Do you struggle with resilience? 3 warning signs to consider

It’s easy to say that we are resilient. It’s much more challenging to live resiliently. It is one of the most important skills we need to develop. But all too often we wait until we need it to determine if we’ve got it. The reality is that it doesn’t work that way.

Like any skill, it has to be developed over time and begins with our mindset. How we perceive our world will determine how we interact with it.

That is the core essence of true resilience. We stop responding to our world and start interacting with it. We put the energy of what is happening around us to work. We harness that energy and create new opportunities. It is what I have come to think of as moving from powerless effort (responding) to effortless power (resilience).

Recently I have been part of some discussions around resilience and how we develop it. The initial questions focused on how we could determine if it is a skill we have honed or not. After all, it’s not something you can always measure or see until after it has been employed. From those conversations, we determined that there are some warning signs that may be indicators that we need to strengthen that muscle.

Here are the top three:

#1- A higher commitment to the plan than to the result.

It can be dangerous to become overly attached to the road map. After all, roads close and things change. But the end goal is still the end goal. Adjusting the sails is far better than ignoring that the course needs correction.

#2- A driving need to understand the cause of something in order to assign blame, even (or especially) if it’s to yourself.

Things happen. The cause is most likely irrelevant once it happens. The true forward course is not assigning responsibility for why it happened but rather taking responsibility for what to do from there. What does this make possible? Take responsibility for that and it shifts to opportunity thinking.

#3- Your goal list is continuously littered with casualties that don’t seem to ever cross the finish line.

When we find a trend line in something, it means there is a systemic issue causing a particular result. When the trend we see is unfinished work or unrealized goals, it usually means that we are not able to see our way through disruptions, delays or even simple distractions. By analyzing the points where we falter, we can see where we need to shore up our resiliency muscle and put intelligent creativity to work.

A commitment to seeing the possibilities around us naturally develops our personal resiliency. Our life lens is trained to see opportunities for growing and giving in every situation. In a world where we are faced every day with uncertainty, we can thrive knowing that what is uncertain leaves room for infinite creativity.

What if the glass half empty is also half full? What if it’s both and ready for more?

Live today like you want tomorrow to be. Live well.

Which do you create? A circle or a sun? A probing question from Picasso

Resilience is demonstrated by what we create from our experiences in life.

And with that, what we create has everything to do with our perspective.

As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you are right.”  This is particularly true when we touch on what we create. Perhaps you don’t even see yourself as someone who “creates” but I can assure you that you are. Each of us is a creative and we all have an innate need to create. It goes well beyond what we might think of as creative for art, music, writing, etc. Even within those disciplines, the basics already exist. It is what we make of them that becomes our creation.

A teacher creates a learning experience. A mother (or father) creates a home. A musician creates a performance. A photographer creates an image. A writer creates a story or message. A leader creates a team. Each takes something and through their own unique application transforms it into something else.

But there is more to this that merits consideration. Here is a thought provoking insight from Picasso that transcends the original application intended beyond art:

picasso“There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun.”

No matter what we create, the transformation can either deliver brilliance or diminish the light. We each have that choice. We each have that power.

This is also true of our lives. We can allow our brilliance to diminish to that yellow spot.  Or through curiosity, creativity and intelligence we can  transform our lives into bright shining suns of endless possibilities.

The real insight is that in both cases, it is not about resources, talent or skill.  It is about perspective and choice.  What do you see?  What do you create?

Live (Create!) today what you want to tomorrow to be.

Creating Systems – Make Your Business Run with Ease

young-791849_1920Systems are part of our daily lives.  We have a system for our morning routine whether it is getting just ourselves out the door or the other members of our family.  We have to organize ourselves and our time, or deal with the constant stress of forgetting, running late or not making it to a client meeting at all.  

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Want to reduce stress? 3 Ways Being Strategic Can Help

this way, that way, another way illustrationThere are some words that over time get lost in the clutter of all of the messages we receive. One of those words is strategy. Be strategic! Be intentional! Be purposeful! Each of those admonitions is great advice. But what do they mean? We need to explore beyond the sound bites and be certain that we understand what it means to apply the knowledge.

Working as a master strategist over the past decade, the concept of strategy has proven time and time again to be much simpler than you might think. It comes down to this: Begin with the end in mind. When we employ strategy, it goes beyond the plan. It goes all the way to the end, to the outcome. Begin with the end in mind.

Think of it like reverse engineering. First you determine what you’re building. Then you work backwards to develop the right sequence of steps to get you there. When you do that, you are being strategic. You know what you are going to need and when you are going to need it. You know what you need to do and when you need to do it. Beyond that, you know why.

If the question is this: What should I do today?  The answer is this: What do you want to be/have tomorrow? Within the answer to the second question is your answer for the first. That is why our coaching programs focus on living today like you want tomorrow to be. And that is where the true magic of strategy serves us.

Being strategic goes beyond being your guide in how you plan. It goes to how you live. Let’s look at three ways we experience stress in our lives and see how being strategic can reduce and even eliminate that stress for us.

#1 – The Art of the No

We all struggle with this, particularly women. We find it stressful to say no because we aren’t comfortable with when and how to say no. Let me share with you what Michael E. Porter (Harvard Business Review) who is considered by many a modern day Father of Strategy has to say on this subject. When asked to define strategy, his response was this: “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” I found that very insightful. Being strategic is in fact a giant filter. It gets rid of the clutter in the way of getting to the end.

When we begin with the end in mind, we know what will take us there and what will not and we can focus there. We can also use that context when choosing what not to do.  For many years I have employed this simple principle: “Don’t say no, say how.”  It sounds simple but it’s really a way of vetting your options. Can I do this? Yes- if you do A,B or C or perhaps if you do not do A, B or C. It creates a choice instead of a “NO”. One of the most effective sales techniques ever employed is giving customers options for purchase.  Would you like A, B or C? They are instinctively drawn to choosing one of the offers provided vs. just Do you want A? Yes or No.

Apply that in your life. Someone asks you to serve on a committee that is going to mean a commitment of your time. Is that going to serve your “end in mind” strategy? If yes, you have your answer. If not, then the choice is to either take on the new responsibility and sacrifice momentum or stay focused on the strategy you have in place. When responding, it is now within a context for you and for the person that offered you the opportunity. Now you have the opportunity to make them aware of what you are working toward as well. It may very well be that there is a masked opportunity in play that you would not have seen without that specific conversation.

#2 – The Actions of the Day

The second place we experience stress is when we fail to live up to our promises to ourselves. Any time we move out of integrity (say one thing – do another) it introduces stress. Who we are vs. what we do is the ultimate generator or dissipater of stress. It’s about the tough things we have to do every day to move us to that “end in mind” state. If we don’t start with that vision, we will soon find ourselves losing steam when the work that needs to be done isn’t recognized as important, even vital.

We all feel better about ourselves when we have the satisfaction of knowing we’ve done what we said we would do. It’s about self-discipline, one of the hardest disciplines to achieve. Personal leadership expert Brian Tracy defines discipline with these six words: Do what you resolve to do. I love that. So very close to my definition of strategy: Begin with the end in mind. They are in fact the same fundamental principal. One serves the other.

The planning of our days becomes straight forward. The actions of our days become deliberate. As a result, we reduce the stress of continuous choice. The decisions are already made. We are now just living them out. The former editor of Fortune magazine Alvin Toffler offers this advice: “You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.”

#3 – The Disruptions of the Day

Here is perhaps the most important place to consider when reviewing the true value of strategy. Each of us faces disruption in our lives. Sometimes they are significant events such as death, divorce, even disease. Even if not happening directly to us, when they happen to someone close to us it will still impact us. But it goes beyond those larger disruptions to include some that might not seem as significant but still disrupt our path. Your car doesn’t start, the plumbing picks the absolute worst time to stop working, your computer has turned into an alien machine – so many opportunities for stress to burst onto the scene and distract us from our path.

When we operate from the perspective of what we are living toward instead of what we are living through it makes all the difference. Within that framework we are always able to find contingencies and resources will be at the ready.  We can see disruptions in a different light. Where is the lesson? Where is the door? In so many cases, what starts out as a disruption is in fact a new opening on the path.

The next time you find yourself struggling with saying no, lacking purpose in your day-to-day activities or derailed by disruptions, remember that you have a different choice. You can choose to live today like you want tomorrow to be. You can choose to begin right now with the end in mind. You can. I have faith in you. You will.

Live well.

Getting Organized Is a Top Priority: Do It With Ease!

laptop-1246672_1920Is GETTING ORGANIZED on your list of things to do someday?  Do colleagues joke about your messy desk or piles of junk?  Do you waste time looking for important files or documents?  

Is “I know it’s here somewhere!” your rallying cry?

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Courage or Fear, Which Will You Choose?

Retro style image of a rustic wooden sign in an autumn park with the words Courage - Fear offering a choice of reaction and attitude with arrows pointing in opposite directions in a conceptual image.

Being an entrepreneur is not easy. It takes hard work, dedication, persistence, personal growth, and most of all, courage.

Courage is taking action IN SPITE of fear, something we all have. Fears of success, of failure, of the unknown, of being seen, of not being good enough…the list goes on. We have a choice when faced with fear. We can run, hide and take cover, or we step up, feel the fear, and do it anyway. We can take the opportunity to get out of our comfort zone, moving us towards our dreams or we stay in our comfort zone and live an ok life, keeping our dreams just that. Dreams.

One of the most powerful questions to ask yourself when making a choice is, “Is this decision moving me towards my goals?” If your answer is no, ask yourself “why am I holding back? What is my fear? What is the WORST that can happen if I take this risk? If I decide not to take myself forward towards my goal, what could I miss out on?”

You see, most people let their fears control them and never create the life of their dreams. A big difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is courage. Facing the fear and doing it anyway. Stepping out of their comfort zone. Giving it all they’ve got. Doing anything it takes to get there.

So I ask you, where are you holding back? Are your decisions taking you towards your goals? What’s the worst that can happen if you felt the fear and did it anyway?

I challenge you to do ONE thing out of your comfort zone, today, to move you towards a goal. When you do it, CELEBRATE! I would love to hear all about it too, so leave me a comment.

Want more courage and confidence? Join Erin Summ for her FREE, 60-day Stand Up and Shine Confidence Challenge on Facebook! Get registered here …

Always Know the Value You Bring


When a potential new employer asks, “What is the value you bring?” can you give an immediate and confident reply?

If you can’t, then be prepared for not getting noticed. If you are able to answer this question immediately with ease and confidence, and be very specific about the skills you have, it will help you achieve your goals faster than you ever thought possible.

How do you define your skills and capabilities? Try this easy assessment tool:

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What if it was all easy?

Do you know a businesswoman who seems to always get in her own way? She gets upset or stressed easily. She seems to always be struggling and she is the first to tell you why something is so difficult to do. Hopefully, the woman you are thinking of is not the one you see in the mirror. There may be days though, when you do feel like your efforts are not coming together and it seems like you take two steps forward and then move three steps back. Everything is better when you look for the ease. Follow these super tips to add more ease to your day, every day:

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Your Changing Nest: Are you ready for what’s next? Part 2

Empty NestWelcome back to our conversation about the changing nest. Are you ready for what’s next? Here are some life practices to help you as you re-feather your nest for your next season. What makes them powerful is the fact that they are a part of our everyday life.

As I’ve moved through the empty nest in my own life, these have proved invaluable for moving me through those critical times as I have lived my “now” and designed my “next”!

Life practice #1– Bookending your day

Although this has long been a personal practice for me, it has changed greatly over the past few years as I’ve gone through some of these transitions. Let’s talk about what this really is about. Your morning practice is about centering and focus. It’s about getting grounded for whatever the day will bring. This can be a combination of activities – whatever helps you achieve that for yourself. It could be your journal, inspirational reading or audios, physical stretching exercises, meditation or prayer (or any combination of those!). It does not have to take a long time to be effective but it’s what is often referred to as a power hour. I never thought I would get up early for this but now I look forward to it every day.

Your evening practice (the other bookend!) is about letting go of the day and getting ready for what is next. Did you know that a core practice for fighting the dull-drums in life is having something to look forward to? When we end one day by knowing what we have to look forward to the next day, we rest more fully and awake with purpose. It’s easier to start when we have a plan. The most important part is letting go of today and looking forward to tomorrow. Whatever practices help you do that – those should be a part of your evening bookend. This is also a great time for your gratitude practices.

Life practice #2 – Re-Claiming Your Calendar

One of the most detrimental things I found myself doing when my daughter first got married and left the nest was waiting to see when she would need me. I hesitated committing to things until I knew what her plans would be. I was so afraid of not being available if she called or wanted to do something.

Giving me permission to create my life was essential and the first step was reclaiming my calendar. Making commitments and having things to look forward to. Even seeing her! I still remember the first time I had to tell her I had another commitment. It was a really tough moment but one that helped both of us recognize that in giving ourselves permission to experience more, we were in fact giving each other permission to do the same. There is great freedom in trust. If the calendar stays blank, so will our lives. Get some stars on your calendar!

The idea of something to look forward to has even made it into many definitions of happiness. Best-selling author and poet Rita Mae Brown is quoted as saying that “Happiness is pretty simple. You need someone to love, something to do and something to look forward to.”

Life practice #3 – Growing your life by growing you

“In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)

Have you ever felt like you are the glue holding everything together? That you’re the stability for everyone else? This is something I hear often. And when the nest changes, here’s a key place where we now start to think about this. When those responsibilities change, we aren’t always sure where to turn in our lives to find a focus, a purpose.

One of the things I love most about my life now is the fact that the decisions don’t feel so big anymore. I used to feel such weight with every choice. Now I recognize that everything is for a season and I’m able to enjoy it more fully. Learning and growing is a big part of that. My learning strategy was always about my profession. Now it’s about me. My life. Who I want to be and how I want to be. As I have grown, so has my life.

The only motivation in life that works every time is this: Progress. So go create some progress. Create your own change. That is going to create your own internal fire and motivation for more.

It’s a core practice that serves us all. Always be learning something. Always be growing. And be deliberate about it. Many people say that they are a “lifelong” learner and that they learn from everyone. That’s great. But also learn something specific. Take a class, a course, sign-up as a volunteer where you’ll learn a new skill. Be deliberate and embrace your inner explorer again!

Life practice #4- Always be expanding your circle!

I’m sure you’ve heard the concept that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. I first learned it from success philosopher Jim Rohn. When we think about how our life changes as our nest changes this is an important factor because in many cases, up to that point our relationships have been by default and defined by our roles versus intentional based on where we are personally growing. What are your current goals? Who are the best people to have around you for that? That is where I started. Those relationships have continued to grow and what is remarkable is that they were the catalyst for other new relationships. As we find kindred spirits, they introduce us to others. By always being open to expanding our circles, we are also expanding our life-scape.

Life practice #5- Make a difference – every day

One of the things that comes up often on the subject of empty nest and changes in the seasons of life is the idea of legacy. What do we want to be remembered for? We think about this as we again start looking at purpose and shifting roles and responsibilities. We begin to think that perhaps our purpose is bigger than we might have once believed or even conceived.

We often see people at this time of their time taking on causes and engaging more in their communities. And that’s a wonderful strategy.

But I would like for us to think about this even more universally and make it a life practice to make a difference for someone every day. The truth is that we already do whether we recognize it or not. Sometimes good, sometimes perhaps not, but we have a choice. If we set a goal everyday of making a positive difference the dividends in life satisfaction we achieve are priceless.

This is also where our example makes a tremendous difference. When our children see us moving beyond the nucleus and seeing beyond ourselves to a greater purpose, we are also encouraging them to do the same. Always remember that your legacy is never about what you leave. It is always about what you live.

Permission – Perspective – Possibilities

Use these life practices to create a life system that will guide you through from now to next. Not once – but every time throughout your life.

As my mentor Jim Rohn said: “We all have two choices: We can make a living or we can design a life.”

These practices can make the difference as you design a life.

Live today like you want tomorrow to be. Live well.

Multitasking vs Solotasking — Both Can Be Useful

sticky-notes-importantSome people swear that by multitasking they are being more efficient.  Perhaps sometimes.  Others strongly suggest that it is inefficient and counterproductive.  Regardless, it seems that humans seemed “wired” to try to accomplish multiple tasks.  Some would say that it is a Type “A” personality that is seemingly wired to multitask.  

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