Go Stuff Your Cheeks

I woke up at 2:00 last night chilly and had to throw a blanket on. I could have shut the window, but was not ready for that step closer to summer's end. I pouted my way back to sleep.

“It’s coming. You can’t stop it, no point in fighting it." You are right. Do you hate letting go of summer? It is my favorite season, and like a school kid, I get to the end of August and wail for more. I have scheduled a couple of days off to soak in the last of the sun, and am hitting the drive-in with my sweetie. My friends, we can grab every scrap of summer and celebrate it before its end so we store up enough sunny goodness in our bones to nourish us through the winter

Sometimes we fight change because it is scary, sometimes because it is hard. Other times, we simply love the thing that we have to let go. Often we are not ready. When we are denying, not preparing, or otherwise avoiding the reality of a forthcoming shift, we shortchange ourselves. We rob ourselves of the opportunity to grab the scraps that will nourish us, to celebrate what we can.

As you head into the last four months of 2015, what shifts do you see coming in your life or business?
What do you need to prioritize now so you can let go then?

you've got this! now go stuff your cheeks!  


How do we know?

I'm sitting at a cafe in western MA getting nothing done, and this garden cafe is my current view.
You'd be right to say "well, of course not, Jenny! How can you get anything done with a view like that? Flowers, sunshine, beer and trees! It's distractingly lovely!" 

Just now, I wasn't really fully present to the beautiful garden and atmosphere I'm in. I was trying to focus on my tasks, but frankly, wasn't fully present to them, either. I was putting myself in limbo, neither soaking in beauty nor getting anything done. I was just toggling absurdly between the two.

It brought to mind a question: how do we know when we are not being truly present to an "offer?"* While it appears to be a simple question, it's not. If it were, we'd be more present more often. 

What is the big neon warning sign for you that tells you clearly: "you aren't being truly present!"

Is it a feeling, like the toggling experience I just noticed?
Perhaps it's a result, like "oops, I did not hear a thing she just said."
Is it different for one-to-one interactions from when it's with an audience?

It's worth while to figure out your personal warning signs so you can catch yourself and "snap to." It could mean the difference between you missing an offer or making the most of one.

*Everything is an offer

You Inspire Me To Be Silly

I hope you are having a silly day.
Really, I mean it. 

If you need a shot in the arm, a false mustache will help increase your     Vitamin S.

If you need a shot in the arm, a false mustache will help increase your     Vitamin S.

I've been teaching a class (ConnectAnd Perfect Your Style) on using Improv for presentations and speaking. One of the key objectives is to help people loosen up and be themselves in front of an audience instead of feeling strapped in by rules about what they're "supposed to" do. One of my students told me this week that I inspire her to be silly. This is one of the best compliments I've ever received, and it made me really tune in to how important it is to me to be able to do that for the people I work with, whether in groups or one-to-one. I have a very silly side, and it warms my heart that I can help people through dark times by adding a little bright light and smile to their journey when they need it most.

What's the most important thing for YOU to be inspiring in the people around you? We all have our magic that we get on our people. Are you creating opportunities to get yours out there and let it make a positive impact? 

If the answer is "er, maybe not so much, Jenny" then I invite you to get out there and do it. Life's too short to hide that special fairy dust that you have, my friends. 

For upcoming playshops, visit the calendar page on my other company,
www.connectandimprov.com

We want YOU

rulebreaker bird

I'm an Improviser, but I don't study or follow comedy.
I study people being vulnerable, celebrating failure, taking risks, championing one another, and falling on the sword for the group whenever it's needed. 
More than anything, I practice and teach being your real friggin' self. 
Most people have something about themselves that they're suppressing because they're afraid the world will judge and reject them or it will lead to pain, failure, or worse. Maybe somewhere along their journey someone told them they couldn't be that way or do that thing because it was the wrong way or wasn't by the rules. I say to hell with that, show us what that hidden magnificence is. That's the real you and we want to see and know that person.

"But I'm not that interesting"

Thursday, March 5, 2015

"But I'm not that interesting"

"But I'm not that interesting" she said. "How can I wow them when I'm not exciting like some people are?"

I've heard this sentiment from three different people recently. They are working on presentation projects and trying to be exciting and dramatic, full of artistic flair and creative thinking. I'm all for exciting, artistic, and creative, but only if that's who you actually are. If it stretches you too far then you won't sound like you, you'll be looking at your notes constantly, and your nerves will go into overdrive.

It's the real you that connects, speaks from the heart, and knows your stuff so you deliver with confidence. If you're not "keepin' it real," then what's the point?

I'd rather have the REAL YOU in front of the room than the you trying to be something you think you're supposed to be. 

This is a re-post from a monthly contribution I make to the Hartford-Springfield Speakers Network blog. Visit http://hartfordspringfieldspeakers.blogspot.com/

Jenny Drescher is a Choice Coach and Improvisational Facilitator who helps individuals break patterns, overcome fear, lighten up, and achieve outcomes. Visit her at www.bridgetochoice.com

Needlepoint To The Rescue

This is a re-post from a blog I contribute to monthly via the Hartford-Springfield Speaker's Network.

needlepoint.jpg

"I finally know what to do about that program I've been trying to design," reported my client victoriously today. "That's great, how did you get there?" I asked. "Needlepoint!" she declared.

 “Mary” is a massage therapist who has learned additional bodywork techniques to offer more to her clients. She's putting together a long term program that integrates these different modalities to help people who suffer chronic pain. Two weeks ago the project came to dead stop and her frustration with it was high.  

“What was I thinking, I have no energy or motivation to create this,” she lamented. We spent some time exploring what was interfering with her progress and uncovered an all-too-common story. Mary works really hard. She has a full schedule and puts herself low on the priority list. She goes home after a long day, takes care of household matters, and maybe catches an hour or so of TV before bed. 

“What about your creative hobbies?” I asked her. “I don’t have time for creativity and hobbies,” she replied. She revealed that there was a needlepoint project staring at her from the corner of the living room and she hadn’t picked it up in three years because of her schedule. 

With some encouragement, Mary committed to carving out a little time every day for needlepoint. It challenged her at first. She has developed cataracts she didn’t have three years ago, but she persevered and has been picking up the hoop and fabric daily for two weeks now. 

Then yesterday a wonderful thing occurred while she was embroidering: the breakthrough she needed to design her new offering came through. She is now excited, full of ideas, clear about her next steps, and is addressing the chronic pain program with vigor and fun. 

You see, Mary rediscovered something that we forget sometimes: creativity begets creativity. She was not making room in her life for creative pursuits that were unrelated to her work. When she did take the time, she found that doing so cleared her head and allowed her to focus and create in a refreshingly different way than she does in any other part of her life. By rebuilding the atrophied creativity muscles involved in needlepoint, she strengthened the ones she uses for designing programs for her business. 

Making the time to pursue hobbies that nourish us is not frivolous or self-indulgent. It can accelerate our progress and enrich our work if we allow it to. 

What creative project is staring at you from your living room corner?

How to fall in love with other people's assumptions

I love other people's assumptions, especially if they make me mad.

I didn't used to love them. They can be annoying, even downright infuriating at times. They can cause problems, block communication, create chaos and drama in seconds, and leave us saying “what just happened?” about the conversation we just had. On the other hand, they may contain hidden gifts that can help us grow, if we simply pay more attention.

Some assumptions are a necessary part of life and communication, I get that. If we didn't operate from certain assumptions every day all the time, we'd still be living in caves because we'd be wondering if the rock we want to sit on is sound for sitting, instead of assuming it is. I'm talking about the assumptions that come out of other people's mouths that we actually notice and experience consciously. We notice how they make us feel, whether it's good or bad. The ones that concern me are the ones that make us feel bad or mad.

I recently had a conversation with a friend that made me examine my own response to assumptions that upset me, and was surprised to realize I have a very specific strategy that I’ve developed over the years. It allows me to dramatically shorten the amount of time I might potentially be derailed by the emotional impact of someone’s assumption. It comes down to a five-phase process:

Phase One: Aggravation: The initial encounter occurs and we are a little bit reactive; depending on the situation and the person, maybe a lot reactive. It’s up to us to recognize when we’re being this way and make a conscious choice to step back from the emotional reaction in the moment.

In the conversation with my friend, I was talking about challenges with building my visibility as a speaker, coach, and facilitator. I felt like I had been out a lot at networking groups and such, but needed to make sure I was also paying attention to other aspects of business building, like writing copy for my website. The comment from the friend? “You won’t get anywhere hiding behind your desk writing copy all day.” She assumed I was hiding behind my desk all day, which was not the case at all. I felt unheard and frustrated. “That’s not how it is!” my inner voice said. “You’re not listening!” I thought to myself. Sound familiar? I changed the direction of the conversation because I knew I was being reactive inside and didn’t want it to spoil an otherwise pleasant chat by turning it into drama. In addition to redirecting my attention, I made a choice once off the phone to not waste excessive time wallowing in the emotional part. The aggravation phase is bound to occur, but we can limit the number of BMW (Bitch, Moan, Wallow) minutes we allow ourselves in any given situation.

Phase Two: Something Else Is Going On Here: We have the opportunity to remind ourselves that the other person 1. Does not live in our head and have our experience, and 2. Has their own perspective and experience.

In other words, don’t take it personally AND take a moment to clarify why it’s not about you.

After getting off the phone, I took a moment to reflect on why my friend would make the assumption she did. I realized that part of her challenge sometimes is sitting down and doing the work that needs to be done, like writing copy. She avoids it in favor of her own strategy that involves a lot of getting out to groups, and occasionally she says she envies me for being able to sit down and write for long stretches. This naturally colors any response she would have to my challenges. Psychologists call this deflecting, but I prefer to take the simpler approach and ask myself directly “why is this not all about me?

Phase Three: The Real Deal: We can get real about why the assumption hit a nerve with us. There’s a reason the assumption bothered us; most of the time it’s because there was a sliver of truth in it.

I may not have been spending all my time hiding behind my desk, but I was not getting out as much as I needed to. Putting myself out there a lot more than I previously have can be intimidating and tiring, and part of me was not looking at that head on.

A few simple questions can help us in phase three. “What do I need to admit to, look at, or realize about this?” for example. Sometimes it’s as simple as “why did this really bug me?” Our job is then to be super honest with ourselves in the answers, and kind enough to recognize that whatever that reality is, it doesn’t mean anything bad about us. It just means that we’re complicated human critters with fears and other hidden gremlins that derail us sometimes. It happens to every single one of us without exception.

Phase Four: The Juicy Nuggets: There is always a gift to be uncovered.

In phase three we became aware of something. What is the lesson that shining a light on that something offers?

In this situation, the simple reality of my business building means getting out into the world a lot, putting the proverbial full court press on visibility. The lesson in its simplest terms: step up your game in this area.

Phase Five: Leverage It: Now that we’ve been aggravated, pulled ourselves past that, gotten real with ourselves, and uncovered the lesson, we can make the experience count!

How do we have the opportunity to use and apply the knowledge we just worked so hard to get?

After this eye-opening conversation and recognition of its gifts, I had a hard look at my calendar to assess my visibility efforts. I now have a fuller understanding of the importance of my visibility activities, have increased them, and I calendar them much more thoughtfully and strategically.

 

Assumptions are a natural part of human interactions. We can be dis-empowered by them, playing the misunderstood victim winning at the blame game, or we can turn them to our advantage and choose to experience each one as an opportunity and a gift. It just takes the desire to not be derailed, a strategy, and some practice. Take the above, make it your own, and come out the other side of other people’s assumptions with fresh a-ha’s to use and a grin, saying “oh yeah, I got this!”
You’ll soon fall in love with assumptions.