How to know who deserves your energy, affection & attention

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When they actively search out and create opportunities to make you feel safe, seen, supported, and held. 

YOU’VE FOUND YOUR TRIBE.

When you have zero reluctance to reach out in the throes of a morning meltdown, a midday breakthrough, or a midnight epiphany.

YOU'VE FOUND YOUR TRIBE. 

When their presence in your life feels like a gift. 

YOU’VE FOUND YOUR TRIBE.

When your wishes, worries, cares, and concerns are received in warm and deep confidence, sealed in an airtight and waterproof vault.

YOU'VE FOUND YOUR TRIBE.

When your humanity is honoured and witnessed in a space free of assumptions or judgements.

YOU’VE FOUND YOUR TRIBE.

When they're willing to gently nudge you out of those dark and ugly places we all go sometimes with unrelenting kindness, curiosity, and compassion. 

YOU’VE FOUND YOUR TRIBE.

When they won’t stop sending you love-drenched notes of encouragement to stand taller, fuller, and freer.

YOU'VE FOUND YOUR TRIBE.

When they magically appear on your doorstep with wine, soup, and chocolate in the moments that feel messy, muddy, and tough. 

YOU’VE FOUND YOUR TRIBE

When you know with unquestionable certainty that you’re a priority, rather than merely an option.

YOU’VE FOUND YOUR TRIBE.

Keep them close, love them hard, and show up fiercely. 

When your blazing and bright heart is met with cutting indifference.

NOT YOUR TRIBE.

When you allow the softness of your feelings to land and they're echoed back with loud and hollow disregard. 

NOT YOUR TRIBE.

If you have to work to convince them of your value and intrinsic worthiness.

NOT YOUR TRIBE. 

When criticism quickly and easily arrives in the places where only celebration should live, bloom, and flourish.

NOT YOUR TRIBE. 

When they choose to have conversations about you rather than with you. 

NOT YOUR TRIBE.

When they make you the mirror for their insecurities or smallness.  

NOT YOUR TRIBE. 

When goodness and generosity are answered with stark and thoughtless silence.  

NOT YOUR TRIBE. 

When vulnerability and tenderness are greeted with cold insincerity.

NOT YOUR TRIBE.

When you speak your truth and it's received with doubt or disdain.

NOT YOUR TRIBE.

When your unshakeable authenticity, genuine intentions or rock solid integrity are called into question.

NOT YOUR TRIBE.

When your light starts feeling dimmed, dulled, or extinguished.

NOT YOUR TRIBE. NOT YOUR TRIBE. NOT YOUR TRIBE. 

Notice fully, send heaps of grace, and then promptly move on. 

Why We Need To Stop Romancing the Grind

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As the sun starts to set earlier and the evenings take on that telling chill of autumn, I’ve been doing my best to make the most of these precious last few weeks of our waning summer – nightly nature walks, beach days with my babies, backyard bonfires, picnic work sessions, and patio wine dates with girlfriends. 

Yet in this deliberate attempt to bid a fond farewell to the long and leisurely sun-kissed days with gratitude, it’s been really difficult to disregard the frenzy of fall that’s been descending all around me over the past month.

Many of my lady loves who were so easefully and gleefully drinking prosecco in their flowing, flowery dresses at the end of June have transformed into wide-eyed raving lunatics with the onset of school supply scrambling and the mad rush to register the babes for swimming, skating, and soccer.    

Through it all, I can’t help but think we should be going about this differently. And by “this,” I don’t only mean the change of seasons or the transition into another school year, but our lives in general.

I’ve said this before, but so many of us are on auto-pilot these days – programmed to be perpetually pushed forward by pressure and other people’s priorities, while very rarely giving ourselves the space and permission to be properly pulled and more gently guided by pleasure.

And in the meantime, we’ve also somehow acquired this wholly destructive and wildly unhealthy tendency to romance the grind, becoming willing slaves to some hollow sense of satisfaction that seemingly derives from crossing off all kinds of endless items on our infinite to-do lists.  

We’ve become mavens of, and martyrs to, the dangerous myth of productivity – the more we can do, acquire, and achieve on any given day, the better human beings we believe we are. And so then we measure our worthiness and assess our love-ability via homemade cupcakes baked at midnight, volunteer hours logged, emails answered, thank you notes sent, projects piloted, and online courses completed. 

Yes, these are all important, worthwhile, and enjoyable activities, but when we start to make our value contingent on our outputs and routinely trade in our wellbeing for superhuman levels of accomplishment, there’s a big problem (if you’ve ever grabbed a fistful of almonds and your fourth coffee at 3:00 pm as your first meal of the day, you know what I’m talking about).

HUSTLING ISN’T A GOOD THING & BUSY IS NOT A BADGE OF HONOR

At least a couple times a week I hear some version of the following from the women in my life. Almost without fail, a girlfriend, student, or client will say something along the lines of:

“Things are sooooo crazy right now! I’ve got a million things on the go and I only had like four hours of sleep last night.” And almost always these sentiments are expressed with an undertone of pride, as though exhaustion is an accolade and being “busy” is a badge of honor.

Moreover, nearly every single day I see some social media post from a mama or girlboss idealizing “The Hustle,” and I can’t help but inwardly shudder. 

There are essentially two definitions of hustle: to hurry or to swindle, neither of which being particularly desirable or admirable ways of operating in the world. So knowing that, it’s pretty safe to say that your children, customers, friends, and loved ones would likely wholeheartedly prefer that you take your time with them in most cases and/or also abstain from deliberately pulling some game on them.  

And from a business perspective or task completion standpoint, “haste makes waste” is not just a tired cliché, but rather an enduring truth. While I rail against perfectionism at most turns, I’m no longer a fan of the idea of “done is better than good.” Anything worth doing is worth doing well and with care. If it’s not, you should seriously reconsider why you’re doing it at all.  

The outcome of any effort emerging from a place of energy, enjoyment, and genuine excitement is dramatically different from anything forged from the forces of fear, obligation, and overwhelm. As Eckhart Tolle writes in A New Earth, “Whenever there is enthusiasm, there is a creative empowerment that goes far beyond what a mere person is capable of.“ 

So rather than glorifying “the grind” and “the hustle,” it’s more important that we devote ourselves to creating the optimal conditions for enthusiasm to thrive. As Mark Nepo puts it, “Enthusiasm is not a mood that can be willed or forced. Rather, it is a ripple that follows the stone. It can only be felt after we immerse ourselves in life.” 

When we prioritize self-care, artistic pursuits, nourishing experiences, and rejuvenating rituals, enthusiasm more naturally emerges and we organically evolve into exponentially better mothers, lovers, leaders, and entrepreneurs.

Everyone around us reaps the tremendous benefits when we make peace, pleasure, and play non-negotiable in our lives. And while this may come as a surprise, the activities you "indulge" in your downtime often translate into improved and highly-leveraged results in business. For example:

  • Making the time to read fiction or poetry makes us more imaginative and engaging writers when it’s time to pen a marketing campaign, sales copy or a blog post. 
  • A massage or a float takes the edge off stress, which leads to sharper focus, increased patience, and a sense of calm.   
  • A vigorous walk releases all kinds of good endorphins enhancing our capacity for problem solving, innovation, and ingenuity.
  • Vacation time and weekend getaways remove us from daily routines, subsequently offering up fresh and new perspectives on our relationships, circumstances, projects, and priorities.

Ironically, all of those things that you currently "don't have time for" are actually where you should be directing a huge chunk of your hours and efforts. 

FOCUSING ON “TO BE,” RATHER THAN “TO DO”  

In business, success is always more about how we serve rather than what we sell. In life and love, how we show up is arguably more important than how often we show up. So rather than creating an arbitrary list of all of the things you want to accomplish, consider instead taking the time to reflect on the aim, intentions, and mindset you want to bring to your work and relationships this week:  

Ease-infused expansion vs. ego-fueled endurance.

Purposeful presence in lieu of anxious attention. 

Thoughtful elegance over knee-jerk urgency.

Creative liberation as opposed to compression-packed creation.

However, if you still feel compelled to make a to-do list, please put one of these three things near the top of your the list:

1) get rid of that book you're entirely not enjoying, yet continue to pick up night after night after night in the quest for that short-lived, empty rush of completion. Painful page-turning is not a good use of your time. 

2) buy yourself some flowers instead of wishing someone else adored or appreciated you enough to do so. You are so WORTH IT. 

3) cancel every coffee, lunch, engagement, and appointment that is not critical or doesn't totally light you up. It's really the wiser and kinder way to move forward. 

xoxo

On being deeply loved vs. widely liked

A couple of weeks ago... 

I was riffing on the idea of high standards by digging around in the conceptual/philosophical dirt of it all. At the time, I’d promised to circle back around in order to paint a picture of what that actually looks like in life and business for me.

Again, I’ll reiterate that I’m really not shy about the fact that I can be painstakingly particular and intensely insistent at times. Likely not shocking for those of you who know and adore me anyway, but included in my husband’s arsenal of loving nicknames for me is, “Uptown.” (I doubt there’s little need for much clarification on that. :)

However,there remains a critical distinction between our surface,superficial leanings & our most sacred, soulful imperatives.

It’s that path I intend to continue to go down here…

Over the past few years, I’ve developed pretty high standards of how I spend my time and whom I spend it with. In many ways, this has come from learning to centre myself in the understanding that it’s often better to be deeply loved than widely liked.

While both would obviously be delightful and preferable, when we try to be everything to everyone, we ultimately end up as nothing to nobody. Or, as Aesop so wisely surmised in his legendary fables, “In trying to please everyone, (s)he pleased none.” 

So, it’s really become this precious principle that now guides the lion’s share of my choices in terms of where I invest my heart, sweat, and hours. Outside of a few minor exceptions, this means that my calendar is only filled with projects, people, and plans that really light me up.

Yet, at the same time, while I’m very consciously creating a life and business that feels spacious, generous, and fulfilling, I also joyfully work my ass off to ensure it stays that way.

In my work, I routinely strive to go out of my way to create optimal and special experiences for my tribe, consistently searching for opportunities to rise above and beyond in terms of thoughtfulness, service, and impact.

This can mean happily engaging in weekend text chats, taking unscheduled phone calls, or adding in extra sessions when I don’t feel we’ve arrived at where we wanted to go. I’ve taken to hosting “gratitude gatherings” to bring women together for connection, collaboration, and celebration. Sometimes impromptu love notes, flowers, or other surprise treats reveal themselves as the most fitting and honest expressions of my deep appreciation for the people I call into my world.

But all of this loving goodness is deliberately partnered with some pretty solid boundaries that keep me out of resentment and wholly in my integrity the majority of the time. And this is where my markedly high standards come most fully and forcefully into play – within and beyond my business.

Because I show up so wholeheartedly to my work, I invite clients and students to consistently arrive in our relationship in the same way. If there’s a noticeable disjuncture in terms of the levels of respect, consideration or commitment, closing the circle on the engagement is not something I’ll hesitate to do – of course, always without judgment, along the warmest of wishes and no hard feelings.

The quality and equality of that energetic exchange has simply become a non-negotiable for me, which is so truly in the most genuine and very best interests of both sides.

If patterns of no-shows, unanswered emails, ignored invoices, and other expressions of disregard begin to emerge, it really dampens the vibe of the working relationship, negatively impacting the levels of enthusiasm, trust, and affection I can bring to the table. When that happens, I’ve found that I’m just not capable of tapping into the soul-centred and full-spirited energy that I’ve come to fully rely on in order to bring forth my best ideas and biggest contributions.

And really, nobody can - which is why I teach and preach this with adamant animation to my clients just as often (um, if not more so) as I live it.

From a different perspective, when it comes to the more creative side of things, such as writing, speaking or facilitating, I no longer desire to expend endless amounts of energy aiming to impress or win people over. For years, I was overly consumed with chasing approval and acknowledgement and it was downright exhausting. 

Now I choose to stand tall in my own stuff, trying to shine my light in the most authentic and earnest ways I know how. Inevitably, my particular brand of brightness will attract some and repel others.

And that’s more than ok with me. These days, I’m just aiming to land where the love lives; there’s someone for everyone and that’s quite simply not going to be me in a whole lot of cases.

In my personal life...

Much of the same is true and my high standards typically make themselves seen in the following ways:

I avoid gossip, drama, and small talk like the plague. I tend only to dine, dance, drink, dream, coffee, and conspire with people who are inclined to do the same.

I’m wildly dedicated to philanthropy, volunteerism, and community service. At the same time, I’m also fiercely protective of my time, energy, and dignity.

When we choose to divert minutes away from our babies, beloveds, besties, or businesses, we should take good care to make damn sure it feels exceptionally impactful, important, and rewarding.

In the times I’ve felt compelled to un-attach myself from individuals or organizations unable and/or unwilling to offer up some pretty basic respect, reciprocation, or appreciation, it’s been with a very certain, but still heavy heart.

At the end of the day, at the bedrock of the layers of high standards I stand on are these grounding sentiments from the always eloquent and incitingly articulate, Dr. Maya Angelou:

“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.” 

Whether it’s personally, locally, or globally; and whether we’re marketing, managing, or mentoring, I can’t help but think that the very best we can do is to consistently aspire to be a deeply loved priority rather than a widely liked option.

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THE DOORS FOR THE WINTER SESSIONS OF RISE BY DESIGN ARE NOW OPEN! 

How to be a leader when you don't feel like being a leader

Anyone else having “one of those weeks” lately?

It’s been a bit of a rough ride for a lot of the women in my life recently and I know all too well what it feels like to be in this space.   

Even if it’s not your current state of reality, you likely know exactly what I’m talking about:

Everything feels hard, everyone is pissing you off, and everywhere is a place you really don’t want to be.

But if that doesn’t sound familiar, maybe this will:

The days seem dictated by an endless to-do list, emails are going unanswered, people are trampling all over your boundaries, deals are falling through, things are tense with your significant other, and every single task takes about a million times longer than it normally should.

And the nights are not much better – maybe even worse. You spend hours upon hours tossing and turning as your head incessantly swirls with ALL OF THE THINGS. The quiet dark tends to create optimal opportunities to obsess over the minutia, dwell in the past, and catastrophize the future.

From dawn to dusk, sun-up through sun-down, you just can’t shake some feelings, which typically play out, spiral, and circle back around as some version of:

Uninspired. Unmotivated. Unimpressed.

Undervalued. Unsupported. Unappreciated.

Unseen. Unheard. Unwanted.

For a few or more days, you’re pretty much teetering on the edge of becoming entirely unglued. And then it passes.

Something shifts, there’s a sigh of relief, and you’re back to business as usual. (And if it doesn’t, reaching out to a helping professional might be suggested.)

It’s not a whole lot of fun in the meantime. Totally get it. And I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been there more than a time or two. 

The truth is that no matter how successful, centred, and secure we  are, we’re all going to inevitably land in this place from time to time. As Pulitzer-winning poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay has put it, “Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely.”

The trick is to have some solid strategies in place in advance to get ourselves back into the light more swiftly and surely as possible.

Baby, It’s Not You, It’s Me

The starting point typically has to do with radically transforming your foundational mindset and perspective – ideally in a time when you’re healthy, strong, sane, and settled.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll hit the repeat button on my trusty stand-by about what it means to show up in your life, work, and the world as a leader:

Leadership is not a position, it’s a constant, conscious, and very often, courageous decision.

At its core, personal leadership is the unconditional, full-spirited acknowledgement that you are 110% responsible for your own life, without excuse or exception.

Leadership is neither a title nor a standing; it’s absolute ownership of your capacity to make smart, hard, deliberate and enlightened choices in response to every experience, emotion, person, and circumstance you encounter.

What this means is that in every moment, it’s completely within your power to step into leadership, or not. That should sound like good news for most, but in reality, this can often be a hard pill for some of us to swallow; when the going gets tough, it can feel far easier to pass the buck and blame, deflecting or denying our role in any given negative situation.

If you’re not convinced of my take on this, I’d invite you to consider Oprah’s thoughts on the matter (and watch the fantastic short video that the words are linked to):

“YOU are responsible for YOUR life. And if you’re sitting around waiting for someone to save you, to fix you, or even help you, you are wasting your time. Because only you have the power to take responsibility to move your life forward. And the sooner you get that, the sooner your life gets into gear.”

And the sooner, I would add, that you might begin to be recognized and regarded as a leader by others. If you’re someone who is able to fully embrace, embody, and exemplify this truth with some consistency, chances are pretty good that people will eventually begin to turn to you in good faith for guidance, support, encouragement, and expertise.

You must be able to lead yourself before you really have any business leading others; until you’re standing solidly in your own sovereignty, your shoulders simply aren’t strong enough to lift up others. 

At this point, you’re probably like, “Um, thanks for the soapboxy leadership lecture, Jami, but how do I actually make this actionable and useful in my life?”

I’m getting there right now, I promise!

Enter in The Feminine LeaderShift.

In the darkness, or when we’re at our worst, we’re typically in the mode of command, control, compete, compare, and criticize.

In the light, or when we’re at our best, we’re typically driven by connection, contribution, collaboration, celebration, and compassion.

It’s actually in the space between these two states where the opportunity for genuine leadership emerges.

Leadership lives in the moments when we consciously decide to engage our agency and activate our capacity to choose a different way of being. Here’s how it works:

1) Moving out of command and into connection.

In the darkness, we tend to descend into a domineering and solitary headspace. Often we will gravitate towards isolation in order to increase our productivity and indulge our perfectionist leanings. However, rather than retreating from the world, the Feminine LeaderShift would implore you to instead opt for some fresh air, commune with nature, have lunch with a girlfriend, or pull your child out of school for an impromptu adventure.

Connection is truly the best elixir for heightened creativity, the solution for “stuck-ness,” and the cure-all for complacency.

2) Stepping away from control towards contribution.

When we’re stressing over how rent is going to get paid, how we’re going to meet a tight deadline, or how we might respond to an unhappy client or customer, many of us automatically fall into fear. We move into scarcity and out of service, rejecting abundance in favour of the fervor to please, prove, perfect, and perform. 

Rather than lingering in lack, actively seek out opportunities to be generous, to give back, or otherwise make a difference in a selfless way. Write a cheque to your favourite charity, volunteer some time at an organization, or gift some of your products and services. As Francis of Assisi has so beautifully said, “For it is in giving that we receive.”

3) Releasing competition to make space for collaboration.

One of my favourite sayings is, “A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms.” As I see it, the more blooming that occurs, the more stunning and glorious the garden. The same is true of the world

In her brilliant 2013 article, Shine Theory: Why Powerful Women Make the Greatest Friends, Ann Friedman wrote, “When you meet a woman who is intimidatingly witty, stylish, beautiful, and professionally accomplished, befriend her. Surrounding yourself with the best people doesn’t make you look worse by comparison. It makes you better.”

Truer words have never been spoken. When you encounter someone doing beautiful and brilliant work in the world, your aim should never be to overshadow it, but to figure out how to best bask in the glow.   

4) Trading in comparison for celebration.

Relatedly, so many of our heartaches and headaches come from letting the successes of others act as a distorted fun-house mirror of all of things we ourselves haven’t achieved, accomplished or experienced.

But instead of being a Bitter Betty about somebody else’s drool-worthy vacation, the incredible publishing deal, the aww-mazing blog post, or the hard-earned community award, be a Queen about it: send flowers, write a note, offer up a loving comment, or share a post. 

You can never, ever go wrong with the currency of celebration. Even in the event that it happens to go unnoticed or unacknowledged by the individual, you’ve earned yourself some serious clout with the gods of good karma.    

5) Rejecting criticism in favour of compassion.

When people stand us up, let us down, waste our time, or hurt our feelings, we generally do one of two things (or, often both):

      i.         We get all up in our egos and berate their thoughtlessness and/or incompetence

     ii.         We get all up in our own self-worthiness and berate ourselves for not being good enough or important enough to deserve something different or better from these individuals

The enlightened alternative, and the way of the Feminine LeaderShift, is to gently re-wire our default responses to incorporate inquiry, along with a little more kindness and humanity - for both ourselves and others.

We never really know what’s going on behind the scenes with other people and on the flip-side, we can often bring a lot of our own baggage into any given interaction. Be thoughtful enough to consider in advance that something entirely unrelated to you and the current situation might be happening.

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Why high standards should be holy and not haughty

I recently had the opportunity to spend some time in circle with six rather spectacular women. We’d come together on a frigid January weekend with the aim of breathing some life into our biggest dreams and deepest desires by doing some soul stretching work together over the course of a couple of days.

As we communed in a cozy candle-lit space tucked away from the world, our conversations gradually and naturally grew bolder and braver as the hours went on. Sheltered from the demands of the day-to-day and untethered from the stifling limitations that so many of us routinely contend with, we decidedly dared our way into the depths of what lies beneath.

And we very simply had to go there. Because after years of being intensely influenced by the media, the magazines, the patriarchy, the parents, and the friends, getting to the core of what we truly long for in our lives and work sometimes requires some rather relentless unraveling.

The reality is that over time our passions, preferences, and predilections can become so firmly entrenched in the expectations of others that a good amount of ruthless excavation often needs to occur to in order to bring them back into the light.  

Since our gathering, one of those digging expeditions in particular has continued to steadily saunter through my thoughts, begging for some deeper attention. And it was around a conversation we dove into around the topic of “high standards.”  

HIGH STANDARDS VS. HIGH-MAINTENANCE

To begin with, I very happily admit that I take great pleasure in some of the finer things in life – good wine, high-end handbags, luxurious vacations, exquisite bouquets, and 5-star restaurants. But I just as equally (if not more so!) find enduring delight in truck stop breakfasts, dandelions picked by my daughter, a killer discount, and out-of-key sing-alongs around a roaring fire.

Simply put, I totally dig decadence, but I also bow down to sacred simplicity.  

Over the last few years, it’s not a big secret that I’ve become progressively unapologetic about liking what I like, wanting what I want, and also asking for those things on a more regular basis. However, my ever-increasing refusal to settle is not at all a matter of living in defiance of anything or anyone, but rather of living in greater alignment and deepening devotion to the truth of who I am. And this is all about staying holy, not being haughty.

As Robert Louis Stevenson puts it, “To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to keep your soul alive.”

And given that most of us are generally pretty interested and invested in keeping our souls alive and kicking, this seems like super solid advice.

High standards shouldn’t have anything to do with being high-maintenance, nor should they be a function of arrogance or entitlement. If we’re going about it in the right way, having high standards is very simply a matter of being completely conscious of what’s sacred and meaningful to us and then subsequently going about the hard work to generate the experiences and relationships we most want to have in our lives.

When it comes down to it, our most important needs, wishes, and wants should be rooted in our intrinsic worthiness and serve as divine expressions of who we are. As such, there are bound to be times when clashes are going to occur in the face of another’s intrinsic-ly worthy self.

However, when we work to make reverence and reciprocity the mainstays of our relationships and if we’re continuously cultivating our capacity to choose compassion over condescension, it’s always entirely possible to find compromise without caving.

Being soulfully selective is a far cry from being superficial, superior, or insufferably snooty.

There’s a vast difference between heart-centered discernment and self-centered demanding.

At the end of the day, the aim should always be enlightened insistence, not obnoxious expectation.

The moral of the first part of this story is that you can almost always have your cake and eat it too - as long as you’re willing to do the majority of the baking, occasionally opt for a gluten-free recipe, and consistently invite other people into your kitchen and to the table.  

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THE DOORS FOR THE FALL SESSIONS OF RISE BY DESIGN ARE NOW OPEN! 

You are not meant for crawling.

“Too big. Too much. Too soon. Too edgy. Too expensive. Too risky.  

Unlikely. Unrealistic. Unreasonable. Unachievable.  

I don’t see it. We’re just not there yet. It can’t be done.

You’re SOOOOOOO cute! 

Are you sure? Are you crazy? Are you f-ing kidding me?” 

AND SO CAN GO THE MANY RESPONSES TO OUR PASSIONS, PLANS,AND PROJECTS...

Rolling eyes. Furrowed brows. Tilted heads. 

Polite nods. Uncomfortable chuckles. Exasperated sighs. 

Nervous apprehension. Naked condescension.

Different varieties of discouragement,disregard,or even disdain that seem to fly in the face of our dreams, desires, and wishes.

So we opt to shrink and settle, deciding that the space of the world is somehow not ours to occupy.

We stir and stew in silence, feeling shadowed by the successes of others. 

And instead of standing tall in the truth of who we really are, we kind of crawl through life to stay out of the light we don’t think we deserve. 

But, as Rumi has said, "you are not meant for crawling." He wrote:

You were born with potential.You were born with goodness and trust.You were born with ideals and dreams.You were born with greatness.You were born with wings.You are not meant for crawling, so don't.You have wings. Learn to use them and fly.

Your moment has arrived. It’s time to fly. 

Stop apologizing for your aspirations.

Consciously commit to your curiosity.

Listen intently to your longings. 

Be bold and brazen with your big ideas.  

Stretch your soul.

Make art out of your life.

What's the worst that could happen?

THE DOORS FOR THE FALL SESSIONS OF RISE BY DESIGN ARE NOW OPEN! 

Manifesto of a Supernova: A Reminder for Unapologetically Shining in the World

The vision I’ve imagined for my time here is pretty simple.

I want to show up to life with all of the bravery and loveliness I can muster in service of making the world a slightly brighter and more beautiful place. That’s it, that’s all.

Perhaps it’s not particularly revolutionary, but taking a sacred stand for your truth on a regular basis can be easier said than done. 

Being the fallible and fragile human that I am, it’s infinitely easy to lapse into that place of fear, scarcity, and self-doubt where the efforts to bring my vision to life can seem either downright futile or overly indulgent. And it doesn’t take long before I can start sliding down that slippery slope of comparison and inadequacy, incessantly worrying about judgment from others.

At this point I’ve gotten pretty damn good at talking myself down from the ledge before I jump back into that safe place where I’m not constantly being called upon to be more visible and vulnerable. Yet, I’d be lying if I said that I don’t still struggle with being wholly seen in my raw authenticity. So it’s really become a matter of deciding over and over again that love is bigger than fear and entirely trusting that my message can serve as medicine for others.

Enter in the MANIFESTO OF A SUPERNOVA. It’s at once a soulful statement of intent, a daily affirmation, and a declaration of devotion. And it never fails to drop me fully and firmly back into my message and mission in rapid-fire time:  

Now more than ever, the world urgently needs more women who are awakened, enlivened, and emboldened.

At this time in history, our planet is positively aching for more mothers, lovers, and leaders who are unapologetically walking in the blazing brilliance of their light.

Choose the path of the feminine supernova.

Be guided by gratitude and surrender to bright faith.

Trust that there’s clarity in chaos; it’s where the lessons and blessings live.

Playing small is an insult to the universe and a slight to your divinity.

Decide to rise at every possible opportunity.

Light begets more light. Your shining is a liberating force for others.

For me, this manifesto has served as encouragement incarnate and pure motivational magic. There’s unequivocal power in making the time and space to distill the most heart-centred wishes you have for yourself and the world.

As you ease into the articulation of your own soul story, I highly recommend you consider penning a personal purpose-driven proclamation. I wrote this particular one for more universal adoption, so try it on for yourself to see if it fits on your journey towards luminosity. Shine on, bright one!

A few footnotes for deeper understanding...

BRIGHT FAITH

I used to love the idea of “blazing truth,” but when I recently became reacquainted with the idea of bright faith, it resonated so deeply.

According to author and Buddhist teacher Sharon Salzberg, bright faith “is a state of love-filled delight in possibilities and eager joy at the prospect of actualizing them.”  She says, “Bright faith goes beyond merely claiming that possibility for oneself to immersing oneself in it. With bright faith, we are lifted out of our normal sense of insignificance, thrilled as we no longer feel lost and alone. The enthusiasm, energy, and courage we need in order to leave the safe path, to stop aligning ourselves with the familiar and convenient, arise with bright faith.”

CLARITY IS A GIFT OF CHAOS

Hard times, heartbreak, and hurt feelings suck, but more and more, I’ve come to see that these things happen for us, and not just to us.

The darkness we walk through across our lives intensifies the infinite light that burns within us. While our brightness may dim in times of desperation, devastation, and despair, the embers of our true essence are never wholly extinguished. As I’ve said before, I wholeheartedly think that dissidence, strife, and struggle can be powerful teachers if we’re open to receiving the gifts they offer.

I truly believe that personal leadership requires us reframe our “baggage” as precious cargo that we carry with us on our journeys home to ourselves. And while it may seem counterintuitive, our deepest fears and biggest hurts can present our most profound opportunities to lead and to use our lives as powerful forces for change and recalibration in our homes, communities, and the world. As Nietzsche has said, “One must have chaos within oneself to give birth to a dancing star.” 

REFUSE TO PLAY SMALL

When you commit to unabashedly lighting up the world with your purpose, passion, and truth, you illuminate the path for others to follow. However, when you actively opt out of using your natural gifts, talents, and strengths to be of service in the world, it’s an insult to your divinity and much like giving the middle finger to the universe.

For me, this reality came into glaring focus when I came across the following quote from Marianne Williamson in 2013, which radically transformed my outlook on life and ultimately altered the trajectory of my life forever:

“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

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THE DOORS FOR THE FALL SESSIONS OF RISE BY DESIGN ARE NOW OPEN! 

 

 

 

Embrace Your Interruptions

“I’m broken,” a woman recently confided in a workshop. “I’ve been broken for a while now and I don’t know if I can be fixed.”  

My heart immediately descended into instant aching mode.

I briefly closed my eyes to lean into this raw share and drew a deep breath to ground myself in the moment. I bowed my head, gave the words the space to land, and then proceeded to look up to join her fully in this truth.

But as I raised my gaze to search her stare for that sacred meeting ground, I was abruptly taken aback and found myself awkwardly tilting my head in confusion.

Something was totally and completely off. 

While she had spoken with a conviction that rang earnestly, those soul windows of hers were serving up a wildly different version of the story she was sharing with the group. 

See, there’s a requisite darkness that dances full on with genuine desperation and despair, with true brokenness. I know it well and have seen it more times than I care to remember. Despondency and hopeless resignation dig out a hollow void in the eyes of the beholder that can swallow you whole in a second - one glance can feel much like diving into a frigid pool of pain. 

But there was absolutely none of that going on in the woman looking back at me from behind those smart, rimless frames. As in zero, zilch, nada.

Instead, there was an undeniable fire there, lighting her from the inside out. The flame was faint and slightly smothered, but I could see it fiercely fighting to burn brighter and be felt. My skin actually prickled at the white-hot heat she was emanating, surging at a frequency somewhere between inviting and intense.

While she may have wholeheartedly believed she was broken when she said it, this woman wasn’t at all shattered; she was simply simmering. What she needed was some stoking and stirring, not any kind of saving, fixing or mending.

In the moment, all that I said was, “You’re not broken, you’re just interrupted. And that’s not a bad thing.”

We live in a culture that is fixated on fault and failing, along with the fast and the furious. We’ve absorbed the notion that if we’re not achieving, we’re atrophying. In the absence of action and accomplishment, our worthiness somehow hangs in the balance.  We’ve lost the capacity to sit with uncertainty and have radically discounted the tremendous value and beauty of just being.

But here’s the thing: Ideas insist on incubation and creative babies won’t be born whole and healthy without that critical gestation period. Foregoing the essential recovery time between marathons is a certain invitation for injury.    

Our standstills should be savored. Intermissions are opportunities to revel in spaciousness. Disruption doesn’t preclude devotion.

Make space for grace in the grit.  More heart, less hustle. You’re not broken, you’re just breathing.

Lessons, Blessings, Compassion, and Captivity (Or, What Prison Taught Me About Pain & Suffering)

I have a confession to make. And it’s not that I’ve actually spent any time behind bars, but rather that I’ve been completely addicted to Orange is the New Black for the past month.

I don’t typically watch a lot of TV and in fact, months can go by without even turning one on. However, I became an absolute fiend with this particular series.

Watching a handful of episodes every few days, I quickly powered through all four seasons in record time. I’ve been utterly enthralled by the complexity of the characters, the depravity that accompanies “doing time,” and the ways in which these women navigate their captivity and their relationships with each other. It’s been totally fascinating, frustrating, funny, endearing, and disturbing all at once.

This show is seriously a goldmine of intellectual adventure if you’re into psychologically wrestling around with the messier parts of life, which I’ll admit I can be prone to do from time to time. But over the past few days, there’s been one particular scene that’s been incessantly rolling around in my head begging for some attention and reflection.

Not wanting to be a show-spoiler, I won’t offer up much context, but I think the sentiment stands pretty profoundly on its own. However, for you other avid OITNB watchers, I’m referring to the moment when Pennsatucky (a.k.a Dogget) poses the following to Big Boo:

“Do you know the difference between pain and suffering?

Pain is always there, but suffering is a choice.”

And so while this isn’t exactly a new idea or novel concept, it hit me hard in the moment.

There’s been a great deal of loss, upset, and strife in the lives of many of the people I love lately and I’ve been feeling it deeply. As I took in these words, the faces of clients, friends, and other dear ones in recent turmoil were immediately brought to mind and I felt called to explore it a little more fully.

PAIN VS. SUFFERING

In the first place, it’s just not logical to believe that anyone would choose to suffer. Really, why would anyone actively choose to suffer? They very simply don’t.

So the real issue is more about how we can intentionally ease or end suffering as quickly as possible. More aptly, how do we NOT suffer? And then ultimately the question becomes: what’s the alternative to suffering?

Importantly though, I needed to firmly wrap my head around the difference between pain and suffering.  

As I see it, pain is the involuntary, immediate, and often very visceral response to hurt, humiliation, and heartbreak; it entails the gut-wrenching, hand-clenching, and mind-bending reactions that our bodies and brains serve up in reaction to discomfort, distress, or trauma.  

Suffering, on the other hand, is the conscious, yet not necessarily deliberate, continuation of that experience. It’s that dangerous dwelling place of resentment, regret, helplessness, anxiety, and anger. And it’s entirely destructive to the angels of our true and better natures.

All too often, suffering becomes the birthplace of irrationality, poor judgment, and even obsession, which can leave heaps of collateral damage in its wake.

But as Elie Wiesel so poignantly demonstrated to the world in transcending his reality of a concentration camp in Nazi Germany, suffering is essentially a mindset or a perspective. And mindsets and perspectives can be shifted with determined awareness and decisive attention. In his words, “Because I remember, I despair. Because I remember, I have the duty to reject despair.”

So while this may be hard for some of us to swallow, suffering is very much a condition that we can opt out of, or at the very least, manage.

Don’t get me wrong - I DO NOT believe that “everything happens for a reason.” I tend to prickle a little when this cliché catchall is flippantly delivered as a universal explanation for the trials and tough times in our lives and the world. And truth be told, I’m not really a big fan of “mind over matter” for some of the same reasons.

However, I DO believe that many difficult situations - ranging from minor discomfort to major devastation - don’t happen to us, they happen for us. 

But only if you choose to see it that way. And you CAN choose to see it that way.

THE POWER TO CHOOSE

Every single day we encounter people, problems and struggles, running the gamut from petty to pretty painful, that create the optimal conditions for suffering:

The hard drive that crashes just before a major presentation. The blog post that bombs. The flight that gets cancelled at the very last minute.

The shitty co-worker. The deadbeat dad. The unethical boss. The other woman.

That dreaded call from the doctor. The end of a friendship. The loss of a loved one. 

But whether it’s a temporary inconvenience, a serious setback or a soul-shocking betrayal, it’s wholly within our power to evolve negative situations into opportunities for growth, grace, or greater alignment. And far from being a woo-woo suggestion, this is a particularly empowered and enlightened approach to living.

In order to adopt this way of being, we need to lean fully into the knowing that there are times when we have little control over what happens to us, but we ALWAYS have control over our response and reactions – both internally and outwardly. For instance:

In the face of a nasty separation, we can choose NOT to engage in drawn-out court battles that ravage our children’s innocence and wellbeing. 

Rather than sending out knee-jerk emails and regrettable text messages when we feel slighted, we can choose NOT to hit send in the heat of the moment.

When our work falls flat or a project isn’t well received, we can chose NOT to descend into damaging self-talk, including internal dialogue about our failure and inadequacy.

Because here’s the thing: the very things that Bring us to our Knees or nearly break us Into Pieces can often be the very same things that make us more complete and whole.

From my own experience, had it not been for that one particularly crappy colleague who attempted to make my days a living hellish nightmare, it would’ve taken me a lot longer to discover and step into my life’s work. That woman taught me that I needed to fully embody feminine leadership and be a stand for the success of all women.

When my grandfather passed last year, it was absolutely devastating to me. However, his death also served to exponentially amplify my gratitude for the three other grandparents who still walk through the world with me. As a result, they’ve become even more beloved; every opportunity I have to spend with them is now even richer and never taken for granted.

And had I not kissed a whole lot of frogs on my path, I wouldn’t have been so quick to know when I finally stumbled upon a prince. Every bad relationship was an opportunity to grow into the person I needed to become in order to build and sustain a healthy, loving, and passionate partnership.  

Aggravation, adversity, and agony can be incredibly powerful teachers - but only if we’re willing to show up for the lessons that live in the disappointment, despair, and other darker places.

As Mark Nepo says, “The quiet teachers are everywhere. Yet in our pride and confusion, in our self-centeredness and fear, we often miss the teachers and feel burdened and alone.”

THE ALTERNTIVE TO SUFFERING

While I’m attempting to neatly wrap all of this up into one tidy article, believe me that these were all hard-earned realizations and not overnight revelations.

Yet, time and again, I've come to learn that the most difficult lessons are often accompanied by even bigger blessings. As Weisel reminds us, “There are victories of the soul and spirit. Sometimes, even if you lose, you win.”  

And all of this has led me to a powerful practice that has served me very well over the last few years. Whenever I’m confronted with challenging circumstances or people, I immediately ask two questions before taking any action: "What can I learn from this?" and "What can I earn from this?"

Said differently, “What is this situation trying to teach me?” and “Where can I find reasons to be grateful?”

Sometimes the insights are instantaneous. Other times it can take years to download the deeper understanding. The point is that there’s an intentional reaction and solid strategy planned in advance for anything life wants to throw in my general direction.

More than that though, I think it’s about massively shifting our universal response overall. In a previous post, I wrote that generosity is the best response to absolutely everything. However, with further reflection, I’ve come to understand that our ability to be generous resides in our capacity for compassion – towards ourselves and towards others.

Compassion, then, is truly the only alternative to suffering.

As I wrote in a recent Instagram post:

In times of grief, chaos, and uncertainty, we tend to turn inward and close our hearts off to the world. We absorb ourselves in our own stories of pain and struggle, composing fearful and damaging narratives that are dictated solely from our fragile egos. Without intending to, we make ourselves preeminently important and forget that we are all in this together.  
This business of humanness can be really messy, and when we're in the muck of it all, our inclination is to retreat rather than reach out. And while it's important to ask for help and support, it's even more essential that you find a way to extend yourself on a soul level in the midst of trauma, turmoil, or even just a tough day. Sending loving kindness to the world in your darkest hours is honestly almost always the surest path to peace, healing and happiness.    
As the Dalai Lama has said, "Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival.” 

A LITTLE MORE PRISON WISDOM

I spent many years preferring to be right over being happy. There were times when seething, stewing, or saving face entirely trumped my need for peace, sanity, and serenity. And I too have sent my fair share of emails and text messages that I desperately wish I could take back. Because in the wise words of good old Dogget from Orange is the New Black, “Toast can never be bread again.”

Instead of suffering, try to dig deep for the lessons and even deeper for the blessings. And though it might sometimes feel like suffering in the moment, practice compassion even when it hurts like hell.

That Time I Became a Queen

Once Upon a Time…

I traveled to Costa Rica to embark on a weeklong leadership and business retreat with 15 ambitious and accomplished female leaders from across the globe.

Each of us had been called into the experience by a beloved teacher and mentor as part of a mastermind journey we were collectively participating in. And while we’d minimally interacted with each other online in the few months leading up to the trip, this would be the first time we’d finally meet face-to-face.

Prior to leaving, I was excited and looking forward to an amazing adventure, but I was also feeling unsettled, slightly intimidated, and a bit skeptical - I honestly had little idea of what to expect.

Many of these women were light years ahead of me in their businesses. And as a sensitive introvert with a preference for a ton of personal space, I was stressing over sharing a room with some random woman I’d never met.

I was also psychologically preparing myself for the inevitable drama that was sure to creep in with so many ladies in such close quarters, for such a lengthy period of time.

Things were bound to get a little catty, complicated or otherwise uncomfortable somewhere along the way, weren’t they?  

I worked seriously hard to manage my expectations, preconceived notions, and judgments in advance.

A few new fun friends, I thought. Maybe, just maybe, a great business connection or a creative partnership would emerge. But if I walked away with nothing more than some refreshed marketing strategies, a few pictures of the jungle, and a couple of ideas on how to scale my revenues over the next few years, I would be one very happy Costa Rican camper.   

Of course, there was a part of me that always intuitively knew that it would be a meaningful experience on a deeper level from the outset, which is why I signed up in the first place. Yet nothing, and I mean NOTHING, could have prepared me for the depth, intensity, and magic that ensued.

The Commencement of the Courtship

As it turned out, I was the first to arrive at the retreat centre.

My room wasn’t ready when I got there, but on the heels of four flights and a Canadian winter, I was pretty pleased to promptly plant myself by the infinity pool while I eagerly (but somewhat anxiously) awaited the arrival of the other women.

One by one, they began to trickle in throughout that sun-drenched afternoon. Getting acquainted, we spent time cooing over photos of each other’s children, partners, and fur babies. 

As that first day progressed and we sat down to dinner, I felt something shifting in me. In many ways, I was surprised at how quickly any trepidation melted away and how easily I softened into their presence. Within a few short hours, I began to settle into the realization that this was going to be a monumental and life-altering experience. Really, how couldn’t it be?

I was in the promised land of Pura Vida immersed in a collective of wise-hearted women doing soul-centred, mission-driven work in the world. And, it certainly didn’t hurt that I'd actually been paired with the dreamiest and most delightful roommate ever.

But even then I had no idea how fully and completely my reality was about to be rocked, my perspectives forever shifted, and my horizons expanded beyond my wildest imaginations.

The Royal Reckoning

As entrepreneurs will do, we were soon jamming on success mindset, sales funnels, website copy, client issues, and business structures.

But as women will do, it didn’t take long before we were dishing on our mothers, lovers, siblings, and daddies, which so naturally evolved into earnest conversations on the topics of love, loss, health, happiness, abuse, abandonment, and Ryan Gosling.  

As the week went on,we danced salsa,jumped off cliffs (literally and figuratively),and floated on water beneath blankets of stars.

We nourished our bodies, minds, and spirits with movement and intention in the salty sea air.  

We shared secrets and declared our truest wishes under the new moon.

We called in our ancestors and paid tribute to painful pasts in the presence of a priestess. 

There was belly-busting laughter and gut-wrenching surrender.

Old stories were unraveled and eternal truths unearthed. 

There was unfurling, unfolding, and at times, complete undoing.  

In the fire of vulnerability and the heat of fierce, but humble hearts, something sacred was divinely co-created.

As we each simultaneously stepped fully into the power of our individual sovereignty and our shared sisterhood, every single woman was celebrated, supported, and very wholly seen.

And this is TRuly how queens are born.  

The Majesty of Feminine Leadership

Ultimately, the keys to queendom are readily available to each and every woman who is a stand for sisterhood, shared success, and authentic empowerment in the world. 

So while I now like to recognize my official coronation as happening in the heart of Central America surrounded by goddesses, in reality, we actively claim our crowns in every moment we courageously embrace opportunities for deep connection, genuine compassion, and meaningful contribution.

In this realm, there is little space for control, comparison, or competition.

Queens don't compel with an aim to conquer.

Queens invite with intention to empower. 

And unlike the kingdoms so many of us have passed through along our heroine journeys - prestige, profits, and position hold little meaning in our pursuit for dominion over domination. 

As queens, we reject drama and disparagement, turning our backs on bitchiness and belittlement.

We encourage others to stand tall in their truths and shine their brightest lights to realize their greatest potential.

We readily applaud the achievements and accolades of the women around us, while consistently and consciously looking for ways to enhance, expand, and expedite their continued success.   

Most importantly, we recognize that our impact in the world is only amplified and intensified as more queens are revealed and revered as such. 

Only through a collective commitment to the expansion of feminine leadership can we continue to breathe energy and life into Bella Abzug's profound prediction: "In the twenty-first century, women will change the nature of power, rather than power changing the nature of women.”

Fiercely Wanting What You Want and the Real Power of Leading From Desire

Like millions and millions of other people, I devoured Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code, when it was released in 2003. In fact, I voraciously took in the whole spellbinding story in a single sitting on a cold and snowy January night, stopping only to freshen my tea between chapters.  

The intrigue and the plot twists had me riveted, and I seriously couldn’t put it down! However, it’s not so much the marathon session that makes that evening so memorable, but rather one short sentence that stopped me dead in my tracks and still gives me goose bumps even now. It read:

“Men go to far greater lengths to avoid what they fear than to obtain what they desire.”

While I’m not usually one for dramatic effect, I honestly had a full-body response as I read these words for the first time. As I went on to repeat them slowly aloud, I recall the intense experience of having profound clarity come crashing down on me. Wholly shift!

SO. MUCH. TRUTH.

While it may not have appeared as such to those looking in from the outside, it became immediately clear to me that there’d been many decisions throughout my life that had entirely come from a place of fear to varying degrees. 

From being scared of other people's opinions, to worrying about the future unknown, to being completely paralyzed by the prospect of my own power - I realized the numerous occasions where fear had definitely been driving, while desire had rarely, if ever, even made an appearance in the back seat.    

It was a serious revelation at the time and one that ultimately ignited my decade-long love affair with the concept of desire. However, I didn’t connect all of the dots until many years later when I learned how this wisdom could be strategized in very important ways.

Enter in Danielle LaPorte and The Desire Map.

THE STRATEGY OF DESIRE

The Desire Map is the seminal work of one of my most treasured teachers, Danielle LaPorte. In discovering this beloved book a couple of years ago, I was able to completely revolutionize my relationship with desire, along with the critical role it plays in my life. It was the piece of the puzzle that had been missing for so many years! 

As Danielle tells us, desire brings light to darkness and is truly the foundation of our will to live. She explains, “When you cease to desire, you cease to live.” 

The Desire Map offered me a step-by-step roadmap for bringing my truest wishes to the surface and taught me how to use this powerful awareness to make more enlightened choices in love, work, service, and play. It encouraged me to re-examine my procedures for achievement, attainment and goal setting, while also giving me invaluable insights into leveraging my desires as a formidable force for more empowerment, freedom and joy. 

In a previous article, I explain some of this in greater detail and outline the myriad of ways in which it has completely transformed the way I engage in my life and business. 

THE DAUNTING DANCE OF DESIRE

Interestingly, very few people can clearly and confidently articulate their desires. Many of my private clients and workshop attendees have told me that they’ve experienced a lot of resistance and difficulty in trying to determine and declare exactly what it is that they truly, truly want.

Sometimes the challenge is grounded in a fear of judgment, where in other cases, it’s the absence of clarity. Usually, it’s some combination of both;  overcoming our cultural conditioning to be humble and accommodating is not easy, and neither is getting to the root of what it is that we long for the most.  

In the wise words of Nelson Mandela: 

“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.”

This is not work for the faint of heart and definitely requires some major soul searching. Typically I take women through the process over a weekend intensive or a 12-week period, but here are a few ways that you can start leaning into your desires immediately:

Start with a gratitude list.

As Melodie Beattie reminds us, "Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity...it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." Blessing counting is ALWAYS the best place to start. 

Examine what’s not working.

There are diamonds of truth to be mined when you dig around in the messier parts of your life. To get to the heart of what you do want, you’ll need to get brutally raw and real about your deal-breakers and no thank-you’s.

If you want ease and peace in your days, you can’t fill up your dance card with endless commitments. If you desire respect and appreciation, you may need to let go of those relationships that no longer nourish and serve you. If it’s simplicity and beauty you’re after, a major purge of your closets, cupboards, and other spaces may be in order.

Let go of the need for approval from others. 

Want what you want with every ounce of your mighty heart. That might be a thriving 7-figure business and the jet-setting perks that come along with it, or maybe it’s a relatively mindless job that offers you lots of breathing room and bandwidth to sing, dance, paint or otherwise create.

Perhaps you have your sights set on speaking in front of thousands of people in a stadium setting or maybe you’re just dying for more solitary time in your garden. 

As long as it doesn’t harm anyone else, prioritize your passions and pursue them relentlessly.

Be prepared to go much, much deeper.

You need to ask yourself why you want what you want. More specifically, there's always a sought-after feeling driving every accomplishment or attainment we seek.

For example, we don’t want 6-pack abs for the sake of a washboard stomach alone.  Instead, we’re after a need to feel strong, healthy, sexy or vital.  Likewise, we don’t want an overflowing bank account just to count the dollar bills all day long, but rather we’re longing for security, success, abundance, or affluence.  

When you know how you want to feel, you can design your life, career, and relationships in support of generating those feelings over and over again.   

RETHINKING STATUS & THE ESSENCE OF REAL POWER

As the poet Rumi once said, “When you know your real status, no longer would you covet or borrow in any manner.  All will even line up to pay you interest, envy thee, if you wish.”

Knowing your “real status” is about embracing your intrinsic worthiness as a beautiful and unique being on this planet; it’s a matter of honouring the callings and longings that are yours, and yours alone, and then actively creating your life in accordance with these.

When we can stand tall in our authenticity, answer to our deepest desires, and live in a way that’s in alignment with our truest song, lack and scarcity tend to scatter in the wind. We gradually begin to unhook from competition and comparison. Instead we become free to firmly attach ourselves to the values of courage, connection, compassion, and celebration, which are the cornerstones of feminine leadership.

As we are liberated from the expectations and preferences of others, it becomes increasingly easy to walk through the world with more grace, joy, and gratitude. At the same time, this freedom infuses you with the energy and ability to lead and serve from a place that is far more genuine, generous, and impactful.

Real power comes from our conscious capacity to make wholehearted choices that are reflective of who we really are at our core. We often dilute that power when we're constantly, and often very unconsciously, rising up to meet the demands of someone else.    

Of course, there’ll be lots of times when our choices will include accommodating others in loving and important ways, but we need to check in with ourselves to ensure that these decisions are honest expressions of our autonomy and desires, rather than a default response to imposition or expectation.   

Far from being self-centered, this is an incredibly soul-centered and thoughtful approach to living and leading.

However, as the saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibility.” In making the divine and decisive commitment to align your intentions and actions with your wants, wishes, and needs, you’re ultimately contracting with the universe to fiercely respect the same from and for others.

Similarly, being deliberate with your desires is the pinnacle of self-reliance. If you are routinely depending on others or manipulating situations to achieve certain outcomes and generate the experiences you wish to have, you’re likely missing the mark by a mile.   

In my own journey, there’ve been stops, starts, and setbacks as I’ve wrestled with fear and desire over the past decade. However it’s been the choices where desire boldly triumphed that have been the most meaningful and monumental of all. 

Be Shoulders to Stand On: 18 Ways To Lift the Women You Love, Lead, and Support

I’m still coming down from the crazy high of a recent whirlwind trip to Chicago, where I had the opportunity to give a couple of talks to some particularly brilliant and conscious female leaders. I was definitely in my happy place – there’s nothing quite as energizing for me as being surrounded by talented and ambitious women who are not only interested in elevating their own lives, but also those of the women around them.

From a professional perspective, the entire trip was exciting, successful, and wildly fulfilling. However, it was the unwavering support from a small group of women that left my heart overflowing with gratitude, my spirit richly replenished, and my soul set on fire with blazing love and appreciation.

The Power of Sisterhood

Lately, there’s been a quote that’s been circulating among women like crazy across social media and I’ve been glowing with delight every single time I see it liked, loved, and shared. It says:

“Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back.”  

After my recent time in the Windy City, I can categorically say that I know this to be true without doubt.

It was my tribe, my sisters, or as I adoringly refer to them, my coven of beloveds, who not only made this journey beyond beautiful, but even possible in the first place.

First there was my fire-cracking, wicked smart, huge-hearted bombshell of a friend, Kelly. Not only did she organize and coordinate every last detail of my speaking engagements, she scheduled me a blow out, wined and dined me, ubered me all over town, and showered me with more love, light, and encouragement than I quite knew what to do with.

Then there was Monica. She's my gorgeous, generous, wordsmithing goddess friend who travelled all the way from St. Louis, Missouri to spend the week with Kelly and I, while also serving as the #1 cheerleader in the sessions I led. 

And last, but certainly not least, there was Tegan. I’m actually pretty sure she’s the lovechild of Superwoman and the coolest rock star you know. She’s a spicy, sassy, and soulful beauty with a razor sharp mind and the wit to match, and she joined Kelly and Monica in the stands as my biggest fans for the sessions I led.

This triad of awesomeness held me for the entirety of this grand adventure and made it more wonderful than I could’ve imagined.

Interestingly, prior to this trip, Tegan did not know the other two women. And as she had just recently moved to Chicago, I was excited to connect her with Kelly. As it turned out, in a city of more than two million people, they live right across the street from each other!

Coincidence? I’m inclined to think not. 

Rewind to Radical Generosity   

The other important piece and the full circle connection in all of this is the blessed backstory of how Tegan and I came to know each other.

We met in San Francisco at the Emerging Women conference in 2015 when we both attended a workshop session led by serial entrepreneur and trailblazing thought leader, Vicki Saunders. Among a number of other things, Vicki is the founder of She-EO, a Toronto-based company that is committed to developing women entrepreneurs and grounded in the notion of “Radical Generosity.”

Radical Generosity began as an initiative to seek a donation of $1,000 from 1,000 women from coast to coast in Canada in a collective effort to raise capital for women-led businesses. However, the ultimate goal is to build a funding pool of $1 Billion globally, while reaching more than one million women by 2020.

Vicki began the workshop that day in October by outlining her important and inspiring vision, but it was the wonder she weaved in the latter part of the workshop that really made it so magical and meaningful.

For the better part of an hour, Vicki invited individual women in the room to stand up and boldly make a specific ask for support of the other 100+ participants in the group. For instance, one woman stated that she needed a connection to the publishing world in New York, while another woman requested a lead on a reliable virtual assistant to help run her online empire.

As these various requests were made, hands all over the room would shoot up volunteering to facilitate introductions, make alternative strategy suggestions, and send referrals and prospects. It was an incredibly moving, thrilling, and eye-opening experience for everyone in the room. Undoubtedly, some lives and businesses were infinitely changed for the better that day; I certainly know mine was.   

Women Lifting Women: 18 Simple Ideas

Not only did I leave that workshop with a lifelong friend and soul sister, I walked away with a deep and nuanced understanding of just how vital and valuable the support of other women is. As a result, I’ve worked hard to adopt radical generosity as a grounding principle and guiding mindset as I walk through my days.

Here are a few simple and solid suggestions to bring radical generosity to life in the lives of the women you love, lead, and support:

  1. Host a gathering to connect the women in your circle who could benefit from knowing each other.
  2. Reach out with an unexpected phone call to compliment a job well done or to acknowledge an accomplishment.
  3. Hop on Amazon and ship out a copy of THAT BOOK that changed your mind, enhanced your life, or helped you navigate a significant challenge.      
  4. Send business and referrals to the women entrepreneurs you know, adore, and trust.
  5. Volunteer to take her children for a few hours so she can hit the spa, read a novel, or take a walk in the sunshine.
  6. Publicly recognize a colleague in a meeting for her efforts and contributions in your workplace.
  7. Have a nourishing meal or tasty treats delivered to a friend who’s cramming for an exam, burning the midnight oil on a major project, or mending a broken heart.
  8. Make a contribution to the charity that she works tirelessly for.
  9. Take the time to compose (and actually mail!) a heartfelt and handwritten note to a woman who’s had a meaningful impact in your life.
  10. Surprise her with a glowing and genuine reference, review, or testimonial.   
  11. Offer to make introductions to the people you know who could potentially help propel her idea, initiative, or business forward.  
  12. Nominate her for a business award or community accolade.  
  13. Schedule a lunch date with a woman who might appreciate your insights, experience, or expertise.  
  14. Pass along an interesting article, thoughtful quote, or helpful video you know she would love and appreciate. 
  15. Send flowers to that ladyboss who inspired, encouraged, or supported you in some way.
  16. Give a celebratory shout out on social media to a mentor, colleague or friend who recently achieved a major milestone or launched something new and fabulous.  
  17. Promote the events and causes that are near and dear to the women in your life.
  18. Reach out and simply ask the women in your life how you could be a source of strength, support, and service.

In closing, I invite you to consider this gem of simple, yet elegant wisdom that Vicki Saunders shared in her talk that has become indelibly etched in my heart and mind:

“Someone out there needs you, live your life so that they can find you."