Tag Archives: Being a Good Girl

Stop Apologizing (Be. Who. You. Are.)

Photo Credit: Alessandro Valli on Flickr

Be who you are.

I wrote this a long time ago. Recently, I’ve realized how much of an issue this continues to be for so many people I know. I see this most often in my women clients, but I have also felt it myself. I see it in entrepreneurs and I see in those who could never imagine owning a business. Seems like it’s time to share it with you again. Continue reading

29 Ways to Be a (Healthy, Happy, Successful) Business Owner

SONY DSCSo what happens when Good Girls grow up?

They realize eventually that being a Good Girl isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And sooner or later, they learn to let all that go.

In my experience, most women have to hit at least their mid-to-late 30’s before that shift begins. Slowly but surely a kind of restlessness sets in, as they realize that doing things the way they were always told to do them just flat doesn’t work.

No matter how hard they’ve tried, the day often comes when they wake up burned out. Worn out. Fed up.

They’re not happy. They want something more. They know they deserve it. And they’re (finally!)  ready to go after it.

And there’s nothing like starting your own business to speed that process up.

My own coach always says that the powerful thing about learning to run a business isn’t about running the business itself, it’s about who we become along the way as we learn.

And she’s right.

So even though you may start out trying to be a Very Good Girl, as a business owner, you will have to shift into being a Very Strong (and Happy) Woman instead.

If you don’t, you won’t last, and neither will your business.

So with that in mind, I thought I’d re-write my list from last week. See what you think.

Here’s 29 ways to be a (healthy, happy, successful) business owner.

That is, a Very Strong (and happy) Woman. :))

1. Do the work that feeds your soul. Then learn how to use that to feed your family.

2. Get really clear. Create a vision of what you (really) want your life and business to look like and feel like. Give yourself loving, unconditional permission to manifest that vision into reality.

3. Be the best at what you do. Invest in the ongoing education and training you need to keep your skills at the highest level.

4. Learn from those who are where you want to be. Study successful people that you admire. What do they do that works? What do you like? What might you do differently?

5. Set up systems that support you, and keep the operations of your business running smoothly. If you’re a creative, freedom loving person, realize that systems and structure won’t stifle that – they’ll support it.

6. Gather your resources. Do the research, then invest in the tools and supplies you need to run your business well. Upgrade those tools as your business grows, including team members when it’s time.

7. Get comfortable with money. And with profit. If this is hard for you (and for many of us, we’d rather do anything but!), get the help you need to make peace with money.

8. Stand for something as a company. Pay exceptional attention to quality in everything you do, and know what it is that you bring to the world.

9. But remember that perfection is an ideal, and that lovely imperfection is powerfully human. Your customers will love you even more for that.

10. Learn from misfires. Instead of beating yourself up when something doesn’t work, study it. What went wrong? What could you do differently next time?

11. Take really good care of your customers. Deliver what you say you will, when you say you will. If you can’t, be ready to explain why, and to make it right for them.

12. Set up clear, strong boundaries. You serve your clients better when you have clear expectations around what you will and won’t do, when you are and aren’t available. Learn how to say ‘no’, for their sake AND yours.

13. Help them figure out what they really need, and what their choices are for meeting those needs.

14. Understand that selling is service. If you have a product or service that would genuinely make a positive difference in their lives, share that with them. It would be unethical not to do so.

15. Be willing to refer. If you think they would be better served by going elsewhere (and that they’re not the best fit for you), share that with them as well. Then help guide them in the right direction.

16. Charge what you’re worth. Your clients will actually thank you (and value you even more) for doing so. And I guarantee that you’re worth more than you think you are.

17. Listen to your intuition. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. You don’t have to explain it. You’re the boss. Do things the way you want them done.

18. Take good care of yourself, body and soul. Owning a business is 24/7 work, but we are not 24/7 machines. Get the rest you need. Play. Hug your kids. Take a day off.

19. Honor your feelings. Find healthy, appropriate, effortless ways to allow them, express them, appreciate them, release them.

20. Get good help. Invest in the support you need to get through the tough days. Having the right coaches, therapists, or mastermind groups can make all the difference on the days when you feel like giving up. (And yes, you will have those days. We all do.)

21. Practice resilience. Journal. Meditate. Cry. Pray. Rest. Then get back up and get back at it. Breakdowns come before the greatest breakthroughs. Remember this.

22. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Recognize this as a sure sign that you are growing, and embrace it. Learn to allow others to do the same.

23. Take credit for what you do well. As a friend of mine always says, “it ain’t braggin’ if it’s true.” And if you don’t believe in who you are and what you do, why should your clients?

24. Be decisive. You’re the CEO, and it’s up to you to call the shots. Call them.

25. Learn to love the tweak. If it doesn’t work, you can make a different decision next time.

26. Pay yourself first. And celebrate it! (This isn’t volunteer work. See #27.)

27. Then find ways to give back. There are countless ways to do this as a business owner that are good for your community AND good for you.

28. Own your authority. It’s your name on the letterhead, your company on the door. If it doesn’t fit with who you are, or how you want to show up in the world, change it.

29. And always, always follow #21. Being a business owner is one of the most exciting adventures you’ll ever have – but it’s not for the faint of heart. :))

Which one of these speaks to you the most?
Let me know, and tell me why, in the comments below. I’d really like to know!

Photo by Clemens v. Vogelsang on Flickr

How to Be a (Really Tired but) Very Good Girl

Little ShoesI’ve had a lot of clients lately who have been Very Good Girls.

And frankly, they’re a little tired of it.

(Thank heavens.)

I do a lot of different things in my work – guiding women through everything from how to grow their business to how to take better care of themselves to how to get through a zip-line tour.

But through it all, what I’m really doing is teaching them to believe in who they are, to  realize they have a right to be happy, and to treat themselves with as much respect as they treat others.

Sounds easy. Usually isn’t.

So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a Good Girl.

Here’s a few things that seem to fit, based partly on my own experience, and partly on what I see soooooo often in my coaching and counseling practice.

See what you think.

Here’s 29 Ways to Be a (Really Tired but) Very Good Girl

1. Help take care of your little brothers and sisters.

2. Help them get dressed in the mornings, get their teeth brushed and their school supplies ready.

3. In the evening, help them finish their homework and get ready for bed

4. Help your mom with the dishes, the laundry, and the housecleaning.

5. Do your homework every night.

6. Make very good grades.

7. Always do as you’re told by your parents, teachers, or any other authority figure.

8. Never question what they say. Never complain.

9. Get a part time job as soon as you’re old enough to do so.

10. If money is tight, give some of what you earn to your mom.

11. When arguments break out among your family or friends, do your best to smooth them over.

12. Pay very close attention to the feelings of everyone around you.

13. When you sense someone’s upset, do your best to calm them, make them feel better.

14. Make the men and boys in your life feel especially important, because you know they really need that.

15. Never question them. Never show them up. Never be better at something than they are.

16. Never get mad.

17. If someone mistreats you, try to be better, so they’ll be better.

18. Do your best to earn scholarships, so you can go to a good school and make your parents proud.

19. Volunteer at your church, the Red Cross, the local shelter, and the food pantry.

20. Hide your own feelings, no matter how strong they are. Always hold them in.

21. Never make anyone else uncomfortable.

22. Work harder than anyone around you. Make every minute count.

23. Be happy with a pay check that’s 20% less than the men you work with, because after all, you love your job, right?

24. Don’t worry when one of those men takes credit for your idea. Remember #14.

25. Always put your husband first, your children first, your church first, the elderly couple down the street first.

26. Never, ever, under any circumstances, put your Self first.

27. Never, ever, under any circumstances, ask for what you want, much less insist. That could be seen as selfish.

28. Remember that Good Girls are never Self-ish, because to do something for themselves might violate #21.

29. And always, always follow #16.

Does any of this fit for you? What did I miss?

Let me know in the comments below!

Photo Credit: by Moyan Brennan on Flickr

Soothing Our Spirits: Southern Women, Sin and Self Care

Leaves on Water

An Installment in Our Series on Building a (Courageous Woman’s) Life

Sometimes, I call it the Southern Women’s Syndrome.

This serious and often debilitating condition commonly affects women all across the southern U.S.. It’s a condition marked by an inability to care for one’s self, and severe and unrelenting symptoms of Chronic Guilt and Exhaustion.

It’s a condition that is completely familiar to most women I know.

I don’t know about other parts of the country, but here in the South there seems to be an unwritten expectation that we Good Girls put everyone else first in our lives – our spouse, our children, our church, the sweet elderly couple down the street, you name it. To do something for our Selves, really at all, is considered the height of selfishness.

And in Southern culture, selfishness – among women anyway – feels like sin.

I once gave a talk on depression to a large local chapter of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). It was a fairly basic presentation about how to recognize clinical depression and when to get help, a talk I’d given many times before. But the response afterwards, when I was swarmed by individual women seeking help, surprised even me.

After that, I began to joke that mothers of preschoolers were the most depressed group I knew. It wasn’t much of a joke of course. Mothers of pre-schoolers are smack-dab in the middle of 24-hour care-for-others mode, and they’re just exhausted.

But it’s not just moms, is it? No. And we know this.

This is a universal issue common to women everywhere.

I don’t know where it comes from. It’s part biological, part cultural, part who knows what. But we do have this thing about caring for other people – in every part of our daily lives. And that’s a good thing. Really. Sometimes I think the world could use a little more of what we bring to the table.

But we don’t stop at caring for our families. We worry about our coworker and her problems with her husband. We parent neighborhood kids who aren’t even ours. We shore up flagging spirits among our friends (and they, ours, thank goodness). We say yes when asked to help with vacation bible school, AND the charity gala, AND the post-prom party, and….


Well, you get my drift.

Caring for others in an active, engaged way, day after day, is both one of the most exhausting AND most fulfilling things women do. And yet, to survive in the face of all that giving, we have to watch it. If we’re not careful, we’ll give away so much of our Selves, there’s no “us” left.

In short, you can’t give something away that you don’t have. Constant caring for others (not just children) will leave you feeling depleted, used up, done. And I see this all the time.

Self care is a CRITICAL element of healthy parenting, for sure. But self care is also one of the first principles of Building a (Courageous Woman’s) Life. I know I’ve said this before but it bears repeating.

“You cannot pour from an empty pitcher.”

I heard that quote when my children were small, and the imagery of that phrase has stayed with me ever since.

Many times, even if a woman tries to set aside time for herself, the world around her will pressure her to ‘take it back’. She’ll have trouble getting child care, her partner or spouse will complain, her mother will give her “the look”, the preacher will talk about the holiness of a mother’s sacrifice in church that week…. You name it.

The messages may be subtle or overt, but they’ll be there.

And she’ll get the hint. And usually, she’ll back down.

Give up.

Cancel her plans.

Drag herself back inside.

Hang the keys back up.

Go put on another load of laundry.

She’ll feel guilty. Again. She’ll wonder why she’s so ridiculously tired all the time. And she’ll blame herself. “What’s wrong with me?” She’ll ask.

I’ll tell you what’s wrong.

Her cells are depleted. Her soul is depleted. But her laundry’s done, by darn.

Listen.

When you put off time for your Self, restorative activities for your Self, SPACE in your LIFE for your Self, and you do this over and over and over again, year after year after year, after a while you’ll have no Self left.

And do you know where this will lead, in the end?

You’ll get sick.

It may happen quickly, or it may take a few years to develop – but it will happen. Over time, as body and spirit becomes frazzled, worn out, dried out, used up – women are prone to developing any number of physical or emotional illnesses. Those might include severe anxiety, panic attacks, or painful depression, or autoimmune disorders like fibromyalgia, lupus or chronic fatigue.

You can’t give everything you have away for ever, and survive, my friends.

And there’s more.

Other consequences to a chronic lack of healthy Self Care include:

  • suffering relationships (it’s hard to be a vibrant partner in a marriage or long term relationship when you have nothing left to give),
  • a lack of satisfying friendships (same thing)
  • difficulty at work (it’s hard to be productive, creative, organized or successful when you’re running on fumes) and…
  • sending the really wrong message for your children. 

If you truly want to give your best to your children, or to anyone else in your life that you care about, you’d better take care of your Self – first. That’s not self-ish. It’s self-nurturing.   That’s good for you. And it’s good for your family.

So what’s a woman to do?

How much “me-time” do you need?

And what do you do with it when you get it?

That varies widely depending on the level of stress in your life, and your particular circumstances. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a BIG DEAL or a little one. The critical element is that it HAPPENS, and happens on some kind of regular basis.

Need a few ideas to get started? No problem.

I’ll share a batch of ideas in my next post.

But HERE’s the good news.

When you come home refreshed and filled back up, you have that much more to give to others. And you’ll be giving from a place of love and strength. Not guilt and exhaustion.

So the first step towards Building a (Courageous Woman’s) Life – is to CARE for the life you already have.

Are you doing that? What’s working? What isn’t?

And how can I help?
Talk to me, on Facebook, or in comments below!

Photo Credits: by Miyukiutada on Flickr

Stop Apologizing (for Who. You. Are.)

A very beautiful lady II

It serves no purpose.

If you’re a strong woman who knows how to take charge, lead a group, manage a project and get things done, you apologize for being too picky or too forceful. What’s the matter, are you a control freak?

If you’re a worker-bee who’s quite happy to be a solid and productive part of a team but would rather not run the show, and you’re asked to manage Cookie Sales for your Girl Scouts, you apologize for saying no. What’s the matter? Can’t you handle responsibility?

If you’re a left-brained analytic who’s always early, loves organization and likes to have everything just so, you apologize for being obsessive. What’s the matter? Can’t you lighten up?

If you’re a right-brained creative who’s always late and is quite happy with a certain degree of artful chaos, you apologize for being a mess. What’s the matter? Can’t you get your act together?

If you’re an introvert, who has plenty of friends but treasures your time alone, you apologize for skipping the tailgate party or the Sunday School picnic. What’s the matter? Don’t you like people?

If you’re an extrovert who does just fine on your own but really loves high energy and action, you apologize for talking too much or being too outgoing or being on the go all the time. What’s the matter? Can’t you handle being by yourself?

If you’re a college-educated professional who wears yourself out, putting in long hours so you can provide for your family AND follow your calling in the world, you apologize for working too late and for serving too many frozen dinners. What’s the matter? Don’t you care about your family?

If you work production at the plant or have some other honorable, steady job that pays less than stellar wages, you apologize for not making more money or going farther in school. What’s the matter? Didn’t you try?

If you’re a business owner who’s just getting started, and not making much of a profit yet, you apologize for not being more successful – even though it sometimes takes years to build a successful business. What’s the matter? Don’t you know what you’re doing?

If you’re a business owner who’s doing well, but is always looking for new ideas, or ways to expand, stretch yourself, grow your financial bottom line or build your company’s footprint, you apologize for being restless. What’s the matter? Aren’t you ever satisfied?

If you’re a single mom who’s doing a darn good job thank-you-very-much at doing more with less, you apologize for not buying your kids designer labels or sending them to that great-for-college-applications summer camp. What’s the matter? Don’t you care about your kids?

If you’re a stay-at-home happily married mother of many you apologize for not having the cleanest house or the most organized children. What’s the matter? Can’t you manage your home?

Doesn’t that make you tired?

Yeah. Me too.

And yet, there’s more.

Southerner. Yankee. Christian. Muslim. Republican. Democrat. Gay. Straight. Tall. Short. Older. Younger. Alabama. Auburn. Experienced. Newbie. Dark. Light. Athletic. Bookworm.

And on it goes.

Whatever “It” is that we see as a key part of our identity or personality, we hide it rather than claim it. Fight it rather than use it. Apologize for it rather than build on it.

And all that apologizing wears us out, drains our energy. We exhaust ourselves, running in circles, trying desperately to ignore who we are, and be something we’re not.

It serves no purpose.

So…what if we tried something else instead?

Something completely different?

Something so foreign to most women that they’ll have to think twice to even realize what it IS.

What if we tried on some….

Radical. Hard core. All the way. Crazy. Real. Loving. NON-apologetic.

(self) Acceptance.

Whoa.

Isn’t that, like, selfish?

Uhm. NO.

It’s accepting the reality that we are all characters in our own right. It’s taking a HUGE first step towards real confidence. It’s showing others that you are worth loving, quirks and all. It’s setting a beautiful example for our mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, best friends and co-workers.

It’s POWERFUL, and practical, because we ARE who we ARE. The sooner we learn to acknowledge, accept and — dare I say it? — enjoy that reality the better we’ll all be.

I loved the way one of my clients put it, when I asked her how she was doing. She said it had been kind of a tough week, then smiled as she said: “I’m having acceptance issues.” Yeah. Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt. :)

 Let’s change that, shall we?

If you’re tired of apologizing, tired of pretending — tired of swimming upstream against your natural self…

Make a decision today to adopt a brand new perspective. Embrace a brand new world view. Claim your Self.

As is. :))

Now….what will you stop apologizing for?

What crazy, zany, perfectly imperfect part of yourself will you decide to enjoy?

Write me a note here, or post something over on my Facebook page. You know I love to hear from you.

And of course, always let me know if I can help!

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Photo Credits: Pedro Ribeiro Simoes on Flikr