Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A different way of viewing your Inner Critic (and the external ones)

You know that horrid little voice in your head that confirms all of your doubts about yourself and your abilities - it is your inner critic, and we all have one. I don't know about you, but mine was particularly scathing and nasty. She was my loudest internal voice, and she did not miss a beat when she had a chance to remind me how badly I had messed something up.

I've spent a lot of time, since finally learning the skill of self-compassion during My Year of TED, trying to get to know her better and find a way that we can work together. I think I might have mentioned that I did some shadow work with her a little earlier this year, which was a fantastic process.

The thing is that our inner critic has our best interests at heart! As hard as it is to believe, this voice thinks it is doing something positive for us - it just has a weird way of doing it; or does it?

Randy Pausch's lecture
I was making jewellery today, so I took some time out to listen to some TED Talks, and to re-listen to Randy Pausch's Really achieving your childhood dreams lecture. It's been a number of years since I first listened to this talk, and it still makes me cry - I dare anyone to listen to this talk and not tear up a little bit.

Before I go any further, if you have not watched this talk then please consider putting it on your "things I must watch" list. It is an hour and sixteen minutes long, but you will not regret it. He gives you the back story at the beginning; I won't go into any more details.

Anyway, I've watched this talk two and a half times previously, but for some reason this bit leapt out at me today:
When you see yourself doing something badly and nobody's bothering to tell you anymore, that's a very bad place to be. Your critics are your ones telling you they still love you and care.
It leapt out at me today because I thought about the inner critic - the role mine thought she was playing, which is likely to be the same role that yours is playing. She thought that being critical was the best way to keep me on track, and to make sure that I didn't become too confident (read arrogant).

Sure you have critics in your life that are not being helpful, their commentary comes from a place of envy and fear - but what if you were to shift to consider your critics as people who care enough to speak up?

When you think of it this way, does it alter the way you view your inner critic, and the external critics in your life? When you realise that criticism is how they are showing that they care about you, and that they still think you're worth helping, does it change that relationship at all? Just intrigued to see if this quote speaks to anyone else too.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Revisiting the lessons from My Year of TED - Activities 1 and 2

We're almost a third of the way into 90 Days of TED, and it's been a fascinating process so far. The participants have had all sorts of interesting insights, some much like my own experience and others completely different. I think that this is the beauty of the content and the structure of the course, it allows everyone to take their own journey, since we all have different trigger points and issues.

Writing up all of the content and discussing these talks and activities with participants has reminded me of some of the valuable lessons from the project that I have casually forgotten. I say casually forgotten because it's not like I have forgotten them entirely, but on a day to day basis I do forget them - I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.

So, I thought that I would do a bit of a series of posts about those lessons I am revisiting as I guide other people through this process.

Fashion and pushing outside your comfort zone
I was reminded just how traumatising this activity had been for me, watching other people struggle with shifting their fashion mindset. For me this was all about allowing myself to be seen, the first huge step towards increasing my vulnerability.

Looking back, it's not like the outfits were outrageous or controversial, but they were a change from my 'uniform' of blending into the background. My wardrobe has toned down a bit from that experience, but the concept of it has remained. I am more conscious about the clothes I wear, the outfits I create for myself - especially when I am choosing 'hiding' clothes. Now, if I create an outfit that allows me to hide I know that there is something I am uncertain of, something I need to address, and I do that.

Who would have thought that a six minute talk about Wearing nothing new would have had such a profound impact on my understanding of myself and my inner workings? I think Jessi Arrington might have known, hence the reason she took the stage to share that idea. Thank you Jessi.

Thanking and praising others
The group of participants is an interesting mix, quite diverse in their backgrounds and personalities, which is great. Some of them were always going to find this activity quite easy - but they still struggled with having the conversation about how they want to be thanked.

I can't say that I've perfected that skill, although I have had a couple of conversations since this activity about how I want to be thanked, or that I need to be thanked for something. It is a very strange process to ask for thanks, but I have worked out why I don't like to do it - well one of the reasons. Mostly, I get this thought in my head that I'm still not great at thanking and praising others, so if I ask for thanks or praise then they might throw it back at me that I don't do it for them. Admittedly I could counter with "then maybe you need to learn to ask for it as well", but I know that some internal part of me would start beating myself up for being a horrible, selfish person. So, best not to ask really :-)

Overall, I think that this is still one I need to be more mindful of, I need to get back into the giving mindset - the mindset of "how can I make your day a little nicer".

How about you? Do you thank and praise the people in your life enough? Are you someone who is good at asking for thanks and praise?

Next time... Listening skills and the Three As of Awesome.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Do you want to be a better decision maker?

Decisions and choices are part of everyday life. Some are made reflexively, without much effort on our part - others require extensive deliberations of the possible outcomes. Regardless, making decisions is something you will do a lot in your life, so you need to be prepared to take on that challenge in a positive way.

If you have seen the outcome of 30 days of Choice and 30 days of Being Wrong, you will know that one of the significant realisations of those activities was the discovery that I had actively avoided making many decisions in my life. Not the insignificant ones either, big decisions like relationships and career choices.

What I learned from this discovery is that a lot of people are afraid to make big choices in their lives, they are afraid to own the outcome by actively making a decision. It's one of the reasons we stay in jobs we hate and relationships that might not be healthy for us - as the saying goes "better the devil you know". You might remember a recent post on this topic, Confidence, choices and being an active decision maker - well I have just had another post published on the Cracking the Happiness Code website that is an extension of this.

The reason that I'm writing and talking about this is because I think it is incredibly important that we all become more active decision makers in our own lives. Through My Year of TED, I discovered many things that have helped me become a happier and more fulfilled person. After almost two years living the changes and reflecting on the lessons, I think that shifting my mindset around choices has been one of the most important outcomes. I now have greater control over the choices and decisions in my life; a willingness to accept the consequences of my decisions; confidence in my ability to make good decisions; and, most importantly, I know the direction I want my decisions to take me.

That's why I developed the Positive Decisions resource - because these are skills that I want everyone to have in their lives. It's also this is a free resource for subscribers to the dinkylune newsletter, because I want to share it with everyone. If you are interested in learning more then you can sign up on the dinkylune website - and if you think this is as important as I do, consider sharing it with friends.

Are you an active decision maker in your life? Do you have the courage and confidence to make and own all of your big decisions?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lessons from my first course launch - or what happens when you think small and don't trust yourself

I decided that I should write a blog post about my experiences in the last month as I launch my first course - 90 Days of TED. In short, I knew that I probably wasn't prepared enough to launch this course, and my suspicions were borne out in the events of the last couple of weeks. The worst part was not the failings in process, but the failings in my own beliefs - but you'll see that as we go through. If you are considering launching an online course you might learn something from this post, or you might just be shaking your head and saying "well duh".

Developing my sales page
In early July, I started the process of changing my Wordpress site over to OptimizePress, because I knew I had to develop better sales pages, and it seemed to offer some good tools for this. Let me start this section by saying that playing around with your website can be pointless busy work, it makes you feel like you're achieving something, but often you are not achieving a lot.

I tried to limit the amount of time it would take to transition, but there were still a lot of hours transferring old content into the new format, and improving that content in the process. I don't think that this time was wasted, but given the fact I would be launching a course on 1 September, and that registrations had to close in mid-August, I probably could have survived without migrating all of the pages as a priority.

Anyway, the sales page development itself was very iterative, and since it was my first real sales page I think I needed to learn as I went. There was a lot of tweaking structure, flow and language as I went along, but again that was a learning process so I wasn't too harsh on myself. The bigger issue came when I started to realise that vital pieces of information were lacking, like the content and timetable for the course for example. I realised that I had not answered all of the basic questions people might have about this rather unique course - I assumed far too much.

Addressing that problem was very simple, so simple that I should have thought to do it in the first instance. So my first lesson was to make sure that the content on the sales page would give potential buyers everything they needed to know - I have no idea how many potential participants opted out because they didn't understand the course.

But that, of course, was not the lesson - the lesson was that I needed to trust what the experts say about this sort of thing, and not my own fears. Even though I thought that the sales page was getting too long, and I feared I would be wasting people's time to have to go through that much detail, it was the detail that they wanted.

Having a promotion strategy
This falls into that category of "things you know you should do but don't." I had structured a bit of a promotion strategy, hell I even wrote a press release for the course launch - trust me that is a huge 'outside my comfort zone' thing to do. But I should have had it better defined, I should have had Facebook posts and Tweets scheduled to go; I should have had a structured message of when I was going to address particular topics.

What happened instead was a little higgledy-piggledy. The press release only went out to a couple of media outlets, which was largely due to fear and an ingrained belief that no one would be interested, that I still struggle to overcome. It did culminate in a radio interview though, which was a fantastic experience. The majority of the promotion was done through Facebook and Twitter, I even started using a dinkylune Facebook page for this promotion. I also used email to get the message out to local people I knew, since the course is being run in Hobart.

What I didn't do was launch to my email subscribers first - which in hindsight I wish I had done, but the timing with my newsletter was all wrong and I decided to hold off until the next issue. I didn't put myself out there with promotional material in local cafes and relevant businesses (this is a very word of mouth city). Worst of all, I didn't offer any webinar or other local event for people to get to know me and know what I can offer.

The lesson here was mainly one of timing - I felt I had to start the course in September, so the participants could complete the activities before the crazy period of Christmas and New Year. But June and July were very hectic months for me, and I was not prepared to do a full launch the right way. So, I put myself under pressure and, as a result, the promotion was not as good as it should have been.

But I also think that there is part of me that wanted the launch group to be small, because there is always a level of fear when you do something for the first time. Maybe this was a subconscious way of doing just that - something to consider.

Testing your technical solutions
I love technology, and for the most part the feeling seems to be mutual. That means that I do all my own tech (website, mailing lists, social media, videos), and that usually works pretty well - usually. Some of you might have the seen posts about the tech fail for the sales page, so I'll explain what occurred. I had set up a new mailing list in MailChimp to capture registrations, since the course material is being emailed out I figured that this was the easiest way to capture their details (course payment was done through a manual invoicing process, since they are all locals).

When I set the first registration point on the page I tested the new list to make sure it would work - and it did. I deleted myself from the list and then set about finishing the page and publishing it to the world. Then I received no registrations through that page; people could also email me to register and there was activity through that method.

On the Friday morning of the final day of registration, I checked my emails and found a simple note along the lines of "Hi Kylie, I registered online for the course and just wanted to check you received it." I had not, and panic set in. I spent 20 minutes checking the functionality on the sales page, trying to resolve the problem, and then removing the registration and asking people to email me their details instead.

Kicking into damage control, I let people know that if they have registered I do not have it - "how many participants have I lost with this f$*k up?!" was the morning mantra, along with "how could I be so stupid?" and other expletive ridden phrases I won't include here. You've been there before with something in your life, you know the drill.

So there is a huge lesson here, check the tech after you go live. Better still, have a friend or relative check the tech from a different location - but whatever you do, check the tech!

Maintaining a belief in your material
The worst part of tech failure was the realisation that not a single part of me had considered that the technology was the cause of my lack of registrations through the website! Think about this for a second - I had received no online registrations at all, but rather than even contemplating "maybe there is a technical problem", I assumed it was all in the material and presentation.

That is the mindset shift I need to make in my life - and I mentioned it a little earlier as well. I need to maintain the belief in my own material, after all I had spoken with a few people about the course before I launched and there was general enthusiasm. Oh I know that does not translate to sales, I am not naive, but assuming that it did not appeal to anyone is not a positive mindset!

The final lesson is that I should have had more belief in my material; given myself the benefit of the doubt and checked all the other variables in the process. It might well have been that no one had registered, but that should not have been my default belief.

But I'm not beating myself up
On a side note, after my initial meltdown and resolving the problem, my inner critic was generally kept in check throughout the day. I was quite calm about everything that had happened, and the focus was more about letting people know (just in case) rather than beating myself up. I don't think I could begin to explain to you all just how huge a shift that is in my life - the old Kylie would still be torturing herself over this failure next week. I am still a little annoyed with myself, but it's nothing compared to pre-MYoT Kylie. Even writing all of this down I am not getting angry with myself; and understanding that I have made that mindset shift nearly makes the failure worthwhile.
[I love this image by the way, he is the image for my Vulnerability activity in the course, so I thought I'd share him with you :-) ]

What now?
On the 1st of September, a small group of eager participants will start 90 Days of TED. They will be guided through a challenging and fun set of activities to help them realise and shift some of their own negative mindsets. I'm extremely excited about the process, and I can't wait to share their outcomes (very generally) with all of you. Then, in early 2015, I will launch the course online, for people outside my small island State to change their lives as well.

But rest assured, when I launch the course for the rest of the world - I will have a sales page that answers all of your questions (well almost all); a promotion strategy that will focus on making this anything but small; tested and validated technical solutions for registrations and management of participants; and, a complete and unwavering belief in the material that I am sharing with you all.

Are you planning on launching an online course anytime soon? Do you think that you are prepared, externally and internally, for the challenge?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Radio gaga? - no, the interview went quite well thank you

Forgive me if this is a little rambling, I have been awake for far too many hours today, after only four hours of sleep (and lunch is still an hour and a half away). Why the lack of sleep? I hear you ask. Well this morning I was interviewed by Ryk Goddard on ABC Local Radio here in Hobart about My Year of TED and the launch of the 90 Days of TED course.

That's right, after far too long for my liking, I have finally finished all of the course material for 90 Days of TED. Very excitingly, I have decided to run it for the first time here in Hobart (that's in Tasmania, the small island state in Australia where I live). It was actually the suggestion of a friend down here that I run it locally for the launch, since it will allow me to run it as a masterclass and I can get direct feedback from participants.

Are you interested in understanding yourself better?
Would you like to become a person who takes action from inspiration?
Are you courageous enough to try on challenging ideas for 90 days?
Are you at a crossroads and uncertain about where you want to go next?

If you tick any of those boxes and are located in (or around) Hobart, then check out the course page on the dinkylune website for more details and registration links.

Numbers are limited to 12 and registrations close on Friday 15 August.