Here’s How to Be the Change Leader We Need Today

I absolutely love speaking in a room full of people. It’s crazy, I know. That’s in everyone’s top three fears behind death and killer bees, right? It’s one of the things I love most about my job. I love speaking to a room full of people who want to know what I know, so I can help a bunch of people at the same time. I’ve heard a lot of amazing speakers, and some of them have changed my life.

If you’ve seen me speak, I almost always get overwhelmed and get a little teary. The passion I have for our mission-based work is sometimes too much, and I feel so much joy sharing that with you all.

I used to feel bad about it. I’ve taken a lot of coaching, and crying on stage is not something they want you to make a habit out of.

Heres the thing, though: I am a human who is made of emotion. We all are. We are hopeful, we are hopeless, we are tired and elated, we are optimistic and we are stubborn. None of this is wrong because it’s who we are. As leaders, we’re told to turn it off and be strong. To always have the answer and do the right thing.

If that isn’t an outcome of oppressive patriarchy, I don’t know what is.

I’m not a warrior; I’m not made of stone. I’m a leader and I lead with love. THAT makes me a force of nature.

Heres how I do it:

1. Take the time to get to know yourself

Daily Calm

Wait a sec, this is a LOT harder than it sounds. As owners, we’re used to moving at light speed, being able to pull levers and make things happen for everyone around us. The sexy picture of the “Lean In Woman Business Hero” DOES NOT take time for herself, does she? Nope, she’s busy being everything for everyone. Let me tell you from personal experience: you’ll end up wrecking everything you worked so hard for if you keep going at this pace. You can’t maintain 500 Facebook relationships at the same time. Impossible.

Here’s what I do: I meditate and I walk to work. Every day. If I have to drive, I make sure I walk for at least 45 minutes. It’s a time that is only for me, every day, where I get to switch from “Mom Brain” to “Work Brain” and do whatever I want: space out, listen to a podcast, blast some angsty folk-pop. It’s MY TIME. On the weekends, if I don’t get a minute alone to move around and be alone, I’m a big stress ball. It’s bad for me and everyone around me. So find what you can do that is just for you, even if it’s small.

2. Laser focus your vision

Ok, so I’m giving you all really hard advice today. You’re lucky there are just three things on this list. Listen, we all want to help everyone we meet right? We all want to volunteer for that thing, to connect that person to that person, or help her understand SEO. We know this stuff backward and forward, and it feels good to help. Do you know what doesn’t feel good? Giving away your energy to the point where you have nothing left. Do you know what does feel good? Setting boundaries for yourself and reclaiming your TIME.

I know you started your business because you were a rule breaker and hated being told what to do. I’m going to be your boss for a minute: Set yourself some hard fast rules that you live by. Mine are:

  1. I get paid to consult
  2. I do not discount my work
  3. I won’t work for “the Man”
  4. I must have control over my time
  5. I never say no to students

Take the time to write it down; write down what you want and don’t let anything stop you. You’re worth it.

3. Do everything from a place of love

I know. This sounds like I’ve really gone off to live in the woods with a cult. But I’m serious—when you approach a problem or a person with love (inspiration, joy, or excitement) instead of fear (anxiety, desperation, or stress), things work out. That means being totally honest with yourself and everyone else. When it comes to the really hard stuff, like hiring or firing, doing anything out of fear or desperation is not going to work in the long term. You’ll regret it and that other person will remember it forever. Trust me, I’ve done it.

We ask all potential hiring candidates, “What do you love to do? What are you passionate about?” We take how that can influence a healthy work environment and meaningful work for our team very seriously. We ask the same of our clients.

Understand yourself, accept your particular brand of crazy, and learn to love it. Then turn that back onto everyone you meet.

You can do it. I will help you.

—Emily, Founder & President

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