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Feeling the Fear and Doing it Anyway

20 Jun

 

Fear is only as deep as the mind allows –Japanese Proverb

 

On Saturday I did something a little out of character. I went to Oprah’s casting call for her new tv network. I had seen the casting call information the week before I left for the Bahamas and thought to myself that it would be an interesting experience. So I filled out my application, I thought about my pitch and I watched some of the online pitches in preparation. Then on Friday night something happened. Fear set in. No, Fear moved in and quickly unpacked Self Doubt and Uncertainty. I started thinking of all the reasons I shouldn’t go to the casting call. “I’m kinda tired and it’s a far drive” “There’s going to be thousands of people there, I’ll never make the cut” “My pitch is way too generic” “I have nothing to offer” “I’m too young/inexperienced/new to do this” “This was a silly idea, who do I think I am?” The list went on and on and on. By midnight I had worked myself into a little tizzy and was now feeling completely unsure about just about everything in my life. I knew I had to reel myself back in and firmly told myself that I was going to the call and that it would be fine. I set my alarm and went to bed.

I am so happy that I forced myself through my self-doubt and went. It was a fun and exhilarating experience. We pitched our ideas in groups of 12 so there was this great sense of camraderie. Once our group was done several of my pitch-mates declared that we were definitely the best group and that we would all most certainly be called back the next day. I made lots of new Twitter buddies and learned of lots of cool businesses and blogs. I was incredibly nervous during my pitch and am still amazed I didn’t go totally blank or spaz midway through it. I was defnitely scared but once I was done I felt a huge wave of relief and accomplishment. And none of the terrible things I had envisioned happening happened.

On the drive back home, I couldn’t help feeling proud of myself. Maybe I’d get a call back, maybe I wouldn’t (I didn’t.) But what was important to me was that I went. I could have easily made an excuse when my alarm rang and crawled back into bed. I could have let my self-doubt set in permanently and just continued on my way. But then how would I know what I was capable of doing? When we push through our fears and doubt we stretch our limits and create new boundaries for ourselves. When we feel that fear and we do it anyway, we grow. And that’s what life is all about, right?

Now it’s your turn: What have you done lately that has completely pushed your limits? When is the last time your felt the fear and did it anyway? I’d love to hear about it!

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Inspiration Following a Slump

21 Apr

I have been having one of those weeks. You know what I’m talking about, right? One of those weeks where the whole world seems stacked against you. Nothing seems to go as planned and you’re spit out at the end of the week feeling lost, frustrated and defeated. That is exactly how I’ve been feeling – and it’s only Wednesday.

What’s been frustrating me is that I feel held hostage by my day job. My day job is not a job I particularly enjoy – it’s not terrible but I’m also not jumping out of bed to get there each day. However it has been serving a purpose. It’s all a part of my plan to stockpile enough money while I concentrate on the things that do make me jump out of bed each day. It’s a means to an ends. But lately, it’s been getting increasingly more difficult for me to see it as just that. I’m getting more frustrated with the mindless tasks, I’m having a harder time getting excited about my job and I’m having to literally drag myself out of bed each morning. I’m hitting a wall. And not a plush carpeted wall (do they still make those?) A brick one. The worst thing is that my frustration is causing me to lose focus on the big picture. I’m often so exhausted when I get home that I have a hard time working on the projects I do enjoy.

I had been feeling pretty crappy and then I read this post by Chris Guilleau, Your Backup Plan is Your Plan, in which he writes that sometimes having a back-up plan interferes with your Plan A. And it struck me – I had been focusing entirely too much on my back-up plan. I was allowing my Plan B to become my Plan Everything. I have this safety net which is allowing me to be safe and not be bold and not take risks and not be hungry for new opportunities. Quite frankly I feel like I’ve gotten lazy. And that’s the worst thing. I can’t sit here on my bloggy soapbox and tell you all to live out loud and be adventurous if I’m not doing it myself.

So no, I’m not going to quit my day job tomorrow. But what I am going to do is focus on my end goal, stick to my plan and be aggressive about what needs to be done to get there. It’s time for me to start walking my talk. It’s time for me to start kicking some ass.

Until Next Time,

Nailah

 

The Funny Thing About Passion

18 Apr

 

On the weary ride back from Vegas last weekend, we were all chatting about my youngest niece who is a senior in high school and beginning to get all of her acceptance letters back from colleges. My niece is a budding fashionista and has decided to pair her love for fashion with a business degree. Several times, me or my sister remarked on how creative she is and how fashion is definitely her thing, her passion. To which, my oldest niece who is 20 exclaimed, “What about me? Everyone has a one word answer to sum up what she’s good at. What’s mine?”

You see, while my younger niece has a really specific passion, my older niece is a Rainbow person and is great at a variety of things. And like a lot of Rainbow people, she is taking for granted a lot of the things she is great at and not really counting them as concrete skills. For example, she’s always been a social butterfly. She can flit easily between groups of people, adapts ridiculously well to change and is phenomenal at connecting others with the person or thing that they need. She’s looked to as the planner for her group and oftentimes plans grind to a halt when she goes out of town. She’s always been one of the kindest people I know and her desire to help people is what drives her in life. None of those things come easily to everyone and I know a lot of people who would crave her specific abilities. But to her none of this seemed like a specific skill or passion.

I can completely understand where she’s coming from. I’d always envied my friends whose passions were clear cut. Within my circle of friends, we all know who the techie genius is or who the profound writer is or who to hit up if you need someone to give a speech. I never felt like my passions or skills were specific enough. Sure I loved helping people, but that’s not really a skill, right? I think I’m good at cheering people up but that’s a preposterous thing to list as a passion, isn’t it? What I and my oldest niece were overlooking was that helping people or giving people a pep talk or planning your group’s social calendar doesn’t come easy to everyone. And that’s precisely what a skill is – something that you do with ease that not everyone else can handle.

When it comes down to it, it’s important to realize that we’re all different. Some of us are super specialized in our skills while others are Rainbow people and have a multitude of seemingly unrelated passions. I know for me one of the hardest parts of my quarter-life crisis was letting go of the notion that the things I was good at weren’t actually skills but just “nice-to-haves.” For me, realizing that helping people actually was something I could make a living from was ground-breaking. And learning that others valued my set of traits – no matter  how varied – was also important in helping me to begin chipping away at my quarter-life crisis.

Is this something that is holding you back? Are you currently taking one of your traits for granted? And I’m curious for all you specialized skills people, are you envious of the rainbow people? Rainbow people, do you wish you were more like the specialized people?

And aren’t I lucky to have two fabulously talented nieces? 😉

Until Next Time,

Nailah

 

Fake It ‘Til You Make It!

25 Mar

“Act as though you know what you are doing, and success will follow”

 

I started a natural bath & body company in March of 2008. I had no clue what I was getting myself into. Of course, being the analytical person that I am, I did oodles upon oodles of research prior to launching. I took entrepreneurship courses and I signed up for Ladies who Launch. But I still faced a tremendous learning curve when it came to not only manufacturing a product line but also the day to day aspects of running a business. Oftentimes I was faced with issues or questions that I had never dreamed of confronting, so I did the only thing I could think of doing – I faked it. I pretended that I was the most knowledgeable business person, I answered beauty questions with the best of them, I presented at craft fairs and trade shows. On the outside I was a cool and collected bath & body manufacturer. On the inside, I felt like a fraud. I thought, surely one of these people is going to call me out for the imposter that I am; there’s no way I can continue to get away with this! Eventually an amazing thing happened. I realized I was faking it much less. As time went on, I actually did know what I was talking about. I found myself answering questions in natural product forums rather than frantically asking them. I knew my sh*t.

No matter how much research and brainstorming you do prior to starting something new, there will always be things you don’t know. Heck, I’ll venture to say there will be a whole lot of things you don’t know.  Eventually you just have to jump in and get your hands – and your feet and your face – dirty. And that means, yes, you’re going to have to fake it a little bit ‘til you make it. But don’t worry about it; everyone else is faking it too, hoping that they don’t get found out. Pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones is what makes starting a new project exciting. Once you do arrive as an expert, it’ll feel unbelievable to look back on the days when you had no idea what you were talking about and see just how far you’ve come.

Have you ever faked it ‘til you made it? How did it feel when you realize you no longer had to fake it anymore?

Until Next Time,

Nailah



How to Combat Your Fears

4 Mar

“The key to change… is to let go of fear.” –Roseanne Cash

I’m not a big fan of flying. Actually, I’ll be specific, I hate take-offs. In recent years, I’ve become so anxious about take-offs that I become quiet and skittish hours before a flight. If I have an early morning flight, I have trouble sleeping. If I have a flight in the evening, I can’t concentrate on simple tasks during the day. My fear of flying (or take-offs) is just like any other irrational fear, it’s been put in place as a protective mechanism of some sort. My sub-conscious reasons that by pumping out anxiety about take-offs, I’d probably hesitate to travel, keeping me safe and sound on the ground. But if I had listened to my sub-conscious I would have missed countless Christmases, weddings, adventures and graduations. Basically I would have missed out on life. While fears are often put in place to protect us in some way, it’s important that we figure out ways to confront the fear and move past it, if not we run the risk on missing out on life. Here are four tips for tackling your fears – whether they are big or small.

  1. Identify your fear – in order to properly confront a fear, you have to first understand what it is and why it’s there. Do you constantly doubt your talents and feel you’re not good enough? Your fear of taking risks may be protecting you from rejection and failure. By not trying, you’ll never get rejected, right?
  2. Prepare for the fear – a large part of my uneasiness about take-offs is the loss of control I feel. In order to combat this I prepare to the best of my abilities. I make sure I have my iPod and my books and my stuffed hippo, Tubbo (more on him later) ready to go. If you’re afraid of public speaking, make sure that you practice your speech and are prepared to field whatever questions may arise. Preparation takes away a lot of uncertainty and may ease some of your nerves.
  3. Be realistic about your fear – I know that the odds of getting into a car accident are far greater than those of being in a plane crash. Ask yourself “what’s the worst that can happen?’ Usually, it’s nothing you can’t handle. If it helps think of the worst thing that can happen and then prepare for that. Now you have no real reason for the fear.
  4. Comfort yourself about your fear – I travel with a stuffed hippo named Tubbo that I literally squeeze the stuffing out of during take-offs. It’s silly but it really helps in calming me down if my nerves get too frazzled. Learn how to soothe yourself when confronted with your fear. The sooner you learn to comfort yourself, the sooner you can move past the fear and start living life.

We all have fears so remember to be compassionate with yourself about your own. And like with anything, practice makes perfect. So practice confronting your fear. The more you stare your fear in the eye, the less scary it becomes.

I’m actually practicing confronting my own fear right now – I’m typing this post from 30,000 feet up as Tubbo rests peacefully in my lap.

Do you have any irrational fears? How do you practice moving past them?

Until Next Time,

Nailah



How to Combat Your Fears

4 Mar

“The key to change… is to let go of fear.” –Roseanne Cash

I’m not a big fan of flying. Actually, I’ll be specific, I hate take-offs. In recent years, I’ve become so anxious about take-offs that I become quiet and skittish hours before a flight. If I have an early morning flight, I have trouble sleeping. If I have a flight in the evening, I can’t concentrate on simple tasks during the day. My fear of flying (or take-offs) is just like any other irrational fear, it’s been put in place as a protective mechanism of some sort. My sub-conscious reasons that by pumping out anxiety about take-offs, I’d probably hesitate to travel, keeping me safe and sound on the ground. But if I had listened to my sub-conscious I would have missed countless Christmases, weddings, adventures and graduations. Basically I would have missed out on life. While fears are often put in place to protect us in some way, it’s important that we figure out ways to confront the fear and move past it, if not we run the risk on missing out on life. Here are four tips for tackling your fears – whether they are big or small.

  1. Identify your fear – in order to properly confront a fear, you have to first understand what it is and why it’s there. Do you constantly doubt your talents and feel you’re not good enough? Your fear of taking risks may be protecting you from rejection and failure. By not trying, you’ll never get rejected, right?
  2. Prepare for the fear – a large part of my uneasiness about take-offs is the loss of control I feel. In order to combat this I prepare to the best of my abilities. I make sure I have my iPod and my books and my stuffed hippo, Tubbo (more on him later) ready to go. If you’re afraid of public speaking, make sure that you practice your speech and are prepared to field whatever questions may arise. Preparation takes away a lot of uncertainty and may ease some of your nerves.
  3. Be realistic about your fear – I know that the odds of getting into a car accident are far greater than those of being in a plane crash. Ask yourself “what’s the worst that can happen?’ Usually, it’s nothing you can’t handle. If it helps think of the worst thing that can happen and then prepare for that. Now you have no real reason for the fear.
  4. Comfort yourself about your fear – I travel with a stuffed hippo named Tubbo that I literally squeeze the stuffing out of during take-offs. It’s silly but it really helps in calming me down if my nerves get too frazzled. Learn how to soothe yourself when confronted with your fear. The sooner you learn to comfort yourself, the sooner you can move past the fear and start living life.

We all have fears so remember to be compassionate with yourself about your own. And like with anything, practice makes perfect. So practice confronting your fear. The more you stare your fear in the eye, the less scary it becomes.

I’m actually practicing confronting my own fear right now – I’m typing this post from 30,000 feet up as Tubbo rests peacefully in my lap.

Do you have any irrational fears? How do you practice moving past them?

Until Next Time,

Nailah

What Does Leadership Mean To You?

24 Feb

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. -John Quincy Adams


I had lunch with a former colleague the other day and when I asked him about how things were going at work he launched into a story about how his manager – who is very concerned with perceptions – has been reprimanding him for his out-spokenness. Apparently, the manager did not perceive voicing a dissenting opinion during a meeting as good leadership. Now I thought this was a major crock of BS. Being strong enough to share an unfavorable outlook is, in my opinion, a great leadership trait. But what really bothered me was that my friend was being forced into someone else’s idea of what leadership truly means.

I believe leadership is one of those terms that is bandied about quite loosely. Everywhere you turn you hear about which leadership qualities we should be working on and which leaders we should admire. However, I believe that leadership and how one defines it is a completely personal thing and can totally vary from person to person. By attempting to squeeze into a narrow “leadership” box, we’re trying to live up to someone else’s expectations. And we all know how I feel about living up to other people’s expectations.

Here’s an exercise. Get a blank piece of paper and bullet out what being a leader means to you. Does it mean only working on projects you find interesting and noble? Does it mean being an inspiration to others by following your heart? Does it mean always being honest and out-spoken? Or maybe it means always taking risks and being bold. Remember you don’t have to have a fancy job title and a company car to be a leader. There are probably at least 3 people right now who already think of you as a leader. Identify what leadership means for you and then harness it. Strive to perform your specific leadership qualities everyday. By being in touch with your true leadership qualities, you’ll be much better off than those who are simply trying to fit into someone else’s idea of leadership.

Until Next Time,

Nailah