For those of us who naturally "have a lot of words," (a.k.a. motor-mouths, chatty-cathys,) this can be a very important lesson in life. I know it has been for me.
For anyone who has ever been in couples counseling and for those of us who have graduate degrees in clinical psychology or counseling, the idea of "active listening" is just a concept until practiced and honed.
I can remember as a teen and young adult, the feeling of clamoring to respond, get my point across, express my opinion so much so that I missed half of what the other person was saying. I see it with clients when I am providing relationship counseling. I understand the sensation of compulsion to be heard, to express.
I have found there is even greater value in being the holder of space, marveling at the power of the space between words.
Learning how to listen deeply and hold space for another person is possibly one of the most profound experiences of this human life. It requires practice to rewire the brain to be ready to talk less and listen more.
Here are some tips for developing this deeper listening practice:
- Make a decision to set aside your own agenda and really listen to what someone is expressing. Be conscious with your mindset first.
- Envision creating a big bubble of space around you and the person to whom you are listening. Deem this bubble of awareness sacred space. Allow it to assist you in staying focused.
- Put away your phone, tablet, computer or any other distractions.
- Face the person, turning your chest and face toward the person you are with.
- Breathe. While they are speaking consciously breathe and allow yourself to just be as you take in what they are saying.
- Watch their face and body as they talk. Sometimes this tells you more than their words.
- Suspend all judging thoughts and temptation to analyze, respond, react. You will notice these thoughts bubble up. Just send them to the side and stay present.
- Be a compassionate witness. Allow yourself to feel what they seem to be feeling. Allow your heart to be open. Stay soft as you watch and listen.
- When they finish expressing. Take a deep breath and nod gently acknowledging without words that you hear this person. Let there be silence. Don't rush in to respond.
- Take a few more moments to notice how it feels to just listen and hold the space.
- When time and space has been held, ease into responding with softness and affirmation of what you hear them expressing. It's not about whether you agree with what this person has said. It's about you being present and just listening.
EXTRA CHALLENGE: Set aside one day to focus on being the listener and the holder of space all day and set aside the need to talk or express. This will help you to really begin strengthening your deep listening muscle.
Solopreneur is a fairly new term buzzing around the internet as more and more people are deciding to ditch the day job and be a business owner. A "solopreneur" is an entrepreneur who works and runs a business single-handedly. She likely hires contracted helpers here and there but, over all, she is on her own when it comes to developing her business.
Recently, I conducted a survey of women over 40 who work as therapists, coaches and other helping professionals. I asked what they most longed for deep in their hearts. The number one, most popular answer? FREEDOM.
And freedom is exactly what solopreneurs are aiming for. Freedom from the commute. Freedom from a desk. Freedom from big corporate. Freedom from working on someone else's schedule.
But without very careful attention to self care, solopreneurship can lead you into a very seductive trap as my colleague Laura Reagan, LCSW-C and I recently discussed.
Laura said, "For me freedom is owning my own business, being able to construct my schedule around my own and my family's needs. That is the ultimate in self care. When I work for someone else I feel conflicted about asking for time off when needed to support my family. I still put family first but being able to manage my own schedule is so empowering."
I asked Laura, "So do you feel FREE? I most certainly do as a business owner but even that can overtake us if we don't stay mindful right?"
Laura replied, "You're so right. Hustling to do more, do more, do more is a seductive trap for entrepreneurs and business owners. It's an ongoing practice to put my own needs first, but I'm mindfully aware of the need to do this, and every day is a new start."
After all, she attends to the administrative tasks, the networking and marketing, the client/customer service as well as the one who delivers the service and/or creates the product. Does this sound like you?
And guess what! Self care typically does not make it on that list of endless list of to-do tasks.
I know this first hand. Ah, the irony.
There I was. An expert on the subject of self care. I built my business around the notion. As a licensed professional counselor, a yoga and meditation teacher, a holistic wellness coach I launched my online business in 2013 while running a brick-and-mortar psychotherapy practice and wellness center.
I had sold my thriving counseling center and closed my yoga studio in 2012 because I wanted to go SOLO and slow down. But I fell into the trap. I had no idea what I was in for. Being a solopreneur was supposed to offer me freedom from the complications and long hours that came with managing a full scale staff. Little did I know.
I built a successful online business in 2014, contracted with a few tech people here and there and hired a few coaches for short term support. I bought a lot of online business development programs and I worked and worked and worked around the clock. I worked while I showered. I worked while on vacation. I'll never forget sitting for hours on my hotel room bed on my laptop while my kids and husband went to the beach without me. I wasn't sleeping and I was missing meals, consumed by the endless tasks of building my online business.
While I was busily creating my online programs and helping clients with their self care and leading programs centered around self care, my own self care suffered.
But I caught myself and I learned quickly...
Because without your health (mental, physical and spiritual) you can't enjoy wealth.
Here are ten tips for your self care as a solopreneur.
These are things I do to keep my self care at the top of the priority list:
- Schedule everything and do not stray. Even creative flow time can be scheduled, Down time can be scheduled. Schedule clients. Schedule health care appointments. Schedule exercise. Create a schedule and stick to it.
- Don't allow social media to swallow you. While social media is absolutely crucial to successful online business, you have to be very careful or it will eat up your time and energy. Hire an intern to help you handle your social media. Schedule time to get on line. Watch the clock because if you don't you'll fall into the black hole and before you know it you've lost hours of your life.
- Go to bed. Seriously. Don't work until the wee hours. You need your sleep. I learned this the hard way. Shut down the laptop and put the smart phone away 2 hours before bedtime and enjoy a movie or snuggle with your loved one on the couch.
- Move your body. It may seem obvious but solopreneurs - especially those of us with online businesses - are prone to sitting at a computer for hours and hours. Set a timer at the top of every hour and when it dings get up and go for a brisk run up and down the stairs or better yet take a walk outside and get some fresh air.
- Hydrate. Again, may sound obvious but it is part of the trap - hours go by and you've not had any water. Drink a full glass of water every hour after you move your body.
- Eat 3 Squares. It's all too easy to forget to eat or over-gnosh when working as a solopreneur because you don't have anyone around to remind you and you get lost in the head-down focus of solo work. Use your timer and plan your meals. Make sure you're getting a naturally colorful variety of foods in your system and be sure to eat breakfast. A woman can not live on coffee alone.
- Connect with friends and loved ones in real time. It's all too easy to fall into the trap of relying on social media to provide you with the illusion of being connected. You need to look into the eyes of people. You need to hug and be hugged. You need to talk and share voice to voice. It's important. Schedule lunch or dinner together and leave your smart phone in the car.
- Learn to say "No thank you." As a solopreneur you may feel you need to take every opportunity to network in order to promote your business but if you fall into this habit you will run yourself into the ground. Take it from me. Been there. It's essential to learn how to turn down invitations. Here are some phrases you might use: "Thank you so much for thinking of me! I won't be able to make it this time." or "Sounds like a great time! I'm booked right now but I will get back to you." or "I'm going to have to take a pass. I'm trying to keep my schedule balanced and already have a lot on my plate."
- Observe a spiritual practice. Dedicate time each morning to observe quiet and stillness before you get busy with your business of the day. Light a candle. Say a prayer or meditate or do some yoga or just sit in silence and BE. This will help you connect to what really matters in this life and will keep things in perspective.
- Hire help. Even though this is your business you need not be alone. Hire people to help you so you're not so overwhelmed. Vet out your candidates carefully and make sure they are capable and reliable.
True success in business can only be achieved and enjoyed if we are attending to our own care of body, mind and spirit.
You most likely fall into one of two categories if you are reading this article.
You are either in the first phases of developing your business/practice or you are a seasoned, experienced professional in your field.
Maybe you're somewhere in between. Regardless, this article is for you.
You are a heart-based business owner. This means you truly desire to be of service to humanity and you come from your heart in all that you do. For you, it is probably your nature to give freely to others. You love to help! You love to provide others what they need!
If you are just starting out, your funds may be tight. You need help, training, support and you may be looking for other heart-based professionals to freely give of their time and resources to help you.
If you are seasoned and successful, you remember what it was like to be just starting out with tight funds so your heart bleeds for the newbies. You are finding, however, that you feel uncomfortable with all the requests from those newer to the field to pick your brain over coffee and you're not sure why you feel this discomfort. After all, you are generous of spirit.
But here's the rub. We all have to pay our dues. We all have to go through the process of paying MONEY for training, professional consultation, business coaching, programs, workshops, certifications, membership fees, etc. We all have to put in our TIME to learn, grow and develop. We all have to put forth a lot of ENERGY to cultivate our businesses.
When we are not in balance, it feels uncomfortable. We want to give generously but if we over-extend it begins to take away money, time and energy we need for ourselves.
We, as heart-based business owners, have to know when to give freely and when to set boundaries whether with clients, potential clients or other professionals.
Here are some valuable tips for how to balance generosity of spirit with professional boundaries.
- If you are a newly developing business owner, do not try to pick the brains of more seasoned professionals without offering to hire them for a consultation. Please be respectful of the amount of money, time and energy your "elders" have invested. Request to schedule a consultation and prepare to pay for their time and resources.
- If you are a newbie business owner and funds are super tight, seek out social media groups on Linked-in and Facebook where you can connect with others in your field of work who may offer up free suggestions and tips but don't hunt people down and ask for it for free.
- If your business is fairly new use the good-ole-google tool and research your questions, read blogs, read articles, study the experts from your laptop. Don't swipe someone else's content, of course. Just take the time to dig and research and observe as you develop your own business savvy.
- If you are a new coach or therapist, it may be tempting to give your services away when people come to you for help and say they have no money. Honor yourself and set a boundary. Offer a designated number of slots as pro-bono to honor you bleeding heart but don't go beyond that number. And when those slots are filled be prepared to tell people: "I am sorry but my free/reduced fee slots are all full right now." And don't budge on this. If they need help right away, provide referrals for resource that offers free services.
- If you are an experienced and seasoned expert in your field you may notice you get a lot of emails, messages or calls from well meaning new business owners wanting to pick your brain. Be prepared to set a boundary. When they offer to bring you coffee or meet you for coffee to get to know you, you can reply very warmly with, "Hey! So nice to hear from you! I wish I could but my schedule is so full right now with clients and consultees I can't meet for coffee. I can, however, schedule a business consultation session with you if you are interested in consulting with me."
- If you are a seasoned professional, offer one or two free products on your website but also develop more in-depth products or programs for purchase. You've worked hard to get to where you are professionally and you deserve to be compensated for your expertise.
It's important to honor yourself and honor your colleagues. When someone does extend help, information, support with no strings attached, it's important to express sincere gratitude and perhaps return the favor by providing a heart-felt testimonial or offer to return the favor in the future.
I have been noticing with the explosion of online business building with so many free offerings for list-building purposes that there has developed a culture of entitlement syndrome among some of the newer wave of business builders. As heart-based entrepreneurs we have to be very careful. It is important to be kind, generous and gracious but also to set firm, clear boundaries and to respect the boundaries of others also.
Whether you are a psychotherapist, a massage therapist, a life coach, a Reiki Master, an accupuncturist, intuitive, medical professional or any form of helper - you are a healer. You are here in this life of yours to facilitate the process of healing for yourself and others. You know this down in your bones. Now... how to build business with clarity and authenticity around our healing abilities?
Healing work is something all human beings will do at some level at some point in their lives. People NEED professionals to assist and facilitate this process of healing whether it be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.
So why do we have such hang ups when it comes to building business as a healer?
Because we are often afraid. Afraid of tainting the sacred nature of our work by tangling the sacred with sales and marketing. Afraid people will misunderstand what our intention is. Afraid of being rejected. Afraid of failing.
Though building business as a healer can feel like a jungle, you can move beyond these fears and experience a rich and fruitful life, attracting and serving plenty of your ideal clients while balancing your own self-care.
I was so thrilled to learn about a very special retreat taking place in October specifically for healers. My colleagues Keri Nola and Lloyd Burnett are seasoned and experienced healers who have long been able to strike a beautiful balance between honoring the need for self care and healing the healer with building successful, authentic business.
What I love most about what Keri and Lloyd are doing is they are helping healers go beyond fear by holding a sacred space to explore those fears and step into the fullness of who you ARE as a healer. Sometimes what we MOST need in order to build business as a healer is to be held in a space of deep understanding and non-judgment in order to clear and transcend that which holds us back from shining brightly.
Going beyond fear requires softening in around the fears we have. Bulldozing over our fears is not the answer. That's why we often get stuck as healers trying to build business providing healing service. We are not acknowledging the essence of the fear-based thoughts, feelings and energy we carry. When we are able to gently honor our fear, we create space for it to dissipate.
Building business as healer requires a higher level of self care and personal spiritual work on an ongoing basis. It helps to have a jump start and this retreat in October might be just what you need...
By bringing together healers from all over the world, Keri and Lloyd are creating a sacred community where we can learn together how to raise the vibration of the work we do in the world by going deeper into our inner wisdom and moving away from reliance on business strategies taught in various training programs.
When we as healers do our own personal work of going deeper and integrating all that we are, tuning into the higher calling for what we are here to do, we naturally and easily are able to develop a business that reflects that same level of authenticity.
I am excited to share with you about the Healer's Retreat in beautiful San Diego, California that will take place October 23-25. During the retreat Keri and LLoyd will help you to go deeper in order to "get lighter," so you can return to home and work with a renewed perspective lining up your business with your soul's purpose so you can attract and serve the clients you most wish to serve.
As a long-time retreat participant and retreat leader myself, I know first hand the POWER of dedicating time and space to retreat, renew, reevaluate, refresh as a healer myself. I can attest to how one weekend can completely shift and change the course of your life when you allow that dedicated time and space as sacred.
If you'd like to learn more and join Keri and Lloyd for the Healer's Retreat, go check out this page and take a look. Check in with your deepest intuition to see if this feels like the right time and opportunity for you as a healer.
I have been so enthusiastic about this retreat I asked Keri and Lloyd if I could help spread the love and share the opportunity with as many other healers as I can. I signed on as a partner to help them spread the word and share the love and each time someone registers to attend the retreat using my unique partner link, I will receive a portion of your payment for which I am deeply grateful.
In the world of online business the idea of "affiliate marketing" has gotten a bad reputation and for good reason. There have always been snake oil salesmen and carpet baggers in the world of free enterprise and it's no different in the world of online business. There are lots of people who will gladly take your money for sub-par products.
But building a solid business with integrity and heart does not have to be that way!
So what does it mean to build business AND spread love? Heart-based business is all about creating monetary and life-style success while coming from a place of authentic desire to be of service to humanity. Affiliate marketing - if done right - can be an excellent way of helping people while support other heart-based business owners and your own business all at the same time.
There are so many therapists, life coaches, healers, helpers who are in business because they want to be of service. You are probably one of them if you are reading this article. Through connecting and building relationships with other business owners who come from the heart, everyone benefits.
I met two such fellow business owners and we came together to create a powerful membership community called Online Affiliate Finders. Our mission is to provide powerful resources and information to help other heart-based entrepreneurs to create an affiliate marketing plan to promote and share their programs and products. We also help heart-based bloggers learn now to be an affiliate for other heart-based business owners. It's a win for the business owners and a win for the customers and this is how:
6 Top Tips to Building Business & Spreading Love Through Affiliate Marketing
Create and promote your own passion-based products/programs first:
You started your business with a project that was born from the heart of who you are and why you're here on the planet. First, put your energy into creating and sharing your own products and programs. This will create a trustworthy and solid reputation within the audience of your ideal customers/clients. You will establish your own expert credibility in your chosen niches. This goes a long way to prove your integrity and long-term credibility with your list of followers, customers and clients.
Build relationship and join community with other heart-based professionals.
It's so important to take the time to really get to know a substantial number of other business owners who also come from the heart in commitment to serving AND making a profit. Take your time getting to know people and helping them to get to know you. We provide people a chance to do this at Online Affiliate Finders.
Share but don't scare.
Provide your list with genuinely useful information and tips, and then subtly and gently share with readers about opportunities to enhance their lives by checking out opportunities to purchase. There is no need to hit readers over the head. Be authentic, genuine and subtle. Don't scare off your readers with pushy, salesy newsletters.
Form friendships and then introduce to your circle of trusted followers.
Before I became an affiliate for Gilly's Organics Skin Care line I became good friends with the owner Gillian Garrett. We spent time on the phone discussing the visions and passions for our respective businesses. When I became an affiliate partner for Gilly's I was able to introduce Gilly AND her products to all the people who know me and trust me. People are more willing to buy products and programs if they are introduced through a trusted connection.
Be selective with the affiliate partnerships you choose to promote.
Don't over-do it. Pick and choose which programs and products are a truly good fit for your followers, customers and clients. Get to know the product and program you are supporting and promoting before putting it out there and make certain you can stand behind it. I don't promote anything unless I know for certain that it's a high-quality product or service and one my readers will appreciate and benefit from.
Spread the love to build business.
If you can focus on your desire to help people's lives improve, then the entire orientation to your business and the notion of success shifts to sharing and spreading love. When this is the basis of your business, you will be able to network and connect with others who come from that same place. Through heart-based affiliate marketing you can partner and share your products through other business owners and share their's with your audience. It no longer feels like selling when the focus is on simply sharing the love. Be generous in sharing and helping others get the word out about their business and everyone profits.
As a member of Online Affiliate Finders you will have access to our Members Area that is RICH with resources on how to set up an affiliate program, monetize your blog and build relationships. You will also have access to a vibrant online community of other heart-based entrepreneurs through which you can network, share as well as find and extend support.
Navigating the journey of business and life can be a tricky process.
Whether you are a life-learner, spiritual seeker or a business builder today's message is for you because the world has become over-populated with band-wagon-riders and it's time to return to a spirit of originality and authenticity.
I was recently on a discussion thread in a big Facebook group of on-line business owners. The discussion was around the way many people feel tired of a recent influx of emails from self-proclaimed business gurus claiming to have "the secret sauce to success." The discussion escalated to a fur-flying debate in several directions as happens when you open up a can of worms to a group of 13,000 members. I was able to sift through the fur in the air to see a very important truth emerge from the discussion.
I have traveled world-wide and studied with countless teachers, gurus and experts over the past 20 years. I have hired consultants, coaches, therapists, healers, and helpers of all kinds. I have read all the books. I spent more years than necessary in graduate school. I have so many certifications I have alphabet soup behind my name when I list them all. I've run with the ball and created 8 businesses over the last 20 years, all of which have been very successful though some short-lived by choice. I've taken countless on-line business courses and signed up for too many newsletters to count.
I am an information junkie.
This is a confession not a bragging session. And this is what I have learned along the way.
The ultimate source of wisdom, your greatest guru is actually not out there in the world. The greatest guidance you seek is not in a library or a webinar. Your wisest teacher... the one who knows what is best for you and your life is inside of you.
So here's the thing. There is a lot of interesting, deeply profound wisdom and inspiration to be found by reading books, taking on-line courses and listening to teachers speak. By all means, soak it up! Listen, take notes, learn as much as you can. BUT...it won't mean a thing or do anything for you if you are not plugged into your inner, truest self. Let outside information inspire you to express and be your own unique self in the world rather than let it define you. Don't mimic. Be inspired and then dig in for your uniqueness.
Last year I spent 80 hours/week studying and working to build my first online business. I spent over $10,000 on online programs, equipment and software alone. I spent another $10,000 on coaching and website design. I used all the formulas the online biz experts taught in their seminars. I paid a lot of money to a business coach to yell at me and tell me I was wrong for wanting to veer from the formula. I chose to obey the commands and follow the formula.
Although I learned so much along the way I have circled back to what I've known all along. The true teacher leads you to your own teacher and your own truth within.
It can be enriching to listen to what others have to say and to learn as much as possible but at some point you have to know when it is time to cut bait and do your own thing.
And YOUR own thing is something you have to discover by feeling for the answers rather than following someone else's formulas.
This is what it means to come from the heart. "Coming from the heart" is not airy-fairy new-age crap. It's about dipping into the core of your inner-knowing and moving into life from there rather than from mental fantasy or superficial desires.
There is tremendous value to having a wise guide (or several) along the way. I am very fortunate to be working with a coach now who comes from the heart of who she is to help me come from the heart of who I am in my business. She has helped big-name success stories reach their success by aligning with their true inner knowing. She is reminding me and teaching me to return to the wisdom I already have.
And I am passing this along to my own clients and students. Let's not become distracted by every shiny temptation or lured by promises of "secret sauce." Certainly listen and take what feels right but run it through the filter of inner truth.