Courage from a CEO

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Courage is “”the quiet voice at the end of the day telling you to try again tomorrow”", it’s resilience, it’s running after your big scary dreams when you don’t have it quite figured out yet, it’s traveling to foreign countries-solo, it’s quitting your job and taking leaps of faith in the unknown.

Courage is any moment you feel empowered to overcome fear, destroy obstacles or dare to be bold.

I’ve learned to find my courage from my support system of friends and family that cheer me on in all my crazy adventures and ideas, but also allow me to fail and love me all the same. The past 4 months courage has had to be my MO as I moved around the world, bought a business and became a first time mother (which in itself has brought on a whole new level of courage as I navigate life with a newborn while leading a rockstar team!) With the impact my support system has made on me and all the types of courage they’ve given me in my life, I hope to rally others to take the leap as well, life is just way more fun and rewarding when you do!

-@Jenniferlynmc, CEO of The Big Fake Wedding

Desktop Downloads: Courage

© 2013 | Haley Sheffield | www.haleysheffield.com

There are two definitions of COURAGE: A) The ability to do something that frightens one, and B) Strength in the face of pain or grief. While both are inevitable and admirable, Type B totally fascinates me. I first experienced this kind of courage when I was 23. My life was turned upside down with the presence of death, depression, a collision with a drunk driver and divorce. I realized I had a choice: I could let it crush me, or I could choose Courage.

For me, Courage was continuing to walk the path in front of me in faith when I couldn’t see more than a step ahead. Courage was speaking truth in the face of opposition. Courage was clinging to light and having hope in the depths of despair. It took immense effort to choose this path, as I had let fear and people-pleasing rule me and destroy my purpose and my voice for a very long time. It was only through the unimaginable and overwhelming love of a few close friends, my faith, and a trillion tiny acts of Type A Courage every single day that I made it through that season.

Courage is contagious. Nothing is more inspiring than seeing someone rise from the ashes, defy all odds, stare fear in the face, or simply continue to show up, day in and day out, despite despair.

There’s always ways we could use more courage. Currently, I’m deeply concerned with the state of our nation and I’m praying for courage (and discernment) to use my voice as an advocate for change. I’m praying for courage to stand alongside the marginalized, and be a voice of love, hope, peace and justice. I’m praying for courage to show others the outrageous, radical love that changed and saved me.

Ali Nelson, Creator of Ali Makes Things

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Plywood - 2017 - Plywords - FEB Instas - Quote 2

Crazy Stupid Courage

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Fear is my Number One Nemesis. But when I tell you this story, you might not believe me.

I founded a non-profit that hires and trains resettled refugees using a couple of bright red coffee trucks and an old gas station we’ve converted into a coffee shop. Customers order up at the truck and drink their lattes (or chai or hot chocolate) inside. Right now, we have a refugee and immigrant staff of six that run both the shop and our catering business.

One day during a meeting at our shop, I looked outside and saw a guy get out of his car and saunter over to the truck. I’m ashamed to admit I profiled him right away. He was old, maybe even older than me. He looked vaguely redneck-ish. And he had a very visible holster with a very visible gun strapped to his waist.

Because we champion the rights of refugees, we get flack from time to time, mostly from people who look like this guy. Nothing major, just questions about whether refugees are legal (they are) or whether they are stealing jobs Americans want (they aren’t).

I was on high alert. I said, “Excuse me. I need to check on something,” and walked outside. I stood there, arms folded, right next to our truck window and just watched. That night, my husband asked me what exactly I thought I was going to do.

“Good question,” I said, “I honestly thought that if he pulled out the gun, I’d yell, ‘Hey! If you’re gonna shoot my people, you’re gonna have to shoot me first!’”

Doesn’t sound like the actions of a fearful person, does it? The thing is, knee jerk reactions just look courageous when, really, they are just stupid. The truth is, I am mostly sane and yet mostly terrified. We hire and train refugees, and I often feel responsible for making this whole experiment work. I am ultimately responsible for paying salaries. For ensuring that our trainees make meaningful transitions when they leave us. For maintaining our mission and culture. It doesn’t keep me up at night—I love sleep—but it does make me second guess a lot.

So why would a woman who is a certified chicken do something stupid like standing up to a skinny, redneck gunman? The reason, I’ve come to believe, is the only answer to fear. Not the solution to fear, but rather the way to make your fear count. Because if you start anything worth starting, you will be afraid.

The only answer when fear calls your name is love.

What if the fierceness of my love for others somehow exceeded the fierceness of my fear? Every mother knows all about that. We Mama Bears are scared to death, and that is exactly why we run into burning buildings or jump into the deep end with our clothes on. In that moment, we are more scared for someone than we are scared of something.  (Oh, by the way, the guy just ordered coffee and left. Whew.)

Still, less dramatic, more fearful situations abound. The other day I had to have a tough conversation. I hate tough conversations, as in I’m deathly afraid of them. But this particular conversation absolutely had to take place if we were going to do right by all our refugee employees. My love for them overrode my fear of the tough conversation. And by “overrode,” I mean love made diving headlong into my fear a foregone conclusion. It didn’t get rid of the feelings, but it made them worth it.

My husband often says, “Life is overwhelming. So be sure you’re overwhelmed with the right stuff.”

I think he’s right, and I think this applies to fear as well. You are going to be afraid. Fear is a natural defense mechanism, after all. Just be sure you’re afraid of the right stuff for the right reasons. That—not fearlessness—is real courage.

How will you choose courage over fear today?

Kitti Murray, Founder of Refuge Coffee

Desktop Downloads: Productivity

We have some new downloads ready for your desktop and phone! We want you to stay productive and find a system of work that works best for you. When you see these images on your devices, ask yourself the question, “What is the most important thing I need to get done today?”

For your desktop:

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For your phone

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Created by Ben Farnham

5 Productivity Tips from a Founder

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Be Rested
A productive day starts with going to sleep on time the night before. You can’t be at your best if you’re tired. If you want to be really really productive, get even extra sleep.

Start Early
Nothing kills your productivity like getting a late start. Get up, get going, and get started on time. As a general practice, if you can be disciplined enough to start your day an hour or two before everyone else, then you will get more accomplished. Starting before others gives you the luxury to not even open emails, social media, or other distractions during your first hour or two. You’re up and making progress before others have even started so you don’t have the pressure to respond to other things. It will be your most productive stretch of the day and nothing creates momentum like completing an important task before 8am.

Be Intentional With Your Time
Whether you have thirty minutes or eight hours, plan your time. Outline what you need to accomplish, prioritize the list, and work from most important to least important. If you don’t, you’ll waste time on things that don’t matter and never get around to the most important stuff.

Don’t Overwork
While you can get more accomplished in a single day by working extra hours, I’ve found that working long hours decreases productivity over the long run. Just like starting on time is best, stopping on time is best too. You need to change your mindset from “working more hours to get things done” to “getting more done in your work hours.” Overwork wears you down and makes all your time less productive. Intentional working time gives energy to your efforts, affords rest, and keeps you at your best today, tomorrow and for the long haul.

Which of these can you start working on today?

Brian Fosse is the co-founder of Lalabu, a start-up that specialized in simple babywearing.