Are you like me--constantly looking at home goods in the store or photo layouts in a magazine--and thinking what a great card that would make? I remember being SO inspired by the carpet in a Las Vegas hotel one time!
Inspiration is ALL around us! What inspires you?
Whatever the source of inspiration, whether it comes from within or without, I hope my customer friends listen to that prompting and make some time to get into the craft room. It's good for the soul! And you never know when something that inspired you will inspire someone else.
That's all I'm doing at Song of My Heart--sharing what inspired me. I tell my customer friends that that's all being a demonstrator is! You don't have to be good at sales or have a knack for business. If you did, I certainly would not have been at this for 11 years this month! I never would have even started.
Have a heart-to-heart with a contact this week about what their life would look like if they were not just a customer friend but a co-worker friend, and you were out there just sharing inspiration--together.
Everybody loves "building years." The years when everything is coming together, behind-the-scenes efforts are paying off, and there are measurable leaps forward in your business. It's exciting.
But, ironically, it's easy to get off track immediately following one of those exciting growth periods. Why?
"Building years" alternate with what I call "balance" years, years when you're overwhelmed by what you took on. When you're dealing with growing pains. Sometimes ideas that were working great just kind of come to a halt for no discernible reason.
And sometimes, you're just not at the same place in your mind and heart that you were earlier.
Don't look at balance years as a temporary placeholder, or something to be endured, between building years. This period in your life is a gift, a chance to self-evaluate, to prune branches, to refine your own dreams and goals.
To stop playing catch up... and actually catch up.
Balance years are just as crucial for the long term success of your business as building years are necessary.
What are you in right now? A building year, or a balance year?
As I write this, it is a brand new month and the perfect time for a fresh start. December can be NUTS. I encourage you to embrace that reality and take a few minutes to sit down and decide four things you will make a priority this month. Set yourself a goal that you can succeed at and feel good about.
My priorities this month are to:
1. Connect with my team at our annual Christmas party;
2. wrap up all the loose odds and ends from the fall, so I can start Sale A Bration fresh and clean;
3. get my personal and business Christmas cards out;
4. get my weekly e-newsletter out once per week so customers stay informed of specials and assisted with holiday gift, decor, and packaging ideas.
There are MANY other things I want to be (and will be) doing this month, of course, but if I can get these four priorities worked on, I will feel like I found a good balance between my home business and all the other directions a busy wife and mom can get pulled during the holidays.
Balance is not static. It's a pendulum, and it swings first one way and then the other, sometimes careening wildly one direction so that you over-correct in the other. The key is the keep the swing as small and tight as possible.
December is a month notorious for imbalance. Decide today that you're going into the season with reasonable expectations of yourself--and that you won't accept the burden of self-imposed guilt when you truly have done the best you can.
A little too true, maybe? I hear ya!
NEW "Banishing Burnout" Mini-Booster starts April 20th!
Are you feeling a distinct lack of pizzazz lately? Not as excited about the new season as you used to be? This short-term, 10-day booster is for you!
Regain your joy and rediscover your enthusiasm as we head into an exciting new chapter with our Stampin' Up businesses. Hear tips and tricks from top demos who have been there themselves and come out again on the other side.
Cost is just $20 per person--that's just $2 a day! What is a fresh outlook and business rejuventation worth to you? Email me for a PayPal invoice and I'll add you to the group so we can begin to share our stories and get to know one another.
I'm keeping the group small so we all feel comfortable talking in depth--so register today to reserve your spot! Lyssa@songofmyheartstampers.com
A demo friend emailed me to request some info on an event I had done that she was considering doing. It took me a shamefully long time to respond,like normal, and when I did, it was with my token email opener: "Hi So-and-so! I'm sooooo sorry it took me so long to reply! Things have been NUTS around here!"
Can you relate to that? Honestly, I should just put that opener in an automatically-generated email header; it would save me so much time.
We continued a short exchange and I promised to add her question to my list of future article topics for this motivational blog. I warned her truthfully that the list is very long. But as I typed that, I had a little light bulb moment. My list is long because I ridiculously attempt perfection with each and every thing I post here. I hold myself to an impossible standard of performance, and in the end it paralyzes me into non-performance. My desire to do the very best I can to help demonstrators grow their business backfires and I wind up not helping anyone at all, because the post never goes from "Draft" to "Posted."
Things ARE nuts. I spoke the truth in my opener. Things are always nuts. They will never not be nuts, and truthfully, who would have it any other way? Life is exciting and short and challenging and crazy and it goes by so quickly if you blink you'll miss it. And it's messy--so very, very messy, sometimes, as I learned last year and am still learning. And sometimes it's temporarily really not very fun at all.
Life is many things, most of them wonderful. But what life is not, is perfect. Because our lives are made up of imperfect relationships, and we live our lives out in imperfect bodies with brains that blank out and bodies that sometimes run only on coffee fumes. Imperfect people double-book themselves now and again and once in a while really screw up and triple-book. Imperfect people order pizza, utilize the drive-thru, and occasionally let the kids watch TV while they eat (gasp!). Imperfect people forget the ink pads at workshops and make miscalculations on order forms and give advice only to find out they had it all backwards and have hopelessly confused a new team member.
We're human. End of story. And sometimes done is better than perfect.
Shakespeare famously wrote this line of advice: "To thine ownself be true." Recently, I've seen that phrase tweaked and painted on a plaque: "To thine ownself be kind." When I believe the myth of my own superwoman-ness, I cannot understand that statement. "Why should I be kind to myself? Don't I know I am a slacker? I'll never get anything done if I let myself off the hook!"
Now, there are definitely cases of "healthy" guilt, where our negative feelings about something help us become better people by putting down the cupcake and going for a walk, or reading a second book to our kids at bedtime, or getting our butts out of bed and into the pew on overcast Sunday mornings. But so often we women, and especially we home-business owners, take upon our shoulders a huge feeling of guilt for things that are truly not even possible to accomplish.
As modern women, more is expected of us as individuals than any generation previously. The advent of all the tools and conveniences that were supposed to free us up for all kinds of leisure have actually just raised expectations of what we are physically, emotionally, and mentally able to accomplish in the same 24 hours we have always had. And Pinterest makes it worse for many of us. Pinterest can be a great tool, and it can also be the enemy of self-kindness. You don't expect your best friend to sew her own clothes AND bake her own bread AND run her own business AND volunteer five nights a week--why would you expect that of yourself?
So here's the deal. You promise not to ridiculously expect perfection of me, and I promise not to arbitrarily demand it from you either. A healthy dose of kindness all around. That's what LIFE calls for. Lovely, busy, fun, messy LIFE.
Sometimes at the end of the day, you have to look at yourself in the mirror and say, "No, what I have gotten done today is not what I wanted to get done. But it is enough for one day."
And then get yourself to bed and don't feel guilty. You are amazing. You were amazing today even if you didn't think you were.
You will have another chance to be amazing tomorrow.
So sleep now.
And... dream BIG.
Do any of these sound familar?
As human beings, it is tempting to lay the blame for our own business faults and failures at someone else's feet. There are endless "if only's" waiting in the wings for those who choose to use them for an excuse as to why they cannot grow their businesses.
The problem is, while the circumstances of some of these "if only's" could indeed be true (for instance, business classes improving your sales tactics) they effectively place the ultimate success or failure of our businesses in other hands. You have given away your power over your own business when you give away your responsibility for it.
A person who is refusing to aknowledge personal responsibility for their business will look at circumstances or at others and ALWAYS find a reason for failure. I challenge you to be a person who refuses to make anyone or anything a scapegoat. Be a person who rises above their circumstances and maximizes their strengths rather than focusing on their weaknesses.
This is one instance where the difference between success and failure is completely in your head--and therefore in your hands. Will you choose your own attitude, or let it be chosen for you? That is the decision that you consciously or unconsciously make every single day.
I am often called upon to offer encouragement to those who have been 'doing everything right' and haven't tasted much success yet. Since I've been there myself, I'm able to tell them the truth. Their hard work, enthusiasm and effort WILL pay off eventually. Those who have not had success come easily to them treasure every victory all the more. You'll be a better demonstrator and a better salesperson because of your "lean" years, not inspite of them.
Next time you realize that the mental dialogue in your head just popped out an "if only," call a halt to the conversation. It is an unproductive way of thinking that is not going to help you succeed or allow you to be happy in the journey. "If only" is a trigger phrase that should alert you to be aware that you are attempting to divest yourself of responsibility for your business.
Since convention just this past week, I must have been asked twenty times to share what I did to earn Founder’s Circle. I always have to laugh a little when people ask me that, because I just want to say, “Do you have an hour?” There is no way to sum up in a nice neat sound byte what it takes to earn yourself one of those coveted Demonstrator of the Year awards. I usually just smile and give them the short answer—hard work!
Nothing I write here is earth-shaking; my secret, if I have one, is simply to never quit striving to be better.Here are a few more “nevers,” a bunch of “sometimes,” and then I’ll finish with some “always.”
Never quit; not when you are tired, not when you aren’t feeling well, not when no one but yourself would know. Never skimp on adhesive, or spoiling your hostess, or showing your gratitude. Never air dirty laundry with customers. Never quit dreaming. Never stop advertising. Never allow yourself to give up after trying something only once. Never throw away scraps, or a chance to shut up and listen, or the last open night on your calendar. Never say no for someone. Never forget that food is an important part of fellowship. Never talk about your downline with another downline. Never rest on your laurels. Never subvert the contract you signed. Never give away the farm. Never miss an opportunity to stop banging your head against a wall and walk through the wide open door next to it.
Sometimes, take a break; even when things are exciting, people are asking for more, opportunities abound. Sometimes stop and take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Sometimes stamp for fun, for yourself, for someone who won’t appreciate it anyway. Sometimes dance when no one is looking. Sometimes send cards for no good reason other than to make someone smile. Sometimes magic happens. Sometimes surprise your group with a party. Sometimes shake things up. Sometimes ditch your agenda and just be a friend. Sometimes try something way out of your comfort zone. Sometimes toss in an extra project for free. Sometimes say no. Sometimes add a secret goal to the annual list you send your upline. Sometimes turn off the smart phone, forget about documenting the photographical evidence, clear the calendar. Sometimes freak out and then realize it will be ok.
Always smile; even when you are tired, irritated half to death, bored to tears or about to cry. Always advertise, advertise, advertise. Always cut more cardstock than you think you’ll need. Always eat before a show. Always demonstrate wearing a shirt color that makes you happy. Always stay positive. Always follow up. Always remember to behave with integrity. Always remember to cheer for every recruit like you did for your very first one. Always pretend you like their pet, the new color they painted their kitchen, their offspring that just ruined your stamp pad. Always err on the side of generosity. Always clean the upstairs bathroom, too, just in case. Always share the opportunity that someone shared with you. Always answer, always apologize, always admit it when you don’t know. Always say no when sometime is robbing you of joy. Always choose the brave thing. Always dream BIG.
Recently I read a guest post by Geoff Stewart on my brother Josh's youth ministry blog, www.morethandodgeball.com, and it really hit home with issues I've been dealing with lately. Because he already said it so eloquently, I'll post an excerpt here (emphasis mine):
"This is a struggle that most pastors (especially youth pastors) have. We end up sharing lots of the crazy stories that have happened to us, including the ones many of us go out of our way to make happen because they might make great illustrations. (One time I drove 5 minutes past my exit of the freeway following a pick up truck full of loaves of bread because I was hoping some would fly out and hit my car – and sure enough three loaves did.) But I really enjoy spending time with students, especially my small group, one-on-one because if anything they get to see that I am a pretty normal guy. The ones that don’t know the real me look at my twitter and Facebook, and it’s one event or conference after another, one more “adventure” that I am on. This highlight reel is not in any way, shape, or form an accurate portrait of my life."
I was talking to a friend at Leadership Conference this past January and confided that I had been feeling extremely run down, and burned out in a major way lately. She was aghast. "No way!" she said in dismay. "I was just pointing your blog out to my husband as an example that there WERE women out there who were doing it all." She went on to say I always looked like I had it all together, and she felt like if she could just get more organized, she too, could be like me.
She was truly dismayed. I felt terrible that I'd burst her bubble, yet I also felt like I was ultimately doing her a service by allowing her to see that all that glittered was not gold. Too often, all we see is someone's public face, and we think everything's fine. But just because there are no long silences on someone's blog does not mean everything is ok.
To some of you who follow me online, or only see me at events, my life may sometimes appear to be one big highlight reel. I do travel a lot for business, I have won some pretty big awards and I have been given some fantastic opportunities. I talk a lot, joke about my foilbles and boo-boos, and share photos and stories about my kids and other family events now and again. I chat online on a couple of forums way more than is profitable for my schedule.
But the honest truth is, you don't know me. You don't live next door or even in my town. You don't know what I miss because I'm too busy, what I turn down because of timing, what I say "no" to when I say "yes" to something else. You know only what I choose to present about myself through my Facebook status updates, my emails, and my blogs. And of course, for a business-minded person, that's always colored by professional enthusiasm and energy, whether real or forced.
But the thing is, while the trips and awards and opportunities ARE the truth, they are not the WHOLE truth. There's a reason they have you swear to tell the "whole" truth in court. Because you can tell the truth and still be living a larger "lie." The real truth is, Stampin' Up, even at the highest levels, is composed of completely ordinary women leading completely ordinary lives, JUST LIKE YOU.
Every thought to yourself after reading someone's blog, "WOW! I feel exhausted just THINKING about everything she's doing"? Chances are, SHE'S exhausted DOING all those things, too. But we get on this crazy fun merry-go-round and we spin faster and faster, and frankly, some of us hang on longer than others, but we all fall off or throw up in the end, if the merry-go-round never stops spinning.
Unfortunately, burnout is 'the elephant in the corner' of direct sales. A demonstrator friend I talked with recently about this commented, "it's like we're afraid it's contaigious." No one wants to talk about it. No one wants to admit it could happen to them. And nothing will change unless women start talking about it.
I think it's time to stop pretending there are super-demos. It's not healthy for them or for anyone trying to emulate them. There's only women, doing the best they can with the differing resources they have available, sometimes suceeding, sometimes failing, often being way too hard on themselves. Enjoy the journey. Quit comparing yourself or your business to anyone else's. You are a complicated and complex human being with lots of modern and unrealistic expectations on our shoulders in addition to all the traditional roles we women still have to fulfill.
Don't start believing your own highlight reel. Give yourself a break, and along the way you'll be doing your downlines and demo friends --and even people you don't realize are watching you-- a favor, too, by showing them a real, flawed human being doing the best she can with grace and humor.