When I started my business a number of years ago, I realized that most people in the business world had no idea what a Speaker did or how they did it. Trying to find help, I went to a well-known local and national organization to ask for some help.
They recommended I consult with their resources, a few retired businessmen who were part of their group. Sitting in the appointment I set up with them, they listened to me wanting to become a Communicator/Speaker-Writer-Coach (with a bit of disdain) and ended up telling me I was very pretty, and recommended I should go marry a rich man and be a good wife.
I clearly remember the arrogance and, Holy Cow, was I ticked off! This was the advice provided by the so-called BEST of the Best “resources?”
I’m not sure what shocked me more: these ex-businessmen’s entrepreneurial ignorance or their insensitivity to an ambitious woman finding her way in the world.
Undaunted, I found the National Speakers Association was holding an event in Phoenix, Arizona. I borrowed money and clothes to attend.
I was seriously concerned to discover the event’s meetings were all about how you looked and what you said on stage, and nothing about how a communicator goes about creating a business.
Fortunately for me, as disappointed as I was, I wandered down a hallway to see this sign: THE BUSINESS OF SPEAKING with Dan Kennedy. I got there late, ended up in the last seat in the back and heard Word Candy and real facts and figures, strategies, and good tools on how to actually get my business rocking.
I signed up for a 15-minute consultation with Dan afterwards. I had no clue what a consultation was about, as Dan said to me, “First, Lee, I really don’t like working with women.” To which I replied, “OK, I still have 14 minutes left.”
I am used to kissing frogs, so my unfazed response woke Dan up, and he began to see I was a serious woman who was going to do whatever it took to reach her goals.
The next person did now show up, so I ended up with 30 minutes. Before I left Dan said to me, “YOU are going to make it. YOU have what it takes. It will be hard, but you have the Constitution to make it.”
As fate would have it, I later ended up having dinner with Dan and some of his buddies, and it changed the trajectory of my life and career. The rest is history and we have been friends for decades.
Some say I was lucky. I say that was not luck—it was me risking pretty much all I had to venture out into the unknown, willing to suffer through rejection and dead ends looking for people to aim me in the right direction.
Everyone needs support, no matter who you are and how much wealth and success you may have.
To the outside world, we look as if we always have our act together and the truth is, it’s often an act. Yes, I know we must project confidence and strength, but many times we are hiding our stress and not creating a firm foundation of true support and self-confidence that we all deserve.
Let’s talk about personal support from our loved ones. We often go home at night and complain about employees, customers, taxes, vendors, and a hundred other things. Do you realize that the old saying, “The lights are on but no one’s home” applies here? The people you complain to the most about your problems have likely tuned you out. The bad news for you is that you are not really getting authentic feedback or conscious emotional support.
Something I have learned in my life I know to be true; you must build support before you need it. When you do need advice, you will get some authentic feedback and comfort because you created it in advance. Sort of like a savings account for a rainy day. You create a support system to use like an umbrella when stress rains down on you.
So often, most of us are so busy providing support for our families, loved ones, our TEAM at work, and others that we don’t realize we need support, too.
10 TIPS TO DEVELOP A NETWORK OF SUPPORT
1. Find a place in your life that uplifts you or brings you peace of mind. This place could be in nature, a place in your home, or a park—wherever you can go that brings you relief from the stress of the outside world. World renowned speaker and author Brian Tracy often talks about how he stops at a park on the way home and just sits there, often for 30 minutes to an hour to mediate or think about his challenges, so he uses that time and place as an asset to keep him balanced and not take his troubles home with him.
2. Spend time with your family and loved ones. It’s important that you spend time and not just money on the people you love. Life is short and you never know when they will be taken away from you. Take the time to listen to them. Life is a gift, don’t take being happy for granted. Be careful to stay in your NOW and don’t let worry or doubt hinder your time with the people you love. Create a no-cell-phone rule when you are having dinner or private time with your loved ones.
3. Make a point once a day to tell the people you live with and love how much they mean to you. Don’t assume they know. Write little notes, do things that let people know you appreciate and love them. I just interviewed Joe Simonds, author of Fishing for Happiness, for my new Millionaire Success Smarts® Club and he told a story about a guy who was so busy with work he often neglected his wife, to the point she was talking about divorce. He turned the marriage around by simply starting to write little love notes to his wife on why he adored her. He left them in places she could find them during the day and was shocked that he won her back—and there was no jewelry involved!
4. Be aware of how you treat your support system. Do you extend the same patience and courtesy to your family and friends as you do to your employees and associates? We often unintentionally treat the ones we love with disrespect and disregard. Sadly, this is human nature. When we are stressed out, we don’t behave with people we love because we think THEY will understand. Face it, everyone has their limit of you being a jerk. Be sure to wake up before you lose the people you love.
5. Be authentic and show an interest in other people’s lives—joys and sorrows. You have to be a friend to have a friend. Learn to really listen to what your family and friends say and not just act as if you are listening. Ask questions about what they think and feel. You may not agree but that is okay. Just listen.
6. Make a daily goal to extend kindness and thoughtful gifts of self. Lend a hand to someone who needs it. Do something from your heart to another soul. Send a gift from your garden, kitchen, workshop, or creative hand because it often will mean more than anything you could have bought them. Helping other people is what we are all born to do. Our society has taught us to be divided and not like people due to their positions on different topics and we must rise above those juvenile behaviors.
7. Make a commitment to yourself to stay on good terms with everyone possible (even your competitors). Be mature enough that you never burn your bridges. You may have to cross that river again. When the time comes that you are so tempted to spectacularly raze a bridge with someone, it’s best to remember no one is perfect, including you. Do not burn Bridges because you never know when LIFE will bring them back around and who knows sometimes old enemies can become good friends.
8. Keep your word. If you commit yourself to anything—a deadline, confidentiality, a committee—follow through. If you find you cannot follow through, renegotiate as soon as possible, and make a new arrangement. Communication is the key. If people don’t trust your word—well, you are shooting yourself in the foot not to be trustworthy and that never ends well in relationships.
9. Cultivate and nurture your friendships. Be there for them. Write them a note. Send them a card. Clip a news item that would interest them. Visit them. Invite them to your house. Talk with them. Keep in touch with friends far away; even friends you have not spoken with for years will be thrilled to hear from you. People love real letters, and it is almost a lost art of the written word, pull out your stationary and write some thank you notes and let people know you appreciate them and their efforts!
10. Learn the fine art of apology and forgiveness. Don’t allow yourself to hold grudges because it wastes your life energy and causes you bitterness and unhappiness. Don’t forget to forgive yourself and keep in mind you are a work in progress!!!
My Best to you,
Life and Business Strategist
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