What Didn’t Work in 2019

What Didn’t Work in 2019

Hey, hey, bold leaders! Welcome to another episode of The Bold Leadership Revolution podcast. I’m your host, Tara Newman. This is the time of year where everyone is celebrating goals met and a job well done, as they should. Celebrating wins is a powerful and potent habit. I believe the more you win, well, the more you win.


But as much as I’m here for the wins and what’s working, I’m here for the struggle. Let me explain because I know this is a point that can be easily misunderstood. 

The other day, I was sharing with someone that I was really struggling to acclimate to the new levels of success we’ve experienced in 2019, to embody and integrate all that we have accomplished and move into 2020. They quickly pounced on me. At least that’s what it felt like, that they were pouncing on me, with the fact that I need to reframe my perspective on struggle, and this is not the first time that this has happened, that someone has spoken into my mindset, and this is why I want to talk about this and why I want to explore it and why I want to explain it a little bit.

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I understand the importance of moving my attention to the things I do want and removing my focus from the things I don’t want. That’s not what’s happening here. When I acknowledge and unpack a struggle, something that feels heavy, hard or isn’t working, I’m able to find valuable insights on where my attention does need to go. When I follow my triggers, the judgments and doubt, it’s like following a rainbow to a pot of gold. It’s ultimately what sets me free. It allows me to leave it be because spending time with it shows me that it’s most likely untrue and unhelpful, but if I never examined it in the first place, I wouldn’t know that. I’d continue to cycle on it. It allows me to dive deeper in my own inner psychology to find opportunities for growth and betterment. After all, our growth is born from our adversity and our struggle. 

When I first started my blog in 2012, I wanted to create a community where nobody ever felt alone in their daily struggles and learned the tools to move forward by taking micro actions every day. Just this year, I had a fantastic insight while preparing for my speaking debut, which was me conquering a lifelong fear of speaking onstage. My insight was, you can do hard things when you allow yourself to feel hard things, meaning I first had to wade through all the head trash, the struggle and the feelings of intense anxiety and even panic. I had to bust out every tool in my toolbox to sit and be present to the feelings so that I could survive them and move beyond them for good, to know that even though I had these feelings, I was safe, whole and not going to die if I flubbed some lines onstage. Now, do I expect some of this fear and anxiety to come back? Yes, but in a much less intense way, and I have a lived experience that shows me I can navigate it successfully. 


If I didn’t allow myself to explore the full range of my emotions, I would have shut down. I would have avoided them and most likely avoided the thing causing them, the speaking. Thinking through the obstacles allows you to show up better prepared for the goal. What would happen if adventurers never thought through and planned for bad weather, when climbing, say, Mount Everest? They would most likely be overtaken by, and succumb to, the elements, risking death and dismemberment. By normalizing our struggles, we build more honest connections and I believe it’s relevant and necessary to building the critical skill of empathy. While it would be a real hoot to unpack win after win after win from 2019, which I sort of did in a previous episode, I think it’s more honest and real for me to share a few things I found myself in a street fight with. So here we go. Let’s dive in. 

Struggle #1: When you’re a visionary and an integrator, it’s tricky. I have half read Rocket Fuel, so I don’t profess to be an expert in the VI relationship. However, I understand the role of a CEO, usually the visionary, and the COO, usually the integrator. Taking the Rocket Fuel quiz confirmed what I already knew. I’m pretty adaptable in the sense that I can perform and have performed both roles expertly. I spent my 20 year career leading and managing operations, the behind the scenes person who is laying the process and systems behind the strategy, and I love being a visionary and I love being the one who gets shit done. I love structure, organizations, systems, processes… I love maximizing and optimizing and making money in the most efficient way possible. When I say I love these, I mean, I find them fun. As much as I love making money, I love saving money through finding efficiencies, but it’s really hard to be leading the charge and running ahead simultaneously while doubling back to lay the foundation. And that is really what I feel like I’ve been doing these last five years, being the visionary, leading the charge, running ahead, and then simultaneously doubling back and laying the foundation of process and procedure and systems and all those things. As our businesses evolve, we need to be in a continuous feedback loop on how our role is changing, what sources we need to support our strategy and navigating the beliefs and mindset hurdles around delegating. It’s somewhat easier to delegate the small tasks, but when you start delegating responsibility and decision making, it turns into a way different beast. 

Even as someone with over two decades worth of experience in developing high performing teams, doing it for myself always reminds me of how this challenges our ability to set boundaries and trust. Our brains want concrete proof we’re doing it right and oftentimes that’s not how it works when we’re leading other humans. It’s uncertain, complex and messy, and so this is where one of my struggles has been this year, in really evolving my role to really stay in the lane of CEO while delegating some of those operational tasks and responsibilities elsewhere.


The second area that I’ve struggled in this year is boundaries. This has been another area I’ve debated on an ongoing basis throughout the year. Many of my current boundaries had been set by the person I was, less confident, less clear on what I want, less willing to take a stand for me. I didn’t realize how when our boundaries are formed, they come from who we have been, who we are, and less from who we’re becoming. My boundaries have been set from my comfort zone and not from my learning zone. My boundaries have been what I’m willing to uphold, not challenging me to set stronger boundaries from a place of discomfort or things I think I’m unwilling to uphold even though I know I must.

As I unpack and wrap up the year, I’m looking at the boundaries my future self needs to feel supported. What is the most loving perimeter I need to maintain for my mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, and financial health? This isn’t about keeping people out. It’s about maintaining my energy, who and what and how is my energy given and what actually restores my energy. This is about watching how certain situations impact my confidence and make myself unavailable for people, places, and things that cause any erosion in my confidence. 

Frequently, I watch and share a video of Brene Brown talking about boundaries. She shares that she would rather be loving and generous but straightforward with what is okay and what is not okay. She goes on to say, “I’m far less sweet than I used to be, but I’m far more loving.” Those are very resonant words for me right now as I approach 2020. Being far less nice than I’ve been, but way more clear and ultimately kind. As my business has grown and my concern for client delivery has increased, I have forgotten some of the best business advice I’ve ever received, which is to care, but not that much. Some may see this as harsh or uncaring, but it’s actually the opposite. Over-caring leads me to be too much in someone else’s business and actually puts me in a place of judgment. Care, just not so much that you believe you know better or best than anyone else.

The third place that I have struggled this year is maintaining my creativity in a noisy world. Being creative brings me joy. I just so happen to feel my most creative outlet is writing and producing content. Sharing everyday stories of the ups and downs of life and business, creating tools and resources to support others and finding their best delights me. Yet 2019 has perhaps been my most constipated year in terms of creation. I have swung wildly between having so much to say, I can’t get it out, to being so fed up with our current state of events, not politics, but the barrage of noisy content in the world, it has shut me down from adding to distraction. 


I began this year by experimenting with my productivity and opting out of the echo chamber that I was in. I took a critical look at what allowed me to focus in on the critical few tasks that yielded 80% of our results. What were my most productive moments or times of day? Where have I become the bottleneck in the business, creating an unproductive system? I was shocked at how much of my time, attention, and energy was being directed toward by phone and social media. Following people and consuming content without much thought as to the contribution it was making to me or my life, a 20 segment Instagram story where every story was a swipe up to an item at Target: 20 items, 20 swipe ups. If that wasn’t a time and attention wakeup call, I don’t know what is. Thankfully, this business has grown to a place where I’m not the only one keeping it moving along, but it has also created a massive self check-in for me around what I want to create next and the level of free creative space I will need to make the next level of impact. Bold leaders bring forth new ideas, bold ideas, and in order to do that, we need to be discerning with what we let in.

As we wrap up this episode, let’s move you into action! Take 20 minutes and get radically honest with yourself. What didn’t work in 2019? Where do you need to do something different? Change happens when we are willing and courageous enough to do something differently, when we become a student at identifying our one bold action and implementing it with great focus and commitment. Cheers to a beautiful new year with a blank slate and all the exquisite possibilities.

I often share lessons learned on this podcast. It’s one of my favorite things to be able to do, and I’m able to do this because of a strong commitment I have to radical self-reflection. This commitment means that every week I’m looking at what’s happening in my business and in my life, the good, the bad, and yes, occasionally the ugly. Doing this work allows me to look at my months and even my years with real data, even for the less tangible parts of my business and life. I call these weekly meetings CEO Debriefs, and I do them twice per month inside The Brave Society. We do them together! I have pulled together some of the highlights from CEO Debriefs that I’ve done inside of Brave and I’m sharing the best of the best with you. You might have heard a couple of these on the podcast, but I want you to take it a step further and feel what it’s like to do these with us inside of The Brave Society. So head on over to the my show notes and sign up now to receive 10 CEO Debrief questions you will want to ask yourself. Plus, listen in on some of the most popular shares that I’ve made. Listening to someone else’s Debrief is a great way to find the language for what you’re experiencing, get a concrete example of radical self-reflection, and learn how to grow your business, because it’s oftentimes not what we think.

If you’ve found this podcast valuable, help us develop more bold leaders in the world by sharing this episode with your friends, colleagues, and other bold leaders. Also, if you haven’t done so already, please leave a review. I consider reviews like podcast currency, and it’s the one thing you can do to help us out here at the Bold Leadership Revolution HQ. We would be so grateful for it.

Special thanks goes to Stacey Harris from Uncommonly More, who is the producer and editor of this podcast. Go check them out for all your digital marketing and content creation needs. Be sure to tune into the next episode to help you embrace your ambition and leave the grind behind.

Important links to share:

Listen in on CEO Debriefs and Get 10 BOLD Questions for your own debrief.

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