Fall in love with your purpose

What is your purpose?

The question is one to step into as a journey.
It can be easy. Here’s how:
Be curious. Be open to being surprised by what you discover.
Gently raise your purpose to your ear and listen.

Your purpose lives and changes just like you… savor each fleeting moment.

Carry your purpose with you wherever you go, in front of you, near your heart.
Spend time with your purpose. Indulge it. Forgive it. Romance it. Connect to it on a cellular and physical level.

Allow everything that transpires to be a gift in service of you and your divine purpose.

Then play, play, play.
What fun can you have with this?
What adventures might your purpose lead you into today?
Ease and passion coexist where purpose meets your physical presence, your actions, your mind.

Trust your purpose, and enjoy the ride!

Creative Constipation, Pt. II

I’ve had a huge shift in my creative output and relationship with my own creativity since I first drafted my first post on Creative Constipation (about a month ago). Turns out all I needed was to start drinking more coffee to get things moving. Just kidding.

Jokes aside, that post was a catalyst for committing to moving at the pace of my creativity and honoring my sometimes-raging-river pace of inspiration with equally free flowing action. When moving at my own pace (fast!) I feel more steady, more safe. I feel like I am moving with the river, not being batted around by it or swimming upstream. I am channeling, not “producing”.

Like I mentioned in a recent video post, I mention that one of my clients, Steve Raymond, recently reminded me of The Cult of Done Manifesto. I’ve re-upped my commitment to shipping unfinished, imperfect work. I feel aligned with the spirit of not judging creativity (not ‘my creativity’ but creativity itself), with the idea of not playing the role of ‘master’ or even ‘prison guard’ for my work, but rather to experience myself as a mere channel. Seeing the work as ‘not mine’ but rather a gift that I have been asked to deliver the world has been a welcome shift.

This way of looking at creativity is not a revelation for me. My wonderful mother Cinthia Joyce taught me this at a young age. It’s something I believed and valued for a long time, but have so often been scared to experience. I was committed to avoiding things I was scared of before. I’d try to make myself comfortable before acting. Now I am more committed to channeling regardless of fear. The current challenge is now not simply with channeling, but how to channel constructively, to create value and impact with intention, grace, and ease. David Penner I’ve always been in awe and admiration of your constructive creative expression through your music and so much else. I’ve wondered so many times how you do it without fear. Thanks for chiming in here.

What I’ve written or made since writing Creative Constipation:

  • Five blog post drafts that have been sent to my editor for feedback – works in progress include (Why the Best CEOs and Founders are the ones who need coaching the most, The Perfect Setup: life-hacking tips from me and my crew, and The Culture Diagram: The complexities of company culture broken down into x and y)
  • Eight pages of high level creative strategy docs to give myself a framework for channeling my creativity and creating more impact and value for my community through content and other work
  • Three video posts including one 4-part series of me in conversation with one of my kickass friends and collaborators, Terry Lee about what we call our colleagues (family? team?)  and checking in (emotionally) with the people we work with.
  • A new website for you to keep up with me! — stay tuned for news on that in the coming month(s)

I also find that collaborating gets me into a creative flow, whether it’s in person, over video chat, or in the comments on my posts. Feeding off of your ideas and momentum helped me write this post. I want to thank those of you who commented either here or on Facebook. Karen Penner, who recommended this book: What Highly Effective Women Know. Rhianna Brandt-Bangs, who reminded me that the first step of self-expression is accepting vulnerability.  Sherry Wong, who suggests a 24 hour tech “laxative” in keeping with the constipation theme, which I love. David Penner, who also kept with the theme, addressing the deleterious desire to self-edit: “Creating doesn’t mean you have to create something GOOD. Just create. Even if you think it’s bad, keep doing it. Realtime self editing will inevitably lead to blockage.” Danny Trinh, who gave 3 concrete steps for overcoming writer’s block:

1) “Just 15” – Silence the inner critic and just produce for 15 minutes. Just 15 minutes with no worry about editing/refining or if it’ll be shared with anyone. Sometimes it’s a complete mess and sometimes it turns out some real gems. That’s all fine. Sometimes my biggest blocker is just starting and this helps.

2) Crazy 8’s – something I learned from a mentor. Set a timer for 20 minutes and fold a piece of paper until it has 8 sections. Within 20 minutes, fill each of the 8 sections with a different idea / way to solve a problem you’re thinking about. Forcing myself to be very different, very quickly helps me avoid getting stuck on small details or getting too smitten with one idea. Doing this with colleagues also helps generate a lot of things to discuss quickly.

3) 30 minute jams – if I’m super stuck on something, sometimes I absolutely just need to talk to someone else about it for 30 minutes. Phone call / FaceTime for a fixed amount of time with a clear agenda sometimes really saves the day for me.

And last but not least, Paul Shaheen, who reminded me of priorities! “Figure out your personal / professional mission and be sure to give your most attention to the most relevant ones,” he says. Thanks Paul! That’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Creative Constipation

Once again, I woke up in the middle of the night flooded with ideas of things I want to do, make, and write about. A familiar voice deep inside of me said “This is too overwhelming, there are too many ideas here to possibly even capture, you will spin out of control and create an oceanic vomit of confusion if you even attempt to start writing… safer to do none of it. You have tried this before…. you always fail. Calm down and go back to sleep instead.”

This overwhelmed-with-creativity voice that says “You are too much, nobody understands you, better to stay small and tidy” needs a name, and I’m taking suggestions.

What happened next: At 5am I decided to get up and start writing anyway. I bounced out of bed, relieved to be up and so inspired!

I felt sweaty and still had the ocean salt and sand from last night on my legs. I knew that I’d feel better if I could sneak in a shower before my kids woke up, so I jumped in the shower to rinse off. Filled with excitement and ideas, I decided to try to meditate first to still my mind. I set up a little candle and a mat and flipped through three meditation apps exploring each one. Then I did a short 10 minute unguided with the candle and experienced vivid visuals.

Next, I sat down to write. I had to pick which app to use…. was I about to journal or blog? I read about some on my phone for the 100th time and relatively quickly (for me) settled on committing to Evernote after reading a great set of posts by Michael Hyatt. I downloaded the app and made coffee.

At that point, I’d been out of bed for about two hours. It was 7am and the kids were still not up. “Good,” I thought, “I can still do this.”

I opened my computer, and the first thing I saw was a search for a piano I was running on Craigslist. I got distracted and decided to search some more, then ask for advice about the decision on Facebook.

Finally, I got my focus back and opened up a new note. That got me here, writing about all of the things that get in the way when we feel inspired to create.

I’m going to call this pattern Creative Constipation. It’s what happens when I have SO many ideas backed up in me that I’m scared to let them out—scared it will hurt and make a mess.

I want to reflect on the reasons this back up occurs and what lessons we can learn from bodily blockages that also apply to spiritual and intellectual ones like this. I’ll follow up on this once I’ve had a little more time to think. In the meantime, does anyone else experience creative constipation like this? What do you do to find release and relief?

Video: On Gratitude and Hating Homework

It’s 7:30 a.m. I just woke up, and I’m wiped out. I had food poisoning yesterday. And it made me realize how grateful I am for how I normally feel. In the spirit of gratitude, I picked up this gratitude journal. It was a gift from my brother-in-law Devon, who’s a master of personal development and growth. Every day there are some questions you fill out.

Three in the morning:
1. I am grateful for…
2. What would make today great?
3. Daily affirmations

Two in the evening:
1. Three amazing things that happened today…
2. How could I make today even better?

There’s a bunch of information in the front of the book about how these questions are scientifically proven to help you live a better and happier life. And it’s making me wonder if these practices are something that I should be asking my coaching clients to take on. I notice that I really shy away from giving a lot of homework because I hate homework. I think that comes from a really self-limiting belief that I don’t do homework. In elementary school, I would be sent home with these little blue notes that I was supposed to give to my parents that said “ Guess whose goose is cooked?” And I would put them in my backpack, which was just a pile of disorganized paper, and eventually a stack of these blue notes would fall out and I’d give them to my parents. Luckily, my parents were pretty cool about that. I did well in school, but I wasn’t into homework.

This self-limiting belief is also rooted in scarcity. That there’s not enough time, that I don’t have enough time, that my clients don’t have enough time to do all of these things. And I don’t want to reinforce that in them. So I’m really going to pay attention now to how are my limiting beliefs about myself impacting the way I interact with clients, and am I challenging them enough? I think coaching is super powerful. I know that they see huge changes in their lives through the insights they get and the assignments I do give them. But in terms of habits and daily practices, I think I could really ramp that up. Because there’s so much evidence that these things really work: gratitude, meditation, exercise, getting enough sleep, drinking water first thing in the morning. It’s low hanging fruit. I’m inspired to make a menu of different habits I can offer my clients that they might volunteer to take on and check in with me about.

I’d love to hear if any of you have healthy habits or have worked with a coach or trainer or a program to develop them. There’s lot of tools and programs out there, and apps. I want to see what works for you. And I will check in and let you know what I’m doing.

Have a great Fourth of July!

Video: I’m going to be honest with you

Hi my friends,

I’m back! Last year, I promised to share more of my work and thoughts with all of you, since I knew it was going to be a big year of change. But my pace of personal evolution has been so fast that I haven’t had time to reflect on what is happening.

Now, that I am getting my footing, I feel like I have so much to tell you and so much I want to say about my executive coaching work and how it has continued to evolve and grow. Plus, LIFE and personal development and insights about being a woman and a mom and an entrepreneur… There are a million stories to share! It’s a bit overwhelming. And perfection is the enemy of sharing here, hence….

I have a plan: I am going to start using this blog, the Caneelian, for sharing my rough drafts.

I just re-read the Cult of Done for about the 15th time, which reminded me if I can’t press publish before I stand up I’m never going to publish.

So, I am going to do more video, update unfinished work, out incomplete drafts up here, really personal stuff, and strange things that come to me in middle of the night.

If you want to come along for the ride, you’re invited to read all of it and share what comes up for you. I will be looking at comments as I always do and integrating them into more finished drafts for a more polished place, which I’ll tell you about later.

My intention is to open up my creative flow, and in spirit of modeling vulnerability — which I believe is the essence of powerful leadership — I’m going to be using this to show you behind the curtain.

My goal is to do 3 posts somewhere online at least once a month, at least 1 of those being here.

If you want to start your own brand experiment or are already doing something like this, please comment and we can follow each other.

Thanks for watching! See you again soon!

Motherhood changed my perspective—and elevated my career

Back in January, I wrote about why I was ready to be braver this year. That post was me saying ‘this is going to be a big year for me.’ Ten months later, I can confidently say I was right. I transformed my coaching and consulting company, Kickass Enterprises, and it continues to transform my life. I reexamined many of the goals I held at the beginning of the year. Many of these have morphed as I’ve learned more about myself and connected more fully with my passion. I want to update you on that here and share some of what I learned from going all in and changing the way I do business.

My ah-ha moment(s)

My first son prompted me to leave my job as a professor at the London School of Economics and move my family back to California to return to my first love—working with startups (which I surprisingly found to be more friendly to women than academia).

This time motherhood prompted me to hone my focus even more.

As I was holding my three-week-old daughter, Arrow, in my arms in the middle of the night almost a year ago, I had a revelation. I was wrestling with the fact that I was already itching to get back to work, while I was simultaneously aware that every moment of that short newborn period is so precious and delicious that there’s nothing worth doing more than savoring and enjoying it. When you’re priorities are so clear, you achieve a preternatural insight into yourself and your goals. I remember thinking— “Whatever I choose to go back to doing, it better be f**king worth it.”

This post on Medium is written by another women in tech, who during her maternity leave also thought deeply about how she spends her time and how she wants to improve it. Maternity leave is not a ‘break’, but it is a big shift — a change in both your day-to-day and in your lifelong identity which creates a different level of perspective. You are forced by the nature of early motherhood to stay fully present. You must be tuned into your body and the emotions and needs of another in a complete way. This presence creates space to consider things in a new light. It helps you see opportunity, and engage in radical self inquiry. In fact, it forces you to do this.

Leaning into my strength

My mission is to help creative people and entrepreneurs bring their vision and ideas into the world. And, thanks to the perspective I gained during my maternity leave, I was able to realize that 90% of the value I was creating for clients was coming from about 5% of the time I was spending with them. Coaching was actually something I was sneaking in back door of my consulting practice at that point. I was doing growth strategy, and, upon examining my successes with clients, I found that the biggest business growth came when the founder was able to unlock their own potential, to explore their deeper fears, to lean into the most challenges aspects of their humanity and their leadership. It was time for me to take the advice I have given founders so many times and cut out the features that only diluted my offering, and reduce complexity in order to serve more powerfully. So, I decided to pivot towards authenticity: ‘What if I strip away everything non-essential and only do the 5% that creates profound value— the coaching?’

While I still do strategy and organizational design, I now do it through coaching startup execs and founders. Calling myself a “coach” was difficult as first. But that was silly, frightened, ego stuff. Worth feeling, but not being guided by. Because it’s only when the leaders I work with are open to deep personal transformation that any other strategies and tactics would make any difference. For most leaders, unlocking growth and creating an epic company that fulfills their deepest vision is not an A to B process, but rather a personal shift in perspective that allows them to unlock the creativity and courage necessary for them to catalyze business growth. Great work is a spiritual journey.

Find your passion

I am excited to introduce you to this new shift in my business. By deciding to be pure and honest in what I’m offering, I have been able to kickstart growth for my clients. And once I started doing this, growth started happening for me and for my business, too. Here’s a post about what happens when you connect fully with your purpose, inspired by what happened to me when I had the space and time to be fully present and achieve this. Check it out and see if it resonates with you. And if you’re interested in working with me to unlock your creativity and step into your full power, you can get in touch with me here.