My Year With Sufficiency, Service, and Invitation

Sufficiency, Service, InvitationEvery year, about this time, I select a set of words to represent my intentions for the next twelve months. For 2014, I chose three: sufficiency, service, and invitation. Before I leave this year behind and select a new set of intention words, I wanted to share how navigating a year by these three words affected me.

Sufficiency

I selected the word ‘sufficiency’ as a way of expressing the concept of enough. “Sufficiency isn’t an amount,” writes Lynne Twist, “It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough and that we are enough.” I wanted to experience sufficiency as a context in every aspect of my life: financially, spiritually, psychologically, physically.

Paradoxically, one of the ways I went about pursuing my financial experience of sufficiency was to do something really crazy: I stopped charging for my services. Instead, in January 2014, I started giving all my services to my clients as gifts. In return, if they wished, my clients were free to reward my services based on their satisfaction, gratitude, and means. I call this approach The Gratitude Model. Long story short: I’ve been very happy with the results. Some clients pay me more than I used to charge and others pay me a lot less. My business grew by leaps and bounds in 2014 and I’ve been blessed with many new clients as well as a number of organizations—all without any real marketing effort on my part. In fact, this is the first time I’ve made my unconventional business model public.

As I’ve worked with sufficiency, I’ve come to realize that I have too many possessions. More-than-enough has come to feel bloated and uncomfortable to me. As a result, I’ve started seeking ways to share what I have with others by giving away items I no longer need or use. After reading The Parable of the Iron Pan, I was inspired to learn more about the New Economy and to think about how I can make my own small contributions to a more just and fair economic system. I’m looking into Wonolo and other skills sharing hubs to hire help for my growing business.

Service

My life of service flows directly out of sufficiency. Because I have enough, I’m free to serve—to give of myself generously and wholeheartedly. Although I understood at the outset that sufficiency and service were strongly intertwined, I underestimated their capacity for synergy.

Sufficiency, especially as expressed by the Gratitude Model, gave me the freedom to openly pursue opportunities for service. In the past, I felt reluctant to approach organizations with the offers of my gifts but not any more! By embracing sufficiency, I lost the need for recognition, praise, or approval for my service; it simply became part of how I live my life. As a result, I became more engaged, more joyful, and more generous in sharing myself with others.

Invitation

I chose the word ‘invitation’ because I wanted to cultivate an awareness of being invited as well as my ability to invite others. Invitation seemed like a natural companion to service. As it turned out, sufficiency granted me the freedom to turn down invitations that weren’t right for me even as I was issuing invitations to those I wanted to serve. Not only that, but when my invitations were rebuffed, I was much less hurt by that.

I didn’t leave my equanimity about invitations—getting and giving, being accepted or rejected—to chance. One of my affirmations was, “When I am rejected or passed over, I know that it isn’t because I’m not good enough or not successful.” By reiterating my trust in sufficiency, I was able to keep failure in perspective. This was a great victory for me because in the past, I would use failure as an excuse to beat myself up and feed my self-doubt.

Not that I make New Year’s resolutions, but when anyone asked me what mine were for 2014, I said: “Overcome self-doubt.” I’ve come to realize that I can’t completely get rid of self-doubt but I can be more “self-doubt resilient.” By improving my awareness of what self-doubt feels like, I am able to intervene more quickly and stop the cycle of emotional self-abuse before it gains momentum. Of all the obstacles I’ve encountered in my life and career, self-doubt has been, by far, the most destructive.I didn’t anticipate how effective these three words—sufficiency, service, and invitation—were going to be in my battle against self-doubt.

As a new year dawns, why not choose a set of words to express your intentions for 2015? You are invited to enjoy a 30-minute coaching session by phone and I’ll guide you through a reflection and review aimed at inspiring your thoughts about your intentions for the coming year. While 2014 will be left behind, my commitment to sufficiency, service, and invitation are on-going. Let me know how I can serve you!

Reliability: A New Manifesto

In a couple of weeks, I’ll have the pleasure of presenting a workshop at my favorite conference of the year. As I was preparing for my presentation, entitled Reliability: The Human Dimension of Productivity, I penned an all new Manifesto as a handout for the occasion. And here it is! If you’d like your own copy as a pdf, click here. Enjoy!

reliability manifesto

 

What the Sexy + Soul-full Woman Knows: It’s better to risk displeasing someone than attempting to please everyone

This is the third in a series of posts exploring what it means to be a Sexy + Soul-full woman. You can read the first post here. Enjoy!

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After listening to my client bemoan her bulging schedule and her ever-shrinking bandwidth, I spotted a pattern. She was always saying ‘yes.’ To every request, no matter how irrelevant to her goals or how far outside her interests, she acquiesced to them all. When we explored what lurked behind her agreements, it became clear that she wanted not just to be pleasing and accommodating, but she also feared hurting someone’s feelings or making them angry by refusing their request. Her unwillingness to say ‘no’ was driving her to exhaustion; she was over-committed and unable to keep her promises–a situation that was decidedly displeasing to those whose requests fell through the cracks.

The Sexy + Soul-full woman knows that it’s worth risking someone’s displeasure when they hear her ‘no,’ over attempting to please everyone by constantly saying ‘yes.’ Acquiring the ability to risk and, occasionally weather, being displeasing is a key skill that marks the passage into a stage of wisdom for Sexy + Soul-full women. This wisdom comes from discernment and the willingness to say ‘no’ with love and courage.

Discernment is the process of weighing options, not just according to possible risk or potential payoff, but also against spiritual criteria. This sort of spiritual discernment relies on feelings and intuition rather than solely consulting the intellect. The Sexy + Soul-full woman uses her gut (as well as the rest of her body) as a reliable compass to point to her inclinations and possible courses of action. Looking for subtle, persistent, and consistent leanings toward a particular direction, she distrusts flashy fantasies about fantastical outcomes.

“We are all conduits for a great and creative energy,” writes Julia Cameron, “that seeks expression in us and through us. When we yearn to be different, it’s not just our restless ego. It is our accurate response to the creative energy within us that is seeking a venue for expression.” Knowing this, the Sexy + Soul-full woman focuses her attention on callings, yearnings, and insights. She follows her heart’s leanings and trusts her soul’s whispers.

It is her ability ability to recognize when a ‘yes’ isn’t appropriate that gives her the courage to speak an unambiguous ‘no.’ A ‘yes’ spoken out from an out-of-control desire to please or a misplaced fear of being displeasing reeks of lack of conviction. When a woman is fearfully or tearfully accommodating, her commitments waver like the mirages they are. The unwitting people-pleaser is led farther and farther into a desert of littered with her broken promises. There is nothing for her there in that parched, empty landscape but dust.

When speaking her clear, unambiguous ‘no,’ the Sexy + Soul-full woman uses her core strengths. She doesn’t squirm or quail, she needs no excuses nor apologies. She says ‘no’ firmly and with compassion. Her compassion springs from the understanding that ‘no’ can be hard to hear and unpleasant to bear–she has heard her own share of ‘no’s’ so she delivers a ‘no’ with kindness. She is firm to communicate that her ‘no’ is real and has strength behind it. She may receive arguments from the recipient of her ‘no’ but the Sexy + Soul-full woman can stand on her ‘no’ and make it stick. She shall not be moved when she doesn’t wish to be.

Ultimately, what this willingness to risk displeasing others by saying ‘no’ with love and courage does is communicate the commitment to being reliable. The Sexy + Soul-full woman knows that trust is the basis of all relationships. Broken promises damage, and eventually destroy, trust and relationships along with it. To be worthy of trust, her ‘yes’ must mean, truly ‘yes.’ By reserving her ‘yes’ for what she knows she can and will do, she both gains her own confidence in her ability to follow through as well as earns the trust and respect of those around her. That trust and respect yields much greater credibility and standing that people pleasing can ever do.

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What have you learned about people-pleasing? When have you said ‘no’ with love and courage? Share your stories in the comments below.

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