The Power of Deep Connections

Dear Leader Who Is Doing Life + Business On Her Own,

    Last week, I had the honor of speaking to over 50 women at a local leadership luncheon where the theme was all about connections.  As women, we have the power to change our communities when we connect with God, our purpose, and a supportive sisterhood to pursue our calling.  Imagine the warm hugs, delightful giggles, and the life-giving conversations we had when we made the time to meet and mingle with like-minded ladies.  

    So here I was, speaking to the hearts of these women about connections, and all I could talk about was how lonely I’ve felt. Two years ago when I first moved back to Baltimore, I didn’t know a single soul AND I was starting a business in an industry I was new to.  But I knew one thing -- meaningful relationships are the key to a healthy life and business.  I shared my story of how I went from knowing no one to cultivating a community that I could do life and business with.  After my talk, I connected with the women who resonated with feeling isolated and wanted more than anything to make those meaningful connections with people who care.  That’s why I realized -- deep down, you crave connections -- with God, with your strengths, and with a trusted sisterhood.   

    In this week’s letter, I wanted to share what it really takes to build meaningful connections.  The relationships that truly matter are the ones where you can be your most genuine self, and that takes courage to show up to be fully you.

Why Making Connections Can Feel Uncomfortable

First, let’s talk about why building relationships can feel uncomfortable.  
The small talk.  Trying to remember people’s names.  Wondering if I should follow up with this person, or let it go.  Knowing what to share and what not to share.  

Whenever you initiate a relationship, invite someone to coffee or to work with you, share a story or express an opinion that’s deeply personal, you risk rejection.  When you put yourself out there, there’s a chance that people may say no to your invite or disagree with your thoughts.  And that’s okay.  Leaders are people who are willing to go into the unknown and challenge themselves to grow.  Let’s be real -- building relationships can feel uncomfortable at first but you learn to embrace it until you feel more established and secure with your network of support.  

There’s also a bit of vulnerability involved when you ask for help, show people you care, and open up your thoughts and feelings to let someone in.

Ways You Can Make Connections Feel More Comfortable

Anything worth having is worth working towards -- including making meaningful connections.  Depending on your personality style and preferences, there are many ways you can create them on your own terms.  Here’s are some principles and suggestions to help you.  

1. Connect with generosity.  

Meaningful relationships are ones based on value.  I know there’s a lot of talk about VALUE in the online space, but you don’t need to overthink it.  

Think to yourself: What are you GIVING to the relationship?  What’s a simple way to share my knowledge, expertise, time, and resources?  

For example,
Giving someone your undivided attention and truly listening is generous.  
Remembering their birthday and writing a thoughtful card is generous.  
Surprising your clients with a bonus gift is generous.  
Offering to bring snacks to the local meet-up is generous.  
Introducing two people who can work together is generous.  

Remember: The more we give, the more opportunities we create to be able to connect with people who share our values.  Leaders are always thinking about ways to add value to people’s lives.  

2. Connect with intentionality.  

Intentionality is the act of making relationships a priority and infusing thoughtfulness and care into everything you do.  It also means showing up in the good times and the bad.  

Ask yourself: How can I show someone I care?  What’s a fun way to thoughtfully follow up with someone, or spend time with them?  

For example,
Setting aside time on Friday afternoons for coffee dates is intentional.
Texting a friend who’s going through a hard time is intentional.
Offering your community access to you without any expectations is intentional.
Letting go of friends and clients who do more harm than good is intentional.
Inviting qualified prospects to work with you is intentional.   
 

Remember: As John Maxwell says, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

 

3. Connect with vulnerability.   

Two of the most powerful words are, “Me too!”  When you can express empathy and understanding of what someone else is going through (or bond with someone who gets you), that’s where the magic happens.  

Vulnerability doesn’t have to mean airing all of your dirty laundry.  Vulnerability means leading by showing you’re human so that you give other people permission to be themselves.  

Ask yourself: What are important values of mine that I want to share?  How can I express empathy to someone?   

For example,
Sharing your best practices, personal stories and leadership lessons is vulnerable.
Asking influencers to endorse your work is vulnerable.
Getting clear on what you want, so you can ask for what you need is vulnerable.
Speaking your mind and standing up for what you believe is vulnerable.
Asking for forgiveness and correcting mistakes is vulnerable.

Remember: some people will like you and some people won’t, but life is short so be YOU!  

Connections are truly important in a thriving life and business.  Because at the end of the day, it’s the PEOPLE that matter.  It’s people that we can connect with, serve wholeheartedly, and impact to truly make a difference.  

That’s why I’m excited to collaborate with Jenna Shriver (wedding/portrait photographer + creative business mentor) to bring you a NEW 3-month leadership program, all about the POWER of connections.  We've combined our expertises and experiences to help 10 creative, heart-centered women (like you!) grow your faith AND grow your business.  This includes in-person workshops (in Westminster, MD) with an online community. 

Sign up below to join our wait list!  You'll be the first to get all the details when enrollment opens!

4 Ways to Tame the To-Do List

Dear Leader Who Has a Mile Long To - Do List, 

When you’re growing your business, it’s easy to feel like you need to do more in order to get more results.  Your list of to-dos are piling up, you start things and don’t finish them, and it’s hard to feel accomplished at the end of the day.  

My commitment is to help you stress less as a leader, so today’s letter is full of tips to help you tame your to-do list.  

But first, let’s “start with why” and keep you vision and top priority goal for the week in mind.  By using that as a filter, it helps to filter your decision on how to make the most of your time spent on tasks.    

DELETE the tasks that don’t matter.  

Sometimes we’re doing so much that we forget to stop and ask, “Do I really have to do this?”  Deleting tasks that don’t matter and saying no to things that don’t support us and our goals can be a very freeing feeling.  

With your top priority goal in mind, what’s something(s) you can DELETE from your list?  

What’s something that you can put on your NOT TO DO list?  

 Some of my favorite things to DELETE are: canceling appointments or events that don’t have a purpose, and things just to keep me busy or distract me from the work.  

AUTOMATE repetitive and on-going tasks.  

There are some things that don’t actually require a human to do, but still need to be done.  These are some things you can automate so you can save your thinking and your energy on more valuable things.  

For example, I automate some of my bill paying, social media posting, and client scheduling.  I can always check in to keep an eye on it, but it doesn’t require extra energy to do it.   

DELEGATE things that are outside your zone of genius.  

You can’t do it all, or at least, you can’t do it all well.  You can take some things off of your plate by delegating tasks to a partner, team member, intern, or friend.  It does require letting go of control, but trusting someone else enough to do the thing even better than you could allows them to step up and serve you, and free up your time and energy to operate in your zone of genius.  

Ask yourself: As the CEO, what are the things that only I can do?  

Stick to doing those well, and looking for people to train and trust to be able to delegate those tasks to.  

DO the things that matter.  

Once you’ve whittled down your list, you can DO the tasks that you know will move you forward towards your goals.  You can do them one at a time to stay focus on the task at hand.  Then, crossing them off will help you feel accomplished.  

Once you work these 4 strategies to your weekly (or daily) to do list, you will build more intentional thinking muscles so you can learn to steward your time and talent well.  The less busy work you can do, and the more simple and focused you can be, you’ll find that you can be even more productive and impactful.

With joy, 

Conflict Resolution For Leaders Who Avoid Conflicts

Dear Leader Who Avoids Conflict Like the Plague,  

You just walked away from misunderstanding with a team member or client, and you’re starting to feel judged and want to shrink back.  The thought of conflicts gives you a pit in your stomach, and you hope it eventually goes away instead of confronting it head-on.   

As a leader, problems with people can be dealt with in a timely and gracious way.  If you don’t, it can leave wounds that fester and get even worse over time.  

For example, during my first coaching collaboration, I partnered with an artist to host a workshop to guide people to create vision boards of their life’s most important goals.  I wanted to display my business cards and marketing materials for my 1-on-1 coaching programs, while my partner didn’t think it was appropriate to do so.  

I got pretty upset since the intention of this workshop was to be a springboard to work with me long-term.  I thought, How will they know what I offer if I didn’t have my booklets available?  She just doesn’t understand!   

I had to learn the hard way how to effectively deal with conflicts.  In this week’s letter, I wanted to share with you some lessons in approaching these situations so that you are less stressed.  

 Collect your thoughts and calm your emotions.  

Nothing turns a conflict into a heated argument faster than anger, frustration, and accusations.  Mentally prepare for the conversation by taking a time-out to collect your thoughts and calm your emotions.  A little prayer, deep breaths, and a personal break can help you approach it without your ego getting in the way.  

Be curious, instead of confrontational.  

A mantra to remember --  first seek to understand, so then you can be understood.

A simple way to resolve conflict is to go into a conversation with a heart posture of curiosity, and ask open-ended questions to get to the root of the problem. You can even use a script like, "So what I hear you saying is...." and backtrack their words so you're on the same page.

When you truly listen to what the other person is saying, it opens up the door for you say your piece.  The tone of the conversation is much more effective when both parties have the space to articulate their point of view without fear of being judged.  

Together, you can work out a solution that everyone can align with.  It doesn’t necessary mean you have to agree on everything, it just means that you’re able to move on.  

For me, this looked like being curious about why she didn’t want me to display my marketing materials.  From her perspective, she didn’t think that a flyer with my programs would be necessary.  After attending the workshops, she believed interested participants would directly reach out to me.  Once I understood that, I could let go of wanting to display the flyers, and we agreed that having business cards with contact information would be a better fit.  

Continue to improve with conflict resolution.  

Instead of avoiding conflicts after it happens, you can be proactive about preventing them in the first place (or least try).  When you reflect on why the conflict happen, ask yourself: “What can I do differently or make better so this doesn’t happen again?”  It’s a tough question to answer.  It could be clearly stating expectations up front or having firmer boundaries.  It could mean streamlining a process, or asking less people for for their input.  Conflicts can trigger feelings of insecurity because it touches on something we’re not particularly proud of, so use these as learning moments to improve your blind spots.  

Remember:

Conflicts aren’t really about the problem, it’s more about the way you communicate about the problem.  When you set the tone where everyone will be heard, you change the conversation from defending yourself to creating a solution where everyone wins.  

Let's chat - what a recent conflict you had to resolve?  Do you tend to avoid it, or face it head on?Let me know in the comments below!  

With joy, 

This Belief is Blocking You From Leading

Dear Reluctant Leader,

The more I grow in my faith, leadership, and business, the more I realize it’s not really about the strategies, or the step-by-step action plan.  Growth depends on the strength of your mindset, and whether your beliefs are limiting or empowering.  

Your thoughts -> actions -> habits -> results, so if we want anything to happen, we have to tackle the BELIEFS around leadership.  As Christian women, we tend to struggle with some common ones that truly hold us back from greatness.  As your coach, I’m here to make sure you can win the battle in your MIND, so you can win the battle in BUSINESS.  

Beliefs can be categorized into limiting beliefs (ones that prevent you from taking action), and empowering beliefs (ones that push you to take more action).  

The most common limiting belief I hear from a lady leader feels called to do something is great is this:

“Why ME?”

It’s a question with a hint of self-doubt, comparison, or perfectionism.  

What you’re really wondering is:  Who am I to do this?  Do I have what it takes to get to the next level?  

I get it.  It’s scary when you’re starting something new to feel like you’re capable and confident enough to do it well.  

But the thing I want you to realize is that God has equipped you with experiences, expertise, and specific strengths that led you to where you are today.  If you’re waiting for someone else to step up, the “perfect timing”, or knowing all the pieces before you start, then you’ll be waiting for a long time.  

So instead, let’s turn that limiting belief into an empowering one, and ask yourself, “WHY me?”  

What are your personal stories of when you overcame a struggle or an obstacle?  
Because this can help you relate and inspire people to change.

What are specific knowledge and skills that you have that people love to learn about?
Because this is your expertise you’re developed so you can teach others about it.  

What is your unique point of view, or opinion on important matters?
Because this is your voice you can use to be an advocate for causes you believe in.  

What’s your bigger vision and purpose that fuels you?  
Because this is a stepping stone to even bigger and better things.  

It’s your turn to lead.  

It doesn’t matter if you have one person, or one thousand people to influence, it’s your choice to start where you are, with who you are.  You’ll continue to learn, change, and adapt, but make sure you equip yourself with a strong mindset of growth so you can take your business to the next level.  

As always, I’d love to hear from you -- what limiting belief do you need to let go of?  What empowering one would you like to adapt instead?  Let me know in the comments below!  

How to Make Confident Decisions

Dear leader who has a big decision to make,

You may be feeling overwhelmed at the moment because you have a big decision to make that could potentially change your business life and affect the people you’re leading.  Maybe it’s choosing who to hire as your next team member, how you want to expand your services, or even what work/life balance would look like in this season.  The weight of this decision feels like a heavy burden on your shoulders because you want to make to right choice out of options that all seem to good, but not perfect.  

Stop.  Take a deep breath.  You’re capable of making decisions with confidence.

In today’s letter, I wanted to share with you some tips that will walk you through clearing out the mental clutter when it comes to making those big choices.  Leadership decision making may be a little bit messy, uncomfortable, and certainly not black and white, but learning these tips can make the process much more empowering.  

1. Get clear on your vision and values.  

Your vision and your values determine the direction of your life and business.  Your vision is “What do you want?” and your values describe “Why do you want it?”  When you’re facing with a decision, it helps to go back to basics to remind ourselves these vital planning questions.  Sometimes it’s hard to make those big decisions because we’ve forgotten our vision and values, or they have shifted and evolved over time.  Once we’re clear on the big picture of where you’re going, we have a target that can help us make decisions to help us get there.  

Remember: Your direction can help filter your decisions.  

2. Reveal the real reason for your resistance.  

Big decisions often requires us to change, and change can be a scary thing.  If you’re facing a bit of resistance, I would encourage you to lean in to figure out what the real reason is behind it.  Fear could be the culprit.  You want to choose to leave your day job to pursue your business full-time, but fear is telling you to play it safe and secure.  Or, you no longer want to offer in-person workshops but feel some resistance because you don’t want to let your clients down.  Sometimes we know in our gut what decision needs to be made but something is holding us back.  When we can name exactly what that is, we can shine a light on it and allow yourself the freedom to move forward.     

3. Alignment > Agreement.  

If you’re still feeling stuck, you can reach out to a trusted friend, coach, or mentor for their input.  These people can help you process through your decision and help you see things from a clear point of view, with your best interests in mind.  

Once you’ve made the decision for yourself, it’s time to take action, and let people know.  If there’s a team member, client, or colleague that your decision affects, then it’s your responsibility to communicate it.  If that’s the case, remind people of your overall vision and how this decision aligns to it.  Other people may not agree with your choice, but they can at least respect it.  

The next time you’re faced with a big (or small) decision, remember that you always have a choice to make the best one, given all of the information you know.  The more you make decisions according to what you value, the more confident you become as a leader.  

Let me know in the comments below, which tip did you find the most helpful?

With joy, 

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