Measure Twice, Cut Once

Back in college, I spent a lot of time volunteering with Habitat for Humanity both locally in Dallas and in other cities during alternative spring breaks. I met some wonderful people while working on houses and I learned a lot from them. Most of my learning revolved around drywall and roof shingles and the proper way to hold a hammer to avoid hitting your thumb! But as with any human interaction, there are always the other lessons you learn from being around people who are different from you in many ways.

I’ll never forget one man that I encountered at a build in Mississippi. Mike was an older man, a retiree who volunteered full time at different Habitat sites to lead eager and inexperienced college students like myself. He was methodical in his work and entirely too slow for us restless youth. He had many lessons he wanted us to learn and regularly exhorted us to, “measure twice, cut once.” I’m quite certain that we did not fully appreciate the lessons Mike shared with us that week.

Last fall, I had the privilege of attending training at the Kansas Leadership Center that focuses on teaching people how to discern the difference between technical problems and adaptive challenges. A technical problem is clear and defined and can be easily solved with subject matter experts. An adaptive challenge, on the other hand, requires leadership to learn and change. In one of the discussions, we discussed “the pause” between understanding a problem and deciding a solution and that the value of a leader resides in the length and use of that pause.

As I listened to the facilitator outline the different ways that ‘pause’ can be utilized, I flashed back to Mike and the Habitat build. Measure twice, cut once. Listen twice, act once. The value of the ‘pause’ and how you use it can make a big difference. The pause allows you to gather information. The pause allows you to take a read of the room. The pause allows you to make sure that all the voices are being heard. And the pause allows you to make sure that your measurements are correct and will not result in wasting the resources that you have been given.

woodrow wilson quote

Too often as leaders we charge out in front with the expectation that others will follow. That leadership style certainly has its use and is effective in the right situation. But when it isn’t right … it’s very wrong! As a leader, it’s important to know when to use different styles of leadership. Among them should be one that utilizes the power of the pause. Next time you are at a meeting practice taking a deep breath before speaking. Train yourself to scan the room and to read the faces and bodies of those around the table. Are they engaged? Are they being heard? Are you pausing long enough to allow them room to share their ideas and experience? Sometimes the best leadership happens not from the front, but from stepping back and allowing others to rise up.


Sticks, Stones, Rubber, and Glue

Some days I can close my eyes and instantly be transported back to my elementary school playground. It was hot and dusty and loud. Very loud. There were kids playing tag, some playing red rover, and always the kids in the corner jumping rope. There was lots of laughter. There was also a lot of taunting on that playground – some friendly, but mostly not.

Two taunts stick out in my mind as being the most popular among the elementary set. The first was – I am rubber and you are glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you. The other was – sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.

I was thinking about the second taunt as I spoke to a group last week about their self-talk. I was thinking that it really wasn’t entirely true. Words do hurt. They can hurt a lot depending on the person throwing those words at you. The closer the relationship, the more the words hurt. The good thing about others hurling negative words at us though is that ultimately we can choose to sever that relationship and walk away. Not always a simple proposition, but definitely within the realm of possibility.

But what about those words we hurl at ourselves? What happens when those words are harmful? What happens when the words we speak to ourselves – commonly referred to as self-talk – are harmful and prevent us from achieving our full potential?

Scientists have confirmed what psychologists have taught for years, that our self-talk matters. You see, everything we say to ourselves gets recorded in our brains. And those words we say repeatedly, those become the programs that define our lives. The principle of neuroplasticity is becoming more widely known and is impacting the way we understand our lives, our choices, and most importantly, our self-talk. Simply stated, neuroplasticity is the concept that our brains continue to create new neural pathways and alter existing ones based on our experiences.

If you say you can, or if you say you can't,You see the mind is very much like a GPS and those directions you input are the new neural pathways our brains create. You can’t get where you’re going if you input the wrong address. Tell your brain every day that you’re a failure and guess what? Chances of you succeeding at anything are greatly diminished. Every time we use words like can’t, won’t, shouldn’t we erect boundaries around our lives that limit our ability to achieve our purpose and reach our full potential.

It doesn’t have to be something as drastic as thinking yourself a failure either. It can be simple every day things like, “I can’t remember names,” or “I’m not good at that,” or “I shouldn’t eat that.” All these phrases repeated over and over create a roadmap that our brain follows. The question is, are you giving your brain the right directions? Do you know where you want to go? And are you programming your brain to get there?

Sticks and stones will break your bones. But the reality is that words do hurt. Our negative self-talk hurts. But our brains are amazing machines that can create new neural pathways, new programs, and new roadmaps. What are you saying to yourself today?


There Are No Detours – It’s All Life

I was discussing college with my eldest last week and mentioned that I had considered going to law school at one point. He was surprised and it led to a lot of questions about careers and choices. Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about my career path since leaving the hallowed halls of Southern Methodist University over 20 years ago. The beauty of hindsight is that it brings clarity and understanding. It’s a gift that you receive after taking the time to reflect.

I keep using the term, Nibal 5.0 (N5.0). It refers to how I look back on my path and see the different iterations and seasons of my life. It’s a reminder to me that our purpose isn’t tied to any one thing we do but more about the way we encounter life and how we use our gifts.

I started my career (N1.0) in the nonprofit sector. I worked with several organizations focused on training and development, marketing and communications, and fundraising. After five years in the nonprofit world, I made the decision to jump into the corporate world to see if I could swim in that big ocean. N2.0 took me to the technology sector where I managed web and software development projects.

And then I got pregnant! I had all intentions of returning to work at a company and position that I loved. But then I held my little baby in my arms and just could not do it. And that’s how N3.0 happened. I call it the accidental homemaker phase as I had no clue that this was in me. I have spent the last 13 years raising three children and making a home for our family.

N4.0 was the biggest surprise of all. Never in a million years did I imagine that I would work in direct sales and network marketing. As I prepared to send our youngest off to Kindergarten three years ago, I began to look around for a job. As I networked with friends and scoured the job boards, one thing became glaringly apparent to me – I could not give someone outside our family the power to decide our priorities. I had to be my own boss.

A fellow preschool mom shared Arbonne with me and I’m forever thankful to her for introducing me to this amazing company. Not only do I love all their products (yes, ALL!) but I have grown so much in the past three years. What most people don’t know about being in a network marketing/direct sales company is that you can earn a lot of money working when you want and how you want. And even better than the financial compensation is all the personal development that you receive along the way.

And this brings us to Nibal 5.0. In case you haven’t heard that story, you can read all about it here in my first blog post.

So why am I telling you all this? There really is an important point that I’d like to make and it came to me as I read this scripture passage a while ago. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

My original life plan, which was conceived in my late teens, was to graduate college, work on Capitol Hill for two years, and then go to law school. Obviously, that didn’t happen! I did graduate from college but the rest of my plan did not come to fruition. Somewhere in my head, I had created a script for success that was synonymous with this particular plan. Hence, any departure from that plan was considered a deviation or a diversion. For too long I looked back on my life and all I saw were detour signs.

DetourDetours are inconvenient. They are indirect. And they are usually temporary (insert joke about highway construction in Texas here!). But my life has been none of those things! It has been full and interesting. Rather than a detour, it has been a scenic drive that has provided me with a wealth of relationships and experiences that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

As you look back on your life, what words are you using to define your path? Do they bring joy or do they leave you empty? Our words are so important, especially those we use to tell ourselves who we are. Give yourself the gift of hindsight. Take some time to reflect on your life and write down all the gifts that you have received along the way. I bet you’ll see a complete and beautiful picture.

The stories we tell ourselves either build us up or tear us down. I hope that you’ll decide, as I have, to “consider it all as joy.”


Sing Before Breakfast. Cry Before Dinner.

I was having lunch with a girlfriend a couple of weeks ago and we started talking about the strange scripts that have had an impact on our lives over the years. You know what I’m talking about – those ideas and thoughts that were planted in our heads at an early age and persist despite all forms of logic that can dispute them. It was a funny and lighthearted conversation until suddenly I was struck by a memory from my early childhood that made me stop in my tracks.

Growing up, we rode the bus to school which was about 30 minutes away. Our bus was assigned a monitor whose name was Mrs. Standley. She was a rather large and very intimidating woman. She had a lot of rules and there was absolutely no arguing with her. It was her way or … well, her way!

I’m not sure what the context was for this comment, but I distinctly remember the day when Mrs. Standley said to me, “You know. If you sing before breakfast, you’ll cry before dinner.” Crazy? Check. Illogical? Check. Ridiculous? Check. And yet, that statement has stuck with me over the years. That script ingrained itself so deeply in my brain, I convinced myself that to be happy in the morning was to guarantee doom later on in the day.

It’s often said that there are two types of people in the world – those who love mornings and those who don’t. It’s safe to say that I don’t love mornings. But it actually goes far deeper than that. As I’ve considered this new discovery I realized that I have carried a deep ingrained fear of mornings since that moment when Mrs. Standley imparted to me her dubious wisdom. Her statement programmed my brain to fear and avoid mornings. And for years, mornings have brought with them a sense of dread and unease that has resulted in tension for my family and missed opportunities for me.

Soon after that lunch, and the epiphany about this strange script that has haunted me for almost forty years, I made a decision to change my thoughts about mornings. Using the principles I have learned through my self-talk training and the book, The Power of Neuroplasticity, I created a new script for myself that specifically dealt with overcoming those deeply ingrained fears. For two weeks, I have been repeating my new self-talk about mornings and already I am feeling differently when my eyes open in the morning.

change thoughtsSo what about you? Do you know what scripts, thoughts, and words have formed your attitude and reality? Whose words have programmed your brain? And are those programs leading you toward the life you want? Or are they a roadblock to accomplishing your wishes and dreams?

The good news is that you hold the power to change in your hands. Take the time to listen to yourself and document those words, thoughts, ideas, and programs that are holding you back. Now change them. Through repetition, you can build new neural pathways in your brain and replace the old ones.

The first step is to decide that you want to change.

There Are No Whales in Kansas City

I’ve been joking around with my husband that there are no whales to be found in Kansas City. As with most jokes, this one has its foundation in truth – I got scared and just like Jonah, I wanted to run away and hide in the belly of a whale.

The past few months have been exhilaratingly busy with new decisions to be made, a website to build, content to write, and all the other activities required as you launch a new endeavor. After my launch, I took a minute to stop, breathe, and look at everything I built. Then the fear set in.

Who am I to be called like this? What do I know about helping others? Most days I can barely help myself. I don’t have the right degree or education. Insert multiple other fears that all came bubbling up to the surface – fears that have been formed over years of allowing myself to be less than the woman God created me to be.

At the Self-Talk training this past January we were asked to introduce ourselves and to share why we had made the decision to attend. My reason? I was tired of playing small. Without even thinking, the words were out of my mouth. They came straight from my heart and my soul and were pushed out by the small part of me that had finally had enough. And as I stood and looked into the faces of thirty other people who had taken a huge leap and journeyed miles to attend this training, it was clear this was about to become a life-changing event for all of us.

It’s exhausting to play small. It’s wearying to spend so much time and energy trying to fit into everyone else’s definition of you. It’s draining to constantly look around wondering how to look, how to feel, how to dress, and how to think. And there’s only one reason to play small – a deep seated desire to fit in. A great need to belong and be accepted.

Submarines use sonar technology to send a ping (pulse of sound) out into the ocean to navigate, communicate with, or detect objects on or under the surface of the water. This is how I was living my life. I was defining my location based on my understanding of where others stood. I was ‘pinging’ out to the world and then using my perception of their location to define mine.

Sound crazy? Well it is! As Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that working for you?”

Humans are not submarines. We were not made to define ourselves by our surroundings. We were created by a God who has formed us and created us for a purpose. We already belong and are loved in His Kingdom. Beth Moore, in her Bible study on Esther, said something that has stuck with me. She said, “Our ego would rather be special than useful. We are sent here to be useful – beyond ourselves.”

Sending pings out horizontally to all those around you is an act driven by ego and a need to feel special. Looking up to God to understand our calling and His purpose for us is how we live beyond ourselves. How we become useful. How we know we are special.

So I’m no longer looking for whales. I’m standing firm in my calling to be useful, to be God’s hands and feet on this earth. And as I look around at our broken world where we all spend too much time and energy on living up to some unknown standard, I know that one way I can be useful is by being transparent. You are not alone, sister. Come sit by me and let me hold your hand. And together we can look up to God and pray using the words He gave us, “thy will be done” – Amen.


Nibal 5.0 – How Can I Help You?

For several years now I’ve been standing on the edge of a cliff looking out and knowing I was supposed to jump – God wanted me to jump. I knew I was supposed to write and speak and help people. I knew God wanted me to use my experiences, both good and bad, to help others on their walk. But what I didn’t know, exactly, was what I was supposed to say and how I was going to accomplish that mission. So I stood and I stared out and I prayed. I asked God to show me His will and let me know when it was my time to jump. He did, but not in the way I expected.

Six weeks ago, I attended a life-changing training conducted by the Self-Talk Institute and its founder Dr. Shad Helmstetter. I had read Dr. Helmstetter’s book, What To Say When You Talk to Your Self, a couple of times over the past couple of years and it had a major impact on clearing out the trash in my head. I am a very nice and kind person – to others. Unfortunately, I can be very mean to myself. This book changed that or at least started the process of changing it.

Hanging out on Facebook last fall I came across a post by Dr. Helmstetter about a new class he was offering to train people to teach his curriculum. Reading that post, I had a strong visceral reaction that simultaneously paralyzed me and moved me to action. I have never clicked on a link so fast in my life! I applied for the program and after spending almost an hour on the phone with Dr. Shad talking about his goals and vision for the training, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I was supposed to attend. I am proud to say that I am now a Certified Self-Talk Trainer and will soon be a Certified Life & Business Coach.

So what does that mean? Why did this training mean so much? It all goes back to what I finally have come to understand as my core mission and calling – to help people. As I look back on my life, I have constantly been placed into situations and positions where I can help people using the many gifts and talents with which I’ve been blessed. And now, Nibal 5.0 makes it all official! We live in a new and different world and the web is the best forum for reaching people. I already help people in my role as mother, wife, sister, daughter, and friend. I help people lead healthy lives and start home based businesses through my Arbonne business. I help women get equipped and discipled through the women’s ministries at my church. And now, I can help people transform their lives through my speaking, training, and coaching using the tools of self-talk.

Welcome to my new virtual world. How can I help you?