Last night at a business symposium, hosted by the Port Townsend Co-Lab I had the opportunity to talk about one of my favorite subjects – the sustain-ability of self.  The theme for the evening was collaboration and innovation. I wrote my presentation to reflect the theme, but whether you are a business owner, or busy person perhaps some of the words I spoke will strike a chord with you and even better, light a spark for change!

Sharing last night’s presentation verbatim.


I am convinced that to have the energy & health to affect lasting change in our lives and in this world, we must first and foremost make the sustainability of ourselves our number one priority.

The website: describes sustainability this way:
“Among the many ways that sustainability has been defined, the simplest and most fundamental is: “the ability to sustain” or, put another way, “the capacity to endure.”

Endure means to, suffer, tolerate, to put up with something – to sustain without flinching or breaking.

So many people are nearing their breaking point. We cannot sustain collaboration and innovation without taking care of ourselves first.
We can’t sustain anything without taking care of ourselves first!

We have created a cultural norm of over-doing and over-extending that has led to the baseline daily feeling of being over-whelmed and anxious.

This way of ‘being’ is no different than how large companies operate they go fast, they go big, they push their employee’s and they deplete natural resources without replenishing. Small business owners, push themselves without replenishing.

Collaboration and innovation with yourself first – what I call “sacred selfishness”, creates sustain-ability without being in a state of ‘enduring’.

One of my favorite quotes, from A Course in Miracles is “above all else, let me see this differently”.

‘Seeing differently’ leads to innovation with how you live your life, how you show up in your world / our world and how you connect and collaborate with others.

When you are in a state of over-whelm or depletion, just like what is happening with our country, things begin to fall apart, you begin to fall apart. Caffeine is used to get through the day.  Food and over-doing is used to fill a void. Alcohol and drugs are used to unwind and numb out.

The result is, our world environment is not healthy and our internal environments are not healthy.

But, as I stand here before you today – I can tell you first hand, you can overcome, over-doing and over-whelm.
I know this is possible because I began shifting from living in a constant state over-doing, stress and anxiousness, to feeling calm and relaxed, right smack in the middle of the most stressful years of owning my [former] store – during the recession.
This ‘shifting’ of habits, beliefs and behaviors began by asking these questions:

>Why are you doing what you are doing?
>What need is your ‘doing’ or perhaps your ‘over-doing’ fulfilling?
>What are you saying “yes” to and why?
>How do you feel when you say “no”? What feelings come up?
>How good are your boundaries? Do you know what ‘boundaries’ are?
>What depletes you?
>What feeds your soul?
>What ‘thoughts’ do you have on a loop?
>On a daily basis how are you renewing your natural resources?  And…
>What can you let go of?

Several years ago, I came up with a question (my favorite of them all) that became my “theme” for an entire year. Every time I felt stress, over-whelm, anxious, scared, frustrated or confused, I would hit my internal ‘pause’ button and ask “what can I do differently?”.

This question led to over-coming my addiction to busyness (my way of numbing out),
>It led to letting go of trying to control everything,
>It led to learning how to quiet my monkey mind and eventually this question
“what can I do differently”, led to selling my business and taking a yearlong intentional sabbatical renewing my own internal resources.

Today, I am no longer addicted to busyness or living in overwhelm. My life is richer. My eyes are open.
I see ‘doing’ differently. I feel more. I love more and I laugh more. And even when faced with what at times can feel like insurmountable challenges, my baseline daily feeling is not anxiousness and over-whelm, it is peace!

So I ask youwhat can you do differently to place the sustain-ability of yourself, not at the bottom of your ‘to-do’ list, but at the top?



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