Making room for gratitude

How to make the time to be thankful

A few months ago, I noticed one of the tomato plants in my little urban garden had grown past the small wire structure I had built for it. The branch started to drag, the stem was bent, and the tomato on the end of the branch began to whither. I immediately ran to the garden store to create a larger, stronger structure – taped the stem back together – and voila! Soon, more tomatoes began appearing. Small green beads at first quickly grew into nourishing red plumps of deliciousness!

Surprised at how well the plant responded to my harried repair, I realized how similar life is to my little tomato plant. Our stems are growing fast, and it’s hard to keep up. But when we take the time to notice the things supporting us in our life and acknowledge our thanks, we too can blossom and thrive. The benefits of gratitude create a foundation from which great things grow.

But how do we create habits of gratitude?

How to make time for being more thankful

the fear factor

How to look fear in the face and keep going

As entrepreneurs, we constantly try to figure out how to avoid bad things from happening. We spend so much time trying to leap over pitfalls, that we lose sight of what really drives our business.

Our businesses are an extension of ourselves, especially at the smaller stages where it feels like there is less margin for error. When your business hurts, you hurt.

And nothing slows you down from achieving your goals more than fear.

Fear factor

Fear can stop you in your tracks.

Fear can elongate the time it takes to reach your goals.

Fear can paralyze you from making decisions.

Fear can cause you to wait until things are “perfect”.

Fear can take you in a different direction than you really want.

Fear makes you reactive and places you into a scarcity mindset.

As an experienced entrepreneur, I know what this feels like at a gut level. It feels like a lose-lose.

However, a deep breath and plowing into your fear will take you to where you need to go. When it shows up, it is important to recognize it, because otherwise fear can take over your subconscious.

How do you become more aware of fear?

The first step is accepting that fear is natural. Naming it brings it to the surface. Where is it in your body? Where is it ruminating on the hamster wheel in your mind? Identifying it makes processing fear possible.

Then, start figuring out what pieces are real. Contrast those with the elements of fear that are made up stories about something that may or may not happen. Sometimes, fear shows up simply because we need to learn something.

The smartest decisions are made from a mindset of abundance. Fear robs you of realizing everything that’s already working and pushing your business in the right direction. You have to acknowledge all the information you have and not allow fear to cloud your decisions. You honor yourself and your business when you make decisions from a position of clarity, compassion for all the elements, and confidence in a greater good.

How Little Nest helps mitigate fear:

The beauty of the franchise, Little Nest Portraits, is that you are part of a group of people who have been there. While it’s impossible to avoid every fall, surrounding yourself with a support system softens the impact.

Question: Where have you felt fear in your own business or life? What helped you overcome it? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

why we’re so much more capable than we realize

And why not being completely sure about that is normal

I live in a beautiful section of a small city just south of Philadelphia called Wilmington, Delaware. There is a world-renowned art museum and sculpture garden just around the corner from our house, and from there we can walk to lovely cafes, bistros and coffee shops. Our vibrant, diverse neighbors are transplants from all over the world.

Yet, in the past few years crime, economic challenges, corruption, and education issues have infiltrated our neighborhood. As a result, there was recently a high-profile mayoral race to vote on who could turn our beloved city around. When I read the vision plan of the winning candidate, it was overwhelming to think about all the obstacles he has to overcome in the next four years and what challenges lay ahead of him.

I still wonder…are we ever fully capable of leading the changes we believe are important?

The truth is, there isn’t a single one of us that’s 100% equipped and prepared for what we are tasked with, given, or choose to take on.

For example, when a baby is brought home from the hospital, it’s common for the new parents to feel incredibly inadequate and unprepared. Yet, time and time again, they rise up, figure it out, and learn so much about themselves in the process.

I reflect on all the the times when I wasn’t quite sure if I could accomplish what was in front of me. How I never really took on a role without self-doubt — whether it was photographing my very first session, public speaking in front of thousands of people, or adding value into my first CEO round-table.

I never felt ready in those moments, and many of them were so intimidating that I almost chose not to take them on. But I did it, and succeeded (if not right away, then eventually!).

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. 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

I once had coffee with a very successful “turnaround expert” who would go into failing multi-million (sometimes multi-billion) dollar businesses and turn them around. I asked him how he prepared for each role. He gave a surprising answer. He never felt ready or prepared for the roles he took on, and many times questioned the judgement of the board in selecting him. But he accepted that as part of the process and trusted his own ability to figure out what needed to be done. And he did. Every. Single. Time.

You were born to shine.

You were born for a great purpose.

Many times, this means you may take a seat that stretches your capabilities.

And in that moment you have an opportunity to learn how truly capable you are.

Question: What have you done that has made you more capable than you realized? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

How to eliminate drama from your life for good

Choose the path of "The Creator"

When something frustrating happens, it’s natural to go out and garner support around how we were wronged.

When we see injustice, of course, we naturally come to the rescue of the victim.

When we feel disadvantaged, of course we get angry and defend ourselves.  It’s important to stick up for yourself and fight for what you deserve… right?

These are examples of very natural reactions to frustrating situations. What most people don’t realize is that they also tend to create a trap of ongoing life drama that is very hard to move out of.  The popular viewpoint that there is a victim, an aggressor, and a rescuer in each and every one of life’s challenges is very common.  But also incredibly limiting to our own success at work and in life.

The problem is that even when situations change, we always seem to arrive back at the same place of being in constant conflict, trying to rescue someone else, or being the victim. The subconscious ego believes this is the way to navigate life and get what you want.

How to eliminate drama from your life for good

Performance vs Growth Mindset

Develop your resilience muscle

Ever wonder what allows some people to sail through entrepreneurial challenges while others to lose sleep, freak out and break down? Is it that some people never have huge challenges, while others experience unlucky setbacks?

Probably not.

As you grow as an entrepreneur, things that freaked you out years ago may now seem like no big deal. You’ve developed the confidence to handle what comes your way, and you know that behind every really stressful thing is usually an opportunity to figure out something even better.

which business mindset are you?

I think about this with my own children – every time my first born made a peep or fell down I’d nervously jump to make sure he hadn’t broken a bone. By the time my second came along, my response was a consistent, nonchalant, “he’s fine.”

In the early stages of growing a business it’s very easy to react to stress in that first child way. You haven’t had any experience doing this before! You lack confidence in bouncing back from a setback. Little bumps and bruises feel like huge disastrous situations. You watch your business’s tiny details, just like worrying about every little aspect of your first child’s life.

This hyper-attentive tendency can be draining. And this Performance Mindset can really cause more trouble and worry than necessary. When you adopt a Performance Mindset, you may find yourself avoiding challenges, getting frustrated easily, and feeling threatened by the success of others.

A Growth Mindset, on the other hand, allows you to adopt a belief that bumps and curves are a certainty. It’s all part of growing a business! You’ll embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others.

See, it’s not that some entrepreneurs shoot from ground zero to the top without challenges while you’re left facing issue after issue. It’s that their mindset and attitude toward the lessons those obstacles provide is different.

When you find yourself getting trapped by a Performance Mindset, consider three steps:

  • 1. Get back to your why: why you started in the first place. why would you let this little blip keep you from your dreams and passions?
  • 2. Consider what you can learn from it and move forward with it as a opportunity to grow.
  • 3. Take note of your ability recover faster each time as you develop confidence in your resilience muscle. Keep a journal and be grateful for each piece of progress you make.

We want to model this for not just ourselves, but for our teams as well. What we want is for them to realize it’s ok for things to not go perfectly, and with each setback we become better with the right mindset. This helps them to develop and learn from every experience – creating an organization of thoughtful leaders.

Question: How has adopting more of a Growth Mindset helped your business and your own well-being as an entrepreneur? You can leave a comment by clicking here.