Monday Mindset: Use Truth to Find Yourself

Nope, this isn’t going to be a missive about our current societal ills.
Nor is it about the demise of our culture and what you and I can do about it.
Instead, it’s about speaking the truth so you can find yourself.

Huh?

I’ll make it simple with an example. Decades ago, I had an Aunt that used to “fudge” details.
If she was on her way she would call and say, “I’m on 85!” When in truth she was a few miles back on 101.
She would say, “I read 4 chapters!” when in actuality she read the first chapter and the last paragraph of the 4th chapter.
She wanted people to think so well of her that she puffed up her truth. Some call it embellishing. Some call it lying.

What happened was I eventually stopped believing anything she said. Even if it was the truth.

The best book says, “FIRST remove the log in your eye before you remove the speck in your friend’s eye.”
FYI…that’s the Bible (Matt 7:5) really neat life principles in that book.
So, for 1 week I paid attention to what I said vs what was the truth.
And I too “embellished” my truth to look better to others.

But, I had to confess, “That was a lie. The truth is…”
And that is painful and embarrassing.
So, I just started speaking the truth. Which is a much easier way to live.
And a lot less exhausting.

What did I learn?
I had to count on myself before I could ask others to count on me.
I had to have integrity before others could think well of me.
The truth set me free.

Are you on 85 or the 101?

 

Business is redemptive

Redemption to some is a charged word. But, for me, it means new beginnings. Redemption means literally to save.  But, it doesn’t have to mean saving others.  Flight attendants have taught us for decades to put on your oxygen mask, first, then turn and put it on others.  Why? Because we can’t help others if we passed out, or more bluntly, died, from lack of oxygen.

So, then, how can we save ourselves? But, more importantly, why do we need saving? If you’re a woman business owner in a difficult marriage,  you need saving.  If your husband has poor communication techniques that leave you feeling drained, confused, and rejected, you need saving.  If you are spending too much time defending and preparing for the next onslaught of negativity, you need saving.  But, how do you save yourself? And what does that really mean?

First, you need to discover who you are. Why? Because you need to know what (or who) you are saving.  What better way to find out who you are through full expression of creating something new or rediscovering what “your juice and your joy” are about. Take, for example, Sophia, who owns a bakery.  Her head and her heart are divided between placating her husband’s constant negative doubts about her and her bakery or focusing on becoming the best bakery her town has ever experienced. What does she love to do? Bake. Not process payroll.  Not package the products. Just bake.  To do that, she needs to put the right people in the right positions.  Even if that means making difficult decisions such as letting some people go or scaling back the business.  She needs to get back to her passion so her business can grow to meet her vision. When Sophia synced with her passion, again, she knew her truth: she is the best baker and is creating the best bakery in her town.  By focusing on being her best in the business, she now more confidence and “head space” to respectfully defend her husband’s criticisms and intelligently engage in a difference of opinion.

Then, there is the story of Tonya, a vibrant young mother of 3 rambunctious boys, who is caught in the cross-hairs of a verbally and emotionally abusive husband and her desire to transition her exquisite silverware hobby into an income producing business.  Her husband actually said to her, “What makes you think you’re so special? I work hard. I don’t want to hear another word about your stupid silverware s**t, again. In fact, I don’t ever want to see it either.”  Don’t you just shudder when you read what her heart and soul hear? Tonya, bless her heart, thinks that she is doing something, anything to control the circumstances from making that ugly beast come at her, again. So she tries to manipulate the situation by literally putting her business in the closet before he gets home every night.  The truth is her creative, loving soul is tortured with self-doubt and self-flagellation stealing her creativity.

A confused mind can’t create.

How can someone create something new, something great with messages like that filling her heart, soul, and mind? Without a doubt, Tonya is in a damaging, unhealthy, abusive relationship and needs to not only get out (so easy to say) but she desperately needs to be saved.  Creating her beautiful custom silverware, hearing her customers accolades, and building an environment of support and beauty may just provide the redemption she needs.  But, first, she needs to know her truth.  She needs to correctly label her relationship, so she can move away from it and quit trying to fix it or excuse it away.  Just as an alcoholic doesn’t fall asleep on the couch, they pass out.  Chronic complaining isn’t venting, it’s a poor attitude of the heart. Tonya’s husband isn’t just having a bad day, he is an abusive man and they are in an unhealthy, destructive relationship.

Business redemptive? Absolutely! Hallelujah!

As a creative outlet, starting and growing a business is personal

Starting and growing a businessBusiness is one of the last creative bastions remaining. And for that, I am glad.  Every human being needs to express themselves in a unique way that revitalizes and emboldens them.  I don’t indulge in the traditional creative outlets, such as cooking, painting, or writing poetry, because I feel lacking.  My creative talents are expressed in a different, albeit, tangible way.  I produce products and services that meet my customers where they are and what they need.  I designed (well, verbalized it to a very good graphic artist) the look and feel of our brand.  I established the systems and processes that ensure a memorable experience for our customers.  I try to inject fun and surprise for my employees.  But, personal expression in business doesn’t have to stop there. In fact, we’re just getting started.

Business provides meaningful and productive work for people to do. Business creates goods and services that enable communities to flourish. But, it’s in business where you have the ability to intentionally develop a culture where customers and employees can be supported and encouraged.  When employees feel esteemed, respected and appreciated, their on-job performance and loyalty skyrockets.  Setting up systems and processes that center around customers that are welcomed, loved and listened to, manifests a built-in ambassador network.  

But, the crown of creativity is, by design, creating an environment, a culture, that you may not have at home.   I didn’t realize it, but by not feeling validated, appreciated or listened to, I poured what I wanted needed, into my customers and employees.  For example, when customers call with a complaint, they are typically on the defense because they expect a similar position.  But, I don’t offer excuses. Quite the opposite.  I immediately offer empathy just by saying, “Oh, you must be SO frustrated.  You were looking forward to receiving your order to x,y, z (drive a new car, feel pretty with that dress, stop snagging all your clothes with that cast, give your family protection with your life insurance policy,…).  Let me fix this for you.”

Frustration dissolved, reconciliation begins.  I offered to my customer what I wanted needed: execution and empathy.  It became the internal “Care, Connect, Create” mantra of CastCoverz! and all employees are trained with this mindset.  By giving what I wanted needed, I filled a void, made raving fans of our customers, and built a blockbuster business.

Where else can you create something that epitomizes your personality, your brand, and your feelings, but in business ownership?  What have you created in your business to fill the void at home?  I look forward to reading your comments, below.

 

 

Junk Drawer Journal

journalAs CEO of my business and my home I always had dozens of Post-it® notes stuck to the message board, my car dashboard, my computer screen, my bathroom mirror, etc… to remind me what my priorities were at any given moment and to record my random thoughts.  In fact, managing my Post-It notes was becoming a part-time job! What a time-waster!  That’s until I discovered a simple trick that I incorporated into my daily ritual of journaling.  You are spending time, alone, in the quiet of the a.m. (and once more at night) with your thoughts on gratitude and big questions, aren’t you?   You’re not?  Hmmm, more on that later.

Here’s the answer to my Post-It Note overwhelm: I journal it!  It’s quite easy.  I have a self-created 2 pages p/day journal. The left side includes how I start my morning (Analog Only: no email, no screen-time, just sacred quiet time with my coffee and a book older than the Gutenberg press).  I also journal, pray and meditate.  Then I scribe Prayers for Self and Others, What I’m Grateful For, My Big Question of the Day (ask the what, not the why; e.g. What would happen if I…?” vs. Why am I not…?”), and a shortlist of the Top 3 Things That Will Make Today Great.  Is that not a great way to start the day or what?

journal

But, on the right-hand side, I’ve titled the top of the page “JUNK DRAWER”. The sub-title is: Thoughts, To-Do’s, Scribbles, …   Why “JUNK DRAWER”?  Decades ago, to tame the paper tiger, I gave myself permission to have 1 junk drawer that I would put whatever-needs-attention in.   It could be dentist appointment reminders, coupons, quotes or thoughts on Post-It notes, gift ideas, etc. But, I would only get to it once a week or month. Or longer.  So, it became stuffed. The idea was good but the execution didn’t work for me because it was out of sight, out of mind.

The “Junk Drawer” Journal works because I write everything that comes to mind.  I don’t care how it looks or sounds. Its purpose is to just to get my to-do’s, my priorities, my worries, off my mind.  I’ve added my (short) grocery list, recollections about a gnarly conversation I had with my husband, list of calls to make, a cute memory of my children, household tasks that needed completing, conversations that need to happen at work, etc.  Sometimes I create 3 columns (1 for each business: CastCoverz! and Till Business Do Us Part and 1 for personal) and put what I need to do under each main category.  Sometimes I scribble a flow-chart or a picture of what I want my bathroom remodel to look like.  Most of the time it’s a combination.                                                                                                                                                                   smart-phone

But, here’s my secret to really make it work: I whip out my smartphone and take a picture of my 2-page journal spread.  That way, I can refer to the picture throughout the day!  FYI…this is for my eyes only and I don’t allow myself to judge me.   Caveat:  I still use an exhaustive daily planner.  Hey, no judging.  I have 2 businesses! 🙂 But, this works because my journaling is a random, free thought process.  Too many times, my “Junk Drawer” thoughts just don’t belong in my daily planner but they still took up space in my head.  Getting them out of my head and on paper in a structured, yet creative format allowed my brain to focus on my important tasks.  

Journaling in your handwriting vs. typing sparks creativity.  Actually creating a journal with your handwriting is the very essence of creativity.  I would love to know how you keep track of your random thoughts, below.  Remember to always keep your comments family friendly, helpful and kind. We all need more of that.


BONUS:  Did you zoom in on how I end the day?  I write down nice things done throughout the day by me and others.  That always brings a smile to my face. Then I write down my failures and regrets (notice I intentionally don’t give them a lot of room).  Then I examine them, learn (from them) and turn (from them).  Then I give them over to God.  If I see a pattern developing of the same failure or regret, then I do some deeper soul-searching.   At then at the end of each night, I give myself the gift of an “Amish Hour” (an extended version of my 20+ minutes of Analog-Only A.M.)  No screen time in any form.  Just a good book.  But, I confess, I usually have classical music playing.  I sleep deeper, have more creative/less frightening dreams, and wake up refreshed, ready and excited to take on a new day!

Your Happy Warrior (a person undiscouraged even in the face of difficulties; plucky crusader),

Annette de Lancey Giacomazzi

Everywhere I turn, I hear anti-business sentiment. Should I start a business in this environment?

start a businessBusiness has gotten a bad rap, lately.  Whether it’s from the masses that don’t understand how (small) business is the engine of this country or some are suspicious (or jealous) about the perks that large multi-national companies provide their employees (Click here for some of the most I-wish-I-had-those creative perks) or a serious lack of understanding from the media by generalizing business as greedy or bloated.  But even though some may be, generalizing  is globalizing.  Some even say starting a business is only for the young (Gen X and technology start-ups are often synonymous).  I challenge those naysayers, cynics and pessimists.  Business in its purest form creates jobs, provides a needed product or service, pays taxes and makes their local communities better.

If you feel called to start a business, the timing is right in any environment.  Look at these examples:

  • Gerry and Rosie Wilson, in their late 60’s, started a small boutique winery, Wilson Creek Winery, in Temecula, CA, with 20 acres.  Now a multi-generation family business, Wilson Creek Winery has 900 acres, bottles 30,000 cases annually, hosts 1,000 people every weekend and has 75+ employees. Beyond their winery, tasting room and bottling facility, they have a restaurant, a hotel, and picnic grounds. They are also known as the largest destination wedding event site in Temecula, CA.  They have been recognized and awarded internationally for their famous Almond Sparkling Wine served worldwide and on US naval aircraft carriers.
  • Publix Supermarkets, Columbia Sportswear, Little Debbie Cakes and other recognizable names were started during the Great Depression.  In fact, it may be counter-intuitive, but the % of entrepreneurship eclipses the unemployment rate when our economy tanks.
  • Joy Mangano started her household product mega-business as a struggling, single mother of 3, by inventing a mop. She persevered against naysayers, detractors and product failures.
  • And then there’s me, Annette de Lancey Giacomazzi, founder of CastCoverz!, and author of the soon to be published book, Till Business Do Us Part, How to Thrive in Your Business & Survive Your UnSupportive Husband, and this blog, survived and even thrived among unbelievable odds.  Not only was I in a battle with my emotionally unsupportive husband on a near daily basis, but my first (and only) business partner went MIA after just 3 months then requested a big check or a law-suit (buyer beware: don’t go into business with friends without a Partnership Agreement; especially friends that have similar skill sets).  Then, my first run of manufactured goods was flawed and couldn’t be altered or sold (another expense).  Finally, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer on my 50th birthday.  All those events took place during my first year of business!

Don’t let anyone denigrate business or your calling to start one.  Going into business is courageous, humbling and noble.  You can either have a business or you can have excuses.  But, you can’t have both.

Your Happy Warrior (a person undiscouraged even in the face of difficulties; plucky crusader),

Annette de Lancey Giacomazzi

4 Words to Memorize BEFORE Responding to Others

If you’re like me, you wish you had a simple formula in responding to others especially during tense times.  Use of these 4 words will create success that can change your life.  This is critical for everyone, when tested.  There was no better test for me than parenting my children.  I remember a particularly stressful season with my 2 then young children when I spotted a bumper sticker that read, “Is it Wise, Kind, and Truthful?”  Bingo!  I had something I could remember and latch on to.  But, over time, I realized I said things that just weren’t necessary to verbalize. 4 Words Will Create Success

This happened on the flip side, too.  I heard things that weren’t necessary and detracted from the intent of the conversation.  So I added “…and Necessary?”  My goal, now, is to have my response meet all 4 criteria.  When I follow this, a lot of hurt and pain is avoided; mine and the person I’m communicating with.  If what I want to say doesn’t meet all 4, I don’t open my mouth.  It really is that simple.

BONUS:  If someone says something particularly harsh or puzzling, just ask them, “Was that wise, kind, necessary and truthful?”