Leadership Lessons I Learned in 2018
This is a similar episode to last week’s where I’m going through some lessons and reflections from 2018. As I mentioned previously, I love sharing my reflections as a way of facilitating growth and development in others.
SO often I hear from people that they want to be more intentional and discerning but they don’t know where to start. OR they want to be more reflective but they don’t know how. Starting anything new always feels so daunting. But what I’ve learned is that radical self-reflection is a key success habit for growing not just ourselves but our businesses too.
This is why The BRAVE Society comes together twice a month for CEO Debriefs where I debrief my business and life. It does two things. It holds everyone accountable for creating this new habit. You see, as I debrief my week, members of BRAVE take their own notes. By sharing my reflections not only do people gain valuable takeaways like you will from this episode, but it also gives them a real-life example of what it looks like to be reflective.
Debriefs allow me to review my to bring together these lessons or things I'm present to after my 2018 reflection. These are the concepts I’m mulling over and really taking with me into 2019.
Lesson #1: I know what I’m doing.
This is one of those ones that I need to learn over and over and over again because imposter syndrome is real and effects all of us. Those thoughts like “is this a fluke?” “Who am I do do/say/be x, y, or z?” “Do I even know what I’m doing? OH MY GOD “What if I REALLY DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M DOING?!!!” Saying these things out loud are giving me the greatest chuckle. SO, when I unpack my year, specifically my financials because your financials and the story behind them are what indicate your success in owning and operating a business. Hard truth.
However, your financials don’t indicate your success or worthiness as a human being. And like I ALWAYS say -- I don’t care how much you make, I only care that you’re making the money that YOU want to make.
SO, when I unpack my financials which full transparency, we are still doing. The Bold Leadership Revolution has grown it’s revenue about 60% this year. In the early years, we doubled our revenue year after year and this year I anticipated a slow down for a number of reasons. One being that I didn’t want to operate at the pace required to double my revenue again in 2018. 2018 was more about predictability and consistency and 2019 will be more of the same. SO, I was shooting for 40% growth.
In the beginning of the year, I had NO idea how I was going to hit this number. Especially since I was making a GIANT change in my business. I FINALLY committed to taking NO additional 1:1 clients. That was the lifeblood of my company and how I grew so quickly over the past few years. But my vision for what I was building changed and it required me to look at my 1:1 work more strategically.
I was also listening to my community and while they wanted to buy 1:1 time with me, it’s not the best or most cost effective solution to their problems. SO, while it was easy for me to sell, I knew there was a much better way to serve the people I loved to serve. SO, we started offering more in person events, workshops, and evolving my mastermind and group coaching offerings.
My big challenge in 2018 was to find other ways of making money. I KNOW this is a strength of mine, making money. Truth is, I never fully own this because there is something about claiming this that feels embarrassing to me. Despite having mountains of proof, I still question this -- hello imposter syndrome.
Now that I’m verbalizing this outloud, I can feel my face redden with embarrassment around claiming this as a strength. My mom and my sister joke all the time. One will have an idea and say how much they love doing x and the other one says “call Tara and she’ll turn it into a six figure business at least.”
I guess to some extent money STILL feels like a taboo subject to talk about and the fact that I feel the hair on the back of my neck standing up makes me realize we all probably have so much more work to do around this.
SO, right here, right now with all of you as my witness, I’m going to let go of the embarrassment around claiming this as my genius. And I hope that you will let go of any embarrassment you might feel about unapologetically talking about money.
Because here’s what I know to be true: as long as we allow money to hold any meaning, we will struggle to use it as an effective tool in our lives.
Gosh, we’re somehow back on money lessons when that was episode 51! OK, back to me knowing what I’m doing!
For all of you thinking everyone else has it all figured out, that’s untrue. Leadership is all experimentation. It’s why it’s so important that we are adaptable and resilient in our leadership because if we are inflexible or rigid in our approach we will snap and break. We need to ebb and flow.
I’m always a bit surprised when I dig into aspects of my business and realize, yes, yes I really do know what I’m doing. Which is why this is the #1 lesson I RE learned in 2018.
I want to turn this on you for a minute. Where do you have OVERWHELMING proof that you know what you’re doing so you can put down this imposter syndrome nonsense. If you’re feeling like a fluke or a fraud, grab a sheet of paper and jot down all the evidence to the contrary.
Lesson 2: The more my business grows, the more I crave motherhood.
I don’t feel a lot of mom guilt. I’ve been at this mom thing for 13 years and when my son was 3 months old I went back to my corporate job that came with the crushing weight of responsibility and expectation. Luckily for me there was a daycare center right across the street so I could walk over during lunch and hang out with my beautiful new baby boy. I remember the race across the street every morning after drop off. My boss would be waiting for me to get to my office. She’d be standing outside my office door at 8 am with her legal pad and discussion items. No pressure at all.
At the time I needed my job because my husband was a year into his start up and it was going WAY slower than we projected. Our naivety still brings a smile to my face.
I didn’t have time to feel guilty. We needed every penny and then some from my paycheck. So, no I don’t feel guilt but over the years I’ve battled shame. The shame I’ve carried of never really wanting kids. Now, my kids are here and I look upon them with love, wonderment and awe. But when it came time to start trying for children, I was incredibly torn.
My childhood vision for my future didn’t include a husband, children, or a white picket fence. My future vision was straight out of Working Girl with Melanie Griffin. Corporate office, power, position, and a little black suit. I was 12 years old when this movie came out and now that I have a daughter around the same age, I can see why it made an impression. Tess was feisty, ambitious, had great ideas and wasn’t going to wait on her dreams.
Having kids felt like me waiting on my dreams. At the time, I didn’t see the mindset mishap I was making with my either/or thinking.
Now that I’m older, wiser, climbed the corporate ladder, battled women like Tess’ boss Katherine (played by sigourney weaver), quit that shit and started my own business -- I realize that the most expansive word is AND.
I can be as successful as I want to be AND have children.
And while that feels expansive there is still a tension there. No matter how many times put my husband in the primary position on the school call list, they call me first. No matter what the kids questions are, including the high tech ones, get directed at me. Since working from home, it’s even become more challenging. No matter how careful I am with my boundaries around work, my kids have an expectation that if I’m home, I’m in mom mode. No matter how few days a year I travel, my daughter will always be bummed that I have to go AGGGAIIIINNNN. Rarely if ever does she say this to my husband when he leaves for a trip.
It’s this tension that is driving my leadership right now. In 2018, my goal was to create a schedule that allowed me to be a BIG DEAL business woman and clock out at 3:00 pm to greet my kids at the door and work on developing the leaders that are right under my nose.
There were times throughout the year that I thought I would fail at this but by the time we rolled into Q4, I was improving. Staying present with all the moving pieces of our lives is still a little bit of a challenge. It’s easy for me to dip back into work while someone is on a video game or at soccer practice and while I’m technically short changing them my time because they are involved, this in and out in the afternoons does exhaust me mentally and detracts from my JOY of being a mom.
While there are lots of parts of mothering that are complex these days as we navigate the impact of all this technology on our families, I crave the simplicity of folding laundry. Having a stack of clothing in front of me -- it gets folded and finished. It’s either undone or done. Simple. Nothing makes me feel more accomplished than knowing every bed in the house is made in the morning. Simple.
I also want more of the things that aren’t simple like time with them even though they really don’t want to spend so much time with me anymore. I’m incredibly present to the grieving that is happening as they enter their tweens and teens.
They are fascinating and fun and I’m so excited to be starting new traditions that we can carry with us as a family into their twenties and beyond.
From the very beginning of my motherhood journey I knew that it was easy to drop them at daycare and work but as they got older I was going to want to be home in the afternoons to mind the shop.
In 2019, it will be about more quality time with them as individuals, more family time as they both are enjoying their time away from mom too much, and bigger commitments like more family travel.
Lesson #3: I’m here for connection. Period.
About half my business is done off line with large businesses that barely have websites and don’t use social media personally or professionally. I love this so much and watching the differences between these leaders and the leaders of businesses who predominantly work online is fascinating to me. This is the world I have lived in for so many years. This is the world I grew up in -- brick and mortar, product based, and largely family owned and operated because that’s my upbringing and mixing business with family dynamics challenges my inner psychology nerdiness and fascinates me to no end.
However, the internet is here to stay and fascinates me in it’s own way. I think leveraging the internet to grow your business is smart business. Even before I had a business, I used social media as a tool to meet new friends and learn from interesting people.
But since I started my blog in 2012,social media has changed a lot. Many of the tactics being taught today in terms of “marketing” which are ultimately designed to CONNECT you with others feel disingenuous and in some cases wildly harmful.
I remember sitting in a psychology ethics class and having a discussion on using psychology for good or using it for evil. Much of what I see in people’s marketing today is psychology being used in a way that has deleterious effects for humanity. Dramatic? Maybe.
But I also spend a great deal of time deconditioning business owners from the online marketing messages and strategies they’re collected over the past few years. It’s incredibly time consuming to unravel. Anything that is time consuming is also costly.
Until this year, I spent a lot of time questioning my own strategies because they didn’t align much with “online tactics and strategies.” As a matter of fact, anything “online” related repelled me. Yet, I had tangible proof in my results and the results of my clients that I wasn’t crazy.
In January of 2018 I worked with a mentor named Michael Roderick. You probably haven’t heard of him but he is a brilliant super connector who has a knack for explaining the intricacies of how people leverage their connections for business.
It changed my entire perspective and gave me concrete evidence that while I rarely drink anyone’s Kool Aid, I am in fact, a connector. As a matter of fact, my key skill of “going against the grain” and my vulnerability which I believe is my greatest strength makes me an even better connector than I thought. My training in energy healing and management makes me adept at determining the exact right places to place my energy so that I see massive results with less effort.
I’m here for real relationships. I’m here for true connection. I’m here to cultivate the most energetically powerful groups of people. I’m here to take a stand for business owners having a safe place to land when the rollercoaster we’re all riding dips.
In taking a stand for this VALUE, I’m willing to experience FOMO. When everyone is going to that one event but it doesn’t feel right to me, it’s a hard pass. Doesn’t mean it isn’t a great event, it just means it’s not for me. It means that when people aren’t the right fit or aren’t ready for my work, I CONNECT them with the right person. It’s the reason there is an application to join The BRAVE Society. My team has debated this because it conflicts with my other value around simplicity. We question the extra step but we keep it because I’m committed to people who want to GIVE and receive. I’m not here for the takers and tit for tat networkers who only see your value as your next referral.
Connection drives this podcast. Connecting you with stories that provide context, clarity and inspire action. Because connection isn’t just about connecting you with another person. It’s about being HUMAN, HELPFUL, and HUMBLE.
Here’s my challenge to you: if you haven’t yet introduced yourself to me, head on over to Instagram, I’m @thetaranewman and shoot me a DM to say hi.
Lesson #4: We have to stop talking in absolutes.
We need to learn how to navigate the space in between.
One of my favorite leadership books EVER is Extreme Ownership by two Navy Seals -- Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
This year they wrote a follow up called The Dichotomy of Leadership and I don’t think I ever Amen’ed so much through a book. Now, full disclosure, the second book wasn’t nearly as good as the first and I only read ¾’s of the second book but the PREMISE was fantastic and spoke to a mindset shift that I believe is critical for leaders.
We often get trapped in this either/or thinking. Either an employee’s performance is subpar and needs to be fired or they’re awesome. You CAN have an awesome employee who is performance is subpar and it doesn’t mean they have to be fired. You can love this person, they have a fantastic attitude and truly embody your businesses values and they need to bring their skill set up so they can output work more effectively.
There is a dichotomy in life, business, leadership, relationships that WE AREN’T TALKING ABOUT because extreme’s sell. Extreme’s are is -- it either is or it is not. Our over consumed brains that are weary with decision fatigue don’t want to have to work to process the space in between.
Our resistance to our emotional fragility doesn’t want to swim in the messy middle which is the dichotomy.
Let’s look at some common messaging right now -- heck I’m guilty of this a bit.
Here’s where my lesson has come in and it’s around marketing as I have been guilty of trying to put catchy, vanilla, and generic messages out in the world. The marketing world is full of extremes because the majority of people out there will never leave the either/or thinking so they believe these extremes are tangible and real.
Let’s look at messaging I have fallen pray to around talking about EASE.
Everyone is messaging success with EASE. Scale to 7 figures with EASE. How we can have it all and do it all with greater EASE. Six pack abs in 30 days with EASE. And god forbid you suggest that something takes hard work these days. No, no, no -- we need to let it be easy. Thanks Danielle Laporte for that “Truthbomb”. But here’s the reality, the dichotomy, the tension we must hold: We CAN do HARD things with EASE but it won’t always be EASY.
As a matter of fact, ease usually means that first you have to do some work. And while I’m not going to keep you here for my additional thoughts on this, I will share them on instagram and in a future podcast because I have a real bee in my bonnet about this one. Can you imaging if we were still in the time period where women wore bonnets???!!!
Creating a life, business, relationship that has EASE actually requires mastery. Hours of practice, shedding old habits that die hard, doing a deep level of reflection that most people are unwilling to do because they fear what they will find, ease requires BEHAVIOR CHANGE and that is the least easy thing ever.
So, while I can absolutely promise you ease, I can’t deliver it to you in 30, 60, or 90 days. And this is where we hold the tension.
My challenge to you is to look at your either/or thinking and start using the word AND instead of the word but. Just try it. Then head on over to instagram and share how it feels to navigate the space in between.
My business experience huge growth AND there is a specific revenue number I missed.
My life has never been better AND there are some very serious issues my family needs to address this year.
There were times through the year where I felt like I was on the struggle bus. There were a lot of new things that I was stepping into that challenged my beliefs and past realities. I was struggling and I was moving forward.
Lesson #5: Where are you still perpetrating the mean girl culture and taking a stand to STOP it.
When I say mean girl culture, I’m not really meaning MEAN but I talking about the way we judge other women especially for their success, looks, and mannerisms. This is less about the overt judgements and gossip and more about the low grade simmering and sharing of opinions.
I’m SO guilty of this myself. For example, let’s talk Rachel Hollis for a second. I can say LOADS of great things about Rachel Hollis and her story about showing up every day for her purpose until one day she finally made it is SO INSPIRING. So many of us are here showing up every day for our purpose and are wondering when our moment will come. She’s transparent about the fact that she’s not an overnight success and what looks like a hockey stick moment is really years of effort on her part. AMEN. I think she’s SAVVY.
However, the other day I shared an opinion I had about Rachel. I haven’t actually read her book and I don’t follow her other than to know that there are A LOT of people who love her. My opinion is that a lot of her stuff seems regurgitated personal development stuff and it’s not my cup of tea. I have found some pretty scathing accusations about her on the webs as well. I wasn’t even looking for it, it merely popped up in my feed. When I thought about the opinion I shared about her, I realized there was NO reason for me to share tha opinion other than I had it. No real point or purpose. And like I mentioned, as a business woman, I really do admire what she has created and want the same for myself.
SO, instead of sharing opinions just because I can or because I have them, I’m going to choose to focus on the positive. I have no interest in policing other women and how they show up and lead in the world.
Frankly, we need more women as ambitious, feisty, funny, and visible like Rachel.
This was really a point that was driven home when I was talking to my daughter the other week. There is a girl in her school that can be tough to take. As a mom, I have found this girl very demanding on my time and my daughters time. Frequently texting and calling even when my daughter says shes unavailable. She can have incredibly high expectations for play dates that often leave my daughter feeling not good enough or trying to compete with extravagant activities. Mind you, this is NOT this girls issue. She’s a child and is only modeling the behavior of those around her.
Now, this child has fallen in love with entrepreneurship and is selling items to her friends like a poorly trained direct sales person -- aggressively DM’ing and texting looking for the sale. I sort of think this is fantastic and bold and brilliant.
When I asked my daughter how this kid is doing she said “uggggg, she’s just too much.” AND I FROZE.
I speak to countless women about their deepest fears and feelings of inadequacy. And you all know what I’m about to say next, right?
Grown women, successful women all fear being TOO MUCH.
In that moment, I knew this was here FOR me. That I had to start unpacking all the subtle and systemic ways I unintentionally support the continuation of this picking apart of women for no reason.
I’ll say this is less a lesson learned and more a lesson still being explored. SO, I’m rolling into 2019 with all women on my heart and a curiosity and consciousness around lifting women even more than ever before. Which requires me to look at my own fears and judgements. Because the issue wasn’t that this girl was TOO MUCH, the issues is 100% my daughter’s fear of being perceived as TOO much.
If this lesson resonates with you, I would love to hear from you. Speak up and tell me how you plan on lifting up more women than ever before.
As for me, I’m going to continue the conversation with women leaders to understand what is truly in our way. SO many women share with me how they are in their own way time and time again. And three main themes continue to emerge…
This is why February 8th I'll be bringing leaders together for the first Bold Leadership Mastermind Day of 2019.
Join us for mentoring in a group setting, generous feedback from peers as well as myself. You will leave having already checked a bunch of tasks off your to-do list. Once you master the mindset shifts and strategies I’ll be teaching, you’ll be able to apply them again and again.
This event is not about me getting 100 people in a room so I can upsell them into something else, this is about getting a curated group of leaders together for in person experience. If this resonates with you, grab your seat today because we have a limited number of spots remaining.
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Be sure to tune into our next episode to help you embrace your ambition and leave the grind behind.
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