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What the Flu Taught Me About Life and Business

March 23rd, 2011 by Sherry Collier

All of a sudden, I found myself coughing a deep, raspy cough.  Not long after, I began to feel the familiar prickle of a fever and then the sneezing and the blowing of the nose.  I had caught a not-very-nice flu bug that had me in its grip with a vengeance.  I hadn’t been this sick in a few years.  I had read many books and articles about dealing with colds, flu bugs, and other illnesses (a side interest of mine) and discovered that the fever actually serves a purpose and is best left to run its course. 

In the past, I had run to the medicine cabinet for motrin or tylenol or some other med to stop the fever so I could get up out of bed and work (a mother’s work is never done).  Not this time.  I was determined to help my flu run its course in the shortest period of time possible, so I embraced the fever, cancelled all my clients and went to bed.  In two short days the fever broke on its own and I began to mend.  In the meanwhile, it got me thinking . . .

What if we treated our approach to our business this way?  What if we had some definitive “expert” advice that assured us that growing our business is much like embracing the fever in order to get well.  This expert might say to us, “That resistance you are feeling from your market place, that is just a sign that you need to keep positive, face the pain and not run for the feel-good fix of quitting or resigning yourself to never really getting the results you want.”  This expert might say, “Feel the fear and do it anyway,” or “these challenges you are facing are producing growth in you and your business – stay the course.”

Goodness knows I have experienced my  share of setbacks, disappointments, and challenges in my own business.  There have been times when I’ve caught myself thinking, “Well, maybe I should forget this whole entrepreneurial thing and get a job with steady pay, ” or “Is this ever going to work?  Maybe I didn’t understand God’s will for me correctly by starting this business.”  Running for the motrin (or in this case the easy-out pill of throwing in the towel).  But then I remember, the first two years of starting a business are the most difficult and probably the first 3 years are the most difficult when you start your business at the beginning of a recession.  I am able to remind myself the whole reason I went into business for myself was to create my dream and help other people to find their dream business.  This is a mission that is worthy of my stick-to-it-iveness. 

“Good things come to those who wait” -is a phrase I’ve heard a million times, but don’t know who said it.  I would like to embellish it a little – “Good things come to those who find ways to work through the pain, challenges, and obstacles despite how things look at any given moment in time.”  Here is a wonderful and beautiful secret I have discovered, just when you are at the peak of  your pain, when you release the outcome to God and vow to stay in there and fight, then comes some sort of help, success, or desired outcome. 

I think there is another lesson I learned from my recent bout with the flu.  That is when you take steps to nurture yourself in the midst of your pain, you are rewarded in life and business.  When the therapist models self-care by canceling all her clients due to illness, it shows the clients that the therapist takes care of her health.  When the business coach goes “offline” to get well, it models that self-care is vitally important to the health of your business.  I happen to be both a therapist and small business coach, but this applies to stay-at-home moms modeling self-care for her children, a policeman taking care of his health so he’s not driving a patrol car in a feverish haze.  You get the idea.  Self-care is vital.  You must slow down and take care of your health and well-being because no one else can do it for you.

To sum this all up – move into the pain of business challenges, not quitting and take care of your health and wellbeing.  Seems fairly simple, but not easy to do. 

(P.S.) Please do not interpret this article as medical advice – you will want to ask your doctor before attempting to let your next actual fever run its course.

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Five Tips: How to Move Out of Your Comfort Zone

March 14th, 2011 by Sherry Collier

You’ve heard it before, “move out of your comfort zone” is the familiar phrase spoken by many entrepreneurs, gurus and mentors. As a small business owner, I’ve come to appreciate the sage advice to move beyond my comfort zone in business, relationships, and life. As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist working at a non-profit counseling center, I was quickly becoming disillusioned with the amount of time, emotional energy, and effort I was putting in as a counselor for an extremely low income.

I found myself longing to spend more time with my boys and husband but I had student loans, licensing fees and association dues to pay – so I continued to work for the non-profit counseling center.  As I began to entertain the idea of going into private practice, I found all sorts of perfectly good reasons why I should not.

Eventually all the fears I felt about making the change were outweighed by the intense desire to move into my own office and practice Marriage and Family Therapy in my own unique way. I took my first step and sought an office to rent from another therapist by the hour. I began telling everyone I knew I was going into private practice and soon, I took on some clients. It felt so good to meet with clients in an office where I was in charge of how long the session would run, what specific treatment modality to use and what to charge for a session based upon the client’s needs. That was my first step outside my comfort zone.

Fast forwarding to the present moment, I now practice as a therapist and small business coach helping other healing practitioners and creative types start and grow the business of their dreams. Now that I’m working the way I have always wanted, it is an interesting phenomenon that I continue to find myself being lured into keeping things safe and comfortable. I have had to make a conscious effort to push myself beyond my comfort zone each and every day.

Here are 5 tips to help business owners step outside their comfort zone and into the adventure and success zone:

1. Change your thoughts – Everyone struggles with limiting thought patterns from time to time, but because thoughts drive feelings and behavior, it is important to learn to harness those negative thoughts and replace them with more reality-based, positive thoughts. It is absolutely true that when we choose to pay attention to the positive aspects of life this thought pattern orients our mind-body system toward success-inviting behaviors.

Start by examining those pesky little “what if” questions that creep into our minds. Questions like, “What if I invest in this form of advertising and it doesn’t work? ” “What if I open up my own office and can’t get enough business to pay the rent?”. These are the kind of fear-based questions that will keep you in your comfort zone. Harness those questions and replace them with positive “what if” questions. “What if I wrote some articles about my area of expertise and find I really enjoy it?” “What if spoke at an association meeting and was able to communicate my passion about my work?”

2. Move through fear with action. Use your fears to challenge yourself to new heights. The best antidote to fear is taking action. Take an adventurous approach to anything you fear. Are you afraid of calling that successful entrepreneur who might be able to help you out? Just do it – jot down a quick script, practice saying it out loud and then pick up that phone and call. Are you afraid to speak in front of groups? Perhaps you could join Toast Masters and learn how to speak in a group where everyone else is also learning. The crazy thing about fear is that it is an emotion that is rarely based in truth. Don’t let some distorted version of reality stop you from making gains, start taking actions and move through the fear.

3. Picture yourself reaching that next level of success. The brain can more easily create new neural pathways when we engage as many of the senses as possible, so create a mental movie that is rich in details. What would it look like when you reach that major goal? What kinds of sights, smells, tastes and feelings will you experience once you reach that goal? Take a few 5 minute breaks throughout the day to relax with deep breaths and run your mental movie. The more you picture yourself accomplishing your goal, the more likely you are to move out of your comfort zone to create the new thoughts and behaviors needed to succeed.

4. Take up a hobby or sport that moves you out of your comfort zone. Some entrepreneurs go sky-diving or wind-surfing – this allows them to experience the mind-body feeling state of doing something new and conquering fear. You do not necessarily need to take up a high-risk hobby or sport to move out of the comfort zone. You could try something as simple as hiking a little longer or higher than usual, taking a sculpting class, painting a picture without being concerned with the outcome or joining a community softball team.

The emotional and mental experience of trying a new hobby or sport will translate to an expanded vision for your business. It will make it easier to try new approaches, think new thoughts, and attempt new ways of doing business.

5. Invest money into your business. When times are tight, our knee-jerk reaction is to tend to cut back on our marketing budget, research and development and new equipment or software. Instead of giving in to the temptation to slash growth-producing spending, find some savvy ways to invest in your business that will signal your own psyche that you are willing to put your money where your mouth is. This moves us out of our comfort zone by growing our faith in ourselves and in our business as well as putting some skin in the game.

Now, I have moved into yet another adventure zone – I’ve added small business coaching which has taken me out of the comfort zone of simply practicing Marriage and Family Therapy. Now people depend upon me to help them combine their talents, gifts and passion to create the business of their dreams.

An important part of this process is self-discovery. I use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to help people discover their unique personality traits so they can play up their strengths and find ways to work with their weaknesses. Their personality will determine, to some degree, how much risk they are willing to take, how good they are at taking risks and how they can best move out of their own personal comfort zone.

If you need help moving out of your comfort zone, one of the best ways to get support is by hiring a coach, mentor, consultant or an objective person who will help you set new goals and reach for the stars.

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How Does Success Effect Friendships?

March 8th, 2011 by Sherry Collier

Whether you are an entrepreneur growing your own business, a career type moving up the ladder, or a stay-at-home mom (or dad) doing great things in your family and community, you may have noticed that when you begin to succeed – some of your friendships become strained.  What in the world is that about?  Success […]

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Optimize Your Brain: Practice Mindfulness

February 21st, 2011 by Sherry Collier

Individually and collectively, we have been traversing a particularly stressful period of time in our local and global economy.  There seems to be constant reports of global and local political unrest, weather challenges & natural disasters in addition to the struggling economy.  I don’t know about you, but I have felt the weight of this […]

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Overcome Irritability

January 17th, 2011 by Sherry Collier

Irritability rears its ugly head when we are feeling disappointed, hurt, angry, let down, or confused.  When the new year starts, we make all kinds of plans to improve, get organized, lose weight, build our business and a part of us thinks we will have the stamina and motivation to make real progress.  Somewhere around […]

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Three Tips for Keeping Resolutions

January 7th, 2011 by Sherry Collier

The New Year does provide us with a mental clean slate and a feeling of starting anew, so we often make resolutions.  What kinds of resolutions should we make?  How do we see them through?  What happens when we “fail” at keeping these resolutions?  I have three tips to address these questions. 1.  From a […]

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Goal-Setting: Getting Ready for a Purposeful 2011 – Part 3

December 14th, 2010 by Sherry Collier

Greetings!  I hope you are doing well as you prepare to celebrate the upcoming holidays.  January 1, 2011 is right around the corner and I’ve been writing this blog series about setting goals to keep you on track to success in life, love and work in 2011.  The last article covered big-picture goals – the overarching […]

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Goal Setting: Getting Ready for a Purposeful 2011 – Part 2

December 6th, 2010 by Sherry Collier

In Part 1 of this blog series, I wrote about how to take an inventory to prepare for your goal setting sessions.  If you have already completed the steps outlined in the “Taking an Inventory” portion, gather your three pages of written information about the past year and find a nice, quiet place to sit down […]

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Thanksgiving: Create Meaning and Happiness with Traditions

November 22nd, 2010 by Sherry Collier

Start A New Tradition The human brain finds comfort in rituals, structure, and traditions.  Sometimes our lives become too hectic with rushing from one activity to the next, so this Thanksgiving take some time to slow down and enjoy your meal along with some traditions that will soothe your soul.    When we gather together with family […]

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Success Mindset: Whip Your Brain Into Shape

October 27th, 2010 by Sherry Collier

If you want to start your own business and grow a successful business – you’ll also need to expand your mindset. Every entrepreneur has to work through mental and emotional blocks as they move forward in the business start-up phase and business expansion process. Blocks come as concerns about not having what it takes to […]

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