We all go through different phases of maturation. How we grow and evolve shapes how we view the world and how we function within it. And the things we discover about ourselves along the way help us work, collaborate, and lead better.

In my 30s, I would preach the good word, “Life begins at 30.” I truly believed it (and still do). By then, we’ve shed the drama of our 20s, we’re more centered and aware of who we are, and have some sense of who we want to be. We move out of the murky forest characterized by our 20s and into the beginning of a path that we choose (at least that’s the hope).

If you’re doing it right, by the time you hit 40 (and sooner if you’re lucky or your parents raised you without a speck of insecurity), you care less about what other people think and you are more focused, deliberate, and thoughtful about your decisions. One phrase that I hear often describes this — the idea that we suddenly embrace ourselves or become comfortable in our skin.

But what does it mean to be ‘comfortable in your skin’? And how does it really change or enhance who you are in business and who you are in your world?

You stop being so hard on yourself. You just stop: stop worrying about being “less than” or “not enough.” You let go of that competitive voice that says, “This person is so much better than me,” which is followed by a threatening panic. You start to realize that we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves, we should be celebrating ourselves: what we have to offer, what we bring to the table, and what makes us unique. You see and embrace your strengths and your weaknesses. When I finally owned what I’m good at and what I’m not good at, I realized that other people lift me up and I can lift other people up. And you can be better: a better colleague, parent, and partner. When we each use our gifts and allow others to use theirs, real team work and collaboration happens because everyone brings something to the table.

You’re not afraid of the hard stuff, like confrontation and criticism. You learn that the uncomfortable moments are often the ones that bring the most growth and some of the best solutions. We spend so much time tip-toeing around each other, being afraid to offend or be offended, that we miss opportunities to learn, evolve and fix things. You start embracing confrontation: having real conversations about differing opinions or ideas. Confrontation doesn’t mean conflict, it’s simply the coming together of two distinct ideas and coming out on the other side with something better. And when you get criticism, you use it productively. Rather than feeling bad or getting mad when I get negative feedback, I take it for what it’s worth. That feedback can help me be better and grow. I stopped reacting with insecurity, and started seeing the opportunity.

You trust yourself. When you’re comfortable in your skin, you start to settle into what you can do, what you should do, and what you want to do. All of a sudden, you’re fearless. You can take risks, assess situations, and confidently choose the more difficult — but potentially more rewarding — path. You have the confidence to commit to ideas and dreams, and you do so without hesitancy. Time is precious, so when you want something, go for it. And when things change, or you get new information, you realize that it’s okay to move on or switch directions, and to do so without shame. You stop being afraid of failure, and start being excited about conquering the rocky roads and hurdles.

You’re you. You stop worrying about what other people think of you. I read a great quote once that said, “What other people think of you is none of your business.” At an early age, we’re taught to be afraid of being different. We’re encouraged to look like, act like, and be like the kids around us. Forget all that — just be different. Every day, I see people embrace differences by speaking up and speaking out on behalf of themselves and their values, and they soar. If you worry whether your clothes, your body, and your ideas are acceptable to others, you stop being your real self. Truly, when you let go of what others think, you free yourself up to be you. And when you put your best, authentic foot forward, you excel.

For all the good I see within people, I still see them get hung up on their imperfections. But it’s these imperfections that make them perfect, and perfectly who they are: unique, interesting, flawed, textured, and fascinating. What we celebrate shouldn’t be the biggest, brightest, or prettiest things, it should be the stuff in the middle — how we think, work, communicate, and connect. These are things we all possess and until we explore them and embrace them, we’re short-changing ourselves and everyone in our lives — professionally and personally.

When you fully embrace all that being in your skin means and hold yourself to it, your life is better. You naturally become more patient because you’re not hustling, or trying to be things you’re not, or worried about catching up with other people. You’re just you. And when you’re patient with yourself, you’re more patient with others.

This year let’s really embrace what it means to be comfortable in our skin. Let’s tackle each day with our gifts, our flaws, our strengths, and our weaknesses. It stands to reason that life will be so much more interesting and more fun when we do.

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No one uses this phrase more than a coach. Coaching major college athletics for 27 years, TEAM has meant so much more to me than just my players. Trust me, it takes a village to accomplish something special. My team consisted of my players, parents, staff, support staff, alumni, donors, high school and club coaches, fans, the campus and community. This broad and diverse group was my team.

This team was nurtured and valued for many years and meaningful relationships were the evolution of this village developed into a culture of teamwork. It created an authentic and genuine relationship of trust among thousands of people who believed your passion and values. It was an environment of collaboration and support. This same culture has been created within TeamWomenMN. As a professional women’s organization in the Twin Cities, building a strong foundation of passion, support, and collaboration has been embraced.

As a team leader, I accept the responsibility for helping this team, and everyone on it, to succeed. As a team and organization we value one another more than competing with one another. We have lifted each other up and have brought out the best in each other. As TWMN continues to grow, like my team did for 27 years, it will become broad, diverse, and powerful. The village is growing and Together Everyone will Achieve More.

Here’s to a Successful 2015!

CEO, Executive & Global Leadership Development and Coach

President & Co-Founder – TeamWomenMN

September 2013

By: Jennifer Havice

The decision to start up a business is a lot like the one to bring home a puppy. Even if you’ve put a whole lot of thought into it, planned for every possible eventuality, chances are you’re going to have a lot of sleepless nights at the beginning.

Fledgling businesses, like puppies, take a lot of work. Take your eyes off of them for a minute and suddenly you’ve got a mess on your hands that no one else wants to clean up.

I should know. I’ve raised several puppies so far and more than one small business.

Each time, I have to remind myself of all the things I wish I had known the first go around.

You need more patience than you thought possible

Patience is a virtue and highly underrated. Gaining traction in a business takes time. Lots of time. Each time I get frustrated thinking my business has not achieved enough, I force myself to stop and reflect on everything that’s been accomplished so far.

Facebook, Twitter and all those shiny gadgets we spend time on have programmed us for instant gratification. Success with a small business rarely happens immediately even when we think it should.

Not everyone is hitting it out of the park (even though it might feel like it)

Take a stroll through social media land and you’d think that nearly everyone is on the brink of climbing Mt. Everest or winning a Nobel Prize. We all want to put our best foot forward and share our accomplishments. This goes the same for businesses.

The reality is closer to a paler shade of success. Chances are the neighbor can barely scale the climbing wall at the gym and your nearest competitor just managed to make rent this month. It’s time to stop comparing yourself to everyone else.

Outsource More

Outsource. I quickly realized that spending inordinate amounts of time on things that I had no interest in doing and clearly did not have the skills for was hurting my business and frustrating me to no end.

Sometimes it makes sense to spend money for services you can accomplish yourself, especially when that activity will take you three times as long. Trying to slog through activities not in your wheelhouse takes you away from working with clients and growing your business.

Make sure you’re offering what people want

It’s so tempting when you get started to think more about what you want to provide than what people actually want. The problem is that there may be a disconnect between the two.

I’ve found that I’ve had to modify my services from time to time to keep pace with what my clients need. Doing research and being open to feedback can be the difference between getting ahead and falling behind.

Don’t be afraid to lose a client

This has been the toughest lesson to learn. Getting started, I didn’t want to turn anything away. The problem is that when you don’t define your niche well enough, the business coming in may not be commensurate with your skill set or temperament.

I quickly realized it’s not enough to know what you want to be doing, you must clearly articulate it to your clients and potential clients. This may mean that you turn off or turn away some people, but that’s okay. If it’s not a good match, chances are no one will be happy no matter how hard you try.

It’s not easy, but…

Running a small business is tough, scary and more than a little frustrating at times, but if you can stick with it, the rewards more than make up for the strain. The same goes for puppies. Except with a small business, you never have to worry about it chewing up a couch cushion or that cute new pair of heels.

© 2018 -TeamWomen