Ideas to Inspire Your EXTRAORDINARY
Follow me and be notified of new blogs and articles:
I was completely surprised and humbled when my very talented client, Elizabeth Wimpsett (owner of The Social Boutique, a marketing agency), publicly referred me to her cultivated business network on FB. Within the hour, her generosity resulted in an exploratory conversation booking.
I am proud of the work I do because the positive impact is undeniable. Like many other small businesses, the number one way clients and I connect is through referrals and introductions. Giving written recommendations and testimonials on Google Business Listings, LinkedIn, and Facebook, to name a few, is an act of mutuality. People who see these reviews also have a brief moment of introduction to you.
Whether it is purchased or given freely, when you receive the benefits of someone's professional expertise, you also have the opportunity to declare their value to your network. You have a chance to be "Elizabeth" for another small business owner. Who will you bless this week with your words of appreciation?
Is Resentment Holding You Back?
I started this series after reflecting on ways that my thinking or internal conversations were holding me back. The first article talks about why learning to let go helps us move ahead. The second article shares my experience with permitting myself to step away. In this third article, I want to uncover the self-limiting impact of holding onto resentment.
Resentment is feeling deep and bitter anger and ill-will. Unjust treatment is a common reason for this feeling. Most people don't know how to confront and navigate situations that create resentment. Instead, they respond with suppressed emotion, avoidance tactics, passive-aggressive talk, or subversive actions.
Unresolved resentment escalates to contempt, which is the judgment of another person as vile or repulsive. As you can imagine, these emotions eradicate the possibility of civil discourse, as discovered in the micro-expressions research of Dr. John Gottman. He found contempt expressions to be the most reliable predictor of divorce after observing just a few general conversation minutes between couples. This finding underscores that the presence of contempt is a bad sign for the health of relationships.
To understand how resentment occurs, let's begin with a basic model for the constructive exchange of ideas and information.
Healthy, productive communication requires three conditions of mutuality to be present.
MUTUAL PURPOSE = Committed to Manifesting Shared Intentions
MUTUAL MEANING = Committed to Creating Shared Understanding
MUTUAL RESPECT = Committed to Treating Others With Dignity
When any of these conditions are compromised, miscommunication that can escalate into relationship-ending aggression occurs.
In this model, mutual respect is prime. Without mutual respect, none of the other conditions are possible. The deep, negative feelings resentment produces not only inhibit the expression of respect but also keep us stuck in a pattern of thinking and behaving that traps us.
But here's the thing, holding onto resentment, no matter how justified, is a choice. And as impossible as it may seem, you can let it go by examining your feelings closely and answering these two questions.
1) What's the pay-off?
2) Do you want to be right, or do you want things to change?
Regardless of your awareness, there is always a pay-off associated with our choices. Psychologists termed this reinforcement, and it is widely used to shape behavior. Here are some examples of the pay-offs for holding onto resentment.
There are areas in our lives in which we can walk away from individuals whom we resent. For most of us, however, the workplace isn't one of them. Being in an emotionally combative situation is stressful and distracting. Few of us can perform at our best when carrying this emotional burden, which leads to my assertion that resentment holds us back.
Letting go of resentment is not easy. Psychologists have studied our need to be right, which they've tied to chemicals released during conflict and the ego's protection. [read more] Additionally, our education system reinforces having the correct answer as the ideal state. Nature and nurture conspire to strengthen a neurological pattern that causes us to double down on our rightness and exclude other information to the contrary.
Additionally, the fact that unjust treatment is at the core of resentment makes the process of letting go more challenging. Mark Sichel, LCSW, makes the perfect case for rising to this challenge.
"Letting go of a resentment is not a gift to the person you resent. It is, rather, a gift to yourself."
Holding onto resentment gives it power over our lives in unintended and self-destructive ways. Naming it, facing it, and letting it go is your opportunity to reclaim your extraordinary and manifest your fullest potential.
I have been struggling to write the third article in my current blog series all weekend. Although the topic is impactful, other thoughts kept crowding it out. This exact situation is why I don't have a social media calendar with days or weeks of planned posts. I am an in-the-moment gal who performs best when I am speaking from my passion.
So, pardon me for the interruption. I'll finish telling you about the power of #LetGo next week. This week, I want to share my recent experience with #SayingYes.
Sometimes we agree to something without really giving it any thought, and other times we have to permit ourselves before we act. In either case, our YES is powerful. And directing that power at the right possibilities allows EXTRAORDINARY to happen.
Last Friday, I facilitated a small company's meeting. Every employee attended. They had never held a meeting like this, although many of them had been asking for it to happen for months. Several people offered sincere words of thanks while we gathered and privately. Although only a start, the meeting was a success that affirmed for me the importance of investing my time with the right clients and work.
As I reflected on my personal affirmation, I realized that many yeses were required by both sides to create this moment. This is the story of those yeses.
YES #1: Tim Asked For Help.
At the end of July, I was Todd Meador's guest on Ask The Experts, a live call-in show that broadcasts through our local iHeartRADIO station, News Radio 840 WHAS. About halfway through the show, we received our first caller, Tim. He told us about his team of essential workers, the strain of current demands, and his plans to hold a company-wide meeting. Tim was mentally and physically tired. He knew his team morale was slipping and that he needed to pull them together, but with no immediate end in sight, that conversation was daunting. Tim was asking for help.
YES #2: We Trusted Our Connection.
I called Tim the next day to follow-up and offer more assistance. Signing him as a client wasn't my goal. I offered free thought partnership to help him gain clarity and confidence going into the meeting with his team. In our first meeting, he shared the story of how he had built his company and the challenges they'd faced in 2020. I was able to draw upon my breadth of experience and relate to his plight as he attempted to lead his team through a change that frequently stole his control, like a car hydroplaning on wet pavement. He disclosed that he saw the need for broader changes and wanted my partnership to make it happen as quickly and effectively as possible. Tim didn't interview me. He didn't ask me to produce my credentials. We had a genuine conversation, made a real connection, and that was all he required to trust me as his business coach.
YES #3: We Aligned Around A Shared Mission.
Tim's company is a typical family business. My next step was to gather feedback and input from the two office staff, both family members. Tim hired me without consulting anyone, and I was not surprised to be met with some resistance regarding the timing, nature, and general decision to invest in my services. I was an unknown in a time when everyone was struggling to keep their heads above water. However, doubt quickly transformed to trust as I listened, asked questions that spurred new thinking, and affirmed the reality they named. One person noted how helpful it was to speak out loud to someone about everything they were experiencing. We had a shared mission.
YES #4: We Didn't Let Imperfect Get In The Way Of Moving Forward.
As a seasoned veteran of change management, I counseled against building the perfect plan in the front office before engaging everyone in the company. In the end, they followed my advice because circumstances conspired against completing the work before the date of the all-employee meeting. I shared my facilitation techniques for engaging everyone and gathering their input without creating confrontation or fear. Although I had spoken with only half of the participants, I was confident that all shared the pain and desire for resolution. Although different from the management meetings he'd experienced as an employee, Tim trusted my expertise and commitment to deliver the outcomes we'd established for the meeting.
YES #5: Everyone Chose To Participate.
Everyone arrived for the meeting with little knowledge of what to expect. The meeting began with an hour dedicated to acknowledging the last few months' demands and celebrating their collective ability to ride the storm. Over and over, the company leaders shared information, and then everyone participated in group exercises to give input into the coming changes. The room filled with honest conversations that strengthened connections and commitments. Everyone participated fully.
Friday's success was the culmination of many yeses, said over many weeks by many people. Without these yeses, the outcome would likely have been different. I felt genuine pride and accomplishment on Friday, and I know that every participant did too. This was only the beginning. There is much work to be done and many changes to come. And yet, I am confident that capturing the momentum of that meeting will increase the speed and ease of changes still to come. I can't wait to share more celebrations with Tim and his crew.
The Tyranny of Self-Imposed Obligation
I love vacations! Vacations give us the chance to step outside of our routines and the everyday demands of our lives. Here’s a quick list of the things I don’t do on vacation.
Instead, here are the things that I do on vacation.
Just writing about vacation and visualizing myself there fills my body with tranquillity. The familiarity of our everyday routines can create the illusion of peace, but it lacks the serenity that accompanies time without obligation.
My last vacation was with my family in January. It was a lovely trip, and we knew it would be one of a fleeting few remaining with my older daughter starting college this fall. After her departure a few weeks ago, I realized that I needed a vacation. Mentally, I was exhausted. Reading my social media feeds was draining my energy instead of fueling my creativity. It was a struggle to write and develop content for my business. So I permitted myself to take a digital break. I stopped writing my blog. I limited my engagement on social media, personally and professionally. I didn’t attend my weekly networking groups on zoom.
My original plan was for a single week. My father was in town to help me with a home renovation project, so the timing was perfect. But the next week, I was still on the struggle bus. Every internal push met a mental shrug and sigh. My vacation was not finished.
As I examined my internal struggle regarding my hiatus from virtual communication channels, I asked myself some tough questions about my commitments to myself and my business. I am selective about the obligations I assume because fulfilling my commitments to the best of my abilities is one of my core values. I realized that posting regularly, engaging with others’ posts, creating new content, etc. were tasks that I’d accepted and could also refuse.
In its truest definition, an obligation has an ethical or moral context. Clearly, electronic engagement doesn’t meet this definition. Instead, content generation and attention are functions of business development. As business owners, we do these things to gain exposure to our target audiences, build awareness about our services, and build relationships with others in the business community. We benefit from these things and the free platforms that we use benefit from our activity. I like when businesses value customer loyalty, and at some level, appreciate that this is what social media is doing when they increase the exposure of their most consistent users.
However, many people feel shackled by the demands of maintaining an active social media presence. In my view, consistent engagement on electronic business channels is a throttle that we all have the power to adjust. We can allow them to rule us as dictators or exert our free and independent will. When we allow the judgments of others to shape our narrative about ourselves, we enslave ourselves.
So, if you too are feeling burnout from the demands of maintaining your digital presence, make your own list of all the things you gain from taking a vacation. Allow your mind and body to reconnect with the tranquility you experience when you disconnect. And then give yourself permission to take the vacation from your digital life that you have earned.
You have power and voice in this relationship. You don’t have to buy into the fear-driving narrative that keeps you compliant with the demands of a business partner who will never stop asking for more from you. The only person who can release you from this grind is YOU, so just let it go.
When Moving Forward Means Letting Go
When you are scaling the rockface, it takes a lot of trust to let go and reach for the next hand or foot hold. And yet, the only choice is to keep climbing, or concede defeat and rappel back to the ground.
Last month my husband and I passed another significant milestone. Our firstborn child started her freshman year of college in another state. I won't lie. The teen years have worn on us, and we fantasize about our empty nest phase. So I was unprepared for how displaced I felt upon returning home.
My rational thought process was out of sync with my emotional self. During the move, I drove away sadness with mental pep talks like these.
"This is not about you, it is about her. This is a happy and exciting moment. Be in the moment with her and enjoy it!"
Upon returning home, however, I was confronted by my inner turmoil. I tried and discarded many labels -- Was I anxious about her happiness? Was I fearful about her health and safety? Was I missing her? After many days of contemplation, I realized that I was grieving. I let my daughter go out into the world to live a life independent of her father and me. And despite the fact that this was the natural progression and something that I rationally wanted, I was also grieving the end of a togetherness we would never again inhabit. For 18 years, we had occupied a space and definition of our lives that would never exist again. It is bittersweet.
While sitting in deep reflection, I began to see parallels between my personal experience and my professional work, which brings me to this new article series - #LETGO. I'm a visual person, and in my mind's eye, I see horizontal travel when I think about moving forward. However, through this experience I realized that a better visual in many instances is to think of a mountain climber. Using their hands and feet, mountain climbers learn to let go of the rock, ledge, or crevasse where they feel secure in search of the next hold that allows their progress to continue.
I have entered a new parenting stage that requires me to let go of where we have been and journey forward into the unfamiliar. This progress is essential and welcome, and yet it is also the ending of something more cherished because it is ending.
It's been my privilege to work with small business owners who have reached a similar phase. In the early years of growth and development, they were actively involved in every area of their business. They understood it more deeply than anyone else, and their success was attributable to their consistent hard work.
Eventually, the overwhelming success of their labor created a demand that exceeded their capacity. Like Atlas, they began to stagger under the weight of the world they had made. Exhaustion, worry, and self-doubt replaced the joy and confidence they had known for so long.
These business owners hired people to help them, and then struggled to entrust them with authority. Although the owners were incapable of juggling all the balls in the air, they felt equally incapable of ceding control and responsibility to others. They didn't know how to be the business owner if they weren't managing everything. And so they were stuck in the middle of their climb, unable to ascend higher. They needed to learn that the only way forward was letting go and reaching for the next handhold.
In these moments, the work is learning to become the next evolution of who we need to be while guiding employees to become what we have already mastered. It requires confidence in others and yourself. It also demands the building and testing of systems and processes that may not have existed before, just as climbers utilize carabiner clips.
When you are scaling the rockface, it takes a lot of trust to let go. And yet, the only choice is to keep climbing, or concede defeat and rappel back to the ground. Me, I love to see my child and my clients move forward; defeat is not in my vocabulary!