Episode 36: Esther Littlefield on Leading with Confidence

business you Oct 12, 2021
Esther Littlefield knows Leading with Confidence

Esther Littlefield discovered that when she leaned into her talents and gifts, she began to thrive as a mompreneur. She shares how you can do this, too.

 

Connect with Esther on Facebook, Instagram, or her website. And be sure to sign up for her Ideal Life and Biz Guide

Esther's favorite gadget is Trello! (And it's a resource I love, too!)

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This is a transcript of the This Mom Knows Podcast - Episode - 36

Jennifer Uren
Esther Littlefield is a pastor's wife, Mom, strategist, business coach, and podcaster. She loves to help mompreneurs lean into the gifts God has given them and lead with confidence as moms and entrepreneurs by helping them find clarity in their online marketing. So welcome, Esther.

Esther Littlefield
Thank you, Jenn. I am so excited to be here with you today.

Jennifer Uren
Well, I'm so glad you could join us. Why don't you tell us a little bit more about yourself? Like maybe where you're from? Something you know, a favorite thing about, about what you like to do with your family? Something like that?

Esther Littlefield
Sure. Yeah. So yes, my husband is Scott and my daughter is Kyrsten and we live in Maine. And really, we love the summertime especially here in Maine, because it's there's so much to do. We love to go out to the water, out to the lake or the ocean, go boating or go kayaking, whatever it might be swimming, hiking, things like that. So that's probably my favorite thing to do as a family and then in the winter months, we kind of hold on and try to survive.

Jennifer Uren
I was gonna ask, is it you know, like, do you get to do cross country skiing or things like that?

Esther Littlefield
We we like snowshoeing, so we do snowshoeing, I like downhill skiing, but nobody else in my family likes that. So next winter, I'm gonna just do it by myself, because I, because I want to get back into it.

Jennifer Uren
Oh, good. Yeah. So yeah, seasons are nice. It's, it's nice to have that variety. And something to look forward to.

Esther Littlefield
Yes, I do like the changing of seasons for sure. Yeah, yeah,

Jennifer Uren
That's great. Well, today, we're going to talk about what you know, which is it's kind of leading with confidence. And it's it's marketing in that online space, which go hand in hand, because it takes confidence to kind of put yourself out there. So I've heard you say that, that you were a leader all your life, but just didn't realize it. But after struggling with some insecurity and questioning, you know what your gifts were, God finally showed you how to walk in confidence and be the leader that he had already made you to be? Can you tell us a little bit more about that and maybe what are your gifts and why were you, why were you questioning them?

Esther Littlefield
Yeah, yeah, sure. So yeah, when I look back over my life, which I did a few years ago, I kind of took time to like, reflect and figure out what what is up with this whole thing of, you know, questioning the gifts and all of that, I realized that really, I had been a leader all my life. Like I was always the kid in the neighborhood who was coordinating, getting together everybody, let's do this, we're gonna put put on a skit in the you know, in the neighborhood or things like that. I was an older sister, so of course, I had the the term "bossy" from my younger sister. And in school, I was often the person who would be, you know, picked to lead the group project or things like that. But I always just chalked that up to just, that's just my personality, or it's just because I'm good at academics. I didn't necessarily label it leadership. And at the same time, throughout my whole life, especially in my younger years, I struggled with insecurity. I did not like speaking up in public, I was scared to death to say "hi" to someone new. Like I was the shyest kid, super nervous, super unsure of myself. And it really didn't start to change until my high school years. So fast forwarding to my adult years and kind of at the point of recognizing, okay, I had many situations in which I would have ideas, or I would have thoughts to share, but I would hold back. And this would be in, you know, in my workplace in, in church leadership roles and things like that, where I just wasn't stepping up and, and kind of sharing my insights or the things that I felt that maybe I could do to make a difference. And it finally got to a point where God started to work on that with me and started to show me like this, you know, this is not how I designed you, I designed you to use these gifts, the things that I've given you, it's you're meant to use them. And so it was a whole process of me just sort of surrendering to him surrendering to his love and recognizing that it didn't matter what other people thought all of that was part of it. And finally being able to step up and start using those gifts and actually making a difference in the world around me. So that's like kind of the short story of how my journey has been in terms of starting to embrace my gifts.

Jennifer Uren
Okay, so knowing your gifts though and embracing them. They are different. So how did you make that jump to become comfortable with, you know, and say, "This isn't just my personality, but this is who I am. And I'm good at this and not being arrogant."

Esther Littlefield
Yeah, yeah. I think it was a combination. of things. So so it does start with figuring out what are those gifts? Right? Like, what are those things and often they are the things that you got teased about growing up, they are often are the things that are the most frustrating to you about yourself. Often those are actually related to your gifts, because it's if they're used poorly, they're not helpful for people, right. But if you use them, well, they they are gifts, and they can make a difference. So just as an example, for me, one of my natural gifts is just, I have a very critical eye, and I'm able to pick up on things that other people don't notice. I'm very detail oriented. And I have very high standards, I have very high standards for excellence and for for quality work. And so of course, that served me well in my education, because I did really follow the rules and dot all the i's and all that. But at the same time, it's not good, because it would often lead me to being critical of other people. Everybody is doing things wrong, and I'm doing it right, like that kind of thing. But over time, God showed me this can be a gift, when you use it in the church, in your work to help other people to say, "Okay, here's, here's what we've got going on. And I can notice all the things that maybe we need to just tweak or change that will actually be able to serve people better." So that's, that's an example of, you know, recognizing the gift and then really embracing it is saying, Okay, now I'm going to actually make sure that I enjoy using my gift that I'm not afraid of using my gift that I'm actually going to step up and say something in that meeting when I think "oh, okay, wait a minute, we're missing this thing." Or "maybe we should try it this way so that we could improve it." So really being willing to use the gift and step out and share it with others. I think that's where the embracing comes in.

Jennifer Uren
And the more you do it, the more comfortable you're going to feel it takes practice. It doesn't...

Esther Littlefield
Oh, yes.

Jennifer Uren
It's not overnight.

Esther Littlefield
Yeah. It is not overnight. It's definitely not. Yeah, it's a lot of baby steps. Yes.

Jennifer Uren
Well, and maybe we should just back up just a little bit just to talk about the difference between, you know, spiritual gifts and natural talents. Because I think that's what we're really talking about.

Esther Littlefield
Yeah.

Jennifer Uren
Because, you know, I grew up in the church, I know about all about the spiritual gifts, inventories, I know that sometimes what those are labeled, don't really connect to real life, like the gift of administration does not necessarily mean you're detail oriented.

Esther Littlefield
Right?

Jennifer Uren
But um, so how, how would somebody go about figuring out what their natural talents are?

Esther Littlefield
Yeah, yeah. So it's funny, because, yeah, again, it's like the stuff that just comes naturally to us, that's usually our natural talents but we don't see those things as gifts, because we're like, well, they're just the easy things that I've always been able to do. So I usually encourage women to step back and think through, again, do some reflection, think through the history of your life and ask yourself, what has often just been easy for me, that is hard for other people? What did I thrive in, in elementary school, in high school in college, like, what were those things that I just loved doing. And again, that probably were harder for other people. For me, I was not good at sports. I was not an artist. But I was good at learning and at, at the academics part of school. And so that's where I thrived. You know, so that and writing was part of that. So writing, I always got good grades on my papers that I did and things like that. So like, that's a natural gift that I have that is hard for other people. My mom always will message me is, you know, "how would you say this? How would you write this?" and she wants help with how to formulate an idea and for me, it just comes out naturally. And she's she usually gets upset. She's like, "why is that so easy for you?" But then on the same token, there's other things that she's really good at, and that I can't do, you know, to save my life. So it's thinking through what are those things that just are easy for you? A lot of times, what are the things that light you up and bring you joy too. So the things that, you know, if you think about your work, your past work experiences, what in those work experiences have been just the life giving things that you've loved doing? And then what have been the things that have made you drag your feet and not want to show up at work that day? Like maybe it's if you have to show up and be at a meeting and lead a meeting, you want to crawl in a corner, but if you get to go and create a new project and plan out the project, you are, you know, super excited so maybe project management is a natural gift of yours versus leading a meeting is not. So I think it's it's a lot of kind of reflection. And then the last thing I would say is, sometimes it means asking other people around you, the people that know you best. And just getting their input on what do you think is I'm actually good at? Like, what are the things that you see that I can do? Or that I do well, and getting that input can be really helpful. You want to be careful about who you ask. So don't ask the people that are the the naysayers and like the people that you don't enjoy. But people that are encouraging, but also honest, you know, you want honest feedback when you're figuring that out. So those are a few of the ways that I've been able to really hone in on my natural gifts.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah, that's good. And that's helpful, it is helpful to ask other people because I think we have a tendency to downplay our own strengths. As you know, I liken it to the, to the grading scale, you know, I'll I'll sometimes just assume that because I'm doing something, you know, it's it's everyone's doing it, it's a C, and my husband's like a new, you're like it a 98%. The rest of us would like to know how to do that. But I don't see it because I just do it. So. Yeah, so but having someone else come along and say, no, that actually is your magic can really. It can really, it can be humbling. It can be, oh, I'm good at something, but it is it can be really helpful. So yeah, yes, I love that.

Esther Littlefield
Yeah. And can I say one more thing about that, too. I think what you mentioned earlier, just in terms of like, acknowledging your gifts and embracing them is that it's really not about being prideful or arrogant. You know, you mentioned that that feeling that sometimes we have that if we actually say it out loud, like I'm good at writing, or I'm good at, you know, leading others or whatever it might be that that somehow being prideful. And one of my podcast guests way in the beginning, she made this comment that just stuck with me. She's like, it's not prideful for me to say, "God gave me blue eyes. I like my blue eyes." Right, that we wouldn't think that that's a prideful statement. It's just a factual statement about a quality in your body. And so likewise, there's things that God has given you that you are gifted with that you can do naturally, that come easy to you. And there's nothing wrong with acknowledging that. And just being honest, that okay, this is actually something I am good at. I enjoy it. And I love helping others when I you know, through using my gift. So I wanted to just mention that too, because I think that's a struggle for a lot of women to actually even step up and say, "This is my gift."

Jennifer Uren
Yes, I agree. So thank you for saying that. Hopefully, that I know, that's gonna encourage somebody to go Yeah, "I can own this, you know."

Esther Littlefield
Right. Right. Yeah.

Jennifer Uren
So let's talk a minute about what it means to be a leader. Because I think that is one of the hardest things to embrace, partly because, for me anyway, at least, because of what I think it looks like. So like, I when I think of a leader, I think of a strong influencer, I think of somebody who shoulders responsibility for all the things, they have all the answers, they can see the path that that needs to be followed, they're an innovator, you know, I can keep going. But the point is, it feels heavy. So when you talk about being a leader, what are you talking about?

Esther Littlefield
Yeah, yeah, I love that. When I started my podcast, I wanted it to be for Christian women leaders. But I wanted to make sure that it was clear that anyone, any of us can be leaders. Any of us who have kids at home, or, you know, a community that we're we're a part of in our church, or we're in the workplace, and we have co workers, you can be a leader to any of those people. It's about how you live your life. It's about being intentional, I think about the choices that you make, and being conscientious of the fact that people are watching you in. I think, really any Christian is a leader, you know, anyone who has that faith component. If they're if we're following Christ, then we are, you know, we are under his leadership, but we also have the opportunity to lead others, by the way that we act by the way that we treat people by the way that we speak to people. So my perspective on leadership is that pretty much all of us if we are choosing to walk in that way can be can be leaders. So it doesn't mean you have to have a certain personality, it doesn't mean you have to have a particular title or role. It doesn't mean that you have to have a certain amount of experience, you know, you can you can be a leader if you have one child at home or you can be a leader in your workplace, as you you know, show up to a meeting and have a positive attitude when everybody else is grumbling, like that. That's a way to be a leader, right? So it really can be any any of us have that opportunity to to influence others, and to make an impact on others. And I think it's more for me, it's more about that intentionality of the approach that you take in how you live your life.

Jennifer Uren
Okay, so it sounds like so I was gonna say, "Well, how do you how does this look differently between being a mom and an entrepreneur?" but really what I hear you saying is, it's how you position yourself not in a competitive way but in a, I am living in a glass house. People are watching me. And so how am I going to make mistakes well? How am I going to build people up around me well? How am I going to...what's my work ethic going to be? It sounds like it's really, how am I going to live my life?

Esther Littlefield
Yeah, yeah. Right. And I love that you pointed out the idea of like, making mistakes, right? Because we all do it. And so just as a practical example, you know, I have tried to make a point, as I've raised, my daughter, or my husband and I together, have raised her that we know we're going to make mistakes and it means apologizing to her when we mess up. And so that's, that's a form of leadership, just And likewise, in my leadership in my business, if I have team members, and I say or do something that's not helpful to them, I should also be willing to show up to apologize and to, you know, move on through that. And so those are all ways to lead. Yeah, I definitely think it's about how we approach it and how we have the attitude of humility and intentionality versus just sort of taking it for granted that people are just gonna listen to us or our kids have to follow us or any of those things.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah. Yeah. I think it's the hardest thing as a mom teaching this to our kids because what they see leadership as bossiness and they see bossiness as power. And so trying to trying to get them to lead or response, all those things that can be really, it's a life skill, and it takes some patience, but but it is helpful to think of myself and I'm sure other moms to think of themselves as "I'm a leader in my home."

Esther Littlefield
Yeah..

Jennifer Uren
You know. Because it can be really easy to just defer that to your husband, though you're the leader, you decide. So yeah,

Esther Littlefield
And it's easy to downplay the role when you're at home, if you are at home with your kids. Um, it's easy to downplay that and think that's not important. And it's not as important as it would be if you were working in a full time job or running, you know, some corporation or something like that. And I think it's, again, it's it's not about how many people are interleaving it's really about the impact that you could make on that one person that you're leaving. How you influence? Yes, yeah.

Jennifer Uren
Well, I know that you love good systems and processes as much as I do. What are some systems and tools that you love that have helped you kind of lean into leadership, as you know, a mom and an entrepreneur?

Esther Littlefield
Yeah. So I think there's a couple things and it's, it's kind of always changing for me of, of what's working in, in this season of life that I'm in. But one of the systems is just making sure I have a calendar set up for my for my schedule. I use Google Calendar and that is a system that I use every single week, where I'm like, this is, this is my schedule for the week. So really being intentional, again, about where I'm putting my time how I'm spending my time and blocking that off ahead of time, so that I know what I'm doing. And I'm not just jumping from thing to thing every day. So that's one. I also love using Trello. That's another tool that I use, that helps me keep track of what's going on in my business. In particular, that's more of a business tool, although I do use it for family stuff as well meal planning and things like that. So yeah, those are a couple of the ones that I use on a regular basis. And then also I just I'm a good old pen and paper person. So really having a notebook handy, where I can jot down ideas where I jot down, you know, scripture verses or things like that, that. I don't know if you'd call that a system. But that's, that's something that for me is helpful to just keep my day running and helps me to remember what's going on and what I need to do.

Jennifer Uren
Well, I would call it a system because you have a system for managing your thoughts. And you can go back and get say, what was it that I wrote down? I've got it here. I knowwhere to find it.

Esther Littlefield
Exactly. Yes.

Jennifer Uren
So how has, how has using systems helped you integrate running a business and being a mom so that you can be present? You know, has it helped you with you know, boundaries? Has it helped you with time management? How has it served you?

Esther Littlefield
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I would say that definitely, definitely having the boundaries of what's on my calendar. So I've kind of had a philosophy with my calendar for a long time of putting on the family things and the personal things first, so that I know that, you know, Sunday's are family days, those are blocked off, I don't put any work or projects or assignments on those days, I know that certain evenings are set aside for particular activities with my family. And so having those on there first and then saying, "Okay, now what do I have, rest what's remaining in my week?" and just adapting that. And then another another way is during the summer, I adjust my schedule based on the fact that it's summer, we like spending more time outdoors. So I try to adjust my calendar to reflect the priorities that I have in, in my life and the values that I have that I want to live by. So those are definitely some of the ways that it's been helpful for me. And then I think, you know, the Trello example, the way that that helps me, is really keeping track of all the moving parts of my business and the projects I have going on. Because, again, it's so easy for us, when we have a business when we're entrepreneurs, we have tons of ideas, we have tons of things that we want to accomplish. And at least for me, it's easy to just kind of forget, like, what are the priorities that I actually need to be working on. And so that tool helps me to stay on track with, okay, this month, my focus is XYZ project. And, you know, I come back to that, and I'm able to kind of work through that project to make sure that I'm accomplishing it. And so it's it's an ongoing process of prioritizing, and you know, looking at your schedule, but those things help me when I am working to be focused and feel like I'm getting those things done. And then when I'm on my family time, I can really just sit back and enjoy, you know, enjoy that time with them.

Jennifer Uren
Yes, yeah, no, I think that's great. I find it's so easy to fall into the system, not --- the pattern, that's a better word, just writing down like "work on opt-in" instead of going, you know, write it out, design it, you know, all the steps and then you hit it and you're like, well, I don't have time to do that.

Esther Littlefield
Yes. Right!

Jennifer Uren
But you know, it's easy to forget to break it out into those small steps and build that into the into the week. So that it Yes. Moving forward.

Esther Littlefield
Yes, exactly. Yeah, yeah.

Jennifer Uren
Well, for the mompreneur, who's listening, who wants to feel confident in her giftings what is one simple step that she could take today to move forward with that?

Esther Littlefield
Yeah, I think I would say, you know, choose one, one thing that you feel called to do it and that you feel that you're gifted to do. And I think it's just a matter of honestly taking that first step of of taking action on it, you know, so, back when I started my podcast, it was like, I knew God kind of gave me that prompting to start the podcast. And that's a huge project to take on, right. But the first step was, for me, anyway, was researching, what do I need to do to start podcast. And so that was kind of my first step that I took, I started learning about how to launch a podcast. And that was my first step. And then my next step was to get a co-host, because I wanted a co-host so I talked to a friend, she said yes to co-hosting. So it was one baby step after another. And I think when you start to take action, that develops your confidence, because you'll start to see Oh, okay, God will start to open doors, he'll start to get, you know, bring you the right people that are that you need in your path, he'll Have you listen to something that gives you the exact answer you need. Like, there's been so many times where he has shown up. And it's, it's usually after I have done that one small step of faith to move forward. So I think that would be what I would say is, as you step out, that's going to help you to build your confidence. And you'll start to see how God can use those gifts to bless others.

Jennifer Uren
That's great. So how did you make the leap from sort of leadership to the online marketing and what is it that you do when you help mompreneurs with that?

Esther Littlefield
Yeah, okay. So yeah, so I had a blog, really, since like, well, over 10 years, I've had a blog, but it really in 2015 2016, I kind of dove deep into blogging, and was starting to build, you know, an email list and do kind of a lot of the online business type of things. What I learned through that process is that you don't always make money right away when you are blogging. And it takes a little while to build up an audience. And so I actually shifted into being a service provider, where I was doing a lot of the behind the scenes things for other business owners. And so I kind of but I kept that blog, and I still had the desire to share a message for the women, for Christian women who are in leadership, you know, who are in ministry, things like that. And so then the podcast came out of that. I was like, Okay, I'm not blogging regularly. But I think podcasting is the right fit for me. And so then I launched the podcast, but I was still running the business on the side. Or, actually, I was running the business full time podcasting on the side. Yeah. And then, you know, gradually, God has just kind of brought those two things together, to, I've been able to serve dozens of entrepreneurs and do a lot of marketing and learn a ton in the past six years of being in the online world. And then now I'm able to serve those women, who, several of them have come from my Christian woman leadership podcast, who also have a desire to grow a business to, you know, reach other people with their message. So I'm able to bring the knowledge and the experience that I had, doing and implementing a lot of marketing things to now being more of a coach and a mentor, to guide and encourage others. So I have some courses and I have a what I call a mentormind that is designed for them to be able to really take their business to the next level.

Jennifer Uren
Oh, that's great. And so it sounds like it's, it's, it's not a done for you. You're teaching them to do it themselves.

Esther Littlefield
Exactly. Yeah. So I did done for you for for like five years. And you know, that was where I was serving clients on the behind the scenes and doing podcast management. I was an online business manager, like I did a lot of the behind the scenes marketing things for clients. Yeah. And so now I've shifted really into more teaching and coaching and mentoring.

Jennifer Uren
Okay, and I suppose that has led to more speaking opportunities and things like that.

Esther Littlefield
Yeah, yeah. I love being able to share on other people's podcasts, and I have been able to speak at some events as well, which has been wonderful. That's fun.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah. I love that part. I love the people interaction. Yeah.

Esther Littlefield
Yeah, yeah.

Jennifer Uren
If I could just do that. I'd be great. But you know, you got to do other stuff, too. Like edit, so...

Esther Littlefield
Right, right.

Jennifer Uren
Oh, well, this, I've enjoyed this conversation as we come to a close one question that I asked all my guests. I'm a gadget girl, I love anything that will make life easier. So, um, so I always ask, "What is your favorite time saving gadget ,system, or tool?"

Esther Littlefield
Okay. Now, does this have to be like a physical gadget? Or is it really just any any kind of really

Jennifer Uren
Anything. Anything that you love and use.

Esther Littlefield
Okay. Oh, it's so hard to pick just one.

Jennifer Uren
Pick two, if it's if it's easier. Lot' of people do!

Esther Littlefield
Oh, you know, I'm probably gonna go back to to what I one of the ones I mentioned before, but really, Trello is probably the biggest one that I use on a daily basis. That is a time saver, because I can do so many things in it. And it's where I communicate with my team. It's how I work with a lot of, you know, a lot of my clients and things like that. So I just find that that system of organizing processes, and you know, it's my podcast management, where I keep my whole podcast workflow, all of that is there. And that saves a lot of time not having to sit there and wonder what do I need to do now? What's the next step in the process? So so that's probably the one and you can access it on your phone, on your computer. So it's, it's one of those ones that is very easy to use.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah, that's a, that is a great one. I'm, I'm learning to use it. I think I've seen examples that are so robust that I'm like, how did you get there? So I've had to start with some examples that are like, here's how you build it.

Esther Littlefield
Yeah, that's right. Yes, I was I was blessed. Very, at the very beginning of my business, one of my clients wanted to use it. And I was previously using Asana, and I don't change things quickly in my business. I'm not a quick, you know, I once I figure out one thing, I'm like, I'm just gonna stick with that. But he was like, No, no, no, I'll teach you how to use it. And I just I got hooked. And so then I just used ever since. And there's other tools out there that people say, Oh, this is better. You could do more with this one, etc. But again, it's like, I don't know if I want to take the time to learn a new tool.

Jennifer Uren
Right?

Esther Littlefield
So I just stick with what's working.

Jennifer Uren
There's another business, a women's Women's Business coach that I've often heard her say, you pick your tool and you stick with it, because you could be bouncing around and spending more time relearning and switching than ever. Yeah, and none of them are perfect. None of them will do everything. So pick out the one you love and stick with it. So that's great. Yeah. Yes. Well, good. Well, Esther, how can people connect with you? Where can they find you?

Esther Littlefield
Yeah, so my website is EstherLittlefield.com and that's probably the best place to just connect with me. There's information about my services on there my coaching, things like that, as well as I have a freebie and some other courses and things linked up right on the website. And I'm on social media, primarily Facebook and Instagram as well. If you just look for Esther Littlefield, you'll find me. there's not very many of us.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah, that's great. I was gonna say, Tell us about your, your freebie. Your opt-in.

Esther Littlefield
Okay. Yeah. So I have an Ideal Life and Business Guide, which really helps you to look at your your priorities, it helps you to prioritize what's most important to you kind of like what I was talking about with the scheduling that I've been able to do. Because when I started my business, I didn't take time to think about what I actually wanted my ideal life to look like. And I just dove into getting clients and finding people to work with and, you know, earning income, which was great. But then I was overwhelmed and swamped with work, and didn't have any of the free time that I that I wanted. That was kind of the one of the goals of building a business right is to have flexibility. And so I created that guide to help you identify kind of what you want your life to look like. And then in terms of the ideal business, it kind of helps you think about some of those natural gifts and experiences that you've had and things like that to help you narrow in on what would be the best course of action for you in your business.

Jennifer Uren
Excellent. Well, thank you so much for being here. We'll put links to all of those in the show notes, but I appreciate your time today, Esther. Thank you.

Esther Littlefield
Yes. Thank you so much for having me, Jenn.

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