Subscribe & listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Sticher or your platform of choice. Click Here to access all links.
Did you know that the first ever computer programmer some 130 years before the birth of the internet was a woman.
It’s hotly debated of course by male historians who believe the chap she was working with at the time, The Godfather of Computers, Charles Babbage came up with the first ever programming language, but who cares, she was right up there with him essentially developing algorithms for the first ever computers in the world back in the 1840’s when women should have been at home sewing dresses and writing letters!
Ada Lovelace had a voice and she knew how to use it!
Because owning your voice isn’t just about standing up trying to make the world hear you. It isn’t about becoming a speaker or making videos or who shouts the loudest.
Having a voice is about confidence.
Confidence in your own abilities, opinions and values.
Confidence that’s sadly lacking in the female of the species.
So in todays episode we’re going to explore the different ways you can find and own your power, your voice.
A vital element for building a Lifestyle Business is ensuring that you know and own your own unique voice.
So why is it that women in particular seem to have a hard time finding their unique voice?
I have to say from the getgo I’m no behavourial psychologist, I am completely generalizing & none of my theories are backed by scientists.
But I would hazard a guess that more women than men are people pleasers.
We love to be loved. As I said I am generalizing here, but it’s the nurturer in us. As women we are born with an innate desire and ability to take care of people. We don’t want to go head to head with others, we want to build relationships.
The other night I was watching a Robin Williams documentary and on one of his live shows he said something like ‘What if women ruled the world?’. There’d never be any war, just intense negotiations every 29 days’! :)
Add to that years of societal norms being that the guy heads out and earns the crust while the woman rears the kiddywinks, in the traditional order of things it hasn’t been necessary for us to have a voice.
But although the world has changed in the last 100 years we still ‘generally’ find it intimidating to stand up and be counted.
To use and own our voice.
And I think one of the things that really holds us back is that women in general are unable to ‘fake it til we make it’.
We need to feel validated before we’ll take any huge risks of giant leaps of faith.
I get it, because I’m the poster girl for requiring validation (if only my own) before I feel I can stand up and share my opinion.
For example, when I started my online business I could and would not confidently talk about building a business until I had built one.
When I wasn’t working, although I wanted to start my book I’m writing for my daughter, I was mentally not in a great place and so was unable to write with conviction.
It’s hugely important to us that we prove to ourselves that we can do something before we’ll go and tell the world we can do it.
But even then we may still hold ourselves back suffering from the old ‘imposter syndrome’ which many men just seem to embrace so easily and which we, even the super successful ladies struggle with on a daily basis.
In their book ’The Confidence Code’ two successful journalists and broadcasters (Katty Kay & Claire Shipman) speak to incredibly successful women across the spectrum including Christina Lagarde the head of the IMF, who told them about how she and Angela Merkel, yes the Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor , (so basically two of the most powerful women in the world), over prepare for every single meeting they have because and I quote ‘We assume somehow, that we don’t have the level of expertise to be able to grasp the whole thing which of course is part of a confidence issue’.
If two of the most influential women in the world suffer from confidence issues then what hope is there for the rest of us?
Well lots actually, because we’re not about to go and try to run an entire country, or even probably our local community.
For most of us we’re not in a life or death situation and are not forced to make decisions which could have massive ramifications for millions.
So breathe, relax and thank the lord you weren’t born with aspirations quite that large, but what we can take away from these women is that they may suffer with the same self doubts we all have, but they go and do it anyway.
So here’s some tips on how to alleviate the little negative voice in your head and step out into the world with confidence.
When in doubt, err on the side of action, always.
My partner is a huge inspiration to me and I always say to him, at least when you fail, you fail falling forward.
He is an action taker like none I have ever met and yes sometimes it blows up in his face, but more often than not it either works or he learns a valuable lesson which propels him forward.
We need to stop thinking about stuff and start doing it.
In Mark Mansons blog post – The feedback loop from hell, he describes something that happens to me almost daily!
So lets say I set an ambitious goal to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new, here’s the dialogue that might ensue inside my mind;
‘OK I’m definitely going to do this, this is going to be great and people are going to love it. But what if it doesn’t work and you just end up looking like an arse? That’s ok, that’s the whole point of stepping out of my comfort zone. Or maybe now is not the right time. Maybe I need to go and do ‘X’ first before I do this to make sure that I really can do it. Oh for goodness sake Jo, just do it. No I can’t do it. OMG you’re such a wusser, I hate you sometimes. Oh no don’t hate me that’s super negative talk. Oh crikey now I feel really bad that I’m talking negatively to myself. I wouldn’t talk to others this way. No you wouldn’t! Shame on you! OMG! Someone get me a drink!’
The trick is to make snap decisions and be prepared to fail.
I tell my daughter every morning before school to get out there and fail at something. Because if she trys to fail at least she’s trying. Sounds a bit odd, but I heard it on an interview with Sara Blakely the billionaire owner of Spanx. Apparently her Dad used to say the same to her so I thought I’d try it.
But it’s true! We have to be prepared to launch our blog to crickets or for someone to turn us down when we ask for an interview or receive criticism when we launch our new video series.
We need to stop thinking about it, stop worrying about what hasn’t happened yet and just go and do it, whatever it is.
To help us with this a good strategy is to;
There is nothing wrong with having grandiose visions of where you see yourself in the future.
In fact I encourage it! Dream Big is another message I regularly share with my daughter (who hates my life lessons by the way, but we’ll discuss that on another podcast).
But when you’re trying to get yourself to take action, break your big dreams down into small manageable actions.
How scary and prone to procrastination is the goal – I will write and publish a book by the end of the year compared to – I just need to write 500 words today (which by the way if you did every day you’d have a decent sized book written in just over 3 months).
Micro goals are your friend.
It makes everything seem a little less scary and with each step moves you closer to your big dreams.
And a by product of creating forward momentum by the way is confidence! With every step taken you will feel more confident to take the next step and the next and so on.
Those pesky limiting beliefs systems that we carry around with us from our childhood no doubt.
The belief that no matter how hard you try you’re still probably not good enough, indoctrinated by that sod of a maths teacher who never gave a grade over a B-, not even to John who was clearly headed for rocket science status.
The belief that you have nothing interesting to say and who wants to listen to you anyway, indoctrinated by Mother who never listened to a word you said when you got home from school.
The belief that you’re too old to learn anything new, indoctrinated by the fact that you’re perimenopausal, can’t seem to retain anything you read or focus on for longer than 5 minutes, get anxious every time you try and quite frankly why am, I bloody bothering anyway! It’s all too bloody hard!!!
(Woman in full blown perimenopause here!)
But everything we feel, we have chosen to feel that way at some point (other than the menopausal feelings, they are 100% uncontrollable hormones! – It wasn’t my fault I burned my house down in a fit of rage officer, it was my hormones!)
So if we get to choose then let’s turn our belief systems on their head and believe in stuff that’s helpful to us!
For example, I like to believe I’m a good writer.
Am I on a path to a Pulitzer Prize? Probably not, but is my content engaging, informative and entertaining? I like to think so. And if it’s not, is that a helpful belief?
My writing sucks. Does that help me or hinder me?
I like to think I’m quite good at presenting my information, that I’m personable and I make people smile.
If you’re currently banging your head against a pain of glass out of total boredom then I apologise but is that a helpful belief?
I’m so boring it’s like plaiting fog listening to me. Help or hinder?
You get the picture.
What would you like to believe about yourself?
Make a list and set these thoughts as your belief system. Choose to feel good about yourself. Why?
This brings us to the next point;
Give yourself a break!
Oh my gosh I am my own worst enemy at totally attacking myself. I would never say to someone else the things I sometimes say to myself.
Seriously there are times it verges on mental abuse! (Hormones people, hormones).
Why are we so mean to ourselves?
We need to be nicer to ourselves. Love ourselves for who we are with all our little foibles.
I know this is easier said than done and we are without a shadow of a doubt our own worst enemy most of the time but a piece of advice I heard a little while ago was;
When you’re faced with an issue which would normally result in you tearing yourself apart, take a step back and talk to yourself as if you would your best friend.
Talk to yourself as if you were talking to your child or your spouse or someone that you really wanted to encourage and support and that you loved with all of your heart.
Ask yourself, if I were talking to my best friend right now what would I actually say to them? What words would I use to encourage them and support them on their journey?
Give that a try and then see what kind of difference that makes not only to how you talk to yourself but also the difference it then makes in your attitude to the task at hand and to your own self confidence and self worth overall.
After all if you don’t like yourself, how can you expect anyone else to like you?
Following on from not giving yourself a hard time is also understanding that your emotions are your emotions.
I know that the self-help gurus say that we need to learn to control our emotions but I disagree.
I don’t think it’s our emotions we need to control, it’s our behaviours.
Because & I don’t know if this is a female thing but I’m not in control of my emotions sometimes. I can be singing along to a song (especially at the moment where I’m completely perimenopausal). I can be singing along to a song and the next thing you know I’m crying my eyes out! No control whatsoever.
I can watch a sad film with say the death of a child and I’m literally sobbing my heart out!
I don’t remember crying to films about kids before I had my own but different things affect us at different stages of our life.
As an example have you ever been in a situation where you’ve been so angry with something you feel like you cannot control your behaviour?
Well the anger you may not be able to control but how you react to it you are in control of.
Our emotions are our emotions & we have little control over them but it’s about creating a set of supporting behaviours so that when you feel certain emotions you’re actually able to almost step back from and observe how you feel rather than get caught up in the middle of your feelings.
I know easier said than done. I didn’t say it was easy! Just possible with practice.
So for example some days you are just going to feel sad or a bit low. Perhaps life seems like it’s not going the way you want it to go, you might be feeling a bit anxious, you might have things on your mind maybe a bit tired, basically precisely the way I felt this morning!
But that’s ok! Don’t fight it. Don’t start saying to yourself ‘oh my gosh I shouldn’t be sad, my life is great, I’ve got a great spouse, my kids are awesome, I’m healthy, things are good, I should be really happy!’ and then start beating yourself up because you don’t feel happy. What will that achieve? It’ll make you feel worse probably.
Here’s what to do instead;
1. Accept the fact that at that moment that’s how you feel. Just accept it and tell yourself it’s ok to feel like that. It’s just how you feel right now.
2. Don’t allow the emotion to rule your day! Remember that your emotions & your behaviour are two different things. So say to yourself ‘I may feel a bit sad or down or a bit tired but you know what I am going to get on with my blog post I was going to write or my website design I was doing or contacting that client I really want to contact. It’s about not letting yourself off the hook just because you feel a certain way.
So how does this help with confidence?
Because if you become the kind of person who does what needs to be done despite how you feel, you’re going to strengthen your mind immeasurably!
It’s what David Goggins ex Navy Seal, now author & speaker, calls callousing the mind.
Getting on with what needs to be done even if you don’t feel like it.
When you adopt this mindset, you become a consistent action taker, will find it easier to move out of your comfort zone & will quite simply get more done.
You’ll also be amazed at how much motivation you will feel when you act.
The act of acting itself will motivate you to take more action.
So don’t fear your emotions, embrace them, accept them, observe them & move on.
Have you ever noticed how much braver you are when doing something with someone else?
I know because I go traveling with my sister every year and we do things together that I probably would not do on my own.
I just feel braver and more confident with her by my side and I’m fairly sure she feels the same way.
One of the things as women we are fabulous at, it’s innate in our personality, is of course building relationships!
So why try and tackle everything on your own? Get yourself a partner. Find someone you can work with. I’m sure you will then find that you’ll do things and say things and record videos and write blog posts & record podcasts and do all sorts of things that you wouldn’t do on your own.
By having that other person to act as a supporter, a sound board and an equal partner in taking any flack you may receive you’re likely to take greater risks.
How to find the perfect partner?
1. List all the attributes of the ideal person you’d love to work with. This will hone your focus and send a message out to the universe about the kind of person you’re looking for.
2. Start letting people know you’re looking. Talk to friends, post in groups and forums and tell people who you are, the business you’re in and the type of person you’re looking to work with.
The more you get out there and ask for what you want, the more chance you have of getting it!
If you think working with someone else will help you to take action, feel better about yourself and share the burden of fear, then do it!
Ok so now I want you to do something that I am innately bad at.
That is developing your ’No’ muscle.
I don’t know about you but I am seriously bad at saying no!
This is a major people pleaser problem. You don’t want to let people down, you don’t want people to think bad of you, you want to make sure that you’re making people happy and making others feel good, so you say yes!
Yes I’ll come out and do that thing with you, yes I’ll certainly help you with your website for free or yes I can jump on a half an hour call with you and have a chat about your business even though I’m absolutely up to my eyes in my own.
Yes I will do this yes I will do that.
It’s a natural thing for us to want to help out and think we’re giving value but what we’re actually doing is using up precious time and resources that we could be using it to be building our own business.
Now if that sounds selfish let me spell this out.
The chances are if you’re listening to this podcast and you’re one of my community then you are building a business not just for profit but also to have an impact.
The more time you spend building a business and the more success you have the greater impact you are going to have.
So it is not selfish to say No and be precious with your time.
This is also the same socially. Sometimes you will have to say No to friends or family.
I’m not saying become a total social hermit but sometimes you have to weigh up what’s more important, that dinner out on a Friday night with a friend who you’re also going to see on Saturday by the way or actually getting your blog post done or your website finished etc.
Do go practice it right now. I’ll bet there’s something in your life right now that needs a Yes or a No from you.
Try it! Say No. You don’t have to offend anyone, you can say No without harshness or confrontation but its time to take back your power my friend. And with each No comes more confidence.
Think of it this way. Every time you say No to something it means you’re saying Yes to something else that’s more important.
You’re placing a greater value on you and your time. And the minute you start to value yourself more, the more your confidence will grow.
‘Do what you love and make it easy to love what you do’ – Jo Barnes
So I have a story about this. Recently I started swimming in the mornings. We’re very lucky to have an adult swimming class on in the mornings at my daughters school. In fact there are lots of activities for adults at her school, but I digress.
The classes are for one hour three times a week and it’s quite a serious thing as there are lots of triathletes & athletes who take their swimming very seriously. Thankfully there are different teachers for different levels and I’m in the ’non athlete’ group. (Non athlete maybe, still bloody challenging)
But since starting I have found the one hour three times a week incredibly challenging and although I love the actual swimming part, after the class by around 2pm in the afternoon I’m dead to the world!
I’m so exhausted I can’t get anything else done!
Now even though I know the benefits will eventually outweigh the current cons I was getting to the point where I was dreading going. I started to think about packing it up as it was making me so exhausted and unhappy.
But then I thought, well just because everyone else goes for an hour 3 times a week doesn’t mean I have to!
I changed my sessions to go for 30 mins twice a week and now I love it! I am so looking forward to going swimming in the mornings knowing I’m going to get in that pool and have a really solid swim for 30 minutes, then have a cuppa while waiting for hubby and then go home without being absolutely dead on the floor for the rest of the day!
So I turned something that was inherently quite hard into something far easier to accomplish and that I can grow and improve upon as I go.
Hence ‘do what you love and make it easy to love what you do’.
So what’s holding you back from taking action at the moment?
What are some barriers you can remove to help alleviate the pain associated with taking the necessary action?
For example perhaps you want to make videos for your business but the setup is a pain.
Every time you make a video you have to get the position right, the lighting good, the sound working, do your hair, makeup etc.
What of you set it all up once so that you could literally just throw a switch, sit in front of the video recorder and record without having to go through the setup each time?
This is what I did for my videos recently and it worked a treat.
Have a look around you at the necessary tasks that you know can drive your goals forward but which have barriers to action and ask yourself how you can remove those barriers and make taking action easy.
I have a strong belief that micro brands and lifestyle entrepreneurs are the future.
Huge corporations and corrupt governments have sucked the economy dry for too long and the only way out from under the increasing pay gaps and poverty the world over is for people to have more control over their own destiny.
Everything I’m doing with my business is to help promote then idea that you are the master of your own destiny and you have ultimate control over how you live your life. My vessel for doing so is entrepreneurship and building your own lifestyle business giving you enough financial freedom to take full responsibility.
One of my ultimate goals is to work with women in developing countries who want to build their own small businesses which in turn helps transform their own lives and the lives of their family & the local community.
I have desires to see change in the world that’s far bigger than myself. I’m not out just to make a quick buck so I can buy a new Ferrari or a big house. In fact I have no interest in these things.
That doesn’t make me a saint by the way, I enjoy flying business class like the next person, but I have goals that are bigger than just me.
Therefore when I speak, I’m speaking with a greater cause in mind. This gives me far more confidence to speak, because it’s not about me, its about you.
It’s about them. It’s about the people I’m serving.
The minute you start to take the focus away from yourself and put the focus on the person you’re trying to serve is the minute you begin to find your confidence, knowing the message you’re delivering is impacting others lives.
Find a meaning to your work that’s bigger than you and you’ll find it easier to speak and deliver your message knowing you’re doing it for a greater purpose.
Never pretend to be somebody you’re not. Be proud of who you are!
It doesn’t matter what stage of the journey you’re at.
Back in 2010 when I started my online business, I knew nothing! I immersed myself in facebook fan pages and asked anyone who’d listen if they wanted to come along for the ride.
I never pretended to know more than I did. I openly shared the fact I was learning and was happy to share what I learned.
I did the same recently! I have very little idea what I’m doing with a Shopify store. Sure we’ve built a solid ecommerce business and I’ve dabbled with Shopify before, but I’ve never done print on demand or direct marketing to the store before.
I openly admitted this in my video to my group, explained I’d share stuff as I learned it and one of my community members commented on how much they loved my transparency.
This is something we as women are masters at! We don’t have the same egos as men and so don’t need to ‘fake it til we make it’.
In fact if you’re out there trying to make something happen for your life, you’ve already made it!
Success is about the journey not about the result, so if you’re on a journey, having fun, doing what you want to be doing and impacting lives along the way, all power to you girlfriend!
Seth Godin says authenticity is overrated. What he means by that is we need to be professional in our approach to work. (He gives the example of not wanting an authentic doctor, wanting a professional doctor).
And yes we do need to be professional in that we need to be showing up, doing the work, being consistent, doing what we say we’re going to do, but thankfully none of us are performing heart surgery, so it’s absolutely fine to put your hands in the air and say I don’t know!
As long as you follow it up with ‘but I’ll find out’.
In a business like ours where we’re in all likelihood we’re turning a passion into profit, it’s so important for you to just be yourself. People will absolutely buy into you.
You’re not Coke, or Nike or Apple, where your product talks before you do. Your business is far more likely to be more about you.
So be proud to be you, be proud to be different and be proud to be a woman, because we’re awesome, just as we are!
Rita Mae Brown is an American writer, activist and feminist and she said;
‘The reward for conformity is that everyone else likes you except yourself’
You will not please everyone. But to do means fading into the background. A vanilla face in a vanilla world.
Do not be afraid to stand out and stand up.
As the lovely Marie Forleo always says – ‘the world needs the gift that only you have’.
Action is the key to becoming confident and owning your voice my friend.
Every step in this episode leads to you finding ways to take more action. The more action we take, the more steps we move forward, the more validation we give ourselves, the more confident we feel.
I have a quote written on my white board above my desk. It says ’the best influencers act before they talk’.
So get out there and take action my friend, make things happen, believe in yourself and own your unique and wonderful voice in this world.
Thank you so much for listening I do hope that this episode has inspired you.
If you’d like to come and have a chat with me the best place to do that is in our Facebook community. Just go to Facebook and type in Your Lifestyle Business and come and join us where the best conversations happen!
In the meantime have an amazing week live life on purpose and of course Make It Happen, see you again next week