518 Connie Benjamin:
We all have a pilot light within ourselves that when ignited makes us unstoppable in pursuing and manifesting our dreams. What does it take to light that fire within?
I’m Melinda Wittstock and today on Wings of Inspired Business we meet an inspiring entrepreneur who developed a process called the My Fire Within System to help women live their purpose, increase prosperity, and create passionate relationships.
Connie Benjamin is the #1 International Bestselling Author of Women With Fire and the host of the My Fire Within podcast. After sharing her message from the stage, Connie realized women entrepreneurs who want to live their purpose through their work and businesses without losing their family, or themselves, needed a system to guide them in how to do it. Today she shares that system and what inspired her to light her own fire within.
Is there something stopping you from stepping fully into your power? Something holding you back from shining your light? Perhaps there is an inner fear that if you truly embrace your unique talents in business as an entrepreneur or thought leader there is some sort of trade-off that will cost you your relationship or diminish you as a mother.
Connie Benjamin says her own entrepreneurial journey almost cost her her marriage. She had bought into the false narrative that entrepreneurship was about the hustle and grind – and as she put everything she had into her business, her worst fears came true about how that threatened her relationship with her husband.
We’re going to learn today how Connie came to develop a process called the My Fire Within System to help women live their purpose, increase prosperity, and create passionate relationships. She says her own system helped her fall in love with her husband again, replace her day job income, and find renewed love in being a stay-at-home mom with her three daughters and a growing business.
And you’ll want to download the Podopolo app too so you can also engage with Connie Benjamin’s growing community around her own My Fire Within podcast.
And as you listen to this episode, please take out your phone and download Podopolo so you can join the conversation with me and Connie – as we talk about her Fire Goals, the 3 keys to juggling work and family, and more. We’d love to hear your perspective and your stories and inspirations on your own fire within!
Let’s put on our wings with the inspiring Connie Benjamin.
Melinda Wittstock: Connie, welcome to Wings.
Connie Benjamin: Thank you so much, Melinda. It is amazing to be here.
Melinda Wittstock: I’m so excited to talk to you. The question that’s on the tip of my lips is what was it that ignited the fire within you?
Connie Benjamin: Oh, my goodness. It begins with a crazy story, Melinda. So can I tell you a crazy story?
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, yeah. I like crazy stories. Go ahead.
Connie Benjamin: Awesome. It really began when I was working and I loved what I did. I loved helping people. But I really wanted to be home with my little girl. And at the time she was just a little sweetie and I just, every time I would get in the car, I would literally cry on the way to work and then I’d pull myself together and pretend that I wasn’t bawling all the way there. I’d go in and do my job and come home. And on top of that, Melinda, I was living in an area of town that was really unsafe for my family. So I knew we had to move, but we did not have enough money to move at all. So I felt trapped. And quite honestly, I was feeling like we had to start a business, but I knew nothing about business. My own fire within was so dim at that point. I felt overwhelmed and frustrated. I knew I had to change our situation.
So I started this business and I felt like, okay, I got some success. I learned some stuff. I replaced my nine to five income and could move. And I remember walking through our new house and feeling like I did it, I won, and my little girl goes running across the kitchen and out in the backyard. And she’s all amongst these trees and I just remember looking out my kitchen window and seeing her and feeling like, “I did it.” But Melinda, in that moment, I didn’t know that I was actually about to lose everything that mattered most. Because you see, I had been so busy hustling, so busy grinding that my relationship was completely disconnected. My husband and I were like roommates. As a mom, I was so stressed out and overwhelmed. My health had massively deteriorated. In fact, I had just tired all the time, felt sad all the time. I was just dealing with so much.
My fire had been snuffed out. So I remember being, everything came to a head one day when I was in my office and I was late for an interview. I had a million things on my to do list. I felt so overwhelmed. And I don’t know if you’ve ever felt so overwhelmed you can’t even think clear.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, yes.
Connie Benjamin: I’m not the only one? Okay, good.
Melinda Wittstock: Is there anyone? Is there any woman in particular that hasn’t felt that? I mean, let’s just be real here. Because we all take on so much.
Connie Benjamin: Yes. It’s so true. In that moment, I had taken on so much I felt the overwhelm of everything. If someone saw a visual, it would be like I felt like I was carrying a 1000 pound weight on my shoulder. I was so stressed out. And in a moment of complete overwhelm, I actually picked up a glass and threw it at the wall.n I remember looking down at my feet and seeing pieces of shattered glass all around me. And Melinda, I realize that’s how I felt. I was broken. My fire was out. That was it. So it was that moment that I realized that I would not live my life like that, that I would find a way to ignite that fire again and feel passion with my husband, let alone feel connected. I wanted the full meal deal.
I wanted to feel excited as a mom. I wanted to feel lit up. I wanted to feel excited in my business. I just wanted to feel on fire. And so that’s what I did is that sent me on a quest to figure it out and to find these principles that would help me do that. So luckily I found a mentor that helped me to learn these things that I call fire principles. And when I applied them, they really truly helped me to fall in love with my husband again, enjoy being a mom, and really find that fire that was in me all the time that I felt snuffed out.
After speaking in training for about a decade, I found that other women could relate to my story. And I told them what happened and they’d be nodding. For them, maybe it wasn’t that glass, but it was that moment of frustration or desperation or overwhelm. So that’s why I knew I had to share this message. I wrote my book, Women with Fire, and started the company My Fire then. And I’ve been supporting women for the last decade, and how to light their fire within so that they can light up their message, light up their family, and do that in a way that they don’t lose themselves or their family.
Melinda Wittstock: See, I think we fall into the trap, Connie, of when we look at entrepreneurs, the role models, most of the role models are men and we think we have to do it their way. But that doesn’t work with our bodies. It doesn’t work with our DNA. It doesn’t work with our relationships. It’s not who we are. So we have to chart a new path in entrepreneurship. And every woman that interview on this podcast has had that experience that you describe of the hustle and grind and fitting into the male way of entrepreneuring. And the female way is different because we have so many things that we have to balance. It’s very, very different. And I can’t tell you how many women who’ve been on here more than 500 episodes in that talk about either losing their health or losing their relationship or whatever, they did all the things, they ticked all the boxed. They did all the things to succeed as an entrepreneur, but in a masculine way. So how can we find it, this power, feminine power in a female way?
Connie Benjamin: I love that. I think that is so true and I’m grateful for that perspective. I think one thing that’s been game changing for me is when I started learning some of the principles that would support me in stepping into that, going for my dreams, going for my purpose, because I do believe we all have that fire within. You know, that thing that we feel called to do. The whole reason-
Melinda Wittstock: Right. Like our purpose. Our purpose, right?
Connie Benjamin: Yes, exactly. The whole reason that we start on this crazy entrepreneurial journey. So one of the things that has made a big difference for me is understanding that when I can unlock that purpose, that truly can help me to find a new balance, and one of the steps to that is truly something called fire priorities. And I know that before I knew about this, I really felt like I had a time management problem, my husband just won’t listen problem, nobody will just do what I dang well ask them to do problem. I thought everybody else was the problem. And so I would be acting in that way. And when I began to understand that for me what was going on was a priorities issue, that helped me to really change things and to step into that way of being at that feminine way that you talk about.
Because you’ve got to remember, when I got inspired to write my book, Melinda, I had a baby and a toddler and a pre-teen. And sometimes I was literally writing my book on top of my laundry basket, which was unfolded. Of course it was.
Melinda Wittstock: But this is what we do.
Connie Benjamin: Yes.
Melinda Wittstock: This is what we do. This is the story of all female entrepreneurs. I don’t know anybody and I have a funny one for you. Way, way back when my daughter was six weeks old, my business, Capitol News Connection had launched and it was a political news agency. I had my report in the first year of the business, we couldn’t really hire very many reporters, so I was reporting. I was doing payroll. I was doing sales. I was doing all the things, right? And I had a six week old daughter. And I had to pump. I had to do my breast pump in the US capitol. And I swear to god, I had two different bags and they both looked the same. One was my reporter kit with my microphone and all that stuff. And the other bag was my breast pump.
I was interviewing Patty Murray, the senator from Washington state. It was at the end of the day, I’d run payroll. I had signed a whole bunch of new clients. I had done all this stuff. I reported 14 stories that day. And last thing I had to do of the day. And I thought I was pulling out my microphone, but I pulled out my breast pump. You know, the funnel thing? And I was pointing it at her. And I had no clue. And she was looking at me in this really quizzical way like, “Are you kidding me?” And she was killing herself laughing. I was like, “Why are you laughing at me?” I was so tired. I didn’t even know that I was pointing that little cone thing at her.
Connie Benjamin: That is the best story ever. We can all relate to those moments of going into business land and mom land and how they mix. I mean, you’re doing all that with not much sleep, juggling laundry mountain, juggling nursing babies.
Melinda Wittstock: Exactly. All those things.
Connie Benjamin: It is just crazy.
Melinda Wittstock: But here’s the thing is I wish, if I could talk to my younger self, I would’ve said, “Hey, it’s okay. This is fun. Enjoy the ride.” And instead, I was in judgment of myself through those moments. Like I’m not enough, I’m not good enough. I can’t believe it, I’m so embarrassed. Oh my god, how could I? Right? And that inner bully voice took over because I was competing against some image or some pre-ordained idea of what you were supposed to be rather than just being your authentic self, right? So learning that, that actually now, if I was in that situation now, it would be hilarious. I wouldn’t make it a story that was negative about me. Whereas back then I was like, “Oh my god, I can’t believe I did that. I’m so embarrassed.”
Connie Benjamin: That’s so true. Oh my gosh, that’s so true. I love that you share that story and it’s so true in the moment of it. And I think this is part of the conversation that needs to be had is when we are, we’re women entrepreneurs. We’re juggling families. We’re doing things. I think there is that feeling of we have to have it all put together. Look at what’s happening right now in the world in terms of COVID. We’ve got meetings. Everyone’s in the same boat. And we’ve probably gotten so many kids photo bombing in the background of the Zoom room, right?
Melinda Wittstock: Dog bombing.
Connie Benjamin: Dog bombing?
Melinda Wittstock: My dog Auggie, my golden retriever puppy is 15 months. He Zoom bombs me. And it’s kind of cute because he licks the screen and stuff.
Connie Benjamin: That’s awesome. That’s so awesome. And it’s cute and we’re all in the same boat. So I love that you talk about that there really should be no shame around juggling those things and that they’re all important. Having a family, being that person, stepping into a role of leadership as a woman, juggling a business, living your purpose, stepping towards it. It’s all part of it.
Melinda Wittstock: You know what’s funny, I had a wonderful woman on this podcast maybe 100 episodes ago called Valerie Alexander and she’s done all this research into how our brains have evolved over the millennia. So women, millions of years, hundreds of thousands of years ago, did everything. Well, the men were out and they had one task, and their one task was to wait for two days until the wildebeest came by, and then they speared the wildebeest. That’s all they had to do. And if they failed, their family would starve. But if they got that one thing, their family … That was the only task they had.
The women on the other hand had a multiplicity of tasks. A lot of things to do. And when we think about that, that’s still very much in our DNA and in our epigenetics. And so I always think that when women go into business, we think we have to do it all because we can. Not because it’s necessarily the thing that’s the right thing to do, but we can. So we go into business and everything has to be perfect, everything has to be in a pink bow. Everything has to be neat. And everything has to be great. And everyone has to be happy. And everyone’s drinks have to be full and the house has to be tidy, and the kids have to be happy.
In other words, we put so much pressure on ourselves to be this perfection, this ideation of perfection that is impossible. And then when we don’t reach it, we feel bad and we feel shame and we feel all those things, and that keeps us playing small. This is why I love what you’re doing about finding the fire within, because to me the fire within means just living into the unique thing. Your house can be messy and you can have a billion dollar company. You just have to choose what’s more important to you, you know what I mean?
Connie Benjamin: Yes. Yes, absolutely. And I love that you say that. In my book, I really go into that I believe one of the challenges is that as women, just like you talk about, that we have this idea that we need to be the perfect mom, the perfect woman, the perfect wife, and look like a model while we’re doing it.
Melinda Wittstock: I know, right? We’ve put impossible standards on ourselves. I just want to say for a moment here, anybody, anyone listening to this right now, that this is resonating with you, that you have put yourself into impossible standards. Like you’ve got to look like a supermodel, your house has to be perfectly neat, you have to have this billion dollar business. You have to be in love and have amazing sex and you have to have all of it, like all of it right now, right now, right now. And you feel bad if you don’t. I would love to invite you to come over to Podopolo and share that experience of where you did that, where you thought you had to be all these things and you couldn’t do it. And for those of you who don’t know what Podopolo is yet, I know I’ve been talking incessantly about this on this podcast. But Podopolo is my podcasting network and when you go onto Podopolo, you can interact with amazing podcasters like Connie, because Connie, your podcast is also on Podopolo.
Connie Benjamin: Absolutely.
Melinda Wittstock: As is Wings of Inspired Business. And you can interact with hosts like Connie who has an amazing podcast, My Fire Within. And so just download it. It’s free. You can find it in the Google and the Apple apps stores.. Go to the Wings of Inspired Business. And you can also go to My Fire Within and share. Take a moment and share with us and with all those times where you have felt like, “Oh my god, I’m not enough.” Right? Yeah?
Connie Benjamin: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: Because Connie, the story you’re sharing about yourself resonates so deeply with me because I can’t think of a woman who hasn’t gone through that. So seriously, inviting all of you to just go there and share that story, and a lot of the best stories we’ll put on the air. We’ll have you come on Wings and share that story, because I think the more … Don’t you think this is true, Connie? The more that we demystify this or de-stigmatize it maybe is a better word. The more we say it out loud that this is what happened to us and we don’t have to do it, the more we can step into that fire that you’re talking about.
Connie Benjamin: Absolutely. I love that you’re inviting these amazing women, yes you listening right now, you, to share your story. Because I think exactly what you’re saying is so true that when we share our story, people listening resonate and they think, “Oh my gosh, me too. Oh my goodness, I thought I was the only one.” And Melinda, when you talk about that, that allows you’d to step into our fire within, you’re absolutely right. I believe that there’s a couple things that dampen our fire within and one of them is discouragement. When we fall into that discouragement, we start beating ourselves up. We think we’re not enough. All of those things. That prevents us from stepping into the purpose that we’re being called to do, and I truly believe that every single woman, well everybody in the entire world, but I talk to women a lot, has a purpose. That one thing that you feel called to do. It just won’t go away.
It’s that thing that if you put it off for a year, it just keeps popping up. You can’t forget about it. It’s that thing that you just feel called to do and discouragement gets in the way.
Melinda Wittstock: It’s true. My mentor says something to me all the time. I’ve been blessed to have a number of mentors in my life. But he said something to me that resonated so deeply, which is that your purpose will be fulfilled with or without your agreement.
Connie Benjamin: Yes.
Melinda Wittstock: And I had to sit there and think about that one for a while because think about it. Your purpose will be filled with our without your agreement. So you can be dragged kicking and screaming and not have a fun time fulfilling your purpose. Or you can just choose to live in your purpose and have fun along the way. Right?
Connie Benjamin: Yes.
Melinda Wittstock: It’s so important to understand that. The sad thing I think is that so many people, I think we’re all kind of brainwashed. We’re told from a very young age by our parents, by the school system, by the media or whatever, all the things we should do. And we buy into it because it’s all we know. So we do those things and when we’re not happy, we think there’s something wrong with us. But it’s not something wrong with us. It’s something wrong with the system that made us think that we had to compromise who we are.
Connie Benjamin: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: So when we flip that and we truly dare to, okay, take out that match and light the match, light the candle, light that fire and step into that, that’s when the miracles happen, because I’ve found in my own entrepreneurial career, those moments where I’ve dared to just, it kind of feels like, sometimes it can feel like this. It can feel like you’re stepping off a cliff. And you don’t know whether you’re going to land or whether you’re going to land safely, but you step off the cliff into your purpose and it’s scary. And it’s kind of like you don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s scary and some of your friends and your family are telling you, “No, don’t do this. Play it safe. Play it safe.” And you do it anyway. And it’s the doing it anyway because it’s true to you that is the singular difference maker between someone who truly succeeds and someone who doesn’t, someone who’s truly happy and someone who’s not.
But it’s scary because it means you’ve got to take that leap, even though other people are around you and everything society has told you is telling you not to do it. And on top of it all, you don’t know if it’s going to work or not. Not really. Yeah? Isn’t that scary?
Connie Benjamin: Absolutely.
Melinda Wittstock: But that’s the thing that I just wish, I go back and I think about my earlier life and I think, “Gosh, I wish I knew this when I was in my 20s or my 30s, even my 40s.” I’m in my 50s and in my 50s I’m like, “Oh, who gives a shit?” So I can swear on my own podcast. Who cares, right? I’m just going to be who I am. And it’s so freeing. But I wish I’d known it earlier.
Connie Benjamin: That’s so amazing. That analogy that you have of when you’re stepping off a cliff towards your purpose, it really is like that. And I know that there’s so many moments when I look at different decisions I made, whether it’s write the book … I didn’t consider myself an author. I didn’t start out as a blogger. This was not my strength that I thought of myself. But I got inspiration to write the book and I know that it was like that in each step of the journey, whether it was the book or I got inspired to move to a new country within six days. That was crazy. It’s just been these moments of stepping on a stepping … Stepping off an edge and having enough courage and faith to know that that next step will be there.
And I think that that is, like you talk about, Melinda, that is an exact principle of how stepping into our purpose works. Because it takes a level of trust. It takes a level of intuition to trust the guidance that we’ve been getting from the divine and the courage to do it anyway. Like when you talk about it, when you step out and you’re going, “I don’t know if there’s another step there. I don’t know how it’s going to work out.” And in the meantime, that’s the external world, but we’ve also got the internal world that in those moments of stepping off that edge we’re internally, often our mindset is going bananas.
Melinda Wittstock: Right. It’s scary. It’s scary. Our survival instinct, all the fear, the way our brains are wired, that reptile brain takes over. And I mean, this is why, god knows, 500 plus episodes into Wings and the one thing, the one … I’m a pattern recognition kind of person. I think in patterns. And I see the one predictor of success for women is being willing to just take that leap and clear out the other stuff. Literally just take the leap. Because when you’re in alignment, providence takes over. Serendipities happen. Synchronicities happen. When you’re in alignment. Right? Have you found that, too?
Because Connie, you walk your talk. You introduce women to other women. You make things happen. You create such joy and these connections that are amazing and so much value. You really give forward in a beautiful way and when you do that, when you pay it forward like that, so many gifts return to you, right? So it’s the difference from being in fair and scarcity and being in abundance. And you are in abundance, because we you do these wonderful gifts to the world and to me. You’ve introduced me to amazing, amazing women.
Connie Benjamin: Thank you so much, Melinda. I’m so humbled by those words. Thank you.
Melinda Wittstock: But it’s true. It’s true. And I mean, you’re really a role model for so many other women. And so much the ethos of this podcast is lift as we climb. When we do other good things for other women from that place of abundance, just miracles happen. It lifts you by lifting others.
Connie Benjamin: Absolutely.
Melinda Wittstock: And to me, that defines fire. You are fire. You’re on fire.
Connie Benjamin: Oh my goodness. Thank you so much for that kindness and sharing that. I think, you know what’s interesting, when you tell that story, I think about how when I thought about light your fire within, it’s almost like if you were to take a match and put it beside another match, you cannot help but for that other match to be ignited. I truly believe that when amazing people know each other, when we celebrate each other, when we uplift each other and encourage each other, because really stepping into our purpose like you talked about, it is scary crap, man. Sometimes it is just crazy. And it has to be. It has to be. Because our character has to be stretched enough. Our character has to be stretched enough to be able to do what we’re being called to do, right?
Melinda Wittstock: Absolutely right.
Connie Benjamin: I truly believe that when we ignite ourselves, then that allows us to ignite the other women around us and I just think you’re amazing and I get to meet all these amazing women. It literally drives me crazy when people don’t know each other, because I just want everyone to be lit up and to know each other.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, you’re an amazing connector and connector doesn’t even do it justice, when people say, “I’m a connector.” But you connect people in a way that is transformational. And that’s a part of that fire that you have. So I want to give you an opportunity to talk about your business and what you do. What you do for other women. Tell us about your business and your podcast and all the things that you do.
Connie Benjamin: Thank you so much for that, Melinda. Basically what I do is I support women with how to light their fire within themselves, overcome that self-doubt, overcome those … Because even when we’ve had success in different areas, when we step off the next edge, that fear comes up. So to share those principles that help us to overcome that, so that they can share their message. And I do it really through the My Fire Within system, which has three components.
The first is light yourself, and we go over the fire principles that help us to overcome what I call the extinguishers of fire. Those things like discouragement and things like deception, that false evidence that appears real in our mind when we think, “This is true,” and really it’s not true, how to overcome that stuff so we can step towards our purpose. So that’s the first part.
The next thing that we do together in the My Fire Within system is light your relationship. Because Melinda, quite honestly, after 10 years of being in the personal development field, I got very tired of hearing stories of relationships breaking down and women feeling alone. And I know what it was like for me to experience that in my own life, so we could not leave that piece out, because I believe that when you light your fire within, it’s contagious. It’s like a rock in a pond. You make the first ripple effect and then it impacts your relationship and your family, and then the community, and then your message just gets lit up.
So in terms of message, then we move to message. Light your message. And that’s really about I believe in intentional interviewing. So I really support women with how do you build your business and your brand and share your influence through stories, through interviewing, through sharing your message in that way. Because it truly is one of the most powerful ways to build influence, connections with people you’ve never met before and would never have access to, like amazing Melinda. And share your message, whether it’s through podcasting or through a summit or whatever that is. But it’s just a phenomenal way to share your message.
Melinda Wittstock: It’s so true. I love what you do in the world. I want to make sure that people know how to connect with you, listen to your podcast and all of that, so what’s the best way for people to find you?
Connie Benjamin: Absolutely. On Podopolo, because that is my favorite thing in the entire world. Hang out with us on Podopolo. Oh my goodness. Go check it out. My podcast is My Fire Within, so totally download that app and jump on there. And I really, truly want to hear your story. Let’s share these stories. And you can also reach out to me on social media, find me on Facebook. But honestly, Podopolo is where it’s at. Find me there, because I’d love to hear your story.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s amazing. Connie, thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us. You’re going to have to come back on this podcast another time because there’s so much more to talk about.
Connie Benjamin: Thank you so much, Melinda. It has been amazing to be with you today.