Forever and ever I’ve wanted to be an author. And forever and ever I thought that was impossible. See, I’ve got this eye thing from childhood seizures (long story, I’m fine now) that makes it really hard for my eyes to see typos (I also CANNOT find Waldo, but that’s a story for another day). And to me, that felt like an insurmountable problem!
It’s not like people didn’t like my writing… they would read my blogs, and told me they enjoyed my emails… but I assumed they liked it because I have a quirky sense of humor, not because it was GOOD or anything like that.
Or at least that’s what I told myself because:
You have likely experienced both personally and professionally that our mental health world is a world of word of mouth.
One of the biggest myths I hear constantly is that word of mouth is something that happens by chance. Luck. It’s out of our control, or the universe is (or isn’t) on our side. Sound familiar?Continue reading
My imagination had been captured by TedX many years ago, when I saw Shawn Achor talk about his sister Amy. He convinced her she was a Unicorn and stumbled upon the power of happiness to shape a life (and evade consequences). I’ve talked about Amy the Unicorn many times since then in my classes, coaching sessions, and in conversations. Ted’s mission is to promote ideas worth spreading, and I’m doing my part! Then it occurred to me… do I have an idea worth spreading?
Thus inspired, I set out to discover how I might also give a Ted Talk. What I learned is that there are many, many independently organized Ted events– referred to as TedX events. In fact, in the last known accounting of TedX events (July 2015) there had been 13,522 TedX Events, in 3174 cities, in 143 countries. (By the way, featured TedX talks had received almost 600 million views on youtube, during that same time period. That’s a LOT.)
Each of these independently organized events accept applications, conduct interviews and choose 9-12 speakers… which, If I could apply to enough of them, felt like good odds!
As you may know, I am holding a one-day conference here in New York City on September 29th called Build Your Practice-2018. It’s on a Saturday from 9:00-3:30 and will weave together simple, actionable strategies with a chance to create a strong referral network of other professionals looking to support your growth. Add to that an internationally renowned speaker, relaxing and rejuvenating breaks, and the best cupcakes I’ve ever had in my whole life. . . I have no doubt that it’s going to be AMAZING.
But I get that another way to look at it is that you’ll spend a Saturday in September with strangers. It’s reasonable that you might be hesitating. In this post, I’m hoping to put those hesitations to rest so that you’ll want to go ahead and register before the early bird tickets end, then spend the rest of September getting excited about everything you’ll learn.
If you’re a therapist, there’s a good chance you are. I mean, studying psychology, counseling, and therapy basically requires an obsession with all the messy internal stuff. Who finds all of that fascinating? We introverts do!
So when it’s time for us to grow our practice, we are often uncomfortable with the social aspects: networking, creating partnerships, running events and speaking can feel downright daunting.
In fact, these things may feel like they goes against your very nature. And who wants to do that? No one… unless they can be done authentically, in a way that feels aligned with your values and infused with integrity. And, as a fellow introvert I’m here to tell you: when you find the right partners, the community you create is the golden ticket to the growth you’re looking for.
So, how can we create a powerful, fun-loving network that will turbocharge our growth?
If you rely on a steady flow of clients to support and grow your business, then you need to network. It’s as simple as that!
I know that you know this and you know that I know that you know this. And yet, you don’t do it. Why?
I was walking down 5th avenue on my way to a networking event last night when this question struck me like a bolt of lightening:
“What if I can’t really create a successful business? Should you stick with your business or give the whole thing up? Who am I to think I can truly, actually, do this… for REAL?” My heart beat a little faster and a for a split second I was tempted to give it all up. “Just kidding! Never mind! I’ll just go back to my much less stressful existence as a professor and consultant and actually have time to do things like watch TV or read a book.”
Have you noticed that everyone is talking about the Law of Attraction these days? The Law of Attraction is the idea that whatever you focus on (good or bad) will be attracted to you like a magnet. So, if you think about rolling around in a large pile of money (a la Scrooge McDuck) money will be attracted to you. If you focus on scarcity then continued money problems await. Can this be true? Is there really such thing as a “universal law of energy”?
Maybe? I’m not so sure.
I have, on the other hand, experienced some very strong luck or good fortune in my day. Receiving exactly what I wanted. Manifesting opportunities “out of the blue.” Serendipity, as it were.
Here are a few example:
Do you groan when you hear the word, “networking?” It might feel like this painful, corporate thing you’re supposed to do. Perhaps it feels like a dangerous game of small talk roulette: at any moment someone will try to sell you something. Certainly, everyone can think of a time when going to a networking event left them feeling mentally wrung out.
Listen: I FEEL YOU. Until fairly recently, I hated it, too!
In the past year, I’ve made the decision to partner with a business coach so that I can level up my business and really conquer the challenges that scare me. When we began our work, one of the first challenges she identified was my outright dislike of networking. I didn’t think I was the kind of person who networks well. I felt that it was counter to my identity to do so and I just plain DID NOT WANT TO. (Do you notice that these are the classic hallmarks of a mindset block?)
So, challenge number one from my coach was to start going to 1 or 2 networking events every week. My goal at these events is to meet cool people- people who might want to be my clients, and people I might want to collaborate with. Because I’m extremely coachable, I dove right in. Fortunately, I’m in NYC and you can find at least 20 networking events on any given day. The very first one I went to was a happy hour for a product management program. Not exactly my ideal client, but a good place to practice without pressure! Continue reading
When Donald Trump pulled off a stunning upset and became the president-elect of the United States, I knew I was ready for a fight. But like a lot of people, I wasn’t sure where to begin.
For the past three years, I’ve worked with educators using a method called “improvement science” to create lasting change in schools. The method has also been used to improve everything from health care to car manufacturing to project management. And I believe it can also give us a framework for political action in the age of Trump.
The beauty of improvement science is that it gives you a framework to do the following things:
Here’s how to put this method to use:
The first principle of improvement science is to be clear on what qualifies as a success. So the very first question I asked myself when I sat down to craft my post-Trump plan was, “If I’m going to utilize my very limited time and even more limited resources to do this, what am I hoping to accomplish in the next year? What would success look like to me?”
This step is often ignored in favor of jumping directly into the fray. But while quick and decisive action is honorable, it is much less likely to result in effective change than actions that are aligned towards a specific vision or goal.
I decided that for me, I would feel like I’d had success at the end of a year if I was much better informed about what my representatives were up to. I love the idea of being someone my senator or representative might call to get a citizen’s perspective. Most of all, I wanted to be someone who went beyond “talking the talk” of tolerance and opportunity and was actually actively engaged in creating it.
I am self-aware enough to know that in New Jersey, a state of nine million people, it isn’t very likely that I’ll ever be on Cory Booker’s speed dial. And yet I let that be my vision. The power of setting a clear aspirational vision isn’t about feasibility. The power of vision is that it keeps you motivated and helps you prioritize amongst your many options. If your vision motivates you and keeps you focused, it’s working for you. Don’t let others tell you that you’ve set your sights too high.
The second principle of improvement science is to develop an explicit theory of improvement. What do you think it would take to move from where you are today to realizing the vision articulated in the first step? Getting possible steps out on the table helps you to evaluate them more objectively. This is partly a brainstorming activity; don’t try to be “sensible” just yet. Here’s a short list of the ideas I came up with, in order from truly crazy to pretty mundane:
The list goes on, but you get the idea. Whatever comes to mind that feels even remotely actionable should be written down. After you’ve generated your list, take a look at it. What feels both high impact and somewhat accessible? Pick one.
This is where things get real. It’s time to take on one of these potential things that you could do and get started doing it.
When faced with the sheer number of possibilities we could take to create action, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and wind up paralyzed. So it may make sense to start small and choose the thing that feels the most accessible. Action breeds more action, so whatever gets you going is worthwhile.
As I was working on this article, writer Emily Ellsworth had a series of tweets go viral about how important it is to call your elected officials. Since making those calls was already on my list, I decided to give it a shot.
Probably the most misunderstood aspect of creating lasting change is the belief that, once we know what we should do, we will automatically follow through. If this were true, everyone would exercise regularly and follow a sensible budget. We know, however, that this is not the case.Every single change, no matter how small, is hard. Human beings are entrenched in their desire to do what is familiar, and really dig in their heels against change when they have a “competing commitment,” such as an unspoken worry.
That is why it is so important to acknowledge and address what you are worried about when you first make your plan of action. I had a number of concerns about calling my elected officials, but most of all I was worried that it wouldn’t actually make a difference. What impact can one voice have?
I decided to get a more informed perspective before I made my first call. I reached out to two congressional staffers, one who works for a senator in the Northeast (speaking anonymously), and Emily Ellsworth, who has worked for two congressmen in Utah. I asked both of them, “Is calling in worth the time? Does it really make a difference?”
Both staffers stressed that constituents who call their elected officials contribute to a larger picture that includes all the calls, petitions, and town hall meetings. Collectively, these combine to represent the concerns of the people, which elected officials know that they must listen to. “Your strength is in your numbers,” the senatorial staffer said.
Your voice is particularly important if you come from the political center, they said. “We hear from the far left and the far right, but we rarely hear from the vast majority of people in the middle,” Ellsworth said. And when the vast majority of centrists don’t speak up, congressmen wind up catering to the interests of loud, organized fringe voters.
“The Tea Party showed us in Utah what happens when you do organize and call,” Ellsworth said. “When you are organized and call and show up to town halls, it’s your voice and your perspective that gets addressed. They [the elected officials] know who’s watching.” In the end, both staffers agreed—calling in, writing to representatives and attending meetings really does make a difference.
One of the best things about having the framework of improvement science in place when you are trying something new is that you expect your first time to be kind of terrible. You just know that you’ll make rookie mistakes, and you’re ready to roll with them. There is absolutely no expectation that you’ll get it right the first time. The method insists that you get started so that you can collect the information that will make you more effective at the fastest rate possible.
With my concerns assuaged, it was time to actually make some calls. I steeled myself, dialed the first number… and hung up partway through. I was nervous! I didn’t want to look like an idiot, and I really wasn’t sure what I would say if the staffer who picked up asked me questions.
But then I took a deep breath, picked up the phone, and made the call. A staffer answered the phone and I asked her in an awkward tone whether my representative had released a statement against Steve Bannon. She said, sounding a little annoyed, “Yes, his statement is on the website.” I asked where, found it on the website, and suggested that he feature it more prominently. The staffer thanked me and we hung up.
The whole thing took less than one minute. It was not an amazing experience. I did not feel high on the elixir of democracy, but I did feel that I had made my voice heard. If that’s what it takes to be a voice of the people, I can do that again.
Next week, I will call again, and I’ll do better. I’ll be less awkward, and I’ll know that the woman who answers the phone is a little cranky. Over time I’ll find ways to win her over, I’m sure—maybe by looking at the representative’s website before calling. This is not rocket science, and I expect to have the kinks worked out in no time.
That’s the other great thing about using improvement science to help make a change. Just as you assume that you’ll land on your face the first time, you know that by taking action and analyzing how things go, you’ll become amazingly proficient before you know it. It was true when I learned to run, when I learned to budget, and when I learned to create visuals for my website. It will be true when it comes to activism as well. I will learn to be an effective voice in my government, because my country depends on it.