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May 2016

(net)WORK IT, girl!

Networking. For the social butterflies among us, it’s like a walk in the park. But for others, it’s quite daunting…more like a walk in the desert. If you identify with the latter, keep reading.

I grew up somewhat socially awkward. I like to think I hid it well. If you ask people who have known me a long time, I bet they’d say I always seemed comfortable and nice. The truth is, I’ve spent most of my life being uncomfortable in social situations, and I don’t think this is very unique. I made a habit of not being myself or failing to speak my mind because I was afraid people wouldn’t like me. I was also deathly afraid of looking stupid or saying the wrong thing.

In short, I cared way too much about what people thought of me, so much so that I found it difficult to make great connections. Meeting people was more of an anxiety-filled experience than a transformative and interesting opportunity. Making connections is a crucial part of personal and professional success, and the fear I was experiencing is extremely detrimental.

The problem with my previous mode of operating in social situations is that it was very inward focused. I put more emphasis on protecting myself from embarrassment instead of the conversation itself. This resulted in a lot of shallow acquaintances and my hardly remembering what was said. Conversing AND analyzing someone’s opinion of you simultaneously is like invisibly texting while they are talking. Which we can all agree is #rude.

 

Speaking to another human being is not the time to multitask. They deserve your brain’s full attention, so put your focus off yourself and onto what they are saying.

Without fear, you don’t have to worry about someone having a negative opinion of you. Imagine meeting someone and having no question in your mind whether or not they will like you. Imagine focusing 100% of your attention on what is being said and having your mind freed up to be fully engaged. Imagine your goal being this: to make that person feel heard, important, and interesting.

Maya Angelou has a great way of describing this: “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

So today, decide to stop being afraid of what people think of you. Be brave enough to reach out and boldly approach people you meet, without fear of judgement. Know that your opinions are worth sharing and give up the fearful mentality that gets in the way of powerful networking. No matter your goals, adopt this mentality and (net)work it, girl!

Just Do Something

Just read something.

The voice echoed in my head as I rolled over in bed, contemplating what or IF I should read my Bible that morning. Why had this grown to be my morning routine? After weeks of busy, non stop days from early morning to almost midnight most days, my body, mind, and heart was growing accustomed to shutting down and going on autopilot. This day was different however. As I lay there and told God my reasons why I couldn’t grab the Bible right next to me and read. Eventually, he won with that simple “read something”-anything really, just read. Something is better than nothing he seemed to whisper.

Something is better than nothing.

Often we seem to lack the motivation not because we don’t want to do the thing, but because we want to do it well and end up not starting at all out of fear that it won’t go perfectly as planned. For me, that can manifest in several ways: a homework assignment, a tough conversation, or getting up and doing the thing I desired and determined to do just the day before.

With my theme of choosing the Hard Way this year, I’ve realized that in order to get the most out of life and to GIVE the most to my future self, I just have to do something no matter how imperfect or lackluster I think it may be. I have to be able to take a risk in order for any real change to occur.

Indecision is a decision not to decide.

It is still a choice when you choose “not to choose”. There is still risk involved, and it is the risk of not knowing what would have happened had you actually made a real decision. Either way you risk.

That’s kinda what this is all about. That word none of us like but all of us will encounter at some point in our journey. RISK. Which is greater? The risk of making the wrong decision, or the risk of making no decision at all?

When I finally made the decision to just read something that morning, I was blessed and encouraged, something that would not have happened had I chosen to get a few more minutes of sleep. It wasn’t a perfect devotional and journal and prayer time, or even super in depth. It was simple and sweet, and just what I needed. While it wasn’t much of a risk, it was the first step-among many-on the journey to conquering fear. One small victory over indecision, one more step towards a braver me.

Failing At Failure

What would my life look like without insecurity and the fear of failure? Who would I be? I asked myself this before starting an internal journey of uncovering what truly makes me who I am. Since then, I’ve been placed in situations that have caused me to analyze my life from a different vantage point. God’s point-of-view.

In the past 3 years, I’ve experienced a lot of changes, loss, and transition. This has caused me to question what I want out of life and if I’m even on the right track. Was I as creative as I thought? Do I really want to pursue the big dream of building a successful creative lifestyle and events business? Distrust in my ability to make big things happen in my life had subtly settled in. Last fall, after a particular bout of self-doubt and tears,  I decided that these feelings of defeat could not possibly match God’s perspective of who I am and what I am capable of.

On the final day of a conference I recently attended I had a breakthrough in my perspective. Ryan Leak shared about his experience with “chasing failure” and how it doesn’t mean anything more than the fact that you tried something. I finally understood what God has been trying to get me to understand for months if not years. I thought that failure was a something negative that you avoided at all cost. Rather, it’s a natural part of the process of success. When you really think about it, what is so bad about failure? What does criticism of others matter in the face of what God thinks?

I’ve realized that I’ve been holding back in areas of my life because of a sense of inadequacy that had gone undetected. From relationships to the pursuit of entrepreneurship, my perspective about myself clearly did not match who I truly am.

Here are some recent revelations:
1. I have never experienced lack in my life. It may not have looked or came the way I thought, but God has always come through for me.
2. You cannot help who you are not around. Despite all the ways I can fail people, I have to have grace for myself. I can make an impact in people’s lives if I get over myself enough to be present. The world is waiting for me to be who I am called to be.
3. Not having excuses is the scary part. Persevering and attaining my dreams is up to me and no one else. I have to recognize that I’m not in this alone and that God has given me the resources and support I need to do well. It can be done.

What would the absence of fear and negative ideas reveal about you? The things that don’t work out are not necessarily an indicator of the final outcome. Don’t be discouraged; brave on. God has set you up to win.  I leave you with the question Ryan Leak asked an arrested crowd of 8,000 people:

“What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”

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