1. No amount of research or awards will make you successful in life…creating connections and building relationships will.
Back in 2004, I left a successful 12-year career in brand marketing for companies & clients such as Visa, Levi Strauss, AOL and Gap to open a women’s clothing store. I had won over 13 industry awards and was well-respected in my field. I had the Midas touch. With my background, I wrote “the best business plan” for a retail store and won 2 awards for it. I did all the research and branding for my store…it was such a unique concept at the time that I had Gap call me a year after I opened because they wanted to follow me and see how I did what I did so they could implement it in their stores. I declined. The thing is, I was not doing well with the store financially because I had forgotten the most important element in my “I-can-do-it-all-myself” entrepreneurial quest for success: I had not reached out and TALKED to one single retailer before opening my store. I learned, maybe a little too late in the history of my store, that creating those connections and friendships were key. My retailer friends taught me lots…many things I wished I learned before starting my retail venture.
2. Listening to the promptings of your heart will always lead you to make the right decisions for your life and happiness. When you do what others want you to do and forgo your own happiness just to be liked, you lose yourself. Be brave and courageous…take a stand for yourself and love yourself.
This second lesson, which I learned through one of the most painful experiences in my life, is so important that I now strive to keep my antennae “tuned” and be fearlessly brave in implementing what I receive as guidance (many call this their ‘gut instinct’.) It’s fucking scary. Scary because there is no ‘reason’, no scientific data to back up your instinct. But you have to trust it. Never be afraid to say No – even if it means telling everyone you know that you’re not moving after all, that the great thing that has occurred in your life is not so great after all. I wish I had the guts to have done that in 2012 but I didn’t. Honoring your instinct and those special messages will help you to live a happier life.
As I think about these things, I wonder what does connection, building relationships and courage have to do with color?
What clues did COLOR give me during this time?
How did color help me form connections?
How can we be courageous and brave with color?
How can we overcome fear with color?
What does color have to do with it?
Color is the greatest stimuli we receive from the outer world. It keeps all species alive because color IS light…it provides us energy and helps keep our bodies running. Light (aka color) is absorbed and reflected by our hair and skin creating important natural sunscreen and coloring; it enters our eyes, activates vision, affects our circadian rhythm, our metabolism, our cortical activity, and parts of our autonomic nervous system (heart rate, blood pressure) …..it has profound biological and psychological effects. So obviously, we need color to live.
Yet, many of us don’t see color…instead we sense and feel it (technically, our brain creates color.)
Imagine yourself sitting on a warm, sandy beach with your toes in the sand. You are warm all over just enjoying the warm sun on the warm sand…what color are you feeling? Red? Orange? Yellow?
Now, envision yourself in the most beautiful and pristine snow white mountains. The air is crisp and your fingers and nose feel cold. What color are you feeling now? Ice blue…blue-violet?
Color provides us guideposts to what we’re sensing and experiencing in life. When color doesn’t feel right or look right, we feel off-balance. Just take a look at the words and their associated colors below – they seem in-congruent.
When researchers ask participants what color is most associated with Peace, they hear blue…worldwide, regardless of language or socioeconomic background. When they ask participants what color is most associated with Hate, they hear black as well as a deep, dark red. That feels right, doesn’t it? The word ‘war’ is similar in that it is seen as a deep, dark red in representation of blood.
So viewing the word “war” in a peaceful blue and “peace” in a deep, dark red feels off-putting. These disharmonious color choices for peace and war hit the heart….’this is wrong’, you feel. These words you show us feel wrong.
Most of us are not conscious of color. It slips by us. When I ask people to describe to me what they think I do for a living, they always state, “I’m not really sure what you do,” “Do you do research?” “I think of you as using little tubes of paint and mixing them.” I love those answers! I realize after further discussion, that most people don’t live their lives using color as a guidepost. But what I’ve also heard from many is that COLOR SCARES US.
Most of us don’t feel comfortable drawing attention to ourselves and so when we wear color (meaning a color from one of the hues in the visible spectrum), it does the exact thing we are NOT COMFORTABLE with…having others notice us, look at us, maybe even SEE us. Trust me, I get it. I am known to pull the black top on a cold day because it’s comforting and warm for me since black absorbs all color (light) and heats up quite nicely. It’s easy, it’s ‘effortless’, it’s sophisticated. But it can be a lazy way out of being present if my intention for the day is counter-intuitive to the color I’m wearing…like wearing a red dress when I’m feeling peaceful and content.
As you move through life, think of how color is supporting you and your energy. When you’re feeling peaceful, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have the right blue around you to support you? Or, you could flip it: if you’re feeling down (blue) and don’t want to, surround yourself or wear YOUR happy color…studies show that most folks associate this with yellow or orange…this will turn your mood so that you are more aligned, like the words and their associative colors below.
There are MANY meanings to each of the colors – both good and bad – and when you discover YOUR best colors, it makes it easier to use them to form connections and be courageous. I think about how I form connections as well as how I stand up for myself (even when deep-down I’m afraid) and color has always been there with me…through my Approachable & Trusting colors to my Fearless and Heart colors.
So my challenge to you is simple yet daunting because you have to mentally get over the hurdle of having others SEE you…of the fear of being exposed…being vulnerable. I think Brené Brown, who has researched vulnerability, shame, courage and worthiness says it best:
“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”
Knowing that you can use color to support you and give you strength helps you to move forward in living wholeheartedly…and hopefully less fearful of color altogether.