How to Accelerate Your Success, Without the Stress of the Traditional Route
With over 25 years experience as a successful entrepreneur, both as a traditional business owner and as an independent consultant working with sales teams and organizations, developing leadership and increased productivity in both areas, in addition to thousands of hours of personal and professional development, Stacy offers a unique perspective to her clients. Her ability to help people elevate their EQ through integrative learning, and implement strategies to leap frog their results is incredibly effective and highly inspiring.
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I have another outstanding guest today. I actually met her in Arizona. So, Stacy Axon, how are you today?
Awesome, Dave, how are you? I'm good.
I love the company name, Aspire and Thrive. So, fill us in and tell us what the heck does that mean? I'd love to hear this.
So basically, it's for those that want to aspire for more and thrive in life. So, aspire and thrive. I'm all about personal and professional development. So, I started that in 2009 consulting and training companies and over the years. I've always been a personal development junkie. Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar. I mean, you name it. I've done it.
Did it all. Huh?
I just love it. So, I've been a serial entrepreneur for the better part of the last 30 years. I've done a lot of leadership development over the years for different companies. And I just fell so much in love with developing people that I wanted to go out on my own. So, Aspire and Thrive just seemed to be a good fit and have really focused on emotional intelligence the last four to five years.
I have to tell you that what like super like caught my eye was in your LinkedIn profile. This question was fantastic. And I really want you to unpack this for the listeners. The question is “what if everything that you were taught about how to achieve success was wrong?” And that's like really number one, controversial. Number two, it stopped me in my tracks.
Success can be so many things to so many different people, so there's no right or wrong answer to any of this. I'm just curious from your perspective, when you ask that question or when you're unpacking that concept with people, what's the thought process behind that question?
Oh, I love it. So, the reason I ask questions, even when I do a 30 or 60 second commercial when I'm out marketing myself. I use questions because I want people that consider where they are in life, you know, what's going on? How did they get there? And most of us, and you're absolutely correct. Success is something different for every individual, right? But I think in our society, we've been given this dogma of success means you're achieving a certain status. You've accumulated so much stuff. And what I found even in this field of personal and professional development is many influencers are saying how hard you have to work. And that seems to be the theme is that you've got to work hard. You've got to sacrifice; you've got to give something up in order to have what you want.
That seems to be the message, right? And I don't believe that. For the success I've experienced in life, I have learned that there are far more effective ways to reach whatever success means for you without sacrifice, without working so hard. We have this word, “effort”, right? Well, effortless is really ideal. Wouldn't you want to move forward in life effortlessly? So, the more congruent we can be, the more in alignment with who we are, what our values are and prioritizing our highest values with the effort that we're doing, it actually becomes effortless because you're totally congruent and in alignment with what you're doing.
Okay. So, I'm going to challenge you. So, I'm thinking to myself, there's somebody driving right now, listening to this. And they're like, okay, Stacy, seriously? You know, these are the people that wear these badges of I work ton of hours. I understand the work smarter, not harder words, but I've never been able to stop long enough to implement them. This is like foreign to me, Stacy. So, I want to dig a little deeper, if you can maybe go into some specifics. If you had an entrepreneur sitting across from you and that those exact words came up, that's foreign to me. I have no clue what you're talking about. What's your response to that?
If you don't mind role playing with me, Dave. Let's just focus on your business for now. So, all the things that you put energy into, what lights you up the most, what would you say is your absolute purist joyful act that you do and all of those hours that you're working on your business?
So, the two would come to my mind. Number one is when I sell something, and number two is when I'm able to speak in front of an audience, those are the two things that light me up the most.
Okay. And would you say that in those two things, you're the only person that could possibly do that?
In my company, correct? Yes.
Okay. So those are the two things that you should be focusing your time, effort, and energy on. Anything else, I want you to apply the four D’s. Is it something that you can delegate? Is it something that you can delete? Is it something I can diminish? Can I lessen the amount of time I'm spending on it? Is it's something I can delay, not really a high priority item? So, to me, real success comes from us doing that, which we get the most energy and joy from, but we're also going to be our best when we're focused on that.
Okay. So, the effortless part comes in doing what you truly are passionate about and truly enjoy.
Yup. If you did that for two hours, 10 hours, 20 hours, it would feel effortlessly.
Gotcha. Okay. Well that makes sense. Thank you for clarifying that.
I'll clarify some more. So, where does the effort really feel like you're efforting? The effort comes from you doing low priority items, right? Low energy, low passion items. Like if I said, Dave, I need you to spend the next 10 hours getting all of your paperwork lined up. But as an entrepreneur, especially if there's a lot of entrepreneurs probably listening to this, we have a lot of hats we have to wear. And we will say, I need to do this. I should do this. We have to do this. Anytime that we're using those words, we're putting somebody else's value system on to us. And we're efforting to do it. It's laborious. And where's the joy in that delegate that stuff out.
That's awesome. So, delegate, delete, diminish, and delay. Those are all time words. Where does time management kind of jump in here?
And so that is a buzzword. It's really about self-management it's about prioritizing your highest value items first in your day, in your week, in your month, giving yourself grace in the process. But first of all, we've got to get ourselves. And then when we identify where our highest priority items are, that's what we need to focus on first in our day. For you, sales, getting in front of people, making connections with clients, whether it's lead generating for new clients and being out there in front of new people. And I know we're in a COVID environment right now, so maybe that looks like what kind of virtual groups can I get engaged with so I can meet new people? Maybe it's just connecting with current clients or reengaging with past clients, but client connection. And for most of us, that really is a high priority item. So, are we spending 30 to 60 minutes a day doing that?
From my perspective, I place a high priority for my clients on accountability. So it sounds like same with you because you just said, Hey, if you're not spending 30 or 60, fill in the blank on a number minutes a day on doing what you want to make your life effortless or to make that transition into effortless work that accountability must come in. Is that kind of where you jump in?
Well sure. And everyone, as you know, has their different challenges. You know, we've got internal challenges, it can be anywhere from self-worth to no skillsets. Whatever barriers that we have, even mental fear, things like that, things that we've put in our way. So really to help be that mirror for them to ask questions. Cause I believe we all have our own answers. We just need somebody to help pull them to the surface. So, asking the right questions. I love giving them action items between the times that we talk so that they have something to work on. Cause really, it's about what is the change I can create, right? What new habits can I implement and what not so productive or supportive habits can I eliminate, delayed, delete, diminish, right? Because that's another misnomer I believe as well is that many of these other leaders out there keep wanting us to add to like, you need to go do this. She needed it. Well, if we don't take something out of our life and replace it with the new, that change, isn't going to happen either.
But I feel like an entrepreneur I have clients that 70 to 80 hours a week of work is not uncommon. And for me, I’ve done that already. I've pulled the all-nighter and thought I was really special because I did it like you have that all night or badge. And it's like, at the end of the day, the company never said, oh dear, thank you so much for doing that. So, I love the I love the awareness piece. And I want to ask you a question about that because you said self-manage and I was wondering, is self-manage and self-awareness, are those the same? Or do you feel that those are different?
I think they're different. Cause I think that's part of why I love working with emotional intelligence so much, and I love that TTI success insights has this awesome tool that we can actually use with our clients so they can see just how well developed their emotional quotient is. But there's five areas, right? So, there's self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, which is what is the intrinsic motivation for you to develop and move forward. And then social awareness and social regulation. So those are the five components of EQ and we can be self-aware, right? Many of us are pretty capable of identifying if we go into an extreme emotional state, anger, frustration, whatever it might be versus totally happy, right? Like that's an extreme example, but we can be aware of ourselves.
Now. Obviously, sometimes people don't realize when they're getting into a more agitated state of being self-aware and then being able to regulate yourself. To me those are two different things because regulation means one, how are we visibly showing our emotional state? So, you know, how well can I regulate myself? And then am I able to respond with an appropriate or civil or calm or whatever the response would be versus react. When we react, we're working from our primal cortex, which is our primal instincts back here in our, the back base of our skull. Or when we respond, we've actually given cognitive thought to our emotional state and the circumstance and made a decision in our frontal cortex of how to respond. And that's the difference.
When I talk about emotional intelligence or the EQ, I think about when do my true colors show, right? And I think that like driving for whatever reason is like a real testimony for people. Certain people really struggle with it. Especially for whatever reason when you're merging into a lane, and you have to go every other car. For the most part, a lot of people are really good about that. But there are certain people that feel that 25 feet that I'm about to take up is yours. And you need to go ahead of me, and you'll do it pretty much at any cost.
To me, that's a low in emotional intelligence. When we talk about it in a group, people start laughing and then they start realizing like, oh my gosh, maybe I'm not as high in my EQ as I think. Because most people when I ask them, oh yeah, I have I totally got a high EQ. They don't even know what they're saying, but you know, who wants to say no, I have such a low EQ? It's embarrassing, you know. So, but it's interesting, like you said, the self-awareness piece I think, is so important, especially in business. Let's say we’re both are on a team and we both worked for a company and we're part of a team. And let's say for the sake of the conversation, you have a high EQ and I have a low EQ. What are some things that you would see that like an outsider would notice different potentially about us and how we respond emotionally?
Great question. I think the person with the higher EQ is going to probably be a little calmer in their demeanor. They're probably going to be able to be more objective and resolve issues, challenges, toxic situations, probably with a little bit more of an even keeled demeanor. They might ask more questions, seeking for a better understanding where with the lower EQ they're probably going to be more toxic. They're probably going to have people in the office that are more alienated by them because they're kind of rough around the edges. We all know the person that we probably said. “they just say what they think there's like no filter.” That's probably a lower EQ person.
Gotcha. Okay. So, what are we supposed to do when we're in those situations? I realized that some people have true blind spots where they don't know they're doing it, but then there's also people that kind of live in denial. They know they have a low EQ. They know they have it and they could care less. You know, they are not interested at all in any type of self-improvement. So, can you identify the difference between somebody that truly doesn't know they have that and somebody that does?
Maybe not necessarily just from a surface perspective. I have to ask some questions to kind of get a sense of where they are on that scale. And I'm a firm believer that the quality of the questions we ask determine the quality of the life we have. So I love asking questions and usually if I were to encounter someone like that, you know, ask them if on a scale of one to 10, how happy are you in your personal life on a scale of one to 10, where would you be in your professional life? In the relationships you have. If they're clearly a low EQ person and they're like, ah, 10. Yeah. You know, they probably don't care that they're a low EQ person.
If they're kind of in this gray state, based on how they respond, I would be inviting them, “well, would you be open to learning more about human behavior and what makes us tick and maybe improving that so that you have better quality relationships and things in your life.?” And I feel like we can rescue them. We can help them move forward. But if they're resistant, they're resistant. And I don't know if it's appropriate to interject this nowadays, but I kind of take emotional intelligence a step further perhaps. Cause I truly believe we're emotional beings having a physical experience and we're guided by our emotions. So, I like to help people kind of understand when they're in what I call a positive emotional state versus what we would perceive a negative emotional state.
And whenever we start getting into a lower energy state, positive emotions are going to give us higher energy. We're more negative. Emotions are going to deplete our energy. We all know that we've all been around a negative person and we're like, eh. And the first step into going down the scale down into that negative energy. So, you know, entitlement worry, stress, frustration. Those are all tipping into that lower part of the scale. And I'm just going to let out everyone who listens to this know that you will never resolve any challenge or issue, if the other person you're trying to communicate with is on the lower half of that scale, we've got to get them up into a more centered or positive state.
And so, I'm trying to find ways of how somebody can improve their emotional intelligence if they're listening and they find themselves, if they're open enough to say, yeah, you know what, I think I'm on that lower end. How can we, how can they improve that emotional intelligence?
Right. So, I think you know, people, gosh, we're in such a volatile climate in our society right now. I think emotional intelligence is more vital now than ever. And to start with assessing where they are in their life right now, like to just start asking some questions and I like to use the scale just because it takes the emotion out of it. Cause sometimes we shame ourselves or we can condemn. So just say, Hey, if I were to on a scale of one to 10, where am financially, where am I in my personal relationship with my children with work, just different categories and it's less than a seven or an eight or even a nine.
Then maybe say, am I willing to learn more about me and what I can do to improve myself or know myself more as to where I can contribute more in these different areas of my life? Could I have some objective third-party person help guide me? That's where you and I can come in or other coaches or consultants can come in and give this objective point of view. And our role is to ask questions. We're not here to tell somebody how to live or what they should or shouldn't be doing. We're here to help you find your answers for you. Right? And to your earlier point about biases and blind spots, we don't know what our blind spots are, right? So, you know, to have somebody else and whether it's the tools we use that TTI offers, because we have wonderful assessments that help us really understand behavior and our values and our emotional intelligence and even our skillset. But taking that and really saying, okay, here's where we are. This is where you say you want to go. Then what's working for you and your life to support that. And what's not working that we can apply them for these two or kind of help you move forward right there. That alone is going to move you up the emotional equation scale. Because now you're saying, I want to do something about me. And the first step is self-awareness. Then the second step is self-regulation and the motivation is going to be increased because now you have a desire to do something about it.