Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The "Sparkle Factor"

I was born and raised in Alaska. It’s common knowledge that there is gold in Alaska and you can find it if you know where to look and if you have patience. When I was a little girl, my dad would bring me fishing along the Kenai River and he would often tell me to look for gold. He said if I could find some, I could keep it.

So as any little girl who loved Barbie’s and dress up, I would look for shiny, sparkly things along the water’s edge. Sometimes I would run my hand through the water gently stirring the silt at the bottom of the river looking for a glimmer something. I would see that “shine” through the water and I would get goose bumps. My heart would pound and my palms would sweat. My breathing would become rapid and I could think about nothing else except focusing on finding that object sparkling in the water. I had to be careful so I wouldn’t fall into the river and sometimes I needed to figure out a way to get to the Sparkle since it wasn’t always within my reach. But that didn’t stop me because each time I saw something glimmer in the water, I was convinced that it was the treasure I was seeking and I wouldn’t know for sure unless I tried to get it.

I found lots of shiny things, fishing lures, hooks, candy wrappers and lost or broken pieces of jewelry, but I never found gold. In retrospect, I realize my dad was giving me a project for the day so he could enjoy his day of salmon fishing. I do look back on those days with fondness. I collected piles of sparkly items that we usually threw away when we were done. But, I loved the hunt and I loved the idea of what could possibly be found and to this day I have an addiction for sparkle. In fact I sometimes refer to it (tongue in cheek of course) as my favorite color.

Do you have something that you just know is “IT”? You feel it in your bones and it gives you goose bumps? Do your palms sweat and your heart beats faster? Does your breathing become rapid and you find your mind drifting and then focusing on “IT”?

That’s your “Sparkle Factor”.

It makes your eyes shine and your heart sing and when you talk about it you sparkle from the inside out. It can be something tangible but it can also be a goal, a business idea, even a person. Whatever it is for you, use it to your advantage and run with it. Sometimes it’s out of immediate reach and we have to find a way to reach or achieve it but don’t lose your focus. If you don't try, it could become a missed opportunity.

When I have a sparkly idea or plan it becomes part of me and I’m driven to accomplish it no matter what it takes or how hard it is to reach. “Sparkle” is something that makes my heart happy and gives me joy in all its forms and I have to reach out to grab it. If I would have found gold, those summers long ago, I would have probably been a small flake or nugget of little value. "Sparkle Factor"- Priceless.

What’s yours?

Tara Schmakel
The Once Timid Networker
Entrepreneurial Excellence
The Workroom at Tara's

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Distractions Are GOOD, right?

The other day I was so distracted that I could hardly focus on what I needed to accomplish for the day. I started making a list and found my mind kept wandering. I suddenly realized this was happening and decided to post it on Facebook. I asked my friend-ly community, what distracts them. Almost every person replied with a distraction that they considered a good thing under normal circumstances. They replied about their children, Facebook, the scenery outside, an event they were looking forward to and thinking of friends and family that were missed. All positive things or good things, right?

We sometimes think of distraction as a negative thing. However, I like to think that sometimes, distractions can help us accomplish what we are trying to achieve. How so you may ask?

Well how about when you go to the Doctor and you need to have blood drawn. I’ll bet most of us, turn away and think of something else besides the blood leaving our body and the prick of the needle. Or, you’re stuck in traffic on a hot summer day. Instead of focusing on the heat, the bumper to bumper traffic, you turn on the radio or an audio book. Distractions can actually help us accomplish something that we don’t necessarily want to do. By using a distraction we can take the focus off of something that feels unpleasant to us so that we able to get done what we may not want to do.

Let’s take for example an event. For whatever reason, you may be stressing over attending. Why not use distraction to make it easier. As a Once Timid Networker, I used to loath these events. I would get so anxious before that I would almost make myself physically ill. I have since learned a few “distractions” for myself to make it easier.

1. Just DO it! That’s right, don’t even think about it, just act. We can create anxiety in our minds that is worlds worse than the actuality. Be so distracted that you don’t even think about what you’re about to do. In the words of my wise mother, “Just get an attitude about it!” Trust me, it works!

2. Invite a friend along who might be a timid networker and focus on helping them instead of yourself. Helping another is a great distraction and they love you for helping them out!

3. Play music that gets you excited on your way. You will be so focused on singing your heart out in the car that you forget about where you are going. In turn you get yourself energized and ready to go. Personally, I use theme songs and I love how they distract me!!

4. Find something “shiny”. Yes, some of us can be distracted by something sparkly (ahem!) But when you find what your personal “sparkle factor” is, that thing that makes your eyes shine, you can use it to your advantage and it can actually help you accomplish your goal. (another blog to come on “The Sparkle Factor”)

5. Visualization! Visualize yourself networking like a pro around the room, talking to strangers, taking their card, introducing them to others acting the host to the event… even if you’re not. Studies show when we start thinking about helping others, we will be less stressed. See yourself acting the part. When it comes time to do it in real life, it will be very similar to what you visualized.

Let’s face it, we distract ourselves all the time. We just need to learn how to channel our efforts and use them to our advantage. Find what works for you. Use distractions to get the things done on your list that you don’t want to do. Feel the sense of accomplishment when you do it!

Tara Schmakel
The Once Timid Networker
Entrepreneurial Excellence
The Workroom at Tara's