Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach - America's Marketing Motivator

Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker &
Executive Presentation Coach
Let's Talk. 860-371-8801 or Email me
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach - America's Marketing Motivator
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach - America's Marketing Motivator

Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker &
Executive Presentation Coach
Let's Talk. 860-371-8801 or Email me
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach - America's Marketing Motivator
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach
Let's Talk. 860-371-8801 or Email me

Stop the joy suckers

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Last week, I attended the tenth annual Women in Business (WIB) Summit, hosted by Kisha Zullo. The WIB Summit is one of my favorite local professional women’s conferences. I was the keynote speaker at this conference in 2013, and loved it so much that I have returned as a registered guest for the past two years. I always meet cool people and walk away with inspired ideas and more energy. Let me take this opportunity to share two great pieces of actionable advice with you, that I gained at this conference.

Best advice #1 : Flip the Boat

There was an awesome morning panel on leadership which included people that I know and respect, including Lana Crowder from The Travelers, and Nancy Di Dia who is Chief Diversity Officer at the pharma company, Boehringer Ingelheim. The panel was moderated by Dr. Bridget Cooper, who just launched her newest book, Stuck U. Finishing off the panel was Lena Rodriguez, CEO of The Community Renewal Team, and The Honorable Judge Robin Lynn Wilson, who currently serves in the New Haven Connecticut Judicial District.

I took pages and pages of notes trying to capture the wisdom of this highly experienced panel. My favorite insight was imparted by Nancy Di Dia’s personal story of rowing. Her coach advised her to Flip the Boat so that she could let go of the fear that was stifling her performance. By deliberately overturning the boat and falling into the water, she would learn that she could handle failure. How many of us live in fear of our personal and professional “boats” overturning, only to put a limit on our own potential?

Best advice #2 : Give away what you don’t love

Among the inspiring thought-leaders at the WIB Summit was the morning keynote speaker, Patty Lennon. She spoke of the forces of love and fear in our lives and what holds us back. She was one of those energizing speakers that dares to be her true self on stage and shares her own successes and failures in order to touch lives and motivate her audience to action. Patty had us laughing and crying, reflecting and projecting, and motivating ourselves to action.

patty lennon - Youtube Channel art
Patty is all about listening to and following the voice of love inside of you (aka your intuitive self.) She explained that you can’t achieve “work-life balance”  until you give yourself what you need and bring yourself into balance.  She told her audience that we intuitively know what we need…but that fear is blocking us from speaking it and seeking it.

Patty then challenged us to stop doing the things that suck the joy and love right out of our lives. She bucketed those into three categories:

  1. CLOSET – take out everything in your closet that you don’t love and give it away. Period!
  2. CALENDAR – cancel or decline any activity that takes away joy and progress towards your goal.
  3. CONTACTS – stop hanging out with people who are joy suckers. You know who they are.

Let’s start with the closet

The easiest of the three for me to cull is my closet. I’ve done it a few times in the past, and it is liberating. I told my husband (who is a frugalist)  what I was about to do, and he tried to temper my enthusiasm, by suggesting that not everything needs to be given away at once. Perhaps things could be stored?

I once heard an NPR radio interview with an expert who said that people tend to overvalue the things they already have. Research suggests that people will continue to spend good money (and time) after bad, rather than ending something that has little hope of prosperity. Think about how hard it is for teams to “kill” their project, or presenters to not use their PowerPoint slides that they spent so much time and effort on. The old stuff is often holding us back from moving forward.

Set the bar high

Love, not like. Want, not need.

Patty was very clearly in setting a high bar for this exercise.  She didn’t say, if you don’t like it, let it go. She said, if you don’t absolutely love it, then it has to go. Imagine if that were the criteria for shopping. How many things we would walk away from (and reduce the accumulation of unnecessary personal debt).

With these marching orders, I tore into not one, but two, closets full of clothes, and all of my handbags, my belts, my shoes, and the big one – my jewelry box!!!! I sorted things quickly, without arguing or bargaining with myself.

  • Voice of fear and status quo: “Oh, don’t let that blouse go. You paid a lot of money for it. I know you’ve only worn it twice, but maybe someday…Just hang on to it.”
  • Voice of love and intuition:Nope. Bye bye blouse. I never loved you anyway. I only bought you because you were on sale. I thought I needed you. Turns out, I don’t.” 

With each decision, I felt more empowered and energized.

Calendar Ego

The next step to regaining the love for my life is to cull my calendar. This is going to be a bit trickier, because it’s harder to say “no” to people, than it is to clothes. Or is it?

I am aware that I get a false sense of importance when I look at a full calendar, versus a calendar that has lots of open slots and white space. But white space is not empty space. It’s breathing room. It’s thinking time. It’s time that I can give myself to pursue what I really want. I don’t really love more meetings. Do you?

Here are five calendar loving ideas:

  1. Learn how to tactfully decline meeting invitations. Unless you are crucial to the meeting discussion, decision, or outcome, you are better off skipping the meeting and reading the notes afterwards.
  2. Block out time on your calendar for yourself. Schedule meetings with yourself.
  3. Reduce the time you spend on social media. Don’t kid yourself – it’s mindless entertainment, just like TV.
  4. Don’t allow other people to put things on your calendar without your permission (not even your spouse!)
  5. Your time is valuable. Don’t give it away so freely.

Contacts – create a Red Velvet Rope policy for yourself

I once read in a Michael Port book (Book Yourself Solid) that when it comes to business, we should only say yes to clients and people who bring out the best in us. He drew the analogy of a high end club where the body guards watch the door and only let “select” people in. The others have to wait behind the red velvet rope until they are invited in. To a business owner, this sends the important message that you get to choose with whom you do business.

But what about if you are employed by a company? You don’t often get to choose your boss or even your colleagues or teammates. In fact, sometimes you are stuck with a real jerk who seems bent on making your life miserable. What then?

You may not have total control over the people that you work with or even live with, but here are five fun-loving ideas for your contacts.

  1. Networking relationships are “at will” relationships. You are not obligated to network with someone just because they make a request of you.
  2. Remember that when you spend time with people, you are investing in that relationship. Ask yourself, is this an investment that I want to grow, or not?
  3. Prioritize quality of relationships over quantity of contacts. Numbers don’t buy you love.
  4. Set and honor your personal boundaries. Don’t let people take from you (joy, love, energy, respect, etc.) without your explicit permission.
  5. If you repeatedly find yourself feeling drained and exhausted after spending time with a networking friend or colleague, that might be a sign that this relationship is not good for you. People should lift you up, not bring you down. It might be time to make new friends…

In summary, there are things that bring joy and love to your life. People, projects, experiences, and things that ignite your passion and bring out the very best in you. You want to invest more of your time, money and energy in these areas. They will fill you with joy and help you to live a life that you will love. To everything else, “Just Say No.” Stop doing the things that rob you of your joy, starting with your closets, calendars, and contacts.

Thanks, Patty Lennon, for the inspiration and motivating kick in the seats of the pants!



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