You CAN please everyone – if you want to be average

It is one of the conversations I hear most often as a Mentor; a client is feeling down, their confidence is at an all-time-low and they’ve just admitted that today, someone told them they didn’t like what they do.  “They said my style wasn’t right for them”, “She said my product wasn’t as good as their other choice”, “He’s told me he’s not renewing our contract”, all news that everyone in business has heard at one point, and is likely to hear again.  The painful truth is, you are not going to be everyone’s “cup of tea” and that is great news.  If you want to please everyone, you’ll have to be bland, middle of the road, non-controversial, happy to stay put and resist change, oh and more than anything else, you’ll need to be average.

I can say with confidence, that nobody ever wanted to run an average business, lead an average group, give an average service or teach an average class.  We have all encountered businesses who have attempted to be all things to all people, but without exception, they fail.  Take any brand, however well known, respected or credible, and you will find a customer who has had a bad experience with them.  Any brand.  One of the greatest challenges facing our Public Services is that they are expected to be exactly what we all need, at every stage of our lives, whatever our circumstances.  I must say, as someone who would not be here without our NHS, I am grateful that this remarkable group of people somehow manage to be anything but average, on the “shop floor” and it is thanks to these remarkable, way-above-average people that this service delivers miracles every day.

Accepting that you’re not going to deliver, or accept, average in your life, requires you to be clear about where you draw some lines:

  1. Say no to potential business
    We’ve all been in that place where work is at a low point and we’ve considered working with someone when our gut is telling us to walk away.  Perhaps the cash was just too tempting, or the introductions promised are getting you into a new market; as you’re saying yes, you know you should be saying no and sure enough, within weeks, you encounter problems.  Saying “No. This is not for me” is one of the most difficult and fantastic things you will ever do; overcoming the desire to make the wrong decision for a short-term gain, and having the confidence that something better will come is a moment you will look back on with pride and pleasure in the future.
  2. Decide what “above average” really means to you
    If you are going to set yourself up to succeed here, you need to set some guides in place for measuring your delivery as being “above average”.  A great place to start this is to ask previous  and existing clients what it is about your service or products that keeps them coming back to you.  Ask them what makes you unique and what they most value in what you do for their business.  These are your pointers for excellence and setting these as standards you will achieve for every customer will allow you to be realistic about the consistence and credibility of your services.
  3. Manage expectations with authenticity
    It is almost certain that it is the very things that some don’t “get” or like about you that will appeal most to others.  We have all discovered with experience that our greatest strengths are often our greatest weaknesses when we are at our most vulnerable and with this in mind, being authentic about who you are, how you work and what it is that makes you different, is key to attracting the right clients to your business (and the same applies to attracting friends and partners too).  This means being yourself at all times, even when it is tempting to conform, or play-down your individuality, even if you’re finding number one (above) hard to master.  I remember the greatest compliment I received the first time I met someone who’d only conversed with me on line; “You’re exactly who I thought you’d be” he told me “You come over on Twitter and your blog just as you do on stage and over coffee.”  Being yourself, setting an expectation in advance, helps attract the right people and also helps avoid uncomfortable situations with the wrong ones.
  4. Refuse to accept average
    I always have respect for people who “walk their talk”, especially when I know it requires effort.  Accepting average service is a choice; if you’re regularly getting less than you believe you’ve paid for from a company or giving more than you get in a relationship or friendship, it is possibly because you’re prepared to accept average.  Perhaps you believe average is all you deserve.  When you’re serious about accepting above average, it does something to your level of self-esteem that is liberating and powerful.  When you decide that only above average is good enough, you’ll expect it, appreciate it, acknowledge it and enjoy it more than you do on an “average” day.  You will also enjoy the challenge of delivering that for others; there is no better motivation to deliver outstanding service than to experience it yourself.

The next time someone tells you they’re less than thrilled with your service or product, ask them what they’d expected.  Ask them what would have made it right for them and thank them for their feedback and then consider this question: Was their rejection because I’m not good enough  or could it be that I would have suited them better if I had been more average?

The image at the top of this post was created by my wonderful friend and teacher, Amanda Rose.  You can see her fabulous art in Myddfai Community Centre, attend one of her art classes (with me) every Wednesday afternoon, or commission her to illustrate your Poetry or writing.  She’s the inspiration behind this blog; one of the most authentic, talented and above-average people I know who’s a real inspiration to me. And she makes me smile.

According to whom?

wow woman facial pic

I watch with my head in my hands when the adverts come on the television.  The cause of this despair is quite simple really, it’s the idea that women are failing if they don’t “match up” to the perfection that is personified in stick-thin, teen-age models with “perfect” lifestyles and the skin, hair and figure to match.  Apparently, it’s what we all want.

I’d like to know, According to whom?

I saw an ad for skin cream that claimed “80% of women said they’d consider delaying surgery after using it”

Delaying? As if, surgery was inevitable once we took a good look in the mirror and realised how wrinkled we were.

Another shows a husband, claiming “we’ve been through three pregnancies…. and she still looks like Kate”

Let’s get this straight – the model still looks 30 because she is 30 and has probably never borne a child, let alone three.  Your wife still looks like your wife because you love her and we see only what we want to in people we love. And by the way, despite the grey hair you seem to despair of, she finds that sexy and exciting.  Don’t knock it!

My point is, who is it that sets these expectations, these apparent standards we must strive to achieve with diets, creams, procedures and prodding?  And what is it that makes us buy into them?  Is it a crowd thing, that sense that “everyone else does it so if I don’t then I’ll stand out for the wrong reasons?”  Is it that we’ve been so convinced the message is true, we’ve started to believe it ourselves?

I looked at my husband this morning; really looked at him.  His lines around his eyes, from working out-doors and no doubt added to by stress over the years. His grey hairs, now a good 30% of his head is covered in greys and whites.  I love them, I think they show his experience and maturity and yes, if I’m totally honest, they just look incredible with his tan!  I looked at his hands, with scars that show a life-time of crafting, creating, working hard for a living. Oh yes, I looked at other bits too – but that’s between us 😉

I asked myself “Do I see these changes in him as imperfections?  Do they stand out and become the things I notice?”  The answer for me was no.  I see these as the signs that we are growing old – together.  That makes me emotional.  We did not anticipate this.  It’s exciting and new.    I love the lines that tell his story, the rugged look that highlights his features, the grey hair that makes his blue eyes even more intense.

And I wonder, does he notice my lines, my creases and wrinkles?  Does he see the grey mixing in with the blonde or notice the lines on my hips and arms which tell of my history?  Does he love me because of them or despite them?  I believe I know.  I believe he’s with me on this one.

According to him I’m beautiful.  According to him I can stop fixating over the ageing process and continue to celebrate my years and my lines.  According to him, I’m perfect just as I am.

Dinah x

Give the gift of saying “Thank You”

accepting a compliment with a simple Thank You can feel difficult,  Accept that it's not about you.

“Really? What this old thing?”
“You’re joking, this makes my bum look enormous!”
“That’s sweet of you to say; when did you last get your eyes tested?”……

Sound familiar?  What is it that makes it so hard to accept a compliment at face-value and respond with “Thank you”?  What is the force that prevents so many women enjoying something that was intended to lift their day, to acknowledge something about them that prompted another person to say “Wow!”?

For many years I was convinced that accepting a compliment with a “thank you” was somehow saying “I know.  Yes, I am fabulous, thanks for noticing”;  of course, in my head this was done in a highly dramatic arrogant tone that was, frankly, repulsive.  I visualised people walking away and whispering to each other “I only said it to make her feel better!”  And of course, I gained little from these encounters except an opportunity to emotionally beat myself up, to remind myself I felt less than pretty, less than perfect.

Then I learned an interesting lesson from a friend;  accepting a compliment is not about ME.  When I allow someone to tell me I look great and greet this with a smile and a “Thank you”,  I give them a gift.  When people pay us a compliment, they do so with the intention of lifting our mood, making us feel great, making us glow.  When we treat that compliment, that gift, with contempt, we are showing them we don’t trust them, don’t value them.

When we accept the praise and the compliment, we allow them to enjoy that moment when someone unwraps a gift and you know you found exactly the right thing; they smile, the smile travels to their eyes which start to shine, they want to hold the gift up and show the world and you know that they understand why you chose it, that you’ve been paying attention, that they matter to you.

Focus on the person paying you the compliment today and thank them for taking the trouble to choose the perfect gift by giving them one in return – you’ll be surprised the impact “Thank you” can have on you both.

Dinah x

Time to review…

As we approach the end of 2012, it’s a great time to take a life review; I  like to think of this process as a “Life RevYou” it’s not about goals you set and whether you’ve achieved them, or berating yourself for the things you didn’t get done.  A Life RevYOU is about YOU.  How far you’ve come in your life and where you want to go.  You the person, you the woman.

I find it helpful to start with photos.  I’ve been looking at pictures with my brother when I was four and he was six.  The way he holds my hand in almost every picture, already taking the role of protector.  I think of the slight lisp I had, the hearing problems that made me reluctant to speak up and how much that has changed!  Being a visual person, I love to surround myself with pictures so I create a board with pictures that show me my journey as part of my Life RevYOU.

Next, write yourself a letter.  Address it to “Dear You” and let you know all the things you’re proud of.  The things you know have taken courage to overcome, the little things that nobody else will know are a struggle for you or take determination to complete.  Let yourself know how great you’re looking – go on, it’s for your eyes only.  Remind yourself of the daily tasks you complete, that are routine to everyone else, and how important they are.  My letter to myself from last year is still on my wall in the office.  I glow every time I read it.

The final part of the RevYOU is to be honest about where you’re going from here.  What do you want to add to that letter next year?  What one thing are you going to do more of to increase your own sense of worth, your own well-being?  Remember, the smallest steps are the most important, so set yourself something you are not only able to achieve, but committed to achieving.  Mine for 2013 is this “I’m proud of you for taking swimming up again, I know that was a big step, that you overcame lots of personal fears and you stuck with it.”

I’d love to know how you get on with your own Life RevYOU.

Dinah 🙂

Are you ready to receive?

ready to receive

In the spirit of giving, that so many women find themselves adopting naturally, it can be difficult to receive.  To accept that you deserve too.  Receiving does not have to be selfish or self-centred, although we often put our own desires and needs at the bottom of our agenda and focus on “more important things”.

I’ve always enjoyed giving; from a young age I was more excited about other people’s birthdays than my own and would get really upset if someone did not love a gift I game them.  Few things in life make me more content that knowing something I’ve done for someone else has made a difference.  It has taken me a long time to see that I can receive without somehow being a hypocrite.  And more importantly, that I deserve to receive too.

Getting comfortable with the idea of receiving requires the learning of a new habit.  Here are my top tips for getting ready to receive:

1. One small gift…  Start small, it will feel manageable and you’ll see results that encourage you to continue.  So, start with asking for one small gift, from someone close to you – a friend or family member.  Let them know you’d really love to have something from them; I started by letting my husband, John, know that I would love him to take me to a movie.

2. Get visual… At the top of this blog is a quote that inspires me to look at receiving in a new way.  Find a quote or image that motivates you to stay connected with the idea of receiving.

3. Repeat after me…  “I’m worth it” “I deserve  to receive” “I am ready to receive”  all these phrases are a great way to re-connect in moments of doubt.  Yes, you may feel slightly daft talking to yourself, but go on- you do deserve to receive.

Are you ready to receive?  How do you prepare to receive?  I’d love to hear your thoughts

Dinah x

Choose positive thinking

positive thinking. you can choose to think positive, to focus on a good outcome
Choose a positive you today

 

Choosing to think positively is not going to make all your problems disappear overnight; however, it is going to make a huge, positive difference to how you deal with, challenge, accept or fight these challenges and, as a result and with persistence, a more positive outcome.  Positive thinking is a choice and it can become a healthy habit.

Sound like mumbo-jumbo?  All that “the Universe will deliver” language you’ve heard before.  Well, I make no apologies for that.  I choose positive thinking every day and it has had a profound impact on my life.  Real, measurable impact.  I choose to walk, having been told I would never walk again.  I choose to have a daughter (now 22 and utterly amazing) after I was told I could not and would not have children.  I choose to work and fill my life with activities and challenges after being told I would not even live to see my 40’s.

So has choosing positive thinking been an easy, snap decision that resolved all these challenges in the blink of an eye? Of course not; it has been a choice I make every day, a habit I have chosen to create and embrace.  Has choosing this positive attitude had an impact on my results – unquestionably.  I choose my own outcomes because I look at what is possible, not what is impossible; I focus on what I can do not what I cannot; I celebrate my achievements rather than focussing on my wobbles.  I choose positive thought and I get results.

What can you choose to be positive about in your thinking from today?  I’d love to hear what you choose.

Dinah