Aug15

The Right to Change Your Mind: In Business

I was recently faced with this question: Do I have the right to change my mind after I have said yes and started in on a project or venture with a partner?

Promises are a sticky subject, and the answer to such questions isn’t always as simple as “well, you said yes and promised to do it so now you have to…forever.”

A bit of background: In addition to my main business, Alchemy+Aim, I also have two side partnerships with designer friends, both of whom I adore working with.

I’ve been working for the past several months to put more systems into place to reclaim some free time and create space for myself for my next big project (coming in January, says our plan). In that time, I’ve really been asking myself what do I want to stay doing and what do I want to delegate or give up. As a result, I’ve been forced to confront what the future of these partnerships will be and how involved I want to be with them going forward. Do I delegate or just get out?

Delegating a task is much easier to do than giving up an activity. Way easier.

No hurt feeling, or sad faces, or disappointed friends.

Hello, my name is Brandi and I’m people pleaser who hates disappointing people.

I’ve considered at different times giving up one or even both of these partnerships, asking myself if the work we’re doing is truly serving me, our businesses, the world.

But how do you change your mind and say no when you’re right there in the middle?

How can you be true to yourself and what you need to grow, and accept you may disappoint others in the process?

For me, the thought of altering course can bring up a lot of emotions and thoughts around failing people. I often think as much about their potential emotions around the situation as I do about my own. It makes a decision messier.

So what do I do? I start with what I want, because the only reaction I can be sure of is my own.

It has been crucial and incredibly empowering for me to learn how to own my desires and wants and needs.

Saying no creates space for new possibilities to emerge, often ones that are much better fits than what currently exists. And sometimes saying no allows the venture to transform into something even better, because you were willing to admit that its current state wasn’t working.

So my solution boils down to answering the question, “How can this endeavor evolved to serve both of us partners better as we grow?”

In one case, I think it means letting go. In the other, it means delegating the work and watching it become something even better.

Four Questions to Ask Yourself If You Need To Change Your Mind
  1. What do I really want / need / desire in my life that’s leading me to question my involvement?
  2. Is this project still serving everyone involved, or does it need to change?
  3. What are some possibilities of transformation for this project that would allow my needs to be met?
  4. What would my ideal outcome be if anything were possible?

When was the last time you gave yourself permission to change your mind?

Aug03

Balancing the Dark and the Light

While many things were impressed upon me during my years training to be an actress (what feels like a lifetime ago), one of the lessons that stands out the most is that we contain the whole of the human experience and emotion.

As an actor, understanding that capacity is what allows us to dig into roles that are so different from our normal selves, embodying characters that would superficially appear to be unlike us.

We are not all light, we are not all dark. We are not all good, we are not all evil. We are not all selfless, we are not all self-absorbed and greedy.

These forces play out inside of us, changing the exact shade of grey for the day.

Two weeks ago, my friend Elizabeth and I took a trip down to North Carolina for a conference. A good conference can set your brain on fire, so of course we ended up talking into the night about our businesses and our lives. Eventually, we landed on a discussion of feeling and expressing our emotions. There are certain standards of behavior for men and women written into our society, and one start contrast is allowed expression of anger.

My particular societal education impressed upon me that it was not okay to allow true anger as part of my emotional repertoire. Milder forms could be acceptable, especially for the times when a lover cheated on me or I was part of some injustice. But true anger should be suppressed and hidden.

Yet, I’ve seen what bottling up and compressing anger has done, and the effects it’s had in my own life. I have been passive aggressive when angered, I stop speaking about my feelings, I close off to others. For some people, that suppression can lead to substance abuse or violence or can turn inward into eating disorders.

What I’ve learned from my acting training is that sometimes it’s healthiest to allow anger to truly move through your body, in a controlled situation. If I allow myself to fully feel and be in my emotion, it will subside and leave me, rather than linger with me, waiting for the right trigger to set me off.

When I returned home on Wednesday night, I had one of these moments. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s say that a 9-hour traffic-heavy drive plus hunger plus discovering someone had majorly failed to deliver on a promise plus a disorderly home left me exhausted and angry. I was pissed, and I knew I needed space to just feel what I was feeling. So I cleared the space of people and pets and let myself curse, scream, pound pillows — pretty much just throw a tantrum like a 2-year-old.

I allowed it all to move through and leave me. I let the anger be embodied and expressed so it would not be repressed. And once it was gone, it was gone. I could return to my rational self to make decisions and act from a place of peace and love around all that had happened.

Sometimes, I consider moments like that a personal manifestation of the goddess Kali.

The blue-skinned goddess Kali is often seen as fearsome, wearing a necklace of skulls (or severed heads), dripping in blood, carrying a sword. She has no permanent qualities, existing before the universe and after its end, so concepts like good, evil, right, and wrong don’t apply to her. She is creator and destroyer.

Anger itself is neither good nor evil. It is simply an emotion. We can use it to catalyze us to greater good when we channel it correctly, or it can manifest as violent acts if we fail to. Our feelings guide us and if we allow them to be our teachers rather than be controlled by them, there is so much we can learn.

So I choose to allow my emotions to be embodied fully in safe places, so I might discover the wisdom they have for me about the world that surrounds me.

Jan05

Looking Forward…and Back

I remember the days when blogging consumed my life regularly.

It had all started in a rather roundabout way, as I had hoped to flirt (albeit VERY indirectly) with a guy I worked with. My assumption is that surely he would read my posts, be taken by me, and declare his undying love. In reality, the guy was a player and I was a fun game in his book. I moved on.

Like many others, blogging was a way to connect with friends and have a place to share the cool stuff I found or speak my mind. Then it became something bigger — a way of connecting with new people, getting to know them and allowing them to know me. That is still the best reason I blogged.

Then I lost it. The blogosphere grew exponentially fast, and I felt like one more voice in an ocean of voices. The way people were connecting changed, and in some places, high school-esque cliques seemed to form. So I stopped. I didn’t want to worry about producing content for the day, or forcing myself to attend festivals and events I didn’t want to go to, just to grab new photos. I wanted to live my life fully for myself.

And that’s precisely what I’ve done for the past two years? three years? I’m not even sure anymore.

Blogging has become like theatre for me – a dull aching inside me, feeling as if something is missing but unsure what the pangs are most of the time. I miss being on stage. I miss writing. I miss connecting with my audience, whether they’re in plush red velvet seats or sitting at home on the sofa with a cup of coffee.

I’m not entirely sure what this new phase will be, but I’m going deep this time. I’m not holding back. Let’s begin…

Sep08

Walking the Path

I’ve been thinking a lot about paths recently. It lingered on my mind when I woke yesterday, how things twist and turn and find yourself somewhere you never expected to be.

School made life seem so easy. In high school, the path was clear: go to college, get a job, meet a boy, fall in love, marry.

Things aren’t that smooth.

I went to college with a double major in mind, graduated with only one in hand, but was positive that career path wasn’t for me.

I’ve felt like a pinball since then, moving from job to job, from major to major to graduate school, from city to city. With each university program or new job, I thought the path would finally show itself, that something would finally click.

Then I abandoned the path completely and started a business. In two years, I’ve learned there is no real path, no certain direction to move in. There is only the path we forge for ourselves, the world we create around us.

This is what live is. This is what vulnerability is — admitting we don’t entirely know what we’re doing but promising ourselves that we’re going to do it boldly, that we’re going to stop defining ourselves in single terms or job titles, that we’re going to dare greatly, fall, and rise strong.

Come, traveller, and walk with me.

Photo from Brené Brown — go pick up her new book, Rising Strong. It’s crazy inspiration at your fingertips.

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