An elegant woman runs her life like a CEO of a successful company, so that she can create better results, create her vision, have a life that runs more smoothly, and so that she can have more time to enjoy her life. In this Elegant Woman series, I’m sharing five areas elegant women manage like a CEO.
Welcome to the School of Self-Image, where personal development meets style. Here’s your hostess, master life coach Tonya Leigh.
Hey, my beautiful friends. I’m so glad that you are back. And if you’re new around here, welcome. I had not looked at my reviews on iTunes in many, many months. And my team just sent me a message saying, “Do you realize you’re almost at 700 reviews?”
You all, I remember when I first started this podcast and I asked my mom and dad, who have been with me during this whole journey, to please go and give me a review. I don’t think they ever did because I don’t think they could figure out how to do it. But to think now, we’re at almost 700 reviews, I just want to say thank you all so much from the bottom of my heart for taking the time out of your day to go and tell me how this podcast has impacted your life.
I sat down the other night and I just read through so many of your kind words and it just thrills me to know that my voice and my thoughts on life and my stories, everything that I share here is having such a positive impact in the world.
One of the titles of a review that was left by Softly Seeking said, “Easygoing Elegance is the Intention.” And I just stopped because I thought about the term easygoing elegance. And it got me to thinking about elegance and what it is and isn’t. I think sometimes we can see something that appears elegant but doesn’t feel elegant.
Meaning we can do a lot of work to show up in the world dressed in a certain way, putting forth a lot of effort and trying to create this façade of elegance. But honestly, you all, I feel like at the end of the day, elegance is full of ease. It’s not pressured. It’s getting rid of all of the BS that weighs us down. And whatever emerges from that I believe is the most elegant form of ourselves.
The definition of elegance really boils down to simplicity and effectiveness. And the way I like to think about it is knowing where you want to go and then getting rid of everything that is holding you back from your destination. It’s simplifying your life of anything that doesn’t add value. It’s being effective in how you manage your life. And that’s what today’s episode is all about.
I want to talk about five areas elegant women manage like a CEO. Because if you think about a CEO of a company, they’re after certain results. They have a mission and a vision that they want the whole company culture to revolve around. And if somebody in that company doesn’t align with the company values, the company culture, and the vision of where they’re going, chances are they’re going to get fired.
But when it comes to being an elegant woman, I want us to start thinking about what would it look like if we managed our lives in such a way. And when I think about what we must manage in order to create better results in our lives – everything from creating external results in terms of reaching goals, to the internal results of how we want to feel – there are five areas I’ve noticed for me personally and my clients that when we manage well, everything else seems to fall into place.
Now, what you’re going to notice is that all of these areas are impacting each other. So, as you begin to even practice one of these areas, managing it well, you’re going to see the positive impact in the other areas. But I’m going to share them all with you.
The first one is elegant women manage their mornings. Elegant women manage their mornings. Your mornings set the tone for your day. How many of you are waking up reacting to your life? You’re waking up in a mood, as we all do. And you’re not even stopping to clean that mood up.
It’s like you wouldn’t go out into the world stinky, looking a mess. Hopefully not. You take the time in the mornings before you go to work to hopefully shower, brush your teeth, put on some clothes and present your best outward self to the world. But what about your inner world? Just like you wouldn’t go out into the world looking a mess, not showering or bathing, you shouldn’t go out into the world, into your day being a mental mess, having a dirty mind. And when I say dirty mind, I’m talking about thoughts that don’t serve you.
You see, the energy that you create in the morning is spilling over into your day. And I will tell you, it is so much easier to start out with a positive intention and energy than trying to course-correct in the middle of the day when you’re being hit with so much external stimuli.
When you really take the time in the mornings to have a routine that makes you feel good, that helps you be intentional, that reminds you of who you are at your deepest core without all of the BS in your head and what you are creating, what ends up happening is you build that positive momentum right out of the gate.
But how many of you, if you get honest with yourself, you’re waking up, you’re not even questioning your own brain? You’re just allowing it to run on default. You’re picking up a phone first thing before you even getting out of bed. You’re eating foods that don’t feel good in your body. Some of you are waking up late in a rush because you went to bed late the night before and you’re exhausted and you’re tired and how you’re irritable and grumpy.
And then all of a sudden maybe you snap at your kids and then you feel guilty about that. And then you go to work and because you’re irritable and grumpy, you can’t really focus so you feel behind, you’re not as productive. And that energy just creates results that compound on each other that keep you stuck in these moods. And let me tell you all, I have been there and I still have some of these days. And I have to course correct because the thing is, we’re human. We’re not here to be perfect.
Do you know what we’re here to be? Curious about ourselves. We’re here to experiment, what works for us and what doesn’t. And what I know works for me is to manage my morning well. If I can wake up at an hour that feels good, I’m well-rested, and I engage in my morning routine, which I continue to build upon. In fact, I think I’m going to be doing a behind the scenes within my membership, sharing with the women what my morning routine is here recently that has helped me have tremendous results in my life over the last even six months.
Changing up my morning routine has helped me create better results. That’s the power of managing your mornings well. But when I do this, when I am intentional with my mornings, what I’ve noticed is that I’m more calm, I’m more productive, I’m more focused, I’m more excited, I’m more happy, and then I just continue to build on those energies. And then occasionally something comes along, just like with all of us, and I get out of the vortex. But I have these tools to get me back in.
But if I don’t manage my morning well, what I can tell you is I’m out of alignment out of the gate and it’s so much harder to course-correct, as I said earlier, in the middle of the day. Elegant women know this. They know that their mornings are sacred and they treat them as such.
And I could do a whole podcast just on the power of a morning routine. And I may do that in the future. But here’s what I want to tell you. Even if you have little kids at home, even if your mornings are already rushed, I will tell you, if you get creative and you even set aside 15 to 20 minutes in the morning to be intentional, it is going to have a positive impact on your life. So, manage your mornings well.
The second area that elegant women manage like a CEO is their attention. This one is huge because I’m going to give you all some tough love. And this is tough love that I’ve had to give to myself because I am very easily distracted. And it’s almost like we grow a distraction muscle because we’ve been so used to giving into our own whims, and honestly just having lazy minds that we let run around like a wild teenager, looking at everything, being distracted by everything.
Elegant minds practice disciplining their minds to get results. And it’s not easy because we live in a world full of stimuli that’s vying for our attention. We live in a world too that tries to scare us into believing that everything is important. But listen, if everything is important, nothing truly is. You must decide what is worthy of your attention.
Right now in the School of Self-Image, we are going through the Dream Atelier process. And part of the process is planning for your obstacles. And probably the number one obstacle that I hear most often is distractions.
You have goals. You’ve put them in your calendar. You’re showing up for them. Then all of a sudden, you get a phone call and someone needs something from you, or your kids come into the room while you’re trying to get work done, or you get a text message.
But listen, you all, you have to plan for that. How are you going to deal with the distractions that are always going to be there? They’re never going away. In fact, if anything, they’re getting increasingly worse because of the internet.
We have to be stronger than the distractions. We have to be more committed to the lives that we really want to live than the agenda of others. And I’m not saying that we should ignore our children or anyone else. But if we don’t train people how to treat us, guess what happens. They will treat us any way they see fit. And they may have a very different agenda than you have for your own life.
So, you have to manage your attention well in order to create results in your life. It’s why I don’t have my phone first hour of the morning. I’ve been practicing this religiously over the last few months. And I can tell you that it has had such a tremendous impact on my life.
Because from a scientific level, when you are waking up in the morning, your brain is in a very different state. You go from theta brainwaves to alpha. And those are the two states of your brain that are most suggestible. It’s when you are most creative.
So, a couple of things happen if you immediately jump out of bed or even before you get out of bed, you pick up your phone and you start scrolling social media, or looking at the news, or looking at email or texts. You are first of all in a state of being suggestible. So, whatever people are telling you to think, you’re going to start to think like the masses. You won’t be thinking for yourself.
And you’re also missing out on that time of the day when you are most creative. That’s when you need to be grabbing your journal and really coming up with new ideas, thinking about who you want to be and what you want for your life. And you also need to be putting positive things into your brain first thing in the morning when you are most suggestible.
Because there’s a lot of negativity in the world, and if you’re plugging into that first thing in the morning, how do you think your day is going to go? Going back to number one, managing your morning well, how do you think your day is going to go if the first thing you’re looking at is aunt Betty Sue complaining about the state of affairs in the world on her Facebook page? Probably not good, right?
Here’s the thing. Distractions are stealing our dreams and from experiencing the kinds of lives that we truly want to live. Elegant women know this, which is why they practice discipline with their attention.
Your life is going in the direction of your attention and you feel whatever you focus upon. And right now, there are millions and millions of things that you can be focused upon. Are you choosing them on purpose? Are you choosing it deliberately? Or are you having the mind of a wild teenager and just focusing on whatever’s easy and what’s right in front of you?
Are you picking your phone when you’re bored and scrolling through Instagram? Are you tuning into the news because you’ve been convinced that everything is an emergency right now, so you’re living in fight or flight? You’re overwhelming and overstimulating your probably already stressed brain.
If you want to find calm, if you want to live more elegantly, if you want to be intentional with your life, it is imperative that you manage your attention. And there are three questions I like to ask myself to know if something is worthy of my attention.
The first question is, how does this feel? Remember, you are going to feel whatever you’re focused upon. And part of evolving your self-image is evolving your state of being. It’s expanding your energy. It’s living in the feeling state of being in the place you want to be so that you can align with it and attract it into your life.
So, if I’m focused upon something that doesn’t feel good, that doesn’t feel in alignment with who I want to be, then I need to question it. The other question I like to ask myself is, “Am I being intentional right now?” Because my human brain likes to do what your human brain likes to do.
It’s so easy when I’m feeling a certain way to try to escape that feeling by picking up the phone and seeing what my friends are doing or texting someone, distracting myself from dealing with my emotional life, or procrastinating on something that I deeply want to do but maybe I’m just a little afraid of doing.
And so, if I’m not being intentional, I know I’m in trouble. I know it’s not going to lead to the results that I want to create. And then the last question I love to ask myself is, does this add to the quality of my life? Does what I’m focusing on right now add to the quality of my life?
So, right now, I’m focused upon recording this podcast for you. It absolutely adds to the quality of my life. And hopefully to yours too, by listening to it. I also love to listen to other people’s podcasts and I feel like when it’s intentional, it is definitely adding to the quality of my life.
I like how it feels. I like the ideas that come from it. I like the energy that it provokes within me. But then I’ve noticed things that I do that don’t add to the quality of my life, that when I’m focused upon them, there is zero upside. For me, it’s watching the news.
Now, my brain wants to convince me that it’s imperative that I watch the news and that I know what’s going on because the world’s a dangerous place and we have to be vigilant. But that’s what the news wants us to feel. It wants to scare us into thinking everything in the world is important. Why? Because they have an agenda. They need viewers. And I know for me personally that it just doesn’t add to the quality of my life.
Now, some of you may say, “Tonya, you’ve got your head buried in the sand. You can’t ignore what’s going on in the world.” But I believe that if it’s meant for me to know about it, someone will tell me. And until then, I want to focus on my life, on my work, on my vision.
In fact, I had my social media manager reach out not too long ago and she’s like, “Have you seen what’s happening in the news?” I’m like, “No, what’s going on? Tell me.” And she told me. She informed me of what was happening. But I just don’t want to spend my time there. I trust that there are people around me that are watching the news and they will tell me if something is important or if I need to go get in a bunker somewhere.
But until then, I don’t want to let my attention flow to the news because honestly, I just don’t like how it feels. That’s my personal preference. I’m not saying that has to be yours. What I want you to do is just ask yourself these questions. How does it feel? Am I being intentional? And does it add to the quality of my life? And if it doesn’t, it does not deserve your attention.
You have to decide what is worthy of your attention. Elegant women know this. And it’s going to be different for all of us because we all want to live different kinds of lives. We all have different goals. We are all here for a different purpose. I’m not trying to tell you what should be worthy of your attention. I just want you to question it.
Okay, let’s talk about the third thing an elegant woman manages like a CEO. And that is her time. So, time and attention go hand in hand. But she manages her time well. Time is the only thing that we have that is nonrenewable. We can make more money. We can create a lot of things over and over again. But time, once that second is spent, you will never get it back again. And elegant women know this and it’s why they value their time so importantly.
So, how do we do that? Well, you first of all need to know what you value. And I’ve done a podcast on discovering your values. I highly recommend that you check it out. And I’ve also recently done a podcast this year on scheduling your dreams. But you need to know what you value and what you’re wanting to create and then your calendar, your schedule needs to reflect that. And that means you’re going to have to say no to some things.
Again, if everything is important, nothing truly is. There’s a really great book that changed my life called Essentialism. I highly recommend this book. But I remember reading this book and realizing, it takes a courageous person to live an extraordinary life because you’re going to disappoint people because you can’t be everything to everyone.
You’re going to have to make decisions one where you’re going to spend your time, which means you have to decide what’s most important. What do you want to focus on right now in this season of your life? And then, you need to schedule it into your calendar.
Now, here’s what I’ve noticed, when you’re not managing your mind well, your brain will try to trick you into believing that having a schedule and following it is limiting. But I just had one of my students in the membership who is going through the Dream Atelier process and she had that same mentality going into it. But she was expressing how much more time she has, how much more free she feels, and how she’s creating better results in her life by managing her time well. Again, elegant women know this.
The fourth thing that elegant women manage like a CEO is their energy. So, this is where the last one around managing your time is also related to managing your energy because you can manage your time, but if you’re not bringing the best version of you to the table, then what are you actually producing during that time?
So, you can be managing your time, showing up for your calendar, but if you are exhausted and you’re irritable and you are low-level energy, it’s going to be so much harder to create the results that you want to create. But when you start to manage your energy and our time, that’s when you can get some serious momentum going in your life.
Now, when it comes to managing your energy, a lot of people think that when they exert themselves, they are depleting themselves of energy. And so, we live in this paradigm of conserving and offering our energy to the world. But I don’t think it works like that. Energy is not finite, meaning I believe in our ability to create more and more energy. And it’s not about exertion.
It really comes down to what fulfills you. So, for example, when I workout and I’m exerting physical energy, I often feel more energized, versus when I’m sitting around and not expending a lot of energy, I often feel less energized, unless it feels energizing. Do you see what I’m saying? You have to tap into yourself and know what gives you energy, what depletes you of energy?
And listen, I don’t know what that is for you because we’re all so different. For some people, going shopping gives them energy. For others, going shopping drains them of energy. Why? Because we’re all so unique. We’re driven by different things. We have different wants an desires.
But I do know a few things that I feel like gives us all more energy. And it really comes down to the basics; getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising. If you just incorporated those three things into your life, you’re going to notice that you have more energy; energy that you can use to create your life on purpose.
I love what Ralph Marston says, “Put your energy into building what is creative, valuable, and empowering and you won’t have to constantly fight against what is destructive and draining.” Manage your energy by putting it into places that add to the value of your life.
I want you to be a student of yourself and just notice when you feel more energized. For me personally, I feel very energized when I can feel that I’m making progress, when I’m working towards my goals, when I’m showing up for my calendar, even though it requires effort and it requires energy. It energizes me because I’m moving in a positive direction.
I also know that I feel energized when I’m around certain people. Equally, I can feel a zap of my energy when I’m around other people because I’m having to work so hard to maintain my energy around them because of their destructive ways of thinking. And so, I just prefer to be around people that when I’m with them, it’s like we feed off of each other’s energy and as we do, it builds and becomes greater. And that momentum spills into the other areas of my life.
So, notice how you feel around certain people. I also want you to pay attention to the places that you go that give you energy and the places that you go that take away your energy, where you feel less energized.
I feel like in life, it’s like a big game. It’s like playing hot and cold and we have to figure out the places that warm our souls, again, that energize us and move away from the places that feel cold and take our energy away. And elegant women know this and they’re always paying attention to what gives them energy and they manage that process really well.
The final area, the fifth area that elegant women manage like a CEO is their thinking. This could be the most important. Elegant women know that just because they think something, it doesn’t mean that it’s true. They like to question their own thinking. I do this all of the time.
But the first step is to separate out fact from fiction. Facts are something that we can all agree upon. I’m sitting at my desk. If you all were in the room, we could all agree upon that. I’m recording a podcast. That is a fact right now. But often, what’s in our heads are not the facts. It’s our story about the facts. And those stories are creating your life. Why? Because they’re creating your energetic state. They’re creating your emotions. And that energetic state is driving what you do and what you don’t do, therefore creating the results of your life.
So, for example, the facts are, I’m sitting at my desk recording this podcast. My fiction could be, “No one’s going to like this. I’m doing such a terrible job. No one’s going to listen to this. This is not good enough. For sure someone’s going to hate this episode.” And when I think that, that depletes my energy. I start to feel anxious, full of fear, worried. And when I’m in that state, what I want to do is stop recording.
In fact, if I listened to those kinds of thoughts – and trust me, they pop up all the time. But if I paid attention to them and listened to them, and most importantly believed them, you wouldn’t even be listening to this podcast because that kind of thinking would convince me to not even show up for it. Why bother?
But what elegant women do – remember, simplicity and effectiveness – they’re like, “How can I get there in the most simple, effective way?” And the way to do that is to align your thinking with where you want to go.
And so, for me, when I think about this podcast and the purpose of this podcast, I want it to reach a million women. And I believe we’ve already reached a million women, just based on our downloads. However, when I keep that at the forefront, what do I need to be thinking on purpose and believing about my work, this podcast, and my abilities?
And when I start to line up my thinking with that, it creates a very different emotional state. One that drives me to show up and record this podcast every single week for you. And because of the power of our tiny daily actions and its compound effect, if you do something like that over time, it’s going to compound to get you to where you want to go.
But I know what it’s like to believe our own crazy thoughts. For years, you all, I had a story around how I wasn’t smart enough. And it was such a crazy story because I was in the Beta Club when I was in middle school. I went on to become a registered nurse. I graduated top of my class. I worked as a critical care nurse.
But because I had such a thick Southern accent that people made fun of and people where I grew up were associated with being less intelligent, a little dumb, even though that’s so far from the truth – smartest people you’ll ever meet, has a great work ethic, common sense like you wouldn’t believe. But because I had bought into that stereotype, I had a story that I wasn’t smart enough. And I believed it.
And that story held me back for so many years. I had anxiety around expressing my opinions. I didn’t show up even when I wanted to. I was afraid of being exposed as not being smart enough. I believed that thought.
And then, one day, I started to question it. I’m like, “Wait, wait, wait, Tonya, you have so much evidence to the contrary. Why are you choosing to believe this about yourself?” And when I started to clean up that one thought and I really started to believe in my own brilliance and my own intellect and I started to speak up and speak out and share my thoughts, share my ideas share my opinions, that’s when my life took off. But I had to manage my mind to do that.
Now, there have been times in my life where I didn’t have evidence yet. For example, I remember when I wanted to make six figures and I didn’t believe it was possible for a girl like me. I had been taught that working as a nurse, you might make $70,000. This was back in the day. I’m sure nurses are making way more than that now.
But I had this ceiling on what I believed to be possible and I didn’t have a lot of evidence that someone like me, growing up poor – even though I say we grew up poor, we were rich in so many ways. But monetarily speaking, we were pretty poor. But I didn’t have evidence.
But when I really began to understand, we get to decide what we believe. Why would I believe that I could not make six figures a year? Unless that’s the result I wanted to create. And so, I started to question it and I started to inch my way up to better thoughts.
I started to believe, maybe it is possible. There are women in the world making six figures a year. So, if they can do it, why not me? I started to think better-feeling thoughts, thoughts that aligned with my goal at the time of making six figures a year. And as I did that, as I managed my mind well, I was able to get to my goal much more effectively.
If we don’t do that, we’re fighting against ourselves. That’s why it’s so important to evolve your self-image to the woman you want to be first before reaching the goal. Because if you don’t, you’re constantly going to be fighting against yourself. You’re going to have this internal conflict with what you believe and where you want to go. And you will always come back to what you believe about yourself. Which is why it’s so important to manage your mind.
Just because you have a thought, does not mean it’s true. And I love what Martha Beck says. She was like, “You will know your truth because it will taste like freedom.” And freedom is you living a fully expressed life and achieving your goals. So, any thought that tells you that that is not possible is a lie, my friend. You have to begin to question it.
Why would you think that about yourself? A lot of you are thinking terrible things about yourself and my clients know, when they come into my world, I call them out on it. I’m like, “Why would you choose to believe that you’re not good enough? Give me one upside to that thought.”
Guess what? They can’t, other than it’s familiar and it’s a little uncomfortable for them to believe that they are the extraordinary woman that they are. But as they begin to practice that and gather evidence for it, they begin to realize the truth. And that truth sets them free.
I believe we’re all extraordinary; extra ordinary. Beyond the ordinary. But as long as you’re believing ordinary thoughts about yourself, guess what you’re going to create? A very ordinary life. And you did not come here to live an ordinary life. You came here to live a fully expressed, enjoyable, awe-inspiring life, one that your 90-year-old self will one day raise a flute of champagne to, or Perrier, whatever she chooses to drink at 90, and say, “Well done, darling.”
And this is going to require that you manage these areas of your life. Elegant women know this, my friends.
Have a gorgeous week, everyone. and I will be back in your ear next week with another episode of the Elegant Woman series. Cheers.
Hey, have you grabbed your free copy of the School of Self-Image Manifesto? If not, what in the world? Head over to schoolofselfimage.com/manifesto and get a copy that teaches you how to think and show up in the areas of mindset, style, and surroundings so that you can transform your self-image.