Putting YOU back in YOUR business

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Mirror, Mirror on the wall....

Funny, I would not have thought that this was a discussion we would ever have with business owners. However, given the current quick and immediate access to education and information  – yep, we need to talk about it.

See, information, education and ideas are everywhere. And most of the time – this is a great thing. We can take the new ideas and information and apply it to our lives and business in a way that propels us forward towards our bigger vision and goals  - with unencumbered growth and a joyful heart without issue - right?

Nope – not how it works. I have been having A LOT – and I mean A LOT of discussions with business owners who are finding themselves more stuck than ever as more information comes into their lives. The very information that is meant to be transformative creates inaction. Why? Because many times the information we receive is from different vantage points and is contradictory to the last bit of information we have heard.  Want to STOP the inaction and instead move forward in a way that is natural for you? Here are my suggestions for putting YOU back in YOUR business.

Tip #1: Be you. Identify what you love, what you want, your strengths, your vision, your WHY. Own it all.  Write it down – on paper – print it out. Read often.

Tip #2: With any new idea – refer to Tip #1. Does it align with you? Does it sound great for you? If not, put it away. There is no idea police coming after you for not implementing a new idea. If it sounds interesting, within your strengths (or your team's strengths), investigate.  We are all unique – what worked for one person or business might not work for every person/business.

Tip #3: Commit. Choose a path and commit to excellence and completion. We have to stop chasing new ideas like the proverbial “squirrel.” We are giving ourselves an attention disorder because we keep changing directions. Find what works for you with ideas/technology/planning – and put your head down, and get it done. Seriously – at some point – turn off the noise of the outside world screaming at you for what you should be doing and can’t get done. Focus on what you know is most important.

If you find yourself stuck – ask for help. Get an advisor, mentor, and/or coach to help you decipher through the noise and create a unique plan of action just for you. Then go do that! Put YOU in your process, in your vision, in your company. Stop trying to be everybody else – because that will shut you down.

Michele and her team are happy to help you find YOU again. Reach out if you are interested.

Lessons from a horse and a Segway

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WHOA Nelly! Talk about being outside of my comfort zone for the month of October.  First, I went horseback riding (and conquered a fear or two), then two weeks later took a two hour Segway tour around downtown Philadelphia. Again, a fear or two, or three were conquered. Outside of conquering a few fears – I learned a lot about balance. And that is what I want to talk about today.

In my coaching practice almost every person mentions the need for balance. Either balancing tasks for today (urgent/important) or tasks for tomorrow (significant), or family and life balance with work. We all feel this need more than ever with the opportunities before us and fast pace that everything is moving.

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Here were a few lessons that being on a horse and on a Segway taught me. Funny – I would not have seen the similarity prior to doing these two activities so closely together.

Lesson #1: My balance was predicated to some degree on the balance of where I put my trust. Meaning, I had to trust the horse and trust the Segway to be balance and to try to keep balance – and then find my balance on top of that. The guide on our trail ride told us the horse will always watch where to walk and will shift its weight to maintain balance. It does not want to fall. The Segway guide told us the same thing about the Segway. It is built to maintain balance. On both of these, as I got on each, we took a minute to find our balance together. As we moved together, I had to shift my balance based on the terrain and how the horse and Segway reacted to that terrain.

In your life and business, where are you placing your trust? Is it trustworthy? Does it try to inherently maintain balance and are you balancing along with it?

Lesson #2: Balance takes work. Creating and maintaining balance are two different activities tightly woven together. To get the initial balance took one set of movements. To continue that balance as we moved forward (or backward) took constant adjustments. Going slowly was different than trotting or going at maximum speed. Moving weight, shifting stance, redirecting the reins or handles all made a difference in our direction and how to balance to stay upright and comfortable.

Are you adjusting to stay in balance or did you try to do it once and then let the moment to moment work go off of your radar? Focus is needed along with a commitment to remain in balance.

Lesson #3: Balance is hard work and you may get sore spots! Ha. I can tell you that for more than a week certain body parts hurt after doing an hour and a half trail ride. Why? Because when learning how to balance on a trotting horse, I had to learn how to do things differently than when we were just walking. There were body parts and muscles that had not been used the same way before. The same happened after the Segway ride. My toes hurt – yes my toes. Based on how you balance the toes and heels are where weight is shifted. We had an excellent time on both rides – horse and Segway – but in both, to find my balance it took different muscles to be engaged, different focus and different strategies. It was not a one size fits all in any way, shape or form.

Are you willing to be uncomfortable to create the balance you have identified and desire? Are you willing to engage new muscles and focus to carry through? If you need help with a plan or accountability to reach this goal, email Michele. She would love to help you!

Everyone Has a Challenge

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Recently I met with a group of women for a retreat. The goal was to challenge ourselves a little and to also relax. Due to the weather, we put both challenging activities into the same day. To begin, we went horseback riding in the Catskill Mountains in the morning and then a strenuous hike up a mountain, about 3 miles round trip, in the afternoon. It was literally up (over 1000 foot change in elevation) and a mile and a half each way over rocky terrain. Some of our climbing was using a Spiderman method – on our feet and hands like we were scaling up a building.

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While this may not be a challenge for everyone – it was for most of us. But here is where it gets interesting – our challenge was not the same. My challenge was that I am a Type 1 diabetic and I know that strenuous activity causes my blood sugar to drop. I had packed all my diabetes supplies and I had them in my back pack. Thankfully I have a glucose monitor that gives me updates every 5 minutes so I could treat my low blood sugars as I went along. The entire group asked if I was okay and made it a safe environment for me to be able to stop when needed.

Another of our hikers literally had the soles of her shoes fall off – Seriously! – as we began the hike. She did the entire 3 miles with her shoes taped over her feet with first aid tape. When we were all debriefing after the hike she mentioned that if we had all quit to get her another pair of shoes that none of us would have returned. She did not want to miss the opportunity because she had never been hiking. She was a trooper - no doubt!

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A third person had severe allergies that cause asthmatic reactions, so being outside and climbing at that level caused her concern. 

While we were hiking it was really interesting to hear, see, and experience each person push through their own challenges. Some were physical and some were mental. On one of our adventures the leader had her own struggle with the activity, and she was vulnerable enough to let us know. To be able to see the honesty and share in the triumph of overcoming the obstacle was really something to celebrate. 

We all made it up the mountain – and it was super difficult. When we got to the top the view from all of the vistas was magnificent. It was worth the work. In all honesty, we almost forgot how hard it was to get to the top. The pain of the climb was immediately removed and the view replaced it. We all closed our eyes and just listened. We stayed quiet and took it in. Then we headed back down another 1.5 miles – over rock, taking care with our steps and facing the challenge of going back down. Our mantra – no woman left behind.

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In your business you may be facing a challenge. You may feel like you are alone. Share with someone what you are going through. The shared experience and the vulnerability helped us to create a bond, which I know will be meaningful for all of us for some time. You can have the same. Keep doing the hard work. The view from the top is fantastic!

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If you need a group of supportive business owners to share your challenge, to be supportive, to experience the view from the top – ask Michele about the Mastermind Alliance program. You don’t have to do this alone.

What are your clients really paying for?

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Each day I interact with people in the service industry I see this topic come up for discussion – even if they don’t know this is the real question they are asking. Usually it is hidden in the conversation under the guise of how much they are charging, is it worth it, how much time it is taking, feeling guilty because the price is so high…you get the point. So, let’s break this down and really look at it. What exactly are your clients paying you for?

First, they are paying you for your knowledge. This is information you have gained through study, reading, viewing, just being aware. You know something about the project that your buyer does not. But is knowledge enough?  Heck no. I know about pulling a tooth to some degree, but I can promise you that I am not the one you want to visit if you have a toothache.  If knowledge alone isn’t enough – what else do you need?

Experience. Yep, experience matters. (Exactly why I suggest you call the dentist and not me in the above example with the toothache!) Experience is knowledge in action. Quite often knowing when not to do something is just as important as knowing when to do it. Experience is citical. It allows us to work with more precision, better final outcomes, the ability to adjust when necessary, and it can help us work faster.  But alas, knowledge and experience again are not enough.

Time. Time is a currency we spend each and every day. If someone is calling you for your services and they have the knowledge and the experience but no time to implement – time becomes very important in the transaction. It drives me crazy when a client will share with me that a potential buyer tells them they ‘could do the job but don’t have the time’ as if that should make you lower your rates. NO!  You are being hired because you have the time to do the work and that alone is valuable. (Not to mention the knowledge and experience that prompted them to call you in the first place.)

Value is our last element, but certainly not least. Being able to offer a great product or service that is worth the price paid shows the value of what you do. If I know how to do something, have experience and time but do sloppy work – the price will be argued.  This would put me in a terrible position to defend my worth. Conversely, if I have the knowledge and know how to implement (experience) within a given time frame with the best of product/service (value) – then there is nothing to argue about with regard to pricing or worth.

As a business owner – really think about what you have to offer in each of these areas: knowledge, experience, time and value. What are you offering them that they cannot do without you? How are you improving their life?  Charge for that. Own it….and no need to apologize!

If you need assistance with this, consider taking the Pricing Without Emotion course or getting involved in financial coaching with me. I would love to help you! Email me at Michele@ScarletThreadConsulting.com for more info on owning your worth.

Have You Got Traction?

What does it look like when a business is making forward progress and on the right track? Can you quantify this or is it just a feeling?  Could it be both?

Having traction requires forward motion with a clear destination identified (Vision). It is impossible to have forward motion in one direction if team members are pulling in a multitude of directions. Here are some areas of your business to evaluate to see if you have traction towards your vision:

1.      Is the vision of the company clear and can every team member define it?

2.      Are all team members committed to the vision as stated?  Are they all moving in the same direction?

3.      Does each team member understand how their job and responsibilities fit in to achieving the vision?

4.      Does each person hold themselves and the rest of the team accountable for attaining agreed upon milestones that are tied to the company vision?

5.      Do the internal processes of the company (marketing, financial, staff, etc.) support the vision and team members doing the work?

6.      Are issues identified quickly and a plan put in place to resolve?

Ask yourself these questions about your company – even if you are a one person wonder!  If you are in a group the same considerations apply. If you don’t like the answers you are seeing, reach out to Michele. She can help you craft a plan to move your company forward with a clear vision and a team that works together.

Can We All Just Get Along?

Photo by Andrew Branch on Unsplash

Photo by Andrew Branch on Unsplash

Working in a team environment, whether it is in business or private life, can be a challenge. The diversity that each person brings to the table is exciting, but if mismanaged can be debilitating! When involved in any group there are principles that allow for the group to be better in forward motion and ideas than any individual can be. Here are a few areas to be aware of when working with a team:

1.      Set Ground Rules.  Ground rules are important to any group. They can include a group hierarchy, structure, how to interact, communication rules, etc. Each person committed to following the rules will be an asset to the team. One person allowed to disregard these rules can wreak havoc. Deal with broken rules immediately to preserve the group dynamics.

2.      Show Appreciation.  Each person likes to be heard, appreciated, and recognized. However – not each person likes this to be done in the same way. In the book “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” by Gary Chapman, he discusses different ways to give and receive appreciation. Take the time to know how your teammates want to be thanked for a job well done.

3.      Respectfully Disagree. No team will agree on everything all the time. It is just not possible. Make a clear decision to respectfully disagree – but support the outcome of the group. As long as the decision making is created following the ground rules and the charter for which the group was established, it should be supported. Keep internal discourse private and within the group.

Working in groups can be a wonderful opportunity to grow, be challenged above what you would challenge yourself, and have a collective forward motion that creates friendships, support and networks that will follow you for life. If you are interested in participating in such a group for the Interior Design or Workroom industry, you can email Michele about the Mastermind Alliance that Scarlet Thread Consulting supports.

Gratitude and Giving Back

Photo by Maarten Deckers on Unsplash

I am so very thankful for all that I have. You are too, I am sure. We are told in scripture to give thanks in all things. Recently I heard the commencement speech by Sheryl Sandberg given at The University California, Berkeley on how gratitude in the face of losing her husband replaced a bit of her grief. Gratitude and giving are a big deal to us and those around us.

Thinking outward and giving back to others can be as beneficial for you as for those you are serving. First, it keeps us from focusing too much on ourselves and our issues/problems/concerns. Giving allows us to focus on those around us, their pain, difficulty, strife. It binds us together.

Giving also helps us forge new relationships with people, groups and companies. It creates broader connections and allows for work to be done on a larger scale than what might be accomplished alone. Being thankful for what we have and recognizing the gifts with which we have been entrusted to take care of ourselves and our community is a great way to start and end the day. Imagine if our day was book-ended in thankfulness to God for all that we have. What change to our own mindset would that kind of thinking provide?

Here is the cool thing – giving can be done on all scales. You may say you don’t have money to give – but you do your normal shopping on Amazon. Try out Amazon Smiles. You can select a charity of your choice to have a percentage of your normal shopping dollars allocated to. smile.amazon.com  Give of your time to someone – answer a question, go to lunch or coffee, listen to their story. Engage with people IN REAL LIFE if you can – not just through technology. Give someone the gift of really “seeing them”.

If you want to give on a larger scale with profits from your company – that would mean you need to have profits to allocate. Following a Profit First methodology of money management will allow for those dollars to be set aside, saved and then allocated as you wish. If you want help creating a profit account for giving – check out the Passion for Profit course that will walk you through the process.

Start with gratitude – and give. The world will be better off – and so will you.

 

 

New Notebooks and Freshly Sharpened Pencils

Photo by Joe Shillington on Unsplash

Each year at this time, for the last 17 years, going to get pencils, notebooks, erasers, crayons, glue sticks and any other varied school supply was always a highlight for me. You see – I love school supplies. Meg Ryan is speaking my language in the movie You’ve Got Mail when she talks about the smell of freshly sharpened pencils in the fall. I get her – she gets me.

This year was different. My sons are in college, crayons are not on the list, and they both said they did not need to go back-to-school shopping – they would just grab a few things while at school if they needed them. Ok then…

I am no longer needed to school supply shop – new phase of life. I have done well that they can get their own. But change, while good, is also bittersweet.

Change in our business is the same way. When first starting a business, we may be attending to every little detail – in detail, and with help from others. But as the business grows and changes and matures, it is easier and better sometimes to focus on the bigger picture, larger needs and not be so worried about the little things (graph paper in just the right dimensions anyone? Or that expensive T whatever calculator they will use for one semester?) Once we have systems in place with knowledge of the road we are traveling – we can relax a little and not worry so much.

This month I am focused on Financials – I know, shocker. Going back through the details for myself and with my clients. Teaching them to sharpen their pencils, go back to basics, double check the math and systems so that they can move ahead and focus on the bigger picture again knowing that they have what they need in place for good money management.

If you want to join us this month to take control of your business financials – join in the fun with Passion for Profit. Your bank accounts will thank you.

 

3 Elements of Success

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3 Elements Necessary for Success

Every week I talk with potential clients who are in a struggle of some type. The struggle is to either maintain or to grow their business.  From my experience - I have boiled down what is needed in business to these three things:

1. Client Conversion
Pretty much - the client has to agree to work with you. Not just any warm body - but your IDEAL client has to "know, like, trust" you and then engage. It is that simple (not really simple since this is your marketing strategy - but you know what I mean. They have to agree to spend money with you.)

2. Right product and service at right price
This is where we talk value. After the ideal client agrees to spend money you have to deliver product and service to fulfill your end of the deal. But here is the real deal - it needs to be the RIGHT product and service at the RIGHT price. And how is right defined?  You will know it is right when you feel like you are paid fairly for what you are delivering and the client feels like they are getting what they paid for. Anything more or less is not right and someone feels cheated or frustrated or taken advantage of.  (This is also known as your pricing strategy.)

3. Manage Expenses
OK - you have the ideal client purchasing the right product and service at the right price, the next step is to manage expenses. This means managing top line expenses (COGS) and bottom line operational expenses. If you do not keep your eye on both of these numbers and constantly adjust, then any money made will be spent without regard to the BIG financial goal. (This is your operational strategy.)

All three of these elements are important. You can see how if you sell to the wrong client at the wrong price the wrong product and don't manage the income that your business will sink. Seriously - just getting one of these elements wrong could cost you dearly. If you have an ideal client but price the product incorrectly - it hurts. If you have great client, great product and service but spend spend spend - trouble. Watching and managing and consistently reviewing your marketing, financial and operational strategies are a must for all business owners hoping and working towards success. 

If you need help with any of these strategies, reach out. Send me an email or type in an SOS. There is education and coaching available. Michele@ScarletThreadConsulting.com

What do THEY see?

Photo by Mike Kotsch on Unsplash

As a business owner, hopefully we all have an idea of our brand and how we want to be perceived. (If you don't reach out to me- I have a great class for that.) But, assuming that you know who you are in business and have a brand - let's talk about how others see us.

Recently I saw a business owner who was being "talked up" in her industry space as an expert. Of course, when we hear of someone who has an offering that we may be interested in - we are going to do a little online snooping to check them out. And that is just what I did. I visited her Facebook business page, her website and her Instagram. What I saw was a bit surprising. I am not going to call anyone out - because we all can learn from this - myself included.  I will share with you some of the elements of my surprise: lots of inspiration no real execution, less than stellar visuals, no real social proof, pictures that were seriously lacking spark and that created doubt.

Even if we have a brand my question to all of us is this, can others look at our social output (FB, IG, etc.) and come to the brand conclusion that matches our brand intent?  If not we need to pump the brakes. We should be able to tell who the business is, what it does, who it serves, and some idea of the work output. If your social media channels are only showing what inspires you - how do I know that you can translate that into actual designs or a finished product? If I only see "shares" of other people's work - how do I know that you can deliver the same thing? We may be inspired by and like some of the same elements, but I am online searching YOUR social media to see if you can deliver the product or service that you are selling.....and I want you to "show me the goods." (I am saying that in my best Jerry McGuire voice changing out money for goods...gotta keep it a little lighthearted!)

Step back. Go take a fresh look at your social media - ask a trusted friend to look for you. If what you are putting out in the world is not your BEST work, your BEST pictures and the BEST representation of what you have to offer - pivot - change it - remove the less than.....and help others see your business the way you want them to. 

Stuck or need help - check out the Build A Better Bio course which can help you really define who you are and how you want others to view you.

What is Profit?

This may seem like a very easy question to some - and for others it may seem way out there. Either way - let's talk about profit. Using a standard dictionary to define this word - profit is the leftover money in a company after all expenses have been paid. It is usually seen as extra or more than what is needed. 

Interestingly though, many entrepreneurs that I work with seldom have 'leftover' or 'more than' or 'extra.'  Why is that? Well, there are multiple reasons this can happen in a company - but let's look at two.

First, this can happen because we did not plan to have extra. Many times we price our work or services to just get the job and to pay the bills. We don't plan to have more than we need in our pricing because we want to be fair to the consumer often at the cost of the company. What good does it do to be 'fair or reasonable' to our customer if we are also not being 'fair and reasonable' to our own company? How long can a company exist that never takes the needs of the firm into account?  Not long. How fair and reasonable is it to do what is great for the client and then not be in existence the next time the client needs us because we did not plan for the future?

Second, I see a lack of profit even with planning to have it included in our pricing structure, due to poor money and expense management. Making money is one element to success but not the whole picture. Having money to pay salaries and to make a profit is the 'rest of the picture.' We have a tendency, if not watching and aware, to spend what we make - every last cent. We all know it is true. When is the last time you had a twenty dollar bill in your wallet and can account for every penny that was spent? It is easy to spend what we have and then wonder where it all went.

Profit is not something that happens by accident in most cases. Planning to have the company make more than is necessary to pay the bills then managing the expenses to allow for that profit to exist takes hard work and dedication. The Profit First method of bank balance accounting helps with this process and has been a lifesaver for many.

If you want to know more about the Profit First method and how it relates to the Interior Design or Custom Drapery Workroom industries give me a call. You can also check out the Passion for Profit course which self-guides you through implementing these principles in your own business. Make a profit, save for profit, use your profit wisely!

Get it RIGHT

So, how is it going?  Just asking this question of my clients often results in quite the conversation. See, we have an open relationship - so they know if I ask this, I really mean it....and they answer honestly. When we get into conversation about the business, products, services and clients, we can sometimes find that we are working out of alignment internally as well as externally.

What does that mean? It means simply, the product and services of the business do not clearly align with the customer or with our own business model. This can be due to a multitude of factors: value, price, time, quality, etc.

To check alignment we always want to ensure we have:

  • the RIGHT product/service
  • the RIGHT price/value
  • the RIGHT client

Getting it right for the consumer and right for your business creates a win-win and builds a buying relationship that lasts. Ask yourself where your business may not be in alignment. Address the issue and work with more peace. Trust me - it is worth the effort. Feeling out of alignment yourself?  Email me - let's chat.

It's all about the mindset

 "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." ~Albert Einstein
Last week I heard it put another way - same idea - stated differently. "You cannot create a 5 million dollar company with a 1 million dollar mindset."
That really made me think. Regardless of the amount of revenue your business generates, your thinking has to change and shift to go to the next level. Immediately I started asking myself where was I thinking like a 1M company and needed to think like a 5M company. Here is where I started the search:
  1.  Where have I been saying "I will never"
  2. Where have I been saying "I don't want to"
  3. Where have I been saying "I will do it myself"

Just these three questions gave me insight into the ways I could be limiting my potential and the potential of my company. How about you?  Where is your mindset limiting the growth you want to have?  Want to talk about it?  Give me a call.

 

 

Top 3 mistakes in your bio!

Writing a bio is seriously no joke. We all get excited to start - but then feel like we hit a road block in the first five minutes. Here are 3 top mistakes I see quite often in a bio. 

1.  Who you serve is not clearly defined. Shocked??  YOUR bio should be directed at who you serve. They should see themselves in your bio. That is what helps them identify with you. You should have more than one bio that shifts focus a bit based on who you are talking to. Exactly like a resume does. It is constantly being tweaked to reach your audience.

2. What you currently do - the problem you solve - is not clear. Great, so you have experience - doing what? Why do I care?  Please....make me care.  I should be able to read your bio and know exactly what you are putting out into the world. If I get all the way through your bio and think, "that's great but not sure what I am getting by working with you," then you have a problem. Again, I beg you, make me care and help me get excited about how working with you or purchasing from you will rock my world!

3. Too much mumbo jumbo.  Quit already with the technical jargon. I don't get it unless I am in the industry with you. Use words and phrases that everyone understands. Otherwise, people will pass right over you. Use the KISS method - Keep It Simple Sweetie! (I like sweetie better than stupid - so sweetie it is.)

Want help creating your own authentic and personal bio that meets the criteria above?  Check out my new online, self-paced course Build A Better Bio. Come on - you know you want to!

The teaching doesn't stop when they leave home!

Well, we have completed the task. Both kids through high school and now off to college. This has been 21 years in the making – at times it felt painfully slow and at others like it was moving at lightning speed.  Our family has talked about this time and we have decided that it is like completing book 1 in a series – and now we are all writing our spin off books going forward. Each of our sons is writing his own story. My youngest told me this weekend that he could not give me a book title until the end…so I guess we have to wait on that!

Anyway, I have been thinking about the next chapter for me. What does that look like? Now that I no longer have young boys at home to teach and guide them daily – what do I do outside of work and how does this “mentoring” relationship as a parent continue?  What do I have left to teach them?  I sure felt like I crammed all I could into their 18 years at home.

I have always believed in a joint teaching style, meaning book knowledge and experience together.  Not one or the other. Sometimes the best learning comes in the form of field trips. And much of what our kids (or those around us) learn is by watching what we do.  With that in mind, here is how I plan to continue to teach my kids.

1.      Life does not stop when one season of your life is over. I will continue living and thriving and being joyful with my spouse to show my kids that it is possible. Even with the loss of day to day physical interaction with my boys, my life is still rich and blessed and wonderful, and I will show them that. They can have this hope too!

2.      The next opportunities in front of them can be daunting – and a little scary. Same for me. Sometimes the next big thing for me is hugely scary. I will do it anyway. Because I want them to have the courage to do their next big thing through the fear.

3.      Life is too short not to show love, mercy and grace to myself. I will love this mind and body that God has given me. I will not diminish it or complain about it.  I will be thankful. I am human and mess up – and I will show grace to myself and work to do better. But I will love God and myself in this process! I will speak to myself in love.  When I do this – I can then show grace, mercy and love to others because my day to day thinking will be kind and loving and I will have an abundance to pour out on those around me who desperately need it.

4.      I will meet new people and journey with them to broaden my understanding. There are so many people in the world – and they are not just like me. They have had life experiences and lived in areas that have shaped their understanding. My goal will be to understand them then work to be understood. I will teach the boys that it is fine to continue broadening their thinking – and meeting people is a cool way to do that (travel too)!

5.      I will work to make the people and places I interact with better than when I met them or visited. I will be a giver not a taker.

None of these things can I do of my own accord or inner strength. All of these things I can do by loving God who will give me the heart and strength. My dependence is on Him, not me. That is the biggest lesson I would love to teach my boys….as they watch me.  This is the inheritance I want to give them. And I promise you parents, your kids are still watching. No matter how old they are! What are you teaching them?

Love you my boys!

We all need a little sun to bloom

Yes - we all need a little sun. This weekend we started working in our yard very early. While working in the flower bed I noted to my husband that there were buds on the iris plants - but that they were not yet open.  I was curious about when they would be in full bloom. 

We worked all day in the yard - moving dirt, building beds, cutting limbs - you get the picture. The sun warmed us and warmed the ground. As we were cleaning up to go in for the day we were looking over the yard and the progress that we had made in our 8 hours outside. I noticed this one little iris had bloomed while we worked all day. It made me smile. It was time. The temperature was right, the conditions were favorable - and it bloomed. The others had not yet opened.

Yesterday we went out again - and there were even more flowers blooming. It was their time.  Guess what - that first little iris did not wait on the remaining ones to bloom. It was one day earlier than the rest - and there are still some that have not bloomed and are waiting on their right time.

Big A-HA!  As a business owner - don't wait on others to bloom around you or to give you permission to bloom. Bloom where you are at the time that is right for you. Open to the sun. Use what is around you to thrive. Celebrate those you know who are blooming too - without jealousy. Support those whose time has not yet come. This will make you more beautiful!

What the hosta can teach us

Every year I watch in the spring with anticipation as a tiny bloom makes its way up out of the ground where my hostas are planted.  All winter there is no visual representation of what is below the ground’s surface – but I have lived in my home for years so I know they are there.

Hostas, also known as plantain lilies, are shade plants. They are perennials and go dormant in the winter. Each year in March – April the dormant buds begin to swell and break through the ground covered in mulch. From May – June the leaves are formed and there is rapid leaf and root growth. June – August brings formation of the seed pods. August – September the new “dormant” buds begin to develop that will go through the cold dormancy.  These will produce the new shoots and leaves of the plant in the next spring.  In September – November the plant prepares for dormancy and then from December – March the plant actually goes dormant.

So, what does this have to do with us as business owners?  First, as it says in Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven”.  There is a time for the plant to bloom and a time to go dormant. For us the same could be said. There is also a time for our business to grow and a time to maintain. 

Next, notice the hosta has a time of rest (dormancy).  Do we take time to rest our bodies and our minds? This creates balance for us and health. Imagine if the hosta did not go dormant to rest – there would be no energy stored for the push out of the ground in the spring. The buds would wither under the soil and the weight.

Notice how the hosta breaks forth.  It is not as a fully formed plant with the leaves all spread.  It is a tiny shoot all wrapped in on itself. Once it breaks free of the ground it can start to expand and grow.  What is keeping you held down? Don’t let fear of having to show up in “full bloom” stop you. Start pushing forth, then begin to spread your leaves a bit.  Once you have established your place, you can then grow roots and leaves!

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He makes all things beautiful in its time”.  Give yourself time – time to grow, time to spread your leaves, time to create roots and time to rest. Each season of your life and business can be beautiful.

Unique - One of a Kind!

Photo Credit to Heidi Lee

Photo Credit to Heidi Lee

Did you know there are approximately 7.4 BILLION people in the world?  BILLION...and that is just this year. Imagine all the people of all time - that is a lot of people.  And to think that no two are exactly alike. This boggles my mind. 

Each of us is unique - a one of a kind masterpiece.  Some of us may look the same (think twins - or strong family genetics) but we have not had the same experiences or thoughts...therefore, we are different from each other.

I create custom works of art (window treatments and pillows, etc.) in my interiors company. Even when making multiple panels with perfectly matched seams and pattern repeats in the same place and lengths the same, the panels are not the same. See, each stitch is not in the exact same place...and often we don't see the stitches (at least you shouldn't in most cases with custom!). So, we might assume that there is nothing different.

Why does this matter?  Because we need to embrace our uniqueness and how we were meant to interact with the world. What special gifts do you have? How do you think - how can you help others with your way of doing things?  While it is sometimes necessary to conform, you were not created to be a cookie cutter representation of another person.  Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."  Workmanship in this verse means handiwork or masterpiece.  You are God's masterpiece.  Let that sink in.  One of a kind - work of art.  Now - enjoy and celebrate who you were created to be.

Created To Create

Sister's weekend....creating by painting - and creating memories!

Sister's weekend....creating by painting - and creating memories!

Oh how I love this idea.  My creativity (and yours) is not part of childish expression and it is not without value.  In fact, it is extremely valuable.

I remember when my oldest was in kindergarten. One of the assignments was to color a zebra.  The very mature kindergarten teacher (old-school) expected the zebra to be colored in a way that fit her idea of zebras.  My son, being dyslexic and creative in his own way, colored the zebra a shade of purple and some other color.  He failed the coloring exercise.  Really?!?  Failed a coloring exercise in kindergarten because he dared choose purple to color a fake zebra!  I was so proud of him.  Proud that he expressed his creativity on paper. Proud that he chose his mom’s favorite color purple. Proud that he used a color to express how he felt.

In Genesis 1:27 the Bible says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Note – this verse comes RIGHT AFTER God created all the world. He is a creator God….and we are made in His image….to create!  It is not an accident – but by plan.

Creativity is something we all have.  Do we all express it the same?  No. How boring would that be? Here are just a few ways we all show creativity:  creativity in written expression, in problem solving, in verbal expression, in visual arts, in music, in working with others, in thinking, in choosing our wardrobe or dinner.  Seriously, all that we do is creative.  No shame in this – we were created to be this way. It has value.

Every morning when I look up in the sky I see a beautiful new sunrise that God created for us – and a beautiful sunset each evening. New life with spring and summer, release and beginning dormancy in fall, and hibernation in winter.  Every day brings something new. Each of these things remind me that I can create and that it is an expression of who I am and whose I am.  I love that.  You have it too! 

Consider your way of creating.  What does it look like, sound like, taste like, feel like?  Do you see the value in it – in you?  I hope so.  Because the world would be terribly boring all in one color, one view, one sound, one picture, one voice.

The Dreaded Why?

When I was a little girl and did something that was less than stellar, my parents would ask me, “Why did you do that?”  Often, being little and all, I did not know. But as I grew older – if being honest with myself – I had an idea of why I had made that choice, even if I did not want to articulate the truth behind my action.

Fast forward to my parenting. Over 20 years of raising my sons I have had the opportunity to ask them on countless occasions why they made the choice they did.  Sometimes they were able to answer and many times the answer was simply, “I don’t know!” (you know you hate that answer as much as I do!)

 

As I started a new business direction in 2013 providing coaching services to women in creative businesses, this question kept coming up over and over.  Why do I do what I do?  Why? Why? Why?  What is it that propels me to get up each morning and go back to this work that I have chosen.  Not been forced into – but actively chosen.  It is easy to say who I work with, explain the mechanics of what I do, but to go deep deep deep into the honest why that compels and propels me towards forward movement on my path. 

My why is this: I do what I do so that women will see who they are in Christ. To understand that each person on this earth was fearfully and wonderfully made. Each of us has a purpose and a plan for our life created by our Creator. We all have gifts and talents and strengths that we can use. And in using the wholeness of how we were created that we can provide for our families and our communities in honest ways without shame or guilt as we make money or work. For each of us to understand that we are loved with a love beyond all imagination by the one who formed us. 

The what and how look like this:  educating and coaching women in all stages of life who work inside the home raising children, those who work outside of the home in corporate, those who are doing some type of hybrid arrangement to work from home in a career while also raising children, and those leaving the workforce altogether. 

Focusing on my WHY has been so rewarding. It helps me to stay clearly focused. It helps me create programs that will meet a need.  It gets me up each morning and soothes my soul and aching voice at the end of a long day of teaching.  It is a gift from God.

A great book to read is “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek.  Know your WHY.  Go layers deep until you cannot go any deeper in really understanding why you are on the path you are on.  Then own it.