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#UnshakeableConfidence

Follow through

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The Unshakeable Confidence model I have developed stands on three pillars: Presence, Integrity, and Action. Of these, it’s Action that has my attention in 2019, with Integrity not far behind.

Which means I started out the year clear that procrastination and perfectionism (the two behaviours that get us stuck when we are out of action) don’t get to vote this year. Or, maybe they get to vote… I just get the veto. My business. My life.

I’ve prioritized them long enough, you see. Searching for the perfect words. Waiting on the perfect time.

And I’ve come to know that I can’t count on perfection. But I can count on truth.

So procrastination and perfectionism simply can’t rate this year.

And they won’t.

FOLLOW THROUGH is my theme for the year. It’s not sexy. And that’s good. Because when I’ve succumbed to sexy, I’ve committed to overpromising.

Following Through is the belonging to Overpromising’s fitting in.
Following Through is the responsiveness to Overpromising’s reactivity.
Following Through is the enduring legacy to Overpromising’s fleeting fame.

Following Through is, at its essence, Action, balanced with Integrity. If I Overpromise, I may get into Action, but not see it through (lack of Integrity). So it’s clear that following through is the truest way for me to get ever closer to the fullest expression of who I know I am at my most essential being.

It may not be fastest. And it’s definitely not the sparkliest.
But it is truest.

So why would I settle for less?

And so, my commitment to Follow Through is the reason I won’t share the three page-long list of promises I’ve made to myself for 2019… because until they’re complete by Dec 31, 2019, I haven’t followed through.

Because nothing matters unless and until I have Followed Through.

Which I did in January.

Including the measures I’ve taken to lower my blood sugar because diabetes is one of my family’s enduring gifts… along with the love of all the things that raises blood sugar.
And the 30 day yoga challenge.
And dry January.
And the writing.
And the meditation.
And the water consumption.
And the preservation of family time on the weekends.
And the journaling.
And the reassessment of my charitable donations.

And I liked how that felt.
A lot.

My intentions don’t matter if my integrity is eroded.

And for my integrity to remain in tact:
I need to show up authentically as the person whose insides are congruent with her outsides;
I need to be obedient to my vision… whilst allowing it space and grace to ebb and flow as the world keens and groans and hearts do too; and,
I need to honour my word. To others, of course. But above all? To myself.

If I can’t trust me, how can you trust me?
And, oh, how I want you to be able to trust me.

My capacity may be immense… but it’s not infinite.

TWEET THIS

There are a number of things that have not been checked off. In spite of how it felt, January was still only 31 days.

My eyes have always been bigger than my capacity. And my capacity may be immense… but it’s not infinite.

But as these things continue to be important to me, I will triple down and follow through.

And those on my email list will be the first to know when they are ready — join us by signing up below.
Because they are glorious.

What are you committed to following through on in 2019?


Sign up for my email list here.

The Impostor Complex wants to keep you out of Action. Don’t let it.

This is the third article in a three-part series about how the Impostor Complex works. The first one lives here. The second lives here.

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I’ve been sharing how the Impostor Complex wants to keep you alone, isolated, and doubting your capacity. Separately felt, they are hard to be with. Compounded, they have the effect of keeping you out of action, which, unsurprisingly, is the Impostor Complex’s third main objective.

Keeping you out of action. Even (especially) the action you want to take. The action that will get you closer to your desires. The action that will prove to you that your tenacity is no joke. The action that will help you break your own status quo. The action that will have you reclaim your agency. The action that will change everything.

Yeah. The Impostor Complex is NOT a fan of change. So it lays down the internal dialogue tracks that are the lies of the Impostor Complex:

This self-doubt must be proof that I’m inadequate (so I won’t take action).
I have nothing useful or original or important to say (so I won’t take action and say the thing).
I’m not ready yet (so I won’t take action until I’m 1000% certain I’m ready).
It’s just a matter of time before this all crumbles beneath me (so I won’t rock the boat and take further action; laying low is my safest bet).

AND when you DO pull something off that is Impostor Complex-defying, it guttersnipes that you’ll never be able to pull that off again, don’t bother.

The Impostor Complex insists on perfection. It insists on pristine conditions. It insists on certainty. And it insists on zero-risk.

TWEET THIS

The One-Hit Wonder gave into the Impostor Complex. That’s what happened there.

The Impostor Complex insists on perfection.
It insists on pristine conditions.
It insists on certainty.
And it insists on zero-risk.

And I know I don’t need to tell YOU, my friends, that perfection, pristine conditions, certainty, and zero risks are not available to us. Never have been.

So, to keep us out of action, it has us doubt our capacity and keeps us alone and isolated.
See how this system works?

And once again, this is going to present in one’s life in a number of different ways, depending on which behavioural trait has its hooks in you you identify with the most. (Not sure? Take the quiz here.)

Each IC Behavioural Trait works on keeping you out of Action in its own unique and inimitable way.

If you’re a people-pleaser, you are likely to opt out of action lest it pisses some people off. (YOUR people? Unlikely. But you may be worried about everyone else.)

If you have leaky boundaries, you may hold back from taking action until you have the assurance that everyone’s on board. (And “they” never really are, are they?)

If you tend to compare, you may be waiting for the space to clear out by others in your field before you can claim the space for yourself. (But of course, you know by now that the space is yours to make, then yours to take.)

If you tend to diminish, you are unlikely to take the action that makes the waves and draws attention to yourself. (This is it’s own special kind of hell. On the surface, you are functioning at a high and enviable level. Which is the problem, right? It’s that envy that you feel directed at you that keeps you from the more that you desire with all that you have. Yes, yes. I know, friend.)

And finally, the two behavioural traits DESIGNED to keep you out of action: perfectionism and procrastination.

Procrastination with its heady blend of distraction and analysis which collude with perfectionism’s discernment and insistence upon impeccability and unreasonably high expectations that are not commensurate with the job at hand.

No wonder you haven’t jumped in fully.

YET.

Facing our fears

So why? Why do we do this? Why do we (allow ourselves to) stay out of action when we can see so very clearly what’s going on?

Not surprisingly, it’s complicated.

And to suggest that not taking action is SIMPLY a choice you aren’t making is reductive and dismisses the complexity of your life. There are power structures at play that can and will either liberate OR limit ideas, actions and outcomes.

That’s just true.

So our job then MUST be: find out what’s in the way.

Usually? It’s fear.

Now, before you settle in for yet another coach’s “mind over matter” rah-rah speech that is reductive and dismisses the intricacy of fear circuits in the prefrontal cortex, allow me to be clear.

Fear — in spite of clever acronyms like “False Evidence Appearing Real” —  IS REAL.

And like someone shared in the Starring Role Academy this past week:

"To be fearless isn't really to overcome fear, it's to come to know its nature." — Pema Chodron

So when we feel and ARE stopped in our tracks, I think there is massive value in getting into and under what’s in the way.

Because there IS something in the way.

Else you’d be moving forward, right?

Right.

So we must get clear what is here.
To be able to clear it out.

Meet the Critics.

When you are finding yourself blocked, stopped, and not taking action, make a list of every reason you can’t DO it.

Every last reason you’ve heard in your head that has you believe (on ANY level) that you don’t have what it takes to step into your Starring Role - be on the stage, be an authority, write the book, switch gears - say YES.

Then parse through. Sort them into two categories:

Realistic Objections or Inner Critics

Is this a realistic objection? Is there an actual roadblock that is in the way or a person stopping your ascent? A qualification missing for the posted promotion? A gap in your understanding that needs to be filled before you can legitimately proceed?

Or is it an Inner Critic that holds a limiting belief that is singularly focused on keeping you from action?

Here’s how to tell which is which:

Realistic Objections (i.e. “You don’t have business training to start your own business.”)

  • Makes definite statements, but has time and space for what’s possible

  • Points out limitations that point to actions/solutions

  • Planning for a workaround resolves the objection

  • Are typically logistical in nature

  • Expanded sense of excitement (“what if” energy)


Inner Critic Objection (i.e. “You’re not smart enough to start your own business.”)

  • Makes definite statements with little room for nuance

  • Not interested in possibility, problem-solving, or action

  • Persistent and repetitive

  • Aims to shut things down and sabotage your forward motion (hence its other name: “saboteur”)

  • Often has a contracted quality of defeat (“why bother” energy)

  • May take on the tone of someone in your life who may be an actual critic of your actions (and it knows how well you rise to this kind of criticism)


There is a myriad of ways to deal with Realistic Objections. Every last objection is an invitation for a solution to be engineered. Again, as ever, as always: Simple, not easy.

As for the Inner Critics, well, for us to get past, we need to get UNDER what they are here to tell us. I suggest you listen deep in what I call the Tantrummy Toddler exercise found here and find the 2% of value that those critical voices are offering you.

And of course, you may be dealing with an ACTUAL critic of your desire to take action; if so, listen up.

For those who are critiquing your action: do you respect, admire, and trust their opinions? Would you trade THIS SPECIFIC aspect of your life with them? Perhaps they are offering you valuable, conscious critique. Your job is to discern what is true and valuable TO YOU. But NOT defer to those set-points of people-pleasing and leaky boundaries. As you do with the Inner Critic, see what gold is available to you and proceed from there, trusting in YOUR capacity. (See why this work is so foundational?)

I want to be stunningly clear again:
I’m not talking about bullies in your life.
Or the ones who try to teach you to play smaller so they can play bigger.
The ones who tell you that you don’t belong in the lab.
The ones who will step on you to rise above.

No.

At ‘best’, those are mean people who suck. At worst, they are perpetrators of harassment who need to be called in and called out. Gather your people to help with that. That’s what HR is for. That’s what mentors are for. That’s what your cast is for.

But once we know what we are dealing with, then we can deal with it.

And deal with it, we must.

Our job IS to take action.
Our purpose depends on it.

Action creates confidence. Not the other way around.

TWEET THIS

And, friends? There is no way around this truth.

Action creates confidence. Not the other way around.

To paraphrase Pema:

To be unshakeably confident isn't really to overcome the Impostor Complex, it's to come to know its nature.

Just like fear, the Impostor Complex has a job. We can't cut it out from ourselves. But we can choose better.

Simple. Not easy.

The Impostor Complex wants to keep you out of Action. Don’t let it… (with care).

And one final note.  When you finally DO the thing that matters so very deeply to you? Once you’ve gathered your cast and bolstered your authority and TAKEN the action? I beg of you: DO not berate yourself for how long it took. Because, it doesn’t matter what took you so long.

You’re here now.

And that’s everything.


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Do It. You're Ready Enough.

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There are twelve lies of the Impostor Complex. Lie number seven - “you’re not ready yet” - shows up right after you’ve decided to do it.

You can no longer unsee all the changes around you that need to be made. You have things to say, words to write, stages to climb, and systems to take down and rebuild.

"YES," you say. "I will be the one."

Then, immediately, the Impostor Complex sidles up to you, real cozy-like, and says:

"Listen, kid (yeah, it’s patronizing as hell, that one) -

one day you’ll be ready. But that day isn’t today.

Maybe you’ll be ready when you get that NEXT degree. Or put ANOTHER ten years under your belt. Or make that discovery. Or win the award. Or get that client. Or get the nod from HER. Or lose the pounds. 

So sit back, cool your heels, and keep working it."


And so, you prepare and you train and you polish and you sharpen the pencil.

Because you have high standards of excellence and mastery. (That’s good. And the number one reason why you experience the Impostor Complex.)

But then it shows back up once again, whispering:

"The pencil isn’t sharp enough.

The pitch doesn’t gleam with startling shine.

Your thighs - they need to be more toned, taut, and tanned.

You’re not smart enough.

Wise enough.

Brave enough.

Charismatic enough.

Gorgeous enough.

Spiritual enough.

Wealthy enough."

(And let’s not even get started on TOO smart, TOO wise, TOO gorgeous, TOO wealthy. Not today.)

Now, what your thighs and wealth have to do with how prepared you are to ask set up the appointment with the CEO or send your manuscript off to the publisher is something well beyond me, but this much I DO know, with every fibre of my being:

Do it. You’re ready enough.

The manuscript is close enough to done.

The pencil is sharp enough to write the words that can change everything.

Your voice is strong enough to say what needs to be said. (Even when it trembles. ESPECIALLY when it trembles.)


Two things:

As you sit down to make the call or write the book or step up to the mic to deliver the talk that will change EVERYTHING, think about how everything you have ever made, delivered, sold, created, drafted, crafted, survived, healed, and done is coming together. Right here and now. For this very purpose. For this very moment.

And?

No one was ever fully ready. For anything. The pencil tip can always be sharper.

The space in between the systemic changes you want to see and the brave new world is your decision on whether you are fully ready or not.

Do it. You’re ready enough.


Join me live on Facebook this Thursday at 1:30 pm EST to talk about just this. see you there.


 

 

Give it Time

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When we decide we want to do something BIG - build a business, write a book, launch a program, make the move - we deliberate and deliberate and then we deliberate some more. And then one day, we decide. After the due diligence, the dotting of the i’s and the crossing of the t’s (and the re-dotting and re-crossing), after the advice, the hand-wringing, we finally wind up here:

Work finally begins when the fear of doing nothing exceeds the fear of doing it badly. - Alain de Botton

And so we begin.

But then our relationship with time does this crazy back flip. We imagine that all of those hours of chronic fretting and crossing and dotting and asking and worrying and imagining somehow counted as putting in the time for the work because we expect instant results.

The tiger in our tanks is hungry and wants to be fed NOW. Big, meaty morsels of success.

One catch: the work wasn’t in the fretting and obsessing and stressing. The work is in doing the work.

Which - bear with me - just takes time.

Yes. It just takes time.

It takes time to find your voice. It takes time to build your authority. It takes time to hone your mastery. It takes time. It just takes time.


Instead of looking at time as the burly doorman that stands between you and your success, consider this:

Time is a gift you offer your loves, your friends, your family, your community.

Offer it generously to your business, book, program, or move. Lay it reverently on the altar of your desires.

How much time?

That’s a fine question.

Is it 10,000 hours spent on the road to mastery? Maybe. Is it the magical and mythical 5 years you’ve been prescribed to allow your business to "make it (whatever that may mean to you)?" Possibly.

It depends on your willingness to see it through.

Will it be worth it? Another fine question.

My vote is YES.

That the THERE you envision is everything you’ve ever hoped for. And more.

That the flaccid results and crickets that can show up early in the process are simply here to help you hone in, discern, and finesse.

Doing the work is unsexy business. It requires patience, perseverance, and focus.

It requires tenacity.

Give it time to mature, to expand, to grow, to reach, to soar.

The steady results you seek require your steadiness.

Now’s not the time to rock the boat. Now’s the time to give it time.


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On ham sandwiches and grief.

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I want to talk about ham sandwiches. And a dear old family friend, we’ll call Auntie P, who called them sangwiches in her adorable Scottish lilt.

She was a child of the Depression. It’s true, she really was, but my grandmother mentioned this, like, A LOT. Perhaps as some way to normalize her best friend’s extreme thriftiness.

Auntie P herself said she was “frugal”.  I loved the way she said it - frugal. It was a foreign word to me when I first heard it, and I assumed it was another word for fancy. She also always spoke in “pennies”. “People in those big houses just have a few more pennies to rub together than we do, sweetie.” Somehow when she said that, it made me imagine that she had piles of pennies upon which to sit.

But back to sangwiches.

When I was about seven, Auntie P and her soon-to-be late husband H went on a trip around the world. On a ship. How marvelous. I couldn’t wait to hear tales of Asia and deepest, darkest Peru (from whence my beloved Paddington Bear came.)

But it was Sweden that she wanted to talk about.

“When we got off the boat, they were handing out free ham sangwiches. FREE! And you could line up twice or even thrice without anyone so much as batting an eye.”

I wondered what it was like to be a child of the Depression. It was hard to imagine sweet old Auntie P at any age other than her tightly permed blue rinsed hair, sensible sturdy flat black shoes and nude coloured knee high stockings would allow. And I could imagine plenty.

But at a minimum, I knew the Depression meant that bread was rare and butter was scarce and ham was impossible to find. I pictured her in her cot (it was a cot, when I thought of it) coping with the pain in her empty belly by dreaming of ham sandwiches.

Dreaming of a time when she might have piles of pennies upon which to sit. Traveling around the world by ship. Being met on the shore with free sangwiches. Dream-by-dream. That’s how I would have coped, in any case.

Did she go within? I’ve never been too sure. We certainly never spoke of it. But I know for a fact that she went without. A lot.

So every occasion included ham sangwiches. Easter, Christmas luncheons, afternoon visits, bridge parties, funerals, christenings, and birthdays and any justbecause reason you could think of. Sandwich-by-sandwich, we celebrated and mourned.

I suspect this was the tie that bonded Auntie P and my mother, their love of ham sandwiches. For my mother though, it wasn’t about the sandwich itself. It was about being made a ham sandwich. That was a devotional labour of love.

Now, I don’t wish to speak ill of the dead. I really really don’t. But I didn’t enjoy Auntie P’s ham sandwiches. You see, I was not a child of the Depression, so good quality Black Forest ham was plentiful in my refrigerator. But for Auntie P, ham was ham, and pennies were pennies that needed to be rubbed together, for whatever reason one would rub pennies together. Seemed to me the fewer pennies the ham cost, the lighter the pinkish hue, ‘til Auntie P’s ham was but one shade above white. More opalescent than anything else, slightly slick with gelatin.

But her delight in displaying the sangwiches was legendary. With flourish rivaled only by her best friend Milly, she would summon us to the oilcloth covered table with a “come and get it, dearies”. And my mother delighted that a ham sandwich, any ham sandwich, was served with love.

I hope you find ways the ways to hug your people long and hard and true. 

We would often go to the Copper Kettle for lunch, a sandwich counter marked by a huge marquee of copper sequins that flapped in the wind. I loved going there.  Not because the sandwiches were good – they weren’t much better than P’s, bless her, but mostly because of the sign and the ride. My grandmother would drive her fire orange Plymouth (that today would be called a muscle car) like a bat out of hell. Auntie P and I would sit always sit in the back bench seat, no seat belts of course, this was late 70’s after all, and as my grandmother took the corners like every corner was the last one she’d ever get to experience, Auntie P would squeal: “here we go ‘round the get together corner” like it was a midway ride.

If she didn’t say it, I’d worry she wasn’t well. Hearing her say that was as satisfying as the little green light when the power adaptor has made its connection with the MacBook.

But. That’s it, isn’t it?

Connection.

She didn’t teach me to knit, but we did spend pleasant evenings munching ham sandwiches and cross-stitching little kitten patterns purchased from the dollar store. The teeny stitches both confounded and delighted me. Auntie P’s patience was infinite even as her eyes failed and the lights were dim in her sitting room. My eyes were strong, my patience, less so. Three stitches done and I was anxious to see the green eye completed, not just a fraction of the pupil.

It was through Martha Stewart that I learned to knit and purl. The sum of my output to date includes three scarves and one lap blanket and a couple of things I've forgotten about. But the crowning jewel of my knitting prowess was a mohair afghan I knit for my mother when she was very very very sick. It was of the most exquisite fuchsia colour imaginable.

A little more purple than pink, but just enough pink to brighten her cheeks as she snuggled it in her chair, nibbling appreciatively, but with no appetite, on the ham sandwiches I would bring her. Lovingly prepared, crusts cut off, to mimic “fancy sandwiches” of the high teas she wished we went to with much greater frequency. Like, more than twice in her lifetime.

I speak of the afghan in the past tense because we had it cremated with her. It was clear to me she’d want to take it with her wherever she went. You know, when I saw her ashes, I half expected to see fuchsia mohair fluff among the pallid sombre gray. Gray that was a little more white than black, but not enough to be lively. No, anything but lively. Of course not. How could ashes of a dead mother be lively? If anything, it was a detached colour. Can a colour be detached?

The mind’s funny that way. I mean, I know how cremation works – it’s not complicated – everything in the path of the fire gets incinerated. But still…I had hoped to see that fluff.

We served ham sandwiches at her wake, of course. Ham sandwiches, and egg salad sandwiches, and cucumber mint sandwiches, and lemon bars, and nanaimo bars, and scones with clotted cream, and a whole other varietal of delights you’d find at high tea. It was a tough time. I had an 8 month old with a ferocious diaper rash, a father who was...mourning and a sister who…missed her mother. I organized every detail. Including the eulogy. The thank you roses to the nurses’ station. The obituary. In truth, I’m sure I forgot more details than I remembered, but I know for a fact that remembered to cut off the crusts. Remembering those details was how I coped. Task-by-task.

I don’t recall Auntie P’s funeral. I think I probably wasn’t allowed to attend. Too distressing for little girls, you see.

But there can be no doubt that her final get-together corner included ham sangwiches.

Or at least, I pray that this is so.