Letting go of letting-go!

A few years ago, I had a series of heart attacks.  From out of nowhere they stopped me in my tracks and made me reconsider everything about my life.  You could say they were a major crossroads; I’ve spent a great deal of time since focussed on “letting go” of the feelings I was left with, that I’d been deprived of the future I’d been planning, a brief example of what lay ahead enjoyed, the perfect business collaborations and friendships formed, all to be knocked back, all to be no longer available in my new life.  I think it was only yesterday that it hit me, I’d been so busy trying to let go, I had forgotten to look forward, to plan a new way, to explore what I have now that will shape a new path.

When life changes mean we have to make new choices, we have to allow ourselves a period of time to learn to adjust; that time required for acceptance to replace anger and frustration, time that heals initial pain and confusion and stops us asking “why did this happen to me” and replaces it with “what can I do no that this has happened?” and finally “I’m ready to see a future, how ever different it looks to the one I imagined.” When I was 26, I had a car accident that left me in a wheelchair for almost 12 years and one of my key learnings from this experience was that we have to mourn things we loose, not just people. I lost the use of my legs at 26, I had to mourn all the things I had lost from my independence to my joy of mountain climbing to making love with my husband.  I had suffered a loss, a bereavement, the death of my life the way it had always been.

The last few years have been my time to adjust, to come to terms with my latest loss, the belief that my heart was strong and would work, without me thinking about it, for many years to come.  Once you’ve lived through the heart attacks, the surgery, the physical recovery, the news of heart-failure, the difficulty breathing and total inability to do much of anything without help from others, you start to accept.  Acceptance that you are a different person, physically, and that means mentally too.  Acceptance that life is not going to look how you imagined, or planned. Acceptance that every day is rather special, precious, too important to waste on worries and concerns.

Now, I’ve reached the point of planning for a future; that feels amazing.  Seriously, when you’ve spent a few years not knowing if you’re going to make it, you see every single day as a bonus (even the ones where you feel negative and scared and less than great) because it’s been such an enormous effort, on the part of so many, to make it here.  Planning can take on a whole new meaning now, not just something I’m told to prepare for my business to thrive, but instead, a plan for my life, to live every day as though it might be the last chance I get to enjoy feeling this good.  I’m reminded of a song by Tim McGraw called “My next thirty years” and the lines speak to me of making every moment count.

My focus now is changing, from letting-go to letting-in; I’ve pondered enough times to last me a long, long life, what might have been if I hadn’t had the heart-attacks.  It is time to let in the new, embrace the opportunities starting to come my way with my new focus, my new goals in place.  It can so often be the case that we’re not open to new opportunities because we’re so focussed on the past, the ones we think we missed or messed up.  Not for me, that time in my life is through; I know I have limits, that my heart is depending on me to look after it and make sure I stick to those limits and behave.  And it’s also telling me in a loud, strong, clear voice “I trust you. Go get ’em girl. It’s time!”

And it is time. Time to move forward.  Time to let go of the letting-go and time to get on with the next chapter of this remarkable life.

Dinah x

 

Is being ‘fine’ costing you business?

Do you really know anyone in business who isn’t finding times hard at the moment? Is there any business that has not been touched by rising costs or falling demand – or both. Yet, when we meet fellow business owners and ask how they are doing, we often get the standard reply: “I’m fine”.

I often wonder what that really means. I know what a fine day looks like; I know what a fine wine tastes like , but I have no idea what a fine person looks like, or how they feel. This programmed response, delivered without sense or feeling, has become a badge of honour which threatens the sanity and success of every business owner. One recently asked me during a mentoring call, “If everyone else is fine, is it just me who’s getting it so wrong?”

Working with businesses on their credibility means that I get to explore their real values with them and how they apply these to every aspect of their lives. Not surprisingly, integrity and honesty are key values that many of them claim are key to their success and vital to their business. Honesty must surely include a genuine response to questions about them and their business; yet you can guarantee they are “fine” when asked about themselves and you can bet that their business is “fine” too.

What keeps us back from sharing the true picture? I think there are many reasons for this auto-response, including:

1) Fear of failure – we believe that admitting that all is less than “fine” might make us look like failures. My personal experience of this has been quite the opposite – a business person who is working hard to improve their business during tough times gains respect and support from their peers who will often go out of their way to find them referral opportunities in hard times.

2) We don’t believe people actually want to know – small talk and polite conversation has developed into noise; people ask questions and don’t wait for or listen to the answers. We have become so accustomed to this, that it is almost considered impolite to say anything other than “fine thank you” when asked about our health, our day or our business.

3) We think everyone else is thriving – partly, of course, because nobody is admitting they are not fine. Our own insecurities are easily given a louder voice as we hear others sharing their success stories. The idea of admitting we are actually less than “fine” becomes an impossibility.

These programmed replies might make us feel comfortable in the moment, but in the longer term they could well be costing us business. Why would I go out of my way to help you if you are “fine”. I have so many people in my networks, I want to ensure I am connecting people and helping them grow their businesses all the time. I focus my attention where it is needed the most so that I can be effective. The people who are “fine” are not on my radar.

Taking the first step to admit all is not as good as it could be feels a bit like getting naked at a networking event; and like this feeling, it is not a good idea to do it in public! Take small steps, with the people you trust first. When we confide in the people we value and trust, we pay them an enormous compliment; remember that when you open up and ask for their advice and opinions.   We often hear the expression “a problem shared is a problem halved” and often as we hear ourselves talking through a situation, we start to see the solutions for ourselves.

The relationships that develop through this honesty will become the strongest in your network and real referral partnerships are built on trust and mutual respect – credibility. The first time I asked someone I valued for help, admitted all was less then “fine” they smiled from ear to ear and said “me too. We’re having a really tough year”.  We now refer business to each other on a regular basis and work on marketing and media opportunities for each other.

And who ever wanted to be “fine” anyway? Wouldn’t you rather be fabulous, or wonderful? Flying or soaring? “Fine” and “OK” are two places I don’t want to be again and with the help of my networks, I am never going back.

I originally wrote this blog for Virgin.com during my time as on of their regular contributors (VIB)

 

It’s not always easy to choose

when you're caught between a rock and a hard place it can be hard to see you have a choice

This morning on Twitter, I was reminded by someone that it’s not always easy to choose your mood; that for some, every day is a challenge and “managing a smile” is about their limit.  I can empathise with this position, with this choice.  I remember times when I’ve felt that everything was simply too much effort, too much like an up-hill struggle.  And I made a choice; a choice to embrace positive thinking, to allow that to influence my mood and my outcomes.

I am not suggesting that it is easy.  I am suggesting it is a choice and like many choices we make in our lives, there are times when it is more difficult than others.  Deciding that it is a choice and one that we can make, gives us back ownership of it, gives us responsibility for ourselves.  Many people will find this overwhelming and are, therefore, reluctant to accept that it is a choice they can make.

When circumstances present themselves that impact our lives, we can often feel we have no choice.  We are not in control of what is happening to us and therefore we believe choice is not part of the picture.  What we can choose is how we react to this situation; how we choose to deal with or embrace the challenge is very much our choice.

It is also important to keep it real.  Just because you’ve made a choice to be positive does not mean you’ll never have another day where you feel down, that it’s all too much.  As a family, after my accident, we created a “why me?” day every month.  Every member of the family got the chance to say “it’s not fair.  Why me?”  to openly talk about the things we were finding a challenge, the things that brought us down or made daily positivity a struggle.  By acknowledging what we were all experiencing we gave each other permission to keep it real.

Start with a small step; think about one thing you react to that always brings you down, zaps your energy and leaves you feeling deflated.  You can choose to change the way you react.  Create a new scenario – write it out if that helps – and detail how you will be reacting from now on.  If your current response is to get cross, choose to get sassy or feisty instead.  If you would normally get upset, choose to get determined or confident.  There is a person on Twitter who used to “get under my skin” and when I saw how that made me react, I decided to choose that, from then on, I would react by being grateful.  Grateful for the amazing people I connect with who make me feel positive and energised.

Give some thought today to how you’ve chosen to react to what’s going on in your life, right now.  Are you ready to choose to do that differently?

Dinah 🙂

It’s my choice

ownership of your choices
I really didn’t have a choice!

I have a real thing about people’s language when it comes to choice.  I’m tired of hearing “I didn’t have a choice” or “It was the only choice I had” used as an excuse, a justification for decisions taken without responsibility or courage.  The truth is, there are exceptionally few situations where we have no choice.  I’m lucky enough to say I don’t believe I’ve ever encountered such a situation as an adult.  Sure, I’ve faced situations where it felt like I had a tough choice or an even tougher choice, but there was still a choice.

Taking responsibility for our choices is critical to moving forward and letting go of things that hold us back.  I recall being told at a personal development event that I had chosen my parents.  I was furious!  What a ridiculous suggestion it seemed to me at the time.  However, as I pondered this statement, I realised that if I took ownership for this choice, it put me in control of what I did about it; choice on how much interaction I had with my parents, what  boundaries I could put in place, whether or not I continued to choose to have them in my life.  In that moment, when I took ownership and responsibility for this choice, I grew up and took charge of a very unhealthy relationship in my life.  I chose to change that relationship and the impact it had on my well-being.

It was a turning point for me which allowed me to see choices in a new light.  I embrace choice with a real level of anticipation and excitement now, knowing it is up to me. Tough choices are always going to be part of our lives, but we can choose how we react to them.  I know that I have a physical condition that has certain implications.  Having this condition was not my choice.  How I accommodate it, how I challenge it, how I work with it and around it – those are my choices.  And each new aspect of my condition brings new choices that I’m ready to own in the same way.

Which choices are you still allowing someone else to own for you?  How might it feel to be in control of the outcome, to decide how much it influences or impacts your life?  Start with a SMALL step – something that you know you regularly blame someone else for, and get to grips with your own ability to do something about it.

What choice will you take ownership of today?

Dinah 🙂

Choose positive language

Create a positive message not a melodrama

As I looked at my Facebook timeline today, I was so disappointed to see how many people are posting messages with negative rather than positive language.

They include a commonly used sentence on these posts now “I know 99% of you won’t re-post this….”  What a strange choice of  language;  If they choose to focus on negative language, then many people – like me – will indeed choose not to re-post their message.  If they choose positive language I, and many more like me, are sure to engage in a positive way.

So why would they choose this approach?  Why start by assuming people will not respond, be moved, care enough to share something that matters to you?  I believe they are hoping this comment will work in several ways:

1) If none of us re-post their message, we help them reinforce the negatives in their head.  Those voices that tell them “you are not worth it” “people don’t care about you”.  By setting us up in this way, we can prove they are right in their minds.  They would, of course, deny this is the case and would probably attempt to make your lack of response all about you.

2) Emotional blackmail.  They somehow hope to make us feel sorry for them, to believe that we are the 1% who will post it and prove they do matter.  This approach may get some people to share – once.  They are, however, likely to get bored of the “victim” approach pretty quickly.

3) They enjoy the attention.  When you see a post that contains this phrase, the first thing that comes to mind is often “oh dear, sounds like they’ve been let down in the past” or “they are obviously having a tough time”.  There is a chance you will contact them and simply say “hope you are ok” and bingo, they got your attention.

What response do you think you could create with positive language instead?  I would suggest more people will engage, more people will want to share your posts, more people will take notice.

Today, choose positive language and let me know how people respond.

Dinah

Choose not to fall

I loved this video from Daniel Ilabaca speaking about parkour and how it allowed him to see his choices and the power he had to embrace them.  Embracing our choices and taking responsibility for where they can lead us is demonstrated beautifully.  Enjoy.

Choose to put your feet up

Sometimes we struggle on when it is not the right thing to do.  Sometimes we convince ourselves that we simply “can’t miss this appointment” or that “they’ll think less of me if I take a day off”.  Sound familiar?   And when we hear this little voice in our head, we make a choice; often the one that we believe will please others, but are we pleasing – or even looking after – ourselves.

Making a choice to take time off when we are unwell is a sensible choice on many levels; I remember being sent home from work, aged 19, with a terrible cold.  “What were you thinking?” my boss asked me – and the answer was too ridiculous to say out loud! “Do you want to give everyone your cold!”  I learned an important lesson.  However, this is one of those skills we learn that stops working if we don’t use it.  If we get into the habit of pushing ourselves to go into work, or get up and do that project at home, then when we really should be putting our feet up, the choice can feel almost impossible to make.

I made that choice today.  I decided to have a day with my feet up and I know it is a good choice.  An uncomfortable choice, a difficult choice, a challenging choice and the right choice.

When did you last choose to put your feet up?

Dinah 🙂

Choose Today

Choice can feel uncomfortable and challenging and we often choose to put off making difficult choices.  Too often people talk about regrets which are really choices they didn’t make.  As my husband celebrated his 45th birthday last week, we reflected on the lack of regret in our lives and how even the choices that had not worked out as we planned had been the right choices for us.

This fabulous song from Tim McGraw reminds me to embrace choices every day and make sure I never look back with regret.  I hope you enjoy the words as much as I do.

Have a wonderful saturday

Dinah 🙂

Choose a positive “NO”

Saying “no” to people can feel uncomfortable – or even impossible, largely because we see it as a negative response.  We can choose to see it as a positive when we look at it from a different perspective.  It is a choice and one we can make more easily when we understand that a “no” can be a “yes” for  ourselves.

What really prevents you from saying “no” when you want to?  What makes you take the choice to say “yes” when you know it is the wrong answer for YOU?  You do!  You make the choice every time, fulled by the voice in your head telling you “they won’t be my friend anymore if I say no” or “they won’t want me on the team if I say no”.  So how’s it going for you – listening to that little voice and taking on more and more?  Serving you well? I thought not.

So today, make a choice to say  “no” to something and “yes” to yourself.  Choose to be brave and honest and stand up for the most importat person in your world – YOU.  It’s a strange feeling, and one you will grow to enjoy if you make the choice.

Have a fantastic day

Dinah :o)

Choose no limits

Another Sunday video for you today about choices and how we can choose to live a life of no limits, whatever others tell us they might be.  I watch this when I have a day where walking is just that bit too painful, or when I am overwhelmed by the effort required.  It soon helps me choose a different way of looking at things.  I hope you find it as inspirational as I do. The choice of music is wonderful too. Choose to be the extra mile for someone this Sunday.