Archive for March, 2016

There’s Magic in the Mess

March 29th, 2016


Questions to help with the “MESSY MIDDLE”


Sometimes we are way too impatient with ourselves – and others – and expect to set a goal and reach it easily, in record time.


But, in any real situation, unless that goal is a one-two-three kind of thing, “life ain’t that easy, babe”. In fact, it may be that that “messy middle” is where we grow and learn about life, it is part f the who deal. After all, why would we have learned such phrases as “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” taught us as children?


Lessons learned

Maybe we are actually supposed to learn something about the process, about ourselves, about life in that middle part between the beginning and the goal. Brené Brown says that the messy middle is where the magic happens; what magic? I think the process should be called transformation. We need to think about what we want the future to be like and then plan for it, and act like it, even when we don’t see anything happening.


We are in a process of transformation

Each one of us is in process, in a movement towards where we want to go, who we want to be. We want to be there now, or even better, yesterday. But it takes time, and depending on the goal, it could take a lifetime. But each change starts with small steps, like spending fifteen minutes a day planning for your future, for your change and choosing something to work on- then, that day, that week. It means putting aside the tyranny of the urgent for the time being and focusing on the really important future goals, and spending time on reaching them.


Take your time

We also need to spend time focusing on ourselves as worthwhile human beings, focusing on our thoughts, feelings, actions. We need to find a way to integrate our lives and our goals, and make them whole, not compartments, but really whole. Who do I need to be to reach my goals? Do they fit my value system? What can I do for myself to help make me the person I want to be? Your action might be as simple as setting aside fifteen minutes a day for writing and reflection; it might be something completely different.


Questions, questions

What do I want my life to be like today, next year, in five years? What do I value most? Am I spending my time in a way that focuses on those values today? What do I need to change in my life, and activities to reflect my values?



Brené Brown says that this messy time where “nothing seems to have changed” is where the magic happens. Maybe this messy time is where seeds are planted that, in turn become trees and crops to feed you for the rest of your life. Maybe the time is more like a winter season where all the leaves have fallen off your tree and you think it is dead, but actually the roots have reached even deeper and the tree is stronger after a restful winter where “nothing seems” to have happened.


Whatever the metaphor, the messy middle is part of a process that is unseen, and that can be frustrating for those of us who need to “see immediate results”. The process calls for patience, with ourselves, with the situation, and with others. None of that is easy.


For further reading, you might like this:


What are you going to do today to start yourself in the direction you want to end up in?


Happy messing around!


Patricia Jehle

Take great care of yourself!

March 22nd, 2016

Doing Something for Myself—Enjoying a Two-Conference Weekend and remembering to take off my shoes at the end of the day


Sometimes we have to do something for ourselves, like going to the spa, eating chocolate ice cream, or sitting in the sun. Self-care is rather individual, unique to each person. Last weekend I went to two conferences because of my passions and interests; it was a “me weekend”. I was tired Sunday night when I returned, but the time, money and energy were well- spent!


I was able to focus on my passions: business leaders and leadership, writing, meeting people and learning new ideas and concepts.


Business Leaders:

On Friday I spent a day with business leaders ( ) hearing excellent speakers address vision and resources- there was also plenty of time to meet people and focus on more interests. I was able to meet new people, but also I ran into a few unexpected friends. One keynote speaker, Dr. Stephan Feldhaus, spoke on a business that must serve the community as well as itself, its stake and shareholders. That was a very inspiring message!



On Saturday and Sunday I was at The Geneva Writers’ Group 10th Writers’ Conference ( ), an event that I have attended a few times, now. It is well-run and the speakers are always excellent! One new concept for me was that Ann Hood talked about how every story has two (actually three) stories. I would say every piece of writing has “three stories”. The talks gave me new ideas to write about and directions in which to go.


What was in it for me:

I needed that time to absorb new ideas, meet people of similar            passions and interests, and have time to reflect on the whole weekend. The me-weekend energized me and now I am not “back to the grind”, but looking at new horizons.


Absorb new ideas:

Some of the ideas were ones I had heard before, but, as is often the case, I heard a few concepts put differently, or I even learned totally new ideas – then I have to absorb these and try to remember them. I love learning and so hearing new ideas energizes me.


People who are like-minded:

Meeting people with similar passions, either for growing SMEs (and I met a lot of those on Friday) or for Writing and Reading truly energizes me. We encourage one another; we feel the energy around us from so much enthusiasm. I feel at home and I feel empowered by these kinds of meetings.


Taking of my shoes and reflecting on each day:


“Earth’s crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God,

But only he who sees takes off his shoes;

The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

from Aurora Leigh


Each evening after the conferences I allowed myself the luxury of going to my room, taking off my shoes and putting my feet up and reflecting on the day, on the things I’d heard and seen, and the people I had met, the books I had bought, and how that might all change me and give me new perspectives. Seeing, as in the poem, brings new perspectives. I need to take that time to see.


It’s not that I have finished reflecting on the weekend; in fact, I have much more thinking to do. But those evenings alone began that process and now it must continue into this and probably next week.


So, what about you? What are you doing for yourself, to grow, to be encouraged, and when are you going to reflect on those experiences?


Patricia Jehle




Learning points

March 15th, 2016

What I have been learning these past few months:

I took a MOOC course with Stanford on-line recently called “Scaling up your Venture without Screwing up” and I found it very informative. I learned three main new ideas:

1) Business is a “ground war”

This means that, although vision and passion are great, every day hard work and persistence are key to business success. The daily chores of a business are not to be forgotten in the “ivory towers” of the CEO’s office, where dreams come true.

The vision and passion are what keeps the people going, but a ground war, where everyone is involved in the hard work of getting things going, keeping them going and moving towards scaling a business up, is what is the bread and butter of a company.

2) Pre-mortems are essential to change

Before one makes a change there should be a process of thinking ahead to the “what ifs”—What if t he scaling doesn’t succeed? What would/could happen to cause this? What else? And What more? Then what can be done to prevent these things from happening?

These questions can prevent failure and expensive re-inventing and re-tooling, etc.

3) Even the experts don’t know everything

Everyone, even the experts are learning and making mistakes—and then learning from their mistakes. Isn’t it a relief to know that it doesn’t matter that we make mistakes, as long as we learn from them, in the end. Not even pre-mortems can prevent all our mistakes from occurring. But we know, from history, that it is the getting back up, brushing yourself off and returning to that arena that makes you and your company a success.

What have you been learning lately?

Patricia Jehle   If you would like, you are invited to join my LinkedIn group: SMEs Grow Together


Why? The question with the best answer!

March 8th, 2016

The BIG Question and what makes your idea sustainable

Questions are great for reflection. But this is THE question that helps you know if your current pace and direction is sustainable for the very long term:

Why are you doing this?

That’s it! It shows your passion and it gives you the reason and that reason gives you the energy that will get you back up when things do not go as planned, when the plan takes longer than expected, when you get tired. Without that WHY you will become another statistic, and that would be a shame.

I did not like statistics in grad school, and I do not want to become one. I bet you do not want that for yourself, either!

So what is your why, I mean the REAL reason you are doing what you are doing?

Here are my WHYs:

I help SMEs grow with the Alpha Group and the WHY of this is that SMEs are the backbone of any local economy. If you want the economy to grow, think locally and help the local businesses grow. It gives health to my local economy when I do this. That is very exciting to and satisfying for me.

I also am the “helping” type. I like to see people come up with solutions to challenges and problems, to put those solutions into practice and to change for the better. This totally energizes me.

Ray Bradbury, the famous 20th century author said, “The answer to all writing, to any career for that matter, is love.” I truly love what I do and the WHY is that reason.


Someone else’s why: Last Saturday I heard someone from International Justice Mission present on the NGO. It was clear that the presenter was very very passionate about the WHY of IJM and, in fact, he has been working in this area for about 30 years, and he is still very passionate about slavery and human trafficking. Here is the website: and here is the TED talk Gary Haugen gave about the ethos of IJM:

What are you passionate about? Can that sustain you for the long term? I want you to have great answers to this question!

I wish you all the energy and passion you need to continue on a good path, or to change to a better one!

Patricia Jehle

If you want, you may join my LinkedIn Group:

Win one Today!

March 4th, 2016

Optimists Win- ALWAYS

I don’t mean the naïve ones, but the tough-minded ones.

I just read an article in the Harvard Business Review,

This article is based on a concept of a famous business leader, John Gardner. It’s called “tough-minded optimism” which is a blend of creativity in ideas, strong convictions about what works and about doing things for the “common good”, and resilience, especially when it comes to the need for change. To quote,

“The future is not shaped by people who don’t really believe in the future,” Gardner said. Rather, “it is created by highly motivated people, by enthusiasts, by men and women who want something very much or believe very much.”

According to Gardner, leaders can have a mix of abilities and qualities, but there is no replacement for what he calls, “the lift of the spirit and heightened performance that comes from motivation.”

I couldn’t agree more.

As we go into the weekend, let us remember the WHY we are doing things and if it isn’t a good enough why, then, find something better to do. If you really want to do something well, you need to believe in what you are doing.

Also, here are a few tips to help you remain positive:

1) Smile more.

There is research that proves that if your carry your body in a certain way, it can change your mood. Smiling makes you more positive. Ask Amy Cuddy.

2) Stand like Wonder Woman.

No joke. This really also gives you the positive power and presence you might need today to get out there and “win one for the Gipper”. Try it—but perhaps at home or in the bathroom, not in front of those you will be presenting to.

Finally, I want to leave you with the question that was in the article, because it is a great question:

Do you have a definition of success for your business that allows you to stand for something special and that inspires others to stand with you?

I wish you a very successful Friday!

Patricia JehleIMG_1107

Should you want to join my LinkeIn group, SMEs Grow Together, go here:

Should you want to contact me, write me at

Great Teams

March 1st, 2016

Team Meetings Can be Very Encouraging

I have a great team of fellow Regional Directors of The Alpha Group to lean on and talk to. Yesterday we had a meeting and I was so encouraged and charged up afterwards., I could have “SAVED THE WORLD” I wish all business leaders had a team like mine. We are all on the same track and we all are really excited about our “calls”.

It’s my passion to help SMEs grow. I hope to help a few local business leaders really bring their companies to the next level, to dominate their niches, to double the value of their businesses. This is my goal and what gets me up in the morning. I see my group a bit lit our Regional directors’ team: encouraging, supporting, keeping each other accountable for our goals and milestones. That’s what makes the Alpha Group special and different- we are not “just a networking group”, but instead, we are a team of business leaders helping each other through growth workshops and masterminds. We set goals and hold each other accountable to them. We meet monthly and need to do it to keep up that growth momentum.

I recently read an article from inc. that really shows what that supportive team can accomplish:

I am looking for members, but only “the best”. I can only do this with a limited number of CEOs and business leaders/owners, so I can be rather particular in the process of finding the right mix. These groups have been known to grow together a dynamic that really benefits the businesses of the participants. Some have even been attending the same group for six or seven years in the UK. This is what I want: Alpha Groups that grow each others’ businesses.

Also, I am looking for a few good partners as well as the “perfect” Alpha Group team to meet with.

Contact me if you want to know more at or join my LinkedIn group, SMEs Grow Together


Patricia Jehle