Future Looks Foggy? 5 Questions to Get Some Clarity

One morning when I was headed to my office, I was startled by what appeared to be a cloud of smoke across a wide swath of gray sky. The view that I was accustomed to seeing was nowhere to be seen. It was a bit disorienting. As I tried to make sense of it, I had only one thought: There must be a fire. I scanned the area while driving, curious what building the fire might be coming from. But as I continued to drive down the street, I realized the “smoke” expanded far beyond the few blocks from home. It wasn’t smoke at all. It was a dense fog – thicker than I’ve ever seen it!  Amazingly, an hour later when I stepped out of my office, the sun’s bright rays had parted the fog and the skyline was in clear view. Finally, there was clarity.

It reminds me of what happens when life gets foggy and cluttered. It can feel like you can’t see what the future holds, what decisions to make or whether what has always been there is still there at all. It is like wading through a dense fog of uncertainty and confusion. Should I follow my dream or play it safe? Should I buy the house now or keep renting? Should I go back to school so I can change careers or stay in this career I don’t enjoy? Should I hold on to this relationship or let go? When working with clients, and even in my own life, I have noticed that stress and stagnancy are often created by a lack of clarity.

Once you get clear, it is like rays of sun burning away the fog of confusion – and suddenly you are no longer stuck. It is normal to feel uncertain and fearful of the future when you can’t see clearly. Clarity creates breakthrough. In what area of your life are you lacking clarity right now? Here are a few ways you know it’s time to get clarity:

  • A decision needs to be made – whether about a relationship or finances or career – and you feel as though you have absolutely no idea how to proceed.
  • You find yourself busy doing a lot of stuff, yet you feel unproductive.
  • You feel overwhelmed.
  • You have no idea how much is coming in and going out of your checking account.
  • You have no passion for what you’re doing, but no plan to make a transition.

When you ask the right questions, you get the right answers. So in this moment, I invite you to take a deep breath and coach yourself with a few questions to get clarity so you can de-stress, move forward and become unstoppable:

  1. What is unclear to me right now?
  2. What specific information or activity will give me clarity?
  3. Who or what resources do I need in order to get that clarity?
  4. What decision will clarity empower me to make?
  5. Why is that decision important for me right now?

My challenge to you this week:

Take a break to get clarity.

Optimism Checklist… What is it time to hope for?

In my book Start Here Start Now, there are assessments that are simple tools to coach you to make bite-sized, but effective changes in your life. This week, I challenge you to start hoping for that thing you’ve been afraid to hope for and start expecting great things to happen in your life.

Without hope and optimism, we tend to shrink and settle for far less than we are capable. If we let it, fear and doubt can creep in and steal your dreams. But even if it feels like that’s happened to you, it’s not too late to start dreaming again. It’s not too late to start over. It’s not too late to do an about face and move in a brand new direction – the right direction. Consider areas of your life where you need to rekindle your hope. Then see how many of these statements hold true for you:

  • I do not get discouraged easily.
  • Despite the disappointments I have suffered, I have hope that my future will be satisfying.
  • I am inspired by others’ stories of success because they give me hope that I can do it too.
  • There is nothing in my life that I am settling for.
  • When I succeed, I do not downplay or dismiss the effort I put forth, saying things like “Oh, it was just a lucky break.”
  • I believe in myself.
  • I have a clear set of goals for my professional and personal life.
  • I have a clear vision of what I want my relationships to look like.
  • I have a clear set of financial goals and a plan to get there.
  • I have inspiring health and fitness goals that compel me to push forward.
  • I pray regularly.
  • I sense an inner voice, the voice of the Holy Spirit, that often guides me in my life.
  • Even when things get tough, I do not give up hope.
  • I see challenges as temporary and expect to work through them.
  • I feel confident most of the time.
  • I get excited about my vision for my life and the future that’s ahead.
  • If I wanted to make an unconventional change in my life, such as changing careers or deciding to become a parent later in life, I would give myself permission to go for it!
  • As a leader at home, work, or in the community, I am good at helping people see the vision for where we are headed.
  • I listen to my intuition and follow it, even when I feel fear.
  • I look for the good in every situation.

My challenge to you:

Be optimistic. It is the fuel you need to dream big and gain the courage to take that next, right step.

Journaling assignment:

In what way(s) do you need to be more optimistic? What is it time to hope for again? What would change in your life if you embraced optimism in the face of your most persistent doubts? Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

How Resilient Are You? Take This Quiz!

No matter what the goal, it is almost guaranteed there will be obstacles along the path to your vision. And the most successful people in the world are masters at bouncing back from setbacks. Whether the setback is small (such as an argument with your spouse, or an unexpected expense that threw off your spending plan this month) or large (such as layoff at work, cancer or a divorce), your focus in life must continually be to recover from the unwanted detours so that you can stay on your path and enjoy victory.

  

Use this checklist to give yourself a “resilience checkup.”  Check every statement that is true for you today:

         I know my purpose and live it every day.

         I am not withholding forgiveness from anyone.

         Fear is not stopping me from moving forward on my most meaningful goals.

         I maintain a positive outlook most of the time.

         I have a strong support system of friends and family.

         I am spiritually mature and aware of God working in my life.

         I am in a good place emotionally. I am whole and well.

         My life is fulfilling and meaningful.

         I have a deep sense of joy, and experience inner peace daily.

         In the last major challenge I faced, I was able to bounce back and move forward quickly.

         In a crisis, I usually remain calm and take action that is helpful to the situation.

         I can tolerate uncertainty without a high level of anxiety.

         Those who know me best would describe me as “adaptable to change.”

         I am lighthearted and try to find humor even in difficult circumstances.

         I enjoy discovering new ways to do things.

         I am a good problem solver.

         I always learn and find ways to apply the lessons from my past experiences.

         I am comfortable being myself.

         I am an empathetic listener.

         I have found purpose in my painful situations and believe all things work together for good.

 

My challenge to you this week:

Accept challenges and obstacles as an opportunity to be resilient.

 

Journaling assignment:

Which statement did you most wish you could check off, but it simply isn’t true for you right now?  Don’t beat yourself up about it. What goal could you set to enable you to be able to check off that statement in the future? By when will you reach that goal? Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

Coach Yourself to a Breakthrough: 3 Questions You Need to Answer Right Now!

I kind of stumbled into coaching.  It seems to happen that way with many things in life that end up purposeful. I think it’s divine orchestration. When the Random House edition of my self-published book Rich Minds Rich Rewards came out, I found myself being interviewed weekly on a local television station and a syndicated radio show. I would offer advice and even take audience questions, and the producers of these shows wanted to call me a “life coach.”

“I’m not a life coach,” I protested. “I don’t have any clients.”

They ignored my protests, and the moniker “life coach” stuck.  To be in integrity with the title, I thought I should at least do a little research to find out what life coaching was exactly. What I discovered was that it is the one-on-one manifestation of what I was already writing and speaking about, but more than that, it was a powerful way of connecting and asking questions that empowers people to have breakthroughs, reach goals faster, boost confidence and productivity,  and grow into a more authentic, happier version of themselves. I soon became trained and certified, and began coaching professionals from all over the US and around the world. Coaching has made me a better writer and speaker, as I have had the privilege of helping people from all walks of life navigate and conquer some of life’s biggest challenges.

I want to share with you a few of the powerful questions from a free class that promoted our upcoming Coach Training Intensive.  Perhaps these questions can help you get some answers right now, for a dilemma you face.

Think of a challenge you face right now – whether at work or in your business, in a relationship or your finances, or maybe even related to your goal to be healthier or lose weight. Got a challenge in mind? Good. Now ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What opportunity does this challenge present?

No matter what the challenge, there is an opportunity within it. Your job is to uncover that opportunity and maximize it. Rather than complain, find the gift in your challenge.

  1. What message is being offered to you in this situation?

Often, a similar theme runs through multiple situations in our lives. Procrastination is sabotaging your success at work and it’s causing arguments with your spouse as you run late all the time. Your fear of rejection keeps you from seeking new and exciting opportunities, and also keeps you from reaching out to new friends and making needed connections. Notice the messages your situation is sending you – and take heed.

  1. If God were to give you some advice, what do you think He’d say to you?

Your intuition is divine intelligence. Don’t ignore it. By asking yourself this obvious question, you may realize the answer you need is closer than you think!

My challenge to you this week:

Take a coaching approach to solving your current challenge. Pause to ask yourself the right questions. If you know someone with a challenge, invite them to answer these questions, too.

Journaling assignment:

What opportunity does your current challenge present? What message is being offered to you in this situation? If God were to give you some advice, what do you think He’d say to you?

What did you learn by answering those three questions? Do you have a desire to coach others or incorporate coaching into your leadership approach?  Post your comments, I’d love to hear from you!

 

Have you considered becoming a coach or learning the powerful communication skills of coaching to become a more effective leader or manager of people?  The CaPP Institute’s upcoming Coach Training Intensive will be held May 21-23, 2016.

5 Steps to Ask for What You Want

Is there a conversation you are procrastinating to have? Perhaps there is someone in your life – a neighbor, boss, friend or family member – who has crossed a boundary and you would like to bring up the topic, but aren’t quite sure how to do it without making the situation worse. Maybe it is new business you want to ask for or a raise. Or it could be a difficult topic that needs to be raised with your spouse or significant other. Asking for what you want is a powerful skill, but if you don’t practice it, you will find yourself regularly frustrated with people or the circumstances of your life.

This week, I feel led to share with you five questions to reflect upon before you engage in an important or difficult conversation. These are questions I also share in Chapter 30 of my book, What’s Really Holding You Back?

1. WHAT DO I WANT TO HAPPEN AS A RESULT OF THE CONVERSATION?
Envision, clearly and specifically, the desired outcome of your conversation. What result are you seeking? Do you want a raise? How much more do you feel is reasonable? What amount would you be willing to settle for? Do you want the other person or both of you to take some specific action? Be sure you know exactly what you want accomplished and when. Do you desire to better understand where they are coming from? Do you want to put an end to a specific behavior or situation? Know precisely what it is that you want to accomplish and guide the conversation toward that specific course of action.

2. WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MESSAGE I WANT TO COMMUNICATE?
In most situations, you’ll need to explain the “why” behind your request. Why is your request for a raise reasonable? Why do you want the other person to change a specific behavior or take a particular action? But restrict your reasons to only the most important factors. The more succinctly you can explain your points, the more likely it is that you will reach a successful outcome. Resist the temptation to bring up secondary issues that aren’t truly essential or relevant to what you are trying to communicate. Otherwise, the other person may be distracted by your “rabbit trails” and the conversation may never get back on track-leaving you frustrated and unsuccessful in your bid for change.

3. AM I FOCUSED ON CONTENT OR EMOTION?
Any issue of importance to us will naturally involve strong feelings. If you are seeking a raise, it’s possible that the topic has been on your mind for a long time. Perhaps you have some frustration about how hard you work and feel that your compensation is not fair or adequate. However, emotional communication is usually counterproductive. If you allow the frustration of your emotions to enter the conversation, you will likely sabotage the success of the conversation. Practice speaking in a neutral tone so that you build bridges for open communication rather than building walls that will make the other person defensive. Stay focused on the content and facts that support your request. Similarly, when you’re seeking for help from someone who would make a great member of your personal team, it’s certainly appropriate to let your enthusiasm for your vision shine through. But remember to be clear about what you want through the content of the conversation.

4. WHAT IS THE RIGHT TIME AND PLACE?
Be sure you choose the optimal time and place for your conversation. If it is a professional matter, schedule a meeting with the appropriate person, but be sensitive to their other obligations and appointments. When you need to approach a loved one to ask for a change in behavior or to discuss a topic about which he or she may be touchy, do so when the atmosphere is neutral. Refrain from raising important issues during an argument, when your loved one has had a challenging day, or any time emotions are running high. Attempting a serious conversation with your spouse or family member during his or her favorite television program might not be the best plan either. Select a time when you both are in the right frame of mind and free of distractions.

5. WHAT IS THE OTHER PERSON’S PERSPECTIVE?
You may feel passionately about what you want, but be sure to consider the other person’s wants and needs as well. During the course of the conversation, ask for feedback. Be sure to listen rather than plowing ahead with your agenda. Ask questions to be sure you understand the other person’s thinking. Try to remain open to alternative suggestions, but don’t lose sight of your goal as identified in question number 1. Once you understand the other person’s perspective, use that information to settle on a mutually agreed outcome and bring closure to the conversation.


MY CHALLENGE TO YOU THIS WEEK:
Identify a conversation that you need to have and make a decision to have it. Using the five questions in this week’s e-newsletter, find the right time and place as well as the words to speak up and say what needs to be said.

JOURNALING QUESTIONS:
What is it that makes me most apprehensive about this conversation? What am I afraid will happen? What could I do to reduce my fear about having this conversation?

It’s Time to Get Serious About Your Dream!

I’m getting pretty excited about our upcoming Coach Training Intensive this weekend in Atlanta. Something came up during a CTI preview call with a few all-star coaches who have built very successful, profitable businesses as coaches.

During the call, one of the coaches made a profound point in reference to finding the resources to invest in training that will empower you to move towards your dream – in this case, one caller’s dream of becoming a life coach. I think it is a point that is relevant to us all, no matter what the goal.  “We find a way to do what is important to us,” she said. “Many of us have bought things that are lying around the house that we never use, that cost more than the investment it would take to get our dream off the ground.”

As I pondered this point, I realized it is true. Of course, there are times when getting serious so we can accomplish our priorities may take longer than we’d like. But whether your priority is getting out of debt, making an important transition, or following your dream, it begins with a decision that your dream is a priority. And if it is a priority, you must be intentional about investing in what it takes to bring that dream to life.

What is your dream right now? I don’t know about you, but I have found that my life’s biggest dreams have never come cheaply. They’ve taken a lot of effort and time. They’ve required risks that scared the heck out of me. I moved forward with my knees shaking, not knowing what the future would hold, but believing in faith that God would be with me whatever the answer. And my dreams have usually required a financial investment – like going back to school at 34 years old, to an Ivy League university, and not on a scholarship! But there is not one dream I’ve pursued that I regretted.

Whatever your dream, I encourage you this week to commit to it on a whole new level. Know that it will take some sacrifice. Get creative about finding the time, the money or other resources you’ll need. Get serious about making it happen. Get brave about trusting that God is with you if you follow the desires of your heart. Don’t expect it to be easy. Just expect it to be worth it.

My challenge to you this week:
When it comes to a goal or dream that really matters to you, be creative and persistent about finding the resources to take the next step.

Journaling assignment:

What excuse have you made for why you cannot have your dream? If you were to let go of that excuse, what would you have to do to make it happen? Are you serious enough about your dream to do that now? Leave your comments and questions, I’d love to hear from you!

Don’t Go It Alone!

The most persistent fear I have repeatedly overcome is a fear of rejection. The irony of this people-pleasing fear is that it can manifest in a lot of behaviors, one of which is solitude. Without consciously connecting your fear with your choices, those whose core fear is rejection can make a habit of going it alone – insisting they are independent rather than scared, focused rather than collaborative. Perhaps you can relate.

Years passed before it occurred to me how solitary my work is. I write alone. I speak on a stage alone. And in my years of coaching, I coached alone – by phone. For ten years, I worked from home, my team scattered about in their home offices in other states. Until one day, a couple of years after moving to Atlanta – alone – I no longer had the grace to work in such solitude. For ten years, I’d wanted to work from home. Then suddenly, I resented it.

“Alone” is where moments of inspiration unfold. “Alone” is also where moments of isolation steal your joy. We must have a balance. I was passionate and purposeful in my work, but something was missing: Connection. On my journey to more joy these last few years, it is connection that has transformed my life. I made it a professional goal, not simply to inspire and achieve, but to connect. I got an office, hired my first full-time employee to work alongside me – literally, not remotely. Then I expanded our coach training program to include a six-month certification program – twice a week live webinars in coaching, positive psychology and business development. In the beginning, I created and taught every subject, every class – alone. Again, something was missing: Connection. I wanted others to teach. And if I thought about it, I knew a lot of talented, experienced, passionate experts who would impact our students and do this vision together with me.

Everything in life is more meaningful when you make connection the goal. Connection isn’t “networking.” It isn’t simply collaboration. It isn’t just communication. Connection is love. It is the moment, however brief, when your soul aligns with another and you serve one another’s needs in some way. It could be a smile, a touch, an idea, a word of encouragement, or act of support. But connection makes life and work juicy.

So I began inviting others into the process – people who could carry the vision forward, teach the curriculum I created, and do this thing with me together. To be honest, it was hard to let go. “Will they get it right?” I worried. “Will the students complain?” I took the leap. They got it right. No one complained. In fact, I don’t even think they missed me! Today, we have five instructors who are as passionate as I am. We have graduated hundreds of students whose lives are transformed. And I don’t go it alone.

LaFern Batie, Kim DuBrul, Christine Duvivier, Breon Michel and Lisa Sansom bring coaching to life in ways unique to their powerful experience – and that makes the program richer than it could ever be from just my perspective. The first time I sat in one of our training events while Kim and LaFern tag-teamed to teach felt like someone truly had my back. The responsibility was now shared. The program could run without me! We collaborated on improvements. We laughed together. We’ve created an experience – for our coaching students and ourselves – that could never be replicated in isolation, but only through the beauty of authentic connection.

Journaling assignment:

In what way(s) are you trying to go it alone? What would connection give you that is currently missing in a project or goal of yours?

Next step:

Reach out. Connect. Don’t go it alone.
Head over to my blog and leave your comments, I’d love to hear from you!

For more on how to get unstuck, order my book Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable

 

Coach Training Intensive of the year, click here.

Not Sure What to do Next? 5 Lessons to Get Your Answer!

“I hate not knowing,” a friend complained as she tried to figure out some steps to take personally and professionally. “I’m used to having a game plan, but right now I feel stuck because I honestly don’t know what the right answer is. I want to plan the next stage of my life – and somehow, I feel like God’s hiding the roadmap from me!”

If you’re anything like me – or most people in the world – you like to know what’s coming next in your life. But how do you handle it when you want an answer and don’t get one? Maybe you’ve been praying for a specific answer about the next phase of your life – a move you need to make, an important decision, a romantic partner, or any type of change. Yet despite the fact that you’ve diligently sought an answer, it simply hasn’t come. It can be a frustrating place, but I invite you to make a shift and try a different approach.

This week, I want you to consider an area of your life for which your vision looks cloudy. You don’t know what you want or you just don’t know what steps will be essential to take you where you want to go. Over the years, I have discovered five lessons to be learned “in the meantime.” The meantime is that waiting period between here and where you are destined to end up.

I’ve often thought I was ready for something and set out to make it happen, then later discovered there was much growth and learning that needed to occur first. At other times, it wasn’t the growth and learning, but some other circumstances that needed to line up in order for the vision to be fully realized. When you listen to your life, heeding the inner voice of the Holy Spirit, you set yourself up for divine timing and greater rewards than you may previously have imagined. Ephesians 3:20, referring to God, says, “To Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all you could ever think or imagine..”. Waiting for your right answer is an exercise in trusting God and letting go of your attempt to control things. The truth is, we aren’t in control anyway and we expend a lot of energy trying to prove to ourselves that we are.

Wherever you feel a lack of clarity, consider these five messages that may be presenting themselves to you:

  • “No” and “wait” are legitimate answers.

You regularly hear people say, “God answered my prayer,” meaning, they got what they asked for. But God doesn’t just “answer” prayer with a “Yes.” Sometimes He says, “No.” Often, He says, “Wait.” All three are legitimate answers.

  • Let go of your need to know.

You can cause yourself a lot of stress by insisting that you always know what’s coming. Relax and enjoy the present. Trust that all things will work together for your good (Romans 8:28).

  • Take a small step, then notice what happens.                                                                                                                           

If you are feeling torn about what direction to take, sometimes the best thing you can do is begin to move in one direction. Notice what happens when you do. Do you feel at peace? Are doors opening easily or is it a struggle without a purpose? Sometimes taking a small step gives you clarity about whether to continue on a particular path.

  • Delve into an area of life you’ve been neglecting.

Often, we can’t have what we think we are ready for because it’s time to address other matters. Until those are addressed, your answer will not come. What have you been avoiding? Consider your waiting period an opportunity to face the things you’ve been able to avoid for a while – nurturing a relationship, taking care of yourself, going back to school, taking control of your finances or getting your career on track. You know what it is for you. Muster up the courage to address it.

  • Connect with God by talking – and then listening.

James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” As you contemplate a life change, make sure your decisions are rooted firmly in the divine guidance that is available to you when you get quiet to listen.

My challenge to you this week:
Stop focusing on needing to know the answers. Focus on the message that is being offered to you in the process of learning what to do next.

Journaling assignment:
What answer are you waiting on? What message is being offered to you right now? What area of your life do you need to focus on while you await your answer? Let me know what you are waiting on and what you’re focusing on right now.

 

Motivation Killers

Have you ever joined a gym or bought the latest exercise video, only to lose motivation and quit altogether? If you’re like most folks, you know what I mean. Your intentions are good, but the fiery motivation that gets you going eventually fizzles and you find yourself right back where you started – or worse. So what is the secret to lasting motivation? Can you really change your lifestyle habits and become healthier for good?

The answer is YES. But first, you’ve got to get rid of what I call your “motivation killers.” Break these bad habits, and you’ll give new life to your health and fitness goals.

“There is a spiritual and mental element to health and fitness goals that is so important,” says fitness guru Donna Richardson Joyner, author of Witness to Fitness: Pumped Up! Powered Up! All things are Possible!.” “Taking care of your body is an act of gratitude for the divine gift of good health. When you change your thinking, you increase your chances for success.”

Psychologists note that a key to changing your thinking is making sure your motivation is solid. Your motivation is your “why” for going after the goal – and it needs to come from the inside out. Extrinsic motivation can be enticing, but it does not hold the sort of meaning that strengthens your perseverance. For example, you could motivate yourself to lose 20 pounds so that you look good for your upcoming high school reunion. But what happens after that? Intrinsic motivation is more meaningful. For example, “I finally want to experience the potential I know I am capable of,” or “I want to live long and see my grandchildren graduate from college” are intrinsic motivations for better health. It is OK to have some extrinsic motivators, but if all of your motivation is extrinsic, you are more likely to give up when the journey to your goal becomes tough. Just as dangerous as not finding a strong enough “why” is killing your motivation through some common bad habits.

Motivation killers: Are you guilty of one of these?

Motivation Killer #1: Comparing “up”

When you constantly compare your body to those whom you perceive as more healthy or attractive or disciplined, you can dampen your motivation and become discouraged. It is OK to notice those around you, but do so in a balanced way. Don’t just notice those who have it all together – notice the ones who are struggling, too. By doing so, you realize you are not alone in your struggle. And when you compare yourself with someone who is doing better, ask empowering questions, such as, “What is she doing that helps her stay on track?” and “How does he stay away from those chocolate chip cookies?”

Solution: Instead of envy, educate yourself and learn from those who’ve “been there, done that.”

Motivation Killer #2: Too much ambition!

I know, it sounds almost un-American to tell you to curb your ambition. But too much ambition can be counterproductive. Have you ever started the New Year with a list of resolutions that goes something like this: exercise one hour per day, no soft drinks, drink 8 glasses of water per day, go to bed by 9 pm and no mid-afternoon runs to the vending machine for a pack of Twinkies! By Day 3, you’re failing miserably.

Solution: Choose one goal and move toward it with laser focus. After 21 days of focus, add another goal. Repeat this cycle until you reach all of your goals. Lifestyle changes happen incrementally, not overnight.

Motivation Killer #3: No Fun!

By going it alone or forcing yourself to do activities you truly don’t like, you sap your own motivation. Team up with a buddy, take a dance class or join a sports league. Make your exercise ritual a social endeavor and it will be more fun. Bonus: Research shows positive emotions generated by having fun actually help you persevere.

Solution: Stop thinking of exercise as a chore, and find a way to make it fun.

What are your motivation killers? Can you identify yourself in these scenarios? Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

The Truth About Bouncing Back

Years ago, I was speaking to several hundred business women at a luncheon in Raleigh, NC when one of my greatest professional fears unfolded as I stood on stage. To be clear, I have never been afraid of public speaking. I’m a talker. In fact, my mom has often joked that I talked so much as a kid that she would play a game with me to see how long I could go without talking. Two minutes was my record.  But the one thing I sometimes feared was that I might forget a talking point.

I remember the scene vividly – the coral and cream tweed suit I was wearing, the month and year (October 2003), the energy of the women in that room.  My talk was going great. The audience was engaged.  They laughed. They took notes.  Everything you want to happen when you are the keynote was happening that day. Maybe I became overly confident. Maybe I got distracted. I’m not sure the culprit, but in mid-sentence in the midst of telling a story that would make a really profound point, “Poof!” My thought vanished into thin air.  I looked at the faces of the women seated at a center table directly in front of the stage. Their faces were filled with anticipation. They were listening. Some were nodding and smiling. They were ready for my next point …. But I didn’t have one.  For a few seconds I kept talking. I used a couple of filler sentences thinking if I just kept talking, I’d recapture my thought and no one would notice. But nope. Nothing.

This had never happened before, and amazingly, in hundreds of speeches since then, it has never happened again.  So I didn’t have a game plan for this.  I had to think quickly. I was on a stage alone standing in front of 400 women whose sole job in that moment was to listen to me.  There was no time to confer with a girlfriend or run back to my seat and find my notes.  I pondered the thought of abandoning the story altogether and jumping to my next point.  It would be choppy, but hey, by the end of the speech, they would probably forget.

But something in me said, “Just tell them the truth.” So, with a smile and a laugh, I blurted out, “This is going to sound crazy, but I just totally lost my train of thought. What was I saying?”

For about three seconds, there was a pause as they processed that I was, in fact, not joking. Then, to my amazement and utter delight, at least 30 women around the room started laughing and yelling the answer to me from the audience!  No judgment. Only help. They were rooting for me. And several said afterwards, “I loved that you just admitted that you didn’t remember what you were saying. It was so real.”

In my years of studying, writing and speaking about resilience, one of my favorite hallmarks of resilience is this:  Resilience requires authenticity. In the moments when we most believe we need to “have it together” and do things perfectly, it is our willingness to admit that perhaps we don’t have the answer that becomes our saving grace.  Giving ourselves permission to be imperfect opens the door to connect authentically with others.  It lets them in, helps them see a little of themselves and it helps them see how they can help you. You don’t have go it alone.

You don’t have to be perfect to be successful. You just have to keep bouncing back. And it’s easier to do when you admit there’s something to bounce back from.

 

My challenge to you this week:

Admit your challenge, mistake or bump in the road! Reach out for help to get back on track.

 

Journaling assignment:

In what way(s) are you pretending something is ok that simply isn’t?  What would it look like to be authentic in this situation? When will you take a step in that direction?

More Resources:

If you’ve ever considered speaking professionally, we’ve got a great special this month! My popular 6-CD course, “Destined to Speak! How to launch a fulfilling, profitable career as a professional speaker is 20% OFF when you use the promo code DESTINY.  Get yours HERE