Sunday, October 11, 2009

How do you deal with your hidden fears with respect to competition?

In our last iAM Woman in Business Circle meeting, we were discussing ways to learn from our competition and one brave woman voiced her fear, "When I look at competing websites, I feel intimidated at everything else that everyone is doing and I am not." As it turns out, we all have had the same fear at some time or the other. The thought of not being as good as others, or not technologically savvy like others, or that others are bigger, better and have existed for longer, are all thoughts that everyone has had at some point in their lives.

Some of the things discussed in this regard:

1) To know you are not alone in having these thoughts - even those big, better business people have these thoughts, makes us realize that we are all human and we are not alone in our fears. Once we recognize our fears, what can we do about them?

2) Connect with your purpose - you are unique and there is no one like you. If you are following your highest purpose and doing your best, life will support you - that is a natural law of life.

3) Instead of shying away from competition, learn what they are doing that you can adopt and ensure that you have a unique positioning, in terms of your service or expertise (I will discuss this next in another post on personal branding).

4) Explore further, what is it in you that you are really fearing here? Strong emotions are a signal that there is more to what we are experiencing that what we see at the surface. Read my Blog posting on hidden beliefs:
Ways to identify hidden beliefs

5) Tapping into hidden beliefs through creating distance from yourself - becoming the observer of yourself. You can can do mindful meditation - silent, non judgmental observation of what you are feeling and that in itself will surface issues and dissolve the issues because you are now the observer and not caught in the drama.

6) If you have trouble with mindful observation, try visualization. Sit comfortably with eyes closed softly, your palms open on your thighs. Breathe deeply as you settle in. Go into your happy place, and snuggle in your favorite blanket, with every breath in you are becoming more comfortable and every exhale you are releasing any stress. When you feel ready, you turn on your inner movie channel and watch your favorite movie that is starring you. Notice what you as the main star of the movie are doing, how do you go about the day, notice how the star is feeling....notice any challenges that she is faces....from that place of quiet distance, what advice would you give to her...take a few deep breaths, end the movie in whatever way feels complete to you and open your eyes when you feel ready.

I have found this visualization quite helpful in creating a distance and watching myself go through stuff that I cannot see when I am caught in it. Many people who tried this exercise have also confirmed that this really works in bringing awareness to blocks they were not able to identify earlier and other insights about issues hidden at a conscious level.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

How long should a mission statement be and does it have to reflect the current reality?

I received a good question from Deb and with her permission am sharing this because I think it will be useful to other people as well - how long should a mission statement be and if you are just starting out, does it have to reflect current reality. This is what i think:

You mission statement needs to be authentic and yes truthful, but truthful to the vision you have for the future - so what you are saying is not maybe happening today but it is what your purpose is and your activities and energy are directed towards meeting that vision. So, it does include your over all purpose, some idea of how you are going to achieve that, and what is unique about.

I do not believe there is one format for all organizations - profit and non profit. Each organization needs to communicate its authentic voice in how many ever words they choose, as long as it is meaningful and clearly communicates what difference you are making to this world in your unique way. For example, if you look at's mission, they have a video and then a text version which runs pretty long, but it conveys what they are about - some of it through the words they use and also using a video shows they are innovative in their approach - so some of what gets conveyed is through other symbols, images, and other ways of communication.

Check out's Mission

Women's Fund of western Ma defines their mission and then states their vision and how they are going to get there:
Check out Mission of Women's Fund

And then Bioneers has a full page to describe their Mission and point to how they intend to reach their goals.
Check out Bioneer's Mission

I think it is important to communicate your authentic story, what is your vision, and how you as a unique individual/organization will work towards that vision - say it your own way - get ideas how others do it, but it has to be your voice and your own way of communicating as long as it clearly highlights your purpose, unique qualities, and how you will get there. It should be written keeping the long term in mind, but this is not to say you can never change it. Especially, when we are starting out new, we may start at one place but as we start talking to people and studying the environment, we may find there is a greater need for another related area and that may become your mission or at least contribute to the mission.

Think big
Think long term
Be honest
Be authentic
Share your unique strengths
And share how you make a difference

Can also refer to the article translating inner purpose into an authentic mission statement and that exercise will also help to identify key words that are important to you and should come through in your mission statement.