Brenda Billings Ridgley: Stop the Superficial, Find Deep Friendships, and Be Known by Your Tribe
In my series about how the book, “The Four Agreements” impacted peoples’ lives, I interview Brenda Billings Ridgley. Brenda is an author, speaker, and girlfriend guru who loves helping women connect, find success, and discover joy through friendship. In this interview, she explores how to deeply connect with yourself, friends and your community. I hope you enjoy this insightful Q&A. ~ Michelle Tennant Nicholson
Can you tell us a story about what early experiences brought you to your specific career path?
I am an author and write about friendship. Growing up, my family moved every few years and this usually involved not only a change in neighborhood but a change in school. I always felt like the “new kid,” and it became routine that I had to figure out how to fit in. This involved being likeable, outgoing, approachable, and helpful. I believe this experience is why I am sensitive to inclusivity vs exclusivity and creating deep meaningful friendships.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you in your career or education?
Just over a year ago someone suggested that I compete in the Mrs. Colorado America pageant. My first response was “Heck NO! I had never in my 50 years done anything like that, nor had it crossed my mind. She assured me it would be a positive, life-changing experience and in the process, I would meet incredible women who were making a difference in the world. A few days later I decided “Why Not?”
The experience inspired me to write Lady and the Tribe, How to Create Empowering Friendship Circles, not because of the pageant itself but because I wanted to leave a legacy. Should I be selected as Mrs. Colorado America, I wanted to bring value to the organization and offer a unique way to help women.
I completed my first pageant in 2021 and the journey was an incredible ride. It gave me permission to work on me, something I had neglected to do for some time as a mother, wife and professional. I did not win the pageant but certainly had a winning experience.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting out on your career?
Well, it didn’t seem funny at the time, but in my research about friendship I organized and sent out a Google Doc’s survey asking people to answer about 10 questions about friendship. A few weeks in I hit forty replies. I was looking at the survey on my phone and somehow I deleted the whole thing! UGH! I did everything I could to recover it, but it was GONE! I had to start over but now I can laugh about it… kind of.
What lesson did you learn from that?
I learned to never work on important documents on my iPhone!
What are some of the most interesting and exciting community projects are you working on now?
I am so excited to be taking Lady and the Tribe on the road with workshops designed to help women connect more intentionally and build life-long friendships that support them throughout their lives. Sadly, many women have all fallen victim to the silent epidemic that is, literally . . . letting themselves go. Not the makeup free, yoga pants, weight gain routine. Little by little, we have allowed our preferences, interests, and individuality to slip away until we no longer recognize ourselves outside of our role as wives, mothers, or professionals. Who we are has become what we do.
In the process, our friendships have become the casualty of a “busy life” and lack consistency and depth. We have a gaping hole inside us that longs to be filled. How do we reclaim who we really are and fill this empty space that seemed to appear from nowhere?
The answer lies in our Tribe. Our best friends see us more clearly than we see ourselves and are representations and extensions of our individuality. They are our companions, cheerleaders, and counselors — always in our corner. Tribe is the family with whom we choose to live our life . . . with no strings attached.
Lady and the Tribe is a blueprint for building deep connections. My goal with this book and workshops is to help create 1000 new Lady Tribes by the end of 2022. Can you imagine how 1000 new Lady Tribes could exponentially help spread the message of connection?
What are 5 things you would tell your younger self?
I would tell my younger self –
1. Don’t worry about what others are thinking about you because most likely they aren’t thinking of you at all!
2. Thoughts become things. Be mindful of your thoughts and catch negative thinking as soon as possible and “flip-it” to a better feeling thought. Our thoughts can make us joyful or fearful, but it really is our choice how we spin it.
3. Small daily habits will compound over time and the end result will be remarkable… good or bad! Create good habits that take you in the direction of your dreams!
4. That little negative voice in your head is not you. That is your EGO, and often your EGO is replaying negative thoughts and holding you back. I believe it was Wayne Dyer who said EGO stands for Edging God Out.
5. You must read The Four Agreements!
You mentioned the books, “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom” and “The Fifth Agreement” by Don Miguel Ruiz impacted your life. Can you explain how for each agreement below?
1) Be impeccable with your word.
Just like thoughts become things, our words are even more powerful! The book taught me to be mindful of the words I speak and to use my words for good. This goes for self-talk as well as when speaking of others.
2) Don’t take anything personally.
I remember being hurt by what others did (or did not) do, say, etc. I internalized their actions and felt defensive, offensive, or simply confused about our communication. Reading this section of the Four Agreements was an ah-ha moment that freed me from this habit of misery I had created for myself. Now I am of the mindset that what other’s think of me is none of my business!
3) Don’t make assumptions.
We have a choice to assume the worst, assume the best, or just don’t assume at all. When my mind starts making negative assumptions, I practice turning the tables to the positive and give them the benefit of the doubt.
4) Always do your best.
I am a firm believer that any energy you put out will come back to you exponentially… Good or Bad. Of course, we should always do our best! The return may not be immediate, and it may not even be traceable, but giving our best is not about the contribution but about who we are and how we show up.
5) Be skeptical, but learn to listen.
Too often we jump to conclusions and then refuse to really hear what is being said. This is especially true now as we have so many divisive topics to consider. It is ok to be suspicious, but it is also essential to be educated if the topic is important to you.
Because of the role you play in the community, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire young people today, what would be your headline and three talking points?
Stop the Superficial, Find Deep Friendships, and Be Known by Your Tribe
1. Know yourself. What activities, interests, and friendships fill you up? Avoid the trap of “Letting yourself go” by engaging in things and with people you love.
2. Know your friendships. Limit superficial interactions to social media and get vulnerable with your besties. Nurture friendships with your time, attention, and enthusiasm.
3. Know your Tribe. Build a friendship circle with friendships that encourage you and all of your interests. Connect regularly in person and communicate often.
How can people connect with you?
Contact Brenda to speak at your next event:
Author of Lady and the Tribe
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