I’ve completed the first week on my 30-day journey to find joy. I’ve shared memories with someone I love, met more of my neighbors, shared compliments and kindness, had fun and have been mindful of my world.
The process of focusing on Joy on a daily basis has begun to shift my thoughts. I am seeking things that are joyful. Looking
for, noticing things that are good, like the sound of the birds chirping about on an unseasonably warm morning walk. I am focusing on what is good. With all of the intensity of what is going on in the world, this is a dose of antigen. But, it’s still work. I can say, that while I often like to see and share fun and joyful things, I didn’t necessarily do it for a deeper value or purpose. It’s still not a habit, but the discipline of seeking it feels like it is aligning with the greater goodness and happiness I am working toward in my life.
So, three more weeks to go! This week, I’m going to seek opportunities to show and acknowledge gratitude, practice mindfulness and choose Joy!
Every human, every creature, every organization, every network has both masculine and feminine energies. The masculine energy is represented in efficiency and strategy; the feminine energy manifests as nurturing and intuition. Today, that energy is out of balance for us – as individuals and as a culture.
Judy Wicks introduced me to this concept. A Local Living Economies and sustainability pioneer, Wicks talks about balancing masculine and feminine energy within the food system. She tells a story of a Philadelphia organic farmer who theorized that on a farm, it’s essential to have a balance of masculine and feminine energy. If you have too much masculine energy, you will have an efficient business but terrible crops. If you have too much feminine energy, you will have beautiful tomatoes, but you will soon go out of business.
Wicks translates this notion in her work as an activist against global farming: We know the exact amount of water, light and space we need to provide to a chicken so it will yield the biggest eggs and the most meat on its bones. However, toward this end, we are putting antibiotics into our food system. We are treating the animals inhumanely, keeping them in tight dark spaces, breeding them to yield more meat. As a result, their chests grow so big they are unable to stand up. With cows and pigs, the specifics are different, but the outcome of suffering is the same.
Medicine is not much different, as I have observed through friends and colleagues. Everything is disjointed, and very little is focused on the patient as a person. Hospitals are about efficiency and earnings. Take, for example, Radiology. Diagnostic radiology is a separate practice from interventional radiology. There is no holistic practice. On the diagnostic side, trained physicians sit in dark rooms, exclusively reading scans all day. They are held accountable for reading a certain number of scans daily, but they are not supported to give quality readings to save patients. Interventional radiologists, on the other hand, wear protective lead body coverings and are responsible for the surgical side of radiology. They are performing procedures not necessarily with a deep connection to the patient’s case, but based solely on a scan read by another doctor. Furthermore, doctors are so fearful of litigation that they are ordering scans that may be unnecessary, potentially increasing a patient’s cancer risk. Medicine is not balanced in efficiency and nurturing.
As a woman in business, I feel the imbalance in my personal work. To succeed, I need to use masculine energy – be strategic, be efficient. But it’s a double-edged sword. When I summon my masculine energy, I am judged differently. If I am too straight-forward, too efficient and strategic, I am judged as being a b–ch. If I demonstrate nurturing, I am too soft, not strong enough. This isn’t exclusive to women either. While being straightforward and tough may be acceptable and expected for men, it is hard to sustain. Competition, fear of showing vulnerability and the expectation of constant strength are tough dynamics to navigate and not inherently natural. We are walking a precarious tightrope, watching each step in environments where people are so afraid to make mistakes they spend more time engaged in “CYA” than in pushing the ball forward.
Things aren’t working. This imbalance of masculine and feminine is evident throughout our culture and in business.
So how do we balance masculine and feminine energy, not only within ourselves but also in transition organizations, networks and cultures?
For the individual
- Mindfulness. Use it to really feel within the body, to tap into your intuition. In business we may have called it gut instinct. Instead of only relying on instinct to recognize the best deal or sense weakness, begin the practice of relying on that instinct, that intuition to relate to others, to feel out what might be best for business.
- Make the “we” more important than the “me.” Put others and the whole first.
- Change the conversation. Use empathy and develop understanding of the whole of a person.
- Practice getting out of your strategic mind and using your intuition. Practice vulnerability. Practice empathy. Practice a balanced focus on nurturing and efficiency. Be the change you seek.
For the organization
- Sustainable industries are already working to address this, though they frame it differently. There is a focus on People, Planet and Profit. Nurturing and efficiency. B-Lab or Social Venture Network are great resources.
- Make vulnerability culturally acceptable. Allow people to let their guard down. Allow people to share fears and feelings and balance them with their drive for efficiency.
- Be a leader who inspires. Someone who puts the success and well- being of the team ahead of your own.
So, Day #1? What does finding joy even mean? What makes me joyful? Well, talking or connecting with other people does. So today I decided to share a memory. My boyfriend and I spent a few weeks in Western Australia and I will never forget my first glimpse of the Indian Ocean at City Beach in Perth. I had to share it with him. He took me there because it was near where he lived 20 years ago. Sharing our memories of the trip brought a very sweet moment of connection for us!
I am starting a 30-day journey to find joy. Life is intense. There’s ever mounting responsibility and obligation. I’ve spent years exploring yoga and eastern philosophy to balance out the grind of western business and cultural demands. But now, with everything going on in the country and world it seems even harder to feel grounded let alone find joy every day.
So, how do you find joy? Who knows? But hopefully I will find out. What I am clear of is that it feels like it needs a practice, to become a way of life, like any of the good things – love, hope….
Please join me on this exploration as I seek to find something every day for 30 days that brings to joy to my life.
In my work, the word brand is thrown around a lot. It’s almost an obsession. Everyone wants one — or thinks they need one. The world’s greatest brands seem to wield an immense amount of power. But a brand isn’t something you get or obtain. You can’t simply buy it and it’s never owned; it’s shared. It is something your customers and employees take ownership of as a shared philosophy. It’s your mirror, the part of your business where they see their own reflection. A brand is a daily commitment and practice like choosing love or joy.
What exactly is a brand? Your brand is the soul of your business, why you do what you do. It is your story, your culture and your relationships. Your brand is what your customers relate to, why they choose you and why they recommend you. It encompasses the values and principles that your business is built on, defining what you do and how you do it. Meaningful brands distill their “why” into a transformative experience.
Nothing explains this better than Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, a great tool that I have used for several years now within my brand positioning methodology. In it, he shares his concept the Golden Circle: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Knowing what a brand is is great, but creating one or restoring integrity to one is another story.
When I help established companies or start-ups define and position their brand, it’s like being a curator. We start by clearly and concisely defining their Why, their core belief, or helping them clarify that belief — building consensus on how it is translated. Maybe it is through a story, the culture or a market differentiator. Finally, from this they can determine what to do, or determine if what they do makes sense based on their why and how.
I was asked to write about one of my biggest business successes/lessons for a speaking engagement recently….
So often as a leader I am asked to speak about accomplishments and successes. I am fortunate that there have been many, but it’s much more interesting to me to talk about what didn’t work: the “F” word – “Failure.”
To be a leader, especially to be an entrepreneur, you have to live full-out. There is no half-way about it. You have to take risks, face fears and face failure.
Many of us go through life afraid to fail. As a young entrepreneur, it seemed a fate worse than death. Inevitably, you will fail at something, likely many things. Sometimes you fail at the little things and sometimes they are big things.
But I assure you, if you dare to lead, dare to follow your passion, you will at some point fail. And it’s a beautiful thing. There have been many times that I have stood on the precipice of epic failure. Each and every time I persevered, I found a way through. It wasn’t always easy. But, if you can get over the agony, the upset, the anxiety, the fear — if you can get over your ego — you can find your greatness in failure.
Here are some things I know to be true about failure:
Failure is just a change of plans: Things simply don’t ever go as planned. It’s not unique to me or to you. What you write in a business plan is not how it is going to happen. You have to stand clear in your principles and integrity but remain agile and adaptable. When things don’t work the way you expected, take the high road, face what’s hard and change course to achieve your objectives.
Failure is possibility: When you stand on the precipice of epic failure, there is just as much of a chance of success. That’s the nature of a precipice. So in the moment, if you act from a place of authenticity, if you do what’s right and don’t get attached to the outcome you create possibility. And if you were to fail, there will be learning in that. What you learn from that failure ultimately makes it possible to be successful.
Failure creates opportunity: There is great opportunity in failure. So often our definition of success is directly linked to an expected outcome. Our self-judgment is based on this achievement — on something external. If you can shift away from the outcome and measure your success in terms of who you show up as in every situation, it can open up opportunities for personal growth. You can develop relationships that last through hard times, and in keeping things in perspective and keeping your eye on what matters most, you may achieve your ultimate goal.
When I started my fashion business, I wanted to be great. I used to identify my greatness by achieving the ultimate in success — positive reviews in the best fashion magazines, a high valuation for my business. When that wasn’t enough, it transitioned to having a positive impact on the community and the environment. As I grew with my business, that also changed. If you can begin to judge yourself on your integrity in every situation — and I don’t just mean the definition of integrity that is about being honest and fair, but the full definition that says integrity is the state of being whole or complete — greatness is reached by always acting with integrity
To feel authentic, to feel good about yourself, like you did the right thing — there is a matter of being “complete” with something. It’s doing everything that you could or should do to honor yourself and others in any situation, keeping relationships, facing what’s hard and knowing that there is a way to maintain your values and self-worth through difficult situations.
Your failures will be what helps you along that road to success.
Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on failure, what it taught you and how you worked through it.
Business, life, and yoga. My intersection. Ever the student, desiring to learn and grow in this life, I am intent on exploring what’s possible here on this blog. Seasoned in my career, I have seen measurable success with all of the ups, downs and turnarounds that come with. I’m interested in; the dynamics of western business and new ways to approach it; authentic and transformational leadership; yoga and eastern philosophies; inspiring others; and the layers and levels of the human experience.
Why start blogging now? I’m at a transition point. Not a pivotal job change – but a personal transition point. I grew up in business. Our family farm, my mom’s growth through retail – countless hours as a kid and tween folding kids clothes on the retail floor at Sears waiting for my mom to finish work. Despite a degree and career in creative industries, I have always had an innate aptitude for business. Some people inherit heirlooms, I was handed down an uncontrollable ability to work hard and a can-do anything attitude. Or, should I say, will do everything (myself if I need to). I get things done. I make things happen. I can create something out of nothing. Said to be a sheer force of nature. In this Western world, it’s a noble thing. It has served me well for many years if you gauge the incredible experiences and advancement in my career but what came with it was exhaustion, lack of a balance in life and relationships, and feeling unfulfilled.
After nearly 20 years as a practitioner, in 2016 I completed a yoga teacher-training program that had a significant Eastern Philosophy component. It, as I had hoped, spurred a transformation in my emotional, physical and mental being that is leading to shifts in the way I choose to live my life and who I show up as in life and in business. And a new journey begins.
I invite you on the journey of exploring how we can transform the way we work and live to feel more fulfilled.