Internal vs external input

There’s a note on my desk that says, “Where’s the helpful external input?”

It’s from my notes about personality types for my upcoming course, Making Better Business Decisions. For introverts who shun external input, or for those of us struggling to use social media as a positive tool, rather than a massive time and energy suck, this question feels important.

And it is important to understand why we sometimes crave external input, and other times run from it. Sometimes we just want someone else to give us the answers, and other times we want everyone to back off.

For me, positive external input includes educating myself and receiving help and encouragement. It might be a book, a podcast, a coaching session, or a pep talk from a friend. Sometimes these things don’t work, but I have a list of the things I know usually help on my noticeboard.

When external stuff gets in the way, it’s usually because it’s triggering comparison or negativity in me. That’s when I need to go inside.

In the world of social media and an internet full of advice, opinions, and a million self-proclaimed experts, it’s really easy to get caught up in what other people think, do and decide. It’s easy to compare yourself, to think you “should” do it the same way other people do it (whatever “it” is).

It’s also easy to get totally distracted by world events, arguments, politics, and despair. Not that these things are always distractions – sometimes they need our urgent and active attention. But when you’re running a business and avoiding your good and necessary work, they can be distraction of the highest order.

So. Where’s the helpful input?

Who are your trusted advisors and guides? Why do you trust them? When do you seek them out?

Which areas of your business require external education or input?

Which areas of your business are 100% your realm?

Do you need to dial up your external input? Or do you need to dial it down?

Not all external guidance is intrinsically bad (hi, I guide people for a living), but when we give all our power away to other people on the internet or in our immediate vicinity, we’re not really living our dreams or building the business we really want.

More soon

To discover more about how you process internal vs external input and other decision-making processes, stay tuned! I’m working on something good for all of us.

The beauty of working with a coach or mentor

Before I dive in, just a note about language: I’m currently pondering my own relationship with the words “coach” and “mentor”. I believe they’re different, but I also believe I do both. So please forgive that I use both in this article. Other business mentors or coaches probably have different opinions on this distinction.

As I return from maternity leave, I’ve had some pretty good reminders of what it’s like to start up in business. All that excitement, but also all those questions you have: Should I do this thing? What about that? How do I prioritise? Who am I targeting? What should I focus on?

And on and on…

Just like when I first started out, I’ve had to become my first client again. I sit with my own questions, and I ask myself what I’d ask a client. What’s really important this year, this month, this week? Who’s going to benefit most from my work? How do I really want to show up?

It’s incredibly easy to get taken over by questions, fire-fighting and comparison, or even imposter syndrome.

Here are a few ways working with a good mentor or coach can help:

They’ll hear what’s really important to you.

A good coach is trained to hear what you’re saying beneath the actual words you say. You might feel like you’re just talking or perhaps have a bit of verbal diarrhea, but those of us with an attuned ear hear so much. And we reflect that back to you. Or we ask a pertinent question. We help to guide you towards clarity.

They’ll help you stay focused and accountable.

Usually, with all the listening and the questions and the talking, we reach a point where we know the focus you need. You see it, too. There’s a first step, and a second, and you take it from there. A good mentor will help you find a way to take that first step, and stay accountable a few steps down the line, so you don’t get distracted by things that aren’t on your important list.

They’ll see things you don’t.

A fresh pair of eyes on your business and your personal strengths and weaknesses can be invaluable. A business coach will spot opportunities you haven’t, and will share insights on your business structure, marketing, customers, brand and more (depending on their unique skills). If you run your business without a partner or business manager, this can give you so much: more money and profit, more energy, more enthusiasm – and less time-wasting.

You’ll learn how to work through decisions and problems.

Sometimes, you might work with a mentor to get through a big change or a big decision in your business. But if you work with someone over a longer period of time – say six months or more – you learn so much about how to approach different situations. Making one decision is great, but learning the skill of decision-making has a long-term payoff. A coach has insights and questions and ways of thinking about things that will boost your business skills for years to come.

They’ll champion you and your business goals.

The thing about having a coach is that they’re on your team. Which is exactly what you need if you’re a business of one! Friends and family are great, but coaches have the professional and business knowledge so that they not only boost your mood, but also get you doing the best things for your business. It’s such a relief to know someone is on your side.

I could probably go on and on! Depending on where you are in your business journey, there are loads of ways a business mentor or coach can help you. If you’re starting out, they can help you get going. If you’re building on the early years, they can help you find your stride. If you’re considering a shift or pivot, they can help you see and make that transition.

There are so many options

There are loads of business mentors and coaches available these days (certainly many more than when I started in 2014!). Find someone you like, who has experience that will help you, who says the things you need to hear.

If that person is me, or could be me, I’d love to hear from you. I work with business owners (mostly women) who are in various stages of business, usually creative. I help them to understand themselves and their businesses better, in order to make better business decisions.

Get in touch and set up a free chat to find out if we’re a good fit!

(Thinking of becoming a mentor or wanting to improve or establish your mentoring business? I’m going to be launching some resources for you later this year. Get in touch to get the info when it’s ready!)

Believe: my word for 2020

It’s that time of year!

So many of you choose your own words for the year these days, and I loooooove hearing about them.

It’s also a delight to reflect on not only the past 12 months but the last few years, the journey of words I’ve been on.

Anyway, I thought I’d share a little reflection on last year (my word was grow), as well as introducing my word for 2020: believe.

Growing in 2019

In 2019, I wanted to grow: my business, my belly, my family, my integrity. You can read about my intentions here.

And I did grow, in lots of ways. I grew a tiny human. I grew in confidence, and I certainly grew in clarity. Something about becoming a mother has made me very clear on what I’m doing and what there isn’t room for, which is honestly pretty amazing.

This was part of growing in 2019! Taken by @girl_behindthelens in June 2019.

What I couldn’t anticipate is how much 2019 would show me the depth of my own resilience. A lot happened in 2019, including a lot of hospital visits, and that required a lot of strength – strength I didn’t really know I had.

From a business point of view, I knew it would be challenging to grow my business in a profit / turnover sense while taking maternity leave. So my expectations weren’t exactly huge from that point of view. But I did grow my client list in the first half of the year, which is a key growth indicator for me: I want to help people in their businesses, and I did just that.

I still think about feeling good, feeling bad and feeling right in an atmosphere of growth. This phrase from Gretchen Rubin has really stuck with me, and I’m not done with the concept of growth at all. I think that’s one of the magic things about choosing a word: they stay with you beyond the year.

2020: the year of believe

Our beliefs influence our actions, consciously and unconsciously.

If I’ve learnt anything over the last few years, it’s that what we believe has a significant impact on what we achieve, how we feel and how we think about ourselves and our work.

This year, I’m ready to review and redefine my beliefs. I want to work in a way that’s aligned with what I truly believe, and I want to weed out some of the unhealthy beliefs that hold me back.

I want to do work that I really believe in. I want to share my beliefs openly, honestly, so that they reach the people who will find solace, inspiration, support in them.

And, at the simplest level, I want to believe in myself. I could do with some specific care in this area, especially as I shift into balancing work and motherhood.

I’ve started asking myself big questions, like “What do I believe in?”, “What do I believe about money, work, motherhood, creativity?” and “How would my to do list change if I believed in myself fully?”

And I’m loving getting started…

Using radical honesty to support this journey

While I was reflecting on the year past and the year ahead, the concept of radical honesty came springing out.

I think I have to be radically honest with myself, so that I can get to the bottom of my beliefs.

And I have to be radically honest about my beliefs and, well, pretty much everything as I get back into work, back into being The Jenny Pace.

It does feel a bit edgy. And to be clear, it’s not that I haven’t been honest in the past. It’s more like another stripping away of the layers that I might have been holding on to.

How’s your year (and word) going?

Have you chosen a word? Or made a resolution? Or set an intention? How’s it feeling to you?

I’d love to hear!

Until soon,

Jenny x

PS If you’d like to get blogs via email each week, you can sign up here.

PPS I have two coaching-mentoring spots available right now, for three or six sessions. Read more here and get in touch if you’d like support creating and achieving your business goals in 2020.

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