Me and Oprah

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I didn’t want to be like everyone else and write about gratitude this week.
 
Then Oprah showed up in my mailbox.

OK, not Oprah herself, but O, The Oprah Magazine™.

And I am in it! (See below.)

And it’s the GRATITUDE EDITION!

So, I had to write about gratitude because when Oprah tells you to do something, you do it.

Here's my challenge. I think gratitude can be EXHAUSTING!

It seems like everyone is talking about how your life will change as soon as you show gratitude for everything in it. All you do is say, “THANK YOU” and you will get everything you want.

The truth is that some days we don’t feel grateful about every little thing in our lives and pretending that we do is wasted energy.  

Sometimes you just have to give yourself a moment to NOT BE GRATEFUL for your job that you don’t like or the brother-in-law that insists on bringing his own food to your dinner party that you spent two weeks planning.

But, be careful!

If you wallow too long in the “not grateful stage,” you’ll get stuck there.

The way I see it, you have two options if you don't want to be stuck:

1. Decide to be grateful for your job you don’t like or your brother-in-law and keep the status quo.

OR

2. Take action to change the situation to a scenario where gratitude comes more easily to you.
 
It's your choice. 

What I Learned About Fear

Have you come to a reflection point in your career and life?

Maybe the writing is on the wall that you have given all you can to your current business or career?

Are you asking yourself, “What’s next for me?

No one tells us when we are in our 20s that in our 40s and 50s we should be prepared for our own reinvention. 

Yet, here we are: wanting something more but not knowing how to get it. 

It’s a scary place to be. I know, I’ve been there.

Here’s what I learned about being in that scary place. 

Fear and excitement feel the same in the body. 

I can lose sleep because I am afraid of what tomorrow will bring or I can lose sleep because I’m so excited to create my tomorrow. 

You can push yourself forward to explore a new idea or you can stand back and let fear win over excitement. 

You choose. 

Giving Back is Over

This article was originally posted on Coveyclub.com

We’re living in a moment when many of us are asking ourselves, “How am I showing up in the world? How do I exist in my community?” The concept of “giving back” is shifting from a passive, stand-alone activity like volunteering or writing a check, to becoming an integral part of   our lives, careers, and values.

Many of us Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are growing tired of asking ourselves the obvious What have I been ‘taking’ that giving back is a necessary counteraction? Instead, we are looking deeply at how we design our lives so that we are in continuous balance between taking and giving.

Gen Zers are lucky. They are growing up in a world where the term “giving back” is quickly becoming an anachronism. Their education, budding careers, and social lives are, in many ways, intertwined with their values. They often don’t have to choose between the job that will pay them well and the job that will feed their soul. Of course, this isn’t a perfect model yet, but there is no denying that value-integrated lives are more possible for younger people starting their careers today than they were 20 years ago.

So, as midlife reinventors, how do we take advantage of a world beyond giving back and mesh our desire for fruitful, fulfilling next acts with our desire for  value-integrated lives? Here are three inspiring examples of women reinventors who are finding their way in this new world. Use their tips and tricks in your own reinvention.

Business as a Three-Legged Stool
Tami Fujii and Dianne Celuch, founded KinonaSport, a women’s golf apparel company. They describe their business as a three-legged stool. The first leg is giving women something functional and flattering to wear on and off the golf course. The second is offering women the opportunity to start their own second careers by hosting shopping parties. The third leg is partnering, through money and time, with a nonprofit organization that teaches kids to play golf. All three legs of the stool are key to the success of their business and to their own personal happiness.

Humanity versus Vanity
Ruth Sutcliffe’s new motto is “Humanity versus Vanity.” After being laid off in her 50s from a fragrance company and spending months with her ailing mother in a long-term care facility, Ruth became inspired to  develop scents that stir memories in seniors. Today, she has started a movement to incorporate “smell therapy” in patients with dementia through her Essential Awakenings™ Smell and Memory Tool Kits.

Beyond 1%
Beth Bengston’s career-long desire to connect business with purpose led her to adopt a 1% give-back model in her business, Hale Advisors. But that wasn’t enough for Beth. Although the check got bigger each year, Beth was frustrated because she knew it would only grow so far and so fast. She wanted to do more. She found that only 1.2% of philanthropic giving goes to support women’s causes and thought, what if I can direct thousands of businesses to elevate women in the workforce? In 2018, she founded Working for Women, “a nonprofit that matches and builds relationships between businesses and non-profit organizations that are working to elevate women to enter and stay in the workforce.”

F*ck Charity, Make Change

This post was first published on CoveyClub.com

You’re probably reading this post for one of two reasons: 1) You’re offended by the title and clicked, ready for a fight. How dare I insult charity?! And with such a crass word! (If this is you, give me a chance to explain.) Or 2) you agree so deeply with the title that you’re ready to have F*ck Charity, Make Change™ tattooed on your arm. (If this is you, might I suggest starting with temporary ink? Get one of my free fake tattoos here.)

I don’t hate charity. In fact, I love it. Helping others is a part of my DNA. Some people fantasize about being a rock star or an Olympic gold medalist; I dream about being a big-time philanthropist.

What I mean by F*ck Charity, Make Change™ is that when you give your money or time to charity, you’ll help a couple of people, and probably feel pretty good for a day or two. But when you focus your experience, skills, networks, and ideas on helping to solve a social or environmental problem, you can transform your community and your life.

Which would you rather do?

Change happens when people go beyond themselves, when they respond to the pull deep in their hearts to do something about a problem in their communities.

Take my client Susanne, for example. She was volunteering to mentor high school girls in the Bronx when one of Suzanne’s students told her that she had no chance of getting into a college science program because she didn’t have extracurriculars to put on her application. Susanne realized that there was a need for STEM education that wasn’t being met by the schools. Using her experience as a neuroscientist and educator, Susanne launched EDSnaps, a three-week STEM and arts summer program for female-identifying high school students.  

If you’re curious about how you can go beyond charity to create change, here are three simple steps to get you started:

1. Pick Your Fight
Close your eyes. Think about all the problems (or opportunities) in your community. Which issue makes you feel the angriest, saddest, most frustrated, happiest, or curious? Put your time, money and energy into that issue or problem. Let someone else worry about the other problems.

2. Put on Your Detective Hat
Learn about your issue from all sides. Talk to experts, watch documentaries, read books, have lunch with people who are on the other side of the issue so that you understand what you are fighting for and who you are fighting against.

3. Find the Market Gap
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Instead of creating another nonprofit that teaches at-risk teens life skills, create a specialty food company that employs returning citizens (people who have been incarcerated) and helps them learn how to run a business.

Kirsten Bunch is an international bestselling author and the creator of The Women’s Changemaker Mentorship. Her new book, Next Act, Give Back: Discover Your Personal Path to Go From Being Charitable to Being a Changemaker is available for pre-order now.

Investing in Your Power

What is Power?

Power is a controversial word, right? Some might even say it’s a dirty word. But that’s when power is used unjustly for personal gain at the expense of others.

But what if we use this definition (thanks Merriam Webster):

Power is the ability to act or produce an effect

And apply it to creating the change we want to see in our communities?

What if you use your ability to act to produce safer schools? Healthy food options? An environmental film festival?

Power vs. Kryptonite

My client, Teresa, is embracing her power to create monumental change in the world and in her life.Teresa recently took a huge step in setting her better world idea in motion.

"For a year I tooled around with an idea to spark a movement of people capable of standing up to hate in America—but I hesitated to leave the security of a position that had grown too small for me.

In order for me to make the leap to launch the transformative change I believed needed to happen in this world, I was going to have to change the way I saw myself.

I was going to have to stretch out of my comfort zone and use my own voice. But my fears stopped me from quitting my job and striking out on my own.

Kirsten helped me to tackle the really practical problems that posed as the kryptonite to my vision.

She gave me concrete examples of how to earn money that helped me see how making the leap made sense. Working with Kirsten, I had the dedicated time and space to redirect my mojo and to use my voice to accomplish the change I wanted to see happen in the world.

Today, I have left the job that was too small for me; set up a consulting business and I signed my first client to generate money; and I’ve put together the 3-year action plan to spark a movement of people to stand up to hate and am in process of filing all the paperwork to make this vision an official organization."

I love that I could add so much value to Teresa’s journey within only a couple of months. But really what I did was help Teresa discover that she has the POWER to do EVERYTHING that she wants to do (an more). 

More details on Teresa’s world changing initiative coming soon!

“If I had the power, I would make everyone an African American, at least for a week. Know what it’s like.”

- Maya Angelou

Do You Suffer From Issue Paralysis?

Do You Suffer From Issue Paralysis?

There is SO MUCH going on these days. Listening to the news feels like being on that ride at Six Flags that whips you in different directions. You want to help but you feel so overwhelmed and you feel helpless, so you do nothing.

You suffer from Issue Paralysis!

Here is an exercise I do with my clients to help them narrow in on the issue they are going to work to positively change.

Map the Issues That Impact Your Life

Take a piece of paper and draw six boxes. Label them:

  • Me

  • Family/Home

  • School/Work

  • Community

  • Nation

  • World

In each box, list the problems that you see or have in each area of your life.

Example: In your community, is it nearly impossible to go for a walk safely because of lack of sidewalks? Does that impact the health of you, your friends and neighbors?

Take Out Your Yellow Highlighter

Which problems make you angry, sad, frustrated, happy, curious, upset?

You are looking for strong emotional reactions to the issues.

Highlight one or two problems or issues in each square that you feel the strongest about. If you don’t feel strongly about anything in a category, no problem, don’t highlight anything in that square.

Close Your Eyes

Really, close your eyes. Think about the problems you highlighted. Which one makes you feel the most angry, sad, frustrated, happy, curious, upset or whatever other emotion you feel the strongest? Circle that issue.

Ask Yourself This Question

If I did something about that problem, could I change one person's life?