Monday, November 18, 2013

3 Truths I Take Into My "New Year"

Last week, I turned 42 and it was an amazing week full of contrasts that led up to the big day.  Like any week, there was joy, pain, bad, good and an overflow of lessons that I feel compelled to share. Three in particular jumped out of my head today.

Conflict Is Good

No matter the topic, no matter the players, conflict is good. Conflict provides an opportunity to reflect and understand both yourself and the opposition. When executed healthily, conflict can be a conduit of greater intimacy and/or growth in a relationship. Even unhealthy conflict alerts you to people, places and situations that need to be removed from your life. Use conflict to grow and expand. Don't shrink from conflict even if you are not good at it. You cannot not build muscles you never exercise. Get in the ring every now and then and go a few rounds. It will do you good. Besides, if you are never in conflict, chances are you are doing nothing with yourself and need to step it up.

Inferiority Is A Lie and Optional

When people treat you as an inferior, it is only optional that you accept that treatment. We have every opportunity to repel inferiority messages and behaviors, in the moment or later. This one is big especially for soft-spoken or less confident leaders. If you are second guessing yourself due to the way someone else is treating you, it is imperative that you quickly regroup and regain your true standing. Step back and recite the truth of who you are versus the message of inferiority someone else placed on you. Repeated exposure to inferiority messages start to stick unless you combat it and combat it with all you have. Spend time with folks who treat you as equal as soon as you can after a dance with inferiority. And always cast off inferiority messages, preferably on the senders but always get them out of your head and heart.

Love and Admiration Cures All

Sprinkled throughout the week were opportunities for me to see that I am truly loved and admired. Whether it was a meeting with a client that ended with a thoughtful birthday treat or a another meeting with a new friend/colleague where I was given feedback on the reaction to my debut presentation at a statewide conference, I was reminded that I matter and that the work I am doing matters more. I had a conversation where I was reminded that I was trusted. Mixed in with regular birthday greetings on my Facebook wall were heartfelt expressions of love and appreciation of me. People from every era of my life took the time to connect last week from all over the world. For every tough moment I faced, there were many more tender moments all waiting for me to accept and discover. Love from my family and close group overflowed and filled me. I cannot even express how blessed I feel - I had a George Bailey moment more than once this past week - "It's A Wonderful Life" My life is wonderful.

There were many more lessons, big and small, but those three will carry me in this new year of my life and I hope they will inspire you in yours.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Wonder: Give In To It

Can you see the "wonder" in the Arbol de Tule in Oaxaca, MX? This is the oldest tree on Earth and we saw it last summer

When you hear the word "wonder," what comes to your mind?


Wonder Woman

Stevie Wonder

Wonder Bread

If I'm honest, all of the above were some of the first things I thought of when thinking about this post. But the true inspiration of the post is a series of things that have happened since September 25 that are nothing short of miracles to me.

Some work related, some service related and many personal related. All fitting the bill of wonder. Dictionary says wonder n. a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable or v.  to feel admiration and amazement; marvel.

How often do you allow your self to give in to wonder? If you are like the average person, I bet you find ways to explain it away, you ignore it or worse, you are frightened by it. It seems we have come to a place in history where we downplay wonder.

With all the "controls" we have of our time and space with technology these days, it seems that we as a society have lost our ability to stop and truly feel wonder.  Here are two ways to keep that from happening to you.

Let Go 

As simple as it sounds, it can be the hardest thing for most people, letting go. Let go of expectations of others. Let go of outcomes in your every day dealings. Tune in to actuality and let go of what you imagine things to be. As a type-A personality, this is something I have to be extremely intentional about. I often find myself coaching myself to let things go out loud- actually speaking "let go." This is not to say you don't plan or work toward goals or objectives. What this means is simply not being married to how things play out. Absolutely follow your dream and use your best talents daily but don't be set on the HOW it all works. A whole new area of my business was born this past summer by me being open to it, allowing the 'intrusion' in and seeing where it led. It was most definitely a goal of mine in 2013 to serve more Fortune 500 companies but man, am I grateful I was not hell bent on how I'd serve them.

Tune In

In order to genuinely feel wonder, you have to be paying attention. Tuned in. Since by its nature, wonder is unexpected, unfamiliar or inexplicable, you won't see it unless you are tuned in to it. Being buried in your email, you won't see it. Keeping your head lowered toward a device won't help you see it.  You have to be engaged. You have to fully listen to people around you. You have to look for ways to connect yourself to wonder by being open. My favorite thing that happened in the last 60 days was meeting a woman who went to high school with my mom. If you haven't followed me, you may not know that my mom departed this life at a very young age when I was 4 years old. With very few family members on her side and even few non-family connections, there has been a huge void of information about her that has nagged me all my life being the seeker I am. A few weeks back I was speaking at an event in Chicago and at the end, about 70 people rushed the stage to meet me. As people handed me their cards, I looked fully in their eyes and fully at their cards and made and intentional effort to connect with them. I do it every time I speak. Little did I know that a woman would look back at me as I quickly mentioned that she worked in the town my mom lived in as a child and tell me she grew up there to. We stopped in that frantic moment and realized we were connected through my mom who'd passed away 37 years ago. Wonder.

And I could share more than a dozen other similar instances that occurred in my life over the last few months. Today, I want to challenge you to stop and give in to wonder. I am certain it is all around you just as it is all around me.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Start Drawing Your Lines People

We are entering "the most wonderful time of the year." Retailers have already commandeered the airwaves and brainwaves getting us ready because the holidays are quickly approaching. For some folks, this "magical" time of year can be among the most stressful days they experience all year. My advice to them is simple.

Start drawing your lines, people.

And by lines, I mean just that... your boundaries. Whether its work related or personal and family related, holidays tend to blur lines that people normally have no issues guarding at other times a year.

By definition, boundary means a line that marks the limits of an area. It's way to keep somethings in and other things out. Relationships Matter Now just wants to  help you get a jump on setting your boundaries for the upcoming holiday season. Here are a few ways to do that:

Guard Your Time

Time will be your most precious commodity this season and there will never be enough to do every thing you want to do. Set boundaries now about how you will use your time. As an entrepreneur, I have to lay out how I intend to use the extra time that I know I will have between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day otherwise it will be wasted. Clearly, I need to designate specific Barreto kid/No work space.  I need to create some overall immediate family space as well as some extended family time. And I plan to have some time to spending thanking my clients for their business as well as continue prospecting and pitching business to folks who are working during this often slow time.

Guard Your Energy

While time is your most important asset during this season, energy is a close second. Get proper rest to fuel all the activity you put in your calendar. Be mindful not to waste energy on drama or excessive explaining of any kind.  Schedule activities that increase your energy. Sleep some more. Avoid the folks  in your life who suck energy from you and gravitate more toward those who replenish you as much as you can. Can't completely avoid energy vampires? Ok. Small doses. Commit now to VERY small doses of those people. This is often a tough ask but is critical to the third piece of advice.

Enjoy Yourself

Have fun. Do as much as you can during the holidays to have fun. Be intentional to take time off and enjoy your family and/or friends. Steal away and get some me time, if that's what makes you happy.  Cross things off your list that don't bring you enjoyment this holiday. That's why I advised you to guard your time and energy first, then you make space for enjoyment. Genuinely smile and give big hugs to those around you if that's what you enjoy. Hole up in your room in the dark snuggled in the covers alone, if that's what brings you joy. Make it a priority to spend as much time as you can this holiday season enjoying yourself.

Now you have some tools to build boundaries for yourself this holiday season. And you even have a few weeks to build out the plan to execute them.