We all have goals. Whether we give them a name or not, we have an inner desire to be someone who matters.

It’s hard to feel like we matter in this busy world of fast, anonymous and cheap. It’s easy to shrink and feel small.

The truth is, no one notices small acts of good unless you do many small acts, many times.

If we want to matter, we have to matter on purpose.

I want to be brave. I don’t want to be a “marketer”

The piece of marketing and business building that has always felt “ick” to me is the awkward “look at me!” pieces.

We see people who get attention and many of them have an odd, weird charismatic persona thing going on. I don’t blame them. That schtick gets noticed. It goes viral. People pay to be entertained by the roadside hawker.

That isn’t the person I want to be. It isn’t who I am.

The truth is, I can do it. I can act. I can dance. I can pull the psychological levers to get attention. When you know the formula it isn’t hard to do.

I choose not to be that person.

The person I want to be is someone giving, generous and kind.

I want people to see me and invest in working with me because they see value in that work, not because I stunned them into paying me. Cynics say that can’t be done. I guess I’ll have to prove them wrong.

Which isn’t saying I won’t show up. Showing up matters.

The other day I was reading an article about outgoing Boston Mayor, Thomas Menino. Mayor Menino wasn’t a perfect guy, but he was beloved in Boston by people from all walks of life. I heard that over 70% of Boston residents had met Menino personally. Whoa. That’s a lot of real deal face time.  He would go to every business opening, school, drive around town for hours looking for street signs missing or pot holes that needed attention. If he ran for Mayor of Boston again, he would have easily won.

In the article I read the photographer caught him talking to an 11 year old girl telling him she was having a hard time in school. He gave her his cell phone number so she could call for help. I started to cry.

That is the person I want to be. I want to care and give and believe in other people. I want to share what I have and what I know without apology, without restriction, without worrying if someone will screw me over or take advantage, mock my intentions, or nitpick the details.

Here would usually be the paragraph where I justify wanting to be generous, reassuring people that “Hey, I want to get paid,too.” I don’t need that paragraph. I know when I show up being who I am, the right people will invest in what I offer.

To be the person you want to be, you need to trust in your value.

You need to be brave, not to over come fear, but to own that you matter.  Speak it out loud, “I matter. I am valuable. The work I do matters. The work I do is valuable.” Go ahead and say that out loud.

You need to show up real. You need to concern yourself with how to make the world better, not worry if someone is out to get you. There has to be a part of you that believes in goodness and magic and the value of giving. Just giving.

You need to do great work. Care about it being meaningful and valuable and impactful. You need to reach and strive and ask for help to go a little higher.

We hear a lot about the fear of stretching “out of the comfort zone.” I think that’s a line of BS designed to get us to buy books and self-help courses. We didn’t fear taking biology, reading Shakespeare, learning about Abraham Lincoln, showing up for philosophy 101. And when you did fear trying out for the school play or going out for the basketball team, you got on with it and showed up. You didn’t consult your 50 besties on Facebook to debate “Should I or shouldn’t I show up for the try-out? It feels uncomfortable.” No.  You put on your big kid pants and showed up. Growth is normal. Discomfort is normal. It means you are living.

Being the person you want to be isn’t about overcoming fake fear or  the money. It’s about making a living.  It’s about bending down and letting children trust you enough to tell you they are hurting and offering them a life line because they matter.

Be the person you want to be. You matter. You are valuable.

 

 

We start Mondays with an anthem around here, because Mondays require amped up positive energy to do great things.

This week’s anthem is “BRAVE” by Sarah Bareilles.

Because dancing (in libraries!). Red socks. The Worm at the bus stop.

Nothing’s going to hurt you. We got you.

I wonder would happen if you say what you want to say and let the words fall out.

Honestly, I want to see you be brave.

Really, I want to see YOU and how big your brave is!

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You know why they yell, “ACTION!” on the set of a movie shoot? So people start to move, talk and work.

A movie would really suck if everyone just sat around and thought about the possibilities of their role.

Yet, many small business folks do just that, sit around and think. A lot.

What would you do if I came into your office every day with a video camera and yelled, “ACTION!”?

I’d give you a few hours to sip your beverage of choice and think big thoughts, reply to a few emails and update your Facebook status.

Then I’m at your door filming you in the act of DOING SOMETHING.

The thing can be writing, posting, speaking, calling, giving, gifting, recording, taking photos, interviewing, counseling, advising, coaching, lifting, running, yoga posing. But you must be engaged in ACTION.

And the action has to be goal-directed. When the director yells “ACTION” on his set his expectations is the actors are literally all on the same page. Their lines connect the dots to tell a cohesive story. One dude isn’t saying, “To be or not to be? That is the question.” While another guy is grabbing a phone giggling, “Hello, this is Buddy. What’s your favorite color?”

I’m going to say this straight. If you aren’t getting results (Any result. You choose the result you seek) it means you aren’t taking action in a planful way. When you take action, you may go down the wrong path once in awhile, but you can always take a new action, follow a new path, reset the GPS and adapt your actions.

If you are standing still nothing happens. You can’t learn from your mistakes if you don’t do anything. You can’t determine what works or doesn’t if you don’t do anything. You can’t succeed if you don’t do anything.

I see a lot of people standing still. Thinking.  They ask me for help and I offer an action plan and they tell me, “That’s not what I want. I want something else.” There is nothing else. There is a plan, action, adaptation, more action. There is no path to the top without climbing. There is no win when you don’t play the game.

Think less. Do more. Seriously. Make this your mantra. If you find yourself thinking on something for longer than 3 days, either DO something or stop thinking about it. Take action or toss the idea. If 3 days doesn’t give you clarity, more time isn’t helpful. What you have created is an excuse to stand still.

“I’m considering my options.” “I’ll think on it.” “This requires some consideration.”

These are polite excuses. Life is short. The only person you are letting down is yourself.

Imagine I am coming to your office and yelling, “ACTION!”

If we are watching, what will you do?

 

Twitter is a quirky, fun social media platform. It used to be a place where I spent a lot of time, meet lots of new people, have stimulating conversations, and even get business opportunities.

And then it started to get stale.

People started auto-tweeting everything, conversations stopped because no one was actually on Twitter, just their robo-tweets. I also found some of the chats I used to love just reviewed the same conversations over and over again.

Twitter lost it’s luster for me and for others. I defected to Facebook, which is a lovely place to hang out, but I find the reach limited and the serendipity of meeting and chatting with new people limiting.

As a true believer in the words, “If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem,” I’ve partnered with colleague and fellow psychologist,Dr.  Ann Becker-Shutte to bring the smart and sexy back to Twitter!

We are launching a new tweetchat, Innovative Psychology chat (#InnoPsy) tomorrow, Tuesday, January 7 at 9pm Eastern Time. Smart talk about innovative psychology and brain science in the worlds of mental health, physical health, business, education and the arts.

Sexy, right?

#InnoPsy chat will bring in guests who are leaders in psychology and will also be a platform for anyone to participate and ask questions about the brain.

We’ll kick off our first #InnoPsy chat with introductions and an “open mic” where people can ask questions, propose topics and get to know one another.

We’ll meet every Tuesday (with some seasonal breaks when appropriate) from 9 -10pm ET.

If you have never participated in a tweetchat before, now is your chance to jump in!

It’s simple to follow along. You can use the Twitter platform itself and just type “#InnoPsy” into the search box at the top and you’ll see all the tweets in the chat. Or you can use something like TweetDeck or Hootesuite to follow along. If you want to chat with us, just make sure you end your tweet with “#InnoPsy” so we can see your tweet.Feel free to follow along and see how it all works for awhile and then chime in when you are ready!

See you tomorrow at 9pm Eastern Time!

All the smart and sexy people will be there!

 

Fear is the strongest emotion we feel.

By now, you know that we feel fear every time something new and unknown comes into our personal orbit. Since technology and Facebook change daily, we are beseiged by fear constantly. (This could be humorous exaggeration, but it isn’t.)

In the “old days” before we had cracker jack reporting by Seth Godin and Malcom Gladwell about our fear, marketers used to capitalize on all of our insecurities by selling stuff with headlines like, “They all Laughed at Me Until (I used the thing we’re selling and everyone stopped laughing),” and “10 Ways You are Doing It Wrong.”

When we read such headlines, our primitive fear buttons were pushed and we’d be compelled to read the whole article and in some cases buy the thing that would make the fear go away.

Once we were enlightened to “marketers are just selling me fear,” and those tactics didn’t work, the shift was on to talk about how to overcome fear.

Now every freaking blogger in the universe talks about bravely facing fear. It’s the droning of “How to be smarter than fear,” “Fear it and do it anyway,” “Be brave, courageous in the face of fear!”

Then there are the books on positive psychology and happiness, that are really just talking about avoiding fear by focusing on how to be happy.

Ah, but guess what? They are still capitalizing on your fear! Now we buy the thing (whatever it is) from the person who tells us they can help us manage our fear.

Dang it.

Here’s the thing. Fear sells. We are like Pavlov’s poor dogs whenever someone triggers our fear switch. Whether they are telling us we are at risk of losing something precious, or telling us they can help us stand firm in the face of fear, we bite. Every time.

Selling fear is a multi-billion dollar business. It drives our consumer society. If we didn’t fear being “not enough,” we’d have no need for more stuff, more beauty, more meaning. We wouldn’t buy the books that help us manage fear. We’d be cool with what we have and who we are and recycle more.

{Quick aside: Has a book ever really helped you to overcome a real fear? Just wondering.}

The trick to really be in control of your fear is to:

1. Understand yourself better.

2. Empower yourself to cope and choose.

You are not going to trump fear. It’s there and it has a role to keep you safe. It reacts to stuff that doesn’t matter (like a change in Facebook privacy settings) but it’s glitchy. Not enough people fear global warming, for example, and the outcome of that warming is way worse than the daily stuff we complain about.

So the key is to give yourself permission to understand yourself and your fear better.  You need a more objective perspective on what flips your fear switch and how you react to that.

How do you gain this insight? Pay attention to your feelings. When someone posts something that makes you irritated, frustrated, scared, ready to start an argument, count to 10. Consider what is triggering you. Consider your choices to respond. Slow down the time between your emotional reaction and your actions. This takes practice, but it can be done.

Also, ask others for feedback. Ask family, friends, acquaintances what words they associate with you when you are at work, at play, facing a hard decision, in an awkward situation. You’ll gain some great insight.

Make a list of all the things you are truly afraid of. These can include the biggies like illness, death, loss, and smaller things like spiders and dog fur on the furniture. Owning your fears is the first step to coping.

We Cope. We don’t Conquer.

No one “overcomes” fear. You can deny fear. You can stuff it away somewhere for awhile. But it comes back if it isn’t released and dealt with. That’s where PTSD and anxiety and depression sometimes come from.

We also don’t benefit at all from wallowing in fear.

I have an urge to scream in frustration when I see people poking at their fear, analyzing every angle. The more we gaze at fear, the bigger it grows.

What helps to manage fear is to learn how to cope. We each need to learn our own way of acknowledging our fears and empowering ourselves to deal with it in healthy ways. Maybe it’s a good cry, a talk, therapy, exercise, art, music, writing, baking, volunteering, play with the kids, dogs, cats.

Ultimately, coping with fear requires some form of healthy “doing.”

Passive analysis doesn’t cut it. Denial just kicks the can down the road for later untangling.

And each coping toolbox is different. I may bake chocolate chip cookies when I feel out of control. You may run a marathon. We do not judge each other’s coping.

Learn to cope and you will be free of Pavolvian reactions to your fear.

When you have the ability to cope, you have opened the door to choice.

When you choose what to read, who to listen to, what to believe you are free.

You are free to pursue your interests, career, work, relationships that matter to you because you can cope with your fear.

When choosing causes fear (and it will) you will cope. See how that works?

You will cycle through choice, action, coping again and again.

You will not have to summon up great feats of bravery or courage. You will cope.

You will not feel compelled to buy the book, hire the coach, ingest the kool aid that tells you that you are “Less than” and need the wisdom of the other to make you enough.

When you Choose and Cope, you take action. Choosing and Coping are action oriented. You move forward. You achieve. You reach goals. You will grow in confidence and self esteem. Choosing and Coping are the key to what you really want.

This is the last thing I will say about fear

I don’t want to build my business around fear. I’ve said all I have to say here about the topic. I’m not a fan of naval gazing or indulging drama and old war stories. I know we all have baggage. I know life is unfair. You have a story of hurt. We all do. We must acknowledge and mourn. And then we have to cope and choose. What else is there?

Remember that you can choose what you pay attention to. If someone is talking to you about “conquering fear” they are still selling to your fear. Choose to go beyond that one emotion. Choose to cope and move forward to making the world a better place for you, those you love and all others who you touch.

I won’t sell to your fear. I will only empower you to choose more light.

Peace and Light to you,

~ Susan

 

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We smart humans make things complicated.

We think too much.

Every decision becomes a Big Deal.

One example is the whole New Year’s resolution thing.

For decades we made resolutions and no one followed through.

Then we decided that it was best to set “goals” to reach.

And no one followed through.

Now we eshew the “pressure” of goals and resolutions so we can not feel bad when we don’t follow through. This is explained in this article in Entrepreneur. You are advised to focus on systems, not goals. Huh? How can I develop a system if I don’t have a goal? How do I know my system works if I don’t measure an outcome? I can have a system that is completely useless and feel skippy pippy about it and have not one thing to show for it forever.

I don’t think Olympic athletes just focus on systems. I imagine every 18 year old who goes to college had it as a goal. Avoiding goals is lame advice. It soothes people who are uncomfortable with ambiguity and are easily defeated.

Want to do something worthwhile in your career? Put on the big kid pants and set a goal.

Avoiding accountability  is how dreams die.

Rather than try to resolve the real problem (not following through), we dumb down the demands we put on ourselves. We lower the bar. With no goals, resplutions or benchmarks we can feel good that we did nothing.

Ahhhhh, sweet comfort zone.

I’m not cool with lowering the bar. I’m uncomfortable when people tell me they can’t handle the pressure of goals.

Please.

Without a goal you have no plan. Without a plan you have no direction. Without a direction you don’t go anywhere.

I ask with sincerity, does going nowhere feel good? Does lowering your bar so low that getting out of bed and making coffee counts as a victory improve your sense of self?

I know it’s hard to change. I know it’s uncomfortable to reach. I know some of us have past experiences of pushing or being pushed too hard.

But please don’t give up on goals.

The key to feeling good about goals is setting realistic ones.

Rather than decide your new business will gross $10,000 next month, plan for making any level of profit. A business in the black is successful. My first new business venture made $100 in profit when I first launched. I was crying with joy at the magic of that. But if I had asked myself to make $10,000 I would have cried tears of shame and frustration, felt like a failure and given  up.

Instead of planning to lose 30 lbs in six months, commit to eating one salad a day, taking a walk 4 days a week and/or eliminating one soda daily.  Doable, right?

Dare to dream and then set reachable goals. It’s ok to reach. It’s never a failure when you try.

Don’t complicate things by over thinking, over analyzing and playing mind games with yourself.

You’ve reached goals before and you’ll reach then again.

The solution to feeling down about our lack of forward motion is not to stop trying to move. It’s choosing to move forward surely, confidently and one consistent step at a time.

Here in the Boston area we are “ovah” the past and ready to bring in the new.

And while this may sound like some marketing gimmick-y approach to get you to sign up for my new webinar, I do want to point out that what worked to grow business last year, won’t necessarily work in the new year.

Why?

Let’s count a few ways:

1. Technology has changed. It continues to change. Your business must change.

2. Our culture changes faster than ever (see #1). What people want and need isn’t the same as it was in January 2013. Hence, your business needs to change.

3. The world of work is vastly different than it was a few years ago. Most of us can’t count on a “safe” job. We are headed into an era of “the contract employee,” or “freelance nation.” That means, you run your own company of one. If you aren’t working that way now, you need to consider how to build and market your business and develop a sound personal brand.

4. People like shiny objects. We are wired to find what’s new, novel and interesting. The same-old stuff gets ignored or taken for granted. When you offer something useful AND innovative, people take notice and want to try it out. The only way to do something new is through innovation and change.

5. The cheapest, most basic stuff people need is covered. We can get the basics at Wal-Mart. We can get low cost  health care coverage by taking a number at a clinic and waiting our turn for whatever provider shows up. The days of creating the next thing with mass appeal are over. What makes money and has value is products and services that are customized, specialized, personal and relational. Rather than invest $5 in some cheap thing everyone can get, smart consumers are saving up to invest $50, $250 or $500 in something special. If you want to make higher margins with less marketing costs and effort, you need to customize your business.

When the world changes, we have to adapt. The stuff that worked for you in the past won’t work now.

I’m excited to explore NEW ways to bring in new business in my new free webinar,

12 New Ways to Grow Your Small Business in 2014.

We’ll cover:

  • Strategic, innovative ways to focus your business so it attracts your “right” clients
  • How small business growth is easier when you think big
  • When to pursue your curiosity, frustrations and crazy ideas, and when to let them go
  • How business models must adapt in 2014 due to our ever evolving technologies and new world of work
  • Why listening to your gut can be more effective than any “expert advice” when it comes to growing your business
  • and more…

To join us, please click here to register.

The webinar takes place Friday, January 3 at 12 noon ET, will be recorded and links sent to all registered participants.

Here’s to an innovative, successful year ahead!

 

 

2013 was the year I began to trust myself again.

I don’t think I truly trusted myself since I was 5 years old.

Since my formal schooling started I’ve been listening to what others tell me is “right” and worthy.

I have always been that “good” person. Nice to others. Empathic, compassionate.

I just wasn’t always nice, empathic or compassionate to myself.

So I changed that in 2013.

It felt weird. It felt selfish and self-serving.

Until I noticed that by trusting my gut, taking a break, discovering a new path, not only was I happier, but so was my family.

I wasn’t a stress ball. I was around more. We had weekends together for the first time since my son was born!

It seems odd to say, but trusting myself was a risk. I hadn’t done it before. I’m glad it paid off. If it hadn’t, that would have been ok. I knew how to fit into the right boxes to make things work again.

Will you trust yourself in the New Year?

I work with people who are amazingly giving, bright and empathic. They all have everything they need to make a great living and change the world for the better.

Yet so many don’t trust themselves to make a shift, make a difference, make their work their own.

I’ve learned that it is only through this self-trust that we can move forward. Only through believing in our power to do good, do well and cope with whatever comes that propels positive change.

How do you develop self-trust?

I think it comes from taking small risks and watching what happens.

For some of us that means eating a different meal at our favorite restaurant, traveling to a new state or country. Maybe it means starting a small side project to see how it feels, test the waters.

Once you get comfortable with taking small risks, you can move on to bigger ones. Once you know how you react to change, adjust when things are unexpected or a smidge uncomfortable you can move on to bigger risks.

My wish for you in the upcoming months is increased self-trust. I hope you can believe in yourself as I believe in you. You can do work you love. You can make a difference. You can make the money you need to be comfortable. It’s all there for you when you believe it to be so.

Happy New Year and Peace in 2014!

~ Susan

Ready to generate new business with meaning in the New Year? Join me for my new FREE webinar, “New Year, New Business: 12 Ways to Grow Your Small Business in 2014.” Click here to read more and register.