imageWhat was I saying about focus? Staying on task? It would appear that I have been letting my love for community get in the way of just about everything. I looked at the work I had done recently in a coaching session where I was highlighting my priorities, something along these lines:

  1. Love
  2. Health
  3. Creativity
  4. Work and Business
  5. Community

Hmmm… I would have to say that getting ready for this week’s Farmers’ Market in my suburb trumped all priorities. This is probably a more accurate list for the last week:

  1. Community
  2. Community
  3. Community
  4. Community
  5. Community

As I was warming my toes by the fire last night, having our celebratory community dinner to mark another successful market, I found myself talking about social enterprise.

Social enterprise marries two of my passions – working out how to make things happen practically, and making a difference in the community. Profit with Purpose if you will. But running a social enterprise can actually be more complex than running either a not for profit organisation or running a business. You have to combine the skill of creating a profitable business with the ability to create and be accountable for positive social outcomes for the community. And that’s no easy task.

Right now, I note that more than anything, getting this weekend’s market has left me little time to reflect on anything. Like the lessons that have been offered through getting in touch with the realities of my crazy idea to set up a Farmers’ Market in my suburb. And have brought me to the subject of social enterprise, for me to think about more closely.

As well as reflecting, I plan to really celebrate the achievement of the weekend, and not rush on to the next challenge. Getting right with your priorities, getting clear on your mission in life – these things take time and reflection, and celebration of those moments of fulfilling this week’s mission, at least.

So what is your list of priorities looking like? Are your activities matching your priority lists?

back to art classThis week I am celebrating being back in art class with the wonderful, extraordinary Dawn Meader. I so enjoyed ending the day at the Business Loan job immersing myself back into the world of creativity that Dawn manages to bring through in all of us.

I first started art classes with Dawn as I was stuck in my writing; and over and over again I find that allowing myself the time and space to join Dawn’s classes opens something up in me to allow the writing to flow through. It can’t be a coincidence that the final edits of my book were almost effortless today; just the opportunity to work on this pastel drawing last night I am sure did the magic! (PS Dawn still has places on her Bali and Italy retreats in case you were thinking of taking yourself to the next level as a human being!)

Before working with Dawn I was also stuck as a professional – working in a demanding job I felt trapped in – that job has now been replaced by my Business Loan Job.

The Business Loan Job is an interesting phenomenon; I first heard the term when I was listening to one of success coach Pamela Bruner’s many excellent teleclasses and I latched onto it. As someone who has always enjoyed work, I know that I take it one step further, and the job becomes a vocation.

Leaving the job that I was trapped in to securing the Business Loan job I have now has meant a totally different, lighter energy around work. The biggest plus of all is that I can finesse my business while I know I can meet all my financial commitments as a partner, mother and philanthropist. It can allow me to develop my business at an appropriate, realistic pace.

However, the Business Loan Job has a number of perils. At any moment you could forget what it was that you signed up to it for. It could creep its way into your heart and your dreams and try to re-work its magic to lure you back into vocation mode.

The security of a salary can constantly beckon to the “easier” life of a waged professional.

There have been some moments on late in my Business Loan Job where I have felt this happening.

So I have done what I need to do – reignite the creative spark and remind myself of the life I can create for myself as a creative entrepreneur.

Fan your creative spark, and keep on going for the vision. We all need what you and you alone can bring to the world!

 

full moonThe full moon is allegedly a time to take action. Hurray for action! I’ve been thinking about action; when it is easy to take action, when it is like wading through treacle to take action. And what we can do about it when the inspiration isn’t coming.

1. Barrier to tacking action item one: way, way, WAY too much on the plate
I don’t know about you, but I have a genius for taking on too much. It’s like I was born with my hand, shot up in the air and the cry of “I’ll do it!” on my lips. When I find myself (again) in this predicament, the first thing I do is change my mindset. I remind myself that I have CHOSEN to take on this multitude of tasks, and no-one is persecuting me. Having adjusted my mindset, the immediate conflict passes; I work my way through the list and pay attention to those moments when I could volunteer to do things – and don’t!

2. Barrier to taking action item two: bright shiny things
Have you ever done a personality test? I love them; Enneagram, DiSC and Myers Briggs being my favourites so far. I like the Myers Briggs prayer; for the E(xtrovert) (I)Ntuitive F(eeling) P(erceving) type prayer;

God,help me to keep my mind on one th-Look a bird-ing at a time.

My biggest, brightest, shiniest thing is facebook. After being on it for a while I feel like I do after reading a trashy mag – a bit grubby and unwholesome, filled with empty calories. My best technique is to wake myself up from the trance of facebook; if I have come looking for a message to follow up, I keep muttering about it over and over to myself; and get that message, copy it and get on out of there!

3. Barrier to taking action exhibit 3 – fear
This barrier is, nine times out of ten, a sign that a new stage of growth is just around the corner. When I feel that fear I almost always know it’s time to take action, pronto, and that something really good is almost there.

These are my top three barriers – what are yours?

Photo by Frances Andrijich

Photo by Frances Andrijich

Last week I was bursting to share this interview with Susan Maushart. I don’t know if you know her, but she is an author I greatly admire. I was half way through doing the Abundant Businesswoman’s Summit when I thought about a Fabulous Women Series. Focus is not my middle name! I tweeted her, and before you knew it I was recording this interview.

Last week I thought that technically it was nearly ready to launch, but not quite. I have wasted another week trying to tweak it to technological perfection; but no more! I am releasing it to you as is! You just need to sign up to get to the free recording.  When you get there, you will notice that there are two recordings; the first is the introduction, the second is the interview itself. I tried to put them together, but in the spirit of taking imperfect action, I am releasing this as is!

This interview, this blog, speaks to my Biggest of Big Whys – women and our empowerment. I had thought to start the Fabulous Women series asking everyone the same four questions.

• Where is the world at with women now? Thumbs up? Thumbs down?
• Can you tell me how/ when your work aligned with women’s issues?
• For those of you who have had children, how has that impacted on your personal and professional life, both positively and negatively?
• What is the one thing you could recommend to make the world a balanced place, with masculine and feminine in harmony?

But after this interview, I feel Susan Maushart answered the questions comprehensively. Who knew about Lab Rats? And what about her suggestion for a making the world a more balanced place? I would love to know what you think. Head on over to the facebook event page to let me know.

So my next Fabulous Women interview will have a different theme and another Fabulous Woman interview for you. If you sign up to the series, you will automatically get a reminder with details of the next.
Nothing to buy, no pressure; just sharing the fabulousness around!

rainbow detailIndulge me if you will. It’s my birthday on Tuesday, and I turn 49. Normally I have a birthday month, so for two weeks before, and two weeks after, I manage to stretch my birthday celebrations out in a variety of calorie-laden and sociable ways.  Somehow this year, it hasn’t happened.  I might be lucky to squeeze a week or two this year but the birthday month is just not materialising.

49 got me thinking; about 7 year cycles espoused by traditions such as Rudoph Steiner, numerology, reflected in the chakra system and on and on.

I have just finished my sixth 7 year cycle and am about to start my seventh. That seems significant.  A very long and detailed article on the phenomenon noted that from 42-48:

the unlived aspects of life cry out to be recognised and allowed. The desire to make a mark in life if it has not already been achieved presses for action here.

That certainly sounds about right.  Now that I am entering 49-55 cycle, this is what I have to look forward to:

This is when we take an inventory of our life. It’s a time of spiritual questioning and review of our life purpose. If we haven’t successfully understood who we are by this stage and achieved our goals, then depression, moodiness and turmoil will plague both our waking life and our dreams.

While I confess there was a certain selectivity in the sites I looked at (conveniently ignoring those who somehow indicated I was over the hill) it has been useful to reflect:

1. We women in particular REALLY need to live our dreams.  It is just not healthy for us if we don’t

2. Each age and stage needs to be celebrated for what it can offer us.

3.  When you are not keen on what the stage offers us, make up your own rules!  We are the architects of our personal, professional and spiritual lives.

4.  Age is just a number. I feel 27 so I am 27.

Now let the birthday celebrations begin!

Pip Brennan is a business coach who is passionate about supporting artistic and spiritual businesswomen to create profitable businesses that are aligned with their values.

above the lineI can recall vividly arriving late for a business course, and I do believe I may have had a large cappuccino, takeaway, in my hand at the time. “Traffic was terrible” I asserted. The presenter challenged me on that. Rightly so. I was most definitely below the line. Apparently traffic was bad (so leave earlier, right?) and the queue at the coffee shop was also not helping my punctuality (so, don’t get a coffee, right?)

One of the many things I love about my new life is that I now operate daily in a paradigm of understanding that I can choose – above the line, or below the line. It is impossible to be a coach and spend your day living in the land of Denial, Blame and Excuses.

Living above the line gives you freedom, right now. Living above the line means taking 100% responsibility for your life and its current circumstances. That means you have the freedom to choose something different next time to create the result that you want in your life.

I often marvel at what we humans put ourselves through just to hand our responsibility over to someone else. It seems easier – but it isn’t!

Once you chose to look at your life through a lens of ownership, responsibility and accountability, instead of seeing all the problems, you start to see solutions. Instead of feeling that you are a victim with no choice, you feel like a survivor, with a raft of choices and opportunities ahead. Instead of something being “too hard”, you start to see that something is actually just “unfamiliar” and with time and practice it will become second nature.

Perhaps I wasn’t entirely above the line at the pool today where I skimped on the laps, but at least I know that if I want to swim further and be fitter, I certainly can.

virtual assistantIf you’re asking what the heck is a Virtual Assistant, perhaps this is not the blog for you. But if you are interested in changing some of your patterns from the “I have to do everything or it’s not done right” to the new pattern of “I stick to my core creative genius tasks and delegate the rest”; then read on.

The internet has changed many things; and technology makes it possible for you to work with someone on the other side of the world. Hence the title Virtual Assistant. Like a Personal Assistant, but well, virtual.

If that person happens to live in a country where $10 an hour gets them an awful lot more than $10 per hour gets you in Australia, and work opportunities in their own country are thin on the ground, then the attraction of hiring a VA can be very obvious.

A VA can do many more tasks than administrative; web design, graphic design, copy writing – you name it. There are a few particularly well known agencies that you can browse on the net to find a good VA.

However, there are many pitfalls in hiring a VA; it can be somewhat of a toad-kissing exercise.  Here are some top tips to finding and keeping the right VA for you:

  • Be really clear about what it is you need – work on a specific project? Or regular work?
  • Online agencies are the best way to find VAs.  Some are free, some you need to pay to post a job
  • For specific project or contract work try ODesk or Elance
  • For part time and full time work, try Best Jobs.ph, Virtual Job Board, Hire My Mom.com; I have also had good service from Cool Pixels
  • Exactly what it is you need? Be as specific as possible when posting a job
  • Once you have posted your job and are starting to vet applicants, ensure you spend some time picking the right match on paper prior to making contact.
  • Make sure you interview them face to face on Skype; to get to know them a little and check their English level is sufficient for what you need
  • When you are interviewing them, make sure you ask them what it is they like to do – and give them that kind of work when you can!  They will be sure to prioritise your work when it is something they like to do
  • Put together a simple contract for your VA outlining what you want them to do, how much they will be paid etc
  • Send a welcome pack which sets out your business’ procedures; set the tone for the working relationship and outline what your expectations are
  • Look after and care for them, give them plenty of training and support in their role
  • Build their trust in you to ensure it is reciprocated; you need to be able to trust your VA as they need access to your passwords to do their job

Hiring a VA can be a defining moment when your business makes that leap from “hobby” to “real”.  It can also be the moment when you commit to moving beyond the limits of what you can accomplish on your own.

And thus endeth the VA lesson!  Let me know on facebook if you have hired a VA and how it went for you.

20140502-135012.jpgAs the mother of a teenage girl I see someone almost daily assaulted with the question “what are you going to do when you grow up?”

It seems such an unfair question to ask a 15 year old who barely knows what they want to do tomorrow, let alone for the rest of their lives.

I think if we are all given a magic wand, we would ideally like to be able to make a living doing what it is that we love. What we love very often correlates with what we are good at, and can do without much effort. We get into a zone when we are utilising our core genius.

It’s all too easy to get a bit tunnel-visioned about what we can do. If we reflect for even a moment, as women, mothers, professionals, artists, creatives and/or entrepreneurs, we have had many different experiences and have learned many useful skills over our life. Sometimes we just need to find some time to reflect on these.

So for your visual people out there who enjoy a guided process and have about half an hour to spend, I put together a short (9 minute) audio, 100 Doors.

The exercise invites you to relax, and visualise a room full of doors. I picked 100, but really any number will do!

Behind each door is an expertise or skill that you can claim and open up your thinking about what you might like to do when you grow up. Definitely not to be used while driving, it’s quite sleep inducing! If it grabs your fancy and you want to have a go, click here.

imageThis week’s post is dedicated to focus. When I recorded interviews for the Abundant Businesswoman’s Summit I learned a lot – but there was one point that has stuck with me.

Ashley Ryan from Her Smart Marketing was interviewed as part of the series and said she talked about attending a seminar run by T Harv Ecker who noted that if there was just one piece of advice he could give, it was to focus.  Ashley says;

I thought this was BS but in hindsight really if I had focused I would be a multi-millionaire

Focus.  I have been thinking of this so much this week. I had two major focus distortion factors this week.  I am wondering if you can relate?

Distortion Factor 1: Bright Shiny Syndrome

You know, when the next exciting thing comes along and distracts you from your purpose.  This week I found myself on my Ipad checking out a neat little tool, The Social Enterprise Builder.  I started getting quite excited until I read that social enterprises are more complex than not for profits, more complex than for profits.  And I reflected; no, I do not need to start a social enterprise right now. I can stick to my do-able, current plan of being a sole trader and ONCE I have that absolutely down pat, THEN I can think about investigating being a sole trader. By then we might actually understand and welcome social enterprise into our paradigm here in Australia!

Focus Distortion 2: Failing to Focus on my Vision

As well as battling Bright Shiny Syndrome, I have also been falling into the trap of failing to focus on my vision. Second-guessing it and diluting it in a most dis-heartening manner.  “It’s not the right vision!” “It will never work!” You get the drill.

How to bust out of this cycle

Like a  magpie, I collect the wisdom of all the internet’s vast array of on-online training.  I recently heard a great tip from Suzanne Evans.  It helps you re-commit to your vision AND stay away from Bright Shiny Object syndrome:

If you understand that about 60 days is where our business attention span will start to sag or snap, you can be ready for this.  Set yourself a 60 day game plan, and review it!  That way, you can have a strategic Bright Shiny Object instead of a random one.  You can also keep on refining and refreshing your vision so that you can stay on task with where you want to go.

Simple hey?  But perhaps not easy!  So enough about me, what about you? How has your focus been this week?  Could you benefit from refreshing your focus and motivation with a new, focused 60 day plan?

FreebieIs your inbox anything like mine?   Mine is full to the brim of people that want to help me. Usually the help is in the form of some kind of freebie. You know, an e-book, a video, an email campaign…

The usual chain of events is that you click on the freebie, check out the person’s work, and pretty soon after that, an offer of some kind will be made to you and if you are as impulsive as my good self you may well find yourself signed up for the latest online training course.

There’s nothing wrong with this at all; but it is the usual case of Buyer Beware.  In my experience you may find yourself signed up for a course that is not right for where you are in business. So how do you know if a course is right for you? Try these questions on for size:

1. Do you need to be online, or out in the world?

If you are starting out in business as a solopreneur offering a service (coaching, health, spiritual services etc) then what you need more than anything is to get out from behind your computer and start meeting people and finding clients.  If you can’t sell face to face, you will struggle to sell online.  In other words, don’t spend time and money just yet in learning how to put together an online course.  Wait until you have the sort of client load that you are struggling to keep up with before you start investing in training for getting online.

2. Are you going to lurk, or learn?

Another important consideration is how well suited your learning style is to on-line learning.  While on-line group coaching programs can offer great value for money, it can be easy to get lost in the virtual crowd and fail to follow through on the work in the course, which means you may as well have thrown your money away.

3. Do you need to pay at all?

Be disciplined with your inbox offers, and stick to the freebies while you are getting your business up to speed. One particularly excellent freebie if you are really keen to maximise your website and leverage the opportunities of the on-line environment, is Nathalie Lussier’s 30 Day List Build. She has even made it now that you can move more easily between the 30 days of technical tips and tricks. It’s for the techie minded, but it really is a great resource.

Good luck, and here’s to finding the right support for you!