying around a rather sizable medicine bag filled with the many gifts, talents, experience, knowledge, and wisdom you’ve accrued in life thus far. This is the rich repertoire you draw from to facilitate the transformation you make happen.

Yet if you’re just/still starting out, often all that magic is fairly invisible to you. Or it’s a creative jumble. You’ve embodied it to such a degree that you just do what you do without being fully conscious of it. You work with your clients and, shazam, magic just happens.

Unfortunately, in an over-crowded marketplace, it’s not enough to be brilliant about your subject. And rummaging around in your bag of possibilities each time someone new comes to you for help is not an efficient way to turn your great work into a thriving business.

Eventually this approach can burn you out long before you’re able to make a sustainable income.

Ultimately, you’re going to want to structure all that medicine and magic into a clear system so that the people in your niche can recognize its relevance and its value. And then you’ll want to turn that system into an integrated body of work.

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