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'Dear Overachiever' Blog

8 Business Actions I Wish I'd Done Differently

Dear Overachiever,

I've been in self-development for 15 years. I see so clearly when a woman entrepreneur is chasing her own tail, spinning in circles, doing things that aren't useful and avoiding the things that are. The obvious traits are:

  • Frazzled, frantic intense energy that shoots all over the place (been there, done that)
    • She might not even be aware of it, but the impact on others is: they avoid, lean away or don't reply to her. They can't keep up.
  • Increased isolation and lack of support (been there, done that)
    • She thinks, "Fine, if no one wants to play with me, I'll do this by myself", and the impact on others is: they feel like she's fallen off the face of the Earth
  • Slashing down on food, haircuts, clothing, all the beautiful things that gave your life beauty, to penny pinch until business money pours in (been there, done that)
    • She fools herself to think if she hoards money, more will come her way, and the impact on others: they feel disconnected and misunderstood.

Business things I wish I'd done differently

1. Hire a coach who is also a mentor

I started out with a coach. When I brought up the vulnerable topic of being seen on my website, she coached me on courage and standing in my power, which was great, but she never mentioned that a website was Step 11 in the business building roadmap.

She was a coach, not a mentor. She hadn't walked the entrepreneurial path. I wasted so much time by focusing on Step 11, when there were 10 other steps I hadn't dug into first.

 

2. Delete all social media platforms, except one

When I started, I claimed my username on EVERY social media platform (Step 13), in case someone would steal them from me (<-- scarcity thinking!). C'mon, admit it, you've done it too :)

I was running Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn all at the same time. NONE of them worked. Duh! I hated Twitter. I was never on LinkedIn, ever. My ideal clients (Step 4) weren't on Pinterest, nor Twitter nor LinkedIn.

What a waste of time and energy! If I could do it all over again, I'd pick one and stick to it for 2 years. No less.

 

3. Stop hoarding free stuff

I'm sure you've signed up for a ton of free e-books, webinars, e-courses, and apps in hopes that all this free information will make you rich. And then you got completely overwhelmed and felt failure-like. Am I right?

Hoarding is a closed energy. The more you hoard (information, your savings, your contacts), the more you close off to the richness that is right there outside your mind. And as long as you want all your questions answered for free, no one will ever pay YOU to answer THEIR questions or fix their problems. Like attracts like.

 

4. Separate from the blind leading the blind

I had some amazing girlfriends when I started. But none of them knew anything about entrepreneurship. When things went wrong in business, though they comforted me, they couldn't help. I got frustrated. They got frustrated. It was the blind leading the blind!

Now I know: it's ok to grow apart. In fact, it's necessary. We didn't break up or anything, just drifted apart. You do your thing and I do mine, happily and joyfully. Now I have entrepreneurial girlfriends and we can support each other. Sooo much better!

 

5. Do things in the right order

Classic mistake of women entrepreneurs: doing all the right things, but in the wrong order. Please don't beat yourself up about it. We've all done it. Look at me:

  • tried incorporating my business when I didn't even know what it was about,
  • filed for intellectual property when I didn't even have a program outlined,
  • paying for Facebook ads when I had nothing to give away, etc.

I could go on... The hardest part was to accept my own silliness / naivety and re-calibrate. If you pause long enough, you'll know what's in the wrong order.

 

6. Invest less in apps, more in me

There's a concept I love: beach before grain of sand. When I started, I wasted sooo much time dissecting each app so I could set up a sleek, efficient self-selling machine. I was so addicted to dissecting each grain of sand that I forgot the bigger picture, the beach, the questions of: am I even in the right industry? Is this the type of business model I want? Do I even want to be an entrepreneur?

I spent so much time/money on apps, furniture, business cards, website, to try to impress. But I hadn't yet claimed or named my brand, my core message. Oops. Everything changed when I stopped investing in apps and started investing in me.

 

7. Stop fooling myself that I could do it alone

I was so cute / stubborn / silly / naive to think that I could self-actualize my life's purpose on my own.

Given that I spent 30 years trying to become the best man I could be, I was conditioned to fix problems myself. I see a nail, I hammer it. Boom!

What happens when I became the nail? Indeed, I hammered myself. Boom! Ouch. I stubbornly clung to trial and error. It was only with the love and guidance of a coach, counsellor, psychotherapist, mentor, and/or healer (you name them, I've had them all) that I realized:

  • how much I hated myself... I threw myself in a productivity dungeon and beat her until she produced results, while chanting "This isn't brain surgery, you should know this, you should have figured this out yesterday." Beat. Pound. Beat. Hammer. Beat. Pound. Beat. Hammer.

Sound familiar? I had to stop fooling myself. You, where do you have to stop fooling yourself?

 

8. Leave the boyfriend sooner

You won't be the first or last women entrepreneur to feel like you constantly have to choose between love and business. And sometimes (or many times) THE best thing you could ever do for your business is: leave that boyfriend sooner.

It was so painful to wake up to the fact that one of my ex-boyfriends was plugging into me every night to recharge and whistled off to work in the morning, leaving me completely drained and useless for the rest of the day.

My close friend and two family members alerted me to this. And I listened!! Hallelujah! Thank god that stubborn inner teenager died. And my wiser self listened. Six days after we broke up, I emerged to see my friends again and they all unanimously raved: You're glowing!!! Raaaaaadiant! Beeeeeaming!

Damn. Should have left him sooner.

 

For You • Live Webinar Breadcrumb Trail

How do you know which breadcrumb to follow to feel happy, make plenty AND live free? Which breadcrumb to say yes to? Which to say no to? Find out live!

High Return on Happiness • A Six-figure Business with High ROH
4-PART LIVE WEBINAR

May 10/17/24 • 12PM EST • 6PM CET
REGISTER FOR WEBINAR SERIES

Webinar-Banner-Fb-Part2-email.png 

So many twists and turns that will help you navigate your own twists and turns, thus preserving your sanity! 

xo, Ella

 

A Love Letter to your Business

Have you ever written a Love Letter to your business? Some girlfriends and I have been reading John Gray's Mars & Venus on a Date to learn or refresh our memories about the 5 stages of dating: 

  1. Attraction (chemistry)
  2. Uncertainty (still playing the field)
  3. Exclusivity (commitment)
  4. Intimacy (sex)
  5. Engagement (practice for marriage)

We laughed, very hard, about how too often, we've gone from Attraction to Intimacy and:

  • skipped the Uncertainty stage, because of scarcity (there aren't any other good men out there, this is the end of the line)
  • skipped Exclusivity stage, because of low self-esteem (we should settle for whatever crumbs we're dealt)

Sooo many overachievers, high functioning, super intelligent women do this. Don't worry, you /we are not alone in this. We could spend years in therapy dissecting why... or we could re-purpose this wisdom for bigger, better things.

Re-purpose dating rules for business

If you've ever read the bible of "Think and Grow Rich" by Naopleon Hill, you'll know that decisiveness was the first key to everything

When you combine dating stage of Exclusivity with the decisiveness of "Think and Grow Rich", you get:

  • a colossally powerful force of devotion from you --> to your business, strong enough to make the Earth stop spinning a moment,
  • and in return (Law of Attraction), an equally powerful force of devotion from your business --> to you, strong enough to make the Earth spin in the other direction for a moment.

Wait, what?!?

Are you exclusive with your business?

Really think about it, are you 1000% decided, exclusive, committed and devoted to your business, as if it were a live human romantic partner? Are you flirting elsewhere with other business ideas, other sources of income, or drooling over yoga teacher training in hopes that it might devote itself to you?

Really think about it...

As long as you don't decide to make the Earth stop spinning through your devotion to your business, it won't, it can't devote itself to you.

Note: If you're in the building phase, then yes, you might have what I call a "douse job" (not a "day job"). A day job is soul sucking. A "douse job" is a non challenging part-time gig, to douse the flames of panic, the fire of anxiety and the bonfire of fear, "tssssst". And there ain't nothing wrong with that.

A Love Letter to your Business

So, have you 1000% decided to commit to your business? How often does the idea of getting a j.o.b. pop up?

If you're not getting the income or freedom results you want, it's because your business is still in kindergarten and you've sent it out into the world expecting it to bring home the bacon. It doesn't work that way. You wouldn't treat your child that way!

But unlike a child, you CAN send your business to "Fast-track Camp" and grow it from Kindergarten to 21-year old legal adult in a very short period of time.

The alternative to "Fast-track Camp" is a practical exercise: write a love letter to your business. Give it a try!

My Love Letter to my Business

(written July 2016, from the personal journal of Ellany Lea)

Dear Business,

Ay, I'm so sorry I've neglected you. You've given me so much flexibility and freedom in where I want to live and when I want to work. I'm so sorry I haven't given you more time and affection and care. You deserve better.  It's been a very tough Spring and Summer, with selling mom's mold-infested house, getting rid of dad's things [after his passing] and going to Somatic Experiencing Sessions (SE) to heal decades of PTSD.

I know, it's no excuse to ignore you when you've been the vehicle for me to express my life's purpose and the springboard for me to become the best leader, friend, lover and sister I can be. If the shoes were reversed, I would have broken up with me long ago. Hahaha. No, I know it's not funny. LOL! It's sorta funny. Ok, it's not funny. I don't see you laughing.

[...]

Had an SE session today but because I left my phone at home, I didn't know that my session got rescheduled. I arrived and was asked to return in 1.5 hrs. I smiled and said of course, and skipped out of there joyfully. Before I met you, I would taken out a titanium bat and pummelled myself into the ground for forgetting my phone (drama queen, I know), I would have dove head first into the well of victimhood and how life is always f***ing with me. Yeah, I wouldn't date me either :P

You made me a better person. YOU made me this skippitty-hoppity joyful being. Well... technically... the mother-f****** excruciating lessons you put me through made me a better person, but who's splitting hairs here. You've grown me beyond what I imagined possible. You've tested me past the breaking point and called me forth to piece myself back together and rise.

[...]

If you weren't there urging me to keep going, I don't know where I'd be today. And for this constant companionship, calling forth of my greatness and relentless belief in me, I ask for your forgiveness. Forgive me for having neglected you. Forgive me for having demanded lemonade from you when I only planted the seeds last week. Forgive me for dumping all my burdens onto you. 

From the depths of my soul, I thank you for having turned clients into friends, friends into roommates, roommates into soul sisters and soul sisters into family. I finally, FINALLY feel like I belong in this world, regardless of geography. Thank you for eradicating any possiblity of  moronic male boss who don't have my talent but take all the credit for my work. I thank you for allowing me the luxurious time to float in a Hammam all day long in the middle of the week or lie on the beach for hours every day listening to audiobooks.

[...]

You've given me so much and instead of saying "I'm so not deserving of you", you've taught me to say, "Thank you, I am devoted to you too."

For You • Featuring your Love Letter

Write your Love Letter to your business, send it to me ella@ellanylea.com, and I will share them starting next Wednesday!

For You • Live Webinar Do's + Don'ts

If you are truly 1000% decided / committed to a business where you feel happy, make plenty and live free, come to today's webinar.

High Return on Happiness • A Six-figure Business with High ROH
4-PART LIVE WEBINAR • FREE!
REGISTER FOR WEBINAR SERIES

I guarantee that this list of do's and don'ts can shave off a year of your business building.

See you for LIVE wisdom + Q&A + play time!

xo, Ella

Be brave, run into the red light!

Am writing to you from my beautiful, sunny home in Málaga, Spain! After a month of siestas, tapas, siestas, long walks by the sea, siestas, Latin eye-candy, and siestas, I'm feeling quite Spanish, and very much at home.

A story of courage

Yesterday, I had to sort out my Spanish ID card and learned it was a bank holiday. Everything would be closed, my brain knew that. But I felt so compelled to go to the Foreign Embassy anyways. Try my luck, since their website said they were open.

On my way there, I saw a young woman dressed as a clown on the street corner. At every red light, she ran into the middle of the big boulevard and performed some high kicks and juggling tricks. She then went car to car asking for donations.

I stood there in awe, witnessing her courage. Red light, after red light, after red light, she ran into the boulevard, and performed with the enthusiasm of New Year's Eve fireworks. Being brave took on a whole new meaning.

A story of sisterhood

While she waited for the next red light, I tapped her shoulder, told her, "You are so brave," and handed her 5€. She looked shocked and in awe. For a micro moment, time stood still: the awe I saw in her got mirrored back to her: she saw her own courage. And her eyes glistened with awe, which mirrored back to me my own courage and awe.

I leaned in to hug her and she pulled me in, hugged me really tight, for 65 whole seconds (the street light had a timer). We stood there, holding each other, perfect strangers, on the street corner.

She said my gift had solved all her problems. She thought it was going to be a hard day. And now, it's not. She thanked me profusely for being a sister. She took one of the puffy red flowers off her costume and handed it me. She wanted me to remember how much this moment meant to her.

She had no idea that she gifted me far, far more. My brain knew it was a bank holiday and everything was indeed closed. But my heart knew it needed to go to the Foreign Embassy anyways. It needed to meet her, fellow soul sister, because she confirmed for me, once and for all, that my heart is, indeed, clairvoyant.

A story of trust

She didn't cry, but I did! I sat on a bench in a nearby park for hours, pondering:

1. It is true what they say about following your heart, not your head.

2. When you feel compelled to do something, even though it doesn't make any logical sense, do it!

3. It takes time (in my case 27 years) to trust your natural talent/gift (in my case clairvoyance) because our baby-brain (aka saboteur brain) made us believe that being different = there's something wrong with us. When in truth, being different is our greatest gift.

4. True giving does not leave you exhausted and depleted (if it does, it's sacrificial giving, not true soul-to-soul giving).

A story of freedom

How much a teeny tiny encounter can teach us!! So I reverse engineered my steps from there. What lead me here... what brought me to this very moment, when I could have taken another street, at another time, on another day, or I could have walked right by her.

As far as I can remember, aside from a few toys I wanted when I was 7 and 8, all I ever wanted was to be free. To be free of filial piety [the sacrificial duties of the eldest son] and the shame of not being born male in an Asian family. To do what I want, to go where I please, without the string of guilt tugging at my ankles.

As I grew, I wanted to be free of incompetent teachers who thought they knew best, academic institutions who taught us to sit at a desk and die, incompetent bosses who made it there because they are male, and corporate institutions who ensured we sit at a desk and die.

If there was a "Least likely to succeed as an entrepreneur" award, I'd win it. But I embraced entrepreneurship anyways, because it's the ONLY way to be free. Truly free: free to live and work anywhere, free to design my life, free to set my own schedule so I can visit any friend or attend any workshop at anytime, free to prioritize health and friendship over burn out and isolation.

A story of Exquisite Freedom

So in 2015, I went on 16 country Around-the-World tour, living in a different country every week, looking for my new home.

Along the way, of all the plentiful options in Spain, I visited my friend Maria in Málaga where her parents had retired. We'd worked together, but had never met in person. She flew in from France, I flew in from Morocco, we ate delicious tapas, laughed a ton and took walks by the deep blue see. It was sunny and warm and February!

But I hadn't felt it. You know, the "it" that you feel in your bones when something is just right? So I went on another Around-the-World tour in 2016... this time to 50+ countries to see which glass slipper fit best.

Following the breadcrumbs

After trying on 104 countries, the top runner-ups were: Argentina, Portugal, and Spain. When you've lived and worked from 104 countries, you too will have developed a sharp decisiveness that can split a hair in two.

My brain declared that it couldn't handle a 7th language, so it ruled out Portugal. Done. Even though I looked at real estate in Argentina, its economy concerned me. Ruled out, done. So Spain it was! It only took 104 countries to reach this decision, ha! :P

Along my travels, I tried Barcelona, which felt too busy. I've lived in NYC, Hong Kong, Singapore and I'm done with wearing busyness as a badge of worthiness. I also tried some of the Spanish islands, but felt much more grounded on the continent.

Along my "hummingbirding" through these 104 countries, I met a soulmate friend who used to live in Spain. He read people very well and declared, "I see you in Málaga" when I never even mentioned that city!

When I reconnected with my friend Maria to ask more about Málaga, where we met in person almost a year ago, she said she just moved to Málaga!! What were the chances?!? A few hilarious emails later, we are now sharing her flat. I mean, seriously, no human could have manifested all this serendipity!!!

It's like The Universe orchestrated a magical plan for me and laid out breadcrumbs for me to follow!

Follow the breadcrumbs

These serendipity threads, interwoven in a way that our human brains often can't comprehend, are mysterious at the beginning, torturous in the middle, and magical in the end. It really is like playing chess with the Grand Master Universe. Your move, my move. Your move, my move.

Take away lesson:

  1. Pay attention to the breadcrumbs.
  2. Follow the breadcrumbs the Universe has laid out for us.
  3. Listen to our bones for when something feels right.
  4. Listen to our gut for when something feels wrong.
  5. And, sprinkle of pinch of time, a dash of space, and a spoonful of patience.

And, don't choke on the spoon trying to outdo patience. You can't win that one ;)

Last time you asked...

  • I've updated the 5 best-selling modules from my Six-figure Simplified Program and made them available to you! Graduates of the program said these modules were the most transformational toward their entrepreneurial freedom.

https://freedom.zenlearn.com/categories/243861-community-vault

If you any trouble accessing this community vault, reply to this e-mail and Jaime will give you a login.

Would you have the courage to run into the boulevard at every red light, and perform your heart out for what you needed? 

xo, Ella

The best gift you can ever give your...

Last December 26, I entered a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat. We woke up at 4am, meditated, had breakfast, meditated, had lunch, meditate, took a tea break, meditated, listen to daily discourses, meditated, then went to bed at 9pm. Supercalifragilisticexpialiawesome!

I had spent all of December reviewing 1,000+ daily gratitude entries for 2016. And I noticed that I was happiest when I took extended time off from my business. So on Christmas day, before starting the Vipassana retreat, I gifted myself the entire month of January off. Best gift ever!!

It was easier and it was harder

This was my second Vipassana retreat in 6 months. It was easier because instead of learning a new technique and practicing it, I just practiced it. Everything was familiar.

During the first retreat, I sat for 25min before everything started to hurt. During this one, I sat for 50min before everything started to hurt. Progress!

But it was harder because the inner crap that I eliminated last time (yay!) left way for deeeeeeper inner crap to surface this time (crap!).

It's like surgery, but in reverse order

Many have asked about my Vipassana experience. The best I can do is compare it to elective surgery:

  • You know you don't need it
  • But you know it'll enhance your quality of life
  • But you know it'll hurt like hell
  • But you also know that the pain will fade and you'll be far better off

Except the order is different:

  • Surgery gives you anesthesia --> then physical surgery --> then medication to dull your pain
  • Vipassana gives you zero anesthesia --> then spiritual surgery with lots of pain --> then liberation to boost your happiness

It's also like childbirth

For those who are interested in attending a Vipassana meditation retreat, don't be dissuaded by all this talk of pain. It's like childbirth: after a while you forget how much it hurt and want to do it again. I did. Lol!

The best kind of endurance training

Vipassana was like mental Olympics training. To sit on a cushion for a continuous hour, without moving any part of the body, oy!

Whenever the pain kicked in at 50min, I defaulted to "fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck" to try to reduce the pain, like Lamaze breathing.

But then, I remembered being taught to be non-reactive, so to not amplify the source of the reaction. So I switched to "pain, pain, pain, pain, pain," thinking identifying the sensation by name would reduce the source of the pain.

But then, I remembered being taught to not to use words to dilute the practice. So I switched to "ow, ow, ow, ow, ow."

But then, I remembered being taught to not qualify any sensation as good or bad, to remain equanimous. So I switched to "it’s just a sensation, it’s just a sensation, it’s just a sensation."

But then, I remembered being taught to always tell the truth. So I switched to "fucking hell, I'm moving my leg and walking outta here!"

They died :O

The above cycle repeated itself over, and over, and over, and over...

My inner perfectionist was dying inside. She couldn't do the meditation perfectly.

My inner restless shiny-squirrel was dying inside. She couldn't sit still doing the same boring thing over and over.

And then, on the 8th day... they died! Both of them... died :O. Somebody pop a champagne! I was freed. It was the strangest feeling. And still is. Woah!

The best gift you can ever give your business

Do you have any idea what a business sans perfectionist and sans shiny-squirrel is like? 

  • Re-branding is 90% complete
  • The Overachiever Personality Test is complete (you'll get the link in the next few days!)
  • 28 Secrets Overachievers Want You to Know e-book is written (working on finalizing layout)
  • Waiting list for Mastermind is at 116% capacity
  • Readership went from 5,000 to 7,000!

So the best gift you can ever give your business is: liberation. Free yourself from... yourself!

Only if it works for you

Vipassana happened to be a 6-in-1 technique that gave me: liberation, endurance training, death of inner perfectionist + shiny-squirrel, serenity, full system reset with 10 days away from life, and full business reset with 30 days away from work.

Practice what works for you. And ideally, practice a technique that gives you multiple-in-1 benefits!

You asked last time

1. Speaking of what works for you, on my last blog of the year, you asked:

When you have so many talents and ideas, how are you supposed to choose just one thing?

  • Answer: You don't. Choose 3 things and cycle through them linearly (do one after the other), simultaneously (all at the same time), or cyclically (do one for a bit, the 2nd for a bit, the 3rd for a bit, come back to first one, etc.). Or, you can choose more than 3 things AND accept that each thing will take more time to complete. If you choose more and refuse to accept this reality, you will feel suffering. So don't do that.

 2. Once you stop living according to what other people think, how do you figure out who you're truly meant to be?

  • Answer: What you choose to do and who choose to be on the journey to figuring it out is who you're truly meant to be.

3. What do you do when you took time off to figure things out, but you still don't have any free time?

  • Answer: You sketch your Busyness Tracker and upgrade it every 3 months.
  • Will be sending you a link to Busyness Tracker from Málaga, Spain, where I'm moving to tomorrow!!!

Sending you a whoppin' dose of happiness and freedom from the Chicago International Airport departure lounge!

Lotsa goodies coming your way, are you ready?

xo, Ella

 

The difference between Overworked Overachievers and Happy Overachievers

I'm in Georgetown, Guyana, and I gotta admit, there's not much to do or see here. On this freedom quest to experience every country in the world, there certainly are places that are just "meh" to me.

On the bright side, it gave me plenty of time to cross-reference your questions and puzzles and share what I discovered this fine Sunday morning (or afternoon or evening, depending on where you are in the world) 

Less is more. Less is better.

You know the saying "Less is more"? I don't agree. Less is not more. Less is better. Many of the puzzles you've sent it speak to navigating the murky waters between being an overworked overachiever vs. a happy overachiever. 

Overworked Overachievers

Happy Overachievers

Don't sleep, don't play, achieve more, achieve more, achieve more

 

Sleep, play, reflect to protect and nurture the person/source/ability to achieve
Commit to everything Discern top 3 important goals from a flurry of distractions before committing
Run around with a fire extinguisher putting out other people's fire Navigate their life by following their inner North Star
Say yes to everyone out of guilt or awkwardness (then resent everyone) Say no gracefully, knowing no is a full sentence
Find creative way to do it all Choose a few things to go big on
See choice as a loss, as a deprivation (of something they never had) See choice as a trade off: say no to the good to say yes to the great
Don't set boundaries for fear of being disliked Set empowering boundaries in advance so no need to say no later
People please to be liked or popular, or to fit in Forego short-term popularity for long-term respect
Are victim to sunken cost: I've already invested so much, if I just put in more I can make it work! Know when to cut their loses: What else could I do with my time and resources?
Procrastinate and blindly assumes the best case scenario Prepare buffers and cushions for a rainy day
Focuses on past regrets (depression) and future worries (anxiety) Focuses on the NOW and practices presence
Wanders aimlessly on a vague uninspiring altruistic goal (eg. I want to help people) or materialistic goal (eg. I want a bigger house) Takes action based on clear, uplifting, energized and meaningful strategies (eg. I want all children to have a home)
Throws around lofty goals and intentions which lead to small results Consistently takes action on small achievable goals and celebrates every small progress
When things go awry, adds more quick fixes or random projects When things go awry, stops and radically removes more busyness, obligations and projects

What's your tally?

Out of 14, how many times did you fall into the overworked overachievers bucket vs the happy overachiever bucket? Reply, tell me your score, how did it make you feel?

Next Sunday's questions & puzzles

Many ladies have also asked:

  • when you have so many talents and ideas, how are you supposed to choose just one thing?
  • once you stop living according to what other people think, how do you figure out who you're truly meant to be?
  • what to do when you took time off to figure out what's next, but you still don't have any free time?

Sending you sunshine if you just got snow-dumped,

xo, Ella

 

The Only 5 Actions that will Get You Unstuck

It's official: Cuba is THE best place to unplug... because there is no plug.

Internet is hard to come by. So instead, I sat on the Malecón for days, staring at the Gulf of Mexico, contemplating the paradox of how close (geographically) and how far (everything else-ally) Cuba is from North America.

I sat and I thought of you.

Last Sunday, we talked about why women don't reach self-transcendence.

 

1) They get stuck between their head (Cognitive need) and their heart (Self-actualization need)

 

2) Or, they don't show up to help themselves and others realize their fullest potential.

 

A digital nomad's hierarchy of needs

I sat and I thought of you. I poured over hundreds and hundreds of my journal entries and blog posts to cross-reference and narrow down, from the cacophony of options, what are the few actions that really count. What will really get you unstuck and showing up fully.  

So I wrote and wrote and wrote... like kermit here. I thought I could come up with a wicked "Top 35 Things to do to Get Unstuck and Show Up" list that would get pickup by Huffington Post and Inc Magazine. Hehehe! 

Turns out, there are only 5. Five very simple things for you to do. Epically, simple things. So simple you might not do them...

 

1. Pay back sleep debt

I am 100% sure you are, or have been, in sleep debt.

Research shows teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep. I slept 5 hours a night from age 14-23. So I owe abut 14,600 hours of sleep.

Young adults need 7-8 hours of sleep. I slept 6.5 hours a night from age 24-29. So I owe about 2,190 hours sleep.

If every day from 30 onward, I slept an extra hour on top of the required 8 hours, it will take me (linear mathematically speaking) 46 years to pay off my sleep debt. Aaaaaahhhh! Thankfully travel, meditation and silent meditation retreats can shave decades off that debt!

Pay back the sleep debt. First and foremost. The leaps you fear, the adventures you're not having, the fictitious catastrophes you worry about, all of it melts away when you've paid off your sleep debt. I promise.

For the most comprehensive guide on sleep, read Arianna Huffington's book, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time and get yourself a sleep accountability buddy.

 

2. Know your saboteur voices

Once you take your Sabeoteur Assessment, you'll intimately get to know your 8 saboteurs and face your top 3 self-sabotaging voices. I bet there's Stickler (perfectionist), Restless, Hyperachiever, and Controller in there ;)

You will realize how much of your decisions were made by them, not by your best self. You may even have a nervous breakdownwhen, like me, you realize that they, and they alone, have ruled your entire existence. And you didn't know it.

That's ok. Breakdowns are meant to accelerate your breakthroughs.

Your jobs is to discern based on visceral, somatic, body sensations who is talking. Your job is to to choose who you listen to. Once in a while, I still listen to my perfectionist because crossing all t's and doting all i's feels so good, like taking off ice skates. What... I'm human :P

For the most comprehensive guide on saboteurs, read Shirzah Chamine's book, Positive Intelligence:  Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Achieve Their True Potential and get yourself a "name that saboteur" buddy to call each other out.

 

3. Create your Olympic team

Just like life is not about finding your purpose, it's about creating your purpose, you don't find your Olympic team, you create it.

This team of champions is part fictional, part real. They include your mentors, coaches, friends, family, psychotherapist, nutritionist, acupuncturist, shaman, etc. Whomever brings out the best in you.

This team also includes the spirit of your deceased beloved mother, the voice of your spiritual guru, the vibe of the Universe, the energy of your innocent inner child, the glow of love, the song of angels, anything that inspires you and brings out the best in you.

To counter your saboteur team of 8, you'll need a powerful Olympic team of 12. Be ultra discerning about friends and family!!!

Do not take marriage advice from single friends/family. Do not take business advice from non-entrepreneurs. Do not take parenting advice from non-parents. Do not take health advice from couch potatoes. Do not take travel advice from passport-less fear mongers.

For the most comprehensive guide on building your Olympic team, listen to Caroline Myss's audiobook, Entering the Castle: Exploring Your Mystical Experience of God and create yourself a champion team of 12 today.

 

4. Talk kindly to yourself

Of the original list of 35 things to do to get unstuck and show up, 70% of them pointed back to self-compassion. To practicing the art of talking to ourselves the way we'd talk to a 3 year old we adore.

No more calling ourselves lazy for resting after decades of unrelenting hard work.

No more calling ourselves inadequate for not having reached the income level of our male counterparts.

No more getting yet another degree that we don't need just to feel like we have the right to be in the same arena.

No more beating ourselves up with a caveman club for watching 3 seasons of Downton Abbey in a row.

No more calling ourselves shitty leaders for wanting to take a vacation from our business, or from our lives!

No more.

No. More.

For the most comprehensive guide on self-compassion, listen to Kristen Neff's audiobook: Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself and get yourself a kindness accountability buddy to practice with. Because it's a practice. It's like showering. You don't just do it once and call it a day.

 

5. Left foot, right foot.

Left foot, right foot is also known as grit. Those who succeed aren't the most talented, most well connected or even the brightest.

But they are the most persistent. They try, they fail, they get back up. They try, they fail, they get back up. They got mother-f***ing grit!

They lift their foot and they keep walking. Like Jen Sincero says, "In order to kick ass, you must first lift your foot."

For the most comprehensive guide on grit, read Angela Duckworth's book: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance and get yourself a walking buddy.

 

You entertained me so with your "ha! right on", "nailed it", and "ouch that's so me" emails last week. A few of you even said "don't worry if you don't have time to reply...".

I ALWAYS reply. There hasn't been a single email in the history of emails that I haven't replied to. It may take a bit of time, depending on internet availability and client priority. But I always reply. I always want to know how you are. I always want to squeal with you at your successes. I always want to cry with you at your losses. Always.

So write to me. Tell me what you want to tell me. Ask me what you want to ask me.

 

Can you guess what it was?

And next Sunday, I'll return to the regularly schedule program and tell you the one unanimous reaction every single person had to my legal name change. Can you guess what it is?

 

xo, Ella

 

Why I legally changed my name

The more I delayed sharing this journal entry, the more I thought, "Meh, why write it. It's done. I legally changed my name. I've filled out 20+ sets of immigration forms with my new passport. I's done. I'm me."

But as I re-read the headings, my soul realized that these 7 reasons apply to everything worth doing. If you ever feel cornered into justifying a new project, a business venture, or a quest, use these same 7 reasons to back you up.

Why I Legally Changed my Name

To me, it wasn't enough to be called Ella, as a pet name, a summer fling name, or a "aww, that's cute, you're up to another project" name. 

My soul knew it. My soul family knew it. So the Government of Canada might as well know it too.  

1. Why the fuck not?

I remember my first trip to Paris as a teenager on scholarship. I bought a postcard that said “Sors de ton trou, viens à Paris” and thought it was hilarious. I mailed it to myself. And when I got home, I showed it to friends and they looked at me with, “Who do you think you are?”

To which I responded, nobody. You’re right, absolutely nobody. This was a perfectly adequate answer because it aligned with my conditioning to be small, to be invisible, to not take up any space.

Little Ella knew to stay small and invisible so her parents wouldn’t fight about money, so her mom would have more time to serve/ass-kiss her in-laws, and so her parents could focus on producing a male child. ‘Cause you don’t count unless you’re male.

Big Ella knows better. Why the fuck not?

2. Because I wanted to since I was 8

I’ve wanted to change my name since I was 8. Every time teacher did roll call, it took me a second delay to respond. I just never identified with that name. I learned to accept it, but shouldn’t a name, an identity, and even a life, be of your own design, of your own free will, of your own creative invention?

At 8, I knew this to be true. But being the tiny insignificant speck of invisibility I was, I never imagine I had the right to change it.

Big Ella knows better. Wanting to do something is reason enough to do it. 

3. Because I almost married someone just so I could

I briefly dated someone in college, thinking that if we got married, I could go to the name change office. And since I was there, I could slip a $20 to the officer and get my first name changed too. I pondered it every single day for a month and then decided not to.
Big Ella knows better. Marrying someone just to change one's name is a terrible reason to do something.
 

4. Because there’s no one around to shame me

By now, all my grandparents on both sides have passed. And my dad passed away suddenly last year 3-countries into my 16-country freedom tour. So there’s literally no one left to shame me or to feel embarrassed/shamed by me. There’s no one left to pull the “Oh, so you’re ashamed of our name/heritage?” card.

If you’re thinking about legally changing your name, I hope you don’t let familial shame prevent you from tasting the sweet nectar of freedom.

Big Ella knows better. Letting family members prevent you from living is no life at all.

5. Because I love spreadsheets

A legal name change requires faaar less paperwork than you think. You get your name change certificate <-- use that to get your new birth certificate <-- use that to get your new driver’s license. And everything else can be obtained using those 3 new pieces of ID.

Keeping a spreadsheet made it easy peasy: one column with the ID to be changed, one column for "Applied", and one column for "Obtained". And then just let time pass. Don’t chase different offices down, no one will respond, no one will care.

Big Ella knows better. Letting time pass let's 90% of your problems resolve themselves.

6. Because I married myself

I once watched a TED talk about THE most important person to marry… yourself. Then I watched an episode of Glee where the principal, Sue Silvester, married herself. I howled laughing and decided to do the same.

I bought myself a ring and pronounced myself God and Goddess. Lol! Who needs TV when I can entertain myself. So now that I’m married, I give myself permission to change my name, not just last name.

Big Ella knows better. She does things because SHE said so.

7. Because of resonance

I was Skyping with my friend M, who hadn’t realized that I legally changed my first and last name. She thought it was just a new persona on Facebook. And I found myself in flow saying, "it's not just identification, but resonance”.

Calling me by my old name is like calling me by my birthday. It's data. It’s identification. Calling me Ella is like clouds parting and harps playing and sun beaming and confetti blazing and heaven singing. It’s soul recognition. It’s resonance.

Whatever project, business venture or quest you have in your heart, do it. Do it because you give yourself permission to. Do it because YOU said so. Do it because the clouds will part and the harps will sing.

I haven't yet decided what to write to you next Sunday. So here's your change to redirect my train of thought. Reply, give me a question to answer or a puzzle to solve.

Namaste, 

xo, Ella

 

Why women don't reach self-transcendence

I'm writing to you from Odessa, Ukraine. Totally did not plan on being here. The only thing I knew about Ukraine is that it produced Oksana Baiul, the 1994 women's figure skating gold medalist. And I knew Odessa is by the sea. I like the sea <3

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Last week, we followed Mona, Julianne and Aneela on their discovering the Swirl Factor to ensure they stay sane, happy and free on their entrepreneurial quest. Today, I'd like to share why women, especially overachievers, don't reach self-transcendence.

You may be familiar with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs:

Physiological needs: air, food, water, shelter, warmth

Safety needs: protection, security, law, income, stability, health, insurance

Love & Belonging needs: friendship, family, connection, intimacy, support, affection (This need is especially strong in childhood and can override the need for safety as seen in children who cling to abusive parents. Neglect can adversely affect the individual's ability to form and maintain emotionally significant relationships!)

Esteem needs: ("lower" needs) status, recognition, attention; ("higher" needs) self-respect, mastery, self-confidence, independence, and freedom

Cognitive needs: pursuit of knowledge, self-awareness, meaning

Aesthetic needs: pursuit and appreciation of beauty, balance, inner reflection

Self-actualization needs: realize your potential, self-fulfillment

Self-transcendence needs: spirituality, helping others to self-actualize

An Overachiever's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow's hierarchy of needs looks like a pyramid. A woman overachiever's hierarchy of needs looks like an Inukshuk.

An Overachiever's Physiological Needs

Have you ever been “in the zone” and forgotten to eat? Or to sleep? Have your bladders ever screamed at you, but you held it in to answer one more email or make one more phone call? When was the last time you got some fresh air or slept for 8 hours every night for a whole week, free from caffeine or anxiety?

It’s not like you don’t eat well or exercise, but you’re not the queen of self-care either.

This shrinks your Physiological needs: 

An Overachiever's Safety Needs

Do you never have enough time? Is your world dominated by busy-ness? Do you bear a smile, but come home exhausted and overwhelmed. Does your life feel like chaos even though you love spreadsheets and are slightly OCD?

Because you cherish growth, your life always seems unpredictable. Because you love travel, you're always looking over your shoulder for danger. You make good money, but always worry about not having enough. You have a safety net, but never feel safe or taken care of. 

This shrinks your Safety needs: 

An Overachiever's Love & Belonging Needs 

You've always been different. Never felt like you belonged. You outgrew your "small town" and family of origin very early on. You grow so fast that you no longer have anything in common with the people who were closest to you. Yes, it can be infuriating. 

You learn to do everything yourself, becoming a lone wolf, and this sometimes leads to loneliness, social anxiety and clinical depression.

So this tilts your Love & Belonging needs:

An Overachiever's Esteem Needs

You are already successful (unless you've forgotten about your 6 mile long resume)! You’ve had good jobs. You've moved up the ladder. People around you admire you. Heck, people want to be YOU!

But you get sucker punched by your inner critic. You get whacked on the head by self-doubt. And you get shackled by perfectionism. On the inside, it's a hard life!

So this has your Esteem needs slide sideways:

An Overachiever's Cognitive Needs

You love learning and the pursuit of knowledge. You have multiple degrees and certifications. You follow your favourite gurus and teachers religiously. You are hyper self-awareness and love deep “meaning of life” conversations.

You even know the importance of balance and practice it as best you can.

So this has your Cognitive needs massively expanded, but precariously balanced:

An Overachiever's Aesthetic Needs

Yes, you love beauty, and balance, and inner reflection, but rarely have time for it.

So your Aesthetic needs slide off to the side too:

An Overachiever's Self-actualization Needs

You have a 6 mile long resume, built schools in Africa, completed marathons, travelled all over the world, and/or run businesses or entire departments. You continually strive to be your best self, but you wish it would happen faster.

Self-actualization is such a bit part of your life that it often squashes your aesthetic needs. Why smell the roses when you can work like a robot, right? No. Not right! When you are in a state of beauty and grace, the self-actualization comes to YOU! Elegantly. Powerfully. Effortlessly. 

So your Self-actualization needs end up lop-sided:

An Overachiever's Self-transcendence Needs

Lastly, I see two things happen to women overachiever's Self-transcendence needs:

1) Stuck: the Self-transcendence ball rolls and gets stuck between your head (Cognitive) and your heart (Self-actualization). You want to help others self-actualize, but you, yourself, are stuck:

2) Missing: the Self-transcendence ball rolls right off the map, no matter how spiritual and altruistic you are. You want to help others self-actualize, but you haven't yet.

What to do about it all?

This explains why so many women don't reach self-transcendence, no matter how much kale they eat or how much meditation they. 

There are hundreds of things you could do, but there are only a very small handful of effective things that will level your wobbly Inukshuk of Needs back into a solid Pyramid of Needs. I'll tell you all about them next Sunday, during my morning tea time reflections.

xo, Ella

How people will unanimously react to your name change

I've wanted to visit Jamaica since watching the Tom Cruise movie Cocktails back in 1990. Ha! It only took 26 years. Think about it... what seeds could you plant today that will flourish in 26 years? Or 26 months...? Or 26 days...?

You almost guessed it...

A while ago, I wrote about 5 Reasons Why I Changed my Name. The short story is: spiritual transcendence and yet another reinventing.

Ever since that post, many have chimed in shyly and hesitantly, on how you too would loooooove to change your name, but are concerned... or worried... or afraid... Since last Sunday, a few of you have taken a guess at what the unanimous reaction of my legal name change was!

You guessed a mix of surprise, upset, supportive and unsupportive. You almost guessed it...

What will "they" think?

The very, very, very first reaction wasn’t judgement. It wasn’t curiosity. It wasn’t shock or surprise. It wasn't support.

The very, very, very first reaction was, what will "they" think?

Replace "they" with: your mother, your father, your family, your neighbours, your clients, your peers, your followers, your readers, your cat, your cactus, and your big toe.

Every single person's first reaction was complete and utter concern with someone else's first reaction. Fascinating, isn't it?!?

How did your mom react?

Did you tell my sister, what did she say?

How are your clients handling it?

What about those who knew you before, what did they do?

It was predictable because...

That first reaction was predictable because I've known thousands of women who don't fulfill their greatest potential because they/we live under the tyranny/fear of what others think (whether they actually think it or not)!!! 

It has stopped many a great entrepreneur from launching their business, many a great writer from publishing their book, and many a great explorer from moving overseas.

It was unexpected because...

That first reaction was unexpected because my inner child was 1,000,000% sure the first reaction would be:

  • judgement, because they don’t understand why anyone would do this
  • criticism, because they themselves would be too afraid to do something like this, or
  • shaming in the form of “who do you think you are?” or “don’t you have any respect for your family / heritage?”, because change makes them terrifyingly uncomfortable

Oh yeah, judgement, criticism and shaming did come my way. Just not as the first reaction. It came after when the fear and discomfort became too much to bear for them.

It was sweet because...

That first reaction was sweet because many just didn’t know how to react. They asked how others reacted so that they can react accordingly

1. My clients were the first to jump on board, to my surprise! They traveled with me through 16 countries while I coached them. They were my greatest loves and we were each others' lifeline during that time.

2. My colleagues were the second to switch over, out of respect, mutual admiration, and belonging to the same tribe.

3. My close circle of friends were the third. Though they tried to be the first, they’ve used Tina so often during our Skype dates and emoticon wars that it took time and gentle reminders to switch over.

4. My outer circle of friends were the fourth. They'd sincerely apologize each time they called me by the “wrong” name. It was so endearing, it made me tear up each time.

5. And my family, of course, are the last to convert. They have known me the longest. It's gonna take time and/or it may never happen. Oh well.

It was sad because...

That first reaction, of complete and utter concern with others' reaction, was sad because it had absolutely nothing to do with me or my name change. 

It had everything to do with looking themselves in the mirror and painfully seeing how they, themselves, have lived under the tyranny of what others think. And when you don't like what you see, it's terrying because:

  1. you know you've got to change and it's gonna hurt like a mofo
  2. you know you'll never change and living with that is gonna hurt like a mofo

So, what will it be?

So, what will it be? Live under the tyranny of what "they" may (or may not) think or live free? Yeah, I thought so ;)

It would mean the world to her... Forwarded this message to one person, and she will pay it forward to just the right person.

Courage is contagious! Pass it on! And next week I'll break down the half dozen reasons why I legally changed my name and why you should never let paperwork get in the way of your spiritual transcendence. 

 

xo, Ella

 

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