Archive for authentic self

Are You Playing the Tapes All the Way Through?

Last night, as crazy as it sounds, I set my alarm for 4:00 am, and actually I got up when it went off. You may remember, in a previous post, I wrote about how, even though I hate getting up early in the morning, I love being up while most of the rest of this part of the world is sleeping.

But today was different.

You see, once I got up, had my steaming hazelnut coffee in hand, and sat down in the (not at all sunny) sun room, suddenly all I could think of was going back to the comfort of my bed instead. I felt as though it was calling to me in that ghostly-yet-angelic-singing kind of way, “Laaaaaura… Laaaaaaaaaura…”

I was conflicted.

On one hand, I could imagine how nice the bed would feel: the sheets so cool, the mattress so welcoming, the blanket so soft. And, of course, there was the additional three and a half hours of sleep to consider…

The name-calling got louder.

Then, instead of marching right back up those stairs, as though to the tune of a pied piper, I paused. Aware that I had at least two choices here, I leaned in for a moment to the idea of writing and meditating in my favorite chair, Dogberry loyally lying by my side, and the pitch black of not-yet-morning surrounding us, just past the many windows on three sides of the room.

First, I imagined how good it would feel to do what I had set out to do, and the reward I’d get from honoring the promise I’d made to myself. I also thought about why I wanted to be up in the first place: to honor my desire for quiet time (while awake) and to connect with myself in a way that I so seldom do in the light of day.

Ahhh.

Then, I thought of how I’d feel when I got up from having gone back to bed, and having not followed through on my promise to myself.

Ick.

You see, after I had thought through the choices to their likely conclusions, I knew what to do. I knew what I wanted for myself. I knew how I wanted to look back on this seemingly small yet pivotal moment. I also knew how I didn’t want to look back on it – as yet another time when I said I wanted to do something, made a promise to myself to do it, and then let myself down by not doing it after all.

So, how did I come to this decision, especially with the bed was calling to me like a beautiful Siren, singing her mesmerizing songs and luring me toward the rocks?

I “played the tapes all the way through.”

(I know, we rarely listen to tapes anymore, but bear with me. Instead of the looking at the literal meaning of the practically obsolete words, let’s explore their metaphorical meaning.)

I see the concept of “playing the tapes all the way through” as similar to how I might view an invitation from a friend, or narrow down what activities I might take on over the weekend, or on any particular work day. It’s an opportunity to fully consider my options, and to make the best decision for myself at that time.

How exactly do we do this?

There are just three steps:

1. We accept the opportunity presented to us as an invitation to create our lives more consciously rather than doing so by default.
2. We take a breath or two, and ponder the action or actions we’re contemplating taking.
3. We consider – and this is key – the likely eventual outcomes for the choices before us, and how we expect we might feel about those choices once we’ve acted on them.

It’s that simple!

Sure, in some instances, we can’t possibly know what the outcome of each choice might be. Most of the time, however, when we’re honest with ourselves, we can make a pretty darned good guess. And that was the case for me with this morning.

After I “played the tapes all the way through,” it was clear what the better choice was. As I said, I chose to stay up. It’s not that going back to bed was a bad choice. There were certainly benefits to follow the call of the bed. But staying up was right for me in that particular set of circumstances. How can I be so sure?

Our Values are Our True Divining Rods™

Our Values are Our True Divining Rods™

I was honoring my values.

By staying up and writing, dreaming, thinking, and feeling, I was aligned with my values of authenticity, connection, contribution, courage, creativity, integrity, and spirituality. Frankly, it’s not very often that all of my top values meet in one decision, but here they did,  hence the relative ease of this decision. More often, my values are separate from each other, and in an order of priority. It’s my job, then, to figure out what that order is. And sometimes, they are in direct conflict with each other. “Playing the tapes all the way through” is an excellent tool for me to use in that particular situation, too.

Can you see how remembering to “play the tapes all the way through” can be helpful to you, too? I hope so. And my assignment to you is to use this tool right away, no matter how large or small the decision. This way, it can become a habit, and eventually, even be second nature to you. And won’t that be nice?

But what if I don’t know what my values are?

Don’t worry! I’ll be writing soon about what values are (and aren’t) and even more about how we can use them in our lives. For now, though, know that I’ll be back tomorrow with seven more strategies for arriving at the best choice for ourselves in situations of internal conflict.

Until then, don’t forget to imagine that we still use tapes, and then “play them all the way through!”

A Post Script of Two More Things to Remember:

1. This is just one example of how our world, our circumstances, our thoughts, and feelings offer us friendly invitations. They invite us to  to dip below the surface of the actions we take without thinking. And thus, by taking this deep dive, we can live fuller, more meaningful lives.

In the example above, I had a choice to make. It wasn’t a life or death situation, but I answered the invitation to go deeper. As a result of that process, and of doing what was revealed to me as the right course of action, I know myself better. In addition, I felt rewarded by my decision to listen to myself and for my motives, and raised my levels of self-trust and self-esteem.

2. And finally, know that these invitations do not demand our attention, nor are we expected to answer them. There’s no need to put that kind of pressure on ourselves. They’re there for us, however, should we choose to remember the age-old adage of  “watch, look, and listen,” and then step out into the world more confident, knowing that we are aligned with authentic selves.

I look forward to hearing what you think, and to seeing you tomorrow!

Your Business and Your Image – Are they Coming from Your Heart?

Too often, when we dive into the business world as a solopreneur, we lose sight of both who we are and the original goals we had in mind.

At the recent  Spark and Hustle conference, brought to Atlanta by Good Morning America’s Tory Johnson, I was listening to Alyson Hoag of Authentic Beauty speak about how, as business people, we should look.  She wasn’t talking about the physical, outward image, though, she was talking about our inner beauty, shining outward.  You know what I mean – you’ve seen people who simply glow when they’re in love.   The same is true when we’re in love with our lives.   Alyson says, “Having a life you love is the best thing you can do for your soul.” I have to second this, and add that when we are in love with our lives, it shows.

But how many of us aren’t doing this – giving ourselves lives we love?   Often, instead, we act as though we are fully passionate about all we’re doing.  And when this isn’t the whole truth, we are the ones who suffer – not only because we are lying to ourselves, but also, in the lying, we aren’t giving ourselves the opportunity to make different choices and move toward more truly loving our lives.

“The image you project should be a reflection on your authentic self,” Alyson goes onto say.  Thus, it would come to reason that if we’re doing something we love, the reflection we send out to the world would be authentic.  (See why I loved her presentation so much?)  Granted, what she and I both recommend, is often easier said than done.   Why is that?

The good and the bad news about being in business for yourself is that there is no mold to follow.  Uniqueness and creativity are what drives us to push the envelope to make sure that our voices are heard and our products and services are recognizable above the fray.  According to Alyson, “business is a learnable skill.” First of all, thank goodness!  That’s what I am in the midst of doing!  And second, if that’s really true, then we can also learn how to create a business that is part of a life we love, and which projects who we really are.    When we come from this place of our True Voices, we are able to “do something exceptional,” in the words of Laurie Baggett of Waggle Force, because it’s something authentic.

So, if we know that we need to be authentic in what we do, for it to all fall into place, how do we do that?   Cynthia Good of Pink Magazine has a couple of great suggestions.   First, “make sure your vision of success fits you.” Again, we’re back to creating a business and a life, for that matter, in which the outcome is going to be a match with what you want, who you are, and how you want to be known.   To do this, follow Cynthia’s second piece of advice: “don’t just keep courage on your mind; put it back where it came from – your heart.” Your mind is a great tool, and it will play tricks on you from time to time; however, your heart never lies.   By pulling what you need from your heart, the outpouring will be genuine, real, authentic, your true voice, and more than attractive.

Note:  This is one blog post in a series of them that I’ll be publishing here periodically about the insights I gleaned from the aforementioned Spark and Hustle conference.  It is my hope that these posts will not only inform you, but also inspire you to take action on making your dreams real, especially if your dreams include becoming an entrepreneur.  Perhaps with some spark and hustle, we can all profit from our passions!