August 6, 2017

Honor Your Preferences

Something I’m learning to do more and more of in business, and in life, is to listen to, and really hear, my own voice amongst the noise, and to honor my natural preferences, inclinations and intuitions.

But I know… sometimes that can be SO hard to really HEAR, because at times it feels impossible to distinguish all that noise and information from that quiet wisdom in your heart, and especially… in your gut. Right there in your belly.

It’s funny my belly is one of the things I’ve fought the most with all my life (um…like the tagline used to describe my moms side of the family was once “all guts and no butts” :D) but it’s the very same place that holds all my wisdom. Which makes sense of course, because oh boy do we struggle with our wisdom.

When I am confused about a decision or choice in front of me, and I finally land on the right answer, I can FEEL the palpable “yes” in my belly.

It feels like a knot being untied, like something’s come undone, and an all-consuming but subtle, “ahhhh.. yes. That’s right.” Not some earth shattering flash of lightening, or a mountain-top eureka, just the simple and totally natural feeling YES of your body.

When it comes to our own preferences and inclinations, we tend to doubt them at every turn. We hold them up and compare them to others, we see how they fit-in with the current status quo, we see if everyone else is doing that, preferring that, wanting that… or if even ANY one else is.

If we don’t see it being the norm, or the current trend, or the thing everyone is talking about, we start to question and doubt ourselves. And if we don’t fully trust ourselves (as many of us don’t), we might throw out our wisdom entirely, in favor of someone else’s.

This can be with seemingly small and unimportant things, or with big seemingly really important things, and I’m here to tell you that in either case—it’s important. The “small” things are directly tied to the “big things”. One supports the other like building blocks.

If the blocks are made of someone else’s preferences—the HOUSE will be made of someone else’s preferences. In other words, the house and life you built for yourself will be a dream and vision that was never really yours.

Let me give you an example: I am someone who loves and appreciates beautiful things. I make all of my buying decisions based on this, I choose hotels and places I stay based on this, I choose restaurants and travel and coffee shops based on this. I choose things based on the environment I’d like to be in. I choose things based on how they make me FEEL.

It is important to me, it is part of who I am.

Now I’ve gotten all kinds of messages from the world about this (even though it’s the very thing that makes me good at my job), and it has caused me to disown or doubt this part of me for a lifetime. Even if I went ahead and did it anyway, there was always the nagging lines that echoed: “Well, well who do you think YOU are? …. Must be nice! … Have fun ms. hoity toity! … What the hell? material stuff doesn’t matter! … you don’t NEED that … that is a waste of money … so expensive! … these are shallow things … geez, such a fancy pants…that’s not part of who you ARE, that’s just chasing something you happen to like!” etc. etc. ad infinitum.

This may seem like a small and unimportant example, but “something you happen to like” IS a natural preference, and if I listen to those messages, I will shut down my *own* preferences, and I will begin to instead build my house out of someone else’s.

I will choose things based on other criteria—criteria that is important to someone else—but not to me. And before long, I will look up at the house I am living in, and see that it is not the house I wanted in this life at all. And I will wonder why I never feel lit up anymore… the way I did when I chose the things that naturally called to me.

I have come to a place now where I will no sooner question my own inclinations and preferences than I would someone else’s. Who the hell would I think I am to question whether someone REALLY prefers chocolate, the color blue, soft sheets, men or women, pants or dresses — I wouldn’t think of doing that! And yet I do it to myself. No more.

When I honor my preferences in business, I hire the people that are right for me, I work with the people that are right for me, I am a beacon to the people who are right for me, they know themselves too, and they see themselves in me.

I make my business decisions, and whom I hire to work with me, based on how they make me FEEL.

They are the ‘environment’ I will be surrounding myself in, and I choose the quality of that, over cost. I work the money out if it’s important to me — I always do. Not irresponsibly (sometimes it can’t be done responsibly and a no is the right thing) but with RESPECT to my preferences, and with respect for my bigger vision with all of this, and when I do that, I always find a way to make it work, or find an alternative that is still aligned with my objectives.

Honoring your preferences will connect you with others who share those preferences – and there are few greater feelings in this life than that of, “me too!”. That moment we get to know ourselves, and see ourselves, and feel a moment of true connection in the all-too-often lonely struggle that it is to be a human being.

The added benefit is when you respect your own inclinations, you have more respect and appreciation for other peoples too — no matter how different or opposite they may be. You respect the “no’s” as much as the “yes’s” because you finally realize those no’s are just a yes to something else…

you are building the house you want to live in—and so are they.

If you are currently struggling with a decision, here is a few questions that I like to use to help me find my way through all the noise:

1. What is my big vision/goal here for my business and life?

2. Will this (whatever you’re deciding on) support that vision?

3. If not, is there an immediate need that it is supporting instead?

4. Does that need’s fulfillment take me a step closer-to my vision?

It’s just a way of stopping and asking yourself: wait, what am I building here?

Because that is SOOOO easy to forget when we are bombarded with information and opinions and best-ways and all that. 😉

I hope it helps, I use it ALL. THE. TIME.