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

 

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

20 Things You Didn’t Know About Me

As we kick of this year of 2015, I thought I would share a few ‘unknown’ tidbits about myself.   The past couple years as I’ve finished rehabilitating from my severe traumatic brain injury, I’ve not publicly blogged much.  Offline, I have been writing and documenting my journey. (There’s much to share.)

The best leaders are transparent- so the sharing below, simply thought, would be fun to let you know some trivia about 20 thingsmyself.

1. First thing I ever really wanted to do when I ‘grew up’ was to be a dancer. Ended up being a musician instead.

2. First boy I kissed had the last name of Love. I married a man with a last name of Sweet.

3. Fall is my favorite time of the year.

4. I delivered both of my babies all naturally- no drugs at all.

5. I’ve raised both of my boys without drugs (western medicine)– and have been teaching them how to live healthfully off of food and natural herbs for ‘medicine’.

6. The first time I sat on a motorcycle was when I was 8. My mom’s cousin sat me on his bike and I fell in love with them then. Pined for my own for years. Would never dare tell mom & dad because ‘girls don’t do that sort of thing’. Had many guy friends who were totally cool and would give me rides on their bikes. Then I met my hubby – and within a month he was teaching me how to ride his bike. He sold one of his and bought one for me.

7. I’m actually very ‘Martha Stewarty’. I cook from scratch, make my own hair care products, I love to sew (and am actually pretty good at it), love doing arts and crafts and am still learning how to garden organically in CA soil/weather.

8. Starting in1997 I began studying to become a Naturopathic Doctor. Finished my Master of Holistic Healing Program, am certified as an Herb Specialist, Certified Health Coach, along with having certification to be a personal trainer. I’ve studied Iridology and Kinesiology too. I still want to finish some schooling for this subject matter.

9. I was a music performance major in college. However, I started later than all my school friends. When I first started playing Saxophone, the adults would not give me the whole instrument. I only got the mouthpiece. Once I learned how to play that (yes, there is a technique I had to learn) they gave me my whole sax.

10. I love to travel. When I was young (and single) I took many spontaneous road trips. I’ve been to 40 of the 50 United States. Have been to parts of Canada and Mexico. Time to go to the other side of the globe. To many, my move to Cali was one of those ‘spontaneous’ decisions. On the outside it looked like that- took 2 seconds to decide. What people didn’t know is I had decided on 1984 to move here. One day in August of 1989 I jumped in my car with 2 suitcases, my bicycle, sax and a box of personal records and made the road trip by myself to San Diego. Was a fantastic road trip and I would do it again.

11. In high school one of my creative writing teachers failed me. Said I didn’t know how to write. I have been published as an author 9 times. One of the books I am published in is still on the NY Times Best Selling list.

12. I can fall asleep anywhere, anytime. I learned to train my brain years ago how to do this.

13. I appreciate technology and use it for business, but personally I still do not have a:, ipad, mp3 player, or other new ‘tech gadgets’.

14.The first time I ever saw Star Wars was when I met my hubby in 1991.

15. I have an eclectic personality and have many traits from my dad’s side of the family. When I was younger I would describe myself as a bit ‘Bohemian’. After researching on Ancestory.com, discovered my great grandmother (from my dads side) was actually born in what we now call Bohemia.

16. I have double jointed pinky fingers, growing up I could not run. Now that we’ve reprogrammed my brain, I can.

17. I was invited to be a founding member of the SoCal Transformational Leadership Counsel. This is a sub group of the International Transformational Leadership Counsel, which is made up of the worlds top thought leaders of today. In my entire career, I have never actively sought a position of management or ‘leadership’. It just always showed up – often quickly. After being frustrated with that for many years, through wise counsel of others, I realize that it happens because I am wired for it and many say I am good at leading. I accept this role with humility and a great sense of dedication to those I lead. It is my heart to always do my best, lead with authenticity, integrity and to do what I can to help others succeed.

18. I’ve been accused of being a racist. To those who know me, know, that in fact, I used to get in a lot of trouble because I had ‘too many friends’ of a variety of ethnicities. Ever since I was in kindergarten, I knew that skin color did not matter. (In my kindergarten we had the first little black boy in school. All of us students were basically white. The little boy was always sitting next to me. The principal told us we were to treat him no different than anyone else. I was intrigued by him and got to know him a bit. One day he had a cold. His nose was drippy. I remember thinking to myself “He has green boogers when he’s sick … just like me.” From that moment on I knew his skin color did not matter- we were all the same on the inside.)

What did and does matter was (is) your heart and attitude. I have many people who have entered my life that come from a wide variety of backgrounds, age, circumstances, ethnicity’s, cultural beliefs and positions in life. What always was, and is, most important to me is: your attitude and your heart. Are you meek and open to growth for betterment of your life and that of others, or… are you arrogant, egocentric and closed off to learning? Personally, I am a mutt. I do not know my true ethnic make up. I do know though that I am always intrigued by human capital and growth potential. I do my best to remain humble in all circumstances so that I can be there to enjoy the lessons in life I can learn by meeting people from all over.

19. I do not get star struck by people of influence or ‘authority’. I’ve met many celebrities and people who have ‘power’ in a variety of ways. We all eat, sleep and poop the same. That there… levels the playing field. We are all just people. What you do for your career is not a ‘nasash’ for me. Having been with celebrities behind the scenes many times over, they all have the same inner struggles and questions as the rest of us. They are often appreciative of the fact I see them for who they are, not for their celebrity.

20. I used to be a bit afraid of guns. The day I had a gun pulled to my head – literally- I realized I did not have to be afraid. That day was one of those life changing moments and I am thankful I was able to remain calm and collected during the circumstances.

Bonus: I get nervous about odd things. When it comes to being on stage, in the public eye, or taking charge in emergency situations, I am very calm, level headed and collected.

There are many more things about me that I have yet to ‘reveal’. That will come with time. My passion is to help others discover who they really are, and give them the support, tools, and training so they can align for maximum abundance in their body, mind and business.

To learn more about me and what I do, visit: www.DebbraSweet.com, www.ThriveRightConsulting.com and www.SweetMarketingSolutions.com

Here’s to the start of a Magnificent New Year!

Debbra Sweet

The Rouse of the Rooster- Insights to Discipline in Leadership

When I get up, which often is in the wee hours of the morning, before the sun rises, I can hear the roosters in my 220px-Rooster_portrait2neighborhood doing their job of crowing.

It is interesting to me to hear them so proudly and fervently sing their rooster songs each morning. They are consistent and passionate about their crowing. It reminds me of how to continue to bring passion, commitment and consistency to everything we do as a leader.

One of the things that always impresses me when I hear them crowing in the mornings that it doesn’t matter what the weather is like outside. Whether it’s sunny and hot or rainy and cold the same roosters, every single morning, do their job and do it with excellence.

As humans we can learn a little bit about discipline from these roosters.

The job of the rooster is to protect the flock, and he takes the lead in doing so each morning by crowing.

The rooster is often portrayed as crowing at the break of dawn (“cock-a-doodle-doo”). He can often be seen sitting on fence posts or other objects, where he crows to proclaim his territory

The role of the rooster in animal husbandry has a long and illustrious history from the guardian of the back yard flock to the fighting cocks center ring.

Aristotle called the rooster alektora and sang its praises along with the likes of Theocritus, Pliny, Varro, and Aldrovandi (Lind1963). The rooster holds a time-honored place in the small flock, protecting the hens, announcing the day, and ensuring the next generation.

As leaders, one of the ways we can learn is by paying attention to some of our surroundings. Nature inherently prepared plants, animals and humans to have an instinct for leadership roles and hierarchy.

The discipline of how these roosters crow in the morning is a great example of how we, as leaders, can be approach our role of serving others and leadership daily.

Do you rise each morning with the mindset to announce the new day, care and protect those you are responsible for, and do things to ensure the succession of your leadership when the time is right?

Leadership takes discipline. It takes commitment to one’s self to improve. It takes courage to rise up each day and take the helm of your leadership role, regardless of the weather or how you feel.

There are about 5 different roosters in my neighborhood and each has its own call, it’s own ‘voice’. Two of them nearest me have very distinct crows. For the most part, one of them has a very dominant and confident sound. Yet, there are some days where I hear him crow in the morning hours and I think he may be sleepy or a bit under the weather as his sound is not quite as crisp or commanding. However, he still follows through each day.

The other rooster I hear has a bit of a funny, ‘broken’ crow. His song is not as smooth and flowy from start to finish like the first one. He has a stutter in a couple of places. That does not matter to him – or his flock. He too, each morning calls out with his crow and takes his place as the protector of his flock.

Both of these roosters are also there to make sure that the clutch of hens are profitable and successful in producing eggs and future little leaders.  🙂

As we venture into 2013, it is the time for more leaders to take upon their shoulders the ability to be disciplined with the same type of commitment to protect and ensure the success of the people that they serve.

Remember, leadership starts with yourself, then leading your family and then leading others at work and in the community.

In this day and age, many our so-called leaders seem to be practicing more leadership by simply fluffing up their feathers- and thinking that is good enough. It’s not. Vain puffery from the outside is short lived. The true leaders will be willing to be disciplined to rise early, announce the day, declare their protection of their flock- and then do what is needed to ensure the success of those they serve now and for future generations.

When you arise tomorrow, ask yourself, do you lead with vain puffery, or are you sounding your call of leadership with actions that denote confidence, provide security and ensuring opportunities for those you lead to grow?

What action steps can you take today to be a better leader tomorrow?

Debbra Sweet

Author & Speaker of  “The Power of Leadership”

Word of the Year 2013: Discipline

Each year, I seem to identify with a specific word or a specific phrase that becomes my personal mantra Discipline2for the year.

It’s not so much that this is a mantra, it is more like a focal point that ties in with personal, business and spiritual goals I have for the year.

This year’s word is discipline.

When most people hear the word discipline the first thing that they tend to think about or recall is being disciplined or reprimanded by a parent or an authority figure.

Discipline by dictionary definition is:

1. training to act in accordance with rules; drill: military discipline.
2. activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training: A daily stint at the typewriter is excellent discipline for a writer.
3. punishment inflicted by way of correction and training.
4. the rigor or training effect of experience, adversity, etc.: the harsh discipline of poverty.
5. behavior in accord with rules of conduct; behavior and order maintained by training and control: good discipline in an army.
6. to train by instruction and exercise; drill.
7. to bring to a state of order and obedience by training and control.
8. to punish or penalize in order to train and control; correct; chastise.
Origin:
1175–1225; Middle English < Anglo-French < Latin disciplīna instruction, tuition, equivalent to discipul ( us ) disciple + -ina -ine2

The choice of the word discipline as my word for 2013 has to do with the discipline required to stick to commitment.

Diligence brings about the discipline to be able to focus and to ignore or remove distractions when needing to stay on purpose and on point.

In this case the discipline is not a harsh word.

In fact, discipline is one of the key things you will find that is a personal core value or personal attribute  in most successful people.

And by successful people –I am not talking just about financially successful people. I am referencing people who have often overcome hardships in the life, as well as people who have decided to stick to the commitments they made-whether big or small.

As we kick off 2013-I ask you: What resolutions, commitments or goals have you made?

What do you need to do or change to give yourself the space, time, effort and energy to be disciplined and follow through on those things?

For me, this is a year of Quantum Growth. The foundations have been laid for many years. Now we build and launch. 🙂

Here’s to discipline– and seeing new big growth goals come to pass!

Debbra Sweet 

Life Under the Brim- Part 2: Perspective.

As I continue to experience life from underneath the brim of wearing hats, it is interesting to see the literal change of perspective that occurs by simply placing the hat on. Each hat style, shape, color and even materialhats they are made from effects my field of view.

The hats I had to wear over the summer had to have wide brims that not only cover the front of my view, but also need to have brims that can cover my peripheral vision at times too. The summer sun was very intense and the rays reflected off many things that we are often not even aware hit the eye. (So Cal drivers have very clean cars with lots of chrome. )  Those summer rays of sun would quickly bounce and come up underneath my brim and sun glasses to leave an imprint on my brain.

In fall I changed to wide brim felt and wool hats. The hats provided extra warmth during cool mornings, and good coverage of lights through out the day.

Now that we are into winter, my hats have been more page boy in style. Comfy with a brim. I am indoors more and do not have to have all the full coverage like I did in the summer sun.

My life under the brim the past months has created an interesting observation of how the focal point of our perspective can quickly change as easily as changing a hat.

I’ve always known about managing and protecting your input. One of the first things you learn along the journey of self improvement and personal development is to pay attention to what you open yourself up to as far as input goes. This means tv, radio, books, people you work with, people you socialize with. There’s a computer concept known as garbage in, garbage out. If you put garbage into the computer (as far as technology, coding, etc goes)- what it produces is also garbage. There’s the old adage called ‘stinkin thinkin’.
What you focus on is what you get.

Focus on negative – and you will attract negative. Focus on positive, you will attract positive.

The relationship of my insight on how the perspective of our visual input changes with each change of a hat is here: when you manage, limit or protect your daily input- starting with your eyes, you can laser focus on what you want, what you need- and can really start to understand the depth of just how MUCH impact what you SEE really has on your thought patterns.

Day to day, our eyes, minds, and thoughts are bombarded with images that are picked up by the brain both consciously and subconsciously. The filtering our brain does is incredible! When we go out with the hustle and bustle of the day, we are unaware of the magnitude of the volume of input we receive.

This deluge of input actually does desensitize our conscious awareness to all the things around us. It is an interesting thought perspective: when we have complete exposure to al things around us, we actually perceive less.

When we readjust our input –and often narrow our focus and field of vision- we actually perceive more. That is what happens when you don a hat.

Since I’ve had my ‘filters turned off’ since the summer – because of a physical situation related to my eyes – it has been Amazing at just how MUCH information our eyes process. It’s amazing how many things imprint on our mind that were are never really aware of.

During your journey for betterment in your life and business, I encourage you to consider your filters. Is your vision so wide and open to everything that you are not able to see the finer details that could be holding you back from being your best?

If so, try a simple thing: find a hat with a brim and wear it for a while. You may discover too that your attitude is a bit different. Other people’s attitudes towards you will be different. What you focus on may be less- but it will be with clarity. You may slow down just a bit to enjoy more of what you see, feel, do and perceive.

Enjoy your journey and discovering new perspectives!

Debbra Sweet

Life Beneath the Brim- the Tip of Respect

This summer I had to start wearing hats is part of my daily wardrobe. I’ve enjoyed many observations from beneath the Brim. Beneath the Brim  Today’s post is part one of my sharing.

When I was younger I used to wear hats from time to time by choice. I had different styles and most of them were elegant ladies hats that you would wear for special occasions.

I never really looked quite right in a baseball cap when I was younger due to the style and haircut I had. My ears would stick out a bit so I never really wore them. The ladies hats with wider brims tended to look better.

I recall that I always had fun when I wore those hats.  There was something about covering up like that made you walk a little different.  Being one who never really was concerned about ‘fitting in’ it didn’t really bother me that when I wore those hats I often was the only person in town wearing them.  My purpose in adding them to my wardrobe at that time was purely for fun and to add a polished look to the ensemble I was wearing.

My favorite hat was a cobalt blue, wide brimmed, felt hat that had a scarf attached underneath. The scarf would gracefully hang around the face and tie under the chin.  This part of the hat was made at the same cobalt blue material. It was very elegant and every time I donned this hat,  it was almost like a throwback to the 1940s when women would take the time to attentively dress for their daily activities.

Currently my reason for wearing hats is not just fashion related. I am dealing with a slight personal medical condition where my eyes are not excepting light the way they normally would. 

I have not actually owned a real hat collection in many years, but lately I’ve had to develop a small one.  Most of the hats I am wearing are definitely wide brimmed as I need extra coverage to protect the light from hitting my eyes.

My hairstyle has changed since I was younger so I actually own a couple of female style baseball caps. I can wear these from time to time if it’s not too bright out.

What has been interesting about wearing hats every day for the last few months is the observations I have had when other people see me when I am in public.

Here in the San Diego area it’s a pretty big deal for ladies to wear amazing hats – especially in the summer. There is a tradition at the Delmar racetrack where on opening day of the races- it’s hat day. Women adorn themselves with the most outrageous hats in hopes of garnering recognition for the best hat.

We are not too far south of Los Angeles- where many stars are currently sporting a variety of hats. Most of those hats are fedora style – trading a bit more of a ‘boyfriend casual look’ instead of the wide brimmed hats you see at the races. Both females and males can be seen in fedora style hats.  It is rare to see others wearing wide brim hats after the Delmar race season is over.

I however, still am.

The conversations that start because of my hats and the looks I receive and can see from under the brim are very interesting.

Most of the time, what I observe from underneath the Brim, are surprisingly pleasant smiles.  In fact, it is very interesting how many people genuinely will smile and even engage in a conversation when they see somebody wearing a wide brimmed hat.

(I do not believe that their pleasantries are because I’m smiling- because quite often when I’m wearing these hats and I’m out and about- I am experiencing a very uncomfortable physical state so I’m not smiling all the time.)

When I first started wearing these hats in front of people who have known me for years- the reactions were incredible and very intriguing. Since I do not live to receive attention from drama, I have been very private about my situation so most of my colleagues have bee unaware of my physical condition. 

Their reaction was always the same though. There’s quite a wow factor in their voice with many comments about how awesome the hat and the ensemble is.  ( I have chosen to add a few colorful and fun wide brim hats to my wardrobe so that when I am out in public, and in a professional setting, that the hat does appear to be a fashion statement- and not a coping mechanism for my eyes.) 

On top of that many more people approach me to say hello-and it at a the smiles are always very genuine.

In San Diego, the cultures of our locals are not typically like that.  People out here often avoid looking at others straight in the eye during their daily activities. There’s so much hustle and bustle that you take the time to genuinely engage in even a brief conversation while looking at the other person straight in the eye, is not often encountered.

Many locals in San Diego present themselves in a guarded way and they’re very self centric in their thoughts and actions with even the most simple things. They don’t seem to mind being amongst a larger population, but to slow down and engage in social graces – a most people will not take the time to do that.

I know from my travels but in smaller towns around our country, it is still common to have ‘everyone know everyone’ so their mindset and interactions are a little bit different. People in smaller towns will still take the time to say hello.

This consistent observation of how people have been treating me and being on the receiving end of the smiles- made me want to research a bit about how the protocol of hat wearing by ladies and gentlemen of yesteryear came to be. I was curious to find out social mindsets and reactions were the same back then as what I’ve been experiencing now.

I was curious to find out why the wearing of a hat like this would cause more people to smile, approach you and say hello. 

My research didn’t answer that question- but it did give me a lot of insight as to the how, the what, the why or the when of hat wearing.  In today’s more casual world, our recent generations seems to have never been taught the protocols and almost ‘language’ conveyed towards one another when wearing hats amongst peers.

Without going into the whole history here, the one thing I will share, regardless of what style hat you wore and whether you were a male or female- was that wearing a hat – and how you interacted with your hat – clearly communicated your respect (or lack thereof) towards another person.

Part of how this was communicated was tied to an action of tipping the hat. When a hat was tipped,  the style of hat, whether you were indoors or outside, in a public place or a private home, and whether the person you encountered was an established relationship or a stranger- how you tipped your hat, (or if you did not) was a way of delivering  respect (or lack thereof).

Giving respect to others is a core value attribute that many people today have forgotten.

Unfortunately, many people who live in the United States have come to adopt a mindset in an attitude of entitlement.

They have a ‘takers take’ attitude which is delivered with a lack of respect towards others- yet they expect to receive social graces and respect.  This clearly is a breakdown in our system of human interaction.  Teaching core values begins with observing and living by them individually, and then carrying on the tradition of good core values and ethics within the family unit. 

Leaders today and leaders of tomorrow- would see better results in their efforts if they were to start speaking with more respect towards others.   It is time for us as individuals to start walking more transparently- with respect as of the hats we wear.

Respect should be part of our daily wardrobe, and method of communication.  

If you don a hat of respect each and every day because you choose to- and then approach others with a genuine smile, because you choose to, think about the change you might see and experience in your day to day inter actions of others.

To have had the pleasure of being on the receiving end of unexpected genuine smiles – has been refreshing. It lets me know that there is still a human element out there were people do care about others. 

If more of us took the time and made an honest effort of giving out respect to others- without any expectation of return- more people would walk with genuine leadership. They would be the one giving respect, and then inspire others to do the same.

I encourage you today to gracefully cover yourself with the hat of respect, and tip it towards those around you that you interact with and see how what you give out brings back to you.

Debbra Sweet