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Gender Equality: An Important Component of Your Health and Wellbeing

By Laurie Levin

Equal rights. Equal pay. Equal representation. Safety. Freedom to make one’s own health care choices. None of these are a reality for women today.

The U.S. Constitution, including the 14th amendment, was written by and for men--only. Equal pay is not a reality for women with studies showing women earn just 49-80% of what men earn. Of 45 Presidents, all, as we know, have been men. Only 20% of Congress and 5% of Fortune 500 company CEO’s are women.

Safety? Every 9 seconds a woman is beaten, 1 of 5 are raped and 3 women per day are murdered. Laws are coming out of states in droves that limit a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body and health.

Quality of life impacted? Financial wellbeing? Physical wellbeing? Emotional wellbeing? You bet. All of the above and that is why equality is as important as any other aspect of our health and wellbeing, for both women and men.

Current events and politics would suggest we’re moving backwards. We elected a U.S. President who has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault and clearly feels women are to be seen more than they are to be heard.

While we are living in one realm of chaos and confusion, there is another, and it’s peaceful and harmonious. It’s harder to glimpse with all the chaos, yet it brings promise of a better, fairer and more caring society for us all. Documented and undocumented. Brown, black and white. All genders and sexual orientations.

A sign of better days to come? Well we just elected over 100 diverse women to Congress. Something truly wonderful happens as the percentage of women in leadership goes up. The focus changes. In government, we pass more legislation on health care and education, the essentials each of us needs regardless of zip code.

The process by which we do so, is more civil and family friendly. When women participate in peace negotiations, peace accords are 35% more likely to last at least 15 years.

In other words, we all win.

Einstein said, “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Equality is what will bring peace and prosperity to more corners of the country and world and it begins with each of us.

While those of us alive today may not get to see it in our lifetimes, we can smile remembering we are sending more than 100 women to DC as of January 3, 2019. We are on a brighter trajectory as a result. A path that brings us closer.

To ensure we stay on this new path and even brighter ones to come, we must each look to see where we plug in to the inequalities that keep so many underserved.

Where do you accept and allow ‘boys to be boys’ when it’s time for an adult to show up? Where do you give up your power because of gender? Change your name to his at marriage? Why? Why is it that women are expected to give up their family name at marriage and then name their children after him as well? What does this say about how we value women?

What different expectations do you have for female leaders vs male leaders, because it is quite clear we judge them differently given who holds power? Do you live in a state that has not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment and keeps women unprotected from discrimination?

Are you using language that puts women down, like calling adult females ‘girls’ when conversely calling men boys only when they act like children?

Allowing one more history book in a classroom that doesn’t equally include the contributions of women?

No doubt it will take more than 100+ women off to Washington DC to deliver equality. Fortunately the majority of Americans put them there. There’s no turning back that kind of wave, blue or pink, whatever you want to call it. Not indefinitely. There are set backs, as we see today, and they are reminders of all that is precious to us as human beings, and to get back into action.

While legislation will never be the entire answer, it is an important part. The rest is up to each of us, and the choices we make, every day.

One thing is for sure. There will be more obstacles to come, on our way to equality. Nevertheless, and as we always have, we will persist.

Bringing greater consciousness to our lives and making choices that consistently support equality will speed things up so that girls and women one day, sooner than later, will have the same rights and opportunities as men and are safe to pursue them.

Contact me at my blog to talk more on this subject.

Women Who Sustain Our Business Strength

The Women of the WPN Cary Chapter

An Hour a Week With Great Women

Here is my recipe for feeling like a team when you are no longer going to a corporate office daily and need people to surround and uplift your spirit. Its a big change, moving out of the big business arena, and into the aloneness of your own office and personal schedule as a "solopreneur." Set yourself up with a team of cheerleaders, of encouragers, of people who will notice and support your weekly ebbs and flows, big changes and small adjustments.

I think we do not honestly realize the role we can play in replacing that outer support system for each other. Though I am not a morning person, the effort to drive here and smile my way into this group each Friday morning is well worth it. It provides the reality of "team" to my otherwise very solo business. I am grateful. I learn from each one each week. I wish to give back with this testimonial.

Time to Support, Learn From, and to Praise Others

Marilyn Shannon, the ultimate encourager, is a listener and Coach. In just one hour, she envelopes you with her unique art of listening. She creatively celebrates the nuances of your understandings, your new directions, and your fledgling opportunities as she nurtures your solidity as a business owner. She does this with everyone, anyone, and then writes books about listening to the hearts of men, of twins, "In Just One Afternoon." Known for her radio show, she uplifts us all each week as we grow together as business sisters.

Cindy Prince, a supportive, caring, accomplished professional always has encouraging words and stories to share as well. The respect you feel for her accomplishments and the care she gives her clients is tangible in the wisdom she brings to the table each week. One wonders if the roles we play as women help us in our professional worlds as well as our homes. With Cindy you know they do. We know how to care.

Lindsay Aikman Catherman is the person to see when you need to look your best for the world. This cheerful photographer has a sixth sense about how to help you look as well branded and accomplished as you are. Each week, as you share your successes and attempts to move new mountains, she shares her love, her solutions and her compassion. You feel like you have a true sister.

Kari Vazquez is there to soothe us forward as she brings us the fruits of her relationship coaching skills. Always uplifting and offering gently, she adds the wisdom of her experiences relocating her business to this area, rekindling her own relationships, and newly joining our Cary Chapter.

Tera Boyd delights us each week as she tells the stories of her home-selling adventures, her professional accomplishments, her personal moments of strength and weakness, her love of dogs, and her trusted real estate advice. Her eyes share delight with you as she cheers you with her support.

Jenny Gonzalez Flicker, owner of her own bookkeeping business, provides a sense of trust for us that we can get help to manage our financial transactions. She, too, is there with wisdom when we need it and to celebrate all of our achievements.

Mary Jennings comes often to overflow our wellness pools with useful acupuncture and health news of foods and beneficial ideas. She brought us food choice information today, sharing the truth of fats in our foods. It was a whirlwind of information we could not easily obtain elsewhere.

Barb Louis always adds color to our lives, providing us with entertaining stories of her nail adventures and other home ideas.

All Are Responsible for My Success

That was a simple introduction to my team. It does not include everyone, but all those who were in the photo today and a few more. And I reflect on the fact that none of the people here are directly involved in my design business, but simultaneously they are all responsible for my success.

We can receive training in business skills, and in the business of running a business both here in WPN and elsewhere. We can come together with our own circles of friends and family and coworkers for support. But, the human support of a room filled with the combined experience of these working mothers, sisters, and friends is unmatched in my opinion. It enabled me to build up my business when I first moved here, and again is doing the same as I return to focus entirely on my own business again after some years playing in the corporate arena.

I feel a part of supporting every woman in WomensPowerNetworking, as the web designer and web coach for the organization, sure, but I am also very aware that my nurturing team does so much more to support me. Imagine each week coming to the table with this crew of supportive folks smiling at you and encouraging you. There is no way to lose! The sheer wealth of the combined experience and energy simply sustains, supports, and cheers you on each week. I can't imagine trying to work without it! Thanks for sharing your time with me each week!

If you are not yet a member, come check it out: women supporting women, an unbeatable combination.

Pepper Oldziey, Peppergraphics

Focusing the Dragon

By Joanne Gardocki

There is one more thing for the list of joys returning with the spring. Along with bulbs, babies, neighbors, robins, Easter and blue skies, there is one more treasured resurrection on my list now. The dragon boats are back in the water. The team is reunited; we are home again.

The dragon climbed right into my heart and made a home there in 2016, along with the team, coaches, youth and the community at the park. There are muddy foot prints and treasures down to my bones and deep in my soul. There is nothing that quite compares to the embrace of being part of a team. There is nothing that prepared me for the nagging emptiness over the last five months off season, waiting for the dragon to return.

For one who plays the catalyst and wears many hats, one who feels like they have resume bullet points testifying to moving the immoveable, or worse, herding cats, the experience of paddling in a dragon boat can be the ultimate freedom. There is nothing like the sweet simplicity of being told where to sit and having only one job: paddle in time. The synchronized movement is active meditation releasing everything except the present moment and the drive to paddle. During races, there is such diamond hard focus of mind, body and breath; it is beyond any experience I can name.

Like a gong sounding, it is time to gather up the equipment and organize for practice. It is time to leave the shreds of off season workouts and return to our boat. It is time to focus the dragon on bringing our best to the team.

There is truth in the duality, as an individual, there is very little need for me to “win” but I will give all I have striving, pushing, digging deep for our team to win. There is a new place within, filled with the quiet calm of potential, like a coiled spring that exists because of that dragon. We are more than we were and we are more than the sum of individuals in a boat, as well.

I could prattle on about the benefits of exercise but one needs to experience hard muscle where once there was none. Words are empty compared to the experience of a sharp, creative mind and eyes brightly focused on living adventure. Stories are just that, stories, until one becomes part of the team and the dragon and the story.

Cherish the spring and the vital energy of new beginnings. Open your lists of treasures that unfold with the energy flowing at this time of year. Embrace opportunities for clearing the old and building new growth. Who knows where the future will take you. Look sharp for the opportunities around the next corner. Reach for the growth that is beyond your comfort zone. As for me, I know not where I shall be called but I do know I will be riding a dragon.

Be a Boat Rocker Or What I Learned From Disney's Frozen

By Emily Crookston

Be a Boat Rocker

I was watching Frozen with my friend’s kids the other day. It’s great. Elsa, the young boundary-less, emotional doormat princess character kisses the prince and falls in love all in one day. Her older sister, Anna, the powerful and graceful, but cold, queen is not having it. She refuses to let Elsa marry a guy she just met and the whole story is about how they find a solid middle ground and save the world together—sans any need for a prince.

 Girl power, yeah!

It’s interesting, though. I’ve been thinking about how the movie portrays the two sisters as two extremes.

Elsa has a timid personality. She has been sheltered and controlled her entire life, being told what to do always, never given an iota of independence or space to do anything but try to please the people around her. She desperately wants to be with people and to love everyone and everything. She’s just waiting around for anyone to give her attention.

She never had an opportunity to test her own boundaries, her own power, her own potential, and lacks a backbone to be able to stand up on her own. She is naive and clearly has the potential to be taken advantage of by anyone who will give her the time of day. She’s a textbook example of the child of a helicopter parent!

Anna, the other extreme, is cold, closed, stern, but powerful, strong, energetic and confident. She’s so confident and powerful that she doesn’t even want to be around people (even though she’s the queen), because she knows that being around people means dealing with people. She’s intelligent and brave; has an incredible potential to be the best leader and teacher ever, but declines because she knows how difficult it is to get mediocre people motivated to better themselves. So she runs to the mountains, builds herself an ice castle and decides she’s going to live there forever.

Whether it’s a Disney movie or the real world, neither of these extremes are going to work. The queen doesn’t want to teach the princess how to be more confident, and the princess doesn’t understand why the queen is so cold.

Does this sound familiar?

I see so many parallels in the business world. So many intelligent leaders are mean and cold (because they’ve become jaded and uninspired), and the boundary-less pleasers, who usually end up working for those cold leaders, sit around desperately waiting for someone to notice them.

At the end of the movie, Elsa has gone through quite a transformation. She finds herself. She builds confidence. She realizes that true love can’t exist in a day and that standing on her own two feet is exactly what she needed to do. She becomes a boat rocker. She finds her voice (and sings that incessant song that has become the anthem of little girls everywhere).

And, Anna, the cold, jaded queen becomes inspired by Elsa’s transformation. Spoiler alert: the two sisters meet in the middle to rule the kingdom with their combined grace, strength, softness and intelligence.

Now why can’t this happy ending happen in 89 minutes in real life?

Short answer: It all requires transformation, no matter how you look at it. For business to run smoothly, jaded leaders have to soften and find their passion again. And softies have to build some confidence and learn that to become great and inspire their leaders, they’ve got to stop trying to please everybody.

So let’s say for today, it’s all in the hands of the one tip-toeing around trying to keep everyone happy when really what they’re doing is raging inside just wanting to be seen.

You know, the ones without boundaries. The ones who are really good at making everyone like them. The ones who are always easy. The ones who are always unhappy because they spend their lives making other people happy.

Newsflash: making other people happy will never make you happy. Making other people money will never make you money. Making other people get off your back will never free you of the monkey on your back.

Doing things to NOT upset someone else, doing things to NOT lose someone money, or doing things just to keep your boss off your back (even if your boss is you) is negative motivation, and the only people who operate this way are guilty, shamed, boundary-less doormat types. There’s no leadership or skill or passion in doing business in this way.

And as long as you are negatively motivated, you’re going to have negative results. Why?

Because it takes passion and pizzaz to be a boat rocking queen. It takes real guts! It takes a lot of gusto, a lot of love, a ton of confidence, a lot of energy and a healthy dose of arrogance. Why? Because you are SO good at what you do that you KNOW that sharing your goods with the world is worth making a fuss about.

You WANT to rock the boat because you KNOW that it’s worth rocking. The status quo just isn’t going to cut it. You’ve got something that’s going to make the world better and you just can’t stand NOT offering it.

Okay, okay. Many people are simply not that confident and can’t see how they might be that good at anything. Not your problem. They’re the boundary-less princesses lacking in confidence that really don’t have any other choice but to work from negative motivation. Some really do just get in, get out, collect their paycheck, and try not to tick anyone off.

Not you.

When you’re in business for yourself, you just can’t do that. You can’t just work for the sake of working. You’re working for YOU. You’re working to live, not living to work. And if you can’t find the passion to work for YOU, then finding your passion is first learning how to rock your own boat.

We all get stuck in a rut sometimes. No doubt, it’s part of being a grown up. We can’t all be the transformed princesses and queens in the Disney movies, and we’re definitely not doing it in 89 minutes. But, that’s not to say that we can’t be incredibly inspired most of the time. In fact, if passion (for anything! for whatever rocks your boat!) isn’t your motivator, then how can you be effective at anything you do?

So let’s say that you’re falling into a confidence rut. Why? What’s at the basis of it?

So often, we become the naive princess hiding in the bushes because something has thrown us off of our galloping, silvery-white Clydesdale. And sometimes we can’t figure out how to get back on. Most often, it’s too much thinking. We can’t feel inspired when we analyze and think things to death. We just can’t. And so our horse saunters on without us hoping that we’ll catch up.

And sometimes, when we’ve lost our inspired passionate boat rocking mojo, we become cold, callused and jaded, and resign to become paper pushers and irritating bosses to naive princesses lacking in confidence. Not okay!

If we’ve got “it,” somewhere along the line, intervention can take place. On any given day, passion and fire and creative energy can be lost, but it can just as easily be gained again! Being inspired is as easy as shutting down logical thinking and turning on the fun button. Truly!

You’d never believe the power in getting up and gazing out the window at something marvelous for a few minutes, if for no other reason than to distract your weary mind from all its silly worries. And with mindful distraction can come motivation and a recollection of what brought your incredible highness to what you do in the first place.

So, you pull yourself up by the bootstraps, you get back up on your horse, you get some strength (physical strength = mental strength = emotional strength!) and endurance, and you find motivation to transform. Sometimes it takes a few hours and sometimes it takes a few years.

No matter where things are, we always have time to become inspired, and we all have the capability to expand our current capacities.

In the movie, these women do a complete 180. And they don’t just save the day, they kick butt and taking names in the process, and they clearly enjoy every moment of it. Part of being a boat rocker is not being polite when it comes to displays of confidence. It’s mindfully kicking the right people off of their high horses and inspiring others as you unapologetically strut your stuff.

And yeah, sometimes it’s fake it ‘till you make it. Sometimes. But not for long, ever. Because when you talk the talk AND walk the walk, you inevitably inspire yourself as you go along. And being your own passionate motivator is the best thing you can do to succeed at being the queen of your own castle.

Talking the talk but not walking the walk? Or just learning how to talk? Or just needing a ghostwriting queen who struts her confidence and kicks the right people off of their high horses to inspire and walk the walk daily? Give me a call. We’ve got lots of places to walk and topics about which to talk :)

Eliminating Negativity and Guilt with Boundaries

By Emily Crookston

I’m starting the 6th week of a 12-week visioning period around creating boundaries in business. And if you find yourself wearing a lot of different hats, setting boundaries is key to keeping your sanity. Whether you’re feeling stuck with productivity, efficiency, or generally being a working woman of your own free accord, I bet setting some strong boundaries will help.

This weekend, I caught myself in some negative thought patterns about working. As I continue on patterns of thought as they relate to creating good, better, and best boundaries, ensuring that I enforce them for both myself and with relevant others, negative thoughts come to the surface.

My inner critic rears her head and flares up in a nasty way. It’s just the way it is. The more you look at yourself, the more you’re going to see what you can work on, and if you’re even a little bit hard on yourself, or a little bit of a perfectionist, you’re going to have some negative thoughts about what it is you’re seeing. The key is to catch your mind talk before it gets out of control and drags you down into the land of the unproductive.

I create boundaries that ensure that I work when I need to work (and break when I need to break), and oftentimes, Sundays, the days when most people take rest, are chill relaxed days when my creative energy flows the most. So I like to work on Sundays. That’s not to say that I have to, or that I always do (“have to” and “always” should be outlawed), but I know that I can be very productive on Sundays.

I also know that one of the reasons I find myself working on Sundays is because I do not enforce my boundaries during the week. It’s the networking meetings and the lunch meetings and the meetings about meeting and the meetings about not meeting and the meetings about learning how to create better boundaries about meeting (yes, it gets ridiculous!) and all the things that stop me from being really productive during the week.

All these stupid meetings that I attend are during the week, and all the correspondence with people that I do is during the week. So productivity is almost inevitable on a day when most people don’t work.

I know, that if you’re reading this, you’re in the same boat. And if you’ve gotten into the jam of somehow not getting a day off, it’s probably because you overbook yourself doing too many unproductive things that should really be kept off of your to-do list altogether.

Here are the boundary transgressions I’m guilty of most often and have to be constantly on guard about:

Your Own Boundary Transgression #1. Don’t do things that you aren’t sure will benefit you in the short term.

And so there it is, the inner critic comes out and you have a dialogue:

“You idiot, why did you waste so much time all week doing those other things? That’s what you get: no weekend. You don’t deserve a break because you wasted all that time.”

And you say, “But I’m tired and I really wanted to have a rest day and hang out with my family.”

And your inner critic says “You barely work as it is. You can’t just put in 2 hours today?”

And you say, “But I can do about 8 hours of work in 2 hours, so it doesn’t matter how many hours I work if I’m actually fully productive. I still need to unwind.”

And your inner critic says, “Well then, Ms. Productive, you should get to work!”

And you either say, “Ugh, okay…” or, “I’m going to go out to dinner with my partner instead.”

So one of two things happens.

A. you get to work, and everything you accomplish in that time period is something that your negative self-talk created, and it’s sub-par work that you’re probably going to have to re-work because it was forced.


B. you stress about the work that you should be doing while you’re out to dinner with your partner. Either way, the negative lines of thinking have ripped you from any semblance of productivity (either in whatever it is that you were trying to accomplish for work, or being present with your love, who deserves your undivided attention).

Your Own Boundary Transgression #2. Be present with what you’re doing, or just don’t do it.

Note: If I were queen of the world, there would be a few words that would be wiped clean from all languages, and in so doing, a lot of negative self-talk would vanish. Avoid the following words and be instantly more present.

Your Own Boundary Transgression #3. Using the word “Should.”

The word “should” isn’t real. It’s imaginary. And spending time worrying and fussing about things that do not exist is a huge waste of your productive energy. How can you be fully invested in what you’re doing when you’re consumed with something you “should” be doing instead? It’s absurd. The imagination is helpful when it is creating something that is about to come to fruition. It is otherwise a tremendous waste of energy and propagator of stress.

If you’d rather take a nap on a Sunday because you just worked too many hours and exercised your body and mind too much and you need some sleep in order to wake up and do something golden, then anything other than taking a nap is a waste of your energy. Accept yourself where you are and take a damn nap. Own it! Take responsibility for yourself! Don’t think about doing something else when you know that what you need to do is what you’re doing NOW because of the circumstances that you either can’t overcome at the moment (it’s okay, you’re only one measly little human), or the circumstances you’ve created for yourself to flourish with your own willpower.

Your Own Boundary Transgression #4. Using the Word “Always.”

This is just outlandish. The the only time you can use the word “always” is if you are discussing the fact that everything is always changing all the time. Don’t assume that you know everything by using the word always. And, when you use the word always around others, you look like a pompous arrogant fool. Why? Because there’s no such thing as always.

You can’t even count on the sun to come up and down every day (I could explain why this is the case in philosophy-speak, but I won’t). You definitely can’t apply always to what you do or what other people do. The only thing that you know that will always happen is death and taxes and change. Nothing else “always” happens. Accept this and there will be much less that you freak out about on the regular.

Your Own Boundary Transgression #5: Using the word “Never.”

This is the flip side of using the word “always” but it’s probably worse. When you say never, the potential that you have for tricking yourself into thinking that there are things that you never do is pretty darn high. What will likely happen is that you will neglect to realize that you DO indeed do the thing that you think you never do, and then when you catch yourself doing that thing that you never do, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and you’re bound to send yourself into a pattern of negative thinking followed by guilt and embarrassment.

Generally, uses of the words “always” or “never” are assumptions of extremes. And we don’t live in extremes any more than your brain will work for you on a Sunday if you need a break. And if you need a break, you need a break, whether you like it or not.

AND THE BIGGIE…Your Own Boundary Transgression #6: Using the phrase “I have to.”

Let us be very clear: there is absolutely nothing that you HAVE to do. Saying that you have to do something is the ultimate in playing the role of the victim. And there is no power or worth or productivity or incredibleness in being a victim.

When I hear someone suggest that there is something that she has to do, I ask her what the worst thing that would happen if she didn’t do whatever she thinks she “has” to do. Usually, we can drill it down into a very clear and concise plan of action with a step-by-step process, where, at the end, the thing doesn’t have to get done, but it will, and that’s gratifying. Most “have to” talk comes from an overwhelmed psyche. And an overwhelmed mentality is an unfocused one.

Make a checklist, make a plan, write it down, create a timeline, and adhere to your deadlines. When you start checking things off your list, you will feel grateful for your own focused mindset (because you’ve actually gotten some stuff done), and more importantly, you’ll bring on a new pattern in your mind that will keep you focused and grateful.

Have I mentioned that you can’t be grateful and angry at the same time? Overwhelmed people are angry, unfocused, negative, and guilt-ridden. Grateful people are happy, focused, positive, and productive. That’s just preschool stuff. If you haven’t figured that out, start listening to Oprah (talk about “Hatitude!”). She’ll remind you to write down 5 things a day you’re grateful for before you go to bed (it’ll help you sleep better too).

Successful people don’t have to write stuff like that down. They live it.

You see, the trick to getting out of the negative thought mindset is not to get there in the first place and so creating rules for yourself ensures your success. Everyone has the potential for negative thought patterns followed by guilt. It’s the way our culture wants us to operate. But when we turn the tables and play by our own rules, the likelihood of us breaking our own rules is lower, even if there is a training period that is required to get away from the old ways of thinking and into a healthier and efficient state of being.

So if it’s boot camp, then it’s boot camp. Get to work on finding gratitude, focus, realistic mind talk, focus, and unapologetic productivity.

And if you need more tips on boot camp training for becoming better at life, let me know. I’m pretty good at it ;)

Confessions of a Chronic Giver Or Why I’m Focused on Asking for Help in 2018

By Emily Crookston

So I usually don’t get personal and touchy-feely on this very business-y, snarky, and super wise blog. But I’m finishing up a 90-Day stint with my peer coaching “circle” with Savor the Success and I’m in a reflective kind of mood. Also, it’s still the beginning of the year, so I’m considering milestones from last year to inform my business strategy for 2018.

Plus, I like to list the things that I’ve learned more than I like to create new goals. Both are important, but actually learning and embodying the knowledge of the big lessons in business and in life are crucial to deciding what to learn next.

My list from 2017 is less of a list and more of a single declaration, though: Ask for help.

You can read self-help books, spirituality books, business books, superwoman and superman books. You can learn from business and life coaches. But if you really pay attention, a lot of the same stuff rings true. You hear it over and over again: Ask for help. And receive help gracefully.

The real power of Give. Give. Get.

The Savor mantra, which I love, is Give. Give. Get. I like to give generously when I can—and I do—and I know that there is a giving back, as I have received. The problem is, because I am a chronic giver, I have the tendency to NOT receive real well, if I’m not working on it. I prefer to give. It makes me feel important, powerful, stronger than I am perhaps. But if receiving is a problem, then my giving is out of control, and it took me until pretty recently to realize it.

I’d suggest that most people (especially many women-type people) are chronic over-givers. Martyrdom is a serious problem for humans. We like to think that we are going to “get back” when we give. And no matter how much we tell ourselves we are giving and letting go, there’s still that little piece of us that suggests the universe or the business world or our families or our partners OWE US.

“An eye for an eye” and all that. But...that’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.

When the “getting” doesn’t happen, people like me (and there are tons of us out there—shout out to the chronic over-givers of the world!) SHUT DOWN. We get frustrated. Clarity declines and there is a tendency to wallow in the misery of “it’s not fair.” Meanwhile, most of the time, if I would have just hung on for about 5 more minutes before falling into the depths of despair and railing against the universe for its tragic injustice, I would have seen the benefit of my efforts in giving.

And this is how I understand the real power of Give. Give. Get. In order to reap the benefits of what we give to the world, we have to be open to receiving—whatever that means.

Because it’s not a simple thing to do! Hand-in-hand with martyrdom often comes passive aggression and being passive-aggressive is a terrible, cowardly way of relating to people.

How often do you want people to just know what you want?

How often do you expect people to just read your mind, figure you out, and give you what you need when you need it?

And how’s that working out for you?

From passive aggression to confident assertion.

In the business world, this approach is an absolute killer.

Successful people are decidedly not passive-aggressive. Success comes from an unfailing faith in yourself and the confidence of knowing that nothing can get in your way. Their confidence becomes a beautiful, contagious source of energy and elevation. We trust people who are confident. We question people who are passive-aggressive.

You know what else success does for you? It gives you the confidence to ask for help. Asking for what we need from the world, rather than giving in the hopes that we’ll get the same in return, is turning passive aggression into confident assertion.

And it all comes back to learning how to gracefully ask and receive.

When you are strong and respected, when you create bright boundaries, when you inspire and motivate people because you are amazing in your amazingness, people want so badly to help. They want to participate, they want to play a role in lifting you up and in contributing to your greatness.

Chronic givers tend to be better at seeing exactly what others want, swooping in at the exact right moment to give it to them, and then feeling depleted as a result of all of the work and perceived underappreciation. Then when depletion sets in, we don’t ask for help. We wallow in the injustice.

So instead of wallowing in the mud of chronic giving, I’m working on pulling back on the reins a bit. My next 90-Day Vision is going to be all about setting bright boundaries. I’m going to focus on pausing before I jump in with the offer to give. I’m going to look at my own well of resources before giving out or taking in. I’m going to make this a daily practice. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Here’s my best practices list for learning how to gracefully ask for help in business and in life:

1. Before you give, look at what you have.

You can’t give what you don’t have—seems obvious, right? And even if you “know” exactly what someone else needs in any given circumstance, make sure that you really have the stores of resources (time, energy, money, whatever) to give. You’re not going to give someone something and immediately have it restored for you.

And if you feel that you don’t need whatever you’re considering giving away, second guess yourself. Every. Time. Resentment sets in strongly when you give and later regret the obligation you created for yourself. There’s a good reason you put your oxygen mask on first.

2. When you realize that you are missing something, reflect on it.

This does NOT mean blame yourself or someone else for whatever you are “missing.” It is a part of being human to be missing something. There is no such thing as perfection. There is no such thing as never screwing up. We’re here to learn. Admit that to yourself. Say it outloud if you need to. So you are able to stay clear enough to actually solve your problems, rather than just wallowing in them.

Most often, high-functioning people think they’re invincible and forget to take care of themselves. Take care of yourself. Eat breakfast. Savor your down time. Spend time with people you love. Exercise your body and mind and emotions so that they are effective for you as tools, rather than obstacles.

The more you take care of yourself, the more aware you become of what you need, what you don’t need and what you’re missing. It changes daily. There’s never a precipice of “I’ve gotten there, and now I get to just be here in perfection!” Instead, work on maintaining being in a good space and knowing it so well that you know exactly what you need…and what you don’t need.

3. Ask for help.

High-functioning people can also tend toward narcissism (eh hem)…and we forget that we can’t actually hold up the world’s business on top of our little shoulders all alone. There are 10 billion other people in the world and I know most of the time it feels like they are just here to get in our way. But we’re actually incredibly powerful helpers for each other—if we we allow it to be—if we learn how to ask for help when we need it, in clear, compassionate, expressive language.

Delegation is from B-School 101. Part of being a great business person, and a successful person in general, is finding the best people to support you, and to trust and rely on them with all you’ve got.

There’s somebody in the world that you’d trust with your life, your kids, your checking account, your health, your will. Trust more than just that somebody. Trust a whole bunch of people with that stuff. The more incredible people you have in your life, the better things are, and the more you are capable of handling the stuff that truly only you can handle.

4. Choose the right team, then let it go.

There’s a good bit of letting go in all of this. You’ve got to let go of thinking that only you can manage your company, only you can orchestrate your people, only you can parent your children, only you can handle your finances. This is stuff that everybody does. So if you can’t trust the best of the best of the people you pick to be on your team, then you’re simply overinflating your own importance in the world…and that leads to…well…becoming just like the crazy cartoon characters (AKA politicians) in the news.

So recruiting the best team of people you can muster is huge. Your support system, your board, your partners, your chief information leaders…cultivate them as family. And then lean on them when you need to. Know yourself, your work, and your dynamics well enough to know what help you need and when you need it. There’s not going be just one person you should rely on for everything…that’s unreasonable. Instead, look at the strong, bright and unique strengths of the people you trust and assign them to do that very thing for you, so you don’t have to do it yourself.

Ultimately, asking for help makes others feel important and more valuable, especially when their unique talents are being used in a spectacular way that maybe no one else could see. Asking someone to use their most favorite and underutilized gift makes her feel seen and heard in a way that solidifies personal bonds and makes people feel good about what they are doing.

And if it just so happens that what they want to do is exactly what you need at any given time, you’ve got yourself an incredible value that hasn’t taken away from anyone or anything. Instead, it has lifted up everyone and builds a team that is unstoppable, dynamic, and inevitably, very profitable.

Here’s to profitability paired with higher perspectives and a bigger picture of growth, where the money and the energy follows the goodness. I’ll keep you posted about my next 90 days. I have a feeling the best is yet to come!

If you’re ready to ask for help, I’d love to be on your unstoppable, dynamic, and inevitably, very profitable team. Contact me today and let’s chat!

[keyword: ask for help]

Look Beyond Busy-Shaming

 By Emily Crookston

The end of the year is the perfect time to Look Beyond. As our work lives start to slow down and our personal lives begin to ramp up, we naturally begin projecting all of our hopes and dreams into the year ahead. But it’s never a good idea to look beyond, without first looking back. It’s so crucial to take time out to reflect.

So, I’m taking a moment to reflect (in front of all my closest friends in Internet-land, of course).

In the past, a chaotic week like this would have left me feeling drained, overly anxious, and feverishly reading articles about the possibility of time travel being invented in my lifetime late at night, while desperately trying to escape the clutches of insomnia (so many low-ranking feelings).

But despite being busy and missing some opportunities to channel my inspiration into creative outlets, I don’t feel frustrated or stifled. I feel free and calm and present.

I’ve been reflecting on this change in myself and wondering what it means for me moving forward and what I might have to share with you. Because don’t we all want to know the secret to feeling more free and calm and present?

Psst, my secret is…I feel free and calm and present.

That’s it. That’s my secret.


I know you’re thinking there must be more to it because I’ve been thinking there must be more to it and we’re all taught there is more to it. We’re all taught to believe if we just make it over the next hurtle or beyond the next obstacle, then we’ll feel satisfied and we’ll finally have arrived wherever it is we’re supposed to have been going for so long. But somehow we never quite make it. The goal posts keep moving.

What if, instead, we all just decided to be where we are right now?

It’s better.

I swear.

And…you know it’s better.

So why is it so hard to DO it?

Answer: We have been assimilated into a culture of busy-shaming.

I’ve been feeling this for a while and now it seems science has gotten around to backing up that feeling. A study conducted by researchers from Columbia University, Georgetown University, and Harvard University concluded that a busy and overworked lifestyles has become an aspirational status symbol for Americans. The perception is that a busy person possesses desired characteristics (e.g., competence and ambition) and is in high demand in the job market.

The moral of the story? If you want to be in with the cool kids, make sure you make a show of being busy (and put away that resting bitch face, while you’re at it)!

So much ink has been spilled over the “Trap of Busyness.” It seems that everyone has something to say about what busyness really means, how to avoid falling into the non-productive type of busyness, or how to get beyond the fog of busyness.

But here’s the thing: we’re chided for filling our lives with tedious, superficial, boring tasks that make us unhappy. At the same time, we are bombarded by pressure to be more productive, more efficient, and to do more with less. Feeling busy seems like a perfectly rational response to such pressure.

And the last time I checked, shaming people into changing never actually succeeds as a motivational tactic. And believing that it might is a definite sign of one’s privilege and mean girl (or guy) status.

Consider this post a public service announcement: I refuse to participate in this busy-shaming culture. I believe feeling busy is a choice because I have chosen feeling busy over feeling free before and I have used being busy as an excuse to avoid doing things I was afraid to do before. And I know (and in my finest hours, I even manage to remember) if you want to stop feeling busy, you need to stop being busy.

To make this change, you don’t need me to bully you into believing that feeling busy is a low-ranking feeling. You already know. You don’t need me to bully you into believing that being free and calm and present is better. You already know.

When I think about what it means to Look Beyond, I think about what it means to say STOP. What it means to change our perception of ourselves and our lives and our businesses. What it means to find new ways to solve problems we didn’t even know we had.

Limited thinking stops us both from honestly looking back and boldly looking beyond. So here’s to more unlimited thinking in 2018. Will you join me in feeling more free and calm and present?


Emily Crookston

Emily Crookston is the owner of the Pocket PhD. She is a content marketer, ghostwriter, former professor, and pocket resource for your business. When she’s not writing intensely, she’s most likely practicing yoga intensely. She lives for coffee shops that play great music to write to and desserts topped with *real* whipped cream.


Website: https://www.thepocketphd.com/

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Quieting the Inner Critic Or How I’m Teaching Myself Self-Compassion

 By Emily Crookston

“Come on, idiot, what are you doing?”

“Pay attention! Stop being stupid!”

“Stop wasting time and get to work!”

“Well, you’ve screwed up again. Surprise, surprise!”

Good God, this person is a jerk. Who is saying this stuff? Who in the world would speak to someone that way? Is that your boss? Is it your parents? Is it your spouse or your best friend?

Maybe, but a greater likelihood, especially if you’re reading this blog, is that it’s your own inner critic. Yikes! How does anybody live that way? Well, shoot. So many of us entrepreneurs do.

We want to play bigger. We want to work harder. We want to shoot for the stars. We want to hold ground and demand presence in the strongest kind of way. But then, in aiming for the stars, we blow out our rocket boosters before we’ve ever even gotten off the ground.

Now go back to the first questions here: who in the world would speak to someone in this fashion? We would never speak to others that way. We would never be so rude or harsh, especially as women to each other—no way, (wo)man—we would much prefer to be passive aggressive about everything and then go home and beat ourselves up. Ugh.

And then the inner voice starts again with its down-putting meanie-pants running commentary because it knows what it sees here is true. Okay, now, stop, drop, and roll...

Here’s the thing: when we spend time and resources beating ourselves up, rather than making an effort to shift and grow and change, we get really tired. And then we beat ourselves up more. And it’s pretty counterproductive, but it’s societally ingrained. It’s normal and we don’t openly talk about it this way. It’s not culturally expected to offer ourselves love, forgiveness, and compassion, or to bring softness to the everyday business mindset.

It sucks! But it can help to remember that EVERYBODY feels this way to some extent. Stop. Just STOP! Let’s make it trendy to take care of ourselves for crying out loud!

There are many many tools that are available for everyday use that we neglect. And sometimes we even go to business seminars where there is a keynote speaker, offering the “novel” concept that we are flawed humans who make mistakes, but the whole point is to learn from them and move on. We listen, we smile, we nod our heads, we agree in our heart of hearts, and then we go on to the next scheduled task and go back to beating ourselves up again.

So offering ourselves compassion and in so doing, quelling the inner critic, is a daily practice. It’s a focused mindset. Just like there’s no such thing as dieting to lose weight. It’s all about making lifestyle changes, which requires a new way of thinking. But it’s really hard to change the way we think. And it’s an inside job.

So first, we have to acknowledge that we are hearing the inner critic. I’m reading an amazing book called Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead by Tara Mohr and learning a ton!

For example: How do you know if you’re hearing the inner critic?

Here are some red flags that let you know your inner critic is taking the lead, that inner voice is:

1. Harsh, rude, mean.

2. Binary (a black-and-white thinker).

3. Masquerading as the “voice of reason.”

4. The voice of “You aren’t ready yet.”

5. The voice of “You aren’t good at math/negotiating/technical stuff.”

6. The voice of body-perfectionism.

7. The tape (running automatically in your head).

8. A broken record.

9. Irrational, but persistent.

10. The one-two punch (attacks with criticism, and then shames you for having those exact thoughts).

11. Takes inspiration from critical/judgmental people in your life.

Okay, so don’t fret. If you recognize this inner voice, it’s great! It means you’re seeing things clearly and you’re ready to grow from this place! It’s not about seeing what you want to see. It’s about seeing what actually exists. This seeing what actually exists without being upset by it is the highest form of self compassion. It’s the only place from which we can grow.

So the first step in quieting this inner voice is, recognizing it, labeling it, and knowing that it’s there without freaking out about its own realization and reflection.

Next is committing to working with it in a way that offers encouragement and self-respect. If you wouldn’t speak to someone else this way, then you sure as hell don’t need to be speaking to #1 this way, right!?! This is a difficult task, as most humans have difficulty looking at their own self-sabotage. It’s okay. We all do it. Take a breath and keep on keeping on.

Daily Practices to Quiet the Inner Critic

Here are some practices (to be practiced daily!) for the increase of compassion and the decrease of the harsh tones of your inner critic. And know, this is a lifelong practice for many. Let’s support each other rather than sweeping it under the rug!

1. Label and notice: As soon as it happens—there it is, my inner critic speaking to me in a way that I would not speak to someone I respect or love.

2. Separate the “I” from the inner critic: Step back from the inner critic. If you are observing this, then it must not be you, it must be separate from you. Perceive the voice as if it was a stranger criticizing you without knowing a thing about you. Disengage from it and move on.

3. Create a character that personifies your inner critic: Give him/her a name and visual image. This way, you can truly see the critic as someone separate from you...there she/he is, Oscar the Grouch, that stranger who thinks she can just bust on in with advice and criticism without knowing a thing about what’s actually going on here.

4. Compassionately see your inner critic’s motives: Ask your critic about its intentions. What exactly is the goal behind all this? Are you trying to help me? Appreciate the help, truly, and then respond sincerely, “Thanks so much for your input, but I’ve got this!” Then, watch it, visualize it, see it actually move out of the way. Just like anyone or anything, when you bring love and compassion to any table, it will respond accordingly.

5. Look for the humor. How hilarious is it that I give rise to a grumpy character named Oscar that is on TV to illustrate how silly it is to be a jerk! Oscar the Grouch is really goofy. Laughing at that scene is a great way to chill.

6. Remove your critic from the scene: Sometimes when it’s really necessary, you’ve actually got to escort the jerk out of the room. You can do this with someone you trust or love and you can do it by yourself. Watch you and your support person get up, walk over to Oscar the Grouch, take him by the hand, thank him for his help and graciously send him out of the room. And lock the door. If he throws a tantrum, refer to #5.   :)

7. Journal/Contemplate. Here are some great ways to get to know your inner critic:

• Write down some of the things your inner critic says. What are his/her commonly voiced beliefs?

• Sometimes our inner critics take “inspiration” from people in our lives. Does your inner critic echo any of your external critics?

• Sometimes our inner critics have cultural sources, e.g., “the perfect Southern wife.” What cultural archetypes does your inner critic embody or ask you to live up to?• Looking over your inner critic’s common narratives, brainstorm 5 adjectives that describe your inner critic’s personality, e.g., hyper or anxious or people-pleasing or stubborn.

• Envision a character. Bring your inner critic’s voice to mind. From there start to imagine: if your inner critic were a person, what kind of person would he/she be?

• Notice how personifying the critic lightens his/her influence and help you take him/her less seriously? How does it help you see the critic as one voice within and not the whole of you or the real you?

• If you’re motivated in part by your inner critic, look back: When in your life did you experience a lot motivation that didn’t come from fear and self-doubt? What motivated you then? How did acting from that place feel, and what were the results?

Ultimately, one of the most hostile and violent things people do is offer unsolicited advice. Perspectives are all different. Ideas and motives are different. And offering unsolicited advice to another person is essentially telling someone that they’re not good enough. It’s asking someone to accept your ideas, based upon your own perspective, as better than anyone else’s.

It’s like telling mud that it should instead be sunshine. Mud is great. So is sunshine. Their uniquenesses are what make them important in the world.

So, what’s the lesson here? Don’t give yourself unsolicited criticism that is irrelevant to what is actually happening. There’s a great quote that is attributed to someone, somewhere, and it goes something like this: “Eventually, you need to look at what is actually happening, rather than what you thought should happen.”

And this is the absolute best way to quiet the inner critic. The inner critic is always on about what “should” be, but if we’re always operating in “should” mode, then we can never actually see in “reality” or “is” mode. And reality is where life happens.

Need a hand escorting your inner critic to the door? Give me a call! I’m a lifelong pro, and I’m happy to offer Oscar a hand or a swift kick in the you-know-what. I always hated that damn trash can anyway!


Emily CrookstonEmily Crookston is the owner of The Pocket PhD. She is a content marketer, former professor, and pocket resource for your business. She loves to help small business owners create books, blog posts, articles, email marketing campaigns, and website page content that start conversations. When she’s not writing intensely, she’s most likely practicing yoga intensely. She lives for coffee shops that play good music to write to and desserts topped with real whipped cream.

How to Successfully Practice Acceptance and Participation In Business

By Emily Crookston

Acceptance? What exactly does acceptance mean anyway? Accepting situations as they are without judgement is a good and healthy practice, but how is that possible in the business world? And what about participation? Is participation and brand loyalty a leveraging of acceptance on some level? Or is acceptance a radical delighting in what is a willingness to participate with enthusiasm?

As business leaders, our work depends on acceptance AND participation in whatwe do. And it’s really all about having an abundance mindset.

Have you noticed how our biggest difficulties in life come from situations we either do not accept or feel forced to accept? So we lack enthusiastic participation…or what’s worse, we are forced to participate. No abundance there.

In the business world, the need for an abundance mindset is even clearer. It’s essential to have a mindset that is abundant in doing its thing and doing it well, no matter what the outside world is doing. But it’s also important to recognize that accepting doesn’t always mean participation.

When we lead from a place of abundance, rather than the need to thrill everyone, we find our niche, and we grow brand loyalty so that repeat clientele become family, swear by what we offer, and truly see the value in our product or service.

A Mini Case Study: Harley Davidson

To illustrate this, let’s look at Harley-Davidson, the author of the book on marketing and the understanding of brand loyalty, community, and repeat business based upon radical acceptance.

From the very beginning, Harley-Davidson has been a pompous rebel. A friend of mine worked in the marketing department of one of the individual dealerships as an intern and then as a marketing assistant in her 20s. As a marketing student, it was fascinating to her that everything she had learned about getting more of the market share was out the window here.

Harley-Davidson University suggested that success wasn’t necessarily about getting a larger quantity of customers. It was about creating an awareness of loyalty so that existing customers would become repeat customers, their children would become customers, and everyone at Harley-Davidson was focused on the quality of the customer.

In operating this way since the mid-1900s, Harley has taken its time to create a subculture of clientele who identify with buying high-end motorcycles, as well as all the parts and accessories that we know as Harley lifestyle goods. Indeed, there are people within this subculture that buy very little anywhere other than at a Harley-Davidson dealership.

And just so everyone is aware, the average end price (with parts, accessories, rain gear, boots, etc.) for a first-time Harley buyer used to be around $40,000. The typical customer trades up on their motorcycles every few years, as if it’s a subscription. So basically where Apple has made buying phones sexy, trendy, and a lifestyle component where spending $400 (okay, $800) on a new gadget every year or two is the norm—the “I’m an apple person” scenario—Harley has been doing this for decades on $40,000 gadgets.

Interestingly, Apple stock is valued at about 3 times Harley’s stock, but the difference is that Apple is targeting everybody in the whole world. Harley markets to its family and extended family. At a HOG rally, you’ll talk to people who love their bikes like some people love their pets (or kids). Their bikes are central to the world as they know it.

In other words, the marketing and customer brand loyalty of both radical acceptance AND enthusiastic participation creates a very different way of looking at business or branding. Whereas I can participate in playing with my iPhone without accepting it for what it is or for how much it has become a part of me, loyal Harley drivers BOTH participate and accept how the Harley brand shapes their lives.

Marketing Lessons from Harley-Davidson

So how can we market our products and services in a way that creates brand loyalty? How do we create an intelligent, charismatic beautiful family that both radically accepts and enthusiastically participates with what we are offering for a fee?

The interesting aspect of this is first and foremost that what we offer is the cream of the crop. It’s the best, and as business owners, we value it beyond measure. We have experienced the benefits of our product or service to have come to a place where we both radically accept and also enthusiastically participate in what we offer as well.

Then radical acceptance + enthusiastic participation, AKA really super awesomely good brand and subculture marketing is the perfect scenario. It’s a grassroots effort, but it can be done. And when it’s done well, you’ve got yourself a solid following that you can really rely upon in the long term.

So what are all the things that Harley-Davidson does to market its subculture to its international business family?

Here’s the short list:

1. They have really good products that no one else comes close to offering, and their business model has great intentions behind it. They make everything in the USA, so their profit margins are slightly lower than some, but their reliability of cash flow is always there because they have a sustainable clientele. They do well in the world by helping their local economies and stimulating local growth wherever they host events. They are good to their employees, who are treated as part of the family too, after all. They’re loud, they’re proud, and they’re good for business everywhere they go. And, they often pay in cash!

2. They know their clientele inside and out. And they seek daily to get to know them better. Personally. They do more of their market research in a personal way than you’d imagine was possible. This is old-fashioned facetime. There’s no one that does better market research than Harley. When you have a big family, word spreads fast and like any good family, they support each other in doing good stuff, so there is constant communication.

3. They are heavy into event marketing. Anything from little dealership holiday open houses to week-long events in various areas of the country where a half million bikes obnoxiously roll into town (yeah, I used to live in Myrtle Beach where locals planned their vacations around Bike Week). When they do this, they bring people and other businesses together.

4. They write and are interviewed. A lot. Blogs, books, content, magazine article placements, video, radio, and TV placements, stunt rider promotions on TV—you name it. In the motorcycle industry, no one wants to leave out Harley.

5. They are relaxed. Employees wear jeans everyday. They appreciate their employees and show it. They don’t move fast. They are patient and trust their efforts.

6. They know that their trustworthy clientele is going to participate, but they don’t require it. They’re too cool to be needy. They do everything that they can to market their products as fabulously as possible and then accept the outcomes of their efforts, no matter what happens. They accept their clients as they are giving off a cool and often slightly arrogant “we are the best” vibe. And by offering the coolness, their clients want to participate as much as they can. That’s brand loyalty in a nutshell.

It’s wonderful to be “seen” for what you are, to be accepted for who you are, and it is the ultimate in relating to people when acceptance turns into participation...the perfect recipe for a successful high-quality business.

If you have some great ideas for marketing your business in a special way, give me a call. I’d love to participate in what you’ve got going on!

Bio: Emily Crookston is the owner of The Pocket PhD. She is a content marketer, former professor, and pocket resource for your business. She loves to help small business owners create books, blog posts, articles, email marketing campaigns, and website page content that start conversations. When she’s not writing intensely, she’s most likely practicing yoga intensely. She lives for coffee shops that play good music to write to and desserts topped with real whipped cream.

Defying Well-Rounded Thinking: Capitalizing on Strengths In A World That Focuses On Fixing Weaknesses

By Lauren McGhee, Founder and owner of Lauren McGhee Coaching and a Gallup-certified StrengthsFinder Coach

“To be successful, you have to be a well-rounded person.”

At least, that is what I was told throughout the entirety of my teenage years and early twenties. Candidly, I whole-heartedly disagree.

As a Gallup-certified StrengthsFinder coach, it is my job to help my clients and their teams/staff unveil, understand, and successfully utilize their most natural talents and abilities. In short, we talk about their top Strengths. The beauty of Strengths conversations is that you become fully aware of the talents that you bring to the table, and those talents are the only thing we focus on in coaching sessions. However, I, along with thousands of other Americans, grew up under the teaching that to be truly successful, you must identify your weaknesses, focus on them, and fix them. Sound familiar?

The problem with trying to attain a ‘well-rounded’ persona is simple: none of us are well-rounded individuals. On the contrary, the chances of you having the same top 5 Strengths in the same order as another human being is 1 in 33.3 million. Wait, what?

I am not a math genius by any means. Unfortunately, school systems are primarily set up in a way that if you are not excelling in math, you will be put in more math classes, be paired with math tutors, and take math practice tests for you to get better at it. (Caveat: basic math skills are essential. This is just an example.) But I never got much better at it. You know why? Because when we focus our energy on fixing something that we are not naturally great at, it will just make us really average at that one skill. In contrast, when we put effort and investment into something that is natural for us, it will take us from great to exponentially better than the majority of those around us. Essentially, when we capitalize on our Strengths as opposed to dedicating ourselves to fixing our weaknesses, we are no longer well-rounded individuals; we are incredibly talented individuals.

Seeing our world through a talent filter is not only beneficial to ourselves, but it additionally creates an instinct within us to find the talents within those around us. Your co-workers, employer, spouse, and kids will be thrilled with this new habit of yours.

Give yourself a break, analyze what talents you have to offer the world, and do yourself and those in your life a favor: invest in those incredible talents of yours.

“We cannot be whatever we want to be. We can, however, be a whole lot more of who we already are.” –Tom Rath

History of Monogramming

By Barbara Davidson

Monograms first appeared on coins, as early as 350BC. The earliest known examples are of the names of Greek cities who issued the coins, often the first two letters of the city's name.

Monograms have been used as signatures by artists and craftsmen on paintings, sculptures and pieces of furniture.

Christograms appeared in biblical times and Royal Monograms were used by monarchs as part of the insignia of public organizations in kingdoms, such as on police badges. This indicated a connection to the ruler. Royal monograms often appear on coins, frequently with a crown.

Countries that have employed this tradition include Great Britain, Russia, Sweden and many German states.

Individual monograms

An individual's monogram is often a very fancy piece of art used for stationery, for adorning

luggage, for embroidery on clothing, and so forth. These monograms may have two or three letters.

A traditional three letter monogram has the initial of the individual's last name (surname) set

larger, or with some special treatment in the center, while the first name initial appears to the left

of it and the middle name initial appears to the right of it. For example, if the individual's name is Mary Ann Jones, and Jones is the surname, then the arrangement of letters would be M J A, with the surname initial set larger in the center, the M for Mary to the left and the A for Ann to the right.

Married or engaged couples may use two-letter monograms of their combined initials. Married couples may also create three-letter monograms incorporating the initial of their shared surname.

For example, the monogram M J A might be used for Michael and Alice Jones. However, monogramming etiquette for the married couple varies according to the item being. Monograms can often be found on custom dress shirts where they can be located in a number of different positions.

Corporate logos

Some companies and organizations adopt a monogram for a logo, usually with the letters of their acronym. For example, as well as having an official seal, and the Texas Longhorns logo, the

University of Texas at Austin uses a "UT" monogram (in the same color as the Longhorns logo, burnt orange). The St. Louis Cardinals baseball team also uses a monogram on their ball cap insignia. The Consolidated Edison logo, with a rounded "E" nested inside a "C" has been described as a "classic emblem”.

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(314) 956-1963

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3 Ways to Create Resolutions that Stick

By Lori Bruhns

90 days from today it will be February 8, 2017. So what?

Well, we all love to make New Years resolutions, right? In fact, you probably already have an idea or two in mind about changes you want to make. Maybe you want to lose 50lbs next year, or quit smoking, or get your Etsy shop up and running, or finally quit that dead end job.

Now, ask yourself how confident you are that you will be able to keep that resolution through February 8th. That’s just over a month into 2017 and it’s an important benchmark.

Let’s consider some relevant statistics:

• Only 8% of people are successful in achieving their resolutions.

• Only 64% of people are able to maintain their resolutions past the first month.

• While people in their 20’s achieve their resolutions 39% of the time, people over 50 achieve their resolutions only 14% of the time.

So why is it so hard to make changes stick? Why are we so bad at keeping our resolutions? What can you do now to ensure that you are part of that elite 8% next year?

Here’s the problem with the way we normally create New Years resolutions: we set these goals for ourselves without putting any thought into the steps needed to get there.

Too often, we resort to the “cold turkey method.” We think, “On Jan. 1, 2017 I will wake up and magically be the kind of person who exercises and eats well.” As a result, we set totally unrealistic expectations or we are simply caught off guard when the old habits start to creep back in.

Instead of setting the intention to quit an old habit cold turkey, how about if you focus on creating routines that will remain and help you achieve your goal?

Here are 3 ways to create Routines that Remain:

1. Breakdown your resolution into 3 parts and work on one each month.

For example, if your goal is to quit smoking, spend the first month visualizing the benefits of being a non-smoker. Really feel yourself inhabiting the body of a non-smoker and concentrate on how different you feel.

During the second month, start reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke. The change shouldn’t be too drastic, even skipping one smoke break a day makes a difference. And focus on how even this slight change makes you feel better.

Finally, in month three, make the lifestyle changes that are necessary to become that non-smoker you want to be. Replace your smoking routine with something else that makes you feel good. And celebrate your success instead of dwelling on the negative.

2. If you falter, don’t give up!

The beauty of the 90-day routine, as opposed to the cold turkey method, is that you don’t have to think of one slip-up as failure. If you have a lapse in your routine, get back on track as soon as you realize it.

It’s okay to falter, but don’t let these lapses become habits of their own. If you are tempted to “cheat” on your diet plan, for example, consider what about your routine isn’t working for you and make the needed adjustment.

3. Make your routine a priority!

Don’t sabotage yourself by letting your routine fall by the wayside just because you are having a bad day. If you are vigilant about sticking to your routine, it will give you comfort during times when those old habits try to weasel their way back into your life.

Start to implement these 3 easy steps today and you’ll be on your way to crushing your New Years resolution.

On February 8th, 2017, you’ll be able to look back on today as the day when you joined the New Years Resolution Revolution and discovered how to make meaningful change a reality in your life.

So, leave the cold turkey for the day after Thanksgiving and get on the path to becoming your most Productive You? Contact me TODAY and let’s get you started on your 90-day routine!