One Thousand Miles

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One Thousand Miles

Courage is grace under pressure.
— Ernest Hemingway

This morning finds me in route to Lake Tahoe as I begin final preparations for my century ride this coming Sunday!

I did in fact get my 1,000 miles of training in for this ride since February 1st… proving once again, when you put your mind to anything, anything is possible.  

So many of you rallied after the last Victory Letter and the Pedal Girls exceeded our goal by over 65% of our donations goal to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society!!!

The countless well wishes that will be carrying me as well. Each of you has given me the ultimate Atta Girl!  Thank you, Thank you Thank you! Each of you along with the loved ones you have lost or are struggling with the disease will undoubtedly be riding with me just a few days from now on June 4th!  

As with any goal this huge one happened for me – not easily by any means but moment by moment, pedal by pedal.  

The hope in sharing this with you today is that it uplifts you to stop and think about how you will implement your own special 1,000-mile goal. 

As fate would have it I also received an email from the Society that after 40 years this organization I promised my mom I would ride for in her honor has been instrumental in funding the research to finally begin actual treatment trials to tap into the beginning stages of finding a cure for AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia).  

Of course it’s bittersweet because it’s way too late for my mom but to save another family from the pain we had to bear is so rich, so awesome. My mom would be doing a happy dance if she could - I am sure she is somewhere.   

My mom, Jeannine Landreau, wrote a beautiful poem many years ago that we never read until after she had passed away. 
 

"Do not take this moment lightly for it is the most important moment of your life—it is all there is of the present. 

Live it to the fullest for it will never come again. 

All that has gone before it is a memory and all that will come after it is only a hope or dream of future things. 

It is more than the beginning of tomorrow and the end of yesterday. 

Make it a great moment, it is your life right now and you will never live it again!"
 

For me, the time has come to take the training goal and now put it into action with the ultimate goal of pedaling 100 miles around Tahoe.

You can watch the Tahoe experience unfold as I share it over on Instagram: @victorygirl

Looking forward to connecting after I cross the Victory line next of my ride next week! 


To Your Success and Victories,

- Cheri

Cheri Ruskus
Business Strategist and Founder of the Victory Circles
Email me: cheri@businessvictories.com

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Atta Girl

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Atta Girl

My first Century bike ride (100 miles) around Lake Tahoe is now less than two weeks away. Training has become a constant in my life.

This has been a challenge like none I have ever taken on in my life before. Yes, even more than running a business or raising kids.

What I am discovering is that a constant challenge like this one utilizes a firm balance of mental and physical strength.

That is until you start to question yourself as to whether you are wimping out or in fact need to push a little harder. Last week, I reached a physical pinnacle where my body was screaming at me that something was wrong as I kept pushing up the current mountain I was trying to conquer. 

I gave myself the “Atta Girl” mantra while trying to look past some shooting pains that were going down my legs like I had never felt before.  So I calculated in my mind the need to do exactly the team ride that had been mapped out for that day or risk doing some serious injury to my body.  

Do you ever wonder what makes you get stuck in turning the ship around when you realize that something in your life or business is definitely going in the wrong direction?

There is a theory called escalation of commitment. How excited was I when I learned of this during some other research I was otherwise doing for my book I am currently writing.  

Basically, it is a theory of our human condition and how we look at a given situation when there is a decision to change course or not, when things go wrong.  


Here is the Wikipedia definition:

“Over the past few decades, researchers have followed and analyzed many examples of the escalation of commitment to a situation. The heightened situations are explained in three elements.

Firstly, a situation has a costly amount of resources such as time, money and people invested in the project.

Next, past behavior leads up to an apex in time where the project has not met expectations or could in a cautious state of decline.

Lastly, these problems all force a decision-maker to make choices that include the options of continuing to pursue a project until completion by adding additional costs, or canceling the project altogether.”


My decision at that moment on the mountain was to cut 10 miles off and go back down the mountain.  Being sure not to beat myself up, I gave myself an “Atta Girl” for the 60 miles that I did ride that day. By doing so I prevented further injury to keep me riding for the long run.

With the ride in mind, tomorrow marks the last day I can collect any donations for the ride. I am so close our team goal and am $247 from my personal goal. Would appreciate if you could help if you haven’t done so thus far with only 24 hours left and every dollar counting towards the cause!

For those who have donated so far a huge thank you!  

Think about the current “ride" you might be on that is difficult at moments and makes you want to quit.  Do you need to add more resources, change the route (as I did on that ride up the mountain) or drop the project all together?

No matter what, keep pedaling forward towards what matters most.

 

To Your Success and Victories,

- Cheri

Cheri Ruskus
Business Strategist and Founder of the Victory Circles
Email me: cheri@businessvictories.com

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Storm Strength

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Storm Strength

Storms make the oak grow deeper roots.
— George Herbert

As this past week progressed, I watched as the varied trees that are on our property regain the momentum for their spring growth. The freezing snowstorm that blew through a few weeks ago stopped a few of our beautiful trees in their tracks while others seemed to hardly notice.

When you think about the overall strength of these trees and their ability to withstand the change of seasons it’s imperative of course that they also maintain a healthy root system underground.

Interestingly an Aspen tree can live between 40 to 150 years above ground yet their root system can live much longer. There is actually an Aspen colony in Utah that is known to be 80,000 years old! Wow!

Trees simulate the strength in our human lives in so many ways.  The strength of a tree as it stands up to the adversity around it, based on that strong root system, is in many ways the perfect symbolism of leadership. 

We have heard the saying strong as an oak. Let’s face it - the process of leading can be fairly easy when everything around you provides the perfect conditions. However, any of us who have been on the planet for any length of time knows that life is rarely perfect.

Sometimes life can hit us hard and knock us right off our feet. How well and strategically we fight back determines our rate of survival and "thrival" as I like to think of it.  

"Thrival" is not just getting by each day according to the agenda around you but actually thriving and enjoying life in the process. Allowing our adversities to in fact become our strength that we continue to build on – like a good root system does.

Each of us carries with us our roots – the tidbits of our lives that got us to where we are today - some good and some not so good - those life experiences that have taken us this far into our journey. 

How are you using your experience to create the legend of your unique life?

How can we gain the strength from our collective roots to make it a better world?

I would love your feedback on these leadership questions in the comments below. Here’s to regaining our momentum even when a storm might slow us down!


To Your Success and Victories,

- Cheri

Cheri Ruskus
Business Strategist and Founder of the Victory Circles
Email me: cheri@businessvictories.com

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Digital Leadership

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Digital Leadership

We live in a digital world, but we are fairly analog creatures.
— Omar Ahmad

One of the important elements that I teach about marketing whether I am out on the road working with small businesses and non-profits in workshops or within the confines of the Victory Circles is the important role that leadership plays in our online world.

After all, if we don’t lead in what we share on and offline how do we think others will follow what we have to share in the expertise that we have acquired along our way? This comes through in how we share our knowledge on and offline. 

This past week I was delighted to share in a webinar led by my friend and colleague Dr. Gloria Miele founder of the Stronger Leader organization. Her webinar Leading in a Digital Age shared the soft skills required when you use emotional intelligence in your leadership practice. Yes, leadership should be something we practice on a regular basis.

There were four key steps she shared around this whole idea of embracing emotional intelligence as a leader:  


Step #1 – Self-Awareness

Essential to know others by knowing yourself even better first.  


Step #2- Self-Management

  • Balance the needs in your life to insure you don’t lose perspective when it comes to what you offer as a leader.  
  • Different settings require different management skills.  
  • Daily self-care is an essential part of the balancing act.

Step #3 – Social Awareness

Develop empathy of the emotional experience of others and taking perspective. She shared this great 2 minute Sesame Street video on empathy to further orchestrate this element.

 
 

Step#4 – Foster Teamwork Collaboration

Everyone is a leader and each position and the work we do requires the collaboration and work to improve the good for all.


Gloria has agreed to give my Victory Letter readers access to her webinar recording at no cost to further dive into this element.  It is about 40 minutes long and you can start this recording at 2:40 in to move past the pre-webinar chat.  She has a great offer in the webinar as well that is over today with her upcoming course of the same title.  Let me just share it is a great opportunity if you are wanting to up your game in this area.

Please remember we are all leaders and the better the leadership we can each create the better the world we live in becomes. This I firmly believe!


 

To Your Success and Victories,

- Cheri

Cheri Ruskus
Business Strategist and Founder of the Victory Circles
Email me: cheri@businessvictories.com

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Next Step Required

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Next Step Required

Persuasion is the act of replacing someone’s world view with something better.
— Chris Anderson

Persuasion of positivity

As every fiber in my body was screaming at me to stop, my bicycling coach kept reminding me that it was my mind over my body that would get me to the top of the hill. In that moment in time, 7 miles up an 8 mile steep canyon ascent all I could think was bullsh*t! 

However her persistence, the persuasion of her never wavering positive words and suggestions of ways to ride better got me to the top of the mountain. What I have come to realize is all the self-doubt I have been riding with as this big hairy audacious goal of a 100-mile ride around Lake Tahoe looms in my future on June 4th. Which just keeps getting closer and closer. 

What continues to drive me is that 8 years ago I promised my mom I would do this ride for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society when she was in her final stages of battling AML. I promised myself – that if my mom could fight the good fight – so could I - to help others who still have a chance to find a cure.
 

What keeps my pedals pumping

I have been talking to my mom’s spirit a lot – as her memory is the fuel behind my fire, especially on the solo rides when I question what I am doing. Me … not such an athletic person who can ride pretty well on the flatlands but the higher elevation climbs are kicking my butt. 

There comes a time in our lives when we must step up and do the hard stuff.  Step up with integrity and be accountable for what we have said we are going to do. 

When we have someone in our corner to assist us get past what I like to call the “yeah buts” it helps us to take all the reasons why we can’t do something and allows us to get it done. 

My Team in Training coaches have done that for me along with my Pedal Girl partner, Erica. Now the only one to conquer is my own inner critic who is very doubtful that I can do this and doesn’t hesitate to tell me so on a regular basis.


Next step required

What is the big challenge that might be in front of you that scaring the crud out you? Name it out loud right now. And then lets ask ourselves these questions: 

  • What am I afraid of?
     
  • What assumptions am I making about this?
     
  • What would I do differently if I had no fear or limiting belief?
     
  • What is the next step required to make this happen?  
     

The truth is that when we face these questions with honest and straightforward answers we begin to change ourselves our inner beliefs that quiet our Inner Critic. By doing so we can begin to change ourselves and subsequently we begin to change the world around us. 

How about you? It may not be as physical as my biking or a fund raising goal – what is it that you have been shoving to the side for way too long? Are you ready to play along and find the light at the end of the tunnel? Let’s lead with a strong foot forward and do these things that make a difference to ourselves and the world around us.
 

To Your Success and Victories,

- Cheri

Cheri Ruskus
Business Strategist and Founder of the Victory Circles
Email me: cheri@businessvictories.com

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Repair the Leak

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Repair the Leak

Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.
— Benjamin Franklin

Have you ever had a leaking roof that you knew needed to be fixed… yet it just seemed easier and more cost effective in the moment to put a bucket down and let it catch the water dripping in?

Well sometimes money can be that way as well one small problem might lead to another and another and another.  In the Victory Circles we have an exercise we do called Money Leaks that I thought I would share with you today.  

These are some common leaks you may have in your business… some may surprise you...

Leak: You can’t easily describe what you do in a powerful way – or you keep changing your offering.
Repair:  Write up three different ways to summarize your product offering. Pick the best one and start sharing it with others to see how they react.  

Leak:  People don’t know exactly who your ideal client is or how to refer to you. 
Repair:  Make a list of your top ten customers and what they share in common.  

Leak:  You flip/flop on what you are selling and how you talk about it.
Repair:  Focus on the products that give you the best ROI and you have the most passion talking about.

Leak: Your unique gifts and brilliance aren’t shining so the question, “Why should they hire you?” is a hard one to answer.
Repair:  Research your competition and discover what makes you special in the marketplace.

Leak:  Sales suck.  
Repair:  Actively reach out to at least 3 - 5 people per day via email, phone or in person.  

Leak:  Money comes and goes, but you have no clear path of how it comes or where it goes.
Repair:  Start tracking your finances even if it is starting with a simple excel spreadsheet.

Leak: Your time is spent doing things that are low payoff activities.
Repair:  Re-evaluate your time and how you have priced your products or services. What would happen if you raised your pricing by 50%?

Leak:  Overwhelm or procrastination is the normal state for you.
Repair:  Consistently pay attention to your calendar. What is working and what is not?  Begin to eliminate tasks that are wasting your time and distracting you from the important work to be done.

What is the top leak that sticks out for you? 

Perhaps this is the one that has been leaking the longest. What if you did something today to take one step forward to repair this leak once and for all?  

Imagine a leak free life.  You have the power to fix all of them – now all you need to do is go take the step forward. 


 

To Your Success and Victories,

- Cheri

Cheri Ruskus
Business Strategist and Founder of the Victory Circles
Email me: cheri@businessvictories.com

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Money Cadence

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Money Cadence

There are people who have money and people who are rich.
— Coco Chanel

With the topic of money always looming around us this is as good a time as any to talk a bit about this normally taboo topic. Every April here in the Victory Circles the principle of Self Control with Money is the topic for discussion.

Last week we talked about challenges and the elements within us to take them on.  I always have loved the question – “If money was no object what would you actually do with your life?” The answer to that question can bring on these further questions:

  • Does money make you happy or just stress you out?  
     
  • Would you call money a friend or foe?
     
  • Do you chase money or does money chase you? 

As you know by now bicycling has become a big part of my life these days. In fact as of this past weekend I have collectively cycled over 500 miles since the beginning of February. I have come to look at cycling (which I have always loved) with a whole new respect for how much dedication the sport requires.   

There is a lot I need to improve on in my cycling game especially when it comes to my speed.  In fact, at this point unfortunately I am one of the slowest on our larger Rocky Mountain team. This has been a humbling experience for me to face my grand idea head on and to accept where my body currently needs to grow.

One of the things that our team coach talked to me about during last weeks training ride is improving what is called “pedaling cadence.” What I learned is that cadence is the rhythm, flow, and power that comes with it when you consistently pedal at a certain rate throughout your ride.  

The cadence that gets a bike down the road is the physical force that you consistently pedal. This is what makes one person go faster than another or have more stamina through an entire ride.

When you apply cadence to money, it’s fascinating to understand why one person’s stamina with money can be so different than another’s. No matter where we are financially, the difference is how the money actually flows and the joy or stress it brings to us.

How could you improve your cadence in dealing with money and assets you want to acquire in the year ahead?  With Tax Day 2018 as marker what will you do differently in the year ahead?  

Acknowledging where you are is the beginning steps to make a change and improve your cadence.  Where you take that next step is completely up to you!
 

To Your Success and Victories,

- Cheri

Cheri Ruskus
Business Strategist and Founder of the Victory Circles
Email me: cheri@businessvictories.com

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Catalyst Challenge

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Catalyst Challenge

The best way out is always through.
— Robert Frost

Challenges come in many shapes and sizes.  Some are planned and some can be surprising in how they simply arrive and play out.  This week’s Victory Letter is going to ask you to stop and look at current challenge you may be contemplating or in the middle of completing.

I shared with you a few months back my decision to bring the challenge into my life of taking on a Century (100 miles) bicycle ride in June around Lake Tahoe.  I am doing this not only to challenge my physical and mental toughness – I am also raising money and awareness in the process for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and their cause to eliminate these forms of cancer. 

My mother lost her life to a form of Leukemia called Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) and I have wanted to do this ride and fundraiser since the day I said goodbye to her nearly 8 years ago.

The journey to prepare for this over the last couple of months has been a life altering experience I can tell you that for sure. And I share more about it in a Podcast I will share with you this week called Becoming a Pedal Girl.

In the podcast I thank the many who have been by my side through this including those who have donated to the cause so far - some so generously that it has touched me to my soul.

What does it actually take to get through a challenge you have been putting off?


Here are five basic steps that can make a challenge a reality:

  1. Visualize yourself on the other side of the challenge.
     
  2. How will this time be different if you have been putting it off over and over again or just never seemed to be able to get through it?
     
  3. Make the declaration out loud to others to hold you accountable. Share the challenge with 3 - 5 people you trust and listen to their feedback. 
     
  4. Surround yourself with a support team on a variety of levels as you begin to see where your weaknesses lie.  Start with finding the person who can give you the initial steps to get going.
  5. Daily action items that will take you closer and closer to achieving what you most desire. Download my Daily Output Tracker PDF.

I share in the podcast how I have utilized each of these in my cycling training. 

Would love to know your current challenge that sits in front of you.  What is the smallest first step you could take to make the much-needed shift for your life?

If you are feeling courageous there is no time like the present. Email me your answer: cheri@businessvictories.com

Here’s to a great week ahead.

 

To Your Success and Victories,

- Cheri

Cheri Ruskus
Business Strategist and Founder of the Victory Circles
Email me: cheri@businessvictories.com

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Beyond the Zone

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Beyond the Zone

People may not really change as far as basic character goes, but all of us are capable of evolving.
— Anonymous

One morning last week I stepped into the early morning outdoors to let my dog outside.  There in the sky above me I saw something I had not seen in a long time: a shooting star!

Shooting stars appear in our sky every 10 to 15 minutes, yet it has been about 5 years or so since I myself have encountered one.  Even though I am outside a lot looking at the moon, somehow I have been missing the grace that a shooting star across the sky brings.

Always having thought these shooting stars as signs of luck, I determined there was a great day ahead of me.  As the day unfolded it was not exactly how I envisioned that it would play out.  Just the opposite happened all day long… 

Over the course of that day I kept getting some very loud wake up calls as apparently the universe was really trying to get my attention.

What I knew without a doubt was that it was time for a shake up from my current comfort zone.  It was time to start making some more plans to stretch me just like a shooting star moves across the sky.

Each of us is human and can make mistakes or miscalculations.  The key is paying full attention and changing course as necessary. The hardest and most important part is moving beyond our comfort zone.

One element that keeps people from moving forward is money.  Whether you have a lack thereof or are afraid to touch what you do have, fear can get you stuck in this uncomfortable comfort zone.

Change can be just the ingredient needed when money or other elements happen to stop us in our footsteps.  Pushing beyond our comfort zones moves us in new and improved directions.

Here’s to keeping an eye towards those shooting stars and evolving into our highest form of happiness.
 

To Your Success and Victories,

- Cheri

Cheri Ruskus
Business Strategist and Founder of the Victory Circles
Email me: cheri@businessvictories.com

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Guilt-Free Zone

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Guilt-Free Zone

Do more of what you can uniquely do and less of what other people can do.
— Gloria Steinem

On this roller coaster of life you have probably felt the feeling of guilt a time or two along the way. 

At this point in my life (having grown up Catholic where guilt seemed to be a daily way of bringing issues to light) I have come to a deeper understanding of the power that good guilt can actually bring. If we can acknowledge the control it may have on us and do something about it then it really is a positive emotion.

Guilt is officially defined as “awareness of wrongdoing” and really is an opportunity to look at a not-so-great situation in order to understand what you want to do about it.  The only person that can stop making you feel guilty is yourself.
 

Feelings of guilt can range from:

• Not feeling in balance between business and personal life
• Being bummed about something that didn’t go well
• That bowl of ice cream you ate last night when you told yourself you wouldn’t. 
 

The trap that guilt can put us in is when you get lost in the emotion itself without resolving the issue at hand.  The worst case scenario can be a form of procrastination that doesn’t allow you to move forward because you are too busy looking over your shoulder.    

Here is an antidote to give us (myself included) permission to move past the guilt when it starts to take over and derail forward momentum. 


G - Get real
What really is going on with the situation and what do you want or perhaps need to get out of what is happening?

U - Understand what didn’t work
Understand what you should or shouldn’t do differently the next time. 

I - Identify the change that you need to make
Something or someone is asking for your attention. Have you perhaps been caught in a comfort zone that is no longer serving you? 

L - Let go of comparing
Don’t waste your precious time worrying about someone else’s agenda or what someone else may seemingly be doing better than you.

T - Tolerate nothing
If a problem keeps happening over and over and over that is causing you guilt, the question becomes “why am I putting up with this?”   


Now it’s time to take a deep look within…

• In the morning when you look in the mirror who is it that you see looking back at you? 

• Is it someone you love and cherish or someone who you might be a bit judgmental about?

• When you carry on into your day do you find that judgment coming along with you keeping you from getting your best work out into the world? 

• Are always waiting for ”tomorrow“ to be the perfect time to implement something?

• Do you feel ridden with guilt over the feeling of regrets that seems to surround you?

• Are feelings of guilt coming up regularly around how much you do or don’t work versus time spent with those you love? 


I know that is a lot of questions to start off the week. However, I hope that just one of them will spark something inside of you to begin to make the needed change!

As we wrap up our conversation for this month on the topic of Honoring Time, think about what is really keeping you from getting the most out of your time on this planet.

Find the perfect placement for the things you want in your life – and this is key – without always feeling the need for perfection.  It’s then that you will find the unique and perfect placement of what you need in order to live in a guilt free zone. ;)


 

To Your Success and Victories,

- Cheri

Cheri Ruskus
Business Strategist and Founder of the Victory Circles
Email me: cheri@businessvictories.com

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