Friday, April 16, 2010

The Rescuer

Yesterday I saved a pretty little turtle who was trying to cross the very busy road I live on. I saw it crossing and felt the need to go help. But there were cars racing by and I cringed each time one would pass, for fear it would run over that scared little turtle. I waited for the right moment, ran into the street and grabbed it by its shell. I got to the other side of the road and placed it over by some wetlands that are nearby. I felt so good that when I got back into my house, I had to post it on Facebook!

I haven’t been able to quit thinking about it though. But today I figured out why. I could relate to that little turtle. It had a goal, to get to the other side of the road. It was taking the steps to accomplish that goal but was having a hard time reaching it. It would take a few slow steps but then a car would race over it and it would start to turn around to come back. It was as if fear was making it turn back even though the goal was in sight.

As a Once Timid Networker, I used to go to networking events just like that turtle. I had the goal, I knew what to do, but as soon as I was surrounded by other networkers racing around, exchanging business cards, making appointments in their calendars, and talking to others I would get nervous and overwhelmed and fear would take over. At times, I even tried to head back to the door just so I could get away. Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever observed someone feeling that way?

Like that turtle, I needed a rescuer, someone to help me reach my goal. I began to realize that if I could be open and honest with a trusted friend or two, they could be my rescuers and help me when I needed it. At first I was their shadow. I stayed close and met the people they met and moved on when they moved on. I observed every detail, the questions they asked, what they did with the business cards they collected, even their body language. I wanted to be as comfortable as they were and move through the room effortlessly, like they did.

It became easier and gradually I would move away to talk to someone but then come back to my rescuers side. I would make it a goal to venture out and try to meet one new person. The next time I wanted to meet two new people. I did this over a period of time and then one day I realized something changed.

A few months ago I went to a networking event. My rescuers were there and I waved across the room to them when I arrived. I looked around the room and got my bearings but I didn’t rush to my rescuers’ side. Instead I looked for the new person, the timid one, the one who was overwhelmed and paralyzed in the middle of the room. They had their goal, which was why they were there, but they were eyeing the door with that all too familiar gaze. I wanted to help them feel at ease the way my rescuers had helped me.

When I left that night, I realized I never did share more than a sentence or two with my rescuer friends. I missed them and felt bad because being by their side had become such a habit. But I also realized I had grown. They had helped me cross the busy road. They had helped me reach my goal. For that I am so grateful. To my rescuers, Chad and Steve, thank you so much.

Now please excuse me, I’m off to go look for more turtles…

Tara Schmakel- The Workroom at Tara's

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It's what you do NEXT that counts!

Have you ever done something you regretted? Maybe you said or did the wrong thing? More than likely it was unintentional. Growing up, of course we make mistakes. One time when I was quite a bit younger, I had exercised rather poor judgment. When I talked to my mom about it, she said something that has stuck with me until this day. She said, “Tara, you made a mistake. But it’s what you do next that counts.” I live by those words. In fact it is my all time favorite quote.

There was such wisdom in my mother’s words because she knew me better than I knew myself at the time. She knew that I would withdraw. She also knew that I was a perfectionist and that in my eyes what I had done amounted to failure. She helped me see beyond what I had done. Those words helped me to look forward instead of back.

Sometimes we do something minor and sometimes it huge. Regardless, people handle things differently. At times we can become paralyzed by our actions. We may feel overwhelmed and instead of taking those “Baby Steps” we don’t do anything and that can make it even larger than it needs to be. Remember that any movement is progress.

Is there something that is paralyzing you right now? Do you feel hindered by something? Remember, it’s what you do next that counts. Break it down into steps. For those that know me, know that I am partial to making lists. If I can see my task broken down and itemized and then placed in order, I am able to think clearer and can see one thing at a time to make the progress needed. I even add things on to the list that I may have forgotten. As I cross things off, I am able to celebrate my successes. That celebration moves me to the next item on my list. It gives me energy to see the steps crossed off and instead of being paralyzed I am fueled to move forward.

As a once timid networker, becoming paralyzed used to be a regular thing, but now I know when I hit a bump that threatens to slow my progress, I make a list. And every time I cross something off I say, “It’s what you do next that counts”!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Tiara Experiment

I have a soft place in my heart for mentoring. I wanted to take a moment to tell you about one of mine.

Four years ago, I was attending training to be an Assistant Director for BNI. My role within the organization was to support chapters and to help them grow their businesses and chapters through word of mouth marketing with regular chapter visits. I was very nervous because as a timid networker, I was still borrowing the belief of others. I truly thought I was there by mistake. But I wanted to learn as much as I could before they figured out who I REALLY was. I somehow thought they had missed the fact that I was so incredibly nervous every time I had to speak in public!

Sue Henry took me aside one day after training and she told me that she thought I was going to be a good director and that she believed in me. I think I remember feeling very uncomfortable by the attention but I also liked it and thought she was so kind to be so nice to me. She then told me two things that have stuck with me until this day and I attribute my comfort with speaking to these two things.

She first asked me if I knew the song “I whistle a happy tune” from The King and I. She then with her lovely, soothing voice started to sing the words…

Whenever I feel afraid
I hold my head erect
And whistle a happy tune
So no one will suspect-I'm afraid.

While shivering in my shoes
I strike a careless pose
And whistle a happy tune
And no one ever knows-I'm afraid.

The result of this deception
Is very strange to tell
For when I fool the people
I fear I fool myself as well!

By the time she was done, I was in silent tears. It was as if she read my mind. My chest felt so tight as I held back the sob. I was afraid and I didn’t want people to notice me because I didn’t want them to see through me. I decided that I was hindering myself with my disbelief in who I was and I realized my body language was part of it. I needed to stand up straight with my head up and smile a confident smile.

She next told me a story about Princess Diana and how she had watched Diana change from a timid princess to a woman of power before her death. It was as if she received confidence from that lovely tiara. Sue then told me how she would pretend to put on a tiara before she would speak. She found she stood up taller and had more confidence in herself. She encouraged me to do this exercise as well. What she didn’t know was that I had always wanted a tiara!! In fact I thought they were so pretty with their sparkles but didn’t think I had ever done anything to warrant one. I immediately “put one on”.

I will tell you, it worked! Sue had given me a reason to have the most beautiful tiara I’ve ever seen… even if it was only in my own head. Since that time, as a Once Timid Networker, I’ve acquired a collection of beautiful virtual tiaras!!

My now very dear friend and mentor Sue, has coined this beautiful empowering exercise, “The Tiara Experiment”. Her goal is to touch 1 million lives this year. If you could use a tiara or know someone who could, by all means take one of mine, I’ll share! Please, visit her website and help me tell others about Sue and her Tiara.