Tag Archives: women

How to Rewrite the Stories that Keep You Stuck

Welcome to the Alpha Mare Academy, a collection of courses to make you the best business owner you can be.

Our “stories” are the beliefs we hold about ourselves, other people, the world around us, our relationships and the way we interact with others.

Sometimes our stories are positive and affirming, but more often than not they hold self-limiting beliefs that hold us back and cause us to play small.

Rewriting your stories will help you find the freedom to discover and embrace your full potential.

If you want to discover more about who you are, and strengthen yourself from the inside out, I hope you’ll join me for our new webinar series.  You’ll strengthen yourself from the inside out and get tools that will help you the rest of your life.


Are business problems wearing you out? Try these eight steps…

“The only business without problems is a dead business.”

~ Dr. Ichak Adizes, Author, Corporate Lifecycles

I love this quote, because it simply normalizes the fact that your business will have problems.  Kind of takes the sting out of it.  Makes you feel less…inadequate.

So let’s just be honest with ourselves.  Running a business means solving problems.

Not just occasionally.  Daily.  Hourly.

And these business problems can just wear us slick.

Our time as leaders is not best spent on solving problems.  It is best spent on creating possibilities and opportunities.

So here’s another powerful quote to help move you in the right direction.

“Fast and roughly right decision-making will replace deliberations that are precise but slow.”

~ Rita Gunther McGrath, Professor, Columbia Business School

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a handy little guide to help you think problems through and make the best decisions possible, as quickly as possible?

Here are eight simple steps to consider in any situation that requires problem solving:

  1. Inhale.  Exhale.  Repeat.  Seriously, just like yoga. Because taking in a long slow deep breath and exhaling slowly two or three times instantly lowers your heart rate and your stress level.  So relax.  Breathe.
  2. Suspend your assumptions.  Yup, you have them.  You just have to be intentional about naming them.  It might even help to write them down.  “I assume______.”  We hold on to assumptions because they create a safety zone, preventing new thinking and new ideas.  But they can be fatal unless we check them out.
  3. Ask “Why” five times.  This takes you deep into the core of the problem.  You’re looking for a real solution, not a Band-Aid, so find the core of the problem and fix that.  For example:  The printer won’t work.  Why?  It says the print cartridge is damaged.  Why?  I don’t know, but this happened before.  Why?  Tech support says it’s a known issue with this model.  Why?  There’s a bug in the software.  In just four Whys you realize that you don’t just need to replace the print cartridge.  You need a different printer model.
  4. Define your desired outcome.  What are you looking for, ideally?  Wrap your decision about what really matters most.  Of the five or six strategic objectives you want, which is really the top priority?  Of all the people you are trying to keep happy, which one is the most important?
  5. Think possibilities.  Every problem holds an opportunity.  You don’t need a short term solution that leaves you in the lurch long term.  Look down the road.  What you are facing might look like a huge mountain to climb.  But on the other side of that mountain is a lush valley.  Think bigger.
  6. Apply logic.  Whether we realize it or not, most of our decisions are based on emotions.  We simply use logic to justify them.  Emotions like anxiety, dread, or fear lead to bad decisions.  Know your facts.  Be very intentional about applying logic to the problems you face.
  7. Run your options past a “devil’s advocate.”  Years ago another consultant and I had an intense heart-to-heart with our client, trying very hard to talk her out of a very risky decision.  We were the devil’s advocates.  She decided to pursue the opportunity anyway, but the objections and concerns we expressed provided valuable information that she used to mitigate her risk.  And her project was over-the-top successful!
  8. Make a decision.  Speed matters.  Procrastination is deadly.  We can gather information indefinitely, but if we delay difficult decisions to long, all that information will change anyway.  There are very few decisions that can’t be undone.  Get it over with.  Remember, there really are no “perfect” solutions.  We always have to deal with an uncertain future.  One decision leads to the next.

Above all, teach this problem-solving method to your employees.  Print it out and discuss it at your next staff meeting.

Never neglect an opportunity to train and educate those who work for you.  Don’t just teach them WHAT to think – teach them HOW to think. 

The more capable they are of solving problems and making decisions, the fewer problems that will land on your desk!

Take care, Darcie


Almost forgot!  Get your free Self-Growth Secrets – a new 3-part podcast series you can listen to at your convenience.  We’ll talk about stress, guilt, self-doubt and creating your personal vision.  Get it right now, just click here…

Do Women Really Need to be Empowered?

This week I had an interesting conversation with a husband-wife team who own a business together.  Since I work only with female business owners, I wasn’t sure why Mr. Biz owner sat in on my conversation with Ms Biz owner, but I didn’t ask any questions.

I could tell that my “women only” service made him uncomfortable because he went over the top professing that his wife made her own decisions, that he’d never told her she couldn’t do something. When a man has to work that hard to convince me he’s not a chauvinist, I get a little skeptical.

I listened politely but soon became weary of his campaign to convince me that he’s a progressive kind of guy. Then he dropped the “E” word.

“My wife is an empowered woman,” he said.

I couldn’t resist. “Well you sound like a pretty empowered man to me,” I replied cheerfully.

That’s when he got red in the face and sputtered, “I don’t have to be empowered. I’m a man!”

I doubt they’ll invite me to dinner.

So why is it that women need to be empowered, but men get offended at the thought of being empowered?

Ah, they already power! To be empowered implies that we don’t have power and someone has to give it to us, as evidenced by this man’s reaction to my compliment about how empowered he is.

Perhaps women in developing countries, where it is common for women to be marginalized, need to be empowered — through legal changes, education, culture shifts, access to opportunities — but do women in the U.S. really need someone to empower us?

So ladies, how do you feel about your own power?  Do you feel comfortable embracing your own power or do you believe someone needs to empower you?

I’d love to read your comments.  And of course, if you are intrigued by what you read, feel free to share, but only if you think it adds to a good conversation.


Is Your (Lack of) Communication Causing Anxiety?

Last week I met with a woman entrepreneur who owned a large business, as well as a large building that houses the business.  As I turned into her parking lot, I noticed a big “For Sale” sign. 

“Wow, she’s selling out,” I thought to myself.  “I thought things were going well for her, but maybe not.”

Turns out things were going very well for her.  In fact, so well she had outgrown her space and Anxious-Girlwas looking for new property.  What a relief!

But during our conversation, it became clear that she hadn’t told her employees she was looking for new property.  Every employee who drove into the parking lot saw that big “For Sale” sign and had no idea what was happening or why. 

Imagine what was going through their minds.  For all they knew, she was selling the entire company.  “Am I going to be working for someone else?”  “Am I going to be out of a job?”


When we don’t have information, we imagine the worst.  We invent things, we make things up.   We hallucinate.  For some strange reason, people tend to fill in the blanks — the communication gap — with something negative.    

Just imagine how much anxiety we create for those around us when we don’t communicate fully.  Just imagine how much wasted energy and wasted time results.  Just imagine how trust is damaged. 

Whether we have one employee or one hundred employees, we want fully engaged, committed, productive employees, right?   Is it possible we might forget to provide employees with some critical information so that they CAN be fully engaged and productive?  


It’s not just employees who need forthright communication.  Customers need clear and honest information about what you can deliver and when. 

Contrast the “building for sale” situation with this one:  I hired a branding firm to freshen up my website (stay tuned for a new look soon!).  They promised me they would have a document to me by the end of the day Friday. 

About 10:00 that morning I received an email saying that they noticed something they weren’t happy with.  They wanted to change it, but it would be Monday before the right team member could take care of it. 

Wow!  I can’t tell you how much I appreciated that email.  Honest, direct, timely communication.  No avoiding, therefore no anxiety and no wondering.  And no damage to my trust in them. 


The two most common culprits that cause a communication vacuum?

  • Busyness – When you wear too many hats and go in a hundred directions, it’s easy to overlook communication needs.  But as a leader, communication must be one of your top priorities.  If you’re too busy, dig deeper and realign your priorities.  Find small things you can 1) delegate, 2) outsource, or 3) eliminate.  Start with your technology… it’s become an incredible black hole we fall in!
  • Fear — A dozen “what if’s” go through your mind as you consider what to say, to whom, and when.  What if they disagree?  What if they get upset?  Don’t let fear of someone’s reaction stop you from sharing important information.  Emotional needs come out one way or the other.  Be on the front end and know that emotions are the gateway to vitality and better relationships. 


So what can you do to make sure your communication is timely, open, and transparent?  Use these twelve questions as a quick checklist.  Review them before each staff meeting (you are having staff meetings, aren’t you?).  In fact, just print them out and keep them handy. 

  1. Who needs to know What by When?
  2. Whose cooperation do I need for this task or project to be successful?
  3. Who will actually carry out the work?
  4. Who will influence the outcome?  This might be someone who is not directly responsible, but someone with technical expertise, like legal or technology advice.
  5. Who will be affected by this decision, this action, this project?
  6. Have I fully communicated my expectations?
  7. Do my employees know where we are going?
  8. Do they know what we need to do to get there?
  9. Are they aware of our values, our processes and our procedures?
  10. Do they understand how they contribute to the company’s bottom line?
  11. Is there something I’m afraid of?
  12. What can I do to mitigate my fears?

Remember, when people don’t have information, they fill in the communication gap with something negative.  Those negative thoughts create anxiety and damage trust. 

Authentic and transparent communication is the first step to trusting, healthy relationships, both inside your company an out. 

I’d love to see your comments and questions!  And as always, if you know other women who can learn from this, please do share. 

Take care, d