#SelfDoubtMustFall

#Women Rising

 

It's true. Women are rising. I see bold and brave, passionate and on-purpose women all around me stepping up and out. I’m inspired and encouraged by each of these women who have found the courage and confidence to be in the light.

But I also see (and feel) too many of us still hiding in the shadows.

Those of us who want to take a bold step forward, but hold ourselves back. “If only I knew more, had achieved more, were braver, then I’d be able to step up.”

 

Have you ever said. . .

“If I just had more self-confidence, I would. . .”

 

Many of us believe our lack of self-confidence is a personal failing. But the truth is that the Confidence Gap for women is pervasive and affects most of us. So much so researchers, business leaders and journalists have begun to study and write about it.   
 
We mildly call it a Gap, but I call it a Crisis. The world is in desperate need of the ideas, talents, energy, and creativity of women. YOUR ideas, talents, energy and creativity! 

Women, it’s time!!!

#selfdoubtmustfall

 
I feel so strongly about this, that last year I set about learning what this Confidence Gap is all about and how to cure it. Turns out there is a lot written about how the Confidence Gap shows up for women, but not a lot on ways to actually close it. 
 
Let me modify that – there are plenty of articles (and even books) out there for us about how to appear more confident – stop saying “sorry,” stop prefacing sentences with “I think,” take more risks, make decisions more quickly. Basically, adopt the strategies that work for men and you’ll be fine.
 
Unfortunately, for a number of reasons I’ll cover another time, those suggestions are not very useful and even harmful.  In other words, they’re crap.

 

So what is the way to help women develop real self-confidence?

I’ve got some ideas. 

Bringing together the findings in the current research, my study of Feminine Power, neuro-semantic training, and drawing on learnings from my own self-confidence journey, I have discovered a way for women to awaken, activate and grow authentic and sustainable self-confidence. 

I’m very excited to share what I’ve discovered in the coming months with you. 

 

Sign up here to make sure you don't miss an installment of the Women and Confidence Series.

Name *
Name

 

My New Mantra for Women's Day (and Beyond)

Recently, I was listening to a podcast in which Reshma Saujani spoke about her reason for starting Girls Who Code, a US non-profit dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology. Many things she said deeply resonated, but one woke me up.

She related the story of a girl in her program who called the teacher over, displayed a blank screen and said, “I don’t know how to code this.” Saujani said if the teacher had hit the undo button several times she would have realised that the girl had made attempts, but was more comfortable showing the teacher a blank screen than showing her imperfect attempts.
 
She contrasted this with how she saw boys engage with technology - just having a go at it, taking risks, with no need to get it perfect from the beginning. She concluded, "We teach our girls to be perfect and our boys to be brave." Smack in the forehead – that is/was me. Perfect, Not Brave.
 
Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve come a long way in letting go of my perfectionist tendencies. In fact, I call myself a recovering perfectionist and the more I let go of striving for perfection the better my life has become. Settling into accepting my imperfection has many beautiful ripples; I’m more relaxed, flexible and accepting of others, for example.  But until I heard this podcast I’d not truly understood the door that now stood before me, mine to open and walk through if I choose.

The Door Marked “Be Brave.”

 
What lies on the other side of Be Brave?

Possibility!

New experiences, expanded creativity, leaps in professional development, deeper love, greater opportunities to share my gifts with more people. How can I say no to that?
 
Decision made. For the rest of 2016 my mantra is:

Be Brave, Not Perfect

 
Of course, it isn't enough to have a mantra - even a kick ass one like Be Brave, Not Perfect. For real change to happen action has to match intention. So, to kick off I’ve organized an intrepid group of women (and daughters) to join me in learning to belay and rock climb on Tuesday, Women’s Day in South Africa. After that, I'm putting myself out there for a few out-of-my-comfort-zone professional opportunities. Whooo Hooo. 
 
What about you? Is striving to be Perfect keeping you from enjoying all the things that lie on the other side of the Brave door? If so, wanna borrow my mantra? And then, what is one action you can take in the coming week to practice letting go of perfect and embracing brave. Comment below. I’d love to hear.

 

Are You Holding A Flower Bud in a Death Grip?

Flower bud

Today’s power move is a paradox. (I do love a good paradox!) Normally, or at least in the masculine paradigm, we associate power with control and making things happen, but sometimes the power move required is letting go of control and being open to what might emerge.
 
Have you been working really hard to make something happen and you aren’t getting the results you expect? Or have you been endlessly analysing a problem yet still don’t have the answer you seek, your thoughts going in an endless loop.
 
Try this. Imagine this thing you’ve been trying to create, or this question you’ve been wanting the answer to is a flower bud. Picture that up until now you have had your hand around this bud in a death grip – the grip of misplaced effort or obsessive analysis.

In this moment, slowly release your grip, giving yourself permission to stop trying to force this bud into bloom before it is ready. In fact, give yourself permission to take a step back and look upon the bud, enjoying its unique beauty, trusting that when the conditions and time are right it will bloom. 

As always, I love to hear from you. Let me know how this works for you.

Until next Monday, let go and trust,

Caroline

Thankful Thursday, 10 September

Everyone knows a foundational habit of a happy life is the practice of being grateful for the life we are already living, counting the blessings we already have, turning our attention to what we have, not to what we don't have.

Easier said than done in this consumer driven world where we are promised that happiness will be ours when we buy this one more thing.

 So to make it easier for us to adopt this habit, every Thursday I post a quick and simple gratitude practice for you to try out. 

 

Today's Practice

Today notice all the people who assist you in your daily life.

Take a moment to sincerely appreciate at least one of them, no matter how small the assist is, or if s/he is paid to do so. The petrol attendant, the taxi driver, the check out clerk, the person who bags your groceries, the receptionist, the garbage collector.

Connect eye to eye, human to human and thank her or him for helping you. 

 Let's start a movement of thanking one another for our service!!

Let me know how it goes. I love to hear from you.

 (If you would like to get this every Thursday in your Facebook newsfeed, like the One Million Suns Facebook.)

Power Move Monday!

I love how simple shifts in the words we use can make a big difference in our results. 

Do you have something you know you should do, but just haven't been able to get it done, get around to it, make it happen? Motivation is a big topic - plenty of books devoted to it - but try this simple step and see what happens.

Change your 'I should' to 'I want to.'

"I should exercise more," becomes, "I want to exercise more."
"I should develop a gratitude practice," becomes "I want to develop a gratitude practice."
"I should read more," becomes "I want to read more."


See if your energy shifts, if you feel lighter as you say it, if you feel more likely to do it.

If you do, then amplify it by adding reasons. "I want to read more because I love the way my world expands when I read, it gives me interesting things to talk about, and my kids will see that reading is enjoyable." And right now make a realistic plan to put your desire into action. 

(If you did not notice an expansion of your energy when you changed "I should" to "I want to," don't worry. That is great information. Stay tuned for an upcoming Power Move Monday for what that might mean.)

Until next time, shine brightly,
Caroline

Have You Ever Experienced the Sparkler Effect?

After the recent Leaping to Fly seminar, one of the participants (and she happens also to be a friend) came to me and said, “Caroline, some of us were talking after the seminar and would like to carry on talking. Let’s have a gathering for those who want to continue the conversation.”
 
I didn’t know exactly what I was saying “yes” to, but I trust this friend and I trusted my inner knowing
 that something amazing would emerge, so I said, “Yes, of course, let’s do it.”
 
And thus the concept of the “Sparkler Gathering – Networking the Feminine Power Way” was born. More excitingly I discovered that there is a phenomenon that occurs when you get the right women under the right conditions in a room together. I call it The Sparkler Effect. 
 

The Sparkler Effect
spärk(ə)lər  / əˈfekt
noun

 
An alchemic phenomenon, occurring under certain conditions, whereby women, through the power of their own brilliance, ignite the brilliance in other women. The net effect is a brilliance greater than the sum of the parts.
 
How do I know this phenomenon occurred? Comments sent the next day:
 
“Dear Sparklers, I had so much unexpected motivation this morning, much of which, no doubt, was due to our get together.”
 
“To all who sparkle. May the ignition we all felt carry up through the worldly winds ahead this week.”
 
“A huge thank you for bringing us all together and providing sparkle and motivation... it was just what I needed.” 
 
“I really appreciate you bringing us into the same room where we can energise together ... so much good and laughter and learning ... I love it!”
 
“Bright women!  I will take the word Authentic into this week.”

 
If you would like to learn more about the Sparkler Gatherings, drop me an email. If you'd like to host your own, One Million Suns can help with our new Sparkler Gathering Co-Creation offering.  
 

Until next time, shine bright like a sparkler,
 
Caroline

Tipping Into Action

I recently moved houses.  After 4 ½ years of living with minimal bedroom furniture I decided now was the time to finally purchase a vanity of some sort to house vanity type things and upgrade from our battered hand-me-down bedside tables. I went from store to store, learning what was available, trying the options on in my mind’s eye.  I filed each option away, sending it to the back of my mind as I continued my search.   And one day, without much forethought in the moment, I walked back into a store where I had seen not the perfect option, but the good enough option and plunked down my credit card. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t exactly what I had imagined or that it was going to take 6 weeks for delivery.   I had reached my tipping point; I simply did not have any more appetite for continued looking. 

This is my pattern.  I research, gather information, seek the guidance of experts and friends, compare prices, weigh pros and cons, analyze all the information in my conscious and unconscious mind.  As a (recovering) perfectionist I sometimes spend too long in this phase hoping perfection will show itself, or afraid I’ll make the wrong move.  But then, invariably, one day it’s enough.  I feel restlessness, an impatience, an exhaustion with research and reflection. I experience an undeniable desire for action.     

As 2014 wound to a close, I felt that exact restlessness.  I had spent much of the year trying to determine the best coaching business model.  I had run focus groups, sought the advice of experts, and read articles and books.   I let all the information drop into my body to let my inner wisdom have a go at it.  And what popped back up was not a clear answer about the “perfect” model, but a clear answer that the time for research and reflection was done.    I had learnt what I could from other people and more gathering would be just a delay tactic. 

So 2015 is an action year.   Am I clear on the “perfect” model for me?  Absolutely not.  But I have enough “good enough” ideas to try things out, to get out of spinning wheels mode and get into the driving lane.  I’m expecting a few wrong turns here and there, even a dead end or two, but I know I’ll never get where I’m meant to be going if I don’t get started.  

What is your signal that it is time to move from research and reflection to decision and action?   Do you have a preference for lots of research and reflection before acting; or do you like to act quickly and learn as you go?     Do you procrastinate out of fear of not getting it exactly right or making a mistake?   Does your impatience to get to action lead to unnecessary and time-consuming missteps? 

A main purpose of One Million Suns and Conditioning Leaders (www.conditioningleaders.com) is to support the actions you want to take professionally and personally so you get the results you want.  If your current strategies are not working for you, we’d love to support you.  This is the year of action for One Million Suns and Conditioning Leaders.  Will you join us?

One Million Suns - Big, Audacious and Hopeful

"We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. . . We are all meant to shine . . . It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson

Some folks have asked me why I named my business One Million Suns so I thought I’d use this blog to explain why. (Full disclosure – my vision is big and hopeful and audacious and it’s taking every ounce of courage in me to put it out there because who am I to dream this big and audaciously and hopefully? I had to read the above Marianne Williams quote about ten times before committing to putting it out into the world.)

I am an optimist through and through. I look for and see beauty and goodness and reasons for hope in this world of ours. But this does not mean I am blind to the shadow side of humanity. There are plenty of reasons for serious, even kind of freaking out, concern. Which of these are you freaked out about? Rapidly progressing climate change. Grinding, entrenched poverty. On-going subjugation of and violence toward women and girls. Centuries of overt and covert racism. Unprecedented numbers of disaffected and disengaged young people. Unfathomable acts of terror as a desperate measure to bring about change. 

Sometimes these shadows are so big and terrifying that in my fear I secretly want us to fight shadow with shadow, rather than with our light. Or sometimes I experience my light as too dim, too puny to illuminate the massiveness of the dark places and I despair and want to give up, to hide. Or I have friends who think the answer is to work harder, longer hours, more intensely and they become exhausted. All these approaches result in our lights burning out and our beliefs are confirmed – we are powerless against such darkness.  

In my clearer moments though I have faith that the inherent goodness of humanity outweighs our shadow side. I have faith that we have untapped and so far unseen capacities for love, compassion, connection, and creativity. The time is upon us for that capacity to be awakened and blaze forth.

I am heartened because practically every day I meet or hear about another woman who is awakening to a new sense of purpose, feeling called to make a difference, experiencing a yearning to connect, contribute and create. I picture this as her inherent sun-like power wanting to shine forth and light the path to a better world. 

And our world right now requires lots of suns, many more than are currently shining. Blazing suns, cleared of our own internal dimming limitations, bright enough to light up others merely by our presence, bright enough together to shrink the overtaking dark shadows.

With One Millions Suns my vision is to help women who are aligned with the greater good, or feel the urge to be so, become so blazingly powerful, creative, and connected and so numerous that we will shift humanity into a new way of being.  

Audacious, right? If not us, then who? If you are feeling a little bit audacious, if you want to dismantle your dimmer switch so you can make a bigger difference, if you want to come together with other women who are also in the contribution game and be inspired, then join the OMS community. Sign up to receive the newsletter and follow us on Facebook