No More Mommy Guilt!

April 5, 2010

There has been a theme to my life this past month, and although I was enthralled by Seth Godin’s Linchpin, which really makes us think about being indispensable in our work lives, in the back of my mind I couldn’t stop thinking about being indispensable for my children. And, it’s not so much that I want them to see me as something they can’t live without (yes, I’ll take that too!) as much as I want to believe…know in my gut…that I’ve done what is within my power to help them develop as Linchpins themselves.

I was invited in March to attend an event where Stephen Covey was speaking about how the 7 Habits are now being taught to children as young as 5 years old in schools across the U.S.. I was not able to make the engagement, but coincidentally, I received an invitation to a webinar about this new movement and the book that describes it– The Leader in Me. Well, I was positively floored with what I heard and saw. And, happy that so many schools are now making it a priority to teach children how to take personal responsibility for their thoughts, actions, feelings, and see themselves as leaders beginning at a young age. Mostly, though, I became motivated to begin this process at home with my children.

My family and close friends know that I have a sign in my bedroom that reads “No More Mommy Guilt!” Mommies out there…you know what I mean! I’ve been able to wipe away the good majority of this guilt from my life, but it does creep in during stressful times. So I decided to take action after I received this email that sounded too close to home this month:

From Raising Small Souls:
If a recording were to be made of the interaction between a parent and her child on a typical day, studies show that it would sound something like this:

“Take your shoes off the couch.”
“Get your shoes on already.”
“Hurry up!”
“Don’t yell.”
“We’re late, hurry!”
“Food belongs in the kitchen.”
“Oh! Look at the mess you made!”
“What do you mean, you can’t find your shoes?”
“Did you brush your teeth?”
“Where was the other shoe?”
“Finish up, we’ve gotta go!”

How do we stop this tape from continuously running in our homes? I now have a thesis I hope to prove that implementing the 7 Habits at home will dramatically help us all to shift out of this type of one-way chatter and into a self-led proactive communication and action model. Cross your fingers (along with me!). I’m going for it.

So, for you Mommies (and Daddies!) who want to join me in implementing the 7 Habits at home, this is my Relaxed Book Club topic of the month (maybe not so relaxed this time!).

You can find The Leader in Me in book stores, and you can download the Parent’s Guide for less than $5.

Here’s to creating the most adorable bunch of Linchpins at home!

I hope you will become inspired as well and join me!

In the spirit of leadership,

Monique… the “no more mommy guilt” Mommy!

My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.

by cruel shoes

“I didn’t set out to get you to quit your job or to persuade you to become an entrepreneur or merely to change the entire world. All I wanted to do in this book was to sell you on being the artist you already are. To make a difference. To stand for something. To get the respect and security you deserve.”

It is clear to me that Godin’s goal in writing this book (Linchpin) is simple: Know your power. Live your art. Have no regrets. If you do these three things, you may very well achieve the fulfillment in life you’ve always desired; enjoy your career and hobbies, and be surrounded by individuals who truly see you, appreciate you, and want you to thrive. In fact, they won’t be able to live without you.

You can’t live this kind of life if you let your lizard brain dominate. No. Surrender the cog tendencies of conformity, obedience, and compliance. Instead, you should embody passion, compassion, dignity, humanity, and generosity. Know your gifts and be generous with them. Connect with others in meaningful ways with your gifts. This cycle of gift giving should never end. Be indispensable.

Because so many of us at times feel stuck in our careers, however, I feel it is important to share Godin’s perspective of thinking– “My boss won’t let me.” Gosh, I’ve been there (just like you!), but how’s this for an “aha” moment:

“You think your boss won’t let you (be an “artist”), at the very same moment that your boss can’t understand why you won’t contribute more insight or enthusiasm. In most non-cog jobs, the boss’s biggest lament is that her people won’t step up and bring their authentic selves to work.”

Does this change your mind at all? See…it all truly lies within. Don’t give your power away, embrace it and decide to be a Linchpin. As we’ve discussed in earlier blogs this month, being a Linchpin is a CHOICE.

How can you be more authentic and bring more insight and enthusiasm to your job? Imagine that you are doing so in this moment and see how energized you feel.

If you are still a bit stuck with finding your “art,” ponder upon this question I came across on one of my favorite blogger’s (D. LaPorte) posting’s– “What’s dying to be born?” I just adore this question, and have written it on my work board so that I can ask it of myself over and over, so that I don’t stop creating my art.

And, now, I ask you… What’s dying to be born?”

Wouldn’t it be great if your co-workers and your boss begin to ask you, “Who are you, and where have you been hiding?” Nice.

Know your power. Live your art. Have no regrets. Go do it.

I will leave you with some food for thought Godin shares at the end of the book (And, Seth, thanks for the gift of your book!):

Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.

Sing in your own voice.

Do the work. Please.

Don’t worry about finding inspiration, it comes eventually.

You are responsible for your own experience.

Ignore everybody.

Avoid the water cooler gang.

The hardest part of being creative is getting used to it.

Dying young is overrated.

Live young at HeART, and prosper!



My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.

In Linchpin, Godin refers to “Ship” or “Shipping” as the action we take when we embrace our art energetically and “sprint,” or focus all of our effort on the art until we achieve our intended goal.

How do we know when it’s time to ship?
First, we need to ensure that we’ve silenced the resistance (or lizard brain) and selected the right art to ship. Let’s stop here. Are you asking yourself, “What do you mean the ‘right art’? We have more than one?” Absolutely. Take Godin’s example, here:

“Van Gogh wasn’t wired to paint. Paint was the medium available to him at the time. If he had lived today, perhaps he would have marketed organic tofu. It’s not predetermined that you’ll hold a paintbrush or write a symphony. That means you have to choose your art. It’s not preordained; there isn’t only one art for you…If you pick something that’s beneath you, then the resistance will win. Trivial art isn’t worth the trouble it takes to produce it…If it’s not, dream bigger.”

Remember that our lizard brain wants to distract us. It wants us to be workaholics who fill our hours with meaningless, busy work. When the lizard brain is at hand we choose bad ideas or trivial art, and either our feelings of anxiety or insignificance get the best of us.
Godin uses his own personal examples to show us how to SHIP. He shares,

“Am I some sort of prodigy? I don’t think so. I ship. I don’t get in the way of the muse, I fight the resistance, and I ship. I do this by not doing an enormous number of tasks that are perfect stalling devices, ideal ways of introducing the resistance into our lives.”

Here’s an easy-to-follow synopsis of his process for Shipping with a solid platform (with a nautical theme for fun!):

1. Choose your Destination (or art: project, idea, event, etc.). Make sure it is not trivial, but energizes you, inspires you, and brings out the artist in you.

a. Can’t find that inspiration? Give yourself 30 minutes to come up with 10 ideas! This type of brainstorming session quiets the lizard and enables us to sprint for a short period and connect with inspiration. I tried this yesterday. I focused on one topic—coaching, and within 10 SECONDS I came up with a great idea that I plan to put through this process.

2. Select your Ship Date and post it up on a wall where you see it daily. This is your non-negotiable launch date.
3. Go Fish. Fishing will definitely be a part of your journey. Use your preferred method to capture all of your ideas (index cards, journal, word doc, etc.)
4. Create Motion in the Ocean. Review what you’ve captured, and capture more (when you think you’ve brainstormed enough…do more of it!)
5. Map your Trip. What are the coordinates that will get you to your destination? This is when you take what you’ve captured and create your map (timeline, resources, business plan, etc.).
6. Round up your Crew. A ship does not endure with just its captain. It needs a solid crew. Gather those who can approve, cancel, suggest, own (investors) and who care about your Destination. Review your map with them. Make any changes to your plans based on their feedback.
7. Ship. Here’s the key, though. Only ship when you get the “YES” from your crew. Are they in or out? They are your platform and you need them in order to reach your destination.

So now that you’ve shipped, how do ensure you succeed? Godin offers the regimen of Leo Babauta, author of Zen Habits, which looks like this:

1. Attempt only one significant work a year.
2. Break it into smaller projects.
3. Find three tasks to accomplish each day that get you closer to completion.
4. Do these in less than one hour each day (focused work, or “sprinting”).

Today, take some time to ponder what your days are filled with. Are you being an artist today (or tomorrow, or the next day)? If your days happened to be filled with meaningless “cog” work, and you find yourself just “looking busy,” consider shaking things up. The lizard is definitely at play and is happy you are not tapping into your inner artist.
Do yourself a favor. Locate your destination. Chart your course. Be your own captain. Do it today.


My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.

As a child I remember watching the movie, Sybil. My heart hurt for her and everything she endured because of her illness. While watching, I remember wondering, “Who is the real Sybil.” I wanted her to experience that desperately as well.

You and I may not be Sybil and experience multiple personalities, but don’t you sometimes feel like there is more than one of you? Don’t you catch yourself looking up to the sky sometimes and asking for help? You may find yourself saying, “Who the hell am I?” “Why does one voice tell me go and the other stop?” “Why am I happy today and pissed tomorrow?” Yes…we’ve all been there.

Well, if you read my last blog about Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?you know that you kinda do have two of you in there somewhere. In fact, according to Godin,

“There are two almond-shaped bits in everyone’s brain. Scientists call these amygdale, and this mini-brain apparently takes over whenever you are angry, afraid, aroused, hungry, or in search of revenge. It’s only recently that our brains evolved to allow big thoughts, generosity, speech, consciousness, and yes, art…The new part is the neocortex…In the face of screaming resistance from the amygdale, the rest of the brain is helpless. It freezes and surrenders. The lizard takes over and tries to protect itself…So the two parts duke it out. And, when put on alert, the lizard brain wins, every time, unless you’ve established new habits and better patterns—patterns that keep the lizard at bay.”

See, you’re not crazy! You can take a deep breath now. But, you may be asking, how do we go from “we” to “I”? “How do I quiet that lizard voice in my head?”

Well, I’m about half-way through the book and Godin is already sharing a few tips for getting back more of your power; your true voice. He alluded to it above by suggesting we must create “new habits and better patterns.” Here are four tough ones to create. Get ready to work hard!:

Seek out discomfort. In fact, we must go out of our way to be uncomfortable. (Are you beginning to sweat already?) Godin says: “Ironically, it’s those who seek out discomfort that are able to make a difference and find their footing.”
Forget Plan B. Remember that safe, plan b we’ve always created? Come on, you know what I’m talking about! Godin believes: “You’ve probably guessed what happens when you have a great backup plan: You end up settling for the backup. As soon as you say, ‘I’ll try my best,’ instead of ‘I will,’ you’ve opened the door for the lizard.”
Look for the bad ideas. Seriously? “Yes,” says Godin. “Finding good ideas is surprisingly easy once you deal with the problem of finding the bad ideas. Every creative person I know generates a slew of laughable ideas for every good one.”
Listen and do it anyway. Listen to the lizard (it will always talk to you!), and do it anyway! Read that book, push forward with that new idea, say what’s on your mind, etc. Godin shares, “The lizard hates it when you read books like this one.”
When what you are doing is isn’t working, do things differently, right? Let’s give it a shot, folks. Simply thinking of attempting to do the four steps listed above stirs up quite a bit of “uncomfortable(ness)” for me.  I’m sure the same is true for you, because our “Sybil” (lizard brain) is at play. Feel the fear? I think, then, that working on step 1 is key—feeling uncomfortable. I’m up for it, are you?

Let me close by discussing confidence as Godin does as well. It takes confidence to even attempt to be successful at creating the above new habits. So, how do you build confidence? A little bit at a time. And, as you achieve small successes, you’ll begin to bring increased confidence with you to your new habits and actions, raising your feelings of success.

Finally, you can increase your confidence by “pumping yourself up”. There are so many ways to do this, but one I find truly enjoyable is reading The Optimists Creed. Here is an enjoyable version.

Tell that lizard that your eternal optimist is alive, kicking, and ready for a tough match!

Have an inspired week!


My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.

“At the age of four, you were an artist. And at seven, you were a poet. And by the time you were twelve, if you had a lemonade stand, you were an entrepreneur. Of course you can do something that matters. I guess I’m wondering if you want to.” –Seth Godin

I can’t seem to put down this book. It is intriguing and activating. It shows us why the organizational model of the past no longer works and why we must decide to be Linchpins in order to connect with our inner genius and artist (yes, our inner child) and become indispensable, despite the economic woes we are experiencing. However, as Godin clearly asks above, “Do you want to be indispensable?” It is not that you can’t—we all can. But, it is clearly a choice.

So what about this outdated organizational model? Why doesn’t it work?
According to Godin: “The system we grew up with is based on a simple formula: Do your job. Show up. Work hard. Listen to the boss. Stick it out. Be part of the system. You’ll be rewarded.” Sound familiar? The new system is different. It is one that creates leaders who live without a map. The new system “Requires a different attitude. It requires you to be a linchpin. Linchpins are the essential building blocks of tomorrow’s high-value organizations.”

But, again, it is clear that becoming a Linchpin is a choice. You must decide that you want to go against the grain and embrace (or find) your inner voice, your genius, your desire to be an ARTIST, to be REMARKABLE, and to be generous with your ideas and your self. Linchpins don’t have job titles or descriptions; they do what is necessary to get the desired results; they look for a true win-win… always. Linchpins “Leverage something internal, not external, to create a position of power and value.”

Are you ready to make that internal SHIFT to become indispensable?

If you answered “yes”, then you must shut off your lizard brain! Godin explains that our internal resistance (or lizard brain) prevents us from developing those skills which make us indispensable.

“The lizard brain is hungry, scared, angry, and horny. The lizard brain will fight (to the death) if it has to, but would rather run away. It likes a vendetta and has no trouble getting angry. The lizard brain cares what everyone else thinks, because status in the tribe is essential to its survival. A squirrel runs around looking for nuts, hiding from foxes, listening for predators, and watching for other squirrels. The squirrel does this because that’s all it can do. All the squirrel has a lizard brain.”

To some extent, our lizard brain has been developed by the “old system,” which, again, told us that we must find any job,  shut up and smile, don’t do anything other than what you are paid to do, fight for your life, and forget the artist inside! The lizard brain is a learned behavior we need to break to become a Linchpin.

So while I was reading Linchpin I couldn’t help but find a correlation to one of the episodes of Spongebob Squarepants (that’s right!). My children love Spongebob and I have no choice but to sit with them and become engrossed in it. So, in this particular scene, the one-inch (with a powerful voice) Plankton takes over Spongebob’s brain and is forcing him to walk against his will (akin to a Factory manager treating his employees like machines) to the Krusty Krab to grab a Krabby Patty so Plankton can ID the Patty’s secret recipe.

But, Spongebob, who is the very best at what he does (Krabby Patty fry cook) and is Mr. Krab’s most dedicated employee, refuses to be controlled and entices Plankton out of his brain with the simply irresistible description and smell of the Krabby Patty.

Plankton (the weak old system) will never win. Spongebob’s love for his work, for his ART (the Krabby Patty) always will win.

Keep watching episodes of Spongebob and you’ll find that he has made himself indispensable. He doesn’t believe in mediocrity, is committed to his purpose and passion, and in Bikini Bottom (where he lives), Spongebob is a Linchpin. In his particular role he is REMARKABLE. He is talked about and his product is wanted. He’s not just a fry cook, he is an artist.

What would make you impossibly good at your job?

So let’s make this relevant right now. Answer the question above and decide to take one step this week to shrink our lizard brain tendencies and increase our linchpin attributes. Take action to tap our inner genius and show the world more of who we truly are.

Adios lizard brain…hello inner child….hello Artist!
You know, I think I may change my job title to ARTIST! The lizard brains may resist….but we know why.

Have a genius week,

My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.