Getting In Touch With Your ‘Why’ and Pushing Past Your Limiting Beliefs

Three-time Author and keynote Speaker Bernadette Smith on How She Learned to Overcome Her Limiting Beliefs to Become a Leader in the Field of Diversity and Inclusion

Invisible Stories Season 2 Episode 11 with Bernadette Smith

In today’s episode of Invisible Stories, I speak with diversity and inclusion entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and author Bernadette Smith. Bernadette’s work in the field of LGBTQ+ Inclusion with her company, Equality Institute, has empowered businesses through elearning, consulting, and training in the field of DEI. Bernadette is also a prolific writer, and has published three books, relating to inclusion in both LGBTQ+ wedding planning and in business.

Bernadette and I talk about our similarities when it comes to our businesses, as well as her solutions for writing and accountability. Bernadette shares:

  • How her writing evolved from a very niche topic of Lesbian Wedding Planning to business-to-business inclusivity.
  • Why it was so hard to write her first book, and why it was easier to write her subsequent books.
  • How she utilizes dictation and compiles past articles and newsletters to form the content of her books, and why that could work for other authors stuck on a blank page.
  • Her methods for overcoming her limiting beliefs, and her rituals for helping keep herself focused on her writing.

The Business of Gay Weddings by Bernadette Smith

Same-sex weddings present unique challenges (and joys) to those in the wedding industry. Let’s face it – not all of us know how to plan a “gay wedding.” But marriage equality is the law of the land and you must be prepared to reach this market.

The Business of Gay Weddings is an intensive, practical guide designed to help you understand the LGBTQ wedding market, sharing best practices from hundreds of gay and lesbian weddings. The book covers topics such as laws and policies affecting same-sex couples, LGBTQ wedding data, trends, traditions and more.

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Key Takeaways

  • [00:01:00] Bernadette: [00:01:00] My name is Bernadette Smith and I am CEO of Equality Insititude. So have a quality Institute and I work, um, in diversity and inclusion, speaking in training. Um, my firm provides consulting services as well. And e-learning, and what I’m really passionate about is helping organizations create systems. So that inclusion is the default, and we do this by working on behavioral science and I’m applying behavioral science to the work we do so that it. It becomes more ingrained in our, in their processes. So it’s a really fun, fun work. I love what I do.
  • [00:03:15] Bernadette: So that was my vision. When I started my company, that company, um, I guess it was about 16 years ago. And, um, anyway, as time went on, I planned all these weddings and then I realized, I said, I can have a much bigger impact on the world By speaking and training and helping businesses become more inclusive of LGBTQ couples. [00:03:39] So that is one of the reasons I wrote my first book. So I actually wrote three books, all about LGBTQ weddings. The first book is called gay wedding confidential, and it’s a, how to guide for couples and I self published that. Second book is called the lesbian couples guide to wedding planning. So that was a book sort of a bit, the lesbian slant on it. [00:03:58] And then the third book was [00:04:00] a business to business book for wedding professionals, which has really focused on helping wedding professionals become more inclusive, helping them understand the language and some of the concerns and some of the trends and traditions that have evolved in the LGBTQ wedding market. [00:04:15] So that was really for wedding planners. Wedding photographers, caterers, et cetera, travel agents as well. So there are two additions of that second book, which is called the business of gay weddings, a guide for wedding professionals. So I have three books that are completed all about same sex weddings and LGBTQ inclusion. [00:04:36] But as time went on, I moved away from the wedding industry and I moved away from LGBTQ specific. My work has sort of evolved to be more broad and a, and I have a couple of other books that I’ve pretty much stopped at 30,000 words and I haven’t finished them yet. Um, but that is a that’s where I’m at right now.
  • [00:07:07] Bernadette: [00:07:07] So the third book, like I said, was a business to business book and it self-published, I tried to talk to my agent about, you know, getting that distributed, but it was way too narrow, you know, talk about a, uh, a hyper niche there. [00:07:23] Um, but yeah, I, um, I was able to write the third book pretty easily because I had written so many blog posts. As a way of, of branding my business and helping the wedding professionals over the years just become more inclusive through writing. So I was able to turn a lot of my blog posts into content and it came together pretty easily. [00:07:48] Uh, actually this, and then I did a second edition of that one. Yeah. Some of the laws change and there were some updates to share. So the third book was. You know, relatively painless. [00:08:00] The first one was the hardest.
  • [00:08:18] Bernadette: [00:08:18] Yeah. I mean, essentially there was no requirement. I mean, I didn’t have to write a book. There was, I wasn’t being paid to write a book. Right. So, yeah. It was really, it had to be like an extreme amount of self motivation and drive to push through. Right. So it’s, it’s really hard when you’re just staring at a blank page. [00:08:37] And also, let me just be really honest here. I was never a like really passionate wedding person. I was a passionate activist. I was passionate about LGBTQ inclusion. I was never really passionate about weddings. It happened to be my career for 14 or 15 [00:09:00] years, but it was never my true passion. So really re literally staring at that blank page with a blinking cursor was overwhelming. [00:09:09] It really was. Um, so I had to give myself a deadline. I had to give myself some discipline and some structure and really. You know, buckle down. Um, and that was really my approach. I had to essentially force myself to, to, to create structure so that I had accountability and I had an accountability partner as well for it, but it was, um, yeah, it was really hard and I’m not gonna lie. It was hard.
  • [00:14:10] Bernadette: [00:14:10] Yeah. You know, one thing that I will say about myself, limiting beliefs is a big one, a big one that I’ve had for years, or especially as I evolved my business away from weddings is that I have never worked for a corporation. I have worked for nonprofits. I’m an AmeriCorps alum, but I’ve been an entrepreneur for, you know, 16 years. And that’s what I know. And so I don’t have a lot of personal experience about microaggressions in the workplace, or like I don’t have that kind of stuff to, to rely on. I don’t own those stories. And so there’s definitely some self limiting beliefs there. Right. So I’ve had to unpack my own stories, which are. You know, that’s, that’s a whole different process and I use it for my talks and my speeches. Um, but you know, I don’t, and I, I don’t know that those stories fit into the books that I have currently drafted, to be honest with you. [00:15:06] Um, but I mean, working through self limiting beliefs is a constant work in progress and yes, it certainly creeps up into writing. And creeps up into every aspect of my life. But one thing that I will say about COVID is that I just sort of had it in my head when all of this went down. That if not now, when this is my time, like I am, it’s my year to push past all of that shit, excuse my language. [00:15:36] But just to say work through it. And I have, I’m really proud of myself this year. I pushed past a lot of that garbage that was holding me back from stepping into my true potential and, and stopping me from leading the kind of impact on the world that I know that I was put on this earth to, to leave to lead.
  • [00:17:16] Bernadette: [00:17:16] Yeah. Um, so my partner and I went to a conference, uh, probably five or six years ago, and we heard this speaker who later became her coach, Aaron Anastazi. And he wrote a book, I think, for all the voice of your dreams. And he really talks about like writing down those limiting beliefs and then rewriting it into the truth about you. Like basically dispelling The limiting beliefs, um, because there’s evidence that you have based on your own experiences that actually can rationally talk you out of those limiting beliefs, but you have to make that a discipline. So, you know, I actually created a whole like morning card at one point of limiting beliefs, but actually the truth, right. That I would revisit every day. Then I made these little cards of. Kind of like affirmation cards, but they were really specific to my own limiting beliefs and my own baggage, um, and like printed them out and laminated them. And I, you know, I flipped through them, you know, I have stuff like that. Um, but also, you know, just like. [00:18:27] I meditate twice a day. I journal pretty regularly. Like I, I just have different rituals that keep me grounded. I have a daily gratitude practice. All of those things really helped me. Um, and really, really being also in touch with my why and clear on what is my purpose? Why am I doing here? And how can I reach the Most people, because I know that I was put on this earth to make an impact, but I cannot make the impact that I was destined to make.  If I let those beliefs hold me back, I can’t. And that way I’m letting the world down. Right. If I let those beliefs hold me back, then I am like totally dropping the ball. And if there’s anything, if there’s any like, Significant quality about me is I’m very dependable. I’m very responsive. I don’t want to drop the ball. I did not want to let the world down.
  • [00:21:02] Bernadette: [00:21:02] Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. That’s, that’s, that’s really great advice. And, um, another book that I actually read earlier this year, right before COVID, I’m really glad I read this book. It was a game changer for me was that is called the big leap and it’s, it’s evolving. It’s about evolving yourself from the zone of excellence. For the zone of genius. And when you’re in the zone of genius, you’re in flow, but there are, what’s called upper limiting problems, which holds you back from getting into the zone of genius. [00:21:33] And they generally stem from childhood. So when I read a book like that, by the way, this is a good tip. In my opinion, it’s a good tip for, for folks. I write a book report. I write like a three to four page book report summary, and I have a folder on my hard drive book reports and, and it’s my way of life. Summarizing the key takeaways so that I can revisit it. And then I set reminders in my calendar periodically like every two or three months and say, Hey, do you have any upper limiting problems? You need to work on, go visit, go read your book.
  • [00:26:01] Bernadette: [00:26:01] Yes, but also, I mean, I think that’s just one of my super powers in general is I’m really good at taking information and synthesizing it and like three paragraphs. [00:26:11] Like I’m, that’s just how I, my brain works. Like my brain works in bullet points. Right. So whether it’s a book report or whether it’s a Harvard business review article, that’s just how I operate. Um, so yeah, it really does help me synthesize the information so I can process it, hopefully retain it more. [00:26:30] And then, you know, there are a few key people in my life who I’ve shared the link to my book reports folder with, and I will share it with you so you can. Read your read, read them. If you’d like, it would be helpful.

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