Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Art VS Heart of Conversation

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. Aristotle

The primary use of conversation is to satisfy the impulse to talk. 

The power of conversation is immense.  

We use it to get our points across, to have our voice heard, to persuade, or to simply satisfy our need to talk.  The words we use, how we say them and when we say them have the power to make connections and open doors.  It is a skill and art form that can be the beginning or the end of opportunities and relationships.

The ART of conversation is what gets us heard.  It invites someone to interact.  It is the thing that sets our words apart.

But, the ART of conversation without the HEART of conversation, is not an interaction, it is broadcasting. 

The heart of conversation doesn't begin with our mouths. It is not about what words we are able to get out. It is not having exactly the right word and the perfect moment with exact timing and flare of delivery.  It is much less about what we say with words, and more about what we say with our presence.

The heart of conversation begins with our ears and our hearts.

The heart of conversation requires us to:
  • Shut our mouths and open our ears. 
  • Create a compassionate place in our heart to be open to what the other person is bringing to the interaction. 
  • Not formulate a response while the other person is sharing.
  • To resist the urge to speak, realizing that our need to spew words is often far less important than the other person's need to be heard.   
While the art of conversation invites someone to an interaction moment, it is the heart that makes it a communication event.  ART is the persuasion or sales pitch that says "Hello,  I have a great spot for you!" The heart of conversation is what leads to the spot on the conversation, invites  to sit down, assures  the spot is stable and safe, and allows a place for the other person to have a voice and be heard.

Woman Enough, not every conversation will have the same type of depth. But be aware of when you are relying only on the ART of conversation.  The HEART is a gift to the other person, but it is also a gift to yourself in the form of connection, learning and expanding your heart. Remember that the ART is about what you have to say, the HEART is about what the other person needs to be heard. Relying too heavily on ART and you are not conversing, you are broadcasting.

How are your conversations? Are they art-filled or heart-filled? 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Empower In, Empower Out

"...We believe that work is more than a place you go every day. It should be a place of exploration, creativity, professional growth and interpersonal relationships. It's about being inspired and motivated to achieve extraordinary things..." ~ From the Coca Cola Company's People Profiles 

Empowerment is an idea that is talked about a lot in conversations these days. It means to authorize, enable, support, supply with the tools needed for a goal, support one's journey or path, allow one to reach their goals.  When we hear that word, we know what it means. We get the idea and the end goal of it.

But what does it look like in action?

October 17 and 18, 2012, this Woman Enough had the opportunity to see what it looks like in action on both an individual and corporate level, in Atlanta Georgia, at Coca-Cola headquarters. I was invited and  hosted (thank you for providing for the wonderful travel and hotel accommodations) by the Coca-Cola Company to attend Conversations With Coca-Cola, a conference to include women/mom bloggers and social media presences, into the conversations of the Coca-Cola Company's efforts to give back to local and global communities.

I, and all the attendees, had the wonderful opportunity to hear from amazing women from the company and from outside of the company, that spoke about using our voices, using our talents, and empowering one another in personal, professional, and community life. We discussed may initiatives such as sustainability and environment, and Live Positively. All of them were admirable and philanthropic.  But, what stuck out most to me was the willingness and belief in empowering women to have a voice, have a chance, and to lead.

Empowering women both inside and outside of the corporate walls is an active goal and real world action that Coca-Cola is taking to lift up and recognize the power of women in the world.  Within the company, female leadership is developed and supported through a focus on attracting, retaining and developing strong female leadership. The Women's Leadership Council further empowers women through a pay it forward, "lift as you climb" approach to building community and support within the corporate frame of Coca Cola. A dedication to providing flexibility options for women juggling the work/life/home demands, further supports and empowers women to have the opportunity to live each area of life to the fullest.

Empowerment reaches outward too. 

In an effort to empower women entrepreneurs around the globe, Coca Cola put in place the 5by20 program. It's goal is to enable economic empowerment of 5 million women globally by 2012.
  • "Through 5by20, we address the most common barriers women face when trying to succeed in the marketplace. This initiative offers women access to business skills training courses, financial services and connections with peers or mentors -- along with the confidence that comes with building a successful business."
Moving outward into the global communities to raise up and support: It is a lofty goal, but so honorable. 

Prior to the conference, I admit, I had a limited view of what Coca-Cola provided.  When I thought of the company, I thought of the red can and the snappy jingles that I heard as a kid.  I remember myself and my kids filling, and OVER filling our cups at the self serve soda fountains at a local fast food restaurant. I also remember cleaning off sticky faces and car interior after the inevitable spillage. I saw Coke as just a liquid, a drink, something in a cup. The Conversations With Coca-Cola Conference changed that.

Women Enough - embrace the empowerment opportunities that come your way.  Whether it be someone lifting and supporting you to reach your greatness, or your chance to extend a hand and help someone reach theirs, embrace it.  Reach your hand inside your circles to help another. But be just as ready to turn and face outward and extend your had that way too.  Whether we empower personally or corporately, it works for the greater good of others.

Thank you to The Coca-Cola Company for being an example of what it means to Empower in and Empower out.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday Morning Motivator - Never Too Far For Grace

There has been so much in the news recently about "heroes" falling from grace.  Politician, business mogul, sports hero, pastoral figures - in every walk of life and profession, we elevate people up as role models and heroes.  But, they are people, human and flawed. Many of them err, and take the long fall from grace. It may harden the hearts and break our trust.  But, like those we put on a pedestal, we all fall

It is never out of His reach. This is good news for all of us.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Stewardship - Managing the Good... AND the Bad

Steward: One who actively directs affairs.
Stewardship: Conducting, supervising, or managing something; especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrust to one's care. *

We've all heard the the message that we should be good stewards. Looking at the definition above, it looks to be a pretty easy concept and principle to grasp. We are to be responsible managers of what we have, what we've earned, and what we have been given. It is our responsibility to be good managers of what good, gifts and triumphs we've been blessed by. From our talents, we are called to share in the way we can to be a positive contribution to the world. We are called to be good stewards of finance, of the environment, of our health, our education, and of our affairs. It is easy to apply this concept to the things we see before us - the things that are tangible and positive in our lives. Call it social responsibility, giving, charity, generosity, responsible administration, care - it all points back to stewardship. It's the careful and responsible management of something that's been entrusted to us -the tangible additions to our lives.

But, we are also stewards of the things that aren't tangible "goods" in our lives.

Along with being responsible managers with the positive, we are to be good stewards of the negatives as well. This isn't as easy. It is far less work to bring forth good from good than it is to bring forth good from bad. Bringing forth good from bad is actually a double effort as we try to first use it to better ourselves THEN use it in a responsible way outside of ourselves. If we are truly making efforts to be good stewards, we strive to bring it forth from both.

The tough things in life can pillage us and leave us feeling empty. Loss of a job, a relationship, a loved one, or a friend leaves behind gaps, pain and questioning. The stress of life can pull all of the energy from our souls. Personal illness, betrayal, or trauma all create a hole in us. It happens to EVERY one of us. Yet, even in our feeling of loss and hurt, we are to be good stewards of those events.

How do you know if we are good stewards of the bad?

Ask these questions:
  • Did I let this define me? An event (good or bad) is part of the landscape of who we are but it only defines us if we let it. The world may try to assign it to who we are, but we are in control of that. If we know we are more than the moment or event, we are allowing ourselves to grow.
  • Did I let this leave a hole in me? There will be some pieces of events that stay with us forever. Some things can not be replaced and will always be missed. However, if we refuse to let it leave a hole in us that allows the goodness of life and the potential for happiness drain right out of us, that is when we are being a good steward.
  • Did I learn from this event? Many things in life happen outside of our control. Some are results of things that we set in motion. Either way, ALL of the events can be learned from. We can look back at the event and see if there were some things we could have done to avoid it, and not do those things in the future. We can also look back and see that there are things that are out of our control, and learn to be prepared for the unexpected. We can also simply learn the lesson of cherishing what we have while we have it. 
  • Is there something in this that changed my heart? If your heart was hardened, it needs to be broken again. The things that happen in life should soften and expand our hearts. Even the bad. 
  • Can what happened to me in any way benefit others? We don't always know the reasons why things happen. Sometimes there is not a reason. But there is always a use for our experience in the future. Recognize when your past events allow you to feel understanding or empathy with others in the future. Your experience may have the power be a catalyst for others, or it may simply be what fosters your ability to connect and listen to another who needs to know that they aren't alone. 
When we are giving of the good, we have evidence - we can see our efforts, our dollars, or our time making a positive difference. Being a good steward to the negative isn't quite as easy to spot - yet it is our responsibility to be good stewards of the challenges, loss and disappointments.

Women Enough - it is easy to make good from good - being a good steward of the positive. Take a moment and assess if you are a good steward of the hardships as well. When you can make a positive step from a negative situation, then you are a good steward of the challenges.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Ditch the Imposter - Be it to Become It!

Why this happens, I don't know.  

I dive head long into a project, feeling like I am in my element. I feel confident in my knowledge. I prepare, I practice, I deliver.  Often, I will even get accolades for effort and a job well done.

Is the job ever perfect? No.

But is it pretty darn good?  Yes, often it is.

I recently gave a presentation on a workshop I am currently writing.  I delivered the content well. I got a lot of good feedback of what was good, and what could be improved upon. Most of the feedback was good, and the goals of the presentation were met and even exceeded.

Then why was it that as soon as I had delivered, I felt a wave of doubt come over me? Why did I suddenly wonder what the heck I was thinking that I could accomplish?  Why did I feel like an imposter?

I did some self assessing and realized that there are certain instances and areas in my life where that thinking comes in.

In many of my roles this type of thinking never creeps in. I am confident and comfortable running my household.  I can multitask and juggle a ton of things like a pro.   I don't ever write a post, comfort a friend, put a meal on the table or comfort one of my children and then ask myself  "What gives you the authority and the know how to do this?"

But when I am in a situation that I know in my head I can do, but is outside of what I see as my  "lived  out" expertise  doubt creeps in. Even if I have the support of my peers and the logical understanding of the process and my ability, often  I do question myself. Even if I KNOW I have the knowledge and experience to be successful in things outside my daily duties, my emotions often sabotage me.  I don't feel like I am in the "fake it till you make it" spot.  I just feel like I am faking it.

I feel like an imposter.

I was wondering if I was alone in this thinking.  Apparently not. I was relieved. I turned to the almighty Google and looked up the phrase "imposter thinking".  This is actually something that many feel. Often, it is women that feel this way. Women Enough, I bet many of you feel the same.

What Can Be Done About It?

A plan of action has helped me and may help other Women Enough combat this false thinking. These are the steps that may help break the circle of loop thinking - a train of though that takes you back to defeat.

  • Recognize the type of situation that spawns these thoughts. 
  • Remind yourself of why YOU ARE the right person to be in that action or role  - even if it means making a written list. 
  • Know that YOU have the knowledge and the ability to perform the role. 
  • Remember that a standard of  "expert" is performing a role approximately 10,000 times. In reality there are very few true experts. We are all on fairly level ground. 
  • Listen to the voices of those around you that are giving you the outside feedback  of why you are capable for that role. 
  • Realize that no person could do that role until they DID perform that role. YOU are no different.
  • Even if you feel that way, to continue on until the feeling subsides. Don't let it get the best of me. 
  • Remember that your perception is on a pendulum. It may swing from a perception of ultimate success on one end, to ultimate failure. The truth regardless of your perception is someplace in the middle of that. 
Woman Enough -Instead of getting stuck in the "fake it" phase, adopt the mantra "Be It To Become It!".  If you get stuck in either part of that mantra, it is a winning place to be. This way you can take a look at yourself and say "I feel like the person and the role that I am striving to be." 

Woman Enough, Do you ever feel like you are faking it? What do you do to change that feeling?