Saturday, August 28, 2010

You Don't Know What You Don't Know

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so. ~ Mark Twain

It is funny because I actually think that sometimes it is what you don't know that gets you into trouble. I recently started noticing how what we know or don't know can actually set us up for failed expectations, miscommunication or learning and growing in ways we never could have deemed possible.

The first scenario is: You don't know what you don't know. That is, that when people don't know something they often assume that something is bad or isn't possible.

I have been experiencing and watching this a lot lately. Starting my own company is one example. As I have gone all over and talked to many different people about what we are creating, I notice that everyone either a) tries to fit it into a framework that they understand (and then hence, they aren't actually capturing the true essence of the innovation we are creating) or b) look at me incomprehensibly as though to let me know that what I am creating isn't possible.

I have also witnessed that if people don't know and are faced with the unknown, they are often pushed to their limits of what their experiential minds can comprehend. When this happens
they often turn what they don't know into something bad or they immediately go to... oh, well this isn't possible. It is a funny trick the mind can play on us and it limits us to believe that if we don't understand or don't know how, then it isn't possible.

Rather, I would suggest that at exactly the moment that we hit this point of the unknown we force ourselves to recognize it and dare to ask ourselves, ok, this isn't something impossible, it is just something I don't know. In that moment, if we can push ourselves beyond to say, just because I don't know it, doesn't mean it is bad or I won't do it or I don't know how. Instead, what if in that moment, we pushed beyond our limits to forge into the unknown. Sometimes we may do this by ourselves and other times we may reach out to others and ask for support, because sometimes our unknowns are not the same limits as others and we may become instrumental to each other in breaking through any fear or doubt in overcoming the unknown.

Another scenario is: You don't realize that what you know, others don't know. This one has come back to bite me a lot in my life and to teach me some truly valuable lessons.

We all come knowing, sensing and perceiving things in different ways. We all come from different backgrounds, different families, different societies and so on. We all have strengths in certain areas and weaknesses in others. I used to think that everyone knew what I knew and had the same gifts that I had. It lead me to a lot of unintended frustration and miscommunication. When I worked with clients, I would see things in certain ways. I was often told I could see things at a global level and then take that down to the detail. For a long time, I didn't realize that this was something unique to me. So when I worked with others, I thought they could see what I saw. But when I'd get into meetings and they wouldn't get it, or they would get frustrated because I jumped from one thing to the next, I never fully realized that perhaps they weren't seeing the same thing that I saw, which lead to my own frustration.

For a long time, this lead to my own "shrinking." That is, when you have enough experiences where people don't get you, you start to think, well what is wrong with me. I know for several years, my confidence significantly dropped as I felt like no one really got me, so I must be wrong or must be misperceiving things. It took me several years to realize that actually what I was perceiving was right, for me. I began to get a whole new understanding of assessing what I know and don't know and what others know and putting that into perspective when I work with, relate to and interact with others. It also gave me a whole new sense of empathy and understanding for others. I started to drop my expectations of others, because I realized that expectations were merely my perceptions and perspectives given my own unique lens of how things should be and didn't in any way take into account others views. So I began to let go of what I thought and have really begun to listen, learn from and empathize with others.

This brings up my final scenario that: Others know what you don't know. That is, because we each have our own unique perspectives, limits, boundaries, fears and also knowledge, gifts and expertise, we all have so much to learn from each other, if we are open to and allow it!

It is when we open up to allowing for different perspectives and valuing each other, but also valuing ourselves and our uniqueness and authenticity in the process, it allows for a whole new world of possibility to open overcome our fears, to surpass our limitations and hurdle our obstacles; to look to, listen and learn from others; and to trust our own inner guidance and share our gifts with others.

This is the magic of our unique existence and our connected co-existence with each other!

You can find me at and and twitter @pilarstella.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Passion, Patience and Persistence!

Patience, Passion and Persistence...The three P's of success! ~ Unknown

As many who know me know, I have been working on creating a company, dream and vision for a few years now and it has been a combination of these three P's that have kept me going. These three P's are truly the recipe for success and they don't always come easily, but as I am starting to really get, they sure do pay off in the end.

Passion is doing what you love, following your heart, believing that anything is possible and not stopping until you see your dreams come to fruition. I have had many people in my life tell me how lucky I am that I am so passionate about what I do and that I know what I am passionate about. I have always been passionate. But I haven't always known what I am passionate about or had the courage to follow my heart and live my passions.

At some point, my life got so dark, that something inside me just snapped. Something changed and I couldn't go back any more. I have always been passionate about making a difference and have felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. For a long time, I was passionate in negative ways. I was angry at the world when people didn't get it and didn't do good things to make a difference. Most likely that outer anger and frustration was merely a reflection of my own frustration with myself for not acting upon my passions and my convictions to make the world a better place.

I do feel lucky that I am passionate. I feel even luckier today that I am pursuing my passions, living my dream and not apologizing for doing so or shrinking away because of what others think or tell me I should or shouldn't do.

For some it takes time to find your passion, but don't ever give up until you do. Then when you do, go for it! Go after it, with courage, conviction and determination and you will never again feel that emptiness, that longing, that anger or frustration, as you did when you shut it off, ignored it, buried it or stuffed it!

Ah yes, patience! I think this is for sure the most difficult for me. I was definitely not raised to be patient. None of us are in this "gotta have it now" society. That coupled with my Italian upbringing, ha, I was doomed! Patience, what's that?

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I am learning what patience really is and to trust the process. My journey in creating OneGiving has been one BIG lesson in patience - really! From not being able to pay people what they are worth or even anything at all and having to wait until the things that I want or need done for OneGiving to get done until the other things on their priority list get done to seeing how something connects but having to wait until others make that connection for it to come to fruition, I am learning patience with every step.

I am learning how to be grateful for everything that comes and even accepting that it will come on it's own time if it is meant to. With patience comes a higher faith and trust that everything works out as it is meant to and the more grateful I am, the more amazing things show up. I am also finding that with patience comes the mysterious unfolding of the universe. That is, so often I want things to hurry up and happen. Yet, when they don't happen initially, but I am patient, they often unfold in ways far beyond and even better than what my conscious mind could ever have come up with. As I see this happening more and more, I am able to detach from the ways in which I want or expect it to come and am reminded to remain patient to see what magic will come about!

I think that this is something I have always been good at. Probably, sometimes to the maddening of others around me. I remember my first job out of college, I had heard about a clinic that I wanted to work at. So I contacted the director and called him regularly every few weeks before I graduated to ask if there were any openings. Every time, he would say, "Call me a few weeks before you graduate and we will see." When my spring break came about, I called and asked if I could come meet him. He said yes, but that he wouldn't know about a position until later that spring/summer. When he interviewed me, he told me that there would be a probationary period and if it didn't work out, then what would I do after having moved to a new location. I looked at him and said, "I guess go get another job." It was that simple.

He told me years later that he finally hired me, after months of contact and many calls and follow ups, because he said that if I was that persistence in getting hired, he couldn't imagine how persistent I would be in actually doing my job!

I remembered that for many years and it is has been a guiding principle for everything I do. It has sometimes driven people crazy. When I pre-released my first books, I took my years of experience in advocacy campaigns and created an advocacy campaign of my own. I created thousands of post cards with the covers of my book on them and had them addressed to Oprah Winfrey. I gave them out to people all over and asked them to mail them in and write an additional note if they desired. Finally, one day I got a call from Oprah's assistant. She said that they had received all of my postcards, that they knew about my books, and that I didn't need to send any more! I laughed. So maybe she didn't ask me to be on her show, but it certainly did get their attention.

I am still learning to find the nuances of being persistence and bugging the crap out of people. Ultimately, I am not convinced that either one is bad, because as long as your intentions are pure and you are passionate and patient with the process, the persistence will pay off.

As long as we remember to NEVER GIVE UP and to keep going with our dreams passionately, courageously and with persistence and to have the patience to allow it all to unfold as it is meant to and more magnificently than we could have ever imagined possible, we will surely succeed in the ways that matter most!

You can find me at and and twitter @pilarstella.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hopefully Romantic

I am not a hopeless romantic, I am a hopeful romantic. ~ Byron Tuck

I too am a hopeful romantic and in my book, BEing the Present (, #25), I wrote about loving fully with 100% of yourself, not 70, 80 or even 90% of yourself, but with 100% of yourself. That is what I aspire to. That is what makes me a hopeful romantic.

I was recently totally touched, re-inspired and reminded to remain a hopeful romantic by an article written in the Huffington Post by Arjuna Ardagh about Why it is Wise to Worship a Woman!
The article was so right on!

When I read the article, I felt paralyzed. Here is this man who wrote a post on Facebook about his wife … No one and nothing comes close to the woman who is now asleep in the bedroom.
He received many responses to which he further responded and posed some insights that were deeply moving.

He wrote…
That's where the whole thing starts for all of us, when we realize that we don't yet know how to love. And that's that the big question that you have to consider: "Is that okay with me?" If not, and here's where you have to be honest with yourself, is that OK with you? Is it OK to die one day without the heart's gift having been fully given?

What struck me was that I have never loved in that way, that he so beautifully described, yet I believe it is possible. In fact, I recently asked myself that question and realized, that until recently, I didn’t love myself and so in no way could expect a partner to show up, if I didn’t start with loving myself. It has only been in the recent past that I finally fully love and accept myself that is where it starts, before being able to worship another, we must worship ourselves and not settle for anything less than someone else worshipping us. In fact realized that I’d prefer to be alone than with anything that isn’t totally additive in my life and doesn’t leave me in a place of awe, as so eloquently written as Arjuna’s love and divine worship of the feminine.

What further captured my attention was something he explained that I only recently started to understand about myself. He wrote of a time he was in Bali and was taken to a sacred temple that had many concentric circles and layers – the deeper a devotee you were, the further into the depths of the temple you were allowed and only those who had committed completely and totally were allowed into the inner most sanctuaries to experience the beauty and divinity. He likened that to a woman’s heart. I nearly fell over.

I had recently described to a friend that intimacy with partners has never come easy for me – not sexual intimacy, but real intimacy, spiritual and emotional, intimacy. I have described it in much the same way as he did. It is as though I have layers of walls around me and I let my friends in deeper than I let partners in and somehow I never fully understood it until I read his explanation and description.

The very essence of every woman's heart is the peak of wisdom, the peak of inspiration, the peak of sexual desirability, the peak of soothing, healing love. The peak of everything. But it's protected, for good reason, by a series of concentric walls. To move inwardly from one wall to the next requires that you intensify your capacity to devotion, and as you do so, you are rewarded with Grace. This is not something you can negotiate verbally with a woman. She doesn't even know consciously how to open those gates herself. They are opened magically and invisibly by the keys of worship. Step through another gate, and she will show you her outer gift-wrapping…Step through another gate with your commitment, with your attention, with the small seedlings of devotion, and she'll open her heart to you more. She'll share with you her insecurities, the way that she's been hurt, her deepest longings. Some men will back away at this point. They realize that the price they must pay to go deeper is more than they are willing to give. They start to feel a responsibility. But for those few who step though another gate, they come to discover her loyalty, her willingness to stick with you no matter what…And so it goes on. Somewhere around the second wall from the center, she casts the veils of her personality aside, and shows you that she is both a human being and also a portal into something much greater than that. She shows you a wrath that is not hers, but all women's. She shows you a patience that is also universal. She shows you her wisdom. At this point you start to experience the archetypes of women, who have been portrayed as goddesses and mythological figures in every tradition.Then, at the very center, in the innermost temple itself, all the layers of your devotion are flooded with reward all at once. You discover the very essence of the feminine, and in a strange way that is not exactly romantic, but profoundly sacred all the same, you realize that you could have got here with any woman if you had just been willing to pass through all the layers of initiation. Any woman is every woman, and every woman is any woman at the same time. When you love a woman completely, at the very essence of her being, this is the one divine feminine flame. You discover the magic ingredient which has lead every man to fall in love with a woman.

When I read this I felt renewed and re-inspired as the hopeful romantic that I am. One man wrote, "I feel my heart is closed down. I live in my head a lot…” It made me laugh, sounded like me. Particularly being an Aquarius woman, I recently read a perfect description of us Aquarian women that resonated for me in my romantic life…

Aquarians prefer intellectual partners and communication is very important…if you find conversation that fascinates them, you are three quarters of the way to seducing them. However, if you push for the physical too early, before they figure out their own feelings, it could be the end of their interest in you.

With these two articles a lot became clear, it explained a lot. I am in my head a lot and I do love an intellectual partner. It is safe, but it is also what turns me on and it is what allows a slow entry through the gates, walls or concentric circles, as Arjuna put it, into the depths of my heart, soul and being.

I am a hopeful romantic and I do look forward to that intellectually stimulating, heart opening, awe-inspiring, worshiping partner and relationship and know that it will come and that it is possible. Thank you Arjuna for your beautiful article. It served as a great reminder to me to stay true to being the hopeful romantic that I am, and to not apologize or settle for anything less.

You can find me at and and twitter @pilarstella.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Will the Western Woman Really Save the World?

The world will be saved by the western woman. ~The Dalai Lama, Vancouver Peace Summit 2009

I believe The Dalai Lama's statement to be true, particularly because I believe that I am one of these Western women that is part of being the change in this world. However, through my own experiences in creating a company to do just that – help change the world – I am realizing my own self limiting beliefs and self sabotage that whether familial, societal or just self imposed keep me from fully making that happen. I think in order for us as Western women to truly make that happen a couple key things need to shift in us, by us and for us in order for this to happen…

First, we must stop apologizing. I can’t tell you the amount of times, when I work with women, that women apologize for every misstep, missed action or inappropriate gesture. The beauty of women is that we care, we truly care and worry about others and the impacts of our actions on others. We have empathy. We can feel others and we are sensitive to anything that can negatively impact others. This doesn’t mean that we need to apologize every time we are delayed in returning a phone call or forget all together or we don’t live up to something we have committed to. I don't see men apologizing as often. In fact, I think they recognize that failure and messing up is just part of the process. If we just started to set a few more boundaries and more realistic expectations and didn’t try to take it all on, we wouldn’t find the need to apologize all the time. Save yourself and others the time and energy from apologizing all the time and set boundaries, realistic expectations and you won’t disappoint others, you won’t feel bad and you certainly won’t have to apologize so often.

We must stop doubting, questioning and second guessing ourselves. This is a big one I have experienced in my own journey, particularly in the journey to get investors for my company. I don’t know the world of seeking investors, I am learning by fire and it isn’t always easy, particularly because I wasn't raised in this world. So I second guess myself, a lot, too much in fact. Every step I take, every new experience that is unfamiliar (which is about 99% of them at this point), I question and doubt myself. When I look around in the world, I notice that I am not the only woman who does this. I don’t know if it is biology, sociology or something else all together, but it seems as though more women question and self doubt themselves than men. There is some inherent quality in men that is almost entitled, built with courage, built with an expectation of success or an understanding that failure is just expected and so with every failure comes an opportunity for success. Perhaps it is my own upbringing, but it seems to me that I am not alone in my observation, there are many women out there who suffer from this. What if we could walk into meetings with the same confidence, knowingness and self belief as our male counterparts? What if we could put aside the doubt and see and believe the end result will be at least as good, if not better than we imagined and that we are worthy and deserving of that outcome? Then the world would truly begin to experience the impact and outcomes that we are here to create.

We need to stop being afraid to claim that we are experts. Why is it that it is very easy for men to say that they are experts in an area, but rather as women we say we are knowledgeable? There is something inherent in women that we feel that if we don’t know it all, we can’t say we are an expert. Yet, when we are approached by others, we know the full expanse of an issue, the continuum of factors related to those issues and we see things from a multidimensional perspective that allow us to very often have a unique 360 degree view of a subject, we still deny that we are experts. Rather, men often times are more able earlier on to say they are experts and then fake it until they make it, as the saying goes. What if we began to say we were experts and prove it along the way with our unique world view and multidimensional perspectives?

We must stop bootstrapping. Again, I am not sure why it is, but it seems like there is some sort of underground club, that allows men to reach out and ask for more with confidence and usually get it. Rather, women, we tend to ask for less and then bootstrap our way through it and make it work, but at what cost? What if we stopped setting limitations and started reaching for the sky and asking for what we are worth and what we really need? I am always amazed at what we accomplish on the limited budgets we start out with. What if we actually started getting budgets worthy of the true vision of what we were creating? Imagine how much we could accomplish! It is kind of like Mohammed Yunnus who revolutionized microlending and gave women small loans only to show that they were the most responsible with money and the return on investment was a lot higher and paid back a lot quicker because of their keen respect for the true value of money. Can you imagine if the world started investing more in women and their ideas and visions, how much more incredible the world would be? What could we really accomplish if we stopped bootstrapping and started advocating for, fighting for and standing up for what was really needed to achieve these goals? Imagine the return on investment it would have on the world!

While each of these things may not apply to all women, I believe they are some of the reasons we are not quite there yet, but we are close, oh so close. Could you imagine what the world will be like, when we as women stop getting in our own way and start speaking our truths, living our truths and walking in the courage and confidence of all that we are and all that we are here to be and do? And what if the rest of the world started opening up to the possibilities, supporting these visions and like Mohammed Yunnus gave women the chance to truly change the world for the better?

I believe it is all possible and that believe starts with me first and foremost. Me believing in me. Me not apologizing. Me not second guessing and self doubting. Me knowing that I am an expert. Me not bootstrapping and asking for less. Me standing up with courage and strength to speak my truth. By doing this I believe and know that the world will be a better place and me as a western woman and we as western women will indeed save, or change, the world!

You can find me at and twitter @pilarstella.