I Found My Voice (and I didn’t even know it was missing)

A few years ago I was on the executive board of a non-profit organization that was being steered in the wrong direction by an executive director who was, quite simply, power-hungry. In his self-focused ambition to contort the mission of the organization to suit his own personal needs and desires, he had lost sight of the goals and purposes of the organization and the needs of the people we were trying to serve.

For months I wrestled with how to influence the situation in a positive manner. Long discussions with him and among the board and other leaders repeatedly led to no real resolution. When his behavior moved into the arena of being unethical and he refused to hear any voice but his own, I made the difficult decision to resign from my position as Secretary of the Board. I could no longer align myself with something that was simply not right. I had found my voice.

Within two days, more than half of the remaining board members resigned as well. They, too, had found their voices. While I had had no intention whatsoever to lead a mass exodus of board members, I had not realized that so many of the others felt the same way I did and had been afraid to say anything or take any action. I was immediately shunned by the director, who firmly rejected my offer to continue to serve in a less visible capacity on the advisory board. He also refused to even let me volunteer in any capacity within the organization.

As a direct result of me (and others) finding and using our voices, there was a subsequent overhaul in the leadership structure of the organization and today I both volunteer in the office and serve on the advisory board. The former director has “moved on.”

You may be asking yourself right about now, “Why is she telling me all this?” My reason is simple – to encourage you that in the face of a difficult situation you can and must find and use your voice to affect the positive change that needs to take place. As in my situation, you may not realize that others agree with you and are simply waiting for someone to take the lead and speak out.

And even if they don’t, speaking up and using your influence to affect change is empowering. Whether it is in the voting booth or the board room, from the sidewalk to the sandwich shop, find your voice and use it. Don’t be afraid of what others might think, say or do. Your approach to life and the situations you encounter is as unique as you are, and your voice really does matter.

So, clear your throat and step up to the microphone. Speak up. Speak out. Be the positive influence that will make the difference.

Watch brief video by John Maxwell on “Voice.”



The “DUH” Moment

Beefy (Turkey) Tater Tot Casserole (cheese will be added later)

As I sit here working from home today, the savory aroma of a new-to-me dinner recipe is filling my little abode – and once I again I feel compelled to state my undying affection for the individual who dreamed up the Crock pot. I wonder if they knew just how thankful so many busy women would one day be that they pursued their dream and made it a reality.

I read an article this week about boosting your creativity. One of the things the author recommended was to make a “bug list” – things that annoy you. Chances are that if something irritates you, it probably also irritates someone else. The idea then is to look for possible solutions. This can understandably lead to an idea for a new product or service.

True creativity is unpredictable and new ideas can come in the most unexpected ways, times and places. More often then not, the most innovative ideas come not from hours of laborious brainstorming, but when we finally reach the end of our rational understanding and walk away from the proverbial box. For me, it is typically accompanied by a “DUH” moment, when what comes out of my mouth is something along the lines of, “Can it really be that easy?” or “How could I have not seen this before?”

We are created in the image of God, who Himself is a creative being. One of the traits that sets us apart from the rest of Creation is the ability to ourselves be creative. We express it in a variety of ways. Don’t limit your thinking about creativity as only relating to visual, musical and other types of art. If you aren’t particularly talented in those areas, it’s easy to think you are not a creative being – but you are! Creativity can express itself through thinking of a better way to do something, or through applying a revised application to something. My husband is a mechanic and not especially creative in the artistic sense of the word. But he is very creative when it comes to finding workaround solutions for things when the standard either is not available or for some reason is no longer effective.

Even altering a recipe to suit your own individual needs and taste is an expression of creativity. As for the Beefy Tater Tot Casserole that is warming its way to perfection in my Crock pot at this very moment, I substituted the beef with ground turkey (cheaper and healthier). I also saved $3 by substituting the called-for Velveeta cheese with a can of Cheddar Cheese Soup.

So, dear entrepreneur – get out there and innovate! You are created to be creative! Creativity is at the heart of American ingenuity and it fuels the spirit of entrepreneurship itself. What’s on your “bug list?” Is there a possible business opportunity in there somewhere?

For your reading enjoyment:
3 Easy Exercises to Boost Your Creativity by Nadia Goodman

Hang in There – Seasons Change

Road Through Forest

Somehow the summer has begun to slip away and here we are at the threshold of Autumn. As September gets underway, I eagerly anticipate the cooler temperatures, yummy fragrances (like pumpkin spice candles) and all the sights, sounds and activities that are unique to my favorite time of the year.

I think the reason I love Autumn so much is that it means I have made it through another crazy hot Texas summer (my least favorite of the seasons). It is as though my soul breathes a sigh of relief and begins to reach out for the favored things that now seem somehow closer and within reach.

As a business owner, I encounter seasons like this in my business as well – when I have somehow made it through the heat of an especially tough time and am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and can allow myself to get excited about what lies ahead.

Today, in a departure from the usual biz blog fare of passing along some frugal marketing idea or great new gadget, I want rather to encourage you, my fellow entrepreneur, to simply hang in there. It is no breaking news that these are tough economic times and that many of us have launched our own businesses because we were downsized, outsourced or simply set aside for one reason or another. Despite what some might want us to believe, we did build it, and because we built it, we are financially and emotionally invested in it to a degree that some will never fully understand.

If you are currently facing a season in your business that is uncertain, there are a few things I want you to know:

1. You are not alone. Many of us are in the same boat right now, and we need each other.

2. It will get better. We live in a country that has been blessed with a creative and determined collective entrepreneurial spirit. When times got hard for those who have gone before us, they found a way to get through it and thrive on the other side of it. We can and will do the same.

3. Your personal value is not attached to the success of your business. You are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God Himself. He adores you and chases after you with a fervor that you will never comprehend. If you close the doors to your business tomorrow, He will not love you any less.

So be encouraged. Continue doing what is right and good in the management of your business. Seasons change, and this one will give way to the next in due time. Stand firm in whatever God has put inside you to do. It will be worth it in the end.

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good.

At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” 

~ Galatians 6:9 ~