What If….

It’s hard to believe that just a little over 2 years ago, to ‘walk’ into the grocery store from the parking lot would take me about 45 minutes, and when I entered inside the store doors, I was panting so hard you would think I just ran a marathon.

The reality was, it felt like a marathon and to make that kind of a ‘trek’ took all my effort, my focus, determination and grit to place one foot in front of the other and motor my way in.What If...

See, I have been living with a severe traumatic brain injury for 3o years, only we didn’t know it.

A few years ago, I lost my mobility, speech, many memories, many day to day motor skills and finer functions of my internal organs.  Taking that trek into the grocery store, where the lights, sounds, smells, movements and ever changing positions of placement of things on the shelves, would overwhelm my brain.   To ‘handle’ the sensory input, things didn’t work right.

With the internet, this time around (it was my 3rd time with lack of mobility and motor functions)- I was able to figure out that I had a brain injury. A very bad one.  (How it went so long without knowing it is a different story. In fact, I’m writing a full book about it).

Finally understanding what the cause of my mobility issues was, I then found the right kind of doctors to reprogram my brain. Literally.

Two years ago,  I was slowly regaining use of my ‘parts’ again, but every day took courage. Focus. Determination.

Today, I just walked a 7 mile hike.

The skilled hikers I trekked with this time did not even know I had a brain injury.  There’s still many things I have to prepare for when taking on new adventures, and those things help my brain handle better the things that still can overload my senses.

What really hit me out on the trails was the drastic change of my abilities in these past few years.  To do this kind of a hike was pretty powerful and a testimony to the importance of ‘going for it no matter what.’

I have always loved to walk. When I was young I would always go hike in the hills and forest.  I’ve never actually ‘hiked’ with a group of people though. Last week I decided to just go do it.

These past 30+ years have been filled with opportunities to give up.  But I didn’t.  It really started with a choice.

Even during the first two ‘season’s of my loss of mobility, without a correct diagnosis as to ‘why’ this stuff was happening… My choice was this: either succumb to what the doctors say (they said I had MS  over and over… even though every test came back negative).. or overcome my circumstances by finding a different option.

My options of choice was between:  give up- or do what ever it takes to be ‘normal’.  Or in my case, my choice was to be better than normal.

I wanted to be 100% completely recovered, healthy, vibrant, strong, powerful and able to do what ever I put my mind to. This past year, I’m living that decision and it’s really cool.

Trust me. There were dark days. Many.

Many hours of prayer. Crying, frustration.  Hurt, pain, discomfort.

I am so thankful to God that He put a vision in my head, and in my heart. He kept that vision alive. He revealed to me an image of myself that was at a healthy weight (I was 80 lbs overweight the 2nd time I lost my mobility).  He showed me doing things I had never been able to do.  He lit a flame in my heart that let me know THAT was what life could be. It was my  WHAT IF.

What if you had the life YOU always wanted?

What would it look like?

What would it feel like?

What would you do if money and time we no object?

What is keeping you from living that life NOW?

You DESERVE to live an amazing life.  You can HAVE IT.  BUT…it takes a choice.  YOUR CHOICE.   Making a change to live the life you want can be scary. But, what if… there was someone there who has walked in your shoes to guide you?  What if you had an advocate to cheer for you, champion you, kick you in the butt and hold you accountable to YOUR dreams when you need it.

If you knew that person existed.. and was willing to support you along your journey to a life filled with passion, achieving goals (no matter how big or small). Would you take action and reach out to connect with that person?

I hope so.  For many, I’ve become that person.  The door is open to you too.

What goals do you want to achieve?

What obstacles do you need to triumph over?

Are you ready to take action?

Connect with me. Let’s talk.

You CAN live your What if Dream.  But it starts with you to make a choice to do so.

Here’s to talking with you soon!
Debbra

 

Business Growth Speaker Debbra Sweet Delivers Keynote Speech At San Diego BNI Networking Event

Debbra Sweet, an expert on the subject of Business Growth for entrepreneurs, spoke a at BNI San Diego business networking event yesterday concerning growing business through effective referrals.

SAN DIEGOMay 12, 2016PRLog — Debbra Sweet, an expert on the subject of BusinessDebbraSweet-entrepreneur speaker Growth for entrepreneurs, spoke a at BNI San Diego business networking event on May 11th, 2016 concerning growing business through effective referrals.

The Handlery Hotel, located in Mission Valley in San Diego, CA was bustling with business professionals in the early morning hours of  Thursday May 11th, 2016 as proactive entrepreneurs gathered to learn about the benefits and insights of building a structured referral system into their business growth plans.

Debbra Sweet, a business growth expert, specializes in change management in the areas of body, mind and business, was invited to be the keynote speaker at this event. She delivered a keynote presentation designed to introduce attendees to a system to effectively grow their networking team, contact sphere and client base through a strategic approach that leverages time and delivers results.

Those who have been attendees at any of Sweet’s events say: “There are people who talk about doing things. Then are people who actually do those things they talk about. Debbra is a doer. What she says she’ll do, she delivers150%”. Others declare: “She has the ability to engage you from the beginning with confidence and comfort. You know standing before you is someone who will lead and who truly cares about you, your success and your results”.

Sweet has developed a reputation as a motivational speaker and entrepreneurial leader who not only teaches, trains, coaches and consults on the subjects of: leadership, business, marketing, sales and wellness- but she is one whose peers confidently share “She lives it.”

Sweet is a Director Consultant for the local BNI region in San Diego CA. since 2005 and has been involved with this organization starting in 1997. She is a Certified Trainer in Word of Mouth Marketing.

A multipreneur herself Sweet has a rich, dynamic, substantive and practical approach to all she does. Very results focused, she specializes in working with business owners and executives to help them increase their profitability through planned, targeted, effective sales, marketing and revenue generation.

Debbra Sweet is based in San Diego County however frequently travels to other states to speak on various business subjects. She is also a best selling co-author of the New York Times Best Seller “Masters of Sales” and the lead author in the “Power of Leadership” book series.

For more information on Debbra Sweet business growth speaker visit: http://www.debbrasweet.com/networking.

 

Motivational Speaker Debbra Sweet featured keynote at Business Growth by Networking Event

Debbra Sweet was one of the featured speakers at BNI San Diego Event that brought North County Professionals together to learn about growing business through effective referrals.

SAN DIEGOMay 7, 2016PRLog — The Lakehouse Resort in San Marcos, CA was bustling with business in the wee hours of the morning Wed May 5th, 2016 as proactive business DebbraSweet-v2-entrepreneurprofessionals gathered to learn about the benefits and insights of building a structured referral system into their business growth plans.

Debbra Sweet, an entrepreneurship expert, specializes in change management in the areas of body, mind and business, was invited to be the keynote speaker at this event.

Sweet has developed a reputation as a motivational speaker and entrepreneurial leader who not only teaches, trains, coaches and consults on the subjects of: leadership, business, marketing, sales and wellness- but she is one whose peers confidently share “She lives it.”

Those who have been clients, students or attendees at any of Sweet’s events say: “There are people talk about doing things. Then are people who do. Debbra is a doer.  What she says she’ll do, she delivers150%”.

Others declare: “She has the ability to engage you from the beginning with confidence and comfort. You know standing before you is someone who will lead and who truly cares about you, your success and your results”.

Sweet is has been a Director Consultant for the local BNI region for 11 years, and has been involved with this organization for close to 19. She is a Certified Trainer in Word of Mouth Marketing.

She delivered a keynote presentation designed to introduce attendees to a system to effectively grow their networking team, contact sphere and client base through a strategic approach that leverages time and delivers results.

A multipreneur herself, Sweet has a rich, dynamic, substantive and practical approach to all she does. Very results focused, she specializes in working with business owners and executives to help them increase their profitability through planned, targeted, effective sales, marketing and revenue generation.

Debbra Sweet is located in San Diego County. She is also a best selling co-author of the New York Times Best Seller “Masters of Sales” and the lead author in the “Power of Leadership” book series.

For more information on Debbra Sweet go to:http://www.DebbraSweet.com

The Desert is a Great Exfoliant

Just came back from another weekend in the desert. Been a few years since I really got to ride out here. As I was coming back home, reflecting on this Thanksgiving ride, this blog kept coming back top of mind. As we approach 2016, are you willing to exfoliate things that held you back this year? What path will you take? The risk of adventure – or will you still choose to take the safe path and ride around the obstacles?

After you read this post, share one big goal you want to accomplish for 2016!

Debbra Sweet Entrepreneur Leadership Training Blog

Ocotillowells Sand WashThis Thanksgiving weekend I spent time in the desert with friends, family and new acquaintances.  Part of our personal family tradition has been to go out to the desert for the days after Thanksgiving to ride, play in the dirt and relax.

This weekend I made the comment to my husband that the desert is a great exfoliant!  At first I was talking about the sand on my face. It was windy at times and I was recalling that each time I return from a desert ride, after a hot shower and cleaning off of all that sand, my face and skin were always softer and brand new. The sand is a natural abrasive, so when you wash up, it gently removes old skin cells leaving new, baby soft skin that has been underneath to the surface.

As I was reflecting on the adventures of the weekend, I had some…

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Aim Big & Take Action – the French Seam Approach

Have you ever had a situation where you needed to teach, lead, guide or mentor either an individual or group through a task where everyone’s skill set was not the same to start? Yet you needed to accomplish the task at hand at the same time and with success?

One of the best perspectives I’ve ever gleaned from how to do that is from one of my teachers. This is an amazing approach French Seamsto leadership in action. This perspective came from watching how my sewing teacher worked with me on my very first sewing project.

The wisdom from this experience is what I call “The French Seam Approach to Leadership”.

When ever I am involved in a leadership situation where I need to achieve a large result, or a change in culture within a group, or where I at first think that the task at hand could be daunting- I apply the “French Seam Approach”.

About French Seams

A French seam is often used when the fabric is too delicate to use a traditional stitch. A French Seam prevents the seam allowance from unraveling. The construction of a French seam provides a clean, finished, professional look to the inside of the garment, such as concealing pinked (or cut/frayed) edges.

The use of a French seam is not restricted to any particular clothing style or type. There are instances, however, where it requires more skill and patience because of its complexity sewing with certain materials and patterns of clothing. It takes practice for the seamstress (or tailor) to become proficient with this procedure, but using a French produces an amazing finished product.

My intro to French Seams:
Ever since I was younger I had wanted to learn to sew. For different reasons I finally took action on it as a young adult.

I decided to take classes through one of the local colleges in San Diego. I had a new sewing machine, and no clue how to use it. When I learned about the local classes I knew it would be a great fit for me.

The program basically was: we had to bring our own machine, sewing tools and we would be assigned two required sewing projects per semester to finish. If we finished the required projects during the course of the semester, we could do additional projects in class and the instructor would be there to help us when needed.

I was stoked! For years I had been sketching out different clothing ideas, things for my daily wear, things to wear on stage when I perform, and I even had ideas of doing household sewing projects.

Sewing Class; Day 1

The first day I walked into class, I was intrigued by the age range of my classmates. I was about 24 and had many ‘seasoned in life’ classmates (many ladies in their 50’s, 60’s ad 70’s) and then there were a couple of young gals who were being home schooled. This class was part of their curriculum. They were about 12 or 13.

With me that day was my new sewing machine, my $3 pair of scissors, a sewing needle, thread and a huge excitement about learning something I had always wanted to do!

Looking around the room, I was expecting that the class would be a bit dry, focused on our machines only. Much to my surprise, our teacher was amazing! She was very experienced at sewing and teaching. At first she was very quiet, but then when she started talking, her experience and care for how we learned to sew came through.

She taught us a lot about fabrics, threads, the types of sewing tools we would want to invest into, and she gave us a very important foundational lesson. Her verbatim words to us were “Never buy your fabric at full price.”

She went onto explain how the stores worked, how we could find great quality and save money by going to the garment districts, etc.

I appreciated that she wanted us to be mindful of our spending and to invest into quality tools to help produce the best results for all of our projects. Sewing should be fun, enjoyable and even relaxing.

She proceeded to get to know each of us quickly as we gave a brief intro of ourselves and our sewing history. I was one of the few newbie’s in the class, but I was pleased to get to know my classmates. These ladies looked like a hoot to get to know!

Time to start sewing

For all of us first timers, we actually were given paper to sew on. Not even fabric! At first I was bummed, but I understood her approach. She had to teach us to crawl before we could walk. I learned how to set up my machine and use the most basic stitch on the machine.

I took my time and before I knew it, I was sewing! Even though it was just paper I was thrilled!

Our first assignment:

Before we wrapped up that day one class, we were given our first required assignment. We were going to be making bath robes!

Now, when I was younger I had a couple robes, but they were stiff and kind of itchy. Our teacher was quite sharp- and as quickly as she told us that the robes are what the project was.. all of us must have ‘flashed’ a look of ‘thick, plush, resort style terry cloth robes’ across our faces. I know I did.

She quickly proceeded to say: “Here’s the pattern to go get… and NO terry cloth! It’s too difficult to sew on for a first time project.”

She then wrapped up the class and gave us one final reminder: “Remember, never buy your fabric full price!”

We all departed class excited to go fabric shopping.

SCORE!

The next day I walked into one of the fabric stores and immediately saw the most amazing deep plum brocade fabric. Let me clearly state, I love purples. They are some of my favorite colors. And, I love fabric that has delicate and elegant texture. At the time I knew zero about the ins and outs of fabrics. I just knew I really liked this one. My heart lept when I saw it.. and the best part was.. it was on sale! SCORE!

This fabric was normally $15 a yard on sale for $5 per yard. I knew I needed three yards. Did some quick math- what would have been a $45 ‘robe’ was now only going to be about $15. I was a happy camper. I could picture this finished project and it was going to be elegant, I saved money. My fabric fit her criteria: on sale and not terry cloth.

I gathered and paid for everything I needed and walked out the door with my purchases. I could not wait to get to my next class to start working on this!

Day 2 of School

The next day I was back at class, totally excited to start to make my robe and ‘really sew’. I always tend to sit towards the front of the classroom, so I found my place, and waited with anticipation at getting into the project.

As I glanced around the room, I couldn’t help notice that almost every other gal in the room had chosen flannel for their robe. I didn’t think much of it, just observed that it was so dominant of a choice.

One thing to note is that all my life, intentionally or not, I seem to always walk the different path. Not afraid to go down uncharted terrain. That’s part of being a trailblazer, of which I’ve been doing my whole life. As I noted all the flannel, I simply reminded myself that the choice of my purple, textured material was going to make a robe I would be excited and proud to wear. Flannel for me did not seem too comfy for a robe.

The teacher comes in and glances around the room. Everyone had machines set up, tools out and our fabrics were on our tables too. She was assessing everyone’s choices with a smooth gaze around the room, gently nodding her head in approval as she spied all the flannel. Then her eyes fell on my purple purchase. Her eyes furrowed and she sharply said “ I thought I told you not to pay full price! To only buy fabric on sale!”

I was a bit startled by her quick retort, but proudly spoke back “I did! This was normally $15 per yard and I got it for $5!”

She considered what I said, gazed me in the eyes and saw my excitement- then she took a deep breath, let out a short audible sigh and said “Ok.”

She quickly proceeded to tell the class how to lay out our fabric, prep the patterns, and lay the patterns up so we could start to cut. As she watched us, she would walk around the room and then give us tips for making sure everything was done correctly the first time.

As she maneuvered around the room, she noticed I had reached a point where my next step was going to be to cut the fabric. I had my $3 scissors in hand (these are the really basic kind you use to cut papers). Before I could event put the scissors to the fabric she asked: “Where are your sewing sheers?” I showed her my orange handled scissors and said: “These are all I have”

Hearing what I said, she looked at my fabric, my scissors, my excitement, then she took a deep breath, let out a short audible sigh and said “Ok. You wait here. I’ll be back.” She walked towards her desk, looked through her teacher things and then returned to hand me a shiny pair of super sharp, stainless steel, sewing scissors. She handed them to me and said: “Use these”.

As I started to cut with them, I could feel the difference. All this was new to me and I had no previous experiences to compare to. I have always done arts and crafts, and in many cases, ‘good enough is good enough’. These scissors were different though. Quality, well balanced, and most importantly, as I quickly learned, would not unravel my fabric. The craftsmen ship of the blades were far superior to my basic scissors.

Lesson #1: quality of tools matters. Invest in the best.

As I started cutting, she stayed close by my side. Speaking quietly calmly, and reassuringly, she guided me on how to cut the fabric so it was not wasteful, but most importantly, so that it did no fray.

Brocade is a type of fabric that is woven. The delicate textures and patterns that I so admire are made by a cross hatching of the threads used to make the fabric. Like a basket, some are vertical, some horizontal. Some on a diagonal. Depending upon how you cut into the fabric, you can break the bond of the weave easily- and quickly ruin your fabric all while making a mess.

Her quiet support gave me the confidence to cut with precision that kept the fabric in tact, looking beautiful.

Next Step: Seaming

After she saw that everyone had successfully cut out their fabric, it was time to start assembly. This time, without even asking me any questions about my actual sewing skills, she took a proactive approach. She said: “Wait here. Let me show you how to do this after I get the others started”.

I didn’t question her statement as I was just simply thrilled to be ‘sewing’. I waited patiently until after all the other ladies and young gals had machines humming. The teacher came back to me and said: “I’m going to teach you how to do a French Seam. This is what all the high end designers do.”

Her matter of fact method of talking to me was calming, and very simple to follow. She stayed near me checking in on me each step of the way.

First she taught me how to do step one of the seam. It was different than what everyone else was learning, but I didn’t question her methods. All I knew is that when I did what she said, it worked.

Step was seaming was done. We then proceeded to step 2, and step 3.   Before I knew it, my robe was coming together and boy was it elegant! The French Seam she taught me was so clean, pristine. The robe was classy and you could not see any cut lines. Everything was self encased in it’s own fabric shell. Beautiful. Elegant. Easy!

I was so exited to finish this project off with ease, complete with fine line top stitching for the last ‘designer’ detail.

When we were all done with the project, we did a quick show and tell. All the robes looked great- but mine was clearly just a bit different.

Eager to get home and show my husband my very first completed sewing project ever, while I was packing up, my teacher came over to me and quietly said “Debbra, you did this amazingly well! I taught you how to do a French Seam because the fabric you bought is one of the most difficult to work with. It unravels easily and it’s so expensive to work with. The French Seam is one of the most complicated seams to learn also- but you learned it without any hesitation. Great job.”

Her approach in compliments is pretty matter of fact. I stood there quite surprised at her statement of how difficult the fabric and seaming was supposed to have been. And then it hit me… the reason I was so successful, so quickly, was due to her teaching approach and her leadership style.

Lesson #2:

Assessment, Attitude, Aptitude and Achievement.

She had to assess my choices of material and tools at the beginning of class. Technically, I did what she said. Bought my fabric on sale, I had all the parts I needed to complete the project. When she realized the potential obstacles that I was going to encounter with my fabric choice and inferior scissors, she made a choice.

Rather than criticize or condemn me for my lack of knowledge or experience in sewing, she worked with the situation at hand. She stayed calm, and taught me technical things in a manner that made it seem ‘normal and easy’. That made it doable!

Her supportive manner instilled the confidence in me to do exactly what she said and showed by example. Great leaders need to be willing to be flexible and work with the situation at hand in this manner.

Lesson #3

Break the ‘bigness’ down to the smallest component parts & Details matter

In her approach of teaching me French Seams, she didn’t try to tell me or show me everything at once. That would have been too much. She knew the outcome that was needed, and in her wisdom, she gave me just enough information, instruction and support in small bite sized pieces. Giving me the ‘to do’s one step at a time, being ready to come to my aid when needed, but with wiggle room to do things on my own, gave the encouragement needed, and each step of the way where I saw that I was “doing it”, added more confidence to be able to see the project coming together the way the end photos looked.

Any time I encounter a leadership situation that looks too big to maybe accomplish, I always remember this lesson. Break it down to one step at a time. Remain calm at the helm and teach with individual attention if needed to help make the student successful with completing the tasks at hand.

After that class was formally over, I enrolled in more classes for the next couple years. Every semester I always finished my required projects quickly, so I was able to do extra projects of my own choice.

Inevitably, as my skills continued to increase, so did my choice of difficulty of projects compared to the time I had actually been sewing. My teacher and I developed a fond appreciation for one another.

She would see my ‘extracurricular’ sewing choices, ask me how I was planning on accomplishing the project. When I would answer, she would always pause, breath deep, let out a long audible sigh… and then direct me to a specialty class or workshop she was teaching that would simplify the difficult steps.

Our final project together was one that I fondly remember. I had stopped being her student for a couple years. I did have a personal phone number for her, but I never wanted to use it. This last project was a doozy for me as I was time short and stumped on a solution.

I was helping out a young bride and I made her wedding dress. It was my gift to her. When I offered this to her, I had two conditions: no fancy beading and no zippers. We were a few days a way from the wedding and it was time for the final fitting. The dress had come together beautifully. All I had left to do was hem the dress and make the roses for the bustle. Easy.

The bride lived 3 hours away and she drove down for this final meeting before the wedding. The last time she tried it on, it fit wonderfully! I was excited to have done this for her and I was excited for my own skills. I had only been sewing for 2 years, and to do a wedding dress was not considered easy.

As we slipped the dress on and as I buttoned up the back, I watched in horror as the shoulders of her dress slipped right off the tops of her arms! OH NO! What happened?

Turns out, I made the dress correctly (it fit before), but she had been so nervous about getting married, that since our last fitting (three weeks prior) she stressed hard and lost a ton of weight in her upper body.

I was trying to stay calm.. but had no clue what to do. The only fix I knew of was to pull the whole dress apart and to make a completely new top. I didn’t have time for that. Literally.

In this moment of crisis, I reassured the bride all would be good- and then after she left, had to seek out a solution. This was before the internet, before Google. I picked up the phone and called every sewing store I could to ask for ideas. I needed a quick, yet effective fix that would still make the dress be beautiful. I did NOT want to call my former teacher and tell her ‘what I did’. 🙂

Alas, no one had an answer, and I knew, deep in my heart, she would.

It had been at least a year since we had seen each other. I wondered if she would actually remember me.

The phone rang, she answered. After a couple of quick pleasantries, I knew she remembered me. When she asked why I was calling, I shared the dilemma and then waited in silence to hear her reply.

She took a deep breath, let out an audible sigh, and proceeded to give me instructions on how to fix this issue, one step at a time.

Final lessons:

The dress turned out magnificent, the bride was thrilled and I was once again thankful for my amazing teacher.

It doesn’t matter how often we are asked to help guide, teach and lead others. What is important is this: how you approach the ‘bigness or difficulty’ of a situation totally can effect the outcome for those you lead.

Do you create mountains out of mole hills? Or, do you view the terrain of the mountain for what it is, assess the skills and eagerness to learn of the individuals you lead- and then teach them ‘French Seam Style”?; one step at a time all the while remaining calm, positive and with reassurance that they can accomplish the new goals learning new skills along the way?

I have used this method to help the entrepreneurs I lead accomplish amazing things that are noticeably above the results of their peers.

Oh yeah… I still sew everything I make (even casual t-shirts) with French Seams!

What to some is difficult, to me is the norm. Anything less just doesn’t feel right.

What is your next Big Thing you want to accomplish that you can apply this leadership approach to? I’d love to hear from you.

Have a Magnificent Day!

Debbra Sweet

Leadership lessons from Grandma

Today was the day my grandmother was born. Many years ago.
She went into her final sleep early in 2009. There are certain times of the year where I really miss her. Today is one of them. She was a simple woman- but read the post I shared after she passed- and you will learn some powerful, insightful and quality leadership lessons I learned from her.

May they bless you and serve you as they have for me.

Debbra Sweet Entrepreneur Leadership Training Blog

Earlier this year I lost my last grandma.  Her passing wasn’t a total surprise as she was getting up in years.  Even though her time was going to come someday- it still wasn’t easy. In fact, as we get closer to Christmas, I find I am missing her horribly.

The past couple days I’ve been reflecting on our family Christmas’s from times past.  Going to Grandma’s was always part of our family tradition.  We knew going to see her was a couple hour drive and you never knew how all the relatives were going to act that day- but one thing that’s been pinging at my heart this year as I reflect on her and how she influenced my life is that she was a great example of a leader.

Grandma was not overly school educated- in fact, if I recall correctly, she really only finished 8th grade or so. …

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3 Reasons Why Leading Yourself First Matters

V.C.P.

Three little letters.

One powerful concept.

Once you understand this concept, you can start to experience the transformational benefits it can bring into your life and leading-yourselfbusiness.

What does VCP® mean?

  1. Visibility
  2. Credibility
  3. Profitability

Where you are at on the VCP curve impacts your effectiveness as a leader, your networking time, your results. (VCP applies in all facets of life. Not just business and networking.)

The VCP curve is the process of moving from invisibility, to becoming visible. Once you establish visibility then you need to reach a state of credibility, then finally achieving a level of trust that brings profitability from your time, efforts and energy.

Start seeing where you are visible

When you network as a way to grow your business or support personal causes, you are visible. When you take on a leadership position, you have immediately positioned yourself to be visible.

Whether you like it or not, visibility comes with the role and responsibility of leadership.

Being visible is easy. You can be physically present and visible by attending networking functions, meetings, showing up for work, taking care of clients, vendors and even doing things with colleagues.

Belong to any online networking groups? You have a digital life. You have a level of visibility even if you do not participate in the online activities of the groups.

Are you a member of any service club, trade organization, church, community groups? Do they have a roster of members? Do you attend their meetings? You have  a level of visibility here.

Ever stand in line at the grocery store, at the bank or even wait to get into a local sporting event? You are visible here too!

Why does awareness of your visibility matter?

Being visible is easy.  Just because you are visible does not mean you are credible.

Being credible when being being visible is a goal effective leaders strive for.

How does learning to lead yourself first, and have a goal to move up the VCP ladder matter?

People will follow those who they trust. It takes a long time to build trust, takes a few seconds to break it.

If you are visible, but not credible, people will not trust you.  Think you will get abundant, quality referrals without strong credibility?  Think again.

Think you will be a great leader when what you say and what you do are not in alignment? Think again.

What is needed to lead yourself and move from invisibility, to visibility onward to credibility?

Take action to lead yourself by:

  • being attentive to what you do
  • why you do it
  • how you do things
  • when you do things
  • where you do things and
  • with whom

The most effective leaders live and work with transparency and personal  integrity. They are highly aware that everything they do while at work or play, is a direct reflection of who they really are.

Ever seen a doctor who is clearly overweight and out of shape? They stand before you huffing and puffing. Sweat dripping down their neck, forehead and face because all they did is walk to see you?  Yet, this very doctor tells you that you need to ‘loose weight and start exercising’ to cure your ailment.

Ever call a business with a concern, or problem you need help with and the customer service person says in a rote way “I’m sorry for your problem”… but what you feel on the phone is that they really don’t care? You can tell it’s simply just a statement they are trained to say.  How does that moment make you feel? Does it add to the problem, or do their words (without feeling) provide comfort, peace and a lead to a resolve?

Those are two simple examples of people living, working, talking and yes, even ‘leading the moment’ without integrity. Both stories show a type of  visibility, but both lack credibility with their words and actions.

What you say, what you do, when you do it, how you do it and with whom…matters.

Great leaders need to be consistent in all they do.

It’s easy to fake words.  Faking behavior is not so easy – especially over the long term.

Some people will say anything to anyone to get what they want. This is not leadership.It’s manipulation. This type of person does not live with integrity. The words they say may sound sincere, but sincerity is no guarantee for truth.  It’s easy to sound sincere if the first person you lie to is yourself.

This is where the real opportunity to lead yourself really presents itself.

Are your words, thoughts, actions in alignment all the time? Everywhere and with everyone? Or, do you think,speak and act one way with some people, then change how you speak, act and think with others?

Do you put on your ‘best behavior’ hat when you network, or work with clients face to face- and turn around criticize, judge, demean or speak ill of them behind their back?

Have you boasted about how important people and relationships are only to blow off meetings, show up late all the time, come in half prepared?

What about those days where little challenges that frustrate us all have you reach a point where to complete strangers you are rude, obnoxious, belligerent simply because you feel entitled to do so since you are having a bad day?

What if this ‘bad day behavior’ happens often- and unbeknownst to you, one of your best clients, who you’ve told how much you value people – sees you from afar treating others this way? Do you think he will be your best client very long? Do you think he will refer his trusted friends to you?

Take the lead with yourself

You need to be able to lead yourself first with integrity, authenticity, transparency and willingness to ‘do what it takes’ to be your best.

Not there yet? That’s o.k. You have a place to start.

Are  you already there? Congratulations!

The best leaders will never ask anything of others that they themselves will not be willing to do. Ask yourself to be your very best self.   Be aware that your VCP is in play at all times.  You can move up the VCP curve. You can also move down it. You can move down it so far and fast that you might not be able to easily recover.  Be attentive at all times.

When you lead yourself first, you set the example. You learn through experience what it takes to have the commitment, discipline, dedication, and learning curve of how to humble your heart, set aside your ego.  Start to live with honesty to your own self, in all areas, at all times.

I am not talking about being a perfectionist – nor being perfect. No one is perfect.

I am talking about having an awareness of your strengths, your good qualities, your great qualities.  What are areas in your life and skill sets are at a place of excellence right now? What are areas in your life and skill sets that could use improvement? Where do you need support? Who can you reach out to mentor, train or support you?

Live each day, one day at a time.  Great leaders are life long learners. Learning to lead yourself takes time.

Just remember this: the concept of “Do as I say, not as I do”… doesn’t work for effective leadership.

Your actions DO speak louder than words.

People today have access to more info, more ways to spread info about you. When you lead yourself first, get your house in order.  Then you will have more insight, wisdom, an authentic voice when it’s time to network and  time to lead others.  Lead yourself with excellence so that when people talk about you, it builds your reputation.

This is vitally important when you are eventually in a place to lead the leaders.

Be the change you want to see.

You are reading this to increase your skill sets and understanding about how to be a leader when networking.

The people I work with most often want results.

To get results your networking time, you need to ‘walk the walk.

Effective Networking is about building deep, quality relationships.

Relationships take time to develop.

During that time, you are really building and increasing the trust factor between you and those you network with?

Depending upon your reason for networking, it may not be the relationship between you and your networking circle that matters.  It does, (very much)- but often, when business professionals are networking, their goal is to have access to the people your ‘people’ know.

When you lead yourself with excellence in all areas, the bond, trust between you and your first level contacts will be strong.That’s important when they go to vouch for you to their contacts. Those contacts might be their friends, family, peers, customers, vendors, acquaintances.

When you are networking, your reputation (built upon your words, actions, deeds, attitude, ethics and ability to deliver that which you say you will) has a direct impact on the reputation and quality of relationships the person who refers you has with their contact sphere.

The risk is high when we work by referrals.

If you are looking to network for many years to support your businesses, your personal life, your passions or even your social responsibility causes… your ability to lead yourself first…matters.

Your reputation matters.

Your time matters.

You matter.

Question:  What is one action you can take that will increase your credibility? Share your answer on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Here’s to you taking action to lead yourself!

Debbra Sweet

VCP® was developed by Dr.Ivan Misner.
Dr. Ivan Misner lives a full life. An entrepreneur, businessman, philanthropist, and bestselling author, he has achieved enormous success in each field. He is the Founder of BNI, the world’s largest business networking and referral organization. In addition, he is the Senior Partner for The Referral Institute, the world’s leading training company on referral marketing.