Thank You for the Gift of Freedom: Part 1

The main idea of this post was originally shared in on Memorial Day in 2014.  I wanted to share it again in the time of COVID.  While it is true that we find ourselves in challenging and uncertain times, we can get through it.  I am also sharing this post because the ideals Ewing Marion Kauffman shared with the world were very helpful to me when deciding whether or not to leave my twenty-five year career.  His words ran through my head a million times, and I ultimately decided not to be content with what someone thought I was worth – especially when it was $158,000 less than the man who held the position before me.  

I don’t believe the demise of the United States is an inevitable outcome.  I believe there are many futures, and we have to decide which one we are going to choose.  The politics of this whole COVID situation are very real, so make your own decisions about how you want to live your life.  The one thing I have learned?  Always question those who tell you to be satisfied with what you have or where you are in life – they usually think they are more entitled and valuable than you – and, that you should be there to serve them in some lower-level capacity.

You have the freedom to choose, and people died for that freedom.  Now is the time to use it.

To the Brave & the Fallen:  Thank You for Freedom! 

We have much to be grateful for this Memorial Weekend.  Thank you to all who have lost their lives bravely fighting for the United States.  And, thank you to those who have served and passed, the families who have sacrificed more than most can imagine and all who defend this great nation.  While I realize today is for the fallen, I also want to thank our living Veterans, Military personnel and their families.  You need to be recognized and remembered whenever possible for your dedication and service to this country.  I also want to remember our loved ones who are no longer with us. 

Thanks to our great military heroes, one of the unique gifts we have in the United States is the gift is FREEDOM!  The Declaration of Independence guarantees all of us “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This means we are free to pursue our lives and our vocations in any way that makes sense to us.    Freedom and opportunity are already available, now we need the confidence to pursue our dreams!

Freedom is what makes America so great.  What we do with our freedom is up to us.  It is our choice.  Freedom is our grandest opportunity and should be protected, especially in challenging times.  The importance of the freedom to choose is demonstrated by the story of Ewing Marion Kauffman.

After serving in World War II, Ewing Marion Kauffman started working as a salesman for a pharmaceutical company and was extremely successful.  When he started making more money than his boss, he found that his sales territory was suddenly limited.  Mr. Kauffman’s boss limited the sales territory on purpose.  After all, an employee couldn’t make more money than the boss!

Mr. Kauffman made a decision after his boss limited his sales territory and income.  He quit his job and vowed never to work for anyone else again.  He started his business in 1950 in the basement of his home.  He generated $36,000 in sales and $1,000 of net profit in his first year.  By 1989, Mr. Kauffman’s business made over $1 billion in sales and employed over 3,400 people.

Mr. Kauffman wanted to give back to the world and used his knowledge and wealth to form the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a foundation designed to support entrepreneurship and innovation.

Dr. Carl Schramm, the former President of the Kauffman Foundation, wrote The Entrepreneurial Imperative.  In this book (one of my absolute favorites), he notes three things all Americans should remember in the face of gloomy times (p. 81):

1. Never bet against the American system.

2. Know that being an American is your very best asset… 

3. Finally, never count on anyone but you to create your own destiny.


The American system is designed so that we can pursue our passions and dreams, especially in challenging times.  Our ability to pursue our dreams and create our own destiny is what makes our country so great.  We all have the freedom to choose what to do with our lives, and we have the freedom to help one another.  We have the freedom to pursue our ideas, our dreams and our passions. We have the freedom to create our own destiny.

People like my Great Uncle Jack realized this and helped protect the freedoms we have in the United States.  Uncle Jack was a fascinating man.  When I was young, all I knew about him was that he was great at hunting night crawlers.  In fact, he taught me how to hunt them.  We lived in the apartment above my parents’ TV and appliance store.  It was located on the main street of a rural community and did not have much of a yard.  Luckily, Uncle Jack lived only a few blocks away and had the perfect yard for gathering night crawlers. When it rained at night, we would walk down to his house with our flashlights and buckets.  Dad and Uncle Jack would help us kids hunt night crawlers so we could use them as bait when we went fishing.

There is actually a trick to getting your night crawler.  You have to shine the light on night crawlers to find them while they are above the wet ground.  And, you have to be quick!  Too much light scares them back into the ground.  You have to remember where they are and grab them quickly yet gently.  Then you have to slowly coax them out of the hole a little bit at a time.  If you try to force them out, they break.

Night crawlers and people are similar in this regard.  If you force individuals down a path they do not truly want to pursue, they eventually break.  Humans must find their own paths and pursue their own destinies with passion and purpose in order to live their best lives.

I did not understand much about Uncle Jack until I was a young adult.   He was a World War II Veteran and served under General George S. Patton during the Battle of the Bulge.  Absolutely amazing!  He was a World War II hero and I thought he was awesome because of his ability to catch night crawlers!

Uncle Jack and his family sacrificed when he served our country.  As Americans, we must remember that our freedom is not free.  Many men and women have died, been injured and sacrificed a great deal to provide us with the ability to live our lives with freedom and choice.  Taking our freedom for granted dishonors our troops and veterans.  It also dishonors their families, who have sacrificed more than many of us can imagine.  These people have truly sacrificed for all of us and our great nation.  We should honor and salute them everyday because they have given us the gift of freedom and choice.  We get to choose how we spend our time and our lives.


The bottom line:  Cherish your freedom, protect it and use it to create your destiny!


Freedom is foundational to entrepreneurship, business development and the future.  We must protect freedom for our future generations.  My daughter’s birthday is this time of year.  Happy Birthday Raquel!  As a your Mom, I will do whatever I can to preserve your freedom so you can pursue any dream you choose!


Coaching Challenge:  Participate in a Memorial Day Activity and show your gratitude for our Veterans and Military families!  


And, stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series!

Go Wild with Freedom!

-Dr. Connie

 

It is Almost 2020: Give Yourself Permission to Pursue Your Desired Future

The end of the year – and in this case the beginning of a new decade – is a great time to take stock of where you have been and where you want to go!

Milestones in time create the ideal moments to clear the challenges of the past, celebrate our wonderful memories and launch our dreams. Listen to your internal compass. Maybe you have been feeling stuck or have an internal knowing that it is time to do something different. If so, it is time to give yourself permission to consciously create and pursue the future you truly desire.

One of the first lessons we cover in F * School is giving ourselves permission to do whatever we truly want to experience, try or pursue on the path to our preferred future – the future we truly desire.

I have noticed the need to “give permission” in both individuals and in organizations, so I created a lesson to address this need. Many people tend to keep themselves mentally stuck or wait for someone else to give them permission to move forward with an idea, project or vacation (Yes-sometimes leaders really struggle with taking time off to recharge and renew).

I have been guilty of choosing to stay stuck at times. My amazing executive coach, Elise Auxier, pointed this out to me as I transitioned from my job to my business. Instead of waiting for some external person or force to give me permission to leave a long-time career that was no longer serving me, I had to take ownership of my life and do it myself. It took a series of bold, baby steps. And, it took a lot of support. Ultimately, I had to be the one to take action. I gave myself permission every step of the way. Was it always easy? No. Has it been totally worth it? Yes!

The process of giving yourself permission to move forward with your dreams and desires can be especially important if you are going through a time of change or transformation. I used the Permission Slip several times to help with my midlife metamorphosis. It took me a year to leave the place I had been at for twenty-five years. As a mentioned earlier, it was a process of bold, baby steps. It has taken some time; however, I am finally emerging as the person I have always wanted to truly become.

Give yourself permission to take steps forward, no matter how big or small, to experience your dreams and desires. Don’t choose to pursue what I call the Purposeless Future.

The Purposeless Future

Too many people keep their desires inside of them.  They pursue what I call the Purposeless Future. This is the future that “just happens” because people opt to stay on the hamster wheel of life rather than taking the time to develop and pursue a purposeful future that they truly desire.

The future is not a straight path forward.  Rather, there are many alternative futures. In the world of strategic foresight (futuring), we us a tool called the Cone of Possibilities to help people understand this concept.  In the cone, there are multiple futures that can be described as:

  • Preferred:  The desired future we choose to pursue
  • Possible:  The wide range of events and possibilities over the course of time
  • Plausible:  Futures that are possible but unlikely
  • Probable:  Events and future scenarios that are likely to happen
  • Purposeless:  The future that occurs without conscious intention

There are also two key assumptions about the future:

  1. There are multiple futures.  It is important to clarify your preferred future through a visioning process; however, you must also be willing to change course when necessary.  Remember, life is not simply about achieving in the future — it is also about enjoying the present. 
  2. You influence the future through your true intent.  Once you establish your preferred future, you must develop the beliefs, behaviors, mindset and actions to make it happen.  If you do not truly believe in your preferred future, you will not consciously or subconsciously pursue it with true intent.

The Power of Honest Intentions

Our honest intentions are naturally supported by our beliefs and actions; therefore, all true intent is realized.  Intentions become the outcome — they become your future. Your intentions serve as motivation and the source of actions and behaviors. Setting and pursuing false intentions can lead to a lack of interest and motivation, which typically ends in feelings of failure and self-doubt. Feelings of failure and self-doubt can seriously erode confidence and our sense of self-empowerment and success. Be genuine about your desired future and your intent to pursue it.  If you honestly and consciously establish your true intentions, your beliefs, behaviors and mindset will align to create the outcome.  

Dealing with Wild Cards

Sometimes, we experience Wild Cards — those unpredictable, unexpected and unforeseen happenings that can impact our present and future.  We might lose a job or have an unexpected health emergency. We might inherit a large sum of money or land a big client.

Wild Cards are a part of life, and we have to learn to deal with what comes our way. 

Life is Not a Straight Line

There is no straight line to any future. As leaders of our own lives, it is important to take risks, learn from the challenges and celebrate the successes. Our preferred futures may ultimately look and feel a little different than we imagined; however, they may be even better than what our minds are capable of creating!

The Pace of Change

Wild Cards are unpredictable, unexpected and unforeseen happenings that we must deal with throughout the course of our lives; however, we are also living in a time of unprecedented change.  Not only is technology evolving faster than ever – life is too.  We are living longer and experiencing careers and families differently than ever before.  We also feel like we need to always be “on” as we are constantly bombarded with the demands of life.  This is especially true for people who are creating new ways of living and working.

All of this change can feel overwhelming and cause stress that undermines your potential.  Don’t give into the hype! Change will continue to happen. The intention here is to create the positive change, and preferred future, that works best for you and your life. So, get give yourself permission to pursue your desired future!

WIN with Action!

Giving yourself permission to pursue your dream future is not about striving, working hard or struggling to make it happen.  It is about the freedom to make decisions that work best for you. This exercise is about exploring how you personally WIN, and by WIN I mean let the process feel —

W = Wild = Free, Fulfilling and Fun!  

You have the freedom to choose how to spend your life. Put your ego, external validation and the thoughts of others aside so you can be totally free and honest with yourself.   Let your transformation be guided by self-honesty, personal fulfillment joy and fun!  

I = Inspired = Explore with Energy and Excitement! 

Anytime is a great time to explore new possibilities, so pursue your desired future in a way that gives you energy and feels exciting!  If you are feeling a bit stuck, start asking yourself some questions designed to increase your self-awareness:

  • Where does your energy naturally flow? 
  • What saps your energy?
  • What do you want to let go of doing, feeling or thinking?
  • What have you always wanted to do but have not yet tried?

This should be a process of experimenting and exploring.  Remember, your true intentions will naturally lead to inspired actions. 

N = Natural= Totally You.  

Have you ever tried on a piece of clothing, looked in the mirror and thought, “Wow!  This looks amazing!” It fit perfectly and the color made your face light up naturally.  That is what the “N” in WIN should feel and be like. Write, do and explore what feels totally and completely like you.  What comes to you without thinking about it? What have you been covering up or avoiding that is begging to be set free? What comes to you naturally — without effort or striving?  What makes you feel alive and excited — taps into your intuition (that inner wisdom we all possess) and aligns with your soul?

It’s Time to WIN!

Download and complete the Permission Slip below.  Take the time to give yourself permission to consciously create your future and experience your life by taking big leaps or bold, baby steps. Do whatever you need to do to give yourself permission to WIN and pursue your desired future!

Use extra Permission Slips if you need them. After you finish giving yourself permission to take consciously create your future by intentionally taking action, share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below!  What steps did you decide to take? How did it feel? Whatever you want to share is absolutely welcome!

I look forward to hearing what you gave yourself permission to do, feel and experience to make your desired future a reality!

-Dr. Connie

How to Create Your Desired Future on the Leaders of Transformation Podcast

I have to admit that I was super excited to do an interview with Nicole Jansen as part of her Leaders of Transformation Podcast. We talk about the future, the importance of a vision and how work and leadership are evolving; however, my biggest moment was actually diving into my own transition! I have not said or written a lot about why and how I left a twenty-five year career to pursue my own desired future. Honestly, it has been a hard to talk about for a number of reasons. We discuss it a bit in this interview, and it felt awesome just to voice my truth as well as my new adventure in midlife!

http://leadersoftransformation.libsyn.com/276-dr-connie-reimers-hild-how-to-create-your-desired-future

Enjoy the show, and let me know what you think! I would love to know what topics you want to know more about in the future. Make sure to download the free

Start creating your desired future today by enjoy the Dream Life 2025 exercise that is mentioned in podcast! After you complete the Dream Life 2025 exercise, let me know what your desired future looks like in the comments section below!

Honoring Our Veterans: THANK YOU!

Thanks to all who have served and are currently serving. Also, a BIG thanks to your families.  It is a privilege to honor our Veterans.

I especially want to thank my Father-in-Law.  He served in the Navy during the Korean War.  Ken was a great man who was proud of his service.  He also enjoyed being an active member of the Legion.  I thought of him when I heard Taps earlier today.  We miss you Kenny!

I would not be able to post to this blog or express my opinions without the freedom so many of us enjoy (and take for granted) in this great country. May we always value the sacrifice and service of those who make this country great.

Let freedom ring!

-Dr. Connie

Freedom in Your 40’s: Is It Time for A Change?

My new favorite book is, “The Freedom Journal:  Accomplish Your #1 Goal in 100 Days,” by John Lee Dumas (aka JLD).  John Lee Dumas hosts the EO Fire business podcast.  I listen to EO Fire every week, and I really enjoy how JLD continuously points out the importance of focusing on specific goals and taking action.  He wrote the Freedom Journal to help entrepreneurs achieve their goals.  I had to get a Freedom Journal to experience the 100 day transformation for myself.

If you have been following my posts on AskDrConnie.com, you know that I prefer the word “Intention” instead of goal.  Here’s why:

Intentions influence our actions and behaviors. If intentions are established with awareness, truth, and meaning, they help us experience a life filled with passion and personal fulfillment. Lack of understanding around our true intentions (what many people call goals) often causes frustration and confusion, which is one reason people do not achieve their goals. Many goals are written; however, they are not established with honest intent. It’s time to get brutally honest about your true intentions so you can achieve authentic goals.

Intentions have the power to strengthen your “Inner Leader” and help you move forward in a meaningful way as long as they represent what you truly want to accomplish and experience. Honest intentions, based on personal fulfillment and purpose, can also keep you motivated and focused while measuring progress and celebrating success.

Life in our 40’s can be a fascinating time of change.  Oftentimes, it is important for women over the age of 40 to reassess their goals, dreams and true intentions.  A few questions I encourage women to ask themselves:

  1. How do you define success?
  2. How are you using your intuition to guide your decisions?  Has it kicked into overdrive because it is trying to lead you into a new direction?
  3. What do you want to experience?

Sometimes, it is time for a change.  The great thing is that you have the freedom to decide to make the changes and adjustments that best suit you.  You just need to make sure you are headed for the right change!

The Freedom Journal is my new favorite book.  It is a tool I can use to clarify my intentions and help keep my busy life focused.  I will keep you posted on my 100-day journey and a few other adventures (my trip to Wyoming, etc.) as well!

Go Wild with Your Freedom!

-Dr. Connie

Happiness Ignites Innovation

Happiness can be a grand challenge for all of us, especially in an culture where ageism is very real.

According to Dictionary.com ageism is a noun meaning:

  1. discrimination against persons of a certain age group.
  2. a tendency to regard older persons as debilitated, unworthy of attention, or unsuitable for employment.

I spoke about hope and happiness at the 2015 Rural Futures Conference, and I used Project Have Hope as a reference to illustrate my point.  In Uganda, women of all ages are making beautiful pieces of jewelry out of paper.  I found the necklace I am wearing in the photo when visiting the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN.  These fantastic women are putting their entrepreneurial skills to work!  Not only are there actions empowering women in the present, they are fostering success for future generations.  They are empowering themselves and their families.  The women in Uganda are leaders.

Project Have Hope was started by another female leader, Karen Sparacio, who is an entrepreneurial photojournalist.  Karen decided to give back by taking action.  You can find out more about Karen and her work by visiting photosbykisp.com.

Do I think agesim is real?  Yes.  Do I think we can do something about it?  Absolutely!  Did I pause before posting the page out of the conference proceedings?  Yes. Why?  Because it is real, and I can visibly see that I am getting older.  It’s not an easy thing, especially in a culture that values youth and devalues age.  But, I also know that I need to stay positive, practice gratitude and keep moving!  I have learned a lot through the years, including the fact that it takes a village to do so many things, ranging from raising children to growing businesses and communities.  At the Rural Futures Institute, we are committed to changing the rural conversation to one of challenge to one of opportunity.  We also want to connect people and communities to opportunities!  This conversation must include women of all ages, including those that are older than 40.

Happiness ignites innovation.  Check out the Project Have Hope video below and then think about the challenges you typically hear about aging.  Look the extraordinary  attitudes the women in the Acholi Quarter of Uganda have and how much action they are taking because they have hope.

We just celebrated the 4th of July in the United States, which serves as a reminder that we are free to choose our attitudes and actions.   You are free to decide how you live your life at any age and any stage.  So, let me know.  What inspired, hopeful actions are you taking?

Go Wild with Hope, Happiness and Inspired Action!

-Dr. Connie

 

Project Have Hope – Acholi Quarter, Uganda from Katie Kaizer on Vimeo.

 

 

 

 

4th of July Gratitude!

The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays!  I love the fireworks, food and time with family.  I am also grateful  to be free!!

In the United States of America, we have the best gift of all: Freedom.  Many men and women have sacrificed their lives and families to protect our freedom.

Cherish your freedom.  Respect your freedom.  Use it wisely.

Remember, we have the freedom to decide how to live our lives every single day.  You have the power to live in the present while creating your desired future.

Enjoy all the fun that the fourth has to offer; however, make time to thank veterans, active military personnel, and their family members whenever possible.  We all owe them all a deep debt of gratitude!

Go Wild with Fun on the 4th of July!

-Dr. Connie

Mom, Memories and Miracles

Two events in 2010 changed the trajectory of my life forever.

I was driving home on June 22, 2010. As usual, I was talking to Mom. We talked about everyday things like my kids and when we would see each other next. I told her that I had been stranded at home the day before because every road to work was flooded due to heavy rainfall.

She wondered why I had not called. The truth was, I was being selfish and wanted a day to myself. I was scheduled to leave on a work-related trip to Costa Rica on June 26, so I spent the day packing and getting everything ready. I knew calling Mom would result in a two-hour phone conversation, so I made the decision not to call.

As I pulled into the garage, I told her (again) that I had to go because I wanted to take my three-year-old daughter to the pool or run with her through the sprinkler. It was finally hot enough to get into some water—for the first time in 2010!

My daughter, Raquel, loved the water, and so did I. My love of the water came from Mom. She taught my siblings and me how to swim when we were very young and always made sure we spent a lot of time at the pool. I wanted to get Raquel in the water so we could have some fun, but also because she had been talking about swimming with Mom (a.k.a. Grandma Reimers) since January. Raquel loved going swimming with Mom, and Mom loved swimming with her.

I told Mom again that I had to go and for a split second thought about telling her that I loved her. She said, “Okay,” quietly and with disappointment in her voice. Mom and I talked often, so I left the “I love you” out of the conversation and bolted out of the vehicle to see Raquel. She was ready to get wet, but my nine-month-old son was not feeling well. We opted for the sprinkler and had a great time laughing, playing, and goofing around in the yard. When you live in Nebraska, the first time getting wet in the summer is always the best.

After running through the sprinkler, my husband, Jim, and I gave the kids a bath. I got into the shower around 9:00 p.m. I had just stepped in and turned the water on when Jim came into the bathroom and told me that Dad was calling. I was not worried and told Jim that I would call Mom and Dad back after I showered.

He came back a few minutes later and told me I had better call home, because it was an emergency. I called home. The line was busy. Then I called my sister Marsha, and the words that came out with great sorrow as she cried and sobbed will haunt me forever: “Mom is dead…she’s dead!”

In that single moment, my life changed forever. I quickly packed a bag and drove to my parents’ home to be with Dad. It was dark, and I drove through a very strong thunderstorm for the entire two hours it took me to get there. The thunder, lightning, and torrential rain seemed to mirror that exact moment of my life. It was dark, turbulent, and cold. My soul was numb.

Seeing Dad’s face after I walked in the door added to the pain. He was the one who found Mom—his wife of forty-five years, the woman with whom he had raised six kids and spent most of his life. I was the first one he called…and I was not there for him. While Mom was dying, I was running through the sprinkler with my daughter. It was the beginning of a very dark time in my life.

Events such as someone’s untimely death make you question your life. I can’t tell you how many times I have asked myself about the purpose of life since June 22, 2010. Sometimes life itself doesn’t even seem real. It seems more like a dream.

I started questioning my religious beliefs and career choices. There were so many things about Mom’s death that made me question everything, including my life purpose.

My parents had just celebrated their forty-fifth wedding anniversary the month before we lost Mom. We celebrated the anniversary on the day of my daughter’s third birthday party. It was a fun day—a beautiful day. The six of us kids tried to surprise Mom and Dad with champagne and cake, but of course she had packed a cooler with champagne too. Mom was hard to surprise, because she knew us all so well.

The six children and their families bought a gift certificate for my parents. It was for a rock on which they could have their names inscribed. They could place it at either their house in town or on the acreage they purchased after my grandma’s death. The acreage is part of the Reimers family farm, which has been in our family for over one hundred years.

Mom and Dad spent a lot of time working on the acreage. When I called in the evening, they usually told me they were “farming.” My parents both grew up on farms and had farming in their blood. Mom and Dad’s “farm” is truly a historical and spiritual place for my family. My dad grew up on it, and all six of us kids spent time there as children. We all have great memories of the farm and still spend a lot of time there enjoying our large family.

A few weeks after the combined birthday/anniversary celebration, my parents went to my husband’s hometown to celebrate his parents’ fiftieth anniversary. It was a Saturday, and Dad had to work. I told Mom several times that my in-laws would understand if they couldn’t make it. She really wanted to be there, so Mom and Dad made the two-hour journey to the anniversary celebration after he was done working.

It was a busy day. I spent most of my time taking care of our two kids. I could not get our infant son, Jagger, to take a nap. He was very fussy, and I tried everything I could to comfort him. Mom took him, and she put him right to sleep. Thank God for grandmas!

While Mom snuggled Jagger, my sister and I took pictures of the celebration. Mom asked me to take a picture of her and Jagger. I took a few shots, and she asked me to take some more. I remember thinking Ugh! I already did this. Why is she being so insistent? But she was determined to get a good shot of the two of them together.

That was the last time she held my son. It’s one of the few pictures I have of the two of them together. It was the last day I would see her alive.

My sister’s little boy was having fun with the camera and took the last picture of Mom that weekend. She was sitting on a chair in their living room, waving at him with a wonderful smile on her face. Mom passed away ten days later. Fate is a strange and fickle trickster.

According to the autopsy, Mom’s death was “undetectable and unavoidable.” She didn’t know it was coming, and neither did the rest of us. I was the last one to talk to her. Mom and I finished our call a little after 5:30 the night of her passing. Dad had to work late that night, which rarely happened.

Mom passed away in those few hours between my hanging up the phone and Dad’s coming home. Dad has felt guilty for not being there with her, and I have felt guilty about hanging up the phone. We still do not know exactly what happened, but we do know she was alone in her final moments.

We know Mom was in the middle of making dinner and had her suitcase half packed. She was getting ready for a meal with Dad and to travel to a grandson’s baby shower.

My brother and his wife were expecting their first child—a boy. Mom had already started packing, which was strange for her. She was usually very last-minute. Mom was really excited about the baby. In her suitcase was a box of Matchbox cars my brother played with as a child, and it was time to pass them on to the next generation. She was simply going about her day when she died. I guess that’s what happens with a death that is undetectable and unavoidable.

Mom made sure we had a family picture taken in April of 2010. She had wanted one for some time. According to the hairstyles, our last formal family picture was taken in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s. It was my parents’ forty-fifth anniversary, and she was determined to make the picture happen to commemorate such a tremendous milestone. Mom, Dad, and the six of us had a fun day taking pictures. It was just us again. No spouses, no kids. We took pictures, goofed off a lot, and had lunch together. I can’t remember the last time we had a day like that!

The goal was to get a complete family portrait taken after my brother’s baby was born. Then each of us six kids would have at least one child. It never happened, and it never will. We used the family picture we took in April for Mom’s funeral. Mom’s insight had been right again. We are all so thankful to have one last family portrait. It would have been better to have a picture with all the spouses and grandchildren too, but it was not meant to be, I guess.

One of the things I noticed most after Mom’s sudden death was the odd assortment of sympathy cards. I kept reading phrases like “Be thankful now that life’s anguish has ended” and “Your loved one is now in Heaven where they are in pain no more.”

Why do we assume people are in so much pain and anguish while they are living? Mom was not sick. Actually, she appeared to be very healthy. She did not have a long-term illness or any apparent health concerns. Were the sympathy cards supposed to make my family feel better by trying to tell us that her sucky life finally ended? Truthfully, I could not relate to many of the cards. The only one that would have really worked would have read something like this:

“Sorry to hear of your Mom’s sudden death. That really sucks, and you have every right to question everything and be pissed off at the world. Your family was totally awesome, and your Mom was an amazing woman. Let us know when you want to come over and have a good cry. Your favorite bottle of wine is chilling in the fridge.”

Everyone has challenges, but shouldn’t life be grand? Life is a gift, not a burden. Contrary to what most sympathy cards seem to portray, life is a journey. It should not be viewed as a seemingly endless challenge filled with misery and pain. Mom’s death was the first thing in 2010 that made me want to fulfill the wishes on my “bucket list.” A trip to Costa Rica was the second.

Fortunately, I work for a great organization. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) helped me take care of my travel arrangements after Mom died in June and rescheduled my trip to Costa Rica for November. That set the stage for event number two. The wheels of fate kept moving forward.

It was a fantastic trip. I experienced a new country with numerous cultures for the first time with two other faculty members (and friends) with whom I went to graduate school. The spouse of one of the faculty members, who is also a good friend, made the trip with us. It truly was a great experience both personally and professionally.

We toured two different campuses of Earth University, spending time in the urban area of San Jose and in rural Costa Rica exploring the relationships between agriculture, natural resources, leadership, and education. Our group also visited a farm family in the rainforest, which ended up being a highlight of the trip. The day before we arrived, the family we visited had access to electricity for the first time. They were excited to show us their progress.

The house itself was what many of us living in rural Nebraska would consider a machine shed that needed work. Picture a worn wood frame covered with rusty pieces of corrugated tin on top of a dirt floor that turned to mud when it rained. Wooden planks were used for a partial floor in the tiny living area, where two parents were raising three children and taking care of an elderly parent. Blankets and curtains substituted for walls.

We talked with the woman of the house. She was a wife and mother as well as a leader in the agricultural community. She and her husband were building a very diverse farming operation, which was growing more successful each year. She was a tiny woman with big, beautiful brown eyes, glowing skin, and a gorgeous smile. Her young son clung to her while we were standing in their kitchen.

With the help of a professor from Earth University, she told us all about the advances they had made in their farming operation. It was a great story. They hooked into electricity a couple of days before we visited, and they also recently had access to methane. She turned on her stove, and a huge flame came shooting out of one of the burners. The look on her face said it all—the thrill of success! It was a great tribute to the hard work her family had invested in their farming operation. It was a wonderful sight. I didn’t have the guts to ask for a picture, but wish I had. What a great moment!

It was raining quite hard while we were there. The woman’s husband was out tending to some business and met us just as we were leaving to head to our next destination. He was wearing a torn plastic bag to protect himself from the rain. The torn bag was not working well. He was soaked! We were finished touring the rainy side of Costa Rica and moving to the drier side, so we gave our ponchos to the family. Amazing how the disposable poncho I purchased for ninety-nine cents could be so valuable. Yet another reminder of how spoiled many of us are without knowing it.

Driving through the rainforest is a thrilling experience. The scenery there is very different from the views we have in Nebraska. Both are beautiful in their unique ways. We drove on very narrow, winding roads that were heavily traveled. Many semis were on the road because it was the best route to the main ports. We were driving around a sharp, narrow curve and nearly hit a vehicle that was coming around from the opposite direction. The vehicles on the opposite side had to cross the centerline to get around the sharp curves. Phew! The first semi that crossed the centerline had missed us. We weren’t so lucky the next time.

It all happened in what felt like slow motion. We were driving around the next curve when a huge semi came from the opposite direction. Our driver, Walter, took our midsize SUV as far to the right as possible. There was a sharp drop-off on our side of the road, so he could get over only so far without either sending us off the side of the road or rolling the vehicle. I was sitting behind Walter and could see the semi coming right toward my window. It’s one of those life moments when you know what is about to happen and can’t do anything to stop it.

My young family flashed through my mind. Jim’s worst fear was something happening to me in a foreign country, leaving him with two young kids to raise by himself. In that moment, I was afraid that was exactly what was going to happen. As the semi barreled toward my window, I thought about my family and braced for impact. I closed my eyes when the semi was about to hit. Crash! The impact was on the side of my door and the rear bumper behind my seat. I opened my eyes and realized we were miraculously spared. I do not use the word miraculously lightly. To this day, I have no idea how we walked away from that accident.

It really didn’t make any sense. The semi had swung way beyond the centerline to make the curve, and we didn’t have a great deal of room on our side of the road to maneuver. I truly believe Walter’s amazing driving skills and divine intervention were at work. We were safe and didn’t have any injuries. I still can’t believe it when my mind flashes back to that moment.

Let’s just say we all felt lucky to be alive and truly enjoyed the rest of our trip. I delicately broke the news to Jim after I returned from Costa Rica, having waited so he would not worry about me while I finished the work assignment. Experiencing Costa Rica was great, but coming home was awesome!

We touched down in Omaha on Saturday. One of my fellow travelers was not feeling well on the trip and was diagnosed with cancer right after we returned. How do you survive a crash with a semi on a narrow road in the Costa Rican rainforest only to be diagnosed with cancer a few days later?

Mom’s death, the semi crash, and a friend’s cancer—all these events caused me to rethink my life to the deepest depths possible.

The Purpose of Go Wild with Confidence

The year 2010 changed the direction of my life forever, and I am now focused on living my best life. As a researcher and coach in the areas of leadership and innovation, I have noticed one issue my clients struggle with most: confidence. Many people have great ideas and a wonderful sense of what they want to do with their lives, but they lack the confidence and inner strength that enables them to move in the right direction.

After Mom’s unexpected passing, I received a mini-book on grief from the pastor of my church. The book, Grief…Reminders for Healing by Gale Massey, was perfect! I could read it quickly and easily when I needed help dealing with Mom’s death. I also gave a copy to Dad, who found himself suddenly struggling with being a widower after forty-five years of marriage.

For those of you reading this right now, I hope you can use this short publication in the same way I used the mini-book on grief: as a simple tool to help improve your life. I now realize how important it is to live a fulfilled life every single day. I no longer take any day, hour, or minute for granted. It is my calling to help others do the same…

Innovation always begins with people. Self-confident individuals filled with passion, purpose, and confidence are the most creative and innovative. They have strong Inner Leaders and the confidence it takes to lead personal, organizational, and community change and innovation.

My research on entrepreneurial individuals and innovation identified personal fulfillment as one of the most important factors associated with motivation and success. I have also found that individuals must discover and define success for themselves. True personal fulfillment and innovation flourish when individuals have the confidence to realize their own passions and take inspired actions. Personal fulfillment is becoming more important to individuals and organizations. It serves as the foundation for a sort of “happiness factor” for individuals and employees. Personal fulfillment also encourages entrepreneurial behavior and innovation. Personally fulfilled employees are more creative, innovative, and engaged, which translates into healthy, vibrant, and successful businesses, organizations, and communities.

The world needs entrepreneurial leaders who have the capacity to nurture personal fulfillment and sustainable innovation. Before you can successfully lead others, you must first lead yourself. So invest in yourself. Focus on developing your Inner Leader by strengthening your confidence and living the life you want for yourself. And, make sure you spread the wealth! Great leaders invest in their confidence as well as the confidence of others.

This book is designed to be used. Record your notes, thoughts, and ideas as you move through the material. Make copies of the pages that speak to you, and place them where you can read them daily. Keep your work in front of you. Take note of your dreams and progress many times per day, especially first thing in the morning and before going to bed. Constant focus on your intentions and progress will help you embed powerful thoughts into your subconscious mind, which is a great way to strengthen your confidence and your Inner Leader.

Confidence is one of the keys to personal fulfillment and happiness. I sincerely hope this book helps you strengthen your Inner Leader and confidence while enjoying life to the fullest. Feel free to share this work to help build the confidence of others. A world of confident people living with purpose and passion is a world of unique gifts and talents that are being used to help us all live in a better place.

Do yourself a favor, and Go Wild with Confidence!
-Dr. Connie

The above passage was published in my first book, Go Wild with Confidence!: Strengthen your Inner Leader and live your best life with purpose, passion and fun!

I wrote Go Wild to process my Mom’s death and my own brush with it.  Today marks the anniversary of her death, and I am working hard to celebrate her life instead of reliving her sudden and traumatic departure.  It’s still not easy.  I am writing this with gratitude  today remembering my Mom and all that she taught me.  Her legacy lives through me, my Dad and siblings as well as her grandchildren.  I am a better person and mother because of her.  Our family will always celebrate and cherish the great memories.  Her legacy will live on for future generations.  This fact demonstrates the importance of parenting!

Below are parting thoughts from Go Wild with Confidence!: Strengthen your Inner Leader and live your best life with purpose, passion and fun!   The scientific side of me likes data and facts; however, I have discovered the rich world of the unknown in the years since Mom’s death.  Miracles do happen.  I also believe in the power of intuition and think we receive signs if we are open to them.  More on this in future posts.

 

Parting Thoughts

There are many ways to develop your confidence. Ultimately, you have to decide what is right for you. Journaling, meditation, goal setting, visualization, art, nature, healthy eating, physical activity, fun, the use of personal mantras, affirmations, Visual Visions, Personal Confidence Statements, and Personal Confidence Teams can all be great tools to help move you forward. You may also want to consider hiring a coach. Whatever you decide, just make sure the strategies and structures you put in place work for you and are focused on what you truly want to accomplish and experience. Many people set false goals they never achieve because they left their heart and personal desire out of the process.

Setting and pursuing false goals leads to a lack of interest and motivation, which leads to goal abandonment and ultimately to a feeling of failure and self-doubt. Feelings of failure and self-doubt can seriously erode self-confidence. Goals should be set for you as an individual and based on personal fulfillment, not simply on what you think you should do based on the thoughts and influences of others or society. Establish your personal definition of success. When creating a plan to achieve your definition of success, be sure to develop goals, strategies, and structures that are holistic and recognize the importance and power of the mind-body-spirit connection.

After Mom’s sudden death, I had many conversations with Dad about living life. He told me he had no regrets. My parents celebrated forty-five years of marriage a month before Mom’s passing, and Dad said they did everything they wanted to do together. I will never know Mom’s true thoughts on this subject; I just hope she felt the same way.

Life-changing events have a way of putting things into perspective. My philosophy about life has become this: Life should be a journey filled with wonderful experiences, and we must define success for ourselves. Many of us tend to focus too much on accumulating titles and stuff rather than experiences. Our individual journeys should be what we want to experience and enjoy. Life should not be a daily grind. Life should not be a to-do list.

My family gathered together on the family farm for the 4th of July after Mom’s death. The Fourth was her favorite holiday, and celebrating it was always a big deal. This time, there was a cloud of deep sadness over my family. We wanted to be together on her favorite holiday, but celebrating without her was incredibly painful. As a thick sadness filled the air, it began to sprinkle and a beautiful rainbow appeared. We all stood there in a sort of surprised and unsettling awe. Then, a reassuring feeling came over everyone. We were all thinking it, but my cousin Dann was the only one brave enough to say it out loud. It was a sign from Mom. I later read that rainbows and butterflies commonly serve as after-death communications. Some believe rainbows are the connection between heaven and earth. All I know for sure is that it was a very special moment for my family. We have a picture of Mom’s rainbow over the farm on her favorite holiday. Every time I look at it, I think of Mom, that moment, and the gift of life. Reimers-Hild, Go Wild with Confidence! 101 Your time on this planet is short, so enjoy it. Go Wild with Confidence! Strengthen your Inner Leader, and live your best life with purpose, passion, and fun!

Be You & Do Something Cool!

-Dr. Connie

The Future of Women & Megatrend 3: The Decentralized Global Marketplace

Business is in the age of the “Empowered Consumer” who has a buffet of buying choices. Empowered consumers decide how they want to purchase goods and services. Big Data [collecting information (data) from multiple sources to detect trends, identify patterns and make decisions] is one tool that can be used to develop marketing campaigns, study human behaviors and determine patterns. It is also being used to examine and redesign various areas of the consumer experience.

Entrepreneurs and leaders can use Big Data to capitalize on consumer patterns and demands while creating more customized consumer experiences. Data is collected with every click, and some metrics can be used almost immediately. In 2014, Black Friday was November 28. Data from IBM’s U.S. Retail Black Friday Report was available almost immediately and was published on December 2, 2014. According to IBM, online Black Friday sales grew by 9.5 percent from 2013 to 2014. Retail ecommerce (orders via computer) and mcommerce (orders via mobile device) are predicted to increase by double-digit margins well into 2018 (eMarketer, 2014). Data demonstrates the continued growth of the digital marketplace, and rural businesses must find ways to capitalize on these trends.

The world is fast-becoming an “Add to Cart” society for anything and everything. Individuals are creating local, national and global communities of meaning and change that are self-selected and self-formed. Many of these same individuals are transforming commerce and communities in new and innovative ways.   The definition of community is not limited to a physical location. Technology, combined with the need for meaning, self-expression and self-actualization, has created an increasingly decentralized marketplace.

People are choosing how to meet virtually, and when, where and whether or not to meet face-to-face. They are also connecting around common causes. Commerce, along with so many other areas of life, is becoming increasingly decentralized. Savvy consumers seek and create value they crave to transform their lives. Technology enables the delivery of information, goods and services anytime, anywhere, and from anyone in a way that makes sense while adding value to the lives of consumers.

For example, companies like Stitch Fix (http://www.StitchFix.com) initially get to know their customers with a personal style quiz and continue to gather information about the clientele every month by sending them personalized clothing selections. Orders are delivered to clients and customers pay only for what they keep. Stitch Fix tracks the feedback on likes and dislikes after every shipment and learns how to better serve its customers with the data it continuously collects.

Consumer demands are shaping the marketplace and future trends. Empowered consumers want unique experiences that add value to their lives. Future-focused leaders and entrepreneurs who ask and answer not, “What is the lifetime value of a customer?” but rather, “What value can we add to a lifetime?” will be in a better position to compete in the increasingly decentralized marketplace.

Coaching Tips for Female Entrepreneurs and Leaders:

  • Connect and work together online and offline. Build your support network to generate ideas and get help growing your business.  The most successful entrepreneurs and leaders help one another.  I see this all of the time with authors too!  They promote one another while helping each other grow their businesses and ideas.
  • Get rid of assumptions and use data to make decisions. Take a few ideas from places having success in the marketplace, such as Stitch Fix.

Future-Focused Entrepreneurs and Leaders:  

Take Action with Cooperation, Creativity and Purpose

Interestingly enough, the hottest jobs at Facebook require a “human touch.” Why? Facebook is looking for people who can close sales because its revenue relies heavily on ads (Anders, 2014). Perhaps the most future-focused entrepreneurial leaders are blending “high human touch” with “high-tech” in new and interesting ways that holistically add value to the lives of others.

Future-focused, entrepreneurial leaders can use megatrends and technology to change the game of life. One person cannot do it alone in a world that continues to change at an increasingly rapid pace; rather, rural entrepreneurs should innovate in communities with a spirit of cooperation, creativity, and purpose. Together, with a common purpose, female entrepreneurs and leaders can examine megatrends, utilize emerging technologies, and monitor analytics while creating meaningful experiences and innovating rural businesses in ways not yet imagined.

Go Wild with the Decentralized Global Marketplace!   Watch the video below for more details on how you can innovate your companies and communities with cooperation, creating and purpose!

-Dr. Connie

PS:  Share your thoughts, ideas and actions with the Ask Dr. Connie community.  We would love to hear from you!