Ever hear of Robin Fisher Roffer? Me either, until I received a copy of her fourth book Your No Fear Career. Honestly? I didn’t care much for the cover or the title. But about ten pages into the book I knew why it showed up in my life. Not only does it have great advice for all women—working or not—it also contains nuggets of SMART ideas that will benefit anyone who is looking to live boldly at any age. Written in short and easy to read chapters, I thought one of the best ways to review the book would be to share ten gems of wisdom I want to remember in the days ahead.
1) Don’t be a dancing bear, be a rainmaker. Ever feel like you must perform well for others so they like or love you? Robin explains how one day she found herself attempting to “entertain” a new date in an attempt to win his approval and liking. Later, she caught herself doing the same thing in business. Why? Anytime we go out of our way to please others, can’t say no to requests, entertain or perform in order to be loved or valued—we become what Robin calls a “dancing bear.” Instead, Robin suggests we claim our inner rainmaker and fearlessly be ourselves.
2) Recognize that your flaws are what makes you uniquely you. Most women are very aware of their own flaws. But what good does it do anyone (especially ourselves) to focus on what we can’t do, what we did wrong in the past, or any limitation we feel we own? Instead, Robin recommends, “we are too apologetic for our shortcomings, when we should be accepting, even celebrating ourselves—warts and all. If you are hard on yourself, others will be hard on you. If you come from a place of strength, your relationships will be strong. The truth is people can only accept you as much as you can accept yourself.” Finally, never-ever should we let our current (or past) circumstances define who we can be in the future.
3) Wants Vs. Needs. According to Robin most of us spend the majority of our time chasing after our “wants.” The problem with that is most of the time once we fulfill our “wants” the happiness, satisfaction, and peace of mind we seek is fleeting and superficial. Far better to be crystal clear about the true needs of our hearts and souls. Then, when we live from a “needs-based motivation,” the choices and opportunities we pursue are much deeper, lasting and more fulfilling.
4) Trust yourself, trust your intuition, and don’t take the bait. Robin is a big believer in intuition. Not only does she strongly urge us to trust our inner selves when confronted with emotion, anger or fear—she recommends that we listen to our gut and trust our instincts. Unfortunately what many people do is, “stay in relationships where it looks good on paper (or Facebook), but there is no creative growth or vitality. It’s a default choice made out of fear.”
Robin also fearlessly calls out our need to hold on to the status quo rather than move forward. She says, “Stagnation is tied to a lack of self-trust.” If there is no immediate threat to make a decision, our brains do their best to convince us that “the status quo is good enough.” But what happens if we are faced with an emergency requiring immediate action? Robin tells us not to “take the bait.” In other words, pause, stay true to yourself and follow your inner guidance about what to do next. Try not to panic! And don’t give in just to please others.
5) Authenticity isn’t as much about telling the truth as it is about owning it. Most of the time when people encourage authenticity, they focus on telling the truth, no matter what. But what if authenticity is really more about just owning who we are, what we know and everything that matters to us? When we can see our past as a gift, accept our flaws and stop apologizing for our true feelings, we own our authentic self. Robin says, “Not everyone will love the real you. What matters is that you do.”
6) Learn to love change and uncertainty. As a successful businesswoman, one thing that Robin is sure of is that things change. She recommends to anyone wanting to succeed in life, “You need to be ready, not rusty, for what’s next.” Of course, change requires courage. That’s why it is important for us to consider accepting, as Robin believes, “I’ve never known change not to be for the better. Even when it’s challenging, change forces you to look at yourself and decide what you really want. Change keeps you from growing complacent and getting stuck…it may not always be your choice, but it will almost always be for the best.”
7) Let go of telling people what you do. Rather, tell them why you do it. Most of the time when people ask us what we do, we give them our job description or say that we’re retired. Sure that might be what we do, but it isn’t who we are or what we hope to contribute. For example, although Robin technically owns and manages an advertising agency, when people ask she tells them that she is in the “potential fulfillment business.” By sharing with people what we strive to express, and “why” we do what we do—we connect to the meaning and purpose behind it all. Even if we are formally retired, it is far more interesting and meaningful to talk about why we do what we do. Not only will that inspire and attract others, it will inspire us as well.
8) Recognize that perfectionism is the excuse we use to not move forward. Robin confesses to being a recovering perfectionist. She says, “my natural tendency is to beat myself up when I think I’ve missed the mark. I don’t even need someone else to tell me I’m not good enough. I take care of that myself. Like many of us, I was taught to be ‘good’ and obliged. I felt my father’s love fully when his conditions were met and his rules were followed. So I did what was told and learned to feel good about myself when I received a pat on the back—always looking outside myself to cultivate self-worth.” She’s certainly not the only woman who learned the same thing!
Robin is convinced that this tendency to look outside ourselves for self-worth is behind our drive for perfection. She says it shows up when we try to constantly rewrite our work when writing, obsess when someone doesn’t seem to approve of our work, look for recognition or reward every time we finish a task, or overthink-reorganize-neaten-or re-categorize on a regular basis. Instead, Robin says, “Going for excellence is worthwhile. Trying for perfection is pure ego.”
9) Never strive for success—strive to create meaning and to reach your highest potential. It might sound strange coming from a business book to advise against going for success. But Robin is confident that true success comes only when your actions lead to meaning and the fulfillment of your highest potential. She says, “I know how tempting it can be to let your career happen to you. Money can be a powerful distraction. But in the end, you have to measure your career not by a monetary meaning of success, but by the difference you are making in the world.” Even further she recommends, “What you do for a living shouldn’t be something you tolerate. It should motivate you to become the person you truly are at your highest potential.”
10) Refuse to let fear hold you back. Throughout this short book, Robin advises us to live fearlessly. She says, “Fear. It keeps us from telling the truth to our clients, picking up the telephone (instead we hide behind email or text), and actually calling a prospect we are dying to work with or asking for the money we are worth. We don’t want to ruffle feathers, upset the apple cart, or worse, be seen as weird. We desire to fit in, be liked or even loved, performing for the applause that only comes in the form of a late payment.” There is that dancing bear idea again!
Instead, it’s far better to see life as a process to get to know and accept ourselves as unique and different individuals. Robin offers two suggestions when we are immobilized by fear. First, practice gratitude. Robin says, “It’s critical to shift into gratitude the minute you start questioning your self-worth.” Next, she recommends being of service to others. About this she says, “If your business has been going south, or you’ve lost your job, or you’ve suffered a setback…one sure-fire way to change the negativity around you is to do good work—both on the job and out in the world.”
Like most books I cover here on SMART Living 365, these are only a few of the highlights I found between the pages. I also want to point out that even though this is promoted as a business book, it is really a life book for us all. As always, it is SMART to remember that the good we seek frequently shows up in unexpected ways. And sometimes, all it takes is one tiny new idea to change our life for the better.
Your turn: Have you ever played a dancing bear? How do you feel about being a rainmaker instead? Please share in the comments below.
I think we are all dancing bears one way or another, one time or another. The “public” opinion seems to matter to most of us. We want to please, be loved and respected. It is hard to put that desire aside, even if it actually lowers our self-esteem. I agree that we should live more for ourselves instead of others.
These are all great points that Robin makes. Especially the wants vs needs section. People in the Western world are spoiled! It sometimes makes me mad, how everyone just assumes they deserve better, and how they just buy whatever they heart desires, instead of giving their purchases a second thought, or think about how other people in the world live. On the other hand, they work hard and make money, so they could enjoy spending that money. Tough to change those habits. In my situation, I don’t have a lot of money (and never had) – it encourages me to focus on the things I need, instead of what I want. Basic, SMART living has its advantages and correct focuses, but sometimes, it would be nice to just splurge on something that I don’t really need, like an ice cream or a dinner out. 🙂
The perfectionism statement is another one I can relate to. Phew – lots of life lessons to learn here or to appreciate having incorporated them already.
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Liesbet! Thank you for your thoughtful response to this post. Yes, I think if most of us are self-reflective we realize there are always areas where we might be trying a bit too hard to please others! I routinely hear people who say they don’t care what others think, and then the actions prove otherwise. Better to be self-aware and catch ourselves if possible, right? And yes, it does make me pause now and then to consider how fortunate my life is in compared to others around the world. What that motivates me to do is to help where I can and then find peace with the fact that I can’t do everything. A “fine-line” for sure. Of course, in the end, by rightsizing our life we believe that the tradeoffs we make tend to justify those times when we do splurge on things that bring us joy. This is a HUGE topic the more you dig down into it and it will be fun to sit and talk with you and Mark when you are in town. I’m really looking forward to it. ~Kathy
I’m looking forward to that as well, Kathy. There will be so much to talk about and reflect upon! 🙂
You can never, ever go wrong with authenticity…………there are no smokescreens, masks and it makes for the absolute best life in all situations! Looks like a great, book! Perfectionism is sort of like the “disease to please”, it draws energy from you, it doesn’t fill you up! Thank you Kathy, for another meaningful, smart post!
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Brittany! Yes it is a worthwhile read for sure. If you lived close by I would loan you my copy. And those two reminders about authenticity and perfectionism are worth it alone. Glad you appreciated the post and thanks for letting me know. ~Kathy
Still the Lucky Few says
Some people do hold perfectionism as something to strive for, but we now know how damaging it is. Great review! I think you hit all of the highlights. And I think if you are still a ‘dancing bear’ at 65, you are in trouble! Learning lessons by just living counts for something!
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Diane! Whew! I have a couple of years until I hit 65 so I guess I’ve got some time to cure some of my dancing bear tendencies! I don’t really have trouble with the OBVIOUS times I try to please others, it’s those subtle times when I (hopefully) catch myself doing something just to win approval or validation. I know it isn’t logical, and hardly ever “conscious”. But I still catch myself now and then wanting approval from certain people and wondering what it is that would win their attention. And because I see the same thing around me ALL THE TIME I don’t think I’m alone in this! Good for you for having mastered this one! ~Kathy
Great review, Kathy. These are all very wise and thought-provoking points. Number 4 really reasonated with me. Connecting with my unfiltered intuition is something that I am trying to do more of in retirement.
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Donna! I so agree! I think if all of us were honest that we could ALL use a little more trust in our intuition. I also really appreciated how she pointed out that over-reaction is also often part of not trusting ourselves. Rather than just pause and consider I’ve been guilty of jumping to conclusions far too often myself. Lots of little subtle (and not so subtle!) advice here to consider. Thanks for checking in! ~Kathy
These are good Kathy! I do like the Dancing bear imagery. Goes with the circus and monkey. Soon it could be a zoo if we don’t take heed!
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Haralee! hahahaha! Yes…that zoo does cause problems if we aren’t paying attention. Hmmm….seems like there is a trend here (at least for me) right? All the more reason to avoid the dancing bear syndrome as well as ignore other people’s monkeys! https://www.smartliving365.com/not-monkey-not-circus/ I’m not completely cured but I am so much better than I used to be. ~Kathy
All great “gems,” though #7 resonated the most with me. Like many retirees, I struggle with the “What do you do?” question (many of us retirement bloggers have written about it, so it must be an universal stumbling block). If someone asks, “What do you do in retirement?” it’s easy to talk about our travels and projects. But, the initial “What do you do?” question that expects an answer based on employment can be a little tougher to answer. Just saying “I’m retired” sometimes can end the conversation (which, if that’s not an “acceptable” answer, that might be OK) so I try to avoid that response. I’m going to put some thought into a better Why I Do response.
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Janis! Yes, I threw that in about being retired because I know quite a few of my readers are “there”. But isn’t it so true in our country that we make such a big deal out of what we “do” but often don’t listen to the much more important question of “why” or “what’s our real purpose?” And isn’t that so much more important or relevant? If you do come up with an answer to this one I would love to hear it. I think we could really start something with that idea if we followed it through… ~~Kathy
Lynne Spreen says
This post resonates, Kathy. I was just rereading my highlights from Deep Work by Cal Newport, and he’s all over #9. But all of the points are so good to remember. We should print out your post and hang it up where we can see it every day.
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Lynne! I’m not familiar with Cal Newport but it sounds like someone I should check out. I think it is far too easy for us to get sucked into striving for success because that’s just what everyone does, right? Far better to strive to be our highest and best self. And I don’t know about putting this on your wall, but I have read it every day since I wrote it and appreciate the constant reminders! ~Kathy
Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au says
I really liked the definition of authenticity Kathy – it sums it up perfectly. And Robin seems to agree with Brene Brown that perfectionism is not something to be held in high regard – an opinion I’m agreeing more with every day – it definitely holds you back and stifles creativity.
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Leanne! Yes, I thought Robin had a lot in common with Brene Brown too. The biggest difference is that she uses her business background to arrive at a lot of the same conclusions. She is also a corporate speaker so she definitely has a way with communicating that is easy to understand. And I don’t know about you, but I think we can all be reminded of these things over and over again on a regular basis. Thanks for checking in! ~Kathy