Blessed is She Who Believed

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Sometimes this crazy thing happens to me, words bubble up in me and they must leave my body. It’s an overwhelming feeling where I just have to sit down and get them to you. Even though we were in the middle of the Finish Well series, I am interrupting our program to share this message with someone who needs to hear this today. I don’t know who it is, but here it is.  

“Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her.”

Luke 1:45

There is a verse that I never noticed before in the bible from Luke 1:45. “Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her.” Another version says, “Blessed is she who believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” It’s a statement made by Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist) to Mary ‘The Mother.’ Quick side note, you know you’ve graduated from any semblance of “Mom Guilt” when people just refer to you as “The Mother.” At first glance, it seems like Mary’s journey was a cake walk. I can assure you, no mother in the history of mankind, ever had a cake walk. No pressure Mary, have a baby conceived by the holy spirit (I’m sure that went over really well with your parents and church leaders). Your community will ostracize you for getting knocked up. Also, a political leader is conspiring to kill all babies. You may want to order an extra bottle of St. Johns Wort. Remember, you can’t take most prescription anxiety meds during pregnancy. You’ll of course struggle with the normal stresses, guilt and mistakes of motherhood, but it will be extra humbling because your kid is perfect. You’ll make mistakes. He won’t. Awesome – a know-it-all. Then fast forward a few years, other moms will reject you because your kid can do nothing wrong. Behind your back, you’ll be referred to as the “ultimate one-upper.” No moms in the PTO will be sharing their struggles with you. Good luck with all that Mary…the Mother.

While Mary doesn’t even quite know what she’s in for, Elizabeth has had her own struggles to deal with. Their culture expected one thing from a woman, produce children. Elizabeth struggled with infertility for decades. To this day, not being able to have a child is one of the hardest internal battles a woman can experience. Finally, Elizabeth was pregnant. We know Elizabeth was a woman of faith, and God was answered her prayers. She was going to be a mom. She went from the overwhelming feelings of disgrace, isolation, rejection and depression to stepping fully into the role she wanted all along, being a momma. And she was far enough along that she could feel the baby move. Thank God, she was past the “high risk” timeframe. But we all know, the fear of losing your baby never goes away, especially since she carried the weight of not being able to have a baby for decades. If I had to guess, her pregnancy was stressful.

Mary gets to Elizabeth’s house; I’m sure she’s feeling every emotion in the book. She’s excited and scared. She’s uncertain how it’s all going to go down. She’s knocked up. She’s unmarried. Is Elizabeth going to believe the whole Holy Spirit narrative and be supportive? Is Elizabeth’s husband going to be supportive? Mary walks in sees Elizabeth and immediately hears “Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her.” After all of Elizabeth’s pain and heartache and the stress of carrying a baby, Elizabeth chose to use her time with Mary to pour into her. Elizabeth’s stresses don’t go away but she builds Mary up. She reaffirms what Mary heard from the Lord. She instills confidence into her. She says “Mary, you’re blessed. You can do this. God chose you for this opportunity. Turn that frown upside down, someday soon, you’ll do the ultimate motherhood mic drop.” And you know what Mary does, she receives the encouragement. She needed to hear that. She says, “from now on, all generations will call me blessed.” In the worst way, Mary needed that affirmation from Elizabeth. She needed to hear that she was going to be more than alright. She was blessed just for believing God’s promises to her. She chose to believe that what God led her into was going to be good.

Ladies (and gentlemen, this message is for you too!), sometimes you’re in a season like Mary. But sometimes, you’re an Elizabeth. You’re going to have bad days and bad seasons, life is hard. But if God has walked with you through that season, make sure that you’re fully showing up for others that will come behind you. We can’t all be Mary’s waiting for someone else to speak life into us. Sometimes we need to step into our internal Elizabeth and just freaking change the dynamic in the room. Speak life and vision into other women. It doesn’t say, “Blessed is she who had a big title, or audience, or wealth or influence.” It doesn’t say, “Blessed is she that already has everything figured out.” It doesn’t say, “blessed is she that hasn’t experienced stress.” It doesn’t say, “Blessed is she who stays small and waits for full confirmation before stepping into your purpose.” It says, “Blessed is she who believed that what God called her to would be accomplished.” Your journey is different from mine. We’re not all called to do the same thing, thank God. God has called you to something. Believing is the hardest part but it’s time for you to believe him.

But also, it’s time for you to speak life into someone else. It’s time for you to Encourage Her like Elizabeth did. Never underestimate the power of your words in someone else’s life. Sometimes your words will remind her of the promises God already made. Don’t discourage her, don’t wade in anxiety with her. Speak life into her, affirm her, help her believe. Help her step into her blessing.

Christmas is magical. No matter how you celebrate it, there is magic in the story. God used regular people to do amazing things. You aren’t different from Mary. God is still using regular people to do amazing things. Step into your inner Elizabeth and speak life into someone else this holiday season. Step into your inner Mary and know you’re called to do great things, even if it feels hard. I’m so grateful to have this opportunity to share my work and words with each one of you. Be Blessed and Merry Christmas!

I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!


2021 in Reflection

Photo Credit: Tasha Herrgott at Red Bird Hills,

Hi friends, we’re one week closer to finishing 2021. Time is flying by, sometimes it goes so fast it overwhelms me. I’m at a stage with my boys where I just want time to stand still. I want them to stay little and with me forever. I want them to always run off the bus and greet me with a huge hug. I want them to always love making a snow fort immediately after a snowfall. I want them to love being at home saying prayers around the lit candles and Christmas Tree. I want to always look back on my life and know I lived it with purpose. This isn’t a dress rehearsal. As Glennon Doyle says, “this is your one and precious life.” Be intentional. Live your life on purpose. Love your one and precious life.

For that reason, I want to take time to think about I will finish the year well. Without a plan, I typically don’t finish well or start the following year well for that matter. If  you think this is about achieving some crappy goals that only serve the world’s idea of who you’re supposed to be, it’s not. Finishing well is all about looking back knowing I lived life on purpose.

As I think about finishing the year well, five components need to be part of the plan. This isn’t just a “year-end” system. This could be your system for finishing the day well. Whether it’s reflecting on my day or year, this is how I think about it.  

  1. Your plan to cross the Finish Line, SPRINT if you must.
  2. Your plan to Reflect. What went well? What didn’t go as well that needs to be left in 2021?
  3. Your plan to review your Systems to make sure you sustain your results and wellness into the new year. Or – adjust them.  
  4. Your plan for Celebration and Gratitude.
  5. Your Plan to Kick Off 2022 grounded in your Mission, Vision and Values (MVV) with clear goals.

The first component for me to finish well is my plan to cross the finish line – how will you follow through on the commitments you made to yourself. You are someone that reaches their goals. Believing that is the first step in reaching your goals. If you haven’t read my previous post yet, you can find it here.

The second component is a plan for reflection. Reflection to me is so important, it deserves its own time. It shouldn’t be rushed. It deserves a beautiful glass of wine or a delicious cup of coffee or tea. On the flip side, sometimes I have the tendency to make things too precious. You don’t need to be sitting at a sidewalk café in Paris or reflecting as you’re watching the waves roll into a Mexican beach for this to be meaningful. This isn’t a marriage proposal. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Carve out an hour or so and put pen to paper reflecting on 2021. I like to start high level at 30,000 feet and then narrow in on the more specific goals.  

  1. What did I love, learn and what will I leave behind?
  2. Values: how did they show up in 2021?
  3. Goals: did I align on the right goals to help me live on purpose?

Love – Learn – Leave Behind

Last year, as part of reflecting on 2020, I did an exercise that really helped me reflect broadly on the year. For the life of me, I can’t remember where I learned these prompts (if you developed these prompts, let me know so I can give you credit). Set a timer for five minutes, keep your pen on the paper and write the things that come to mind within these three questions. What did I love? What did I learn? What will I leave behind?

Set the time again for five minutes. Keep writing until the time goes off. What did you love in 2021?

I loved a renewed commitment to creativity. I loved meeting new friends that I adore and respect. I loved carving out more time for my relationship with God. I loved relearning how to pray. I loved defining my own professional success. I loved finding new business opportunities. I loved fighting and conquering my fears. I loved being available for my family. I loved reading more books. I loved investing in my development. I loved myself more than I ever have. I loved my daily gratitude practice.

Set the time again for five minutes. Keep writing until the time goes off. What did you learn?

I learned a framework for prayer in my bible study this year. I learned all about the speaking industry. I relearned how much I love people when I’m not emotionally and mentally exhausted. I learned to love myself and my body in a deeper way. I learned the need for belonging. I learned how to let go of an identity and career that no longer served me with gratitude and love. I also learned to honor that work and the relationships that supported that work. I learned how to serve my church family in a new way. I relearned that reflecting on my values daily helps me make better decisions.

Set the time again for five minutes. Keep writing until the time goes off. What will you leave in 2021?

I’m leaving behind fear and anxiety. I’m leaving behind environments and communities that aren’t healthy for me anymore. I’m leaving behind self-doubt that slows down progress toward my goals (I’m replacing it with a system to encourage myself). I’m leaving behind relationships that are grounded in scarcity.

While this isn’t my entire list, it gives you an example. This exercise is powerful for me because it allows me to get clear on what needs to continue to be part of my life, it allows me to take stock in what I’m learning and how I’m developing, and it allows me to let go of what isn’t working.

Getting Grounded in my Values

In a year where I experienced a lot of change and needed to make some significant decisions, my values kept me grounded. I make much better decisions when I know and reflect on my values on a regular basis. There were days this summer when I asked myself multiple times an hour, will this decision help me show up in a way that is in alignment with what’s really important to me. If you are someone that hasn’t formally done a values assessment, it’s time. An easy and guided way to do this exercise is available through Think 2 Perform’s website. You can find it here. Once you’ve identified your top values, review each one and how they showed up in 2021. For me, my values are faith, family, health, excellence (stewarding my gifts to the best of my ability) and meaningful work (work with purpose).

  • Did I prioritize my values?
  • From the outside looking in, would someone close to me know what my values were without me telling them?
  • What values were a priority for me this year? Where there one or more values that got pushed to the back burner by accident?
  • Is there one or more values that I want to prioritize in 2022?

What were my goals? Did I focus on the right things?

The last area of reflection for today is reflecting on the goals I set out to achieve. If I reached them, did they get me closer to my ideal self. Did they help step into more of who God designed me to be? One thing that is really hard to reflect on is realizing that I reached or exceeded significant goals that someone else set for me, but I didn’t reach the goals that were in alignment with my values, what’s most important to me. Sometimes this happens because of the nature of working for someone else. Their goals for us need to be prioritized and our work performance depends on it. However, here’s what I’ve learned about personal goals versus work goals (if you work for someone else). Sometimes, I’ve used the “work excuse” to justify why I didn’t reach my personal goals. What I’ve found is when I’m living in alignment with my values, I perform better in other areas of my life. When I’m healthy from a faith perspective, when I’m prioritizing my family, when I’m exercising and eating well and prioritizing my mental health, when I’m living in excellence being a good steward of my gifts, guess what??? I freaking perform better in my work. I kick ass at work when I’m living in alignment with my values. I make better decisions as a leader. I can focus on developing others when I’m not in scarcity mode in my own life. I can lead with more empathy when I’m not experiencing regret or even worse, shame around my values. When I’m not performing well in my work, whether I’m working for myself or for someone else, it’s often because I’m severely out of control with my values. It’s a direct path to burn out for me. Take time to evaluate the goals you set out to accomplish. Did you focus on the right goals? Where they in alignment with your values? No matter what the answer is, don’t judge yourself. Just be curious and learn, what can 2021 teach you?

See you next week to talk about Evaluating Your Systems!

I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!


5 Ideas to Finish Well

Photo Credit: Tasha Herrgott,

Ok friends, here we are. It’s the first week of December. We have one month left of 2021. It’s crazy to me that we are already at this point in the year. It’s during this time when people in business constantly talk about “finishing strong.” That phrase is very loaded for me. Over my years as a field executive in the financial services industry, I have put together plenty of “finish strong” plans. So – because words matter to me, I’m not going to talk about finishing strong. I’m going to talk about Finishing Well. To me, Finishing Well feels like finishing the year with excellence, reaching the goals that you sought out to reach, but never at the expense of your health, wellness or values.  And by the way, this blog is not just for the “business people.” This blog is for the people that have goals. Goals that are important to you. Goals that are aligned with your values. You might have goals within the team that you lead at work or within your household. You might have personal goals within your physical, spiritual, mental, or financial health.

As a leader that operated with our fiscal year end of December 31st, the last few months of the year were incredibly fast paced and frankly stressful. I found that some years I felt very planful about how to Finish Well, and some years I did not finish well, I felt exhausted and behind the eight ball, crawling over the finish line. Ironically, some of those years where I crawled over the finish line, I reached my goals. It was just at the expense of myself. I don’t want that for you. I want you to Finish 2021 Well. Over the next four weeks, I’d like to share with you what it means for me to Finish Well. In my mind, Finishing Well has five components.

  1. Your plan to cross the Finish Line, SPRINT*** if you must.
  2. Your plan to Reflect on what went well. What didn’t go as well?
  3. Your plan to review your Systems to make sure you sustain your results and wellness into the new year. Or – adjust them.  
  4. Your plan for Celebration and Gratitude.
  5. Your Plan to Kick Off 2022 grounded in your Mission, Vision and Values (MVV) with clear goals.

Let’s talk about the finish line. You’ve got a goal, and you need to reach it before the end of the year. For the sake of example, I’m going to use one of my own health goals for this conversation. Health is one of my top five values and one of my health goals in 2021 was to have 250 workouts implemented between January 1st and December 31st. In general, I needed to work out five days a week to reach this goal.

Ok, let’s pause for a second. The only way you can finish well is if you have a S.M.A.R.T. goal to begin with. It should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. If you’re reading this and you are realizing that although you had some goals that you set at the beginning of the year, you no longer even remember what they were. That’s ok. It happens. But that doesn’t mean that you should take off December and just wait until January to reset new goals. Absolutely not! Dust off the old ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ and get to work. It’s a perfect time to break down that annual goal into a monthly goal and win the December race. Cross the finish line. Sprint if you must. You may not reach the goal you set earlier in the year, but you can still reach a smaller December goal and feel great about it.

This goes for those of you thinking of your work goals as well. Perhaps you’re not on track to reach your goal. Do not stop running. Yes, you lost some momentum. Maybe you’d even need a modern-day miracle to get you to the goal. December is as good a month as any to reignite the systems and processes that you would need to reach the goal. Don’t take December off. Don’t lick your wounds. Finish Well. Figure out what it would take to implement in December to be on track for the goal. Why? You need to believe that you are someone that reaches their goals. You are a leader that’s going to figure out a way to get back on track, because those goals matter to you. Achieving them will get you closer to your ideal self. If you rock December, come January 1st, you will have some serious momentum behind you. Trust me. And if you must, sprint through the finish line***. But never at the expense of your health or wellness. If you cross that finish line and you’re completely unhealthy and have nothing left, did you really Finish Well? I’ve ran a few races where I had enough gas in the tank to sprint over the finish line. I’ve also watched racers crank up their speed in the final leg of the race due to pure adrenaline, beyond what they trained for, and really hurt themselves in the process. It puts them back weeks and sometimes months before they can get back to their goals. I’ve seen this happen in business as well. Unfortunately, I’ve done this to myself. This is a direct route to burnout.

Maybe you are crushing your goals for 2021. Maybe you already reached your 2021 goals. Congratulations, that is awesome. I guess it’s time to take the rest of the year off. No, please don’t do that. An object in motion stays in motion. If you want to maintain the momentum and results that you created in 2021 into next year, stay active in the systems you created in pursuit of those results. Finish Well. I remember working with a Financial Advisor that would take most of December off when she would hit her goals. While it was a beautiful thing to do in theory, she didn’t have the infrastructure and leadership culture in place to make sure the rest of the business didn’t slow down because of her being gone. Things dramatically slowed down. It’s possible to take significant time off when you reach a goal, just make sure your infrastructure and culture support it. I also want to challenge you in another area. If your business or your goals are anything like my old business goals, things that you expect to happen can change. Business can get reversed. Hires don’t happen, people fall out of the process. Know, know, know the goal is met before you take your foot off the gas. As the leader of the goal and the people, when they see you lead the team to success, they start to identify as someone that reaches their goals. Claiming that identity is half the freaking battle.

Maybe you’re like me and you’re on track to reach your goal. I haven’t reached my 250-workout goal yet but I’m on track. At the end of November, I had done 230 workouts, but I need to have 20 workouts in December to Finish Well to reach my goal. Given the 4.5 weeks in December, I could coast a little bit only doing a little over 4 workouts each week. But why would I do that? If the goal is in place to get me closer to being my ideal self, and to be ideal, I need to prioritize my health making sure I’m doing 5 workouts a week, it only hurts me to coast. Why would I slow down? Stay in alignment with the systems that have caused you to be successful up until this point.

For me, one of the most important things about reaching goals is believing that you are the type of person that reaches their goals. There was a time that I would set such high goals for myself, then get to the end of the measurement period and feel defeated and frankly like a loser. If you do that too many times in a row, you may fall into the trap of believing you’re NOT someone that reaches their goals. I used to work with someone that set super high goals for our team. We would even have conversations about the fact that they were so high, that even if we didn’t exactly reach those goals, we would be farther along than if we had just set smaller more achievable goals. We knew we were still having good performance, but we were indirectly saying to the people we led that it was ok to not reach our goals. Learn from my mistake, don’t do that. I now set achievable goals that I can feel great about my ability to achieve. It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be challenging. I absolutely want to be a good steward of my resources and abilities and set challenging goals, but they should always be achievable. Once I made that change, I realized that I was creating a new neuropathway for myself. I set SMART goals and I achieved them. I was learning that I was someone that achieved the goals I set out to achieve. While I’m not perfect, I desperately want to follow through on the commitments I make to myself. Not only will I achieve the goal which gets me closer to my ideal self, I reinforce the neuropathway that says, ‘I’m someone that achieves goals.” When you start realizing that you are someone that achieves goals, you can start to think bigger about the goals you set.

If you’ve reached your goals, don’t take your foot off the gas. If you haven’t reached your goals, don’t take your foot off the gas. If you’re on track, don’t take your foot off the gas. December is a great time to have your best month ever. December is a great time to remind yourself that you are someone that achieves goals. Cross the finish line. If you must, sprint***! But never at the expense of your health or wellness.

My coach Ray Kelly used to always share ideas with me, he’d call them “safety tips.” Here are a few safety tips for you.

  1. Early this month, revisit the goal with your team. What needs to happen in December to finish well?
  2. Check in with each member of the team to understand from their perspective how their work contributes to the goal. Redirect if necessary.
  3. Check in with each member of the team to understand from their perspective how the work they’ll do in December aligns with the Mission, Vision and Values of the company. For an employee, a goal that isn’t tied to a vision is just doing busy work. My mentor Doug Lennick always says “Give them a mission and vision worthy of their best efforts.”
  4. In a few weeks, we’ll discuss kicking off the new year with clarity of goals, grounded in Mission, Vision and Values. If you lead a team, make sure that you have time on the calendar scheduled with your team during the first week of January to review. In addition, if you lead leaders, make sure that they have time with their teams to align on the goals for 2022 and connect them back to the MVV.

No matter where we’re at, let’s have our best month ever. See you next week to talk about Reflection!

I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!


Be Thankful…For Yourself

Photo Credit: Tasha Herrgott at Red Bird Hills

The last few weeks, you’ve been on my mind. I’ve been thinking about you because I wanted to share, in the interest of Thanksgiving week, how thankful I am for this small community. I’m thankful that real live people read this blog (Yes Mom, it’s not just you, Leah and Emily). You not only read it but actually get something from it and implement it. You share with me on a regular basis how this serves you. Some of you share the blog with your friends, family and social media community. I’m so thankful for that, I had no idea how this thing would pan out. It’s a little scary putting your words out to the world, hoping they serve someone.

This week, I’ve been gathering my thoughts about what I’m learning from many of you. I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to learn from you and celebrate your ‘wins’ with you. When I write blog posts, an incredible thing happens, you share back to me the things going on in your world. Things that you should be incredibly proud of. Keep sharing back!

With that in mind, I thought I’d change this week’s message up and share with you all the amazing things you’ve done or in the middle of doing that seriously amaze the heck out of me. Again, thank you for sharing! I am so grateful. Today, on your list of what to be grateful for, be grateful for yourself. Celebrate the woman that you are and that you’re still becoming. You are doing incredible things, hard, messy and beautiful things. You might be 85 years young and still learning and growing as a woman and leader. Celebrate her and be grateful for her. I am.

Here’s what is going on in the lives of the EncourageHer Community.

  • She got up at 5AM. And, she’s not even going to Mexico.
  • She tried again for a baby even after loss. A baby is on the way.  
  • She faced her fears and scheduled the biopsy.
  • She ran a marathon.
  • She ran a 10-mile race.
  • She ran a mile, on purpose.
  • She fell in love after a messy and heartbreaking divorce. She trusted love again – it was hard. It didn’t work out but she still loves herself and can trust herself.
  • She applied for the job and got it. She’s the newest female CEO in Minnesota.
  • She said yes to a promotion even though it was scary to put herself out there. She chose not to stay small.
  • She said no on purpose, even though she felt pressured to say yes. She can trust herself.
  • She fought for more information and other professional opinions around her child’s diagnosis.
  • She researched her tire purchase on her own – AND – negotiated the price down.
  • She decided she didn’t have to stay stuck in a job within a company that didn’t value her. She had her first networking meeting this morning.
  • She hasn’t been feeling well. She trusted her body enough to continue to advocate for her health. She has a new doctor that’s partnering with her.
  • She put her career on pause and decided to stay home with her children.
  • She fought for her marriage even when it was extremely difficult.
  • Her addiction was strong, but she and Jesus are stronger.
  • She’s realized that she’s made over 7,000 dinners for her five children. She can do anything.
  • She kept to a budget and realized she’s really good with money. Now she’s taking on investing.
  • She wasn’t sure if she could afford it, but she gave anyway.
  • She led her team through an extremely hard season. They’re in a better place and grew as leaders because of her leadership.
  • She started a small business and put herself out there in a very public way. It was a huge success.
  • She lost her husband but she still woke up every day. She realized she still had herself.

Each of you amaze me. Thank you for being part of my little world. Thank you for reading my words, but most important, thank you the most for sharing yourself and the things you are doing with me. It makes me want to continue to EncourageHer.

Today, on your list of what to be grateful for, be grateful for yourself. Celebrate the woman that you are and that you’re still becoming. You are doing incredible things; incredibly hard, messy, courageous, scary and beautiful things. You are incredible!  

“Give her the reward and respect she has earned. Praise her in public for what she has done.”

Proverbs 31:31

I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!


Repeat After Me, No

Photo Credit: Tasha Herrgott at

Next week we officially roll into the holiday season. I want to remind you (and frankly myself) that the holidays are a great time to reinspect healthy boundaries with family, work, community, church, your checking account or credit card and your to-do list.

I saw a post on social media this week that said, “This is your weekly reminder that you can handle whatever this week throws at you.” I know that whoever authored this just meant to encourage all the internet peoples to have a great attitude about being able to handle the week ahead of you. In a lot of ways, I resonate with it. So many of the things that we “have” to do are truly things that we “get” to do and should approach with a mindset of gratitude. I totally get it. However, it’s this time of year where I like to believe that I have to be everything to everyone. So in response I need to actually say to myself, “This is your weekly reminder that you don’t have to handle everything that this week/season throws at you.”

I know it might seem like semantics. It’s not. So much gets thrown at us, most figuratively but sometimes literally. I live with two boys. At any given point in the day, a ball could get thrown at me. Guess what, you don’t have to try to catch everything that gets thrown at you. It’s ok to just to let it bounce off you. It doesn’t even hurt (ok, sometimes it does, baseballs hurt).

I know how tempting it is to say yes around the holiday. We want to help, especially when an ask is aligned with our values or our interests. But why are we so tempted to say yes when it’s not alignment with our values, interests or even within our responsibilities? It’s ok for you to just say “no.” Repeat after me, “No.” It’s the only two letter word that feels like a four-letter word. It’s a complete sentence all on its own. Once you say it, nothing needs to follow. Most people that ask something of you don’t need anything beyond the ‘no.’ But, if you’re like me, you might feel the need to let people down easy (still working on releasing the people-pleasing over here). “Sorry, I can’t do that.” “Sorry, that’s not mine to handle.” Sorry, I love helping, but I can’t do that.” “Sorry, I can’t commit to that right now.” You know I’d love to say yes, but the timing isn’t right.”

If you’re like me, saying no might be hard, especially during the holidays. Maybe you’re an agreeable person. Maybe you have the StrengthsFinder strength of Harmony (that actually isn’t one of my strengths but it’s probably pretty high). You are driven (to an extent) to cooperate with people, to avoid conflict, because you desire people to come together in harmony. Maybe you don’t like to risk social capital by saying no to someone for fear it might rock the boat. In turn, you end up saying yes more often than you might want. When this happens over a period of time, people know exactly who to go to pass off work, to gain consensus on an idea or to drive their agenda. By the way, this doesn’t mean you’re a pushover. This means you value harmony. It’s a beautiful strength to have within teams, families, and communities.

One of my favorite authors is a woman named Jen Hatmaker. Jen has a phrase that she’s shared over the years that’s so beautifully straight to the point. “If it isn’t a Hell Yes! It’s a No!” It might be a really nice thing to do. It might really help someone out. It might even be something you’d eventually like to do. But if it’s not a Hell Yes right now, it’s a no! How do you know it’s a Hell Yes? It totally aligns with my values and/or goals and it’s an appropriate request given my current other commitments. It’s not enough anymore to just align with my values. It also has to be the right timing given the other items on my plate. “Sorry, it’s not a forever no, it’s just a no right now. Can we discuss it again in a month, next quarter, or in a year?”

But what if no one asked you to do the thing you’re doing. What if over time, it just became assumed that you would do it at work, in a relationship or within a community. Over time, it was just assumed that it was your job to do it. It was just assumed that you would go along with the plan. It was just assumed that you would pay the bill. It was just assumed that you would do the work. It was just assumed you would host the gathering. It was just assumed that you would take the notes (can we just all agree that the one woman in the room should never be asked to be the note-taker!!! Guys, please tell me you know this? Unless you’re actually shooting a scene of Mad Men reenacting the a 1950’s office environment, don’t ask the one woman in the room to take notes). It was just assumed that you schedule and take the kids to the dentist. Some of these assumptive yes’s happen innocently over time. No one is pulling a fast one or trying to manipulate you. However, this is your weekly reminder that you don’t have to do everything that is thrown at you. At any point it time, you still have the self-agency to say no or ask for help to determine another plan or arrangement. You don’t need to keep doing something just because you’ve been doing it. Even though it’s hard and your brain wants you to keep doing things because you’ve always done them, you can adopt new habits and roles. You can change. You can say no. And when it makes sense, you can say yes!

Agency is a beautiful thing. You have agency over your thoughts and your actions. You also have agency over the consequences of your actions. There are times when my plate is way too full. That is a consequence of saying yes when I should have said no. Here’s the hardest thing about saying yes when I should have said no, it often hurts the people that I love the most or hurts the things that I value most. If I’m overwhelmed, my husband and family feel it the most. If I’m overscheduled, my family and my team feel it the most. If I’ve mindlessly accepted un-inspected meetings, my leading indicators within my work are most negatively impacted. If I’ve said yes to too many requests, my goals and dreams are delayed. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

This is your weekly reminder that you don’t have to handle everything that this week throws at you. You have the self-agency to say no. Repeat after me, “No.”

I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!


Love Like Pat

Eight years ago Pat left this world. She was someone special. She was like no one I had ever met. She was so selfless. She was an educator. She was a friend and a neighbor. She was an artist with her words, her music, her garden and with her love. She was a wife, a momma, a grandma, a sister, an auntie, and a beautiful friend to so many. She was a prayer warrior, my prayer warrior. She was a lover of people, she loved people so dang well. Now, she’s our angel.

Pat loved me. She loved me like I was her own, from day one. There was never any judgement. There was never any competition. She saw the very best in me and loved everything else about me. She chose not to see my bad. She knew that I could love the very best and everything else in her son. In a short time, she showed me how to be the most loving and supportive mother-in-law. She showed me how to celebrate these people that would eventually come into the lives of my boys. I’m so thankful to have had her example.  

Pat celebrated our love, our child and our decisions even when we did things out of order. She was the first person we told that we were unexpectantly pregnant. Gasp…before we were married. Her face told us everything that we needed to know. We were loved and our baby was loved and nothing else mattered. From that day on, there would be no more shame for me about bringing this beautiful baby into the world. I would mother with love and pride for my family, just like her.

You might wonder if your work on this earth is valued. You might wonder if your leadership matters. You might wonder if your art speaks to people. You might wonder if your love permeates. You might wonder if people can sense God’s love through you. It all matters. You might just be one person, but you’re the person God intended you to be. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, you matter to so many.

Today is always a reminder to live life on purpose. Life isn’t guaranteed. Love like it matters, it does. Love like Pat.

Don’t Stay Small. Grow.

red flowers in middle of grass field
Photo by Pixabay on

Several years ago, I worked on a project with colleagues of mine. I brought an idea to the table. Together we developed it further and brought it forward as a solution to drive results. It worked. It was the right idea and together we made it come alive. As the results rolled in, I noticed my one colleague taking a lot of the credit. This colleague shared it as “their idea and process.” I think they actually started to believe that it was their idea. They eventually got some serious recognition and likely financial rewards. I was happy. This person is extremely talented. I was also proud our team. I never said anything at the time, I’m not sure I even allowed myself to acknowledge that it bothered me. It did bother me. I knew that it was my idea and our team’s execution that helped contribute to the success of the project. The idea without the strategy, development and execution is worth nothing. We couldn’t have done it without our entire group’s contribution and influence. It was the unique gifts that we each brought to the table that allowed the project to be successful.

At the time, I remember thinking “I’ll just keep my head down and work harder.” I did nothing and I said nothing. But by doing nothing, I allowed myself to become smaller. I also look back on that time and notice something about myself. I was comfortable staying small. I chose to stay small. I didn’t step into my leadership or influence as fully as I could.

In the moment, staying small sometimes feels like the right thing to do. “Why make a big deal about this? Why does it matter who gets the recognition? My work will speak for itself. Eventually I’ll get recognized as well. Eventually the financial payoff will come. This isn’t a big deal.” I have said those things to myself more times than I care to admit. In my 17 years in financial services, I found one benefit of staying small. You don’t rock any boats. You keep things comfortable for other people. As a result, you keep things comfortable for yourself. Sort of.

I know about comfort. Comfort feels comfortable. Duh. But comfort doesn’t allow for growth. My coach Ray Kelly used to always ask me “do you choose comfort or growth?” Choosing comfort and staying small doesn’t serve you because you aren’t growing. If you aren’t growing, you aren’t fully stepping into your potential of serving others. You were not designed to stay small, you were designed to grow.

“You were not designed to stay small, you were designed to grow.”

Encourage Her Elena

It took me years to realize the negative aspects of staying small. I realize now that staying small actually delayed my leadership growth and potential. I stayed small to keep other people comfortable. As a result, I was uncomfortable with my own personal growth. It’s not about me and it’s not about you. It’s not about who gets the recognition. It’s not even about who gets the money. This isn’t about satisfying a spirit of entitlement. The bigger picture is that it’s about you and I serving people with our unique gifts. Gifts that no one else has. Gifts that were meant to be known, embraced and stewarded. Gifts that really serve people. When you stay small, you aren’t sharing your gifts and abilities to their fullest extent. You may not even be sharing them at all. When God gives you gifts and abilities, he doesn’t intend them to stay small, diminished or hidden. He intends them to serve and love people. Staying small, although comfortable, only prevents you from serving to your fullest extent.

In your leadership in business, in your leadership at home, in your leadership in the community, are you unintentionally or intentionally staying small? Sometimes this is because smallness is projected on us and we aren’t even aware that we’ve fully stepped into that identity. Sometimes it’s because no one has come right out and said, “I expect you to fully step into who you were created to be. Stop staying small for the benefit of others.” That’s on my heart today. Whatever the reasons there are for staying small, they are preventing you from serving someone else. Don’t stay small in your relationships, parenting, work life, spiritual life or in your community. Step into who you were designed to be. Like the Table and Tide quote I shared last week, “Someone somewhere is depending on you to do what you were called to do.” You were not designed to stay small. You were designed to grow.

Do the Damn Thing

Photo Credit: Tasha Herrgott at Red Bird Hills Photography,

I need to just jump right in today because I have zero time for storytelling this morning. I am fired up. Write this next phrase on a post-it and put on your mirror, your computer, your fridge, your car dash, wherever your eyeballs see things.

Somebody, somewhere is depending on you to do what God has called you to do.

Table and Tide

Picture that person who needs you. Picture her/him in your head right this very instant. Give her a name. Understand the stresses she lives with that your work will alleviate. Picture her experiencing the joy she will feel when she uses your product. See the potential she will step into when she is on the receiving end your leadership. Picture the freedom she will enjoy when she hears your advice and wisdom. Imagine the change she could experience in her life because of you. But take it one step further, imagine you don’t get to her. Imagine her staying in the status quo because you didn’t step forward in doing what God called you to do. She needs you to do what you were created to do. Your life matters in the life of someone else. We don’t just live in a bubble. We are co-dependent creatures. Not co-dependent in a negative way – Codependent in a crazy, awesome way. We ALL benefit when we ALL live out our potential and our calling.

Today, you need to silence the voices in your mind that are saying “you’re not good enough. This isn’t the right time. I’m too old. I’m too young. I’ll do it when I’m in better shape. I don’t look like the type of person that does this. I don’t have enough experience. I don’t want to put myself out there. What will people think? I’m not good at learning new things. I’ll do it when I get the right sign.” This is your freaking sign.  You are enough and somebody, somewhere is depending on you to do what God has called you to do.

It doesn’t matter if you’re day one in a new business or if you’re 40 years into a seasoned career. You are feeling the nudge to grow and change. You are feeling the pull to step more fully into who you were created to be.  God is not done with you yet. You’re not at point of arrival. Know that your calling, your gifts, your work, your impact still matters to people. They need you.

Run the race. Ask for the raise. Make the investment. Start the business. Quit the job. Be a stay-at-home-parent. Sign up for the class. Move away. Move home. Ask for forgiveness. Ask for the business, the date, the chip dip. And don’t just do the damn thing, do it like you were created to do it. There’s no need to do it apologetically. Do it as if someone’s life depends on it. There’s a scene from Home Alone that I love. Kate is trying to get home to Kevin. She’s a desperate mom that will do anything to get home to her son, to be with her baby. She’s arguing with the flight crew and finally says “Now that I’m this close, you’re telling me it’s hopeless? I don’t care if I have to get out on your runway and hitchhike. If it costs me everything I own. If I have to sell my soul to the Devil himself, I am going to get home to my son.” There wasn’t anything that was going to stop her, she was fighting to get home.

Fight for yourself today. Fight for your calling. Fight so that you can be there for the people that need you. If you grow, people are served. If you have to step outside your comfort zone, step right out of that zone. If you have to get out on the runway and hitchhike, do it (just bring those flashlight wands that the flight crew uses to guide the plane, that way they’ll see you). Your people will thank you. Those people matter. Serve them. You know who else is served? The people that see you do what you were called to do. You will inspire them to do what they’re called to do. Somebody, somewhere is depending on you to do what you’re called to do.

Do the damn thing.

Love Yourself and You’ll Realize You’ve Always Belonged

This week I have a professional conference. I’m excited to be in a room again with professional colleagues and new friends. Investing into my own development is a form of self-care and self-love. This event brings back a memory of the last time I was at an a similar type event. At the event, a person at my table shared that they almost didn’t come because they didn’t think they would fit it. They were intimated by the other people in the room. They shared their struggles with believing that other people’s gifts and abilities just dimmed their own gifts and abilities. They believed that they didn’t belong and that they should come back when they’ve done more to deserve to be there.

When we say no to things that are good for us because we don’t feel that we belong or that we aren’t worthy is not ok. Hearing this smart and talented person say this broke my heart. I was devastated because I know all too well what that felt like. Not even ten years ago, I had an executive coach tell me the same thing. He said “Elena, I think you struggle with self-love. As a result, I think you feel that you owe the world something in order to receive love from them or in order to love yourself. You don’t owe anyone anything.” I immediately dismissed his comments in an effort to self-preserve. When I look back now, it was one of the earliest nudges that got me on the path to examine my self-love and eventually on the path to fight for it. I knew I needed to fight back. I knew that in order to really believe that I belonged, I had to believe that belonging wasn’t the most important thing. The most important thing was loving myself whether I belonged or not.

I knew that in order to believe that I belonged, I had to believe that belonging wasn’t the most important thing. The most important thing was loving myself whether I belonged or not.   

The table conversation wouldn’t have bothered me so much if I thought this were an isolated issue. It’s not isolated. Some of you might be reading this and realizing for the first time that sincerely loving yourself is even an option. You might really struggle with believing that you belong. The world has reinforced in every way that you need to be something else for someone else. That unless you’re on a mission to change yourself, you don’t have the right to even be here. This isn’t a female issue. It isn’t a male issue. It’s a people issue. When you really think about it, we’ve all been there. We’ve all been the person feeling like we just don’t belong at the table. If we just changed this one thing, we’d fit it. We often laugh as adults about the feelings of insecurity in middle school or high school. That feeling exists now and is stronger than ever. That feeling exists in the workplace, in the home, in the PTO meeting, on the football field sidelines where parents sit, at the gym, at the golf course, at the book club, and in the church. That feeling is often woven into every place where there are people.

About ten years ago in my professional life, I remember seeing this alive and well when the funky sock trend originated. It was a trend where many men in the professional workplace decided to ditch the traditional black professional socks and transitioned to the funky socks. I loved it. I still do. It was a creative expression to start, and it caught on like wildfire. Men I knew that hadn’t done their own clothes shopping for decades, started proactively going out to order their own unique funky socks. While you might downplay it as a trend, it was a reminder to me that people just want what makes them unique to be celebrated. When that happens, they feel like they belong. My male colleagues would find the craziest and most unique socks, many of which aligned with their hobbies, their interests, their sense of humor. The more their socks celebrated their uniqueness, the more they actually belonged. Funky socks aren’t isolated in this way, really most trends that catch on are an expression of people wanting to be part of something. People want to be special and unique, and also belong.

I feel like in my short time of writing this blog, this is a message that just keeps coming back to me. When I feel something so strong on my heart, I have learned to just share it. Every day, I want to tell whatever audience reads this blog that you are an amazing and gifted person that is unlike anyone else. Hearing this message every day wouldn’t be enough. I wish you could hear this message a thousand times a day. I wish I could hear this message a thousand times a day. Because we need to fight against the thousands of messages we hear and see every day telling us we aren’t enough and that we need to change who we are in order to be enough or to belong. I want you to know that you deserve self-love and God’s love, no matter how you define God in your life. I want you to know that it isn’t a decision that you make once and the fight is over. You need to make the decision to love yourself every single day. It doesn’t matter what you offer this world. It doesn’t matter if you wear funky socks. The fabric of who you are is unique. You are worthy and enough. When you truly do the work and take the time to fall in love with yourself, you will realize that you always belonged.

 I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!


For Everything There is a Season; Time to Plant and Time to Harvest

It’s fall people, and more specifically, harvest time. I discovered this on my walk. The natural world is giving me all these clues, that’s how I know. See photos. Since we’re talking harvest, we’re also talking farming. Before we jump in, I just want to make one thing clear, I’m not a farmer. I know that might surprise you, the dirt under my nails is actually brownie batter. But, growing up in a rural area made me fascinated by the business of farming and the natural seasons of farming, especially the season of harvest. It’s a beautiful time of year here in Minnesota from a literal perspective and from a metaphorical perspective. Farmers are the ultimate entrepreneur, they run a business. They take time to plant seeds, nurture those seeds into plants for months, and eventually those plants bear fruit. The harvest season is literally about enjoying the fruit of their labor. You finally get paid for months of work. Anyone else have a long sales cycle?

For everything there is a season, there’s a time to plant and a time to harvest.

I think we all understand this cycle. However, whether you’re running a farm, a home, or a business, some of our work isn’t always as cyclical with the calendar as my viewpoint of farming. We find ourselves always planting, always nurturing, and hopefully always harvesting. While that’s the reality of our homes and businesses, this natural season of harvest has me wondering if there is some wisdom in identifying a time to be intentional about certain activities of our businesses, especially harvesting.

Back in 2004 when I was first growing my business as a financial advisor, the planting came very easy to me. I loved prospecting and sharing my work in order to invite people to learn more about what I did as an advisor. When it came time to harvest, to close the business, it took a lot more courage for me. I figured out really quickly that getting people to the finish line didn’t happen by accident. At first, I just planted enough seeds hoping that eventually some of them would bear fruit. I’m sure that would happen to a certain degree. If a farmer plants a field and doesn’t nurture it or water it, some seeds will be successful on their own, mostly due to luck. They were planted in exactly the right spot, with the exact access to light and the exact access to rain. In reality though, what a waste of resources if the farmer just plants a million seeds and then forgets about them. Good luck guys, grow! In the same way, what a waste of our energy if we plant seeds in our life but never nurture them enough to get to harvest time. I learned that a great harvest has something to do with the seeds that were planted but more to do with what happened after the seeds were planted. The additional steps of getting my prospects to a client was in my control and was on me to get done. I needed to do the work to get them to that point of saying yes.

In my mind, the decision a farmer must make to start harvesting seems like it would be easy. You see that the crop is ripe and ready to be harvested and you just harvest. I’m guessing there’s much more to it. If the farmer is like any typical entrepreneur, we know they likely will over think this, there’s an internal battle. Just like you and I, they don’t have a crystal ball. If they let the crops stay out longer, they could get more yield (I’m writing words here like ‘yield’ that I don’t really understand but I’m hoping it works). If they do that, they risk rain and weather ruining the crops. At some point, the farmer has to make the call. In the same way in our lives, if you’ve planted the seeds, you’ve worked to nurture the seeds, you need to make the call and decide to harvest. You need to ask for the business. You need to ask for the raise. You need to ask for the date. You need to ask for the budget and support. You need to take the exam. It will take courage but for everything there is a season, there’s a time to plant and there’s a time to harvest. I want to challenge you that the time to harvest is now.

As a new business owner, I had some misplaced guilt when I received financial gain and success when my clients would make decisions to hire me and implement my advice. In response to my feelings, one of my leaders at the time said “Elena, you serve no one when your clients receive your advice and don’t implement it. When they say yes and implement the advice, you know you’re serving people. Stop making it about you. It’s not about you, it’s about them.” In other words, you serve no one if you just throw a bunch of seeds out there and don’t nurture them to the harvest. If the seeds were planted and nurtured in your home, in your organization or in your business, take this nudge and know it’s time to harvest. We don’t serve anyone if we’re just planting seeds all day long. Step out in courage and harvest the crops.

Let’s pause on courage for a minute. Harvesting is all about courage. In my opinion, it’s one of the biggest ‘muscles’ I see in successful people. Notice, I don’t say ‘it’s one of the most common character traits I see in successful people.’ That implies that you have courage, or you don’t. Courage doesn’t work like that. We all have a courage muscle. It just depends on whether you’re using the courage muscle enough to strengthen it and grow it. The most successful people I know use the courage muscle a lot. It’s a lot easier to access courage when it’s aligned with our ‘why.’ When we’re feeling scared, when we’re experiencing doubt, we may need to take five seconds and access our ‘why’ and then step forward in courage. It’s not about us, it’s about serving people. There’s no perfect time to harvest, the time is now.

My challenge to you going into this fourth quarter is to make the decision to access your ‘why,’ your courage muscle and harvest the crops you planted. The harvest season is literally about enjoying the fruits of your labor. Don’t plant seeds for the sake of planting. Get your people and business to the finish line. Harvest the crops. Then make sure to celebrate your courage and results.

EncourageYou Opportunity:

If you are feeling the nudge, put a plan together to harvest your crops, to get the results. Access your ‘why’ and grab hold of courage and do the dang thing. If you need some help or accountability, phone a friend or phone me.  One of my personal goals this quarter is to do things every day that get me to a point of needing to access my courage muscle. I want to do this in my faith, in my marriage and family, in my work, and in my health. In each area of my values, I’m wanting to challenge myself in doing things that require me to access courage. I know that if I’m doing enough courageous things, I’m getting closer to harvest. Join me in this challenge.

EncourageHer Opportunity:

In this next week, who is a woman (or person) that needs you to encourage her to harvest her crops. Can you challenge her to access her ‘why’ and grab hold of her courage to harvest her crops drive results. Also, don’t forget to help her celebrate her success! Maybe you’ve successfully walked through this and can just be someone’s biggest cheerleader. If this is you, you’re a woman in position to help another woman! This is great news. Just go ahead and pick up the dang phone to EncourageHer. You are amazing!

EncourageHer Leader’s Corner:

As a leader or business owner, you have a unique opportunity to create a season of harvest right now for you and your team. Whether you have a specific cyclical business and the season to harvest is now, or not, there’s no time like the present. Can you use the natural season of fall to rally your team to drive the results they’ve been working hard to drive, to focus on bringing in the business and closing the deal. If your year fiscal year ends 12/31, this is a great time to rally the troops.

Does everyone on your team know how they can contribute to a successful harvest or year end? You hold the power to decide that this is a focus right now. Remember from last week, once we tell our brains a story about what’s going to happen, our crazy powerful brains will work behind the scenes to make the vision/story we tell ourselves come true. Set a goal and vision for you and your team . Remind them of the why. This isn’t about them, it’s about the client/customer. Challenge each person to unleash their courage muscle. Then don’t forget to celebrate the courage and the results.

If you need support or coaching, or an accountability partner in this area of your business, please reach out to me to learn more about the work that I do as a coach.

I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!