My 40th birthday is today, November 13.
Back in my 20s and 30s, 40 seemed like such a big number.
Now, it doesn’t seem so bad. In fact, I’m MORE excited about turning 40 than I was about my 30s.
Over the last five years, I’ve had multiple defining moments, done much soul searching and have intentionally designed my life and business to be what they are today.
When I reflect – especially on the last few years – I see all I’ve actually “unlearned”. So many things I used to do, things I used to think and ways I used to be are no longer needed.
Here for you to learn (wink, wink) are 10 things I’ve unlearned:
- Imperfection is about being real. This is one of my favourite lessons. In our society, perfectionism is equally revered and loathed. Certainly, many people – me included – have an inclination to strive toward some kind of idyllic thing. I’ve unlearned the “value” of perfectionism. It’s replaced with a belief that perfectionism is a fallacy. To me, it simply doesn’t exist. I now resist perfectionism and crave imperfection. It’s not about being mediocre, it’s about being real. It’s about growing, evolving and learning.
- Trust the defining moments. I’ve had many defining moments in my 40 years. Some have been blatantly obvious; some have been whispers. I used to keep myself so busy that didn’t notice the defining moments when in front of me. I unlearned “busyness” and started to pay attention. For example, in 2009, I planned a four-week trip to Hawaii. Everything was lined up and moments from being booked. A whisper said to instead go to Arizona where my parents spent the winter. It stopped me in my tracks. I listened and spent a month with my Mom and Dad instead of Hawaii. Six months later, my Dad was diagnosed with stomach cancer and died 16 days later. I’m eternally grateful for spending that precious time with him before he died.
- Your most valuable commodity is your own uniqueness. I used to think I had to be like others and do what they’re doing to be successful. That’s simply a dead end road. What makes me most unique is the birthplace of my greatest success. That success is inside me. To me, it’s about having peace of mind I’m expressing ME without any kind of facade or apology.
- Get help to see your biggest opportunities. My face is pressed up against my own “tree” just like your face is up against your own tree. We can’t possibly see what’s around us because our noses are right on the bark. That’s why we need help from others – business coaches and other professional service providers – to help us see the wealth of opportunities around us. They’re outside of our trees and objective about what they see, in service of us.
- 30 minutes may be all you have. I’ve assumed most of my life my parents and those I love would simply be around forever. I didn’t really think they’d live forever, but took them being here for granted. That changed when my Dad got sick and died in 16 days. Shortly after his stomach cancer diagnosis, he went downhill fast. We’re talking FAST. A doctor said to start making arrangements. That hit me hard. I looked in the mirror one day and realized I wanted no regrets when it came to him. I wanted to tell him how proud I was of him, what I learned from him, how much I loved him and my vision for my own future. I wanted to give him a chance to ask anything of me, to make any request he needed. Here’s the thing. He was so sick there was little opportunity to have a conversation like this. One moment, four days before he died, he stayed awake long enough for us to talk 30 minutes. That was it. And, I’m grateful for every millisecond.
- Your “no” is someone else’s “yes”. In my corporate career, I was a generalist in the field of corporate communications. I had a solid knowledge of a variety of areas, loved to do them all and was well compensated and rewarded for these efforts. In my own business, I’ve learned the huge value of being known as a specialist. To be clear on what I don’t do frees me to do what I actually want to do, that place where my biggest talents lie and the place where my biggest uniqueness resides. And, me saying “no” to an opportunity gives someone else the chance to do something uniquely perfect for them.
- Positive focus is the fuel for growth. I’m a “glass half full” kind of gal. I’m not a “rose-coloured glasses” person but naturally see the world through a positive light. When I first started my business, what I hadn’t accomplished used to overtake my thoughts, instead of all the progress I was actually making. Scarcity is what society teaches, right? Swirling over the gaps in my business got me nowhere fast. I had to unlearn that fast and get back to my core “glass half full” character. Now, every week I write down my achievements, why they were achievements and what the next steps are. This one practice has been one of the biggest reasons for my success so far.
- Business is about making money. Not that long ago, I thought my business exists primarily for me to make a meaningful difference and to do great work on my own terms. That’s what I learned in coaching school and certainly why I left my corporate job. I know now the primary functions of a business are to make money and serve that business’s clients with immense value. I mean it’s obvious that a business is only a business when it makes money. But I needed to learn and feel good about that in my bones. Sure, the meaningful difference and doing great work are part of it. These almost always come from making money and delivering amazing value to clients.
- Your greatest words are the most raw. In my corporate career, I was trained to help others say the right thing at the right time to the right audience. We planned, mapped out and practiced what they’d say and when. The irony as I write these words is I’d never have considered writing an article like this back then. What I’ve learned is I’ve been suffocated from speaking the raw, unpolished and spontaneous words that need to come from my heart. I’m unlearning the polish and speaking from the heart more than ever before.
- Ambition can be unapologetic when it’s grounded from the inside, out. Through my 40 years I’ve been a pretty ambitious and self-motivated person. Not sure where the energy and drive come from, but most of the time I feel like a geothermal power plant with an endless supply of energy. Here’s the rub. At one time, my ambition was a lot more externally motivated. I needed to achieve the next degree, the next promotion, the next bonus, etc. That all had to be unlearned and replaced by grounding myself in my core values, taking action from that place and working from a focus of the inside-out.
And, of course, to this day I’m imperfect at all of these things.
I hope you learned some “unlearnings” in these lessons.
After reading these, what’s ONE insight you took away that can help you in your own business?
Please make a comment below and share your thoughts, ok?
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