In the battle of the pies, which would win... If you are like most people you have a preference. I sometimes mistake Pumpkin Pie, for Sweet Potato pie if I am just looking at them. I never make that mistake once I taste them. They each have their own distinctive taste and texture. Your business is like that, from afar you may look like another person's business, but there are distinctives to your business that speak to the uniqueness that is you.
We hear so much about imposter syndrome and fearing the competition. What if we invest less in looking and sounding like someone else and more in embracing our differences. What would that look like to you?
How are you different from those in your field that do what you do? At first I think many, myself included, struggled to differentiate what we do from many in the same field. I remember how I felt after I bought my last car. I had thought I was original in the color and with my make and model of car. Then I got on the road and everyone had a red Nissan Sentra. How did I not notice this before purchase. I think the same bias happens when you start a business. You think "I'm unique" then all of a sudden everyone is selling goat milk soap, or hypoallergenic perfumes, or what ever your brilliant idea was.
So how do you show you are different when others all appear to be using the same verbiage, posts and labels you use to promote your products or services? Many times it is in embracing the things that you feel are not "as good as" your competitors in your field that make you stand out.
I have never been a flashy person. Down to earth more accurately describes me and I confess there were times I thought "Allison, you have got to up your game, be more impressive, no one is going to appreciate your depth of knowledge or wisdom to help them unless you can be a smooth talker, and a perfectly put together person (externally)." But it just wouldn't be genuine for a woman who is plain spoken and has spent most of her life in jeans, running after 4 active sons after working all day to build a business. My style reflects my Christian values and my lifestyle. I found that as I grew my psychotherapy business that those qualities are what attracted many clients to me. They choose me to help them above the more slick and flashy clinicians out there (all equally qualified).
As I am building my coaching practice, I'm once again confronted with the idea, should I look and sound more like the coaches out there. Again, I know intuitively that I can't do it and be authentic and real with clients. I know that like with the choice between pumpkin and sweet potato pie I know what I like and I don't want to be fooled. When I bite into it I want to already know what pie I chose. When my clients interact with me, they have a correct expectation because I have promoted myself in my most authentic form. Those who are attracted by how I present myself are not confused when we work together.
So today I want to encourage you, be your own unique flavor and texture, because people have preferences and you will be the one someone will prefer. Embrace what makes you different so that your client meets the real you, not the perfectly curated image. Accurate representation is important in keeping trust.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.
When we bought our first home I knew to whom we owed a large financial debt. We would faithfully write out the check each month to the financial institution that held our mortgage. Then one day we received a letter telling us that they had discharged our debt to them and passed it on to another financial institution. Nothing had changed except who we had to write out the check to. The original bank that had sold off our loan was no longer interested in anything related to our finances. We never checked back with them, we didn’t let them know when we sold the property, it was no longer their concern.
Like the above transaction, when I forgive you I discharge any debt I believe you owe me? I don’t relieve you of your accountability or responsibility to stop your wrongdoing or repair your damage, I just pass on your debt to the hands of the One who holds all our debts in his hand.
This is the way true forgiveness works. When I give it to God, I don’t tell him how to handle the debt that was owed to me. That could be a debt of apology, gratitude, repair or restitution. I just give it to God to handle however he chose. In exchange I have received his forgiveness for all the debts I owe him. Matthew 18:21-35 gives an example of what it looks like not to pass on the forgiveness you have received.
I know that I want to live a debt-free existence and God has promised that he will forgive me as I forgive others (Matt 6:14-15). So I continue to forgive those who I believe owe me a debt of gratitude for what I gave them, or a debt of apology for what they took from me or did to me. I no longer have a right to know what they have done to discharge their debt, that is between them and the holder of their debt.
As you go into the New Year how many debts can you discharge? Go into your new year as debt-free as you can by applying the spiritual practice of forgiveness. As a benefit you will enter the New Year feeling lighter and able to apply your energies to pursuing physical, financial, and spiritual wealth and health.
“I want to have more free time to spend with my family.” “I want to be able to take vacations and not feel like my income is tied to a 9-5 job.” “I want to be free to create and pursue my passion.” “I want to change the world.” “I want to build wealth.” If any of the above were the dreams that led you into entrepreneurship, are they still what is driving you? Many along the way have found that the dream of owning a business has become the reality of a business owning them.
There is a delicate balance between professional and personal that must be maintained when you own a business. I know because I have been there. As the owner of a successful business for over 20 years I have had to stop and do some goal inventories over the years to make sure that my business is not taking over the life that I thought it would support. I didn’t want to lose my family, joy or my passion in the stress of building my business. I wanted professional success and personal fulfillment at the same time.
I have found that too many business owners don’t pay themselves. They are starving themselves to feed their business. They don’t take time off of their business to do the things they said they wanted to do. The family time and the vacation time get neglected because they are trying to build the business. There is the thought that one day in the future; after the business is “built” they will get back to the original goals. This narrative is dangerous. I have found that a business, like your child is never fully grown. You always feel the need to keep working on it, improving it, adding to it, or just supporting it. It’s always going to be your baby, in need of attention, at least until you sell it or it has another owner.
Don’t get stuck in that narrative. Learn, even as your business is in its infancy how to balance attention to its growth and keeping your focus on the reasons you wanted to be an entrepreneur in the first place. As a Professional Life Strategist I focus on how you can pursue one (Profession) and not lose the other (Life). If you are concerned that you may be losing your balance let me help you get back to what is important so that you can have success both professionally and personally.
Well it can happen. I wanted to travel through some picturesque small towns on my way to Virginia and decided to take some back roads. My GPS had been programmed for the most direct route to my destination. I started to hear “Rerouting…. rerouting …rerouting” as it quickly calculated ways I could get back on the track it had been programmed for. What it didn’t realize is that my goal had changed. I was no longer interested in the most direct route to that destination.
I am meeting so many people right now who are being told to reroute but not by choice. They were on route to 20 years with their company or they were on track to a degree but because of circumstances beyond their control they now they have to “reroute”. A change of circumstance, unless planned by you, can be disconcerting. It can be anxiety producing. It can leave you stuck, like a deer in headlights.
The factors that allowed me to ignore my GPS that day were: I had a travel companion and knowledge about the area. That along with the certainty that I could correct my course whenever I wished allowed me to travel worry free. I knew that I was not lost even though my GPS was going crazy. It actually eventually just stopped talking to me. Who knew a GPS system could pout! In all seriousness though, leaving the set course of your life can be scary, or exhilarating depending on the mindset that precedes it. Having others along the journey to discuss the experience can provide guidance and calm; gaining knowledge about how to navigate the unknown, and engaging in an optimistic mindset in times of uncertainty will be keys to successfully moving forward.
The objective of my next Group Coaching program, which is being offered June 17 – July 8, 2020, is to help others re-chart the course of their life with safety, stability, and a sense of well being. The current economic climate can produce fear which can become a stumbling block to advancement in life and livelihood. Sometimes what we expect disappears; we must learn how to reroute. This coaching group is just a tool like my GPS you can follow it or ignore it. Together the group will explore; what are the mindsets that can help you pivot without anxiety? The anxious brain struggles for solutions; the calm brain can process problems, see resources, and develop solutions and strategies. In this 4 week group you will be able to learn how to tap into that centered brain and tackle the unexpected. There are only 12 seats, so sign up quickly. To speak to me before signing up email me at email@example.com and I can set up a call with you to answer any questions.
When I got to my destination it was later than had been expected, but I got there. I brought with me, no anxiety, only memories of hidden valleys and delightful architecture that I had been able to experience only because I had veered off course for a few hours. You will also get to a place of safety; get there with good memories, minus the echoes of stress and anxiety that you may be currently experiencing. A good guide and some coaching can make all the difference.
My friend has the greatest memory. “Allison do you remember Jean?” She asked me. I, searching my memory, answered honestly “No, who is she”. Then came the exasperated sigh. “Of course you must remember her, remember we did….” And so it would continue with the hoped for result of me saying “Oh now I remember and yes we did do so and so and went this place together, yada yada yada.” But it never ends that way. It usually ended with “No matter how many memories you drag out you know I don’t have your memory, but I believe you when you say I know her, now what about her.” My friend and I have been friends since I was 8 and she 7 years old so she is a sort of historian for me because my long term memory sucks. I wonder sometimes why she has such clear memories of our childhood, while mine are so vague. We did life together as children and shared many experiences because our two families were close.
As I wandered through the Museum with my mentees on a field trip to view photographer Kristy Mitchell’s Wonderland exhibit I was overtaken with the beauty of the experience. Indeed it was an exhibit designed to draw you in emotionally. My girls (mentees) wandered the wide rooms and were absorbing the images, interacting with the art and the artist through her work. I looked around to check in on each of them to make sure they were getting the most out of the experience when I spotted one of the girls sitting and focused on her phone.
I quietly came and sat next to her. By the time she registered my presence she knew she had been caught. I asked “Is what you are doing on your phone something that you can do later?” “Yes” she softly replied. “Is there something going on right now here, with these people, that cannot be done later?” “Yes” she again replied. “Don’t lose this moment or this experience. It will never return and in the place of a memory you will have regret.” I told her this and quietly left her to make a decision. I later observed her wandering around the museum along with her peers and sharing thoughts on the photos.
I believe that I missed many moments in my youth, but not due to a phone. I was a voracious reader. I carried a book with me where ever I went, hoping for an uninterrupted moment where I could pull it out and jump from my reality back to whatever world, time, or place that waited between the pages. My friends lived in those pages. I knew all the Little Women, and later the Little Men, I read many different genres and felt bereft when I had exhausted the offerings of a particular author.
Although reading is great and I don’t regret reading, I do regret not being present for much of my childhood experiences. Many of which were great, according to my friend, my historian. I didn’t want my mentee to have a similar regret. Even today I still have to remind myself to be present in each season of my life and not to waste it in experiences that can be had at any time. I am reminded of Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” I want to experience the purpose for which God has given me this time. Only in doing that do I know I will have no regret. Purpose in your heart today, to be present. This time has been given to you for a reason; do you know what it is?
One of the sayings I frequently quote is “been there, done that, got the T-shirt”. I don’t know where I first heard it from, but it captures for me the idea that something is familiar and not worth revisiting.
I’m reminded of that phrase when I hear clients speak about balancing their life, livelihood, and relationships. As someone who was running a business, raising a family and being available to my spouse, sometimes it felt overwhelming. There were some low points when I asked myself “why”, why try to build a business when I could just go work for someone else. Why should I be struggling, shouldn’t my spouse give more so I could struggle less? Why aren’t my kids and home more manageable? Yes, I asked the questions, no one answered.
I figured it out, with God’s help. I was able to see the value in right prioritization and staying focused on main things without getting distracted. It’s not easy, but it is possible.
When I coach, I coach from what I know, and what I believe to be true. I can coach on how to reduce the mom guilt that often accompanies women who are trying to build businesses who also have a family and romantic partner. I want women to be able to enjoy this demanding, but at the same time exciting journey. Being coached is just a fast-forward button to get you where you are headed. Yes you can get there without coaching, but the journey may take longer and there may be several painful detours. That is why I say “been here done that, got the T-shirt”, so you don’t have to take the same trip, I’ll just give you the T-shirt.
My son is purchasing his first home and asked me along to give perspective. While watching him deal with realtors and lenders I was understandably proud, but also intrigued. You see although he doesn’t have a lot of money, he knows what he wants and keeps insisting that it is out there.
I see him get excited about a listing then when he visits it he evaluates it based on a list of non-negotiables that must be met before he will make an offer. He isn’t going to put down his hard earned money just because of emotions. Some of the houses were great, but not great for him.
The best thing however that I have observed is his refusal to approach any handy-man specials, or fixer uppers. You see he knows himself; he is not into rehabbing anything. My son is capable of much, having worked at house projects and landscaping with his dad and myself for years in our home, but he is clear that that is not where he finds his bliss. He wants a home that is move-in ready. He doesn’t want to spend his after work hours fixing up a house, nothing beyond regular maintenance. So he goes out at least 3 evenings a week and on weekends looking at homes listed in our area and within his price range.
As I sit and write about this you may wonder what is the point? The point is simply this, what are your non-negotiables when looking for a mate? Do you even know what you want or are you so focused on what you don’t want that it is all that you can see and all that you keep drawing into your life? I have met women who can speak to me for hours about all the bad, negative traits that they want to avoid in a mate, but could barely give me 3 sentences about the positive traits that they want. What you focus on is what you attract. Having a list of non-negotiables is not a bad thing, as long as it is a list of what you want and not only what you don’t want.
When you have looked for awhile and you don’t immediately see what you want, do you tend to compromise? When you compromise, you are basically saying that what I want isn’t realistic, it’s not out there, or that I am too impatient to wait for it to materialize. In my son’s case he is planning on getting a 30 year mortgage and 30 years is a long time to live with something you are not happy with. He is not looking to flip a house, he is looking to live long-term in that home. No rehabbing for him.
Are you looking for long-term, or are you thinking that if this doesn’t working out you will just “flip it” and find something else. If that is your mentality, then you will be attracted to rehab projects. You will work to improve that project until it is either rehabbed or you become tired and then will find yourself starting over again with another rehab project, hoping for better results next time.
My suggestion is, unless you like doing all that traumatic relationship work, look for a relationship that is move in ready. I don’t mean that you move into his home, but that his heart is already safe, danger free, and has space for you to comfortably exist. On your end, you should not be a rehab project yourself, because if you are a mess, all you will be doing is bringing your mess into his prepared space and making it chaotic.
Some things for you to think about as you look for a romantic partner (or a home).
Make sure that you are also healthy in the ways you approach and evaluate relationships, because you can’t bring illness into a healthy situation and expect it to stay healthy. It takes two to make a strong healthy relationship. Finding a strong safe shelter for your heart and your person is only half the equation. Do you have the skills to keep it strong and safe, do you know how to maintain and repair if damage occurs? Focus on being a Proverbs 31 woman and you will attract a Proverbs 31 man.
If this message is not for you, but as you read it you thought of someone else who needed to hear this, do them a favor and pass it on. God has given me a passion for helping young women 25-55 years of age to understand their relationship skills and challenges so that they can have a heart open to be a safe and welcoming space for a young man who has a move in ready heart prepared for a long-term commitment. www.focusedlifecoaching.org
Do you know why as coaches we encourage clients to commit to a coaching plan (several session over a period of time)? It is because we know that our client's are not just looking for a short term fix to a situation, they are looking for a lasting change that corrects that situation or that prevents them from revisiting that situation ever again.
Think about that the next time you reach for a quick fix on anything. I offer a 30 minute FREE consultation that is just to get you started. Commitment to change that brings success is reflected in commitment to a coaching plan.
When we think of leadership we usually think of the person up front. That person who leads is usually an expert, the brightest, fastest, strongest or most charismatic. Because of this they are destined for leadership, right? Well what about the rest of the world. Can those who are not the brightest, or most charismatic, can they still be leaders?
We should all strive to be the best at whatever we engage in and do so with confidence, but we should also know that there are other attributes to leadership. On your way to being the best, all the positions along the way can offer you opportunities to display leadership. You can lead from where you are. If you are not positioned up front, or in the corner office, your contribution and influence still matters. Seeing influence and contributions as key attributes to leadership is as important as positioning.
If you change your thinking about leadership your position may follow. Remember Jesus was a servant leader, he led by serving others.
Have you ever wondered why some adults are so timid about pursuing their dreams? I think the following story explains it well.
The speaker looked into the faces of the elementary school students and asked with great enthusiasm “What do you want to be when you grow up”. Before he finished the sentence many hands shot up. The students were excited to share their belief that they will be Presidents, Astronauts, Horse trainers, Superheroes…and the list went on and on. The students spoke loudly and even met the laughter from others with good-natured laughter themselves. Their confidence could not be quenched.
The speaker five years later met these same students in Middle school and enthusiastically asked them the same question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. With a degree of self consciousness a few students put up their hands and shared “I going to be a teacher, I going to get a job at McDonalds, or I’m going to work with my Dad, Mechanic… then silence. The speaker looked around and asked would anyone else care to share their dream about what they will do in the future? He was met with students looking down at their hands and whispering to each other.
That same speaker met with the same students five years later in High School and with a smile of encouragement asked them “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. He was met with silence, no hands raised. He decided to pick students out of the audience and ask them to stand and share their hopes for their future employment. The answers ranged from a distracted “I don’t know” to an “I think I’m going to go to college and then decide after that.” One boy said he planned to study medicine and become a Doctor, however with head hung down and as he lowered his voice he didn’t appear to be confident that statement.
The same students were seen at five year spans, what happened, what changed? Where were those confident, brave, enthusiastic six year olds he had first encountered? Somewhere along the way seeds of doubt had been planted, weeds of self consciousness had grown, and shrubs of inadequacy stayed.
This story is unfortunately played out too often and witnessed in the lack of confidence displayed by many adults as they approach their dreams. It may be a dream for a future spouse, financial stability in a career they are passionate about, or a personal health and wellness goal. Regardless of the goal, many adults need help so that they can recover that bright, brave and brilliant child who believed in the best possibilities for their life and future. With coaching my clients are able to recover their ability to dream big, but go further and add plans and actions so that those dreams can become reality. Along the way there may be challenges, but there are also supports if you know how to look for them. The value of those supports and encouragement cannot be underestimated.
If you have some unrealized dreams that you want to explore and are ready to take a chance and bravely pursue, call me for a free consultation to see if this is the path and the time to begin your own dream recovery.
Allison Bonilla LCSW
Your Focused Life Coach