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Archive for the ‘Uncommon Lessons’ Category

On Vulnerability, Strength & Courage

November 8th, 2010

A whole bunch of stuff collided over the past several days that will shape my future blog posts. And, if you think it’s all gonna be upbeat, it’s not. But it will be the truth.  A quality that seems to be in rare quantities these days.

As you probably know, I launched 5 Emergency Steps to Getting Unstuck on Friday. And in my pre-launch and launch emails, I talked about feeling scared and nervous. For me, I’m always “raising the stakes” I’m playing for and if something doesn’t make me feel scared and nervous, I question whether I should do it. And part of my commitment to you is, and always will be,  to tell you the truth about what it is like to do the things I do.

But I got pushback.

Apparently, saying that I am scared and nervous – admitting it out loud in front of God and everybody, is 1) a bad marketing practice 2) makes me appear un-coach-like and 3) is off-putting. (Oh and several people sent me “editorial suggestions” for my sales page.)

This is all really fascinating feedback considering the fact that last week’s blog posts were all about living a connected life and that vulnerability is at the very core of connection.

So here is my position: I will continue to be vulnerable. I will continue to raise my stakes. I find that by doing so, I actually feel stronger and more courageous the next time around. It’s like exercise that way I guess. The more you exercise a muscle, the stronger it gets and the more it can do.

If living and working this way means that I am not cut out to be a coach, that’s fine with me. I’ll find another way to make a living. There is nothing, NOTHING, that is worth giving up my want, my desire, my freedom and my ability to be and to say exactly where I am.

What do you think? Do you think coaches should always appear a certain way? Do coaches who admit fear and vulnerability attract less business than those who put on their public happy face?

And Now I Grieve – Lesson #4 from My Live Event

October 6th, 2010

This is a lesson that’s just come upon me over the past day or two. And it is a lesson I truly did not expect.

I am a different person on the other side of my event.

As I worked toward making CIP happen, I summoned skills, courage and even a fierceness I did not know I possessed.  During the event I revealed a superpower to myself and my audience that I suspected but had never tested.  And now that it is over, I see myself in a completely different way.

All of this is good stuff to be sure. But still, I am washed over with a kind of grief. At first I couldn’t identify the source. What on earth did I have to be sad about?

Then it hit me as I walked yesterday afternoon. I am grieving the loss of what was familiar to me. A version of me I’d gotten quite used to.  For all her faults and limitations, I really liked her. She was familiar and predictable. Like a big, worn-out, comfy chair.

Now she’s gone. And no matter what I do, I can’t go back and be her again. And probably wouldn’t even if I could.

So today, before I can full breathe in to the new person I am becoming, I grieve the loss of what I was.

What about  you? How do you handle your own growth and change?

The Ship Burning Never Stops – Lesson #3 from My Live Event

October 4th, 2010

Right in the middle of my event in Atlanta, right when I was the one teaching and leading the conversation, it hit me.

“Oh my god. The ship burning never stops for me.”

I actually stumbled in something I was saying because that thought hit my brain so hard.

(If you are wondering what I am talking about with this ship-burning thing, here is the original post where I wrote about it: http://escaping-mediocrity.com/uncommon-business/burn-the-ships/ )

For me, burning ships is about raising the stakes I am playing for. It’s about pushing myself to the edge and beyond of what I think I am capable of. It’s about taking risks again and again and again.

And what I realized in that moment of epiphany is that ship burning is not an infrequent, well-timed, well-thought-out event. At least not for me.

It is how I live. Every day. All the time. (Okay – not every single second because I do need to catch my breathe and rest – but I think you get my point.)

That is the only way I know how to make this journey of escaping mediocrity.

And yes, there are times when I wish I could cough of the pill of all this awareness and just live in blissful, passive oblivion. But those moments are few and far between and usually come when I am extremely tired or when my feelings are hurt.

But what I know, deep down in my soul at this very moment is this: Now that I know the thrill of watching the fires burn and turning to face lands unknown, I can’t imagine living any other way.

What about you? Is there a way you live now, are now, that you wouldn’t give up even if you could?

Delivering Wow – Lesson #2 From My Live Event

September 29th, 2010

As I pulled up to the Georgian Terrace the afternoon before my live event got underway, my heart was in my throat.  “OMG – you are doing this!” “Who are you to do this?” “Is it gonna be awesome or is it gonna suck?” And all those other charming voices who’ve made quite a home for themselves in my head.

The valet took on look one look at the amount of crap in my car and immediately called over a bellman with a cart. Only it wasn’t just any bellman. It was Anthony. And though I didn’t know it in that moment, my life was about to get radically different.

“Sorry about all the stuff,” I say. “I’m here for a three day event.”

“Well in that case,” replies Anthony, “I’m going to ask to do one thing while you are here. Let me spoil you.”

And he wasn’t kidding.

He schlepped ALL of my stuff (two carts worth) up to my room and then said “As soon as you are ready to come down in the morning, call the front desk, ask for me and I will be right up. ”

But before I could call him the next morning, he was already in my meeting room, asking my staff if I was up yet because he was ready to help.

I could just write a story about Anthony – which I may still do – but I want to share with you what he taught me about delivering Wow.

1. It’s all about attitude. Anthony greets the day with style and attitude. Sure, he has bosses who are older than he is. And I caught a few of them gloating over being able to tell him what to do. He doesn’t care. (and I am certain he out earns them in tips 5 to 1.) He carries himself like he owns the place. And in many ways, I think he does.

2. There is nothing that isn’t my job. Anthony took ownership of the success of my event. More so than the sales staff. More so than the catering staff. He checked on the room about 15 times a day and looked for the chance to ask me directly “Is everything satisfactory?”

I walked in one morning to find maintenance taping down electrical cords. I thought someone on my team asked them to do it. Later in the morning, Anthony walks in with a roll of gaffers tape in his hand. ” I told maintenance to tape those chords down and I saw that loose one over there and thought they hadn’t done their job. I’ll just take a quick minute to fix that one. ”

3. When you excel, others won’t like you. On a couple of occasions, Anthony said “If management has an issue, tell them you asked for me specifically. Some of these other guys don’t like it when I’m the one doing all this stuff.” Yep, I can see that. But here’s the thing. the few times Anthony wasn’t around and some of “the other guys” helped me, they did the minimum. They were polite and helpful, of course, but there was no relationship. Eventually, if Anthony wasn’t around, I’d just wait until he was. Because I liked him that much.

4. It’s the little things. On the morning of Day 2, Anthony stopped me in the lobby and said “You told me you were holding a three day conference. You aren’t holding a conference. You are holding some kind of beauty pageant. I’ve never seen such a gorgeous group.” I asked him if he would come tell the group that. And he did. And they ate it up.

5. Anticipate the wow. Event is over. I’m about to drop. Anthony is helping load my stuff out of the meeting room. In fact he is way over by the door – way away from me. I turn to Liz Marshall and say “I’d love to sit down with you and Andrea and just have a Coke.” About 2 minutes later, Anthony walks up to me and says, “Would you like me to set up some cold Cokes and glasses of ice for you out on the Veranda?” I truly could have kissed him for having such a keen sense of hearing.

When he brought said Cokes and ice out onto the veranda and I asked for the check, he looked insulted. “These are compliments of the Georgian Hotel. Enjoy.”

Obviously I could go on and on about Anthony. But I will stop here. He taught me so much in three days. And as he closed my door after loading up my car (I wasn’t allowed to touch anything), he said, “I meet a lot of people Miss Sarah, but your something special. ”

As are you Anthony. As are you.

Wow.

With Love & Gratitude – Lesson #1 from My Live Event

September 27th, 2010

So I’ve cried about 15 times since Creating Irresistible Presence ended Saturday afternoon.  So many emotions. So much “whirly brain” as my friend EPW calls it.

There are so many lessons I learned over those three days and as they settle in, I plan to write and share them all with you.

But here is the biggest one – the one that is spilling over, the one I can’t not say right now this minute.

The love and gratitude I feel for those who surrounded and supported me as I moved through my biggest ship burning yet (and I did it standing there in front of God and everybody) fills my heart to bursting.

Put quite simply, none of it would have happened without them.

First – my family:

My husband, David, who put up with my singular focus for months as I planned CIP, who put all his skill and talents on the line as he negotiated and re-negotiated with the hotel venue and who loved me right through the entire thing, even though he is still very fuzzy about what it is exactly that I do.

My children who put up with a very distracted Mommy (and, yes, at times very crabby) while I pulled CIP together and who beautifully took care of their Daddy while I was in Atlanta.

My amazing attendees-

You had enough faith and belief in me to re-arrange your lives for three days to show up, be present, and trust in the work I asked you to do. You inspired me every single moment – inside and outside of that room – with your courage, your willingness and your beauty. I was so privileged and so honored to be among you and watch you take flight.

My amazing support team (otherwise known as My Three Right Hands):

-The one and only Chelsea Moser who took care of details I will never even know about, made the room look amazing each and every day and who has the chutzpah to get what the event needs, even after she’s been told she can’t have it. 🙂

Monica Waugh-Benton who stepped into her role of making things happen with such ease and grace. She made things so stinkin easy-peasy and effortless – it was a wonder to behold.

Brandon Sutton who, no matter what my crazy request was, said “We can make it work.” From vases to extraordinary A/V to well-timed laughter, he knew what I needed before I  did. Thank god.

My two dear friends who made a way to shine so brilliantly for my peeps, even though they couldn’t be physically present in Atlanta.

Chris Guillebeau – who, even with his cr-AZY book tour schedule, took the time to create an amazing video presentation. Except it really wasn’t a presentation. It was more like a conversation. Such warmth, such generosity, such love. Oh and it had really smart business-y stuff in it too. 🙂

Reese Spykerman – who, in spite of all her reservations, stepped up to the plate and created a teaching video that was so beautiful, fun, spunky and smart – just like she is. And she also flexed with persistent tech challenges and over delivered in her live Q & A. My peeps ate her up.

For my coach and mentor and friend:

Andrea Lee – who believed in me way before I believed in myself, who held the vision as I was buffeted by the storms of self-doubt, distraction and fear.  She also showed up in such a beautiful, joyful way at my event as she talked about money in the most loving and generous terms. So many take aways. Oh – and I think my peeps got some too. 🙂

And for my anchors, my rocks, my loves. My BFFs:

Allison Nazarian, who leaped tall buildings in a single bound to be in Atlanta with me and who, when I was certain the material I was teaching had no common thread or glue of any kind, turned to me and said, “Everything that you taught this morning is the perfect lead up to what I am about to teach.” And then she knocked it out of the park.

ElizabethPW who made me feel like my material was big and important ( I know, I know. I shouldn’t need that. But I do. The end.), because she wrote about how much it resonated with her,  who put her amazing video skills to work in front of the group with her amazing preso and behind the scenes because I needed her, and who told me EXACTLY what I needed to hear at the end of Day 1.

Elizabeth Marshall who refused to let me go over the Crazy Cliff no matter how determined I was to go there. Again and again she threw me a lifeline until I lifted up my hands on my own behalf and caught it. Oh, and the wisdom and brilliance she shared with the group totally rocked.

There is so much more to say about all of these people who lent me their strength, their brilliance and their love. Never faltering, never holding back, never not standing there lifting me up in unimaginable ways.

Without you, I would have never had the clarity, the confidence or the courage to put myself out there in such a heart-stoppingly big way.

I love you. I am so grateful for you. And I am forever in your debt.

Thank you for believing in me.

Living In The Solution

September 16th, 2010

I admit it.

When I get scared or overwhelmed, I like to get all mired down in the problem. Really. It feels good to roll around in the muck – like a pig in slop. Plus I get to complain a lot. And when I put energy into complaining, I don’t have any to put into solving the problem.

Who me? Take responsibility? Uh-uh. No way.

And it all works out great until days, weeks or months later, I’m still hearing myself complain about the same stuff. If I’m worn out hearing about it, I can only imagine what it must be like for the people who’ve had to listen to me.

So, I move into the solution.

I should move there way faster than I actually do because I KNOW that is where the action is.  I’m just not that highly evolved yet. (But hey – at least I get sick of hearing myself whine faster – that is HUGE progress!)

Moving into the solution or “Living in the Solution” (a phrase I did not make up but love) is actually quite a relief. After all the time and energy spent whining and complaining – and getting nowhere – it actually feels good to think about how I actually might solve the thing that’s got my panties in a knot.

Very often I start small. I just THINK about solutions. “Hmmmm…..what is one way I might solve that.” No big action or anything – I’m still recovering from all that whining. Then, I might take a small step in the direction of that solution. And then another. And then another.

Or, if I’m in really deep kimchi, I move into full-tilt solution mode. Laser-focused on finding a way – any way – to solve my dilemma.

Either way, I suddenly fin myself  UNfocused on how miserable I am. Rather I am in action, making a solution happen.

Funny how that works.

And funny how soon I will forget that it is just easier to live in the solution in the first place.

#slowlearner

(If you are new here and wondering what prompted this post, it’s the fact that I am getting ready for this:
http://www.irresistiblepresence.com)

On Writer's Block & Restistance

September 1st, 2010

Yippy. I am experiencing writer’s block for the first time in a long time.  And I hate it. I sit and stare at the screen trying to think of something interesting to write and pffft – nothing.

Here’s the thing I know though – that I haven’t always known:

For me, writer’s block is usually about resistance. I don’t want to accept where I am – this un-brilliant place. And the more I fight it, the more mired in it I become. Kind of like quick sand.

So, here I am. Showing up on the page, admitting the truth about about where I find myself.

This actually works around all kinds of resistance I put up about a billion different thing. Once I stop arguing with myself about my reality (I am NOT resisting! I am WAY too advanced for that.”), I start testing the edges of what’s going on. Feeling the size and shape of it, getting my bearings, pointing to the map and saying “I am here.”

After I get a rough idea of where I am, I try to observe it as kind of an un-invested outsider. “Huh. Look at that. I’m having writer’s block. Isn’t that interesting?”

By shining the  light on my reality like that (and screwing up the courage to say it out loud), the resistance starts to slowly erode. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but move it does.

So there you go. Today, I am not brilliant or even remotely witty and I have writer’s block.

What truth might you be resisting today?

An Irresistible Birthday Lesson from My Garbage Man to the Young Turk

August 27th, 2010

It is my habit to write a special post just to my son, the Young Turk on his birthday. Usually they are about how amazing he is and how he inspires me every single stinkin day to show up as 100% myself no matter what other people say.  He reminds me that, even though it can be the harder path, I don’t have to live my life based on other people’s rules.

But we were all taught an amazing lesson this morning by our garbage man and if the YT ever wants to read the archives of his birthday posts, I hope this one reaches out and grabs him by the heart.

Here’s what went down:

We were in the usual front yard pandemonium getting ready to walk to school with backbacks and strollers and scooters and helmets when our garbage man walked down the street. (I truly hang my head in shame because I do not know his name. But I’m gonna find out.)

The YT shouted out “It’s my birthday!” I expected a polite acknowledgment at best. After all, we’ve never had a conversation with this man before. But here’s what we got instead:

“Really? How old are you?”

“I’m 8!” says the Young Turk.

“Well that’s fantastic.”

Then we gather our things and start the troop movement toward school. THEN the garbage man literally takes my breath away to the point of tears.

Calling my son by name, because he LISTENED, he pulls two one dollar bills out of his wallet, hands them to the YT and says with a smile, “Happy Birthday.”

Stunning and mesmerizing and memorable and remarkable and captivating and irresistible – all in 3 seconds flat.

I hope the memory of that three seconds stays with you your whole life, Young Turk, because it really doesn’t get more beautiful than that. And if I can help you glean a few life lessons (I’m your mom. It’s what I do.) here they are:

1) No matter who, what or where you are, you can do something amazing.

2) Always pay attention to the little things. It really is all about the little things.

3) If you aspire to be irresistible or remarkable or unforgettable, get out of your own head , focus on the people who inhabit the world you walk in every day and make them feel spectacularly important.

There are more lessons of course, but I will stop here. Otherwise you will think I’m lecturing you. Well, I AM lecturing you, but again, I’m your mother. That’s my job.

I love you sweetheart. And I am eternally grateful for the gift you received from our garbage man today. I hope I can come close the matching it.

Happy Birthday!

On Making Tough Decisions

August 11th, 2010

I’ve heard it a lot lately – in emails, DMs, phone conversations, Skype chats – “I am having a really tough time making a decision about X.”

Heck – even I get stuck making decisions!

So I thought I would share the best tool Martha Beck taught me when we *think* we don’t know what to do. I love it because it taps into the deep wisdom our bodies hold that can circumvent our very smart and very conflicted brains.

(As a side note, many actors refer to their body as their “instrument”. It must always be kept in tune and in touch for it to operate properly. This exercise does exactly that!)

It’s called The Body Compass. And if you’re thinking – “yeah yeah, I already know that.”, do yourself a favor and re-visit it with a fresh heart. 🙂

Step 1. Think of the most joyful moment of your life.

Close your eyes and really put yourself into that moment. What do you see? Who was there? What do you smell? Anchor it into your senses. Now, scan your body. Where does that supremely joyful feeling live? Really nestle down into it’s place of residence like a big down bed.

Step 2. Think of the most heinous experience of your life.

Do everything you did in Step 1 to anchor it in your body. What do you see? Who is there? What do you smell. Once it’s vividly technicolor, scan your body again. Where does this complete and total yucky, nastly feeling live in your body. Now you don’t have to nestle down into it, but do make a note of it’s address in your body and what it feels like to be there.

Step 3. Summon the decision you must make.

Visualize each of your available options in turn. Breathe into the details. What will that option look like? Feel like? And when you really are “in” that option, where does the feeling it gives you “live”? Is it a nearby neighbor of Joyful or it camped out near YuckyMcNasty?  Don’t let your brain get in on this conversation. This is about tapping into what your body knows.

I’m guessing that one of the options in front of you lives in Joyful’s neighborhood. And, if I were you, that is the option I would choose. 🙂

So my challenge to the tribe is this: try this little exercise on a decision large (like should you move) or small (like what should you have for dinner) and let me know how it goes. As always, I am fascinated by what you teach me. 🙂

Love,

Sarah

P.S. Yep – it is a shameless self-promotion for the Creating Irresistible Presence Preview call TOMORROW (Thursday). I’ve got awesome teaching to share, a seat at CIP to give away and another trick up my sleeve, so I do hope you will join me! http://bit.ly/CIPPreview

A Schooling in Mediocre Business

June 29th, 2010

My friend, leader of the 12 for 12k clan and incredibly smart biz guy, Danny Brown recently shared something with me that I found rather appalling. It is a situation that involves a relatively well-known biz declaring itself to be most un-mediocre and then, behind the scenes of course, revealing it’s true nature.

I have so little patience for that. And, sadly, I see it every single stinking day.

I can’t resist the great lessons in this story so I am going to share it with you.

First, let me tell you the names of the players so you can follow along:

BlogCatalog: a Blog Directory that (and I quote from their site) “bring the voice of the people to you. From breaking news, to personal blogs, we are the largest user submitted blog directory the world has ever seen.”

Selina Eckersall – super savvy platform designer and owner of Sublime Digital Media.

IMHO: an ethical consumer review site where bloggers creatively and candidly review products or services that compliment the content of their blogs, with no marketing persuasion from advertisers. IMHO was a partnership project between BlogCatalog and Selina Eckersall.

Now that you have the cast of characters, here is the story of what went down:

Last year, Selina and BlogCatalog partnered to develop IMHO. Selena agreed to take a one-third ownership in the company and BlogCatalog took a two-thirds ownership. Once this new IMHO platform generated revenue, Selena would be paid. Until that time, she agreed to donate her time, her talent, her vast list of contacts and her marketing expertise to get IMHO off the ground.

BlogCatalog fronted the cash to design, program, and launch the site, form the LLC, draft an operating agreement, and provide cash flow until the business could sustain itself.

Great so far. This is how a lot of startups are set up early on.

Ah, but then the plot turns.

After a very soft launch at SXSW, BlogCatalog noticeably withdrew their attention from the project. When Selena inquired, she was told that they were re-vamping their primary site and that IMHO was on the back burner.

Fair enough. Gotta put attention where the money is being made.

BUT, when Selena asked to take full ownership of IMHO (she had done ALL of the work) so that she could get it launched, things go ugly.

The long and the short of it is that BlogCatalog demanded all of Selena’s designs, resources and copyrights, asked her to delete her account and threatened her with legal action if she made any attempt to contact any members.

Oh and they began diverting members who had signed up for IMHO to another site.

No discussion. No open and honest communication.

And here is the kicker. This is how BlogCatalog publicly describes itself: “about humble opinions about humble companies. Companies that don’t say one thing and do another”.

Now, to  me, it is fine if there a particulars in an agreement that need to be worked out. Or if each side has interests that they want to protect when a parting of the ways comes to the table.

But when you are a company that is declaring itself to be different, to be about sharing opinions, about humility and about doing what you say you will do?

Wow.

Fortunately, Selena walked away from this crazy situation rather than duke it out (you can read her resignation letter here) And I applaud her for that

So here is one of the many lessons I am taking away from this (and I would like to thank BlogCatalog for giving me such an excellent teaching example). A company, or a person, can make their public mission statement say anything they want. And they can keep up the facade for a good long while. But at the end of the day: 1) they have to sleep at night and b) their true nature will be revealed.

For me? I’d rather just be who I am from the beginning. It’s just a whole lot easier.

What say you?

P.S. I am gong to shamelessly self-promote the 30 Days to Creating Irresistible Presence Blog Series now. Read more and sign up here: http://bit.ly/irresistiblepresence