Transformation Tuesday | You Are A Creator | My Take On The Stock Market

Friends:

I’m thinking a lot these days on our purpose and essential nature as human beings. We are in these bodies, on this planet for a brief moment in universal time. It strikes me that, while we are here, we have a unique ability to turn our thoughts and inspirations into things.

In other words, we are creators.

We create companies, cultures, books and music. We create families and relationships and tangible, physical things, products. We also create experiences and lives, sometimes intentionally and other times, accidentally. We create joy and connection.

And sometimes we create fear and drama, disconnection, for ourselves and for others.

I’m playing a game right now where I try to see every interaction with someone as an opportunity to create a deeper connection than was there before. It has caused me to insert many a pause before I speak and be very deliberate about how what I say to my son, my mother, my business partners and my sweetheart, even in seemingly mundane, everyday conversations.

This is related to the First Agreement of don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements. (I see these Agreements as responsible for a big chunk of the freedom and energy with which I live my life.) The First is to be impeccable with your word, which means to understand the profound power of our words to bless or curse and to commit to use your word in favor of love and life.

Let me repeat that for emphasis: we can create life with our words. Have you ever seen how your child or employee or even friend or a person on the street unfurls to life when you connect eye to eye, and speak even 3 words of life on them?

I was walking in New York the other day, and a gentleman with a cardboard sign, dirty face and tattered clothes was screaming vitriol at the flood of humanity that was coming out of the subway station. His rage was so pure it was almost visible. And he was just flooding it, washing it over every person who passed by.

I sort of steeled myself to walk past him. But a few paces before I reached him, I met his gaze and silently shot him a blessing.

IT WAS LIKE HE HEARD ME. He pointed at me, and screamed YOOOOOOOU!

I raised an eyebrow. I cocked my head a bit.

And—I kid you not—his next words came out calmly, clearly and in his indoor voice. They were: “have great energy.”

“YOOOOOOU have great energy,” this man said to me. I closed my eyes, smiled and nodded and walked on. He went back to his regularly scheduled program.

We create. We create connections and things and ideas and life. And we do this, first, with our minds and souls. Then we put our souls on deck, in the form of the things and relationships and businesses and communities we create.

I spend a lot of my time working with leaders and entrepreneurs and creators, helping them get unstuck. What I see many times in people who are stuck on a project or in an area of their life is this: they want to be or do or have or create one thing, but they are at a spiritual standstill because their actions, beliefs, words and energy are in total opposition to what they want, for various reasons.

We can talk about why this happens later, but for now, let’s understand the energy of creation and the other energies that are in opposition, in the interest of releasing any spiritual standstills.

Creating is about bringing to life. It’s about transformation. It’s about receiving inspiration, which is always trying to flow to and through us, and then marrying inspiration with action, immediately.

Creating is not just proactive, yang, domination, force energy. It is also about stillness, receptivity and trust that everything is always working out for you, which allows you to make bold moves and steps toward your creation without fear, which closes off, corrodes and shrinks the inspiration pipeline.

Creating is not about passive consumption. You cannot create while you are reacting. This is why outrage is so distracting, why the headlines and Facebook and Twitter pull so many people off their life’s course. That’s why it’s worthwhile to cultivate the ability to stay calm while everyone else around you loses their head (e.g., when the stock market does what it’s doing right now).

Click to watch on Instagram: What creators do when the stock market dives

And you cannot create while you are judging. This is true whether your judgment is being leveled at politicians, the system, the folks who voted for somebody, rich people, poor people, your mother or even yourself.

See, creating is what you do when you love someone or something enough to collaborate toward the end of their well-being, growth and expansion.

Creating is an energy of love. Judgment is an energy of disdain, of dislike, or worse: hate. Judgment creates turbulence in your system, regardless of who you are judging. It interrupts your ability to receive inspiration and turn it into inspired action. Creation and judgment do not coexist. They just can’t.

You are a creator. Not a consumer. Not a reactor. And not a judge.

Head up + heart out,

Altitude training is real | What happens when you write a book | My new program is now LIVE!

Last week, my sweetheart and I drove up and hiked a bit of the Tahoe Rim Trail. I’m pretty athletic and the hike wasn’t super difficult. So I was surprised to find myself out of breath until it dawned on me that we were about 7,000 feet higher than home.

“Oh yeah,” I thought. Huff puff. “The altitude.”

This instantly brought back a memory of a trip I took to Boulder a few years back. I was training for a half marathon at the time, and my plan was to explore Boulder by running 7 or 8 miles a day, just like at home.

I checked into the old Boulderado Hotel, geared up, and set out. I got roughly three blocks before I was gasping for air. I realized in that moment exactly why the Olympians go up there to train: the altitude.

Altitude training is no joke. The higher you go, the less oxygen is in the air. The less oxygen is in the air, the harder your body has to work to get it, even when you’re at rest. When you work out at elevation, your body has to work much harder than normal to get the extra oxygen your workout requires out of the air and into your lungs.

When you first arrive and work out at high altitudes, it is very, very hard. Even if you’re very, very fit.

Back to Boulder. I ran every day as planned, though not for anywhere near the distances I was used to. After my weeklong trip, though, something wild happened. I got home, geared up and headed out on my normal training run. And I ran. And ran and ran. EFFORTLESSLY. I felt like Wonder Woman, for real. Seriously, I ran faster, freer and further than I had before and it felt like an easy breezy walk in the park.

My takeaway was this: altitude training gives you superpowers.

This is true in life, too. In life, as in sport, altitude training involves two parts. The altitude part involves elevation: the climb toward closer alignment with your higher self, which nearly always triggers some internal resistance. It just the way we’re wired. Altitude is also atmosphere: being immersed in or surrounded by new challenges or constraints.

But the second part is training: the intention, focus and movement and focus you use to follow inspiration, despite the resistance that may have come up inside.

Train at altitude and you’ll feel breathless, unequipped and overwhelmed—for a little while.

But the rewards of altitude training are also no joke. If you keep at it, you get the double-whammy of growing your capacity intentionally and being expanded by simply being in the challenging atmosphere itself. You don’t have to go all nose-to-grindstone. Simply answering the call to the adventure of training at elevations will pull new capacity out of you, if you let it.

This is true whether your personal altitude training is taking on a new leadership role, signing up for online dating, shifting a difficult habit or dysfunctional pattern or writing a book.

Keep this in mind: a newly challenging environment is not new forever. Either you return home, or you acclimate to the atmosphere and no longer find it challenging. Whenever you get out of the challenge, though, you’ll realize three things:

  • That you have new capacity, new superpowers. You have been changed by the process.
  • That you now know about capacity you might have always had, but never before needed to tap into, and
  • That you can turn your powers on when you need them, and you can exercise the discretion to rest and recharge them when you don’t.

You also learn that you can go back to the atmosphere and train some more, grow some more and expand your capacity some more anytime you want to.

This was my experience of writing each of my three books, and it is my experience writing the one I’m working on now. (!) You wade on into the void, stretch and challenge yourself. But at some point in my personal process of book writing, I acquired some new powers. I learned some new things about how to manage myself and my life skillfully when I want to create something.

For example: I learned that I am more creative, inspired and productive when I do things that still, clear and soothe my mind than when I try to be it’s disciplinarian or tough taskmaster. Stuff like that.

At some point, writing books shifted from an overwhelming grind into an adventure of personal expansion and spiritual connection. It’s an adventure into clarity and insight that I can take anytime I want to turn on my power to create anything.

This is precisely the process I’ll be sharing with the conscious creators and transformational leaders who heed the call to adventure of my newest program—One Quarter Book, aka 1QB.

I’ve been tucked away in Monk Mode creating this, and am so proud to share it with you and the rest of the world today:

Learn more: Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s One Quarter Book: The 90 Day Book Accelerator for Conscious Leaders.

Note: Registration is open, but I’m putting a cap on enrollment and closing registration next week before the first session on February 3rd..

I’ll share much more shortly but let me make one thing clear, for now: this program is not for writers. It’s for leaders and creators who have an approach or insight to share, or a personal story of resilience that gives them a unique worldview. It’s for people who are ready to write the book they have inside this year.

Here’s a quick video I made about the program:

Click here to watch

I’d be honored if you’d click through and learn more here, or share this link with anyone you know who should know about this Adventure!

Learn more or register here: Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s One Quarter Book: The 90 Day Book Accelerator for Conscious Leaders.

Head up + heart out,

~TNN

A Tara-Style Gift Guide: Gifts to Buy Yourself + My Stealth Announcement

This was the first year I’ve found myself actually using a bunch of gift guides. Bustle.com leveled up my whole gift-giving game. And it also inspired me to share a Tara-style gift guide with you as we round out the season.

gift guide

By Tara-style, I mean that this is a gift guide with a real twist: these are gifts you should give yourself. I can vouch for every single one of them personally, as these are the things I’ve given, received, created and received the most requests for this year. Spoiler alert: there’s a big one at the end.

Here goes:

1. Monogrammed Real Wood Laptop Cover by Toast

Here’s a picture of mine. This is the #1 thing people ask me to send them the link to.

It’s beautiful, durable and a great conversation starter. I’ve had people ask me about it in cities all around the world.

2. The Transformational Consumer: Fuel a Lifelong Love Affair with Your Customers by Helping Them Get Healthier, Wealthier and Wiser. by Me. 😀

This was by far the best book I wrote this year. Every time I read it I learn something. Har. But seriously, check the Amazon reviews. Five stars is no joke.

This one’s for you if you want to use your work to lift people up, regardless of what industry you work in. If you want to be a transformational leader. If you want to bring 100% of yourself to work. Or if you find my storytelling as hilarious as I do. 

3. Tara’s Healthy Hippie Kit. I’m a low-key hippie at heart, and I get asked all the time for links to the products that are part of my daily wellbeing regimens. Here are a few of my go-tos:

BLUE ICE Fermented Cod Liver Oil The reason I almost never get sick.

4th and Heart Himalayan Pink Salt Grass-Fed Ghee Butter Helps me live the Keto/Paleo/Intermittent Fasting life.

Schmidt’s Deodorant Stick, Lavender + Sage When we have a party, the whole room smells like this non-toxic, non-chemical, non-irritating, effective deodorant, because so many of my friends are now using it based on my rave reviews.

All Good Coconut Oil Skin Food Lemongrass I use a homemade version of this, but this one is, in the emoji-words of my friend Rebecca: 😙👌 (that’s the Italian chef kissing hand emoji, ICYMI).

Great Lakes Pasture-Raised Beef Collagen Peptides Anti-inflammatory pure collagen protein that boosts immune, healing, metabolism and even athletic recovery. It’s like drinking the best part of the bone broth without all the meat fat juice. And it’s only for the grown-and-sexy (GNS), by which I mean people who plan to age like fine wine.

Eliot’s Adult Nut Butters Honey Chipotle Peanut Butter Treat time: sounds crazy, but try it. This is not for sandwiches. This is GNS nut butter: it’s for apple slices or to be eaten by the spoon. Less than one gram of sugar, and it’s DELECTABLE.

4. Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map Planner. Daily Planner | Weekly Planner

The most powerful shift I’ve had recently in my creative and business life happened when I started making moves based on what made me feel expansive, joyous, impactful or all of the above.

This planner shifts the way you look at your time: not as a series of to-do tasks, but a series of initiatives based on your intention to feel a certain way.

If you like the sounds of this planner, you might appreciate this note I wrote a few weeks back: What are You Intending for this Season?

5. My book accelerator: The One Quarter Book. I’ve written 3 books, but while I was writing this last one I experienced a major shift. There was a very distinct pivot, where the book creation process transformed from a big looming project on a deadline into an expansive, exuberant, transformational experience for myself and my readers.

Inspired by this shift, this January I’ll be launching the first session of my latest passion project. It’s called The One Quarter Book —1QB—and it’s a 90-day book accelerator. 1QB is specifically for conscious leaders and creators who have a purpose-driven book inside that they want to get out in 90 days. The course itself starts January 29, 2018.

1QB includes:

  • 6 LIVE Video Masterclasses with me and a couple of guest teachers coaching you through my FlowStorm Writing Sequence, in real time
  • 3 LIVE Zoom Group Coaching Calls, featuring Outline and Chapter Tutorials and Q+A with me
  • Weekly writing sprint assignments and Daily Imperfect Action prompts
  • The exact Purpose-Driven Book Outline Template, Action Plan and Chapter Guides I used to create my Amazon 5-star book, The Transformational Consumer!
  • Lifetime access to all materials
  • Post-Accelerator Writing Workshop opportunities for collaborating with other Accelerator members.
  • A hard copy of The Transformational Consumer book, which we’ll reference at various times for writing samples.

1QB is entirely focused on helping you get the first draft of your purpose-driven book DONE in 90 days. The course will eventually be priced at $1000 to the public, but I’m offering it to you, my personal VIPs, for $750, to make it that much easier to give yourself this incredible gift. (Note: A three-payment plan is also available.) Register here: 1QB Early VIP Registration.

You are the first to know about this. I won’t even be making registration available to the public until our big marketing launch in January. But since we were talking about gifts to give yourself, and since writing my books has been the single most powerful level-up to my career and my life and even my own spiritual practice, I couldn’t leave this off the list.

If you want to get your book written in 2018, join me. Here’s the registration link: 1QB Early VIP Registration.

Head up + Heart out,

~TNN

Why I Just Quit the Best Career I Ever Had

I realized recently that my whole career in Silicon Valley has been a fraud.

Why I Just Quit the Best Career I Ever Had Hero

It’s been a delightful fraud, from my point of view. I’ve worked on some of the biggest media, real estate, wellness and consumer technology brands in the world. I’ve worked with the best and brightest, the most conscious and thoughtful teams and CEOs in this Valley.

I was an early employee at two startups that went on to storybook exits: Trulia and, more recently, MyFitnessPal.

And I’ve had the great fortune to work in a way I consider to be “on purpose:” I only work with brands and products I consider transformational, products that help people live healthier, wealthier and wiser lives.

I actually wrote the book on this. It’s called The Transformational Consumer, after a framework, I created to help leaders and companies reach and, more importantly, engage hundreds of millions of customers through the lens of behavior change, the lens of the undying human aspirations of the customers we serve to live better lives and be better people.

All of this has led me to my latest move: joining Lightspeed Venture Partners as an Entrepreneur in Residence. Here, I’m envisioning new ways of helping millions of others through the deepest, most illuminating segments of their transformational journeys.

Why I Just Quit the Best Career I Ever Had

What I have come to realize is that I’ve spent virtually all of my career doing what Steve Jobs called “head fakes”. I’ve been using transformational brands and products as cover, as a strategy for secretly answering people’s deeper, spiritual SOS calls. You want to lose weight, eh? Ok, I’ll help with that. (Enter MyFitnessPal.) But while I was building out that marketing team, heading up our world-class content program, and serving an executive team that grew that business from 45 to 100 million customers and an acquisition by Under Armour in the 2 years I was there, my team and I were slipping our customers all these secret messages.

Secret messages about radical self-acceptance. Secret messages about how deeply worthy of love they are. How deeply worthy we all are.

My dialogue with our customers in my mind went like this: “Behavior change hacks only work for a moment, and you can power them by a desire to change. But you can’t hate yourself skinny. You’ve got to have your basic psychological needs for love and worthiness met for this to be a long-term thing. So, our secret messages, they WILL help you lose weight. But they’ll also lay groundwork for deep well-being. For your deepest peace and joy.”

The older I get, the bolder I get and the more committed I become to bringing 100% of myself to work.

Exhibit A: I’ve been introducing myself on various stages as who and what I really am, in a personal branding/Daenerys Targaryen sort of way: Tara-Nicholle Nelson, Sexy Black Church Lady, Disseminator of Upliftment, Mother of Pugs.

Exhibit B: As a passion project, I’ve been running a series of 30 Day Writing Challenges for Conscious Leaders and Creators, taking a small community of incredible leaders on a journey of transformation and creative flow. The first Challenge had about 100 people. We’re on Challenge #4 now, and we have over 1500 people in this one, all collaborating as they put their souls on deck in their lives and their work.

Exhibit C: Now, as an EiR with Lightspeed, I am devoting my full attention and spirit to working directly on the issue I care about the most: the well-being of our souls. I am on a mission to help others feel the grace, ease, flow and limitless possibilities that I experience every single day, at scale.

And I’m kickstarting this whole project by doing what I do best: immersing in the real-world journeys of the real people I aim to serve as they seek to care for their souls, unlock meaning and purpose and bring the sacred into their everyday lives. My code-name for this project is SoulTour, and I’m in the midst of connecting with regular, everyday people and caretakers of soul all over the country, talking to them and participating in their communities and everyday experiences in an effort to spot the places where I can use content, digital and product to unlock.

I won’t lie: as someone who identifies as a progressive Christian and practitioner of various New Thought modalities, I started this project with the premise that the institution of church was mostly broken, and that God has a PR problem I’d like to help resolve.

But my earliest finding from SoulTour has been quite the opposite: most people still deeply want a relationship with the Divine, with their Source. But they are crafting their own practice and belief systems that work for them, rather than accepting some out-of-the-box pre-packaged kit of beliefs handed down by people who they feel know nothing about their lives.

They are Spiritual, and they are Seekers. Some identify as members of the Religious Left; many others as Spiritual-but-not-Religious. But they are all seeking.

These are my people.

I’m hearing a lot about the incredible appetite for inspiration and guidance for soulful living, and the epidemic levels of anxiety and internal chaos people perceive digital as triggering. But I’m hearing just as much about what is working for people: how they are cobbling together all matter of teachings, wisdom, practices from all manner of content sources, and how they are integrating mobile, content and offline experiences that serve them in the moments, seasons and journeys of their souls.

I’ve been using this weird quote I found online as a poetic sort of framework for my new work in service of our souls. I shared it, and my Beginner’s Guide to the Human Soul, in a TEDx Talk a few weeks ago [Audio of Talk here]. It goes like this:

“You are a ghost, driving a meat-covered skeleton made of stardust, riding a rock hurtling through space. Fear nothing.”

No one seems to know who originally said this. But I love this quote because it contains a through-line from soul and spirit, to our physical bodies, to the laws of the universe and back to us, to our emotions and actions.

No more head fakes. This is the next era of transformational business and leadership: to help people care for their brilliant, beautiful souls.

I’d love for you to join me. Here are a few ways you can get involved. 

1. Watch or listen to my Beginner’s Guide to the Human Soul.

Watch the VIDEO on YouTube: https://youtu.be/o4F3rQNJEPA

Download the AUDIO on SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/tara-nicholle-nelson/beginners-guide-to-the-human-soul/s-UxtBf

2. Take the SoulTour survey to share what you do to care for your soul and spirit, and help me understand what would help you live a more soulful life: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZBTN5LN

3. Join my email list if you want to get updates as SoulTour turns into a movement: Get on Tara’s Email List.

4. Join my next 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders and Creators, which starts in November. It’s free and we’ll be setting Vision for 2018. Register here: taranicholle.com/30-day-writing-challenge

7 Days of Writing Prompts to Unlock Your Untapped Potential

In the inaugural 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders, there were a handful of writing prompts that got the most vocal, most visceral responses from participants. What you’ll find below are a week’s worth of the most breakthrough-inducing prompts, the ones that most helped people detect and release their limiting factors.

7 Days of Writing Prompts to Unlock Your Untapped Potential

If you’re ready to unlock your own untapped potential and step more fully into who you were called to be, I believe these prompts will meet you right where you’re at. Try writing to one of these prompts each day for 7 days, ideally in order. Let me know how it goes!

Yours,
~T

 

Prompt of the Day [POD] #1: The Struggle Is Real. Maybe. Wait a minute. . .

Is the struggle actually real? Is that saying really true? Write about how you know it is or is not, using an example of a struggle you’ve experienced in your own life.

 

Prompt of the Day [POD] #2: Resistance is futile. And sometimes fatal.

In his truly life-changing book War of Art, Steven Pressfield talks about the mortal enemy of dreams and creative beings everywhere: Resistance.

His concept of Resistance is a negative energy that arises when we take “any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health or integrity.” He says the activities that most commonly spark Resistance are:

  1. “The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, or any creative art, however marginal or unconventional”
  2. Entrepreneurial ventures
  3. Diet and health regimens
  4. “Any program of spiritual advancement”
  5. “Any activity whose aim is tighter abdominals”
  6. “Any course or program designed to overcome an unwholesome habit or addiction”
  7. Education
  8. Any act of political, moral or ethical courage, including the decision to change for the better some unworthy pattern of thought or conduct in ourselves,”

and the list goes on.

All of these things trigger Resistance. And what does Resistance look like? Pressfield says that Resistance includes any/all of the following:

Prompt: When was the last time you tried to do something that triggered Resistance? What did that look like? How does it feel to acknowledge this? To feel Resistance captured in words?

 

POD #3: Our Unlived Lives

Hey, guys – here’s a provocative thought from Dr. Jung:

Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.

—Carl Gustav Jung

In War of Art, Pressfield says:

Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.

Is he right? Do you have an unlived life within you? What is it? What does that look like?

Do you feel like your unlived life influences your children? Did your parents’ unlived lives influence yours?

Whew.! I know that one was deep. But it’s also important. I promise to go a little lighter tomorrow. Just a little.

 

POD #4: The Lies We Tell (Ourselves)

I was out with a friend the other day, and she said “I’ve done so many spontaneous things in the last week. That’s crazy, because I’m never spontaneous.”

Couple days later I was out with another friend, who was talking about running. Another woman in the conversation asked whether my friend was a runner. She said, “I wouldn’t say that, but I run.” I said, “I think the definition of a runner is someone who runs.” And she went, “Hmm. Then I guess I’m a runner!”

These are pretty innocuous examples, but they surface some interesting questions you can take as lightly or as deeply as you’d like:

What are you telling yourself, about yourself, that’s just not true?

What aren’t you giving yourself credit for?

What do you think you want to be or do or have—physically, spiritually or even emotionally—that you in fact already are, already do, or already have?

 

Prompt of the Day [POD] #5: Untether it!

If you know me, you know that one of my absolute most treasured life guidebooks of all time is Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul. I own multiple copies, and keep them lent out in rotation all the time.

There’s a principle in The Untethered Soul that I think is very worth catching, if it resonates for you. If it does nothing but ignite a spark of interest in reading the book, I’ll feel like the mission has been accomplished. Here’s an excerpt, which starts with Singer talking about what he calls “a basic human tendency”:

“When something painful touches your body, you tend to pull away instinctively. You even do this with unpleasant smells and tastes. The fact is, your psyche does the same thing. If something disturbing touches it, its tendency is to withdraw, pull back and to protect itself. It does this with insecurity, jealousy, and any of the other vibrations we’ve been discussing. In essence, you “close,” which is simply an attempt to put a shield around your inner energy.

. . .

Sometimes you will go through deep experiences that bring up intense pain inside of you. If it is in there, it is going to come up. If you have any wisdom, you will leave it alone and not try to change your life to avoid it. You will just relax and give it the space it needs to release and burn through you. To feel great love and freedom, to find the presence of God within you, all of this stored pain must go.

. . .

Remember, if you close around something, you will be psychologically sensitive about that subject for the rest of your life. Because you stored it inside of you, you will be afraid that it will happen again. But if you relax instead of closing it will work its way through you. If you stay open, the blocked energy inside of you will release naturally, and you will not take on any more.”

Here’s the prompt:

Are there subjects about which the people who know you would say you are psychologically sensitive? Things people avoid bringing up around you? Are there even smells, words, sounds or objects that bring up very painful memories for you?

How intense is the pain? What do you do to avoid triggering it? What would it feel like if you could be free of it? Would you be willing to allow it to come up and burn itself out?

Whew! That one was no joke. Love ya’ll.

 

POD #6: What do you do that no longer serves you?

What do you do that no longer serves you? What are you getting out of doing it? Are you attached to that? What would it take for you to release it?

And who would you be, if you released it?

 

POD #7: Handling Unfinished Business

One of the best gifts I’ve received from therapy and my daily writing practice has been the release from resentment and hurt from the past. Charlotte Kasl writes what I know, from experience is true: “as we feel the lightness that comes from clearing the air with others, we gain the courage to continue.”

I’d even go further and say that once you operate in what I like to call the free-and-clear, you can’t really turn back. You start to realize that unresolved resentments and conflicts take up residence in your body and your spirit, and you get to a place where you literally cannot tolerate unfinished business. The pain of dishonesty or of avoiding the hurt of dealing with unresolved messes becomes much greater than the pain of facing it and working things through.

Kasl writes: “to become aware of unfinished business in your life, ask yourself the following five questions.”

Here’s the prompt:

  1. Who comes to mind when I think of unresolved grief, hurt, or pain?
  2. To whom do I need to apologize?
  3. With whom do I need to talk over conflict and seek some form of resolution?
  4. To whom do I need to send thanks?
  5. What are the conclusions I’ve made about myself that relate to these situations?

Source: If the Buddha Dated: A Handbook for Finding Love on a Spiritual Path, by Charlotte Kasl.

Wonderful Servants and Terrible Masters

Long ago, I adopted the belief that money is a wonderful servant and a terrible master.

This helped un-click a lot of the deep-down, limiting beliefs I held about money, wealth and business. It also helped me learn how to charge an appropriate price for my work and empowered me to make bold career moves that were driven by my life’s purpose, not by the money on the table.

To my surprise, taking the role of money down a notch and prioritizing purpose led me to levels of prosperity and abundance I’d never before imagined.  

More on that here: Why I Quit the Best Job I Ever Had

These days, I’m working with a similar/parallel belief shift around technology and social media. Like money, technology is a wonderful servant and a terrible master. Facebook can, in fact, ruin your life, but only if you let it run your life. Email will make you crazy, too, if you let it. But these tools, and your smartphone and all the rest, have unlocked incredible levels of progress, connectedness and productivity for all of humanity as well. And they can continue to, so long as we keep them in their place as servants, and never let them become the boss of us.

What are the things in your world that cause you stress or you dread dealing with, but that you must deal with on an everyday basis? Are there any of them you are letting be the boss of you, instead of you mastering them?

Does money drive your decisions? Does technology dictate how you spend your time? Does your mind and its chatter run your life, or do you put your mind to its highest and best use?

Fill in the blank: In my life, ________________________ is a wonderful servant, and a terrible master.

And more importantly: how might your life look differently if you were able to live the above statement out?

P.S.: NEW BOOK ALERT – My new book, The Transformational Consumer: Fuel a Lifelong Love Affair with Your Customers by Helping Them Get Healthier, Wealthier, and Wiser, is available for pre-order on Amazon NOW! Order it and email your receipt to tara at transformationalconsumer dot com to receive bonuses like my Content Strategy and Customer Journey Mapping Templates. 

 

#DeleteUber and #DownloadLyft: Manifesto Marketing in the Time of Trump

Understatement alert: it’s been an eventful 11 days since the Inauguration. This weekend’s Executive Order (EO) on immigration sparked righteous outrage and alarm at the order’s unabashed defiance of the Constitution, compassion, order and the values on which America was founded.

#DeleteUber and #DownloadLyft: Manifesto Marketing in the Time of Trump

But the EO also sparked a brand war, epicentered at JFK airport. There, the New York Taxi Workers’ Alliance organized a one-hour cab strike, both because the 19,000 members of the Alliance are largely Muslim and largely immigrants, and to express their solidarity with those protesting the ban.

Uber reacted swiftly, announcing that despite the spike in demand, they would get rid of surge pricing for cars serving JFK.

The company says it was trying to avoid the appearance of profiting from the immigration ban and resulting protests, as it has been accused of profiting from natural disasters and other strikes in the past.

But the Internet interpreted the Uber announcement differently. Many viewed it as Uber’s effort to break the cab drivers’ strike. Within hours, the hashtag #DeleteUber took off. One of the earliest tweets with this hashtag was retweeted over 23,000 times last weekend, and also included the hashtag #DownloadLyft.

The response of Uber’s little-guy competitor, Lyft, to the immigration ban took a different course. The company sent out an email to customers making a pledge of $1 million over 4 years to the ACLU and stating boldly that “We stand firmly against [Trump’s] actions, and will not be silent on issues that threaten the values of our community.

Lyft started the weekend at #39 in the iTunes App Store. By the end of the weekend, Lyft was in the top 10. This was the first time Lyft has ever surpassed Uber for downloads. Ever.

Manifesto marketing is real and it really “works.” But it is not a stunt. Some have accused Lyft of using the opportunity of Uber’s misstep to deploy the ACLU pledge as a “marketing stunt.”

It is marketing. But it is not a stunt.

The umbrella of marketing encompasses any and every communication or interaction between a company and its customers, which this clearly was. But calling it a stunt implies that it was a one-off project cooked up by the marketing team to drive a quick hit of increased business.

This was not that. This is what I call Manifesto Marketing in my new book, The Transformational Consumer: Fuel a Lifelong Love Affair With Your Customers By Helping Them Get Healthier, Wealthier and Wiser (March 1, 2017; Berrett-Koehler Publishers).  Manifesto Marketing is a phenomenon that takes place when a business makes a bold statement about their motivations, values and beliefs outside the scope of the product they actually sell or the industry they operate in. Manifesto Marketing is a way that companies signal what they stand for to consumers who share those values. Manifesto Marketing works, in that it magnetically creates a loyal tribe of a company and its customers around an issue. But it is not a one-off thing.

Manifesto Marketing is risky, and real. (Witness: the boycotts of Target after its support of LGBT communities and issues.)

Lyft’s ACLU pledge is Manifesto Marketing because Lyft didn’t have to say anything on this matter. And they still would have probably seen a bump from #deleteUber. But they took the risk.

This is Manifesto Marketing, vs. a marketing stunt, because Lyft didn’t do any of the things it would have done if it were trying to optimize this announcement for downloads. Lyft didn’t send their ACLU pledge first to TechCrunch or the New York Times. It sent it to existing customers. [Side note: Uber eventually pledged to create a $3 million defense fund for their own immigrant drivers. Consumers didn’t seem to notice too much.]

This is Manifesto Marketing because it’s bold and principled. It was not designed with the first objective of driving sales or business. Google’s statement on the EO said essentially that Google disliked the impact of the ban on Google’s employees. Mark Zuckerberg praised immigrants in general, but then said simply that he was “concerned” about the impact and direction of the EO.

Consider this: Mark Zuckerberg has very publicly backed the Black Lives Matter movement, but the most he, the CEO of behemoth Facebook, was willing to say on the EO is that it he’s “concerned”. Having been on the executive team of a tech company, I can beyond doubt assure you that in no way did the marketing team at Lyft unilaterally spin up such a bold statement of disapproval of the EO and a $1 million donation to the ACLU for PR purposes alone.

The Lyft statement and pledge is Manifesto Marketing because it took the risks inherent in taking the stand. It risked losing customers that disagree, on principle, with the statement of values it made. This risk is real; Starbucks was the subject of a boycott after pledging to employ 10,000 refugees. And it made the bold statement anyway, much bolder and more clearly than companies like Google and Facebook were willing to make.

TREND: Spotted – Customers and employees will increasingly cry out for companies to state what they stand for. Simon Sinek says that people don’t buy what you sell, they buy WHY you sell it. I’d take this way further: people buy WHY you sell it, they buy HOW you sell it, they also buy WHAT you believe and hold dear and they also buy HOW you operate as a corporate citizen of this country, of our world.

I distill consumer insights for a living. In particular, I focus on helping companies design their marketing, content and products to fulfill the demands of a massive, growing customer segment I call The Transformational Consumer. These people comprise over 50% of the American consumer base, and they spend over $4 trillion a year in their efforts to live healthier, wealthier, wiser lives. Their “wealthier” aspiration includes the desire to be ever-better stewards of the money they spend, and “wiser” encompasses their effort to become more fully actualized humans, more conscious citizens of the world.

I spent a good chunk of last weekend doing what I do, observing the trends and natural language patterns of people around the web as they reacted to the EO and to these companies’ actions.

So let me sound the alarm to executives and entrepreneurs: consumers and especially Transformational Consumers, will increasingly demand and require companies to take a stand on these major cultural and political issues, in addition to providing truly transformational products and services, in exchange for their loyalty and brand love.

Think about this: only 26% of the voting American public actually voted for President Trump. Americans feel a dramatic leadership vacuum right now. They are looking for how to live out their own version of activism in these times, which is why over a million of them showed up to march over inauguration weekend. They are looking to connect with the other people and personalities that also stand for what they see as pure and sacred, which is why you see such viral spread of the comments by Elizabeth Warren, Michael Moore, now-Former President Obama and Facebook communities like Pantsuit Nation.

And they are looking for the business and tech leaders to speak on these issues, too, from the heroic perches we’ve placed them, as a culture. This outcry may seem misplaced or scary, but it also creates an opportunity to connect and engage with customers about something bigger than any product or brand. That’s what consumers want and need right now. The companies that give it to them, like Lyft did this weekend, will reap the benefits.

You can’t build a truly transformational company without taking a stand. By definition, transformational companies and transformational leaders use their products, their services and their presence in the marketplace to change the way we live and operate as a society. This is why they exist and how they show up in the world: to spot things that need change, and then to facilitate that change.

You can’t be bold, expressive and flow freely in one area, and be shutting down or repressing yourself in another area; the seams will burst. And the same goes for companies: if you claim that your company is all about innovating to create needed change, the only way to optimize for that objective is to integrate bold statements and actions in favor of a conscious world deeply into your company’s internal and external messages.

This is part of why employee disengagement is so rampant. most companies are either not transformational at all, or are hypocritical in giving lip service to being “disruptive”. Gartner says that over 70% of American employees rank somewhere on the disengagement spectrum between bored and actively, toxically hateful about their work and their employer. Transformational Consumers are employees, too, and they are tired of working *just* to make a big, rich company bigger and richer. They want to work for a company that is working on a problem bigger than that, and for companies that stand for more than just creating another revenue-generating widget.

The long game of Manifesto Marketing I had one more major insight while doing online listening this weekend to analyze consumer natural language patterns and conversations around this real-time battle between brands and values: Manifesto Marketing is a long game, and a cumulative one.

Clearly, this weekend was a dramatic moment in time, for both Uber and Lyft (and the world, for that matter). But on social media, many who followed the rallying cry to #deleteUber said that this weekend was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back for them. They expressed that they had been increasingly concerned about what they saw as a pattern of bad behavior by the company and its CEO.

This weekend was just the nail in the coffin.

And the opposite was true, too. The conversation around the #downloadLyft hashtag includes much chatter about Lyft’s pledge, but also their general reputation for treating drivers well and, namely, better than Uber treats theres.

The most powerful Manifesto Marketing doesn’t happen in a moment. It’s an ongoing cadence, an accumulation of statements, actions and messages, internally and externally, over time. Everything communicates. Everything. Transformational Consumers are watching what you say and what you do, as a company, all the time. And they lean, in general, toward being pretty forgiving of the companies that make truly transformational products, as many had been with Uber before the weekend.

They are forgiving. Until they’re not.

Trust is earned in drips and lost in buckets, the old adage goes. It turns out that so are brand love, loyalty, downloads and dollars.

ABOUT: Tara-Nicholle Nelson is the author of The Transformational Consumer: Fuel a Lifelong Love Affair With Customers By Helping Them Get Healthier, Wealthier and Wiser. She is the CEO of TCI, a marketing, content strategy and leadership development firm that creates transformational experiences for conscious leaders, businesses + customers.

Join her newsletter or her next 30 Day Challenge for Conscious Leaders at taranicholle.com.

Tara is the former VP, Marketing for MyFitnessPal and Under Armour Connected Fitness. She has been featured in The New York Times and was recently named the #1 woman Silicon Valley tech companies should be naming to their boards by Business Insider.

The Four Agreements That Break Through Fear and Restore Your Energy [30 Day Writing Challenge, Day 23]

I love this term I learned from Dr. Henry Cloud: decathexis. I’d never heard it anywhere before, and have never heard it since, but it’s a powerful concept that is now a part of the way I experience life.

The Four Agreements That Break Through Fear and Restore Your Energy

Cathexis is the injection, the investment, of your time, energy, money or other resources into a relationship, a project, or an initiative. Into anything, really. 

Decathexis is that recoup, that reclamation, that restoration of that time, energy, money or resources that comes back to you when you withdraw your attention from a project or relationship, when you reprioritize it, or when you flat-out quit it entirely.

I’ve written before about how, when I want to work on a big project or prioritize something in my life, I use decathexis as a tool for finding the energy, time or money I need. I get intentional about what I can stop doing, stop it, feel the swoosh of decathexis restoring the resources back to me, then I intentionally apply them to the other things I want to focus on. 

But in this season of my life, I’m very aware that decathexis is not just for projects and people. It happens with beliefs, too. The beliefs that come from fear are generally very, very energy-depleting. The love-based beliefs, on the other hand, are very energizing. Even when they require you to expend a lot of energy and to take a lot of action, the beliefs and the resulting actions tend to churn up more energy than they require. The energy around love-based beliefs is self-renewing.

Many of our cultural beliefs, family beliefs and even self-talk beliefs are driven by fear. A wise man named don Miguel Ruiz has crafted a set of Four Agreements that help us break fear-based beliefs and, in the process, tap into incredible stores of energy, joy and enthusiasm for each other and for life. 

The First Agreement is to be impeccable with your word. That means to do what you say you will do, but much more importantly, it means to respect the power of your words, to create life or death and destruction. Once you realize how powerful your word is, the First Agreement means to only use your words in the direction of love, for yourself and for others. 

don Ruiz says this Agreement is the most important one, and the hardest to follow. If you can practice it consistently, though, it has the power to break the spells and dramas that the lies of fear and culture create around our lives. 

The Second Agreement is to never make assumptions. I think “never” is extreme, as the Four Agreements are aspirational, and require constant, lifelong practice. So many interpersonal dramas arise from our assumptions about what the other person meant, or what must be going on in their heads or their minds. The Second Agreement is a mandate to practice clear communication, never guessing at what someone else thinks and, instead, asking as many questions as we need to, in every situation, in order to have as clear a communication as possible.

Awhile back, I came to believe that it’s my own job in this life, first and foremost, to attend to and manage my own feelings and life. I can never 100% know what someone else thinks and feels. And vice versa. My job is to manage my own feelings and beliefs, and to get and stay clear on the sort of person I want to be in this life. Then, my job is to act in ways I believe will lift the people in my life up without feeling responsible or trying to control what any other being, human or canine, thinks, feels or does. 

The Third Agreement is to take nothing personally; nothing. But the principle here requires first that you understand this: nothing anyone else does is about you. Ever. We are all living our own dreams based on our own history and our own Agreements, internal and external. However, usually when someone expresses a nice opinion of us, we get elated. And when they criticize us, we get upset. A stunning share of human drama arises when we allow others’ opinions of us to determine how we feel. 

The final, and Fourth, Agreement is simple: to always do your best. The upshot of this one is that making the commitment to do your best, in every situation, is the single most powerful way to eliminate regret in your life, another fear-based, energy-zapping emotion. It’s also essential to eliminating another source of drama: comparing yourself to others. Key to realizing the benefits of this Agreement is accepting the reality that your best will change from day to day. Your best when you’re sick, for example, is likely to be very different from your best when you’re in fine mettle.

Today is a case in point for me, for the power of the Fourth Agreement. I’ve committed to publishing every day for 30 days, so I am. I haven’t stockpiled any posts or cheated in any other way; every post I’m publishing this 30 days is a post I wrote on the day I published it. But today is the very, very rare day that I’m actually sick. Burn-ey sore throat, doctor’s visit, the whole nine. So this post won’t be the post in which I share my richest examples and insights around the Four Agreements. What I’m doing actually is noticing the contrast between how I feel today and how I feel the vast majority of the time, and being grateful for that contrast. But I am also doing my best for today, and posting this post is that best, for today.

Tomorrow will be a whole new day. And my best then will be a different best.

P.S.: I issued a 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders a few weeks back, and over 150 brilliant souls signed up! I decided to take the Challenge right along with them, and it’s been a profound journey for many of us. Most people are journaling or free-writing every day, privately. I wrote this post on Day 23 of the Challenge. I’ll be doing another writing Challenge in January; click here to get on the list for the January Challenge.

What I Shed This Year [30 Day Writing Challenge, Day 13]

Today is my birthday. My forty-first birthday. I am so intensely grateful right now. I have talked a lot about how this season in my life has been one of unfurling, releasing, and stripping back to the pure power and brilliance at my center. (It’s really at all of our center.) This has been a season of transcendence, of rising above all sort of historical limitations and past dramas and just even recent levels.

I usually have a sort of high-minded, spirit-filled imagery and vocabulary around this work and play and journey, but I recently saw a quote that does an extraordinary job of articulating what I’ve been experiencing. It’s a quote from a character from the Toni Morrison book, Song of Solomon. The character, Guitar, explains to another character, Milkman, why a peacock can’t fly any better than a chicken.

“Too much tail. All that jewelry weighs it down. Like vanity. Can’t nobody fly with all that shit. Wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”

This. This perfectly conveys how I came to be able to do so much flying in my life and my work this year. I started shedding the shit that weighed me down. I didn’t slam it down or wrench it off. At 41, I’ve learned to release and to shed. Here are some of the things I shed this year.

I shed a lot of polish. I shed invulnerability. I shed persona. I slowly started to show up as 100% of who I am in more and more and more areas of my life. I revealed a lot of my journey, not just the endpoint. I opened up my soul in a big, big way.

I shed perfectionism. I shed a lot of comparison. I realized not just logically, but deep in my spirit, I had a shift

I shed a lot of hesitation about doing this. I realized that another thing Anne Lamott

I shed a lot of hesitation, period. I shed hesitation around fully, completely adoring myself, and my beautiful world and life. I shed hesitation about acknowledging how much mastery I’ve developed over my experience of this world. I shed the hesitation to fully appreciate my own magnificence and worthiness. I received these things. Fully. Without hesitation. Regardless of circumstances. I practice this every single day.

I shed “apologetic”. I more and more, every day, am able to receive the privileges of my divine inheritance, of my divine intelligence, of my beautiful life and time, without apology, without resistance.

I shed a few tears, and that was beautiful, because I’ve always been afraid of feeling sad. This year I was not. And what freedom that is, to be able to let all sorts of emotions come up, flow through, and flow out, without creating new spiritual sticking points or touchiness or triggers.

I shed even more conformity than I already had. I shed the need to participate in a bunch of cultural and societal nonsense.

I shed a lot of what my therapist would call outdated operating systems. It was work, but I released some stuff that had served me, had served my family, even, for generations, but was no longer serving me now. I shed grievance after grievance after grievance. I shed unlove. I shed some beliefs that were holding me apart from what I want and deserve. I shed some things I’d been holding to, literally since childhood.

I shed the habit of occasionally, but grandly, getting in my own way, in a big way. I shed the need to delude myself that it’s even possible to know 100% how things would come out before I do them. (Ha!) I shed the need to have any reason to do things other than that I love them, and enjoy them and find them spiritually rewarding.

I shed fogginess. I received so much clarity.

I shed layers. SO many layers. Layers of “should”. Layers of encumbrance. I realized what I’m here to do, and then I contradicted myself for awhile, trying to do things I thought were smart or more legitimate. But I’ve shed a lot of that, and I’m now in a space of attunement and alignment with what I want to do, what I’m great at doing, what people receive great value from. What I receive great joy from doing.

This year, I shed the need to figure everything out, to force things to happen, to make things happen, to do nose to grindstone, to try so so hard. To do machinations, to use a friend’s favorite word. I realized that the best things in my life were certainly effortful, but effortful in an easeful, expansive way. In a way of allowing things to happen.

I shed a lot of impatience.

I had a lot of fun.

And I’m about to have way more. Way. Join me!

XO
~T

What is Your Real Limiting Factor? [30 Day Writing Challenge, Day 12]

Working out is a core part of who I am and what I do. I’ve done some version of almost every workout you can imagine, and I’ve worked out all over the world. I recently spent an evening boxing with a bunch of teenagers in Belgium, and I’m delighted to say I was pulled to the front of the class! (That showed them. Actually, I’m pretty sure they didn’t care, but I was extremely impressed with myself.)

So when I was asked recently to recall my favorite workout ever, I took the question very, very seriously. But it didn’t take long for me to come up with the answer.

I could actually visualize the day, the performance boot camp, at a training studio near my home.

I could see in my mind’s eye the instructor, a physical therapist with a buzz cut, military straight posture, and a mischievous grin that spread across his face as he stood before the ten of us participants and announced the theme of the day’s workout:

“The Construction and Destruction of Civilization.”

“Oh boy,” I whispered under my breath, with equal parts excitement and concern.

The instructor, Brian, briefed us on each station of the circuit as he walked around the former bank parking lot that had been retrofitted with monkey bars, 30 pound sandbags, kettlebells and a tractor tire. “At station one,” he said, “you’ll haul each of these sandbags up this set of stairs. At station two, you’ll continue ‘construction’ by doing the Turkish getup with the kettlebell,” he went on, referring to a crowd-pleasing exercise in which a single repetition involves 13 or 14 steps, depending on who you ask.

“Then, you’ll cross the timeline of history on the monkey bars, at the next station. And at station four, you’ll continue that journey by doing walking lunges with the kettlebell weight of your choice. You following me, guys? Great! The next station will be a run from here to the rainbow sherbet colored house at the end of the block and back. And then the final two stations will destroy civilization, with sledgehammer swings to the tire, first on the right side, then on the left.”

“Hey Brian,” I shouted out, trying to figure out which mental strategy I’d need to use to do my best on this drill, “how long will we spend at each station?”

“That’s the best part!” he replied, eyes gleaming. “These stations are not for time. The person who runs to the rainbow sherbet house is your time limiting factor. Everyone else will keep doing what they’re doing until that person runs down and back.”

At this, a murmur passed through our ranks – a former college track star, a current pro basketball player, two zero bodyfat soccer Mom types, a couple recovering Crossfitters and me, a marketing consultant – as we gave each other looks of encouragement and, well, threat.

The Power of Understanding Your Limiting Factor

Now, you might not be familiar with the concept of a “limiting factor”, so let’s pause here for just a moment. In any scientific discipline, the limiting factor is the single variable that most limits, slows or constrains an organism’s growth or a system’s other activities. For example, until the Agricultural Revolution, food was the limiting factor on human population growth.

You can think of the limiting factor as that thing which most constrains or slows something down. So in our boot camp, the rate of that one person’s run would keep everyone else climbing the stairs, lunging, or swinging the sledgehammer until they made it to the sherbet house and back. The runner’s pace, then, would be the limiting factor for the time each station would last, for all of us.

At a glance, it seems like the limiting factor of any system would be its weakness, its most vulnerable point. But the truth is that there is great strength hidden within the knowledge of any system’s limiting factor. If you can pinpoint the limiting factor of any system, then you can focus on understanding and solving for that constraint, unlocking or expanding it.

If you want to increase the capacity of any organism, system, business or even person to grow, you must find its limiting factor and unconstrain it. Therein lies the key to unlimiting anything.

The challenge is that the more moving parts there are to a system, the less obvious it is which of them is the true limiting factor. The easier it is to get distracted and focus on the wrong thing.

For example, on that Construction/Destruction boot camp course, most people assumed that the speed of the runner was the limiting factor, and that there’s not much any of us could change about that. But I’d worked out with Brian many times, and I knew better. Just the preceding week, in fact, we non-runners had worked ourselves to exhaustion waiting on a newbie boot camper who, it turned out, had run to the wrong house: a house a mile away, vs. the quarter-mile distance to and from the legitimate sherbet house.

So that day, I pulled out my secret weapon and shared it with my colleagues: the street number of the house we were supposed to be running to and from.

Understand the true limiting factor of a system, and you can un-limit anything.

The more I grow and experience in this life, the more I choose to invest my time, money and energy into things that remove limiting factors off my life, myself as a person, my companies, my finances, my skills and my relationships. Find the limitation, remove it. Find it, remove it.

Doing this systematically, over and over again, increases our capacity for life, for living, for fulfillment and for joy. It creates growth and expands possibilities. If and when you do it right, this becomes a game. It’s still hard, but this is a fun way to grow, because you’re not so fixated on a specific factual outcome. Building capacity and removing limits becomes the sport of the day. It’s not hard and cranky and struggle and grindy. The name of the game is remove limits, increase capacity and see what’s next, then make that the sport of the day.

The thing is, you have to make sure you’re focused on the true limiting factors. A lot of times we think our limitations are our circumstances: the boss that won’t pay us what we deserve, our bills, our lack of savings, our medical condition, or the fact that we have kids or an underwater house that keeps us in a place we’d rather not be. I’ve found that our circumstances are almost never our true limiting factors. Our real limitations are most often our outlook, skills,  mindset, or inability to tune in, with clarity, to what we’re really here to do.

At times I’ve focused on healing my emotional wounds, because I saw the fact that I was often triggered and tended to isolate myself as my biggest limits. Once, I had to focus on my claustrophobia, as it was stopping me from doing things in my life I wanted and needed to do. At other times, I’ve focused on consistency as the limiting factor I needed to remove. I’ve working on eliminating relationship patterns like not asking for what I need, being overly self-reliant or trying to save the world, when they were limiting my love and ease and joy.

Other times, my limiting factor has been much more concrete: my foot speed, my ability to get a full night’s sleep, or my acid reflux. Focus on it, remove and release it. Move right on along.

Sometimes I’ve worked on my strategy skills, or on the way I communicate or on thickening my skin to some things and becoming more transparent about others. I find that the limiting factors tend to show up in the form of themes in the feedback that I hear from others or the things I want to do or build that don’t work, over and over again, until I opt-out of that limiting factor. And sometimes that opt-out is instant. Other times, it takes years.

You know by now that I see my two dogs as my teachers. I’ll close with a lesson I learned from them years ago, when they were tiny baby puppies, small enough to hold them both in my two palms. I got the girls when they were six weeks old and had them potty trained in another two weeks, after an intense program I’d cobbled together from my online research. As soon as they ate, they went outside, and didn’t come back in until I’d counted two #1s and two #2s.

I noticed that when the girls started walking about in little manic circles, it was a sign they needed to and were about to go #2. This was a life lesson to me: when you get stuck or feel like you’re going around in circles, it might be time to eliminate something. In my experience, what you’re ready to eliminate in those stuck-circling times is often your limiting factor. Have fun!