Being in Full Power

Dearest Readers, Each choice we make can build our power or drain it. I saw this play out last weekend at my team coaching workshop in Washington, DC. On Sunday, half the group trickled in late. Being the insightful coaches we are, we saw an opportunity. Instead of arguing about the rules or allowing ourselves to feel annoyed or resentful, we asked the bigger question: “What should we show up early for? What is arriving on time in service of?” The answer: Being in our full power. Have you ever noticed what happens when you show up late for a meeting or appointment? Does your heart pump faster? Do you feel edgy? Are you more focused on what other people are thinking than what’s going on around you? By arriving late, we create a power leak that detracts from our ability to be fully present and to make our most significant contribution. Power leaks show up in many different forms. Some may include: -Eating unhealthy foods that make you crash mid-day -Investing time in toxic relationships -Extensively dwelling on the “how,” rather than taking action -Staying up late drinking when you wanted to wake up early and work out Check in: Do your choices and your lifestyle support your goals in business, relationships, self-care and other areas? If the answer is “no” and you’re ready to step into your full power, here’s what I recommend: 1. Write down all the power leaks you see in your life 2. Journal about what would be possible if you could cut them out 3. Design practices for this week that minimize or eliminate each leak you identified 4. Enroll your friends, your coach, or other support networks in keeping you accountable In this way, you can best set yourself up for success. Now go get ’em! And have a great weekend! With lots of love and happy feet, Megan

Sarah Lee

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, Megan

How to Turn Personal Goals Into a Team Effort

When undertaking any personal or professional venture, our amount of accountability and support must be greater than our resistance. Resistance can show up as fear, waning willpower, procrastination or anything else that sabotages our efforts. To reach our goals, we must break through it. The facts show it’s not easy: Roughly 90 percent of startup businesses fail and, as most of us know from past New Year’s resolutions, personal commitments are often equally as tenuous. To set ourselves up to succeed in any goal, we need more than just a plan–we need a carefully enrolled team.  In his recent TED Talk, entrepreneur Derek Sivers shared how disclosing your goals with others may actually prevent you from achieving them. So how do you create a team without sabotaging your efforts? I recommend you take two steps: 1) Brainstorm your dream team and each person’s role 2) Enroll them in your efforts Brainstorming Your Team Think about one of your big goals–something that seems scary, exciting or outside of your comfort zone. Now, make a list of at least 10 people you know who can be a resource for you. Here’s a few examples if you’re starting a business (the names below are invented):  My mom: Moral support & encouragement  Charlie: Legal advice Sara: Marketing tips Audrey: Advice on how to set up an LLC Gene: Communications tips & email list setup Sam: Web design George: Introductions to venture capitalists My neighbor: Pick up the mail when I’m out of town for business meetings My life coach: Accountability toward my goals and working out stuff that gets in the way And here’s a few examples for a personal goal of losing 20 pounds: Audrey: My running partner Bethany: Nutrition advice Michael: Teach me how to prepare nutritious meals Personal trainer: Holds me accountable and creates tailored workouts Boyfriend: Plans athletic weekend activities Best friend: Personal encouragement and can remind me to stay healthy when we’re out on the town In this way, you can develop a plan for how to be supported and know what request to make of each person. This is also a great way to identify if there is any additional support you will need. If there is a gap, identify someone who can fill it. Enrolling Your Teammates Rather than simply sharing your idea, enroll each person in your vision and the role you’d like them to play. Tell them why you have this goal and why it’s important to you, and request their support. A key part of this process is sharing how they can benefit, too–Is it a thank you gift? Payment for their services? Will you send referrals their way? Will you be an accountability partner for them in their unique goals, too? By sharing our vision with others in this way, we can harness the power of team and create the support to overcome our resistance.  So here are some questions for your long weekend: What value do you see in enrolling a team in your big goal? Where do you currently resist team? What would be possible if you were fully supported? Wishing you a lovely long weekend! With lots of love and happy feet, Megan

Be the Leading Lady

Last Saturday, I walked into a small Thai restaurant in Manhattan to meet my friend Skye Bronfenbrenner for dinner. Catching up with this gorgeous, energetic, and wildly talented woman dedicated to her acting career is always one of my favorite parts of visiting New York. Skye was already at our table when I arrived. As I approached, I perceived something new in her—a quiet refinement and confidence. “I have amazing news to share,” she said as I sat down. “I just got my first leading role.” Previously, Skye’s experience was the all-too-familiar story of many New York City-based actors. She’d worked a couple national tours as a chorus member, but often found herself with long stretches of time in between shows. During these months, she’d work a job to pay the bills while squeezing in as many auditions as possible. After her most recent tour, however, Skye’s mother shared some critical advice: “If you don’t start treating yourself like a leading lady, no one else will.” For years, Skye considered herself a chorus member because that’s what people told her she could be. At auditions, she looked and acted like the other women trying out for the chorus: she donned curly hair and a sun dress and sang standard audition pieces. Even though Skye deeply desired leading roles, her state of being got in the way. Skye knew she mother was right and (to her mother’s surprise) even said so. She applied this feedback immediately and took a new approach. For auditions, she pulled her hair into a tight bun, put on her finest pencil skirt and blouse, and sang whatever made her feel amazing. She also committed to attending more auditions than ever, dedicating herself to the belief that she would land a leading role. Skye changed her way of being and quickly realized that, when she showed up powerfully, that is exactly how she was perceived. Within just a few weeks, Skye was receiving more call backs than ever before. She also felt a renewed excitement and empowerment about her career. This was an amazing breakthrough for her. All it took for her to create a new reality, she realized, was to choose a new way of being and act according. Once she made this commitment, change happened surprisingly fast. Not long after, Skye turned down an offer for the national tour of Mama Mia to accept a job as the lead actress in It’s A Wonderful Life (you can see her at The Fireside Theatre in Wisconsin from October 29th-December 27th). So here are the questions for you, my dear readers (and please let me know your answers!): Who are you being in your relationship to your goals? How is your way of being accelerating you or holding you back from your dreams? Who could you be if you completely trusted in your greatness? Are you ready to shift into possibility and own your power? If so, make the leap. As cliff jumper and writer Ray Bradbury said, “Go to the edge and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.” Have faith, take a deep breath, and–like Skye–launch yourself into a new reality. With lots of love and happy feet, Megan

Whatever You Can Imagine Can Happen

In my former life, I was a journalist—a job I loved because it gave me an intimate look into people’s lives. Over several years, I had the honor to hear and share many incredible stories. I wrote about a man who transitioned from a life of poverty to CEO of a multi-million dollar social enterprise, a woman who researched neurology at Harvard after a childhood in the Middle East where she could not study science, and many others. The takeaway from these tales was this: Whatever you can imagine can happen—even if you have no idea how. As I started my dance and coaching business from scratch, I thought a lot about these amazing people and wondered about how my own life would unfold. I also realized I wanted to have a more active role in designing the outcome. Through a practice I’ll share with you today, I gave myself the opportunity to do just that.  This practice of writing a Future Story was so effective that I continue to use it to this day. Whenever I work with clients on setting goals (or begin working on a new goal of my own), this Future Story is a critical first step. Here’s why: The Path Becomes Clear: Sometimes we want something so badly that our minds become cloudy or we become overwhelmed when we try to imagine it. By creating a clear vision, we prepare ourselves to move in the right direction (and often reach our goals sooner than we thought!). We can also more easily recognize our successes when we reach them. It keeps you going when the goin’ gets tough: Anytime you build something new, there are setbacks. When you feel discouraged, reading your beautiful Future Story and feeling fully present to the new life you are creating can raise your morale and restore your motivation. Your vision allows people to rally behind you: When you have a big, beautiful goal for your life that aligns with who you are, people can sense your enthusiasm and your clarity. In fact, it’s contagious. By knowing where you’re headed, you can also be clear on the kind of support you want. How would you like your parents to support your vision? Your best friend? Your roommates? Your Future Story allows these people to be informed allies. You have a guide for decision-making: By getting in touch with the new reality, you can identify the choices that will take you closer to your goals: Does accepting that new job offer in Michigan align with your goal to be a globe-trotting entrepreneur? As motivational speaker Jim Rohn said, “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” Are you ready to write your own Future Story? It’s simple! Step 1: Choose a measurable goal and a hard deadline (preferably a year or more from now). Do you want to land a big promotion? Teach your first class in Paris? Book your first solo vacation to the Bahamas? Step 2: Write about the day that your goal is complete. Are you sitting in your new office? Unwinding with a glass of pinot noir after your workshop in France? Sitting on a gorgeous Bahama beach drinking a pina colada? Write about everything you are experiencing in the moment—what you see, what you feel, who is with you, what you are present to. Challenge yourself to write a whole page and make this vision feel as real as possible. Step 3: Hang it up somewhere you can see it (and share it with me if you’re inspired to)! As I mentioned, this is one of the most important steps I use in a goal-setting process. To quote the famous feminist journalist Gloria Steinem: “Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.”  Have questions or want to know more about Future Stories or the goal-setting process? Just let me know! With lots of love and happy feet, Megan