Willpower is Overrated
I knew I was in trouble. Alarm bells were firing off in my head as Emily, clearly excited with her next challenge, lined us up across from each other on separate ends of the stage. “Now, without saying anything, look in your partner’s eyes. When I start the music, I want you to keep eye contact and dance toward each other in slow motion.”
Being on stage already scared me. Locking eyes with my partner Tonya Cornelisse for two straight minutes, being vulnerable AND on a stage, snapped me back to the least confident version of myself. Fighting to keep eye contact, I turned into the shy 10-year-old I used to be.
Definition of Insanity
Life lasts longer than a 90 day sprint. In real life, despite our best efforts, we gain all the weight back. It makes you wonder why you bother at all. In fact, relying on just your willpower is worse than doing nothing because each failure chips away at your confidence.
In the last year, I am proud to say that I have burrowed my way into a new headspace. I can see the difference between the mental game that I was playing, that was always bound with a beginning and an end, and real life.
What’s the biggest difference? It’s gotta be fun.
I know this sounds like a tall order. Adulting is supposed to be hard work, right? We are taught to “put away childish things” when we grow up. Peter Pan and all.
But think about it. Why go to all the effort to create a new life that you hate?
If you don’t find some enjoyment in your new behavior or habit, it won’t last. If it won’t last, it won’t serve you.
If You Can't Love Yourself…
I don’t know why I went out for Track. I hated running. I loved getting in shape by playing soccer but I didn’t put any effort into getting in shape FOR soccer.
Looking back, I can see my mental error with seeking a shorter race that I could master. My competitors were in better shape than me, no matter what distance we ran. I had no sense of preparation as a teenager. Now I plan for things, mostly because I have to.
But I still suffer from the same mental errors.
You Can't Buy It
Why are we so hard on ourselves?
It doesn’t matter how confident I feel on the outside. There is always an internal voice, acting like a watchdog, working overtime, to steer me away from things that might cause me harm.
And apparently that inner guide sometimes takes me back to middle school!
Is he really just trying to keep me safe?
The way my alarm bells go off, it feels like every new situation is a middle school dance:
every person I meet is going to see the vulnerable, scared adolescent with the trembling voice
every new client is going to see that I’m an imposter
I will fumble my chance to make a first impression
and EVERYONE will laugh at me when they see my moves on the dance floor!
Does my inner guide have my best interests at heart? …or is he just traumatized by past crises?
Could Your Daughter Run for President?
Until you solve it, every challenge looks like a locked door with no handle. Your bad day can be a good story that helps someone else. We don’t give ourselves enough credit for our hard-earned experience. We certainly don’t recognize it as Wisdom.
When you do finally claw your way to the other side of a crisis, you feel like you just barely made it and survived by the skin of your teeth. You may even think it was dumb luck.
You are sitting on experiences that would be useful to someone a few spots back in the game of life. Think about the challenge you dealt with for the last six months, the one you just finally worked your way through.
What would have helped you at that point, six months ago? For me, it helps me to know people who got through it. It expands the possibility that I can succeed, too.
This Might Not Work
One day, your daughter, or niece, may want to run for president. Will she be able to turn to a network that supports her to reach her goal to get elected? A team of women who have been there and know how to guide her? What do we need to start building now to support her run in 2040?
Politics is not the only place we suffer from a huge gap in how we support female leadership. Women in every industry and walk of life have limited options for support, a safe space to ask questions and get answers. They mostly rely on themselves. That’s why I am starting a mentoring group for women. I know. I'm a man. You may wonder 'why me?' I wish there were a million options out there for women to choose from. Sadly there aren't. But the need to support women leadership is so great that I'm starting one now.
Where Are the Wonder MEN?
Over the last six years, each step I took outside of my comfort zone felt like trying to cross a room with no light to guide me. Whether it was my first blog post, walking into my first improv class, or signing a lease for my own office, each step felt like inching out into the darkness.
Without the security of seeing which direction to go or what I was about to trip over, I was forced to rely on my other senses. I inch forward with caution, waiting to bang my head against something I can’t anticipate.
Always Fall to the Right
Last year I attended the Women’s March in Philadelphia. I left energized and inspired. With the energy for change swirling around the crowd, I could feel that I was bearing witness to a movement, connected to millions of people across the world.
Every speaker and every sign made it clear what women need to do: step up, speak up, be counted. But when I got home, I thought long and hard: What can an advocate for gender equity, who happens to be a man, do?
Your Big-Ass Permission Slip
Maggie was cracking me up. She wants to take her physical training (and her business… and her parenting) to the next level. But first she has a battle to fight with ‘clipless’ bike pedals.
“At the beginning I couldn't even move. I was completely paralyzed. Then I rode around in the cul-de-sac. I immediately fell. And I fall to the left. I can’t help my instinct is to go that way. I always fall to the left which is kind of scary because when you're on a road you should really try to fall away from the cars which would be to the right.”
How Big is Your Purse?
Every single force in the world (schools, experts, Pinterest, your relatives) are in on the scam to make you feel like you are doing too little. That is a recipe for stressed-out parents AND stressed-out kids. You CAN do less. I am pulling out a post-it and scribbling you a BIG ASS PERMISSION SLIP… to back. the f*ck. off.
The Year She Leapt
It’s an old joke that a mom is better prepared than an Eagle Scout for the next act of God, toothache, or head injury. But I don't believe that we can afford to joke about this anymore.
The working mom is THE ENGINE that powers your family every day from dawn to dusk, then cleans it all up and starts again.
Dear Dad-who-could-do (a-little) more,
What is Stacy’s greatest superpower? Creativity.
“I don’t think of myself as a creative person, naturally. I think of creativity as a practice. It’s a skill! It has to be developed. Even if you can only do it a couple minutes a day, just keep doing it. There’s a path there for you if you follow that passion. Eventually, it will all make sense.”
Watching ‘Wonder Woman’ with my daughter
I handed that baby back to her when she got home and breathed a sigh of relief. Mentally, I went off duty. And like most of her life as a mother and a wife, she went back on 24/7 duty. Where do you think she is finding time “for herself”? She isn’t.
She thought my invitation was a transparent effort to show her an example of a powerful woman. It wasn't. I was already sitting next to a powerful woman.