Greetings from a treehouse in the Dominican Republic!
I am taking a healthy break from habits, American culture and typical day-to-day – and I have some awesome people with me for this experience!
I am currently guiding my coaching + dance adventure in the Dominican and it’s an absolute blast – we are dancing with locals in Santo Domingo and working with people on their goals in one of the most beautiful places in the country. This total immersion helps people get out of their own way. Through coaching and cultural immersion, they gain perspective on views they hold as a result of their life so far (including their upbringing in America).
By meeting people in a country where views on money, spirituality, family, time and friendship are very different, travelers can ask themselves if their current viewpoints support their goals or hold them back.
I’ll give you an example…
In my day-to-day, I am an efficiency machine. In fact, sometimes I’m so efficient that I start to feel robotic. It’s ironic since, as a coach, my job is to be fully present with my clients. I give them my full attention and work with spontaneity and openness – and yet I often don’t give myself the same gift. The result is that I can overwork, get exhausted and valuable parts of life (like spending time with my boyfriend, friends, or family) fall by the way side.
It’s so wonky! And yet it happens.
Since arriving in the DR, I’ve interrupted this pattern. I’m in a culture where people (even those I’ve hired) show up late, focus on relationship building over getting things done, and are fully present with me all the time. It’s different than how most Americans do things, and yet the work still gets done.
It’s a reminder to slow down, take great care of myself, and focus on loving the hell out of the people around me. I am reminded that my default ways of being don’t necessarily serve me.
If I put my habits down, the world won’t end. In fact, it can make reaching my goals way more fun (and more likely, given I run two relationship-based businesses!).
Understanding our default views of the world and learning when and how to empower alternative viewpoints is key to creating holistic success. I do this through ongoing coaching (with my own coach and by surrounding myself with amazing coaching colleagues) and through cultural immersion on the regular.
How do you interrupt your habits, re-center and re-connect to what’s important, readers? Share what you do and the impact it has on your life with my Facebook community!
With love and happy feet,
There I am! That’s me doing a cartwheel on top of Pedra Bonita in Rio de Janeiro. And — more importantly — that’s me fulfilling a dream I’d had for 8 years: leading a dance trip abroad to Brazil (not to mention several other countries!).
So what finally got me into action?
To start, I learned how to choose from courage, rather than confidence.
Here’s the thing about confidence:
We feel confident when we are well practiced in what we’re doing and are reasonably certain we will succeed. When we’re creating something big and new in our lives, however, this may not be the case! If we wait until we’re confident, we may never take action.
When we choose from courage, we take action from curiosity and faith. We know things might not turn out exactly like we envision, and we’re willing to take that chance because we have something worth failing for (and for the juicy lessons we will learn in the process).
Brazil wasn’t all cartwheels. I pushed myself in new ways, worked primarily outside my comfort zone, dealt with new challenges and even missed a night of sleep when I was making a big decision. In short, Brazil was better and harder than I imagined. Will I run this trip again? Absolutely. Will I continue to learn and get better? Certainly. And will my confidence grow as I choose from courage over and over and over again? YOU BET!
Below are a few more pictures from the trip. I hope you enjoy them!
Our group with Jaime Aroxa and dancers in his company. Jaime is considered one of the most influential samba dancers of all time.
Sunset from Urca mountain
Graffiti is legal in Rio, so you find amazing art everywhere.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am excited to present a sampling of my favorite Power Anthems From Around the World (complete with many oh-so-amazing music videos). These artists are dancing, they are singing, and they are living FULL OUT in service of what inspires them.
And that was something I was struggling to do!
In the weeks before I made this list, I’d felt a creative block. I was working so hard, but things just weren’t clicking in my business.
And then it hit me: I’d stopped relating to my work as fun. And I’d stopped making time to do the things that made me feel excited, joyful, and abundant.
My response? I danced as much as possible (in the shower, before I sat down to work, at venues in the evenings) and created this super fun “opt in” for my newsletter–which felt infinitely more engaging than the workbook I was slaving over.
My hope is that these power anthems bring you back to your natural state of joy and play. Where do you notice you’re taking things too seriously? Where would you like to inject more positive energy?
Listen! And enjoy!*
Power Anthems From Around The World
(Beats to get those creative juices flowing!)
Osmani Garcia (Cuba), Featuring Pit Bull (American, son of Cuban parents)
Kendji Girac (France)
Beyond Four Seas
Tattad Tattad (check out that music video!)
Ramji Ki Chaal (India)
Rodrigo Y Gabriela (Mexico)
Can’t Stop Dancing
Becky G (Belize)
Mundian To Bach Ke
Panjabi MC (India)
Enrique Iglesias (Spain) & Descemer Bueno (Cuba)
Yemi Alade (Nigeria)
*Have any power anthems you want to recommend? Send them my way!
After four days on Africa’s highest mountain, we were nearly at the summit. Somewhere over 15,000 feet, I collapsed into my sleeping bag for four hours’ rest before the final push to the top of Kilimanjaro. I checked my resting heart rate: 175 bpm–a level I normally achieved only through my hardest workouts.
So how did I–someone with no mountaineering experience–end up here?
While volunteering in Kenya in 2009, I became fed up–fed up with running out of food, fed up with the sand flies that bit me constantly, and fed up with being on an itty bitty island in the Indian Ocean. So, I decided to take a short vacation. And, because I wanted cooler weather and some exercise, I thought I’d climb Kilimanjaro.
I’ll let you process that for a moment.
Yes, this was honestly the extent of my consideration, simply because I knew so little about the mountain.
It wasn’t until my expedition was booked that I borrowed a fellow volunteer’s guidebook to climbing Kili. And, over the next few days, I became progressively more terrified. One of the Seven Summits, Kilimanjaro stood 19,341 feet high and had a summit success rate of just 66%. I had never hiked above 9,000 feet, had asthma, and was terribly out of shape from sitting around for three months eating chapati. Yet, somehow, I was about to take on this mountain.
Indeed, climbing Kilimanjaro was one of the easiest decisions I ever made…but only because I had no idea what I was getting into.
This post is not about my climb, however, so you don’t need the details (although I will say I made it to the top! Hooray!). All you need to know are these two things:
1.) Reaching the summit of that mountain was one of the top three experiences of my life and
2.) Had I understood what I was doing when I signed up, I might not have done it at all.
How does that sit with you? Are you missing out on something that could be the best experience of your life–climbing a mountain, starting a business, or asking out that person you’ve had a crush on for the last five years–out of fear?
Well, I get it, but I won’t affirm your choice to stay in that idle realm of non-possibility. It simply won’t reap the meaningful experience (not to mention potential rewards!) of action.
It’s true that, most of the time, we are more aware of what a huge challenge will entail and fear is a natural result. So how do we overcome our fear in service of becoming more awesome?
Climbing Kilimanjaro taught me that avoiding a desired experience out of fear is not an option. So, I have intentionally developed effective ways to deal with the stress and anxiety that come with big, juicy goals (like quitting an awesome job to pursue my dreams or performing in front of lots of people!).
Here are my techniques:
I outline my plan: Coaching taught me how to clearly define my goals, as well as their related action items. By breaking down my big ambitions into manageable chunks and setting deadlines, I have a clear path to success and can take those scary first steps. Often, our survival mechanisms sabotage our efforts even before we start. One of my most present survival mechanisms is to freeze and do nothing (except perhaps complaining about my current situation)! By outlining my plan, I can shift into movement. I work with my clients to do this, as well and am so inspired by the progress they make once the path is clear.
I turn to my support network: I need friends, family, and my network of fellow visionaries to keep me moving. Most importantly, I work with my life coaches to build and execute my vision. My coaches are the people who most embrace possibility, support me without a subconscious or conscious agenda of their own, get excited about my big ideas, and nurture my dreams in a positive and loving way.
I write out my fears every day: For eight years, I let my fears sabotage my dreams. Now, I am often still present to those fears. Rather than letting them stop me, however, I get them out on paper. Immediately after waking, I write three pages in stream-of-consciousness fashion (as taught in The Artist’s Way). What comes out on that page is often ugly–my concerns, my limiting beliefs, the worst-case scenarios, profanity, my urge to quit. However, by the time I finish writing, I have often found answers to my pressing questions and feel a catharsis that makes moving forward possible.
I clear: Throughout the day, additional concerns sometimes emerge that make it difficult for me to focus on my work or my clients. To stay present (and thus be my most productive and best self!), I use an exercise I learned through my Accomplishment Coaching program. Clearing allows me to define my fears, concerns or complaints, as well as my judgments around these things. Finally, I put them back into context. In this way, I gain perspective on those runaway thoughts that make life feel out of control.
Fear is not a reason to postpone our goals and dreams. It is an opportunity to evaluate our situation, find our limitations and then develop the practices and call on the team we need to push through.
If we are to reach our goals, we must show up despite our fear. Potential lies in the space of uncertainty.
As a result, you may end up running your own business, finding an amazing romantic partner or hiking just a few feet away from Africa’s last glaciers. And, much like the view from the top of Kilimanjaro, the result may be even more beautiful than you anticipated.
You know those people who make you take a second look at your life?
Sarah Lee Parker Mansare is one of them. She’s a powerhouse of a woman who created a unique career teaching African dance, leading trips to Guinea with her husband Mamady, and otherwise sharing African culture at every other possible moment.
I took African classes with Sarah Lee in Seattle when I lived there from 2004-2010 and traveled with her to Guinea in 2014.
In the interview below, Sarah Lee shares her experience as a woman of possibility, a cultural ambassador and the founder of One World Dance & Drum (OWDD).
Megan: What most inspires you about teaching African dance and leading trips?
Sarah Lee: In the same way that diversity in genetics serves a species, diversity in thought serves humanity. Most everything we do with OWDD is about opening people up to new ideas, new ways of being, and the culture of Guinea. My experiences in Guinea continue to give me new perspective on community, family, God, money, responsibility and satisfaction. I’m most inspired when I see Westerners engage with this diversity and walk away with a new perspective. I’ve had a huge number of people say traveling to Africa was their most life-alternating and transformational experience.
Megan: How did you move from your day job to full time entrepreneur?
Sarah Lee: It was little by little. I liked my day job, and I organically found more and more opportunities to teach African dance and share African culture. When I saw it was possible to make my living this way, I made my passion my full time job.
Megan: What most surprises people who visit Guinea?
Sarah Lee: People are really surprised by how happy and generous Guineans are—that they have so little, but they’re willing to share. They’re also surprised that life there seems simpler and that they often find themselves happier.
Megan: What do you wish you’d know about entrepreneurship when you started out?
Sarah Lee: I didn’t set out to be an entrepreneur. I just wanted to make a difference for people in the world. I believe entrepreneurship is way more empowering and successful when you’re led by something you’re committed to. It’s not something I did to make a bunch of money or be free of a boss. When I’m in touch with my commitment, everything in my business is more enjoyable, fulfilling and effective.
Megan: What has been your biggest mistake? And what was the lesson learned?
Sarah Lee: Trying to do everything myself. In the years I’ve enrolled a team to support me, I’ve felt more present to my purpose, happier, and more focused.
Megan: What has been your biggest win? And what was the lesson learned?
Sarah Lee: My biggest win is sticking with this work over time. I tend to be a passionate, go-for-it person who expects fast results. Running One World Dance & Drum is different. It grows at its own pace and evolves organically. Because I am so committed to what we do, I’ve allowed myself to shift. I can watch the business unfold, while staying present to my greater commitment to change people’s lives. It’s this way that I’ve created a life full of incredibly meaningful work and relationships.
Readers, what do you hear in this interview for yourselves? What ideas can you apply to your own life?
A special thanks to Sarah Lee for the incredible work that she does and her participation in this interview! If you’d like to know more about OWDD, click here. If you’d like to travel to Guinea in December, January, or February click here.
With lots of love and happy feet,