Top 10 Reasons to Become a Lifestyle Entrepreneur

Before I go into the top 10, let me clarify what I mean by lifestyle entrepreneur, for those of you who might not be familiar with the term. As far as labels go, it’s one that I strongly identify with, and as soon as I heard the term, I claimed it. Hell ya, I am a lifestyle entrepreneur, albeit just a freshman compared to the seniors on campus like Tim Ferris and Chris Guillebeau, who blazed the trail for the rest of us years ago.

What is a lifestyle entrepreneur?
Lifestyle entrepreneurs are simply entrepreneurs who prioritize lifestyle before profit. Are we still interested in profit? Absolutely! Most of us are incredibly money motivated. It’s just that we value freedom and independence more than anything else. We’re crystal clear on our desired lifestyle and build our businesses around those ideals, not just to allow for what’s most important to us, but to support it.

It’s about freedom
Some of us are location independent digital nomads, running businesses we can run from anywhere in the world. Many of us are obsessed with travel and strive to create a freedom lifestyle, where we can live, work, and play while globetrotting freely. For others, it’s about something completely different. Ultimately, though, it’s always about freedom – whatever that means to you.

It’s not easy
Of course, being a lifestyle entrepreneur has its challenges, just like being any kind of entrepreneur. It’s a wild ride that’s probably not for everyone. Most of us take huge risks, fail often, and frequently get the crap kicked out of us. Some people give it a great effort, but eventually walk away because it’s hard and uncomfortable. The ones who end up crushing it usually have some serious grit (unless they just got really lucky).

Here are some of my favorite reasons, for those of you flirting with the idea, to become a lifestyle entrepreneur.

1. Vision + Purpose + Passion
As a lifestyle entrepreneur, you lead with vision, purpose and passion. You’re often called “heart centered” and can’t imagine doing work you don’t love. You step out of your comfort zone frequently and do whatever it takes to build a business, because it lights you up and fills your life with meaning. It’s the work you can’t not do.

2. Authenticity
You get to fly your freak flag. In this type of work, the more authentic you are, the more successful you are. You get to create a business that is an expression, or extension, of who you are. There are no masks to put on or facades to uphold. You just get to be you – the quirky, super weird, real YOU.

3. Freedom
Regardless of what your definition of freedom is, being a lifestyle entrepreneur is all about supporting that. Whether it’s being able to spend time outdoors during the day and working at night, having time to care for elderly parents, spending more time with your kids, or traveling 9 months of the year, YOU get to decide. (And only YOU are responsible for creating it.)

4. Flexibility
A big part of the freedom lifestyle is flexibility. Set your own hours, work when and how you want. If sitting at a desk for 8 hours doesn’t work, maybe you work in 20 minute spurts. Or only on weekends. Or when you feel like it. Or when your golf schedule allows for it. Obviously it depends on what your line of work is, when your clients are available etc., but it’s up to you to set it up in a way that works for you.

5. Location independence
Another big part of the freedom lifestyle is being location independent. If you want to stay home, you can work from home. If you want to be social, you can find a co-working space or coffeeshop. As long as you have wifi, you can work with clients 1:1 over the phone or skype, lead group calls or video conferences, host webinars, and so much more with people anywhere in the world, from anywhere in the world. You also start to really appreciate good wifi.

6. Personal growth
Whether your business is actually about personal growth, like mine is, or is focused on something else entirely (SEO, let’s say), because you are not just doing whatever your line of work is but also figuring out all the different parts of starting and growing a business, you will constantly grow and develop as a human. You’ll fail, learn, grow, rinse, and repeat.

7. Financial independence
While it can be crazy stressful, risky, and humbling in the beginning when you’re dealing with aspects of entrepreneurship like paying for your own health insurance or not having a predictable monthly income, the possibilities are limitless. As a lifestyle entrepreneur, maybe you become an expert at leverage, offering not just 1:1 services, but group programs, information products, and more. Maybe you create multiple streams of passive income.

8. Building a team
In the beginning, most likely you start out by doing everything yourself. Maybe you stay a one person shop, which can work beautifully, or maybe you start outsourcing parts of the business to experts who can do a much better job at whatever it is you’re not great at or don’t enjoy doing, which frees up your time to focus on your favorite parts of the work. With an efficient team, you can leverage yourself even more.

9. Creativity
Most lifestyle entrepreneurs lead unconventional lives. If you are a bit of a rebel, rule breaker, or non-conformist, having creative freedom is incredibly important to you. It’s where you come alive and do your best work. Being your own boss, running your own company, and being a creator out in the world gives you the freedom to be in your zone of genius, and tap into your creative in whichever way you’d like.

10. Impact
You want – no need! – to have an impact, leave a mark, and make the world a better place or help the people in it, in your own unique and brilliant way. It doesn’t matter how big or small the impact is, as a lifestyle entrepreneur it’s an important part of what drives you. Doing work that has no impact not only doesn’t appeal to you, it probably repels you.

In short, being a lifestyle entrepreneur is a challenging, emotional rollercoaster of an adventure that is worth every single second. I’ve only been on the path for a few years, and have a long way to go and many more challenges to get through I’m sure, but I can’t imagine doing anything else now.

If this post stirs something in your heart, don’t ignore it! Honor the whisper in your ear, treat it as a clue, get wildly curious, and explore the possibilities. I dare you.

RIP Scott Dinsmore, a True Legend

Over the weekend I got some terrible news. A bright, shining light in my community – one of my favorite colleagues – had passed away. Today is the day of the week when I publish a blog post, and I can’t imagine writing about anything other than him. Here is my story about Scott and the impact he’s had on my life. For those of you who don’t know about him, I am honored to introduce you to an incredibly inspiring human. For those that do, please take this as an urgent reminder to live a life that you life.

Scott originally came onto my radar back in 2011. As a fellow coach in San Francisco, but one who was light years ahead of me professionally, he quickly became a role model and mentor from afar.

scott-dinsmore-im-fine-thanks-interview

While I never actually met him in person, and he probably wouldn’t have recognized me in the street, we exchanged a few emails and facebook messages and had a ton of friends in common. I would see him running around (literally) in San Francisco all the time, usually at the Lyon Street stairs or down at Crissy Field beach. I always figured our paths would cross one day and I had him on my wish list of coaches, speakers, writers, entrepreneurs, and change makers with whom I might one day share a stage or grow a friendship.

This year, Scott and his wife Chelsea embarked on a world tour. Not only were they traveling the world and having a blast, but they were visiting local chapters of a movement he started several years ago along the way. He inspired me not just professionally as a coach and entrepreneur, but his commitment to community and building something bigger than himself that would touch countless lives has been a big part of my growing desire to do the same.

As of right now, my fiancé and I are planning to do our own world tour next year. Scott and Chelsea’s adventure was a huge part of my inspiration for starting to plan this kind of ambitious journey. I was following their tour with great interest on Facebook and Instagram, taking mental notes and growing increasingly committed to forging a similar path. Here’s a little glimpse into the start of their journey. (Keep watching all the way until the end, for the adorable blooper reel.)

Scott’s words, his work, and his life will live on through the countless souls he touched in his far too short time on this earth.

And now, without further ado, let me introduce you to the man, the legend, Scott Dinsmore. Here are a few of his own words and some from his fans, friends, and followers to give you an idea of who he was.

His famous TEDx talk:

His website / community / movement, Live Your Legend, the accompanying LYL Action and Accountability FB group and his creed:

The-Creed-of-Living-Legends

News of his death spread like wildfire on Facebook and the ensuing onslaught of shared memories, moving stories of the countless ways he touched so many peoples lives, has left me mostly speechless. All I’ve been able to do for the past 18 hours is alternately cry and read more of the outpouring of love coming from all corners of the globe. This man truly inspired people on a soul level and changed lives in the most literal sense.

To read more, check out the Tribute to Scott Dinsmore facebook group, or some of the kind words from his friends Jonathan Mead, Leo Babauta, and Corbett Barr.

RIP, Scott. I didn’t even realize how big of an impact you’d had on my life until you were gone. I promise to do my part in helping your life and your mission to live on. I promise to live MY legend as best I can and inspire others to do the same. And I promise to celebrate your life and carry on so that your light lives on.

7 Simple Confidence Hacks

Confidence is one of my favorite topics. It’s a fascinating subject that we could dissect for days, but in this post I just want to give you a few quick tips that I have found to be very effective in my life. My clients have reported similar results.

Let me clarify that by confidence I mean that quiet, humble self-assuredness that you see in someone who knows who they are, what they stand for, and what they want. It’s NOT the same as arrogance, which stems from feelings of superiority over other people. In fact, it has nothing to do with other people, because it’s not about comparing yourself to anyone else. It’s about simple straight forward self-acceptance, self-love, and self-esteem.

Building a deep-rooted sense of confidence takes time. Especially if you’re coming from a place of self-doubt or insecurity to begin with. The good news is that it’s like a muscle and we can train it to be quite strong. I’ll address ways to grow your confidence in a holistic long-term way in many future posts. For now, though, here are some quick hacks to sample increased confidence at least temporarily, which can 1) help you get through a tough situation and 2) give you a taste of that delicious experience of truly, madly, and deeply believing in yourself.

1. Stand tall
Body language is hugely connected to our emotions. Even when you’re not feeling mentally, emotionally, or spiritually strong in any moment, you can choose to give yourself the gift of good posture. Simply stand tall, distribute your weight equally between both feel, relax your shoulders down and back, imagine that you have strings attached to the crown of your head and are being lifted up, and open your chest (this helps you give your lungs more room to take in more oxygen too.)

2. Make eye contact
Whether you’re doing it consciously or not, and whether it’s a reflection of your emotional state or not, as soon as you divert your eyes or avoid making eye contact with whomever you are interacting with, you will appear to be less confident. Train yourself to have the courage to look people in the eyes. Let them truly see you. Not only will you convey confidence, but you’ll also feel more confident, and will connect more easily with the other person. Obviously, there is a point at which prolonged eye contact becomes either aggressive or creepy! Use your judgment and figure out what works for you.

3. Breathe deeply
When you are scared or self-conscious, your body is most likely going into a stress response and you aren’t breathing deeply anymore. Simply pausing and remembering to breathe, and to breathe deeply if possible, will slow the stress response and start to trigger the relaxation response in your brain.

4. Speak up
Literally. Just speak louder. So many of us (women especially) have a tendency to trail off or mumble when we’re feeling insecure or unworthy. Until your inner confidence catches up, practice simply raising the volume of your voice. Again, you will not only appear more confident, but you will actually feel more confident. Plus, when you speak up, people will listen, which will in turn start to support your beliefs that your voice matters. In addition to volume, you can play with other aspects of your voice, like resonance, pitch, intonation, and tonality and notice both how you feel and what the impact is.

5. Slow down
This applies to both your internal and external behaviors. Internally, this means pausing to observe your thoughts, beliefs, intentions… it means practicing self-awareness. With external behaviors, such as your physical movements and how fast you talk, notice how people who talk fast or move quickly often come across as frenetic or flustered. Slowing down gives your brain and your heart a chance to guide your words and actions. What you say and do will be more mindful and aligned with who you are, as opposed to simply default behavior based on years of conditioning and often influenced by limiting beliefs and fear.

6. Smile
It’s so incredibly simple, but it works wonders. Don’t do one of those fake for-the-camera smiles where your mouth is smiling, but your eyes look dead. Smile with your eyes first and your mouth will follow suit. Much like how answering the phone with a huge smile on your face changes the way your voice sounds on the receiving end, smiling is a bit of a trick to short circuit your system. There are so many benefits. Not only will you get a little release of positive chemicals in your brain, but smiling puts other people at ease, which makes them feel more comfortable around you, which will put you at ease and boost your confidence.

7. Get curious
Most often, when you notice that you are lacking in self-confidence, you are focusing on yourself. Turn the focus outward onto someone else and get wildly curious about them. It’s almost impossible to judge anyone (including yourself) when you are being genuinely curious. Ask questions. Be hungry to learn more.

Use these simple tips as needed for a quick confidence boost in the moment or use them often as a way of starting to reprogram your mind with the ultimate intention of growing real authentic confidence and inner power.

Do you trust yourself?

For years, I was consumed by what everyone else was doing and thinking. I looked outside of myself for the answers. I constantly searched for external validation to confirm that my thoughts, decisions, and actions were ok.

It was exhausting. I hadn’t learned to trust myself yet.

Does this sound familiar? I can’t emphasize enough how important it has been for me to learn to trust myself. It hasn’t been easy, and I definitely still fail, but my default settings and behavior have changed for the better.

So, how DO we learn to trust ourselves more? Here are 3 strategies that have helped me do so. Maybe they’ll help you too.

1. Challenge your current set of beliefs
Most of us have a pretty rigid set of beliefs (due to conditioning, cultural influences, family, friends, our own experiences etc.) and our brains are constantly looking for evidence to support those beliefs.

Guess what? Many of those beliefs you have are total bullshit! They do not represent your actual reality or some sort of absolute truth. Rather, they are simply the stories you tell yourself. Sometimes they’re not even your stories. You may not agree with them at all. You may have just inherited them from someone else and not thought to question them.

If your current set of beliefs don’t resonate with you, challenge them! Ask yourself what stories are more aligned with who you really are and what you really think. The more your thoughts and actions are aligned with what you truly believe deep down, the more you’ll be able to trust yourself to make decisions according to those deeper beliefs.

2. Get out of your head
Do you think with just your mind? Or do you tap into something more? Unfortunately, our western culture doesn’t do a whole lot to teach us how to think in a more integrated way. Unless you’ve got some eastern influences, practice meditation, do yoga, etc. you might not be in the practice of getting out of your head.

One way to do that is to get out of your head and into your heart. Learning to pause, breathe, and check in with yourself on a deeper level can be a great start to trusting your inner wisdom and intuition. Your heart/soul/spirit has access to a lot of information and quiet knowledge that your mind does not. Plus, your mind is usually too busy squawking loudly about anything and everything to allow you to hear that deeper wisdom. To access it, you must learn to quiet your mind and listen from a different place.

3. Listen with your whole being
As long as you’re getting out of your head, you may as well start to tap into the wisdom of your body. Your physical intelligence. Practice noticing what kinds of information each of your senses is taking in. Here are some examples of questions you might ask.

What do you see around you when you really pay attention? What other smells can you detect beneath the most obvious ones around you? What can you hear beyond the chatter in your own mind, traffic, your colleagues, or the tv… wind blowing, birds chirping? When you savor the taste of a favorite food, what are the emotions it brings up? Can you read between the lines of the words your friend is actually saying? What is your skin letting you know about the situation you’re in? Are you having a physical reaction that might shed some light on what’s happening for you emotionally? Can you pick up on the energies around you? Those coming from other individuals, groups, or places? Get curious. See what you can tap into.

I like to think of our bodies as these incredibly sensitive balls of energy that are constantly taking in and processing valuable information. Why the hell would we not listen to them?! They are giving us clues all day long!

Your body is a compass. If you learn to honor its wisdom and truly listen to it, it will let you in on all sorts of delightful magic.

Your whole being, actually, is the compass. Work on sharpening the listening skills of the different individual aspects of it, as well as integrating it all and listening with your whole damn self. You might just find yourself being pleasantly surprised with the secrets it shares.

 

Fearlessly Authentic

Who would you be if you weren’t afraid of being judged? I love that question. It points to what is a very real struggle for many of us who, over the years, have developed different parts of ourselves to fit into different parts of our lives.

Recently I was listening to a call where a coach I don’t know was talking about her deep desire to integrate her two identities. Her one identity is the professional coach who helps Silicon Valley execs grow their teams and develop their leadership skills. Her other identity is a highly creative free-spirited woman who runs around at Burning Man in a corset and tutu, pole dances, and gives talks on the law of attraction.

She was struggling with her fears about people from either world finding out about her other identity and judging her for it. The business world wouldn’t take her seriously if they knew what she does in her free time. And her alternative friends would think she was crazy for working in Silicon Valley.

[Side note: some of you who are familiar with bay area culture are probably wondering what the problem is there, because you know there are actually a ton of people from Silicon Valley who go to Burning Man. And just as many Burning Man regulars who have “normal” corporate jobs. But that’s not the point, of course. Regardless of what the reality of any situation is, the stories we create in our minds are the powerful ones that can really hold us back. THOSE stories are the ones I want to encourage all of us to move past.]

How many identities do you have? Do you hide parts of yourself for fear of being judged? Have you created elaborate facades that you put up while interacting with certain groups? We all do it to an extent I think. While I’d love it if we could all be 100% ourselves all the time, I believe that sometimes it IS actually helpful to be able to tone things up or down, given the situation.

At the end of the day, I’m not arguing that being a slightly different version of yourself in certain situations is inherently bad or good. Things are rarely inherently good or bad. They just.. are. We are the ones who assign a value to them in our minds, usually due to our conditioning and deeply ingrained beliefs.

Really, the question is whether it’s helpful, effective, or healthy in any given circumstance. Should that coach show up to work at a big corporate gig wearing her Burning Man gear? Probably not. But should she have to hide either or both of her identities and live in fear of judgment? I say no.

I think it’s more a matter of learning how to honor the different, beautiful, unique parts of ourselves fully, to mindfully choose how to show up when, and to take full responsibility for our impact every time.

I often wonder who the fullest expression of me is. She’s constantly evolving of course, but as of right now, here is who I am when I’m completely owning my true self, and not worried what anyone will think:
– I dare to speak up, have strong opinions, and stand my ground
– I am brave, vulnerable, and courageously show all of my real raw self to the people I trust
– I don’t ask for or seek permission from others, I simply trust my own judgment
– I freely show my quirky, goofy side, laugh easily, hug everyone, and smile often
– I approach strangers easily, embrace awkwardness, and create warm connections
– I embrace my woo woo spiritual side in my business just as much as my practical side

What about you? Who would you be if you were fearlessly authentic? If you were sure you would not be judged, OR were sure you wouldn’t care? What is the fullest expression of you?

I Have a Dream

I believe with all my heart in the incredible power of dreams. Compelling dreams give us hope, inspire action, unite people, and empower generations. They give way to new technologies and innovation. They give us something to aim for, something to focus our attention and intention on as we stumble down the path of life, trying to figure out who we are and why we’re here.

I want to tell you about my dream. And I want to hear about yours. (If you don’t know what yours is, maybe I can help.)

My dream evolves as I grow and change. It takes on new and unexpected shapes and colors as the next steps of my journey reveal themselves. I don’t know if my life in the future will look anything like what my dream looks like now, but I know for damn sure that it motivates me to move in that direction.

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined." - Thoreau

Here are some things to think about while capturing your dream in case you’re inspired to do yours too.

1. Practice gratitude. Before (and during and after) envisioning what you hope to create,  remember to be grateful for what you have, right here, right now.

2. Be present. While being inspired by your vision and letting it pull you forward, remember to live your life in the present, conscious and connected to the world around you.

3. Invest in the process, let go of the outcome. While going confidently in the direction of your dreams, remain open to new information and opportunities. Course correct as the next steps of your journey reveal themselves to you. Let go of having things show up looking a certain way. Be more interested in the essence of what you want and the journey toward it.

4. Think outside the box. Let go of any limited ideas of what’s possible and dare to let your imagination run free. You might be surprised what you come up with.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand." - Albert Einstein

5. Take bold inspired action. Once you get clear on your dream, don’t forget to get out there and do something about it. Action creates energy and puts the wheels into motion.

Here is my dream as it stands now. I’ve divided it into categories and written it in the form of affirmations (i.e. in present tense statements, as if they’re already true.)

Family
– My relationship is a badass partnership. We are committed to authenticity, kickass communication, and living our fun, crazy lives to the fullest.
– I am deeply connected to my family, despite geographical limitations. I travel to see them often and we embrace technology to keep us close when we’re apart.

Career
– I have a killer team of talented people who believe in my mission that help me run my global business (e.g. virtual assistant, accountant, coach, mentor, PR, web design etc.)
– My business is an expression and an extension of who I am at my core. It reflects my purpose, values, passions and what makes me unique.
– I inspire, empower, and challenge people. The value I create for them is lasting and transformational.
– I have clients who fly me across the globe to work with them.
– I have written a book (maybe several) that tells my story and shares my message in a clear and compelling way, inspiring those who need it most.
– I positively impact large numbers of people not just through my own writing, speaking, coaching, videos, workshops, and retreats, but also through appearances on radio, TV, and live events.
– I surround myself with movers and shakers who believe in their dreams, rule breakers who challenge the status quo, and change makers who are quite literally saving the planet.
– I spend a lot of time outside my comfort zone, embracing failure, stretching my limits, and doing things that scare and excite me.

Money
– I attract and create more wealth than I personally need and am able to donate time and money to supporting and empowering the people, organizations, and causes I believe in.
– I have reached my milestones of being a 6-figure, and ultimately a 7-figure business.
– I spend money mindfully, creating a fun and fulfilling – yet sustainable – lifestyle for myself, my family, and my friends.
– I have a great money team (accountant + financial advisor + money coach) who help me make smart decisions.

Mind-Body-Spirit
– I eat clean 80% of the time (leaving 20% of the time for enjoying the delicious “bad” stuff), drink a ton of water, and get lots of sleep.
– I love and accept my body as it is, celebrate its uniqueness, and playfully test its limits.
– I seek out physical activities and types of movement that make me feel alive.
– My skin is radiant, my hair is healthy, my body is strong, I am glowing with happiness.
– I shine brightly from the inside out. I feel grounded, confident, and at peace.
– I regularly engage in mindfulness practices (e.g. yoga, meditation, gratitude) that quiet my mind, center my spirit, and open my heart.
– I stay intellectually stimulated and pursue continued learning and experiences by reading voraciously and attending classes, workshops, conferences etc.

Lifestyle
– I spend most of my social time doing fun and interesting things with people I love, creating meaningful connections, laughing often, and loving fiercely.
– I host frequent dinner parties, cook delicious food, and consciously create community.
– I travel the world for work and play. I am a mobile world citizen, always seeking to broaden my horizons, become familiar with the unfamiliar, and spread joy wherever I go.
– I make time to honor my passions (e.g. dance, music, languages, culture etc.)
– I am solar powered + water inspired, so I spend plenty of time in the sun and water.
– My wardrobe is a reflection of who I am: simple, classy, fierce, and playful.
– Though I travel often, I have a home base somewhere beautiful, near water, that is warm and welcoming, where friends and family eagerly come to visit.

Our World
– Through our collective wisdom, new technologies, and social responsibility we are finally figuring out how to save the planet from our own ignorance and overconsumption.
– A new brand of leadership is emerging. People are stepping up, working together, and love is winning over hate.
– Discrimination based on gender, sexuality, race, religion, socioeconomic status, etc. is outdated and nearly obsolete. We are experiencing a shift in consciousness and evolving into a more heart-centered and open-minded people.
– Western and Eastern medicine are being integrated into a more holistic healthcare approach. Doctors are in partnership with their patients. Quality healthcare is available to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.
– Common sense, respect for mother nature, and compassion keep us grounded as we develop new technologies and enter an exciting new era of rapid innovation.

This week on The Fierce Leadership Call we were talking about taking radical responsibility for ourselves and our world. Someone made a comment about random acts of kindness and I’ve been thinking about the invisible impact and the ripple effect of kindness. It reminded me of the “Kindness Boomerang” video below, which captures the essence of my dream for our world: love, respect, compassion.

If you take nothing else from my sharing my vision with you, take this: Be kind to each other. Protect each other. Help each other. Love each other.

10 Things I Used to Hate About Me

I am celebrating imperfection today. And so should you. “Perfect” is a rather outdated (and boring) concept, don’t you think? Not to mention nonexistent.

“One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist… Without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.” – Stephen Hawking

And yet here we are, chasing the unattainable. We are buying into the media’s idea of what perfection looks like, smells like, talks like, walks like, dresses like, and acts like. We know it’s unreasonable, but we run after it slobbering like a bunch of idiots, staring glassy-eyed at the photoshopped models on the covers of magazines, fantasizing about what it would be like to look like them, be them, or be with them. On some level we know that they’re not real people, we know they’re edited versions of real people, and still we compare ourselves to them. We hungrily flip to the section about that latest diet craze, glancing furtively around us to make sure no one saw that we’re buying into what is obviously pure bullshit thrown together to sell copies.

Obviously that doesn’t apply to all of us… But the essence of it is alive and well in many of us on some level, isn’t it? Are we maybe buying into some of it unconsciously, even if we aren’t consciously buying into any of it?

The concept of beauty is an incredible part of the human experience, albeit one that lies in the eye of the beholder. Naturally, ideals of beauty vary greatly from culture to culture. But when society and the media constantly shove unrealistic ideals down our throats, it has an impact. The pressure to attain these ideals leads to everything from bullying and body shaming to eating disorders and suicide. Especially among youth. Especially among young women. We know this now and we still let it happen. That is NOT ok. Please let’s step up our game and make a change.

I do think that things are beginning to shift and I’m ecstatic about it. I’ve noticed a significant change in the voice and tone of cultural messages about beauty in recent years, haven’t you? Definitely in social media. Less dramatically in traditional media, but it’s happening. I’m cautiously optimistic and my heart is filled with hope every time I see an ad or video that rises up and instead promotes more useful things to strive for like self love, self acceptance, strength, self awareness, respect, and an appreciation for different body types.

marilyn monroe

There is nothing sexier than a person who is comfortable in their own skin, no matter what they look like. <<Tweet this>>

As individuals we can take responsibility for building our own inner power and confidence and letting go of comparing ourselves to other people (and photoshopped people.) We can learn to own it, whatever “it” is. In addition to the attention and intention we focus inward, however, don’t we have a responsibility to move the collective consciousness forward and past this nonsense?

I want to do my part in promoting authenticity, truth, and vulnerability. I believe that our beautifully imperfect human bodies (and minds) deserve to be acknowledged and loved as they are. That doesn’t mean we can’t strive to improve ourselves. But, let’s make sure we understand that our worthiness as human beings doesn’t have anything to do with being any particular size, weight, race, gender, sexuality, or shape.

stevemaraboli

So, here are 10 things about me that I used to hate – 10 things I could easily continue to criticize, compare to others, hide etc. that I have instead chosen to not only love and accept, but to share and celebrate. Enjoy!

  1. Long arms. My arms are disproportionately long and I used to be super self conscious about them. Now I celebrate the awkward gracefulness of them (as well as being able to reach things in really high places.)
  2. Long fingers. I never knew what to do with my long alien fingers and used to hide my hands in pockets or behind my back. Now I let them dance and play as they wish. It doesn’t matter how they look.
  3. Small breasts. My lack of boobs used to make me feel like slightly less of a woman and, admittedly I sometimes longed for a nice C-cup that might actually fill out a top. Now I cherish my (small and perky!) girls because they make me feel and move like more of an athlete.
  4. Narrow hips. I used to hate that I couldn’t fill out a pair of shorts or jeans the way a curvy woman could. Now I embrace the fact that my curves are not in the traditional places. My curves, which I love, are my shoulders and my nice big ass!
  5. Small head. Yup, I used to bemoan the small size of my head (in comparison to the rest of my body.) Now I simply identify with my spirit animal, the giraffe. Big strong body, long graceful neck, small head, warm eyes, feet planted firmly on the ground (the part of me that is practical) and head in the clouds (the part of me that is a visionary) and I rather like it.
  6. Open bite. My malocclusion evolved as the result of a tongue thrusting tendency. It presents some functional challenges (I can’t bite through anything thin or flimsy) but mostly I was bothered by how it looks. Now I’ve let that go. There are much more important things to focus on.
  7. My lisp. Didn’t know I have a lisp? Yup, I do. It’s subtle and comes and goes. I used to try in vain to hide it (which of course made it worse.) Now I just consider it part of what makes my particular speech patterns and voice unique and recognizable.
  8. My shyness. It used to manifest itself in things like people pleasing, being quiet, avoiding conflict, and generally trying to fade into the background. It made me feel small and insignificant. Now I accept my shyness as a natural part of being an introvert and I’ve learned to work with it (e.g. by making sure I get lots of alone time to charge my batteries) instead of letting it control me. Now I know I can embrace being an introvert and still show up as the fierce, fun, loud, and powerful version of myself when I want to.
  9. Melasma. This charming form of skin discoloration basically looks like you have dirt on your face. I know because people have quite literally tried to wipe it off. I’ve had it in varying degrees on and off for 10 years and it used to be the only thing I saw when I looked in the mirror, especially during the times when I had it on my upper lip. Now I just think of it as no biggie and a great reminder to wear sunscreen and hats.
  10. My sports injuries. I used to compare myself to the runner I potentially could have been, had I never torn my ACL or developed achilles tendinitis. I’d get angry at my body for not being able to keep up with me and hampering my success. Now I do my best to accept my injuries and simply work from wherever I’m at each day. I savor the accomplishment I feel on a good day and humbly sit with the disappointment I feel on a bad day. I am grateful to be as able-bodied as I still am. If anything, my sports injuries have been a blessing in disguise. They’ve taught me to respect my limits and train smarter not just harder.

brene brown

I am walking tall and proud, owning my imperfection, and I am calling on you to join me in choosing every day to model authenticity, truth, and vulnerability. Let’s lift each other up and celebrate what’s raw and real for the sake of both our own aliveness and our connections to each other.