It is time.

It is time we step up.

It is time we step up and lead.

Leading feels lonely. Oftentimes we envision the act of leading with a dark abyss in front of us and scared followers behind.

I won’t lie and say I have never felt this way. Developing a brand in 2009 around social media management felt incredibly lonely. There wasn’t a term for what we did and even the words ‘social media’ were not yet used. I approached potential clients stumbling over my words and left with confusion on both sides. I knew I was leading – I just didn’t really know who or what yet.

It was lonely.

It wasn’t until I realized that other leaders, leading other tribes, were actually my people too. As the fog lifted and I was able to look from side to side, I saw them.

Guess what?

They felt lonely too.

When we dropped our guards, admitted we were in the same boat (maybe just paddling a little differently) and came together – we realized we are far from alone. These people I met in the early years of tena.cious are are the ones I still meet with for coffee – the ones that help me feel connected. We lead together.

Even when it is scary.

One of these fine friends wrote an incredible message today, in the midst of the craziness and I just had to share. Thank you George Kansas for this:

Light bringers and way showers, bring your light brighter than ever. Speak your truth, louder than ever. Walk your way, more straight than ever!
It’s never been needed more. It’s never been required more.
It’s our time to lead.

Lock arms, lift your head and proceed.

we got this,

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When I step on a stage, my first question is usually something like ‘Who in here classifies themselves as a leader?’ You may not be as shocked as I am to hear that not many people raise their hand. In fact, I usually need to coax them to think about what a leader really is, and I get a few more hands.

The English dictionary states that a leader is: the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.

Whoa – I think the word ‘commands’ is what throws us off or maybe the fact that we believe that we have to be an expert to be a leader.

This is wrong. So very wrong.

In fact, you only really have to be one step ahead in order to lead. Now let’s all take a deep breath, and soak that in.

Here is the deal, most people don’t know WHO they are leading. So the scary part is in the unknown. Once you do that work (you know, the ‘define your perfect client’ work) – things become more clear. Like you almost picture yourself as the momma duck with your fresh baby ducklings waddling behind you.

Right, because in order to lead – those babies might even be on your heels. This is awesome, why? Because then it pushes us to walk a little faster.

Those followers force us to be one step ahead. I remember being in the grocery store with my Mom and begging to push the cart, cause I wanted to be just like her. The thing is I would oftentimes run the front of the cart into her ankle – I was SO eager to be close. This is what you want as a Mom and as a leader.

In fact, I just started a monthly leadership lunch with my team at tena.cious and we discussed people in our lives that we looked up to as a signifiant leader. Some of the qualities were profound, here are a few:

» Inspirational
» Has trust in others
» Creates a path to get ‘there’
» Big vision thinker
» Confident
» Push you before you are ready
» On trend
» Assertive or straight forward

Our lists were two pages long and this was compiled from almost 10 people, our answers vary but I think I could sum it up » they care. Not one of the people said ‘they are the smartest person I know’ or ‘they were super successful’ or ‘they knew more than me’…Do you get it?We all have people watching and waddling behind us ready to knock right in to us and hopefully, if we are lucky – they start leading their own little waddlers.Leaders create leaders. They don’t do this by being the best at something or by having all of the answers – they do this by caring and showing the way.

Nothing is scary about caring.

you got this,

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Let me take you back to 1999, not to a party, but to hang out in a factory in good ole Brainerd, MN. Joyful, right? I think I literally cut this memory out of my brain, but thankfully it came back so I could share it with you.

I was working on an assembly line for my summer job. My mom happened to manage the department and I was pretty darn good at it since I am wickedly competitive and love a little challenge. We worked on various machines, sometimes with a partner, and produced parts for telephone boxes. Now I know how enticing this may sound, but before you go put in your application – read on. With the combination of my Mom being the boss and me cranking out parts excessively, you would think this would have been the secret to a successful and easy summer, right? Nope, wrong.

You see, the factory was filled with women that had been punching the clock, doing only what they were told, and no more. I ruined that.

The women hated me. I set a new level of excellence, and they enjoyed being average. When training me, they actually told me the maximum that anyone does. When I ran it by my mom, I remember her telling me she herself could do more – challenge accepted.

See, my mom led.

Leaders run ahead, clear the path, and stay on it with you.

The thing is, why didn’t these other ladies see this same challenge?

My mom led me because I asked. But what happens when people don’t ask? They can’t just be left behind to fend for themselves. They become complacent, ornery and eventually they quit, retire or die. Honestly, this wasn’t really my mom’s task to motivate these ladies; they were making their quotas and the upper management was ‘happy’. But what if she had lit a little fire under them?

I believe that everyone on this earth needs a little push from time to time. Whether it be a child, your employee(s) or your client.

Who do you know that needs a little fire lit? Leave a comment… you know I want to hear your story.

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Can we be honest here?  Either I am hearing things in the office, or you just said ‘yes’. 

Here I go a bit on a rampage today… #hearmeout
This journey isn’t for the timid, the weak or the procrastinators.

I am sick of seeing things just kinda done, and I know you are too. This happens because entrepreneurs are IDEA people. It’s okay, this isn’t a bad thing, we need us. Everyone needs us… or at least we like to think so. 

Ideas, though, are often mistaken for opportunities that need to be created. If we tried to implement each and every idea, we would fail. And since there are stats all over the place about the rate of failure in today’s economy for small businesses, I think it is pretty darn easy for you to agree.

So here is the deal, we need to stop pretending we can do it all.

We can’t and we shouldn’t.

Yes, I like to coin myself as the queen of delegation, but even my team can’t take on each idea that pops in to my head (or theirs, for that matter). It would be pure chaos. Okay, if we are being honest… it HAS been pure chaos, until fairly recently.

First we decided it was probably a good idea to only focus on one thing at a time. That kinda freaks me out just writing that, but there is some serious truth in it. This way my team, referral partners, clients and future clients are not confused about our world. It is simple and super easy to understand. Not too many messages and options being flung their way. Easy enough, right?

Second up, we knew that our team could not support our own marketing. I know this might sound ridiculously crazy since THIS IS WHAT WE DO, but it got pushed to the side. I was constantly asking ‘why hasn’t tena.cious talk been posted to LinkedIn in a couple of weeks?’ or ‘why didn’t anyone respond to that Instagram post?’ or ‘why has our header not been updated on Twitter since the before. conference?’… okay, that last one is bad but you get my point, it happens.

Cause we can’t do it all. We have to stop pretending that we can.

If you bit off more than you could chew in a lifetime, admit it. We did.

So, we dumped a few sites. No joke, they just don’t get updated and that is OKAY. We stopped pretending… oh and one more thing…

We hired a full time team member to ONLY rock our brand. #aboutdarntime. Meet Addie. We love her.

I need you to take a little vow with me, ready?

» I promise to not make this whole business thing harder than it has to be.
» I promise to no longer jump on the next crazy band wagon just cause I read somewhere that I should… (even if it is Tena’s weekly tena.cious talk).

» I promise to stop the noise in my head that tells me that I suck and should be doing more than my already exhausted self has taken on.

» I promise to focus on one thing.
» I promise to stop telling myself that I can do it all on my own.

We need idea people, and those peeps need us to lean on them, and to be honest with them. This goes for more than just business, you get that, right?

So we are stopping this whole pretending game and going to start getting real about what we can bite off and what we can’t.

Our team is 150% here for YOU. I know you know this, but I had to say it.

Last week I shared with you the importance of outlining your perfect client AND invited you to jump in our Brand Strategy Workshop. Of course there is room for you if that feels right.

Did you take the vow? Hit reply and share what struck a chord for you.

you got this (with a little help from a friend…),

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