I recently listened to an interview with Dr.Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas, authors of Humor Seriously: Why Humor is an Important Weapon in Business and in Life. I laughed as they talked about stories from their childhood and how humor played a role in their lives. And then, I thought about mine.
One of the questions Naomi asked her family, while they sat around the dinner table was, ”Who is the least funny in our household?” They all sheepishly looked around at each other, and she quickly realized it was her that was the least funny.
So guess what I did? That’s right. I asked the same question of my family that night at the dinner table. And, yes. I am the least funny.
The interview made me pause and reflect on my own dinner table, my business, and my life. The topic made me realize how, yes, humor in the darkest moments of my life was like a welcoming wave of joy. I’ve always believed if you brought humor to the table, you really can get through just about anything. Try taking the humor quiz. You might be surprised at your responses.
The Manifold Benefits of Laughter
The authors discovered in their studies that people who laugh actually live longer. Research on the benefits of humor at work shows that having fun at work improves both physical and mental health.
When we laugh or are having fun, our bodies release hormones that help fight stress. Not only does this help improve our immune system also gives us a better mood.
I also thought about the wisest sages and teachers I have been fortunate enough to meet, and those I have read about. Humor always played a role in the teachings. In fact, they seemed to radiate joy as I’ve never witnessed before.
In reflecting on some of the pilgrimages I’ve taken to Tibet, Nepal, and India, and some of the happiest people I met were the common people, joy blooming from their faces. One time, a poor woman working in the field paused and with a wide smile and eyes that shone like crystals glanced up at me. Tears dripped down my cheeks. No explanation, but that the joy ignited in me deep happiness that caught me off guard.
I believe after this year, we all perhaps lost our sense of humor. I know I did at times.
How about you?
Have you ever heard of laughing meditation? Yes, there is such a thing. Laughing meditation is a simple practice of forcing yourself to laugh, and soon, joy takes over. Check it out right here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDRr8UEIP9E
Seriously Add Humor
What if you brought humor to your salon? Not the biting kind, or hurtful kind, but the pure joy kind? What kind of profound effect would that have in some of your salon meetings? Humor can seriously diffuse most difficult situations that might arise in the salon.
We can’t talk about bringing humor into the salon without talking about how willing you are to laugh. Generosity with your humor can offer others the encouragement to relax and feel safe. Humor can actually make you easier to work with and more successful.
So, if after reading this article your curiosity is brimming,
Ask the question at your dinner table this evening, ”Who is the least funny in our family?” You might be surprised at who it is.
Grief has a way of stopping us in our tracks. I think we can all agree that the past year has brought us face-to-face with feelings of hopelessness and utter loneliness. Many of us hairdressers are not working in our salons, once again. For some, if they haven’t lost their salon already, they may be on the verge. Sustaining joy, balance or a sense of creative expression can be a challenge.
I’d like to share two inspirations on this topic, I heard on NPR this week.
Grieving Is a Journey
First, if you watched the inauguration last week, you not only saw the new president and vice president being sworn into the office but you witnessed the youngest poet laureate recite her poem, “The Hill We Climb”, with such grace and strength. She also wrote a poem to address these times.
We ignite not in the light, but in lack thereof,
For it is in loss that we truly learn to love.
In this chaos, we will discover clarity.
In suffering, we must find solidarity.
For it’s our grief that gives us our gratitude,
Shows us how to find hope, if we ever lose it.
So ensure that this ache wasn’t endured in vain:
Do not ignore the pain. Give it purpose. Use it.
These lines say it all. “Do not ignore the pain. Give it purpose. Use it.”
Question is, how are you ignoring the pain? How are you giving it purpose and how are you using the pain?
I offer that we have to feel the suffering so that we can see through it, and come through it transformed. The creative energy that gets bottled up when we are in pain, can implode and make us very unhappy.
The final line in the poem, “When this ends, we’ll smile sweetly, finally seeing/ In testing times, we became the best of beings.”
We truly can become the best of beings by being grateful for the resilience and compassion this time requires, mostly towards ourselves. There is nothing we could have done to avoid this situation. Some things are out of our control. Creating balance and creating itself requires a listening-in to your inner world, and feeling the external circumstances.
Grief Births Creativity
The second inspiration this week speaks to creativity and is worth listening to. It is a commentary by Matt Nathonson on finding his creative voice. Nathan’s pressing on to find his music and the pressure he placed upon himself to sound like someone else felt pertinent to this conversation about grief.
We as artists can take what is happening so personally. Yes, we have to feel it, but when we tune in to the collective experience, we don’t have to heap on the pressure to be like others, and for our work to look like others. Finding our own unique expression is a lifelong journey.
Our lives have been upended. I can hear it, feel it, and see it in my own words, and in the people, I see and speak with. Balance needs to be restored by living through this experience. What words will you use to describe it? How will you reconnect with your creative voice? Grief and creativity can be closely related. Use this moment, feel this moment, and you may find there to be, a brilliant source of balance and creativity.
Journey to Healing
You can only overcome grief after you have embraced it and allowed yourself to go through the process. Here are some practical tips to help you deal with grief and begin restoring balance in your life:
Allow yourself to grieve as long as you need. Do not rush or cut it short. The process of dealing with grief can be challenging because it takes time to process and shows itself. Let yourself move at a slower pace.
Grieve intentionally. Set aside time to let all your emotions out. Journal or write down everything that you possibly can as you allow yourself to feel the sadness or pain. This signals to your brain that what you’re feeling may be negative but not necessarily dangerous.
Seek out the right emotional support. Talk to a therapist, family, or friend. Find someone who can listen to you compassionately and without judgment. It’s too easy to hide, retreat, and all not in a good way.
Be proactive about self-care. Engage with yourself simple actions that build hope and figure out what brings you joy. Make sure you have sufficient hours of sleep, make healthy eating choices, and set aside time for exercise and physical activities.
A Growth Relationship
Coaching is a relationship like no other. The connection is not one like your family that may keep you in the role of daughter or sister. Not your friend, who most likely doesn’t want to hurt your feelings, not your salon owner, who sometimes has their agenda, nor your therapist, if you have one.
A great coach builds on your strengths and sees your weaknesses as areas of opportunity for growth. The relationship is about supporting you in your development and achieving and being the greatness you desire.
When I coach people, we start with a coaching conversation to see where you are in each of our program’s three pillars. We look at your personal life, career, and relationships. I listen for where you struggle, where you short circuit the joy or get in your way of living the kind of life you say you want. We start right where you are and build from there.
A Coaching Plan Walkthrough
Before our first meeting, you will receive homework via email to go over it together in our first session. We cover a lot of ground since our two-month session goes pretty quickly. Your full engagement is essential. We then virtually embark on our work, meeting for an hour, every two weeks, for two months.
The One Page Plan
The engagement of coaching includes your spending time with YOU and writing. What are your goals? Break them down from small picture to big picture.
In this step, many hairstylists can’t articulate where they see themselves in their careers. They don’t look ahead, and most do not plan. Some stylists fear they will fail if they set their bar too high; some just don’t care or simply don’t know that coaching is available. Then people live from day to day until they get broadsided by a life occurrence.
We look at the resources you have to accomplish what you desire and plan accordingly. No stone goes left unturned.
Resources come in many forms; a couple that we look at are your human resources and economic. What relationships do you foster in your personal life and your business? Whether you work for yourself, rent a chair, or are an employee at a salon. You probably have more resources than you think.
Your economic resources are probably more than what you think as well. First, we must look at where you are. I don’t know about you, but most of us learned not to discuss money, even when we fail. Yet, If I am to coach you, we need full transparency.
Facing our money head-on is the only way to go. We will create a cash flow chart for a year, including your income and all your expenses. This picture, if you will, will give you the ability to revise as you move forward. Knowing these numbers allows you to see just how much growth will happen; only by shedding light on the subject, you become aware of corrections that need to be made and naturally occur.
We then look at timelines you have or intend to have. You can arrive at these holistically, without badgering yourself, or by arbitrary deadlines. These timelines you create are rooted in your set goals and serve as a framework so that you can perform what is needed to manifest them.
Next, I hold you accountable for what you say you want. NO HOLDS BARRED… No movement happens if you can’t let yourself be supported. Ask yourself, “Am I coachable?” The Up Your Salon Game program is not for those who have their arms folded or need to be right about their life story.
Coaching is for those high-performance hairstylists out there who desire change and are willing to roll up their sleeves to get into the nitty-gritty of their life; honestly look at what is not working to shift.
I hope this is you. 2021 will be a year for rebuilding, remaking, rethinking for the beauty industry at large; let coaching be the first action you take to ensure it is successful for you in all the ways you need it to be and want it to be. Let’s create your future together.
How Are You Creating Balance in the Midst of a Pandemic?
With so much unpredictability, it is understandable that our balance in life and work may feel off kilter. Creating life-work balance in the midst of a pandemic may seem like a tale from the Disney Channel or something.
We may feel edgier, snapping at our loved ones or short with cautious clients. But the truth is, we really have no control over the situation as a whole. Our best attempts at keeping calm may completely disappear at times, especially if you feel your bottom line continues to be affected by this pandemic.
A Taste of Balance
Some of what keeps us moving forward, is reaching for balance; because it really is the natural order of things. Life got real simple during the shelter in place orders. With reduced schedules, you may have more time on your hands.
This was a radical change for most of us. You may have found your natural rhythm again. Maybe more cooking instead of fast food, more time with your families and/or pets, and walks or yoga. We got a taste of what it felt like to not have work be the focus of our lives, and to live more simply. We got more of our life back.It’s not to say that this was easy. Au contraire. It was stressful, hard, scary, and humbling. How we emerge from this time is very powerful. Can we retain some of the feeling of wrapping our work around our life, instead of the other way around?
Your Sphere of Control
Due to circumstances out of our control– cut hours, no double booking, etc., we can only focus on what we do have control over. That is– our actions and our words.Your actions, how you hold this precarious situation, and how you speak about it. These are the pathways to discovering balance.Yes, words matter. There is power in words. How do you speak about things? Listen to yourself. Do you like what you are saying? This is not the time to throw caution to the wind, and it is also not a time to be so constricted, that joy has little room to blossom.
Two Foundational Truths
So how do we create balance? I talk about life-work balance with so much passion because I believe it is more than essential. Over 3 decades as a salon professional, I found it to be the main ingredient in keeping you from going over the edge or getting totally burned out. Here are 2 foundational truths in achieving balance, keep you grounded and thrive in our demanding industry.
1. Setting Boundaries Around Your Talent and Gift
No kidding. It took me a long time to figure out that saying YES to every date, client, friend or family was not the quickest way to achieving some level of stability in my life. About ten years in, I realized I didn’t want to cut hair at every family gathering. So, I stopped bringing my scissors home every trip.
Yes, it feels good to offer a gift of a haircut when you haven’t seen people for a while. You want to do something to keep yourself busy when Uncle Billy starts drinking too much, or your brother and you start talking politics. Having something to do can keep you out of trouble, in other words.
However, if you find now that it is expected every time you visit, and resentment is building up, perhaps it’s time to leave the scissors behind, and begin saying no.
2. Remembering Your “WHY”
Although you may be passionate about cutting hair, it’s important to schedule time to explore other parts of your life.
Remembering WHY you cut hair, beyond the money, beyond recognition, allows you to go deeper. Is it to provide for your family? To afford a certain lifestyle? Is it to employ others, and enable them to make a living? Is the “Why” about sharing your creativity?
All these questions invite you to go deeper. Allow this underlying through line in your career to give you balance, nothing to prove, just quietly going about your business.
What about the different aspects of your life that offer other ways that are needed to feed your emotional and spiritual life?
Saying NO to the last client so that you may take that violin lesson, watch your kids’ soccer game, learn a language, or a date with your companion, husband or wife.
This is balance– getting to a place that you can wrap your work around your priorities and the vision for your life. Maybe it means you do with a little less of a paycheck to do so. These are the moments we will remember.
At the end of the day, our job as salon professionals is an exchange for money. No more, no less.
If you are passionate about your hairstyling career, you are lucky. Passion is awesome, but it doesn’t mean you have to work 24/7. That’s old school. Trust this passion and have work wrap around your life. Not the other way around.
I know for myself, I find that I am reluctant to go back full on in my studio, I sometimes go in a little later, and end a little earlier. This is what I find works for my family life.
I mark spaces out in my calendar ahead of time to create some cushion. I can always fill the slot with a client. I like knowing that I have these windows of time available. I am protecting my time with more awareness.
How about you? How do you maintain your balance?