What’s Your Why?

Flying...Photo Credit: Wendy Pitts Reeves

Why do you do what you do?

If you’ve found a way to earn a living doing something you really love, congratulations.  You are WAY ahead of most folks.

You’re also pretty gosh darned unusual – because that’s not how it is for most people.

See, most people live by default.

They float through time like driftwood, landing wherever life, and circumstance, carries them. They grow up, get a job, get married, have kids, buy a house. Some choose a career that seems pretty reasonable, and may even go after higher education or extra training to get it. But most – even those with college degrees – will take something that basically pays the bills and supports the family, whether it’s what they really want to do, or not.

And most will think that’s just the way it has to be, because after all, we can’t always get what we want, right?

Perhaps. Perhaps not.

The sad truth is that very few people spend their days doing what they really, truly, passionately…

…Love.

I think about this a lot.

My life stays pretty full. My family teases me about it. My friends caution me about it. My clients have learned to be patient when I’m hard to reach because I’m off on yet another who-knows-what idea.

And there are (many, many) days when I think, “Why can’t I just stay in my office 8-5,  Monday through Friday, do perfectly good work there, and be satisfied with that? Life would be so much simpler…

Indeed. What IS that?

What is it that drives me to continually try new things, explore new ideas, test new ways of Being in the world, when it would be so much easier not to?

WHY do I do that?

Because I have always been determined to do what I love – even if what I love, changes.

And what about you?
Why do you do what you do?
How did you get where you are?

And is this really where you want to be?

The journey is the thing.
-Homer, The Odyssey

The key is to keep asking that question, and stay open to the ever changing answers.

I started out, back in the day, as a broadcasting major. I was in love with writing, and thought that landing a spot as a news anchor would be fun AND pay the bills.

By the time I got out of college, I’d fallen in love with psychology, changing majors even though I knew it wasn’t practical. You can’t GET a job with a BA in psych, so I knew that meant more school, and a less-than-sure-thing job search.

By the time I got out of graduate school, I was in love with working with teens and had what I thought was my dream job, with good pay, an office in a log cabin, and a work day that included campfires and long walks in the woods.

By the time I became a mom, I was in love with a certain little brown-eyed boy, and knew I wanted to be home more. But I couldn’t find a part time job, so I started a business instead. Building my own practice let me set my own hours and honor my own priorities.

I had no idea what I was doing – but I learned.

By the time I was Mama to two, I was in love with a little brown-eyed girl, AND with the thrills (and challenges) of owning a business. I had also reconnected with a passion first ignited in college – a passion for supporting and empowering women and girls. So I accepted an invitation to help start an annual event for girls (the Sister to Sister Summit, which continued for eleven years and served over 1000 girls), and launched an idea to help other women be in business for themselves (Cove Mountain Counseling, one of the premier counseling centers in our community today).

I had no idea what I was doing – but I learned.

By the time my kids were in high school, I’d fallen in love with community work, and accepted an invitation to run for office. I was still passionate about empowering women, and knew I had to ‘walk my talk’. If I ran, maybe others would. So I did. And so did others.

I had no idea what I was doing – but I learned.

By the time I finished a term in office, I was restless, and ready for a new challenge. So I spent six months reading, journaling, praying, listening, and waiting for what was Next. And I realized how much I’ve always been in love with travel, and how much it helped when I could convince my clients to travel, too. So I launched Secret Adventures for Courageous Women.

I had no idea what I was doing – but I learned.

And after three years of running Secret Adventures, I’ve come full circle, and realize how much I still love being a business owner, and still love helping women be in business for themselves. So I started offering private coaching for small, heart-centered businesses, and launched the C2C Small Business Success Circle.

And yes, by now, I actually do know what I’m doing. :)

Life is good.
Do what you like.
Like what you do.

You’ll recognize that quote from the popular Life is Good company. I love their motto – because it’s pretty much how I live my life.

And knowing your “why” is key to “doing what you like, liking what you do”.

This is what I know for myself: I have an absolute passion about helping women recognize – and own – what beautiful, brave and powerful beings they already are.You should go do them

And I have an absolute love of adventure (and to me, everything is an adventure).

So that’s why I do what I do.

How about you? Do you love what you do?

And if not, why not change it?

(And if you need a little help figuring out what that would look like, let me know!)

Easy Adventures and Everyday Getaways: 9 Ways to Play This Summer

DaisiesDon’t let the summer get away from you.

Because the full and busy life that Fall brings will be on us all soon enough. :)

It’s July, and I’ve been planning out our Secret Adventures for 2014-2015 season, so the art of play is on my mind a lot. Do you have a special request, or a few favorites that you’d love for us to do if we could? If you do, better tell me! You can use the comments below.

And as I do this for what will be our FOURTH year (can you believe it?!), I’m also thinking about what it takes to create an Adventure that works. I’ve learned a lot since that very first night, when I led some of you on a surprise full moon hike to Look Rock. When we kick off this August, I’ll be adding to the mix, a chance to share some of those lessons with you, as well.

In the mean time, here’s a few of my favorite ideas, in no particular order, to help you make the most of these long, lovely sunny days right here at home – before they disappear into the rear view.

  • Set up your own spa day.  Spend an afternoon getting a massage and a facial, then follow it up with a manicure and a pedicure. Top the day off sharing a leisurely favorite beverage with your best friend at an outdoor restaurant.
  • Splurge on a harmless day of window shopping. A few hours dreaming stirs your imagination without hurting your budget. :) That might mean spending a couple of hours trying out the couches at your favorite furniture stores, or combing through the stacks of a local used bookstore. When I had a house full of pre-schoolers, allowing myself a few hours to wander through my favorite strip of antique stores was a delicious ‘escape’.
  • Plan a personal picnic. Pack a folding camp chair, a pair of water shoes, a good book or your journal, and a small cooler with snacks and something cold to drink. If you live near the mountains, as I do, there are countless options for taking an afternoon off for some solo quiet time. Find a pull-off with a view, set your chair up in the grass, and enjoy the comings and goings of others while reading, Being, and breathing the fresh air. My favorite – especially on a hot summer day – is to plant my chair IN a shallow creek for an hour or two. Just be careful about keeping your books dry!
  • Play tourist in your hometown. Pretend that you’re a first time visitor to your city. Where would you start? Usually – you’d go to the local Visitor Center, pick up a couple of brochures, and ask the earnest young woman working the desk for advice about what to see. Many people never see the local sites that others drive 100’s of miles to explore.  What are you missing that’s in your own backyard?
  • Widen your perspective. Start with your home city, but look at other cities and towns within an hour of where you live. What’s there that you’ve missed? Is there a museum that you’ve always heard of but never visited? Could you take a scenic train ride? Is there a local amusement park? (And if there is, who said you have to have kids to go ride a roller coaster?)
  • Go for a drive. Some of my best afternoons have been spent in a car I love to drive, windows down, music playing, driving the scenic roads in my part of the country. Now – my backyard is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so I’ll admit to an unfair home advantage. But even driving through a new neighborhood to see what they’re building, trying out a country road to see where it goes, seeing if you can get from point A to point B without hitting a main road. All of those can be fun. (Oh – and cranking up Beethoven with your windows down at a stoplight can be a real hoot if teens are nearby.)
  • Get some culture. Almost any music is better live than it will ever be on a radio. Where could you hear some live music in your area? For those of you reliving your teen years, a little southern rock at a smoky bar can still feel like a little forbidden pleasure. For those who just can’t stay up that late any more, there are bbq spots with live blues, pizza joints with country & folk, and free outdoor concerts hosted by your hometown symphony or even a top-notch professional band. Comb through the calendar listings of your local papers for ideas. And don’t limit yourself to the daily news. In our area, a local alternative weekly has the most complete listing of local events I’ve ever seen.
  • Go outside and play. When you were a kid, did your mom ever tell you to turn off that TV and go outside to play? Well – she was on to something there. Human beings are natural beings, and too much time under florescent lights breathing stale air stifles the best of us. Go walk the greenway. Feed the ducks. Ride your bike. Take a day hike in the woods. Try a Saturday morning kayaking class and see how easy it is to float your way out of a stressful week.
  • Become a kid again. Plan a movie night with all your childhood favorites. (Mary Poppins? Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?) Set up a tent in your backyard, grab a stack of Nancy Drew mysteries from your local library (or your favorite adult spy novels), and pile up pillows and blankets for a night under the stars. Blow bubbles. Chase fireflies. Have  your girlfriends over and sit on the porch until long after dark, listening to the night music in your yard. Better yet – pull out some cushions and a sleeping bag and sleep right there on the porch. An astounding variety of birdsong will wake you just at sunrise, a beautiful way to start any day.

Me? For now, I’m just gonna take my glass of tea and sit on the porch for a while. :)

How about you? 

What’s on your summer bucket list?

~Wendy

P.S. Oh – and one more thing.

I am super excited about this! In August, I’ll be holding a free one hour tele-seminar, where I’ll share with you some of my secrets for planning Everyday Adventures that work. If you’ve been curious about how you could use my Everyday Adventure model in your own business this is for you.  Details are over on the website. Register there and I’ll send you everything you need to hop on the call!!

 

Photo Credit: “Michael” on Flickr

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…

Virginia is for Lovers

And that pretty much describes a good portion of our Courageous Women’s Summer Camp last week. :)

We packed up in the afternoon sun, and headed north for what I hoped would be four days of peace and beauty, with a healthy dose of good old fashioned fun.  After weeks of hot sunny days with scattered afternoon thundershowers, we were eager for the cool green of the mountains, and it was just fine if we got a little rain.

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That’s part of camping too, after all, so I wasn’t too worried about that.

And we did have fun. Great fun – riding the Virginia Creeper Bike Trail and trying out the famous Barter Theater.

But we also got three unusually gray days, plenty of cool temps, and actually, a LOT of rain.

And thunder.

And lightening.

And…well…let’s just say a little unexpected excitement. :)

Thus began the lessons of this particular Adventure.

Over the next 4 days, we learned a lot about how to camp in the rain, like how to keep your belongings dry and your tent cozy.The Virginia Creeper Bike Trail

–How to hang a big tarp to sit under, and light a lantern to push back the dark..

–How tiki torches can turn a campsite into a (bug free) living room.

–How to build a fire with wet wood, and cook a hot meal even in the dampest of conditions.

When the weather changed on a dime and a couple of us got caught in a storm on our bikes – we learned about advance planning, emergency shelter, and great ideas about communication.

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The Virginia Creeper Bike Trail

When one of my dear friends became unexpectedly ill, we learned about seeking services in unfamiliar territory, important preparation skills, and the kindness of strangers. (She’s fine by the way – but we needed to make sure.)

Oh – and once, after taking a wrong turn, I got an unexpected refresher course in backing up a trailer on a crooked country road with a drop-off and a creek on one side.

That part was pretty funny.

And I’m really, really glad you weren’t there to see it. :)

But we also learned this. Carra loves her air mattress!

–That once you have the hang of it, a bad day camping is better than a good day at the office – any day.

–That attitude really IS everything.

–That a nice, warm fire makes all the difference on a gray day – whether that’s a campfire, a tiki torch, a lantern, or a candle.

–That taking in a funny, sweet play in the middle of a soggy trip is a wonderful way to dry out. — Though I actually bought the tickets weeks ago. :)

Yes, THAT was the Secret Adventure.

–We learned that sitting under a nice tarp with a gentle rain over head, a blanket in your lap, a cup of hot coffee and a journal in your hand, can be a really nice way to spend a morning.

Sharing–That deep connections happen among women friends who spend any kind of time together in almost any kind of circumstances. And how special that can be.

We learned that Intention is a Powerful Thing.

 

(Because each of us, in often unexpected ways, found OUR intentions coming true all weekend long.)

And perhaps more than anything else, we learned that when we move forward in our lives with quick, decisive action, no matter what the skies say, things have a way of working out.

The clouds clear. The sun comes back.
And Adventures unfold as they should. Sunny Morning

So here’s a toast to the Courageous Women who joined me last weekend, who made me proud, filled my heart, held on to their sense of humor and rediscovered their sense of wonder.

In spite of everything.

Because of everything.

And what powerful lesson on the best way to travel through Life, the Greatest Adventure of all.

Thank you.

(My Own) 5 Laws of Effective Leadership

It’s The Weekend!

I don’t think there’s any such thing as a ‘born’ leader.

Now, that doesn’t mean some folks aren’t naturally more charismatic, better at gaining attention, or have a natural ease in front of a crowd. Some are even pretty good at assigning tasks, giving orders and getting things done.

But true leadership is so much more than that.

True leadership, to me anyway, is an ability to inspire others to take creative, consistent and effective action towards a greater vision, a common Good, a larger purpose in which they all share.

True leadership, to me, is having a humble knack for getting ordinary folks to do extraordinary things, in ways that are good for everyone – the leader, the team, and those they serve through their efforts.

And true leadership is an acquired skill; something anyone with an open mind and a Courageous spirit can learn.

Last week, we hosted the 2014 East Tennessee Women’s Leadership Summit, an annual event I started years ago when I served on the the Tennessee Economic Council on Women. It was through my service on the Council that I learned how much we need to do to lift up the women of East Tennessee.

I realized that when women achieve the personal, professional
(and economic) success they are truly capable of,
the standard of living for an entire community rises.

And for women to accomplish that kind of success, they must allow themselves to develop, respect and use their own leadership skills.

So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concept of leadership.

After years of experience as a small business owner, a community volunteer, and even some time in public office, I’ve seen a pretty wide range of leadership styles.

And I’ll be honest; some of them have been painful to watch.

Others, though, have given me a powerful – and positive -  example to follow, allowing me the chance to develop my own skills, and decide what kind of leader I want to be.

It’s a never-ending growth process, one of life-long self-improvement, but here’s what I know.

So far. :)

(My Own) 5 LAWS of EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP

1. Motivate.

♥ Be prepared to articulate a vision, and have at least the start of a plan for how to make that vision real. See possibility that may be invisible to others, and help them see it too. Inspire them. You are more than just a facilitator.

♥ Believe in what you’re doing and your ability to do it. If you don’t believe it, why should we?

♥ Remember your ‘why’. Remind your people what you’re here for, why you do the work you do. Come back to this again and again, especially when the work gets harder.

2. Delegate.

♥ Set people up to succeed. If there’s a problem, talk with them honestly about what’s working and what isn’t. Give them time to improve or adjust. If it doesn’t happen, find a graceful way to let them / get them off the team if necessary. And consider the possibility that they may be the right person who’s just in the wrong role.

♥ Hold people accountable for what they say they will do. Realize that you will have to step on toes from time to time. To allow incompetency or poor behavior to continue is harming the organization for the sake of one person. That’s not fair to anyone, and it’s ineffective leadership.

♥ Manage conflict proactively. Healthy disagreement and debate will lead your team to better work and greater achievement. Discouragement, outright criticism and unnecessary negativity will weigh them down. Stimulate the former. Limit the latter.

♥ But don’t micro-manage. Have clear written expectations of what you want each person to do or what is required for each role they fulfill. Then give them room to try things on their own. Reward initiative and creativity. And when it doesn’t work, praise them for trying, then help them analyze their efforts so things will go better next time.

3. Educate.

♥ Lead by example. Don’t ask your team to do something you’re not willing to do yourself.

♥ Be willing to teach them the skills they need to be successful if necessary. Be prepared to hand-hold a new or struggling group until they get the hang of it or until you have a critical mass who can do more on their own.

♥ Be prepared to do more. If your team is small, inexperienced, tired, or limited in some way, you as leader will have to be much more hands-on with what you do. You can’t just make a pronouncement about what you want and expect that it will somehow get done. This will require hours of your time and lots of your energy. That’s just reality. (And that’s when you most need to realign with your ‘why’.)

4. Innovate.

♥ Encourage new ideas. Create an atmosphere that balances the importance of tradition and stability with the critical need for new ideas, new people, and new input.

♥ Make it safe for your people to speak up, to ask questions or disagree, to take action and make a mistake, or even to try something that may seem a little crazy at first. You don’t always know what will work, and in that spirit new ideas and possibilities will be discovered.

5. Celebrate.

♥ Actively build relationships by greeting people warmly when they join your team or even enter the room for a meeting. Make sure they know you’re glad they’re there. Make them feel welcome, included, needed and appreciated.

♥ Get to know them all. Use individual phone calls and in-person meetings (lunch, coffee) to get to know your team. Look for opportunities to encourage, inspire and grow them as individuals.

♥ Celebrate their (your) success. Thank them publicly. And privately. And often. Praise them in front of your audience, your customers, your meetings, on line. Celebrate the work that they do, the talents they bring to the table, and the impact the group makes in the world.

♥♥♥

This just a start, of course, as there’s much more to being an outstanding leader. But what do you think? Am I on the right track here? What would you add?

Photo Credit: Ian Sane on Flickr