100 Women, 100 Hours

This post was originally published on BizGalz

Late last year I was about to present my company a sample curriculum at a national training session geared towards trainers. An acquaintance came up to me and said, “Oh, you look taller!” I laughed, knowing it wasn’t a height thing. In truthfulness, it was a confidence and owning my business thing. I told him as much – I went through a lot and was finally taking charge in my life, and it was showing all over the place.

And then his partner, a woman, laughed and said, “Oh, it’s her hair – and she’s an actress so she probably is wearing lifts in her shoes.” For some reason, that infuriated me – I was confident and that’s why I looked taller – I was carrying myself differently! I said this, and she scoffed again, and said, “Sure, Jen. Maybe it’s your outfit.”

I didn’t let this bug me during my presentation (if anything, it pissed me off and made me work harder). After a few hours, I was still upset. It wasn’t specifically what she’d said, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. In the car on the way home, venting about this, I realized what irked me it was the girl-on-girl crime. She was bitter (I’ve known this since meeting her) and she couldn’t fathom confidence making someone look taller. Being a person who chooses to get active instead of getting mad, I decided to put some good juju out into the world and declare to my husband/venting receptacle: “I’m going to coach 100 women for 100 hours and uplift ladies so they uplift one another!” I think he thought I was crazy – I had just finished writing a book and was raving about having time again. I think I probably was a little crazy in that moment. Still, I still threw it out on the Internets and waited.

And then my email blew up. To date, I’ve gotten 289 requests and have coached 59 women since January 1st.

Midway through the project (and still taking more requests! Sessions are only counted when they are complete – we all know people drop out of things!) I’ve learned a lot about myself, about women and how we are all dealing with the same stuff on different days. From CEOs to tech ladies to coaches to game designers to scientists – same shit, different life. After every 20 ladies, I’ve been reflecting and looking for the connections we all have – and my first three were doozies.

Don’t borrow sorrow from tomorrow.

My grandma always said something very, very important to my mom, and my mom always said it consistently to me growing up: Don’t borrow sorrow from tomorrow.

Let’s put it into perspective: How often have you worried two or three (or four…or five) steps down the line instead of worrying  (OR BEING PRESENT!) about what was happening right in front of you? And your worry was about something that hasn’t even happened, something that won’t even happen unless you take action in other areas first?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

One woman worried about waiting too long to start med school – it might be too late to start a family!
She wasn’t dating anyone.

Another woman worried if her grad degree didn’t work out, she wouldn’t know what next!
She was in her second year of undergrad.

A third woman worried that she would never find a job in the field she wanted, and end up never moving into a leadership position.
She hadn’t even finished a draft of her resume.

We ALL do this – and it’s OK – you shouldn’t be feeling any shame if you’re realizing that you worry steps down the time. I was clearly told to not borrow sorrow from tomorrow on a regular monthly daily basis from my mom (and she might still tell me this). Here’s the secret: Worry about what’s in front of you while you keep your eye on the prize. Otherwise you may find yourself worrying about things that haven’t even happened yet and won’t unless you get out of your hamster wheel. Check in. What are you worried about? Too often we stack the chips in the negative pile by brainstorming about the fire and brimstone that MIGHT happen.

Your Homework

Think about what you are worried about. Is it happening now? Is it about to happen? If no, stop worrying about it until it happens. Need more? What does your worry do aside from cause you an ulcer? Take that worry time and put it towards making something great happen.

Failure is never as bad as regret.

In our public improv classes, we talk about being crippled by choice. Sure, we can all remember that stifling moment when we were told “no” and “you can’t” and “you shouldn’t.”

What about those moments when choices are endless?

They can be just as crippling.

This is where worry sinks in. What if I don’t make it as an entrepreneur? (That was my worry when I started.) What if I fail? (I don’t know anything about business. I have no business being in business!) And I wasn’t alone with this – out of the over 50 sessions I’ve held while writing this, I can safely say 70% of the women I’ve spoken to worry about failing at something they haven’t even tried yet.

A few were miserable with their current jobs.
What if they didn’t get a new one?

A few were nervous about starting their own business.
What if they didn’t have any customers?

And a few were afraid of following through on larger goals to determine what they want.
Why name it if they won’t get it?

While this sounds SO MUCH like “don’t borrow sorrow from tomorrow” – and while it’s VERY related – it’s a bit more serious. Imagine this: You worry about something that hasn’t happened yet. You keep worrying, so you choose not to do anything. And you stagnate. And then, years down the line, you look back at that worry, that thing that never happened, that stagnation – and you regret never trying because now you can’t or the chance has passed.

And if you tried – if you failed – you’d at least know versus constantly wondering what if.

Failure is never ever as bad as regret.

Your Homework

What are you not doing because you’re afraid to fail? Define it and write it out. What’s the worst-case scenario if you do it?

Then think about it being 10 years later and wondering for 10 years, what if.

Yep. Go start doing that thing.

F*&# them; you are awesome.

It’s REALLY easy for me, outside of your life to say that it doesn’t matter what they think. Super easy actually. Because you’re awesome. I don’t even know you, person that’s reading this, and I know you are awesome.

Pretty spectacular actually.

You’re taking time out of your life and day to not scroll through Facebook or feel FOMO on Instagram or stalk that ex/current interest – you are bettering yourself on BizGalz and READING an ARTICLE. You might have also already done your homework, or reflected on the earlier points of this – which makes you a game-changer who doesn’t want to be stuck in some kind of holding pattern.

The key to this? You have to believe you are awesome.

I don’t need to get into every instance of people letting people treat them poorly, putting up with borderline and crossing the border abusive behavior from coworkers, leaders, friends, family or significant others. Rampant racism, crippling imposter syndrome and inability to hold yourself accountable simply because you are worth it – I’ve seen that too much. You know it happens. You might experience one or more of those things on a daily basis.

No one is going to respect you unless you respect yourself. We get the energy we put out.

If you walk into your space and you don’t care about yourself, and you think you aren’t worth respect – you’re going to get that energy right back at you.

Give what you want to get.

Your Homework

Start realizing and owning your awesomeness by taking the following steps.

  1. Make a list of the things that make you YOU. This can be anything.
    For me, I love to read, I am a good listener, I bake like a badass, and I’m stubborn as all hell.
  2. Now take that list of things and, next to each one, write how it helps others or how it helps you.
    I am a good listener – I like being in the moment
    I bake like a badass – My husband gets to eat great cookies
  3. Next, check in with what motivates you – that “how it helps” prompt above? Look closer at your responses. Are they all affirmation from other people? Is it self-motivation? Make sure your motivations aren’t all rooted in other people – and if they are, ask WHY. Figure out why you care about what they think – AND how that helps you. Does it matter what they think? Can they be a game changer in your life? (I bet not.)
  4. Carry this list with you and keep adding awesome things to it. Check in when you need it. Edit it, alter it, save it, rewrite it. Pocket awesomeness – because those things that make you YOU? THAT is what makes you awesome. Not one part of it – the whole.

Remember, you aren’t pizza. Not everyone is going to like you (and there’s always that person out there who doesn’t like pizza anyway). If they still take issue with you and what you are doing? F*&# them, you don’t need it. Stop letting them cram your energy into a box, supernova.

I’m here for all the lessons.

There are easily hundreds more lessons that I’ve gotten – and will continue to get – with the rest of this project. One thing is for sure – when you are feeling like you’re too worried about things that haven’t even happened yet, worried about failing and thinking about what other people think, you aren’t alone. I’ve felt ALL of this. WE are ALL feeling like this, have felt like this, and will feel like this at some point or another.

Take comfort in never being alone, awesome one.