How to be powerful while being quiet

The universe is all about balance, right?

I know that last week I encouraged you to speak up, and I still do. Sometimes, being quiet, not saying anything, can be very powerful too.

I was setting up for dinner with a friend the other night after a long day of fun work. I had performed at the farmers market that morning on a chilly/sunny morning, followed by a Milonga in the Park that afternoon, one of my favorite tango social to host.

eatingBy dinner time, I was tired and Hangry (hunger turning into crankiness) I was aware of it so I made the conscious decision to speak as little as possible. I believe we are accountable for what we say, do, and give to the world. My goal is to be a source of joy, not pain and discomfort, therefore, when I’m hangry, I often get really quiet, to the benefit of the people around me. My friend knows that but he still checked in with me which is what friends do when there is a change in behavior. I reassured him and sure thing, after a few bites of my dinner and some wine, I was feeling like myself again and enjoying a wonderful conversation.

Another example when being quiet is more productive than speaking is in the venting-complaining-ranting department. I’m a true believer of venting, I think it’s good for you and your soul to let things out a bit, to release some emotional pressure and give back to the world what it gave to you. It’s best to vent to the right person, someone that can understand what you’re going through, that can hold space and maybe provide some validation, reassurance or understanding. Venting to just anyone may not be that productive.

angryComplaining is venting, twice. If you said it once chances are it was heard. If there is a need to say it again it may be that you didn’t receive the reaction you wanted. Saying it again may not help, saying it to someone else might which would be venting. Are you with me πŸ˜‰ Complaining is typically disconnecting or it’s fueling a negative dynamic with another complainer. We get what we put in so I invite you to contemplate if you complain and if so, who do you complain to? You might find yourself in a negative environment which will keep you from being successful.

Ranting is like complaining on steroids. It’s completely counterproductive, disconnecting and a waste of time. It takes time to rant, that’s time that could be used to serve life and your dreams, I’ll let that sink in. I know, I’m a recovering ranter.

I invite you to vent, strategically. I invite you to be quiet for anything beyond that.

Another opportunity to be quiet is when we are in scarcity or speculation mode. Scarcity is all about fear and we say things that are not relevant, accurate or even kind. If we can’t say something nice, let’s say nothing. If we’re scared, which is valid, let’s recognize it and say so. We can’t conquer our fears if we don’t know what they are. Speculating is also about fear and projecting what might happen. There is true power in recognizing what we can control and what we can’t. There is so much power in appreciating the moment and how we can influence the present rather than worrying about the future. We have the opportunity to be quiet and not spread that fear to others with mindless comments.

Again, it is valid to be scared, it’s not productive to assume and make a statement of it.

rain umbrellaFor example, if the weather is conditional upon a certain event to be successful, like our Milonga in the Park, and the projection is for 50% chance rain, when do we start talking about it and make projections? When it starts raining! When I see the rain then I’ll do something about it, there is nothing I can do about it before that. I may plan just in case it rains but that’s it. I invite you to embrace what you know for sure. It’s particularly difficult in a culture that is based on fear, projections and the illusion of control but I have faith in you. I know you can do it πŸ™‚

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Β  Β  Β  Β  Β Reach for the greatest version of yourself!

Paola

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Boundaries and sexual harassment

Anyone with somewhat of a presence on Facebook has seen the extent of the “#metoo” movement. I had a lovely conversation yesterday with a gentleman that reflected on all the times he may have been part of the problem and surely some times he saw a woman be mistreated and he didn’t speak up. It was a heartfelt confession and I’m grateful he felt safe telling me.

A lot of conversations went on this past week about the validity of such movement. Some people thought that there was a pressure for women, and men, to speak up about their abuse and harassment, some thought that men were being excluded from the conversation, some started to compare the level of pain and stigma per gender, some claimed their guilt, a lot of people opened up and expressed their pain. Another point of view I saw was the one of a woman demanding others to not victimize themselves, to stand in their power so they can recover from the trauma. I use the word “demanding’ very carefully and intentionally. I seldom think we can demand much of anyone really, especially not when it comes to processing painful experiences. I am a passionate supporter of inviting, modeling and being curious about others and that post wasn’t an invitation.

That campaign reopened a lot of wounds and teased people to ask themselves questions they didn’t dare to think about. At the end of the week, I see the conversation as a steady fire, burning strong, warming us up to others perspective. It’s no longer a spark or flame fighting in the patriarchal wind, this conversation, and the change with it, is here to stay.

What’s done is done, we can’t go back and rewrite hundreds of years of patriarchal culture and abuse. We can embrace the present and nurture each other and ourselves to the full extent of our ability. We can set new standards in place to build a future that is balanced, embracing and respectful. We can start today!

I spoke about boundaries before when it comes to time management and emotional productivity, it obviously would apply to sexual harassment as well. Do you think people would behave a certain way if they knew it was culturally forbidden and disconnecting?

We don’t have to speak up about our past to set ourselves up for a successful future. Setting boundaries is one of the easiest and most productive habit we can develop for ourselves. I invite you to contemplate an answer or action for each case scenario so that by the time it happens, you can be empowered and ready. Yes, it’s exhausting just thinking about it, I’m right there with you. Change is scary, and tiring, and we’ll loose friends in the process. And we don’t have to change if we’re comfortable with the Status Quo, but what if you’re not?

Business agreement deal at coffee shop

Imagine somebody making an advance to you at a job interview, what would you do?

Imagine somebody catcalling you on the street, what would you do?

Imagine your friend telling you they were touched in a way that felt like a violation, what would you say?

Imagine somebody touching you in a way that you feel slimed, what would you do?

Here’s a 3 step action:

  1. Observation
  2. Expression
  3. Request
  4. Reaffirmation, as needed

What does that look like in real life?

People have been touching my hair since I was a child, without my permission nor my request, they just helped themselves. Hair is a body part, it’s connected to my nervous system and I prefer people staying away from it especially if they are touching it to give themselves pleasure.Β A gentleman touched my hair a few months ago. I’ve known him for a while, he’s a nice man, I don’t have a single bad thing to say about him. He was behind me and he yanked my ponytail, in play, I assume, the way you would a 5 year old child. I turned around immediately, called him back to me in a room full of people and said: “Hello Darling, you pulled my hair, I don’t like it, I prefer you wouldn’t.” He looked at me completely stunned so I reaffirmed: “I prefer people don’t touch my hair, it’s a boundary issue for me.” He agreed and walked away, end of story.

That’s a scenario when you can have the opportunity for a conversation. I’m not a violent person but I do believe in self defense. I invite you to decide what line is not to be crossed for you with coworkers, friends and strangers. Set your boundaries and be ready to fight for them. It may look like a loosing fight right now but I promise you it’s changing. People won’t stay on the sideline any longer, women, and men, won’t be silent as much any more.

People that abuse were abused and/or find cultural validation in their action. We have the opportunity to offer compassion as well as to model the behavior we desire from others. We change the world one small action at a time, one small step at a time. And it will take time, but we can start today. Change comes when we speak up.

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Reach for the Greatest Version of Yourself

Paola

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Talk to Me

We are blessed with many communication tools nowadays that lead us to feel more connected. Between phones, Skype, emails, texts and Facebook messages, we would think that humanity is one big happy party. Unfortunately, the latest research show that in the United States we have an average of 1.2 friends today compared to 3.8 twenty years ago. The word “friend” here is understood as a close relationship, a confident, someone we trust, that we can be open with , vulnerable and authentic.
The issue is not the tool we use, but rather how we use it.
I encourage you to block time very clearly in your life for personal and professional periods. As entrepreneurs, we’re particularly prone to work around the clock. That can lead to burn out, pretty fast. My phone has a “Do Not Disturb” setting from 8pm to 7am. The only noise my device will make is if one of my closest friend or relative calls me. Otherwise, my phone doesn’t emit a sound! My clients and my friends alike know about this. My personal time is sacred, however, I can still be reached in case of emergency.
Emails are probably the top time sucking activity! I encourage you to learn to build an email fast and effectively, it doesn’t need to take 30 minutes, 10 minutes top for something elaborate. Some emails don’t even need an answer. Chain emails are the worst. I invite you to communicate boundaries and preferences when it comes to it. It’s a matter of awareness from the senders and a matter of respect for everybody involved. I’m involved with a couple of organizations and people know to only include me in communication that is 100% relevant to me otherwise i’ll stop reading and hit the Delete button.
Emails are great, however, they can’t replace a real conversation when needed. If an email conversation leads to more than 3 emails without a clear understanding of the outcome, do pick up the phone or set up a time to talk. That will save time, frustration or possible resentment.
Texting is one of my favorite thing. It’s quick, practical, to the point. I love using it to communicate affection and gratitude. I absolutely love texting! That being said, that mode of communication doesn’t fit every situation. It’s more personal than emails so it may not be as appropriate for all situations. It can sometimes lead to confusion due to the small format and how our brain processes the information. More than 3 sentences in a text is an indication than an email or a conversation is needed. More than 3 texts in a row without a clear understanding of the outcome is a sign that a conversation is needed. I invite you to pick up the phone or schedule a talk.
I also put a time response depending on the communication. Text are returned within a few hours. Emails are returned with 24 hours during business days. Phone calls are returned the same day if received before 3pm, before noon the next business day if received after 3pm. There may be some resisteance from some people that feel the need to get an answer immediately. I encourage to stand on your sacred ground, protect your sanity and let them write their story.
Understanding my preferences and my needs for time and communication as lead me to put that system together. It has saved me so much time and aggravation. It has built stronger relationships and has made me extremely efficient! So I have more time for my personal life and self care, who wouldn’t want that?
It can be very easy to hide behind our phones, that’s a behavior that will keep us disconnected from others and make human relations more difficult. All those tools are amazing as long as they serve connection instead of fear and laziness. Connecting with others can be very hard, I know. I invite you to build awareness and check in with individuals. Everybody is different, everyone has a preferred method of communication and preferred time of day to communicate. I have never been turned down on a request when figuring out what people prefer. If anything, they were grateful I cared enough to ask!
I invite you to figure out what works for you so you can communicate it to others and be curious about what others prefer. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Connect with me on your favorite channel πŸ™‚
Reach for the greatest version of yourself!
Paola
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How you treat the help

One of the most important things in your life is the company your keep. We often hear that we are the average of the top 5 people or influences in our life. In that regard, I put a system a few years ago to vet the people in my life, from friends to clients as well as service providers. I want to surround myself with people I can learn from and that inspire me.
One part of that system is to pay attention to how one treats individuals that work for them or provide a service to them. For example, you’re at a restaurant for a business lunch and you notice that the person is very nice to you, very professional and focused, however, that same seemingly lovely individual is offering a very different side of themselves to the server. You start witnessing, agitation, frustration, sarcasm and belittling remarks.
In my opinion, how one treats the people that provide for us, the Help, that work for us is very telling about a person’s character. I personally prefer consistency when it comes to values and behaviors. That person at the restaurant may be very nice to you today, but may treat you, and/or speak about you one day, the same way than the server. I invite you to figure out if you’re comfortable with that or not.
Consistency is important because it offers a sense of safety and security. What if I want to refer a friend or a client to someone? I’d like to know how they’ll be treated. If there is no consistency of character, or the person adjust the behavior depending on self serving motivations, that person will not get my business or referrals. Will they get yours? There is no right or wrong answer to this. I found that it’s most productive to figure certain things in advance so one can waste as little time as possible on building a network of influence: the top 5.

So what will be your top influencers. They may already be in your life, if not, what would they look like, which attributes would they have? What inspires you?

Reach for the greatest version of yourself!

Paola
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“It’s my time now!”

For all the Al Pacino fans out there, do you remember that scene in the Devil’s Advocate with Keenu Reeves when Al’s character, the Devil, claims: “This is my time Now!” ? I’ve always loved that part. I believe there is a pivotal time for each of us in our lives, sometimes several times in a lifetime, that tips the scale and leads us to glory. I told a dear friends months ago: “this is our time now” referring to the women movement. The recent events have shown that this is going forward at an exponential rate. I’m beyond excited at the prospect of the feminine being more present in our world, there are strengths and skills to be shared that will make a difference. I also want to share some words of wisdom and caution for the feminine and the masculine.
The feminine may enter this new phase with assertiveness and gusto, and not always enough experience to express in a kind way what we have been repressing for so long. I think of myself as a rather vocal person, and I know I have learnt to be quiet because it was expected or because it required less energy than to convey my true feelings of frustration. As we communicate more freely, we may enter a phase called by Marshall Rosenberg, the “obnoxious phase”. Verbalization is taking place, not always as compassionately and productively as it could be. It’s part of the process though. It won’t be perfect, but at least, it will be happening. Keep going, tweak as you go.
The masculine will have a hard time too. Not for the obvious reason that the men used to getting their way no longer will, but for the kind men that unknowingly have raised themselves offering micro aggression and never knew they were a source of pain. That’s because they were never told. I request patience for the masculine that does wish to be part of the new movement but was never held to develop the vulnerability the feminine craves.I especially feel for them as they have actively supported the feminine, we just didn’t give them all the tools to do the ultimate job. We believe we must be kind and understanding. This is going to be a big change.
I applaud any individual that has the courage to look at life in a different angle and change their way to best honor their authenticity.
Regardless at which stage of your life you do it, know that you are victorious. Some people will die and never experience that glory. High Five to you!

Reach for the greatest version of yourself!

Paola
Grow

Going at it alone?

One of the greatest act of courage in my opinion is not to find the strength to do it all, being independent or self sufficient. One of the greatest act of courage is to ask for help.Being courageous to me is knowing oneself, our strength and limitations, while finding the collaborators to bridge the gap to get to where we want to be.

Nothing in our world is self sufficient, everything is connecting and interacting with many other organisms and modalities. The cycle of life of plants are a perfect undeniable example: they need water and sunshine, and then birds and bees to populate. It’s team work.

How wonderful would it be to let ourselves go to the undeniable fact that we need others to survive, to grow, to complete our destiny, to fully live our story. We need many mirrors in our lives to reflect who we are, who we deny ourselves to be. On many occasions, we deny our heart to beat at its own rhythm, we deny the very fiber of our being to unravel into our authentic self. We tame our wildest dreams for fear to be ridiculed or end up alone.

I could blame our culture for it, I really think it’s just part of the human condition. We are gifted with free will and with so many opportunities, by our very nature, that the torture of becoming is the source of the most joy.

Some of us torture ourselves more than others. Some of us just go dormant and miss the show all together.

I always say: the heart never lies. Your head will tell you stories, your ego will distract you, but your heart will never lie to you. We don’t always want to listen, that’s all.

The word courage comes from the french word “coeur” which means “heart”. I invite you to listen to your heart as much as you can. That is the way, that is the only way to live your authentic story. Many people will come along the way to help you listen to your heart, to help your heart beat stronger and faster. We don’t go at it alone, and the story is not over until the last heartbeat.

Be courageous Darlings, for this is in you, it is your nature, it is yours to be and have.

Reach for the greatest version of yourself.

Paola.

Grow

Where’s your power?

If you follow my blog, you already know that I purchased a new-to-me car a few months ago. She rocks my socks off and she’s been so good to me so far. One thing I learnt about used cars is that they develop some personality traits after a few years. So when my Sterling decides to flash one way or another, or the door doesn’t shut for 24 hours, I just let it go. It never lasts, she’s having a moment, that’s all.

Her moment the other day was to have the clock reset itself to zero. I put the clock back to the right time once, I let it go the second time. I reflected on why I need a clock in my vehicle when I already practice perfect timing, I’m never late and I have the time on my phone anyway.

I grew up in an hostile and violent environment. One of the consequences of that childhood as an adult is working towards staying away from unsafe environmentsΒ  and developing some overly controlling tendencies. I work at letting stuff go,almost everyday.

The clock in my car only reminds me that it took me 30 minutes instead of 15 to get to my destination. It’s a constant reminder that it can be challenging driving around a million people metropolis.Sometimes the clock reassures me that I’m on time, that being said, I’m always on time. I’d rather focus on being confident rather than needing reassurance. The first is power, the second is passive.

Being reassured has it’s place, it can be important. In the case of time, and my clock, I don’t find it necessary.

So where is your power? Your power is in realizing what you can’t change and stepping into what you can change.

You can’t change the weather, people’s impression of you or the fact that you will die one day. I invite you to spend time as little time as possible on those items.

What do you have power over? Your attitude, your goals and the company you keep. I invite you to spend as much time as you’d like on those items.

So the clock in my car is blank, I now have more head space to focus on my purpose πŸ™‚

Reach for the greatest version of yourself!

Paola

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