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change

Change is coming!

I am so excited to finally let you know that major changes are happening behind the scenes with The Circle of Influence Membership Site! We have listened to your feedback and I believe what we are unrolling will be exciting and useful for all of you!

Here is what you can expect:

  1. The price will be cut in half! Come on, who doesn’t like that?!
  2. The amount of material you will get each month will double! We will now post every Monday morning. The posts will be automated so you will know that first thing Monday morning you can access new material.
  3. The Circle of Influence will be designed around 26 ice breakers and team building worksheets. These will be posted as a jpg preview on the site, but there will be a PDF download provided for each worksheet.
  4. Additionally, on the first Monday of each month, we will provide a blog post on a specific team building topic.
  5. Since the material will cover 26 weeks you will be able to join at any point, stay for 26 weeks, and then you will have collected all the worksheets. We will recycle the material every six months so people really can join at any time.
  6. The material will be intentionally designed for coaches of athletic teams, teachers, and leaders.

I am so excited about the changes we are making and I am thrilled to be able to better serve those who desire to develop others. You can sign up here and you will see the changes starting Monday, Oct, 2nd.

Thanks for being a part of the Circle of Influence! Molly

FindYourNextFoothold (1)

Find Your Next Foothold

Find your next foothold is good advice when you are climbing Mount Everest and when you are climbing through life. That concept was recently put to the test in my own life. For the last four years, I have been based in Springfield, Illinois. As my business has grown I have found myself in the car driving to work with my St. Louis-based clients on a regular basis. Additionally, St. Louis is the closest major airport. I knew at some point I would need to move to St. Louis to continue to grown my business, to be closer to my St. Louis clients, and to be near an airport for my clients who are outside of my driving distance.

A few months ago I asked a Realtor to give me some advice about what I needed to do to my condo before I tried to sell it. She came over, suggested a few changes, and told me to let her know when I was ready to list it. I was in no rush.

My Realtor recently called and said she knew of someone looking for a two-bedroom condo in my Association. She also said there were no two-bedrooms for sale and she wanted to know if I was ready to list my place?  I said, “Sure, why not?” (Note to self: Answer your own rhetorical questions.) She came over the next day and I signed the listing paperwork. The following morning at 9am we had a showing and from that one showing, I had an offer that I couldn’t pass up – when does that happen?!

For about 24 hours I celebrated and then I had my, “oh no” moment when I realized I had about 30 days to pack up and move and in that process, I needed a new mortgage lender, a St. Louis Realtor, and I also had to find a new home.  I got in my car and headed to St. Louis to work on my to-do list. For about 48 hours I was convinced I had made a tragic mistake. Nothing was going as planned. When Plan A failed I moved to Plan B, and then Plan C, and then Plan D… the next day after I had left my own self-pity party I found myself on the phone with a close friend who I think was more stressed about this than me. She said, “so WHAT are you going to do?” I simply replied, “find my next foothold.”

I am not an expert at mountain climbing, but I do have a lot of experience at overcoming mountains and walls in my own life and here is what I know:

  1. Footholds matter: A foothold is where you place your foot in order to leverage your next move. People often assume that climbing is all about your hands and arms since those are the parts that reach the top first but without a foothold, your hands and arms have too much weight to carry. When you are planning to move you need to find a foothold before you try and push yourself forward. If you want to reach forward in life you first need to find a foothold that will support you securely.
  2. Know where you are: You cannot plot a course until you know where you are. While the temptation may be to always look forward there is a time and place to look at your feet to gain a clear understanding of where you are. This will also help you to determine what your next move needs to be. You can’t move forward until you know where you are. 
  3. Climb with silent feet: When you climb with silent feet it forces you to be intentional about every step you take. You can’t climb a mountain, literally or figuratively, with loud feet. When you think about keeping your feet silent you have to think about every step you take which forces you to be intentional. No matter where you are headed be intentional and climb with silent feet. 
  4. Take small steps: Any expert climber will validate the idea that we need to take small steps. Our bodies can only cover so much ground at once. When a climber gets near the summit of Mount Everest they don’t run to the top because they know they are pushing their bodies to the brink of death, so they take slow, small, deliberate steps. The same is true in life, the more we push ourselves the more we need to focus on taking small steps. 

Climbing is all about your feet. You need to find your next foothold, know where you are, climb with silent feet, and take small steps.

And last but not least, your feet, move them often.

itdoesnthavetobethisway

It doesn’t have to be this way…

I recently spent some time at a much-needed retreat. The group was lead by facilitators who have trained with the Center for Courage and Renewal. Some of our time was spent sharing with the group as well as moments of silence as we each reflected on a series of thought provoking questions. We also practiced the skill of deep listening with open and honest questions in smaller more intimate groups. It was such a gift to be able to share this experience with people who were previously strangers.

At one point we were asked to identify a word or phrase that had surfaced for us during our time together and then to write that word or phrase on a rock. The phrase that kept coming to mind for me was, “it doesn’t have to be this way.” On the surface these words might sound negative, but for me, they are complete joy. Six months ago I made the decision to leave my career and start my own business and in the process, I have gained a deep appreciation for our own ability to make changes in life.

Today these words are associated with freedom and they only have a positive connotation for me. These words feel more like a rallying cry, something I wanted to put on a t-shirt and share with the world, “Hey everybody, it doesn’t have to be this way! Whatever it is, change is an option. No matter how hard it seems, you really can do it!”

The reality is as leaders we often fail to remember that we must lead ourselves first and in our ever loving complex relationship with verbs we often forget that we can embrace verbs for ourselves too. When our lives speak to us saying, “it doesn’t have to be this way” we need to pause, listen and act.

Maybe it’s a business decision, a relationship, a financial matter or hundreds upon hundreds of other things that are no longer working for us. Maybe this is something that served a healthy purpose or a positive role at one point in your life, but it is now passed it’s prime. It doesn’t have to be this way. You can make a change, I am living proof of that.

If you want to make a change repeat after me, “it doesn’t have to be this way.”  So wrestle with your demons. Listen to your inner voice. Ask questions. Struggle to formulate answers. Sit in silence. Share your thoughts with those you trust. Say yes. Say no. Quit your job. Reprioritize. Stand up. Sit down. Take small steps. Take giant quantum leaps. End a relationship. Start a relationship. Change your diet. Draw new boundaries. Workout. Chase your passions. Rest more. Travel. Make new friends. Take a class. Trust your heart. Ask for forgiveness. Forgive yourself. Be still. Move forward. Speak your truth. Act. Grow. Change. Breathe. Reclaim. Lead. Love. Remember who you are while becoming you.

It doesn’t have to be this way….but you are the only path out, and everything you need is within….

change2

Change is coming … will you be the change?

As we enter into November I have become increasingly aware that change is coming. The transition from fall to winter will soon be upon us. The weather will change. The time will change. The color of the trees outside my office window will change. The foods we eat, the music we hear, the decorations on display, these will all change. All of my favorite fruits will be substituted with seasonal vegetables and weekend conversations around an outdoor fire pit will be moved inside. My AC is now off and my furnace will soon be on. Electric blankets will also be in every room of my house and, “how’s the weather there” will become a daily question in casual conversation. The smell of my neighborhood will shift from fall harvest to a smoke filled winter. I’ll replace my leaf blower with a snow shovel and my jackets will be exchanged for coats, and hats, and gloves.  And with that, I wrestle with the question, “Change is coming, and what do I need to change?”

Today I received an email from a coach who recently learned about a social media program I designed years ago called #30DaysOfInfluence. The goal of this program is to get people to change their social media habits for 30 days. The program asks users to make a 30-day commitment to using their social media platform for good, by posting words that will empower, inspire and serve others. This coach shared with me that she was going to use November to make some changes in her social media habits and she was going to do #30DaysOfInfluence with a focus on gratitude. This idea needed to be shared.

November. 30 Days. Gratitude.

My challenge for you in this season of change, a season when we often find ourselves in a rush, is to pause … and identify the moments for which you are grateful. But please don’t keep those moments to yourself, gratitude was meant to be shared. There is power in the decision to make your gratitude public. And so I invite you to use November to share your own reflections on gratitude. And when you do please use the hashtag #30DaysOfInfluence so we can walk into this season together with a shared purpose on a path of gratitude.

Maybe this time of transition can actually be a time of transformation, and while there is much that is out of our control the decision to allow our lives to overflow with gratitude so that gratitude spills onto others is fully in our control.

November. 30 Days. Gratitude.

Change is coming … will you be the change….

#30DaysOfInfluence

beached

Beached.

I suppose it is human nature to discover moments in life when you feel stuck. Moments when you feel like you are in the wrong place, or pursuing the wrong goals, or living a life that is out of alignment. Moments when you know you are here, but you are supposed to be there. Moments when you realize that life kept moving but somehow you stopped, and now you are stuck.

For people who live life intentionally these can be painful moments. That pain can manifest itself in physical ways. You become tired, your body is sore, your sleep is disrupted and it may feel difficult to breathe. This is the world reminding you of the serious nature of intentionality. A message that all things are connected, and a reminder that the decisions we make, and those that we fail to make, will have a serious impact on our lives and on those around us.

It seems to me that more often than not when someone is stuck in life the common response from those with good intentions is to say you should “just” move on. You should “just” let go. You should “just” make a change. Just, just, just… Is this a button? A switch? An app you need to download? “Just” doesn’t seem so simple to me. I assume people continue to offer that word because they have never fully experienced what it feels like to acknowledge that they themselves are stuck and in need of a change.

I believe this is a lot like a dolphin who is beached. He isn’t supposed to be here on the beach, he is supposed to be there in the water. And being here on the beach is painful, it seems hopeless, it’s difficult for a dolphin to breath without water, but he can’t “just” move to the ocean. He fights it, the pain is real and physical, and each breath is a struggle. A crowd gathers around to share that they are witnessing a slow death.

But then, then the tide comes in. The tide always comes in. As the water rises, slowly he is able to breathe again. And eventually, the tide rises high enough to pull him out to sea again. The life-giving water will take him to the place he was meant to be all along.

Yes, this is what it feels like to be stuck.  It is painful. It feels hopeless. It is difficult to breathe and you may question if this really is a slow death you are experiencing. But the death isn’t in being stuck, the death is in staying stuck.

So wait for the tide, the tide will come, and it will pull you towards the place you are supposed to be.

I imagine we wouldn’t find ourselves beached so often if we would “just” stop fighting the current and instead allow ourselves to be pulled into deeper water.

Go with the tide ….

emergencyevacuation

Emergency Evacuation

It wasn’t my intention to write on this subject this again, but this is the question that keeps showing up in my life. The question is in regards to what it feels like the moment you let go, the moment you leap, the moment you leave one thing and move into liminal space having not yet reached your next destination.

I have never jumped out of an airplane. The only way I will ever jump out of a plane will be for a life-saving emergency evacuation. Honestly, that is what leaping into liminal space feels like. Sounds great, huh?

At some point on your journey, you discover that your plane isn’t headed to your desired final destination and the only way to be where you are supposed to be is to get off the plane as soon as possible. But you love the people on that plane, they have been so good to you, it’s been a great journey, but they are headed to a place that isn’t for you.

You make a decision. You stand up, baby steps. But even in the small steps people begin to question you. Everyone is looking at you. They whisper, they point and offer disapproving looks. They begin to tell you all the dangers, all the reasons why you should settle for the final destination of that aircraft even though it is the wrong destination for you. But what they are saying cannot silence the voice inside you that is calling you to get up and move.

You walk towards the door. One foot in front of the other. You think, “What am I doing? This plane is going to a nice place with nice people. I could survive there. But is living and surviving the same thing? What am I doing?” But in your heart you know, you just know, that destination isn’t for you. You put on your parachute.

You check and double-check your parachute. You know you have to do this alone because the parachute can’t handle the weight of multiple people and we are all being called to different places anyway. Getting multiple people to the wrong place isn’t the goal.

You look back from the door and see those who have been a significant part of your journey. You are grateful for their concern and even more grateful for your shared journey to this point.

Again, you think about your options, you know that plenty of people will be happy when the plane lands because it is taking them to where they are supposed to be. You could go with them, you’ve been flying high with them for a long time, why not continue the journey?

You stand at the door questioning everything. What is below is calling to you but it feels like such a risk. What if your parachute doesn’t open? What if you are the only one who ever jumps? What if people question your decision? What will life below really look like? But what if you don’t jump? What if you stay the course of the predictable flight plan and you end up in the wrong place by choice?

And so you jump.

Here is what you need to know; your parachute isn’t going to open right away. If it did open it would get tangled in the airplane and you would die. The vessel that you treasured for so long would kill you. One way or another, it would kill you.

And so you free fall because you have to get away from where you were to get to a new safe place. As you fall it is loud, so, so loud. And you can’t make sense of anything and all you know is that you are falling, and falling fast. And then, once you are a safe distance away from the plane, that thing you loved for so long but needed to get away from, you pull the ripcord and “whoosh”… silence, stillness, peace. You are floating. You did it. You left the thing you needed to leave, you survived the chaos, the world is coming into clear focus again and now you can steer to your new landing place, that place that speaks to you.

So what does it feel like to leap? It feels like a life-saving emergency evacuation. If your life is moving in the wrong direction, thank those around you for the journey, walk toward the door, put on your parachute and jump. Free fall into the chaos and then pull the ripcord and enjoy the silence, enjoy the stillness, enjoy the peace, embrace the clarity, prep for your landing, be grateful for the journey and begin again.

Your life may require a life-saving emergency evacuation. And if you listen to your life closely enough you might hear yourself saying as you stand up and walk towards the door, “Oh, this, again? Ok, here we go.”

Man, I wish

“I wish I could live your life.”

The last few weeks have been an interesting journey for me. Less than ten days ago I completed a week of soccer day-camp as the Head Women’s Soccer Coach at the University of Illinois Springfield. Later that afternoon I resigned from my position. After nearly twenty years in coaching my decision was a shock to many people.

I have always said I would leave college coaching for one of two reasons. If I felt I was no longer able to connect with my student-athletes or, if I felt there was a larger opportunity of influence for me in the world I would leave coaching. I can say with great certainty that my decision to leave was deeply rooted in the latter of those two options. I had simply reached a point in life where I needed to let go of something that had been very good to me in order to grab on to what I believe will be something great.

A few days after my resignation I met with a co-worker, it was the first time we had talked since I had resigned. I shared with her my hopes and plans about how to develop better leaders. I talked about all the uncertainty, the fears and the very real obstacles I was facing. I also shared the joy in the possibility of being a part of something new and different.

As I walked out the door she stopped me and said, “I wish I could live your life.”

I realized that moment was not the time for a philosophical conversation but my mind was screaming, “Oh, but you can!” While she said she wanted to live my life, I believe she was really saying that she wanted to make a change, to create a new life for herself.

You can live a life where you answer to the things that speak to you, you can pursue your passions, you can chase your curiosity, you can make a difference in the world, you can have a larger circle of influence and you can live intentionally. You really, really can and, you should.

Take it from someone who just decided to live her own life.

But don’t live my life, create and live your own.

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“Well, this is embarrassing….”

I had just landed in Atlanta.  After 10 days abroad and a long day of international travel I was finally back in the United States. I knew I had about six hours before I would be back in the midwest but I was making progress on this journey. I also knew that I would have to go through several check-points; customs/immigration, luggage retrieval, security checks and a three-hour layover.

Most of the day I had a running conversation in my head. It was a constant back and forth between,  “I am so tired, I just want my own bed” and, “Wow, I am so grateful for the perspective that international travel provides.”

That gratitude was soon put to the test. After passing through all the paperwork stations I had to retrieve my luggage. I was standing next to a young couple who were complaining that their bags hadn’t arrived yet. I was thinking that I had a three hour layover, no rush, my bag will arrive at some point. Next thing I knew I saw something that resembled my bag on the carousel. I had to step closer to take a look and before I knew it I was laughing out loud! My navy blue duffle bag that had a zipper in a “u-shape” across the top was now in a clear plastic trash bag which was tied at the end! The zipper had been removed and the top was open leaving all my contents on display.

My first thought… “Well, this is embarrassing but at least my bag arrived AND thank goodness all the items that I didn’t want on display for all to see were packed in a side pocket.” Let’s be real here, you hit a point in life when you don’t want people to see some things and I’ve hit that point. The thought of all my unmentionables draped all over the carousel, coming out one by one and stuck to other people’s bags nearly had me in tears. I’ve never been so grateful for a clear plastic trash bag.

I found my travel mate who had her bags on a cart. I added my now very awkward duffle-trash-bag to her cart and we made our way to the last check-point. All we had to do was prove that these bags belonged to us and then we would be off to the domestic terminal where we would drop off our bags, go through security and board our next flight. But, the TSA employee asked, “Are you two traveling together?” I said yes since we had been traveling together (even though we were now heading to different states), and we were sharing a cart AND we were wearing matching T-shirts, so yes, I said yes. He then said we had to move into a high security section so they could inspect our bags by hand. I found this to be very comical because you could pretty much look at my “duffle-trash-bag” and see what was in it!

After a long wait we passed the hand inspection successfully.  We needed to drop off our bags for our next flight but I was a little stressed, I knew there was no way the contents of my bag were going to make it to St. Louis packed like this and I needed to find a Delta employee to help me. The only employee I could find was in the re-check line. I am pretty sure this line is for people who got through the international terminal too late to make their domestic flight. Translation; not a happy place. I got in line ungracefully holding my treasured possessions in a clear plastic trash bag hoping someone could help me.

The guy in front of me was being rude and all I could think was, “Don’t make her mad, this woman is my only hope for double bagging this thing!” After he left she said with a tired southern accent, “Can I help you?” I replied, “I sure hope so. You see, this is not how I packed my bag and I am worried that it will rip and I will lose my belongings on the next flight. Any chance you have another trash bag so I can double bag it?” And then I flashed her a large and hopeful smile and she said, “I’m sorry, I don’t have another bag … but I have packing tape, let’s do this!”

We got to work and did a serious tape job on that bag. What started as a fragile, awkward and embarrassing bag was now a rock solid, awkward and embarrassing bag! But there was no doubt that bag and all it’s contents were going to make it to St. Louis. That bag might not look the same but I was proud, we were going to be just fine.

What I took from that evening was this … our journey’s change us. Just like my poor bag I am never the same after a long journey. I often return feeling beat-up and exposed. My advice?  Don’t give up, when all hope seems lost a tired soul with a southern accent may show up to ask “can I help you?” And when that happens just say “I hope so”, flash a smile and take whatever help you can get.

Let your journeys change you.