This one’s all about the dolla billz, baby! Many creative entrepreneurs get emotional when it comes to price increases. So, what if there were an easy, external way to know that it’s time to raise your rates?
What if there were 11 ways?
Your wish is my command! Here are 11 external indicators that can help you determine if the time is right for a price increase in your creative business.
Need help communicating that price increase? Consider joining us for the Creative Freedom Guide To Overcoming Underearning, and build your confidence in changing your pricing!
Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments. Your insights may spark a conversation that helps someone else!
Mentioned in this episode:
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Fashion jewelry from Kerianne at FancyBargain.com. Tell her you saw her bling on Creative Freedom!
Every day, we're tasked with thousands of decisions.
How many? Well, Cornell University researchers said we make about 226 decisions just on FOOD in an average day.
The total number for adults is somewhere in the range of 35,000 decisions a day. Many of them are impulsive, and logic-driven (pro/con, etc.), but that's STILL a lot of remotely conscious decision making each and every day of your adult life.
Kids only make about 3000 decisions a day. Ahhh, those were simpler times, right?
Here's a decision making tool that I've used for myself and my clients for years now - one that gets immediate results and gives you clarity when you've probably been feeling stuck on something for a while, maybe even overwhelmed at the prospect of having to choose from several equally appealing (or unappealing, as the case may be) options.
This is just one of the tools you'll be working with in Your Breakout Year - my summer workshop for creative entrepreneurs. This program is designed to help you map out AND implement a clear path to a six-figure annual revenue stream.
THAT piece is the idea/concept/decision that holds the most energy for you, so that's where you need to act first (yes, even if you don't WANT to, which is another thing altogether).
The brain is a funny thing. When we take something out of one modality into another, our brain gets to work on the problem in a different way. By changing the way you assess the situation (from emotional or logical to visual), your brain has a new way of looking at the problem. The old block (which is probably a conflict between emotional and logical) is interrupted and you're able to make a decision so that you can move forward.
Often times, it doesn't matter what you decide, only that you finally make a decision so that you can get momentum again. So even if you "randomly" select a paper ball, you've made a decision and can move forward.
If you're a tactile processor, you might ACTUALLY write each option on a piece of paper and throw them on the floor. But then you've got a lot of cleaning up to do, which is totally NOT my jam. 🙂
Like I said, the messy room technique is is a powerful tool that's quick and easy to use to get clarity now, and get moving again.
Whether you're starting from scratch, been hobbling along at this for a while, or you're ready to expand and add a new revenue stream to your creative business, Your Breakout Year is the exact process I've used with clients - for over a decade now - to help them get clear on what really matters and build out a business model that gets them there faster, with less hustle, and more ease.
Courses and classes alone don't get the job done. You'll just end up with a lot of information and zero implementation. This is an implementation-heavy program because I believe that if you do the work, you'll get results. So doing the work is baked into the program. No "learn now, implement later" in Your Breakout Year. Implement as you learn, decide what works and what doesn't, cut the fluff, and see real financial results in your business.
There are still a few spots left for early bird pricing, and a 4 installment payment option to make it budget friendly.
If you're ready to find your right audience and make good money doing what you love without selling your soul, join me for Your Breakout Year.
This week I had an AMAZING photo shoot that's been several months in the making. I knew when I landed in Nashville, starting over would take up a good portion of my first year here. I also knew that I had projects that still needed to move forward: I've been sitting on Creative Freedom for a while now, and The Damn Whippersnappers have promised to visit this summer for a recording session. So with a new book and new music in the works, of COURSE I needed to get the website redone.
Only, I didn't know anyone in this town, so I had no idea how long I'd have to wait, how much it would cost, or anything. Luckily, my best friend, Google helped me out. I met Emily, a wardrobe stylist from Effortlesstyle here in Nashville. She came over, looked at my closet and said "let's just start from scratch, okay?"
While I know how to clean up, I've never been at the bleeding edge of style, and I told her that. My closet is full of black, black, and more black - with a splash of solid color here and there. So I gave her a budget and she went to work. A week or so later, we met for the fitting. There was really only one piece I couldn't bring myself to like. Everything else was wonderful - and a lot of it I wouldn't have picked for myself. Like this floral top. When I first looked at it, all the voices in my head took a swing at me:
"Oh, you're too big to wear white!"
"That floral print is just going to draw all kinds of attention that you don't want."
I swallowed hard when she showed it too me. I knew Emily could sense my reluctance. "Just try it on." she politely insisted.
I did. We found a keeper.
I had just raised my threshold of belief around what was possible for my wardrobe. Emily's a professional that's been doing this for years. Despite that, it was hard to trust her at first because I didn't know her. I didn't believe she could style a plus-sized momma like me.
Luckily, she made it easy to like her, and her ensemble choices were on point, so trust came quickly.
Which was good, because the hair and makeup artist I had originally asked to do the shoot booked herself another appointment and was unable to make our shoot date. It wasn't her fault. I was trying to coordinate all the details myself, and things didn't come together. Frantic, I asked Emily if she had any suggestions.
Panic turned to relief, but I had no idea how much I'd be paying for TWO people instead of one.
I swallowed hard again, and just trusted the process.
I arrive at Emily's house on the day of the shoot for hair and makeup. Mind you, two total strangers are about to have their way with my head. The ONLY thing keeping me from not showing up is the commitment I made to my photographer, Ashley.
That, and I trusted Emily. She hadn't steered me wrong yet, so I figured she wasn't going to start now.
I knock on the door, walk in, and I'm greeted by two of the sunniest, most enthusiastic women I've ever met. Both hard-working artists, both incredibly talented. Both eager to make magic happen.
Why did I ever doubt Emily?
Within minutes they are both working on me: Angela at the front, Genia at the back. We're chatting, really connecting, and they're making it easy for me to trust them. But...
I don't even know how much time has gone by, I can't see a mirror, and I'm still too nervous to eat any of the snacks Emily's put out for us. I did manage to down a glass of water, because I kept telling myself "it's gonna be hot outside, you don't want to die of heat stroke!"
Still, I think I managed to keep my self-doubt to myself as we talked about building a business doing what you love, something I'm pretty passionate about. My fear was, hopefully, masked by my enthusiasm for profitable creative businesses.
When they finished, I snapped a quick photo of my glam team and off we went to meet Ashley at Cumberland Park. When I got in my car, I had all I could do to keep from crying. I looked GOOD! Like, I almost didn't recognize myself. I had a vision of what I wanted for the shoot, and even hired Duane "The Hair Fairy" Edlao to cut my hair before I met these ladies to make sure that it would do what we wanted it to do. But to see it actually come to life?
We headed off toward Nissan Stadium to meet Ashley for the shoot. This is the first time we've met in person, and she looks happy, so I'm feeling more relaxed at this point. She's got some ideas about how to get in all the wardrobe changes and make the most of our time together.
The first few pictures felt awkward to me - because my inner critic was having her way.
There was a couple sitting at a picnic table across the way. They both stopped and looked up as my entourage pulled up with all our gear. I joked about being famous, but inside I was a self-conscious mess.
Despite these women all being super talented professionals, my inner critic was having her way with me. I told Ashley to "just shoot everything" because I knew that candid moments would probably end up making the most "natural" shots, plus we'd get some behind-the-scenes shots, too, which would be great for me to share with my clients in A-club. In truth, I was just hoping that, if she shot everything, there might be something that I could use.
Good thing Emily was listening, because she took some great candids, too. Like the shot of Angela, above, touching up my face, or this one, which is quickly becoming one of my favorites.
When I saw the first photo, I knew I was in good hands and I could relax. That's when we had REAL fun!
We joked, got silly, and just enjoyed being together - creatives whose only agenda was to create. Make magic happen. That was all we had to do, and when we could really let loose and trust each other, poof! The magic was there naturally.
The rest of the hour-long shoot went by fast, and it really felt like we were a team - working together to tell a compelling visual story. I look forward to seeing the proofs that Ashley took. Here's a sneak peek from the back of Ashley's camera...
This photo shoot was a massive investment in the future of my company, and it would be easy to just stop there...
...But that would be the least important part of the story.
As the pictures started appearing, people on Facebook started asking me what the shoot was for. It was easy to say "new book, new album, new website," but that wasn't entirely true. It was also a "new me" of sorts.
In the past, I would have tried to DIY as much as possible and keep everything on the cheap - not to be efficient or save money (though those are the excuses I would have used), but because of my own self-worth.
I put at least ten times the money into this shoot than any other shoot I've ever done. I'm not saying that to brag. I still feel strange about it, to be honest. I tell you this because there was a time in my life where I didn't believe I was WORTHY of investing "that kind of money" in me or my dreams.
Some days, I still struggle with my worthiness.
My early photo shoots were courtesy of my kid, or good friends who were skilled with a camera. I actually hired a photographer and hair/makeup artist for my last shoot because I wanted to get some specific shots for the album. I was leery then about spending "that kind of money" on a project that had no guarantee of completion, let alone success. But I was so happy with the results that I used those pictures all over the interwebs for a couple of years.
This time, I had a team of three incredible women who had my back the entire time (four, counting my photographer!). They probably had no idea of the "who do you think you are?" trash talk my inner critic was laying on me. At least, I hope they didn't. I am thrilled that they made it SO easy for me to just be ME in front of the camera.
The next day, I was talking with one of my coaches about my book, online course, and live event all built around the foundation of Creative Freedom. One of the last things she said to me was about the pricing for my upcoming event. I've been in a holding pattern for WEEEEEEKS because I haven't been able to decide how to price it or how and when to offer the online version. I told her I feel confident that I could easily charge twice the price because I believe it'll bring a solid 5-10x return on investment, but I was keeping the intro rate low because I wanted to fill the program (totally an ego thing, by the way).
When she looked at my pricing and asked about my motivations, she reminded me that sometimes, when we offer discounts and low-ball our pricing, it doesn't actually empower our clients, because we're modeling a behavior that comes from a place of scarcity instead of abundance. She then asked me "what if, by lowering your prices, you're denying your clients from having the same experience you just had at your photo shoot?"
If you've got a healthy relationship with money, this probably doesn't apply to you, but if you struggle with naming a price that feels right to you because your inner critic is asking "who will pay that?" - this could be helpful.
The answer to the "who will pay that?" question isn't found in the circle of people you've been begging to buy from you. The answer is found in the faces of the people who light up when you enter the room and say "where have you been all my life!?!?"
Sadly, most of us build our careers around the former and not the latter.
This is one of the reasons I encourage my clients to develop a $25,000 offer... not because anyone will ever buy it (though it does happen), but because it gets you thinking differently, so that when you offer something for $2k or $5k, you'll feel more confident around the real value you bring to your work.
What could happen (for you and your potential clients) if you just created and asked for the price you want without all the baggage attached?
Because it doesn't matter what price you pick, there will always be someone that can't or won't pay it. But there are also probably a few people who will.
Owning your dreams, without selling your soul. Finding yourself and building a life and business that works for who you really are and what really matters to you. Making good money doing what you LOVE (and all the ladies from my shoot love what they do). THAT is what Creative Freedom is about, and I can't wait to share more of this new evolution with you.
Oh, and tickets for the virtual workshop and online event will be on sale soon. If you're not already on my list, get there to be one of the first to know about it!
You may have heard the story about Walter Matthau. An aspiring actor approached him at some function and said that he was looking for that one big break. Matthau, in his caring, yet cynical style, says , "Kid, it's not the one big break, it's the fifty."
Overnight success rarely is, and most creatives that have been toiling for years can attest to that. But there comes a time for most when the heat is on - from well-meaning family and friends - to think hard about doing something else. I'm sure you've probably heard one of these famous quotes before:
Mom spoke those well-meaning, heart-crushing words when I told her I wanted to be a professional musician. I think the words I actually used were "rock star", which may have prompted her advice. After all, being a rock star in the 90's wasn't as easy as it is today. You actually had to have talent and compete for a record deal with a major label in order to see real financial success.
Back then, during the "golden age" of music, who could have anticipated the collapse of the industry, the shift from physical to digital media, and the rise of the "Internet Star"? Heck, I recorded my first album just over 10 years ago, when social media was still a glimmer on the horizon.
Today, all you need is the Internet, a webcam, and a dream, and stardom is yours, right?
See it's not about the big break, it's about the fifty. I might even go so far as to say it's not even about the fifty, but the hundreds, if not thousands of little breaks that happen almost every day.
Showing up every day to script and film your show, create your art, teach your audience, reach YOUR right people. Even if there are only five people in the room... even if no one shows up for your workshop.
When I decided to start teaching online classes, I didn't have a large list. Like everyone else, I started at zero. I remember when I got my first seven subscribers and I didn't know ANY of them! I felt like a rock star in that moment, for sure. Here were seven strangers who had signed up for my newsletter and wanted to learn what I was teaching.
I felt like I arrived. Over time, my list grew, and then came the day I posted my first event announcement and sign up form for a teleclass I was teaching. Three people signed up, and I was thrilled! I didn't have a big list - probably less than a hundred, but here I was leading my first workshop for three lucky people!
No one showed up on the line.
At this point, I had a few choices. I could cancel, reschedule the call for a better day and time, or just record the thing and share the recording.
I figured it was good practice, so why not just go ahead and record the thing? If anyone showed up late, they'd be able to ask questions to get caught up.
No one showed, but I recorded that class. And it was a good thing, too, because once I shared the audio, people listened, commented and shared. That led to more classes and a growing audience for my business.
Six years later, I got a call from someone who found that old recording online and hired me to speak at her event.
You just never know which one break will lead to the next. I guess you could say every break is a big break in waiting.
Creativity is about sharing your truth with the world. It's not about the medium, it's not even about the message. It's about being willing to be vulnerable enough to share yourself and let the world inside your brain for a minute or three... no matter how long it takes.
He was 51.
He wrote his first novel when he was 24. That in-between time was all about the little breaks, as Pressfield writes:
"It wasn't all wilderness. Within those twenty-seven years, I earned a living for at least a dozen as a professional writer. I worked in advertising. I had a career as a screenwriter. And I spent six years writing unpublishable novels (which counts as work, too)."
Which brings me to that other iconic phrase:
It's often something we hear when someone isn't up to the task of their dream. A guy who wants to be a singer, but can't carry a tune in a bucket. A gal who dreams of being a dancer, but has two left feet. A kid with rotten comedic timing, who desires more than anything to have a spot on Saturday Night Live.
"Don't quit your day job" has been equated with failure.
I say it's time to reclaim the phrase. There's nothing wrong with a “day job” - if you're clear on your priorities and pursuits. Having a financial cushion will help you live more confidently and BE more confidently. It's easier to be your creative self when you're not afraid of how you'll get by if your Great Work isn't paying the bills.
They day job can a double-edged sword, to be sure. When I was jobless, I had plenty of time to create, but I also put an inordinate amount of pressure on myself to make my Great Work pay because I had kids, bills, and lifecrap that needed financial support or it would all fall apart.
With so much riding on everything you produce, you can imagine how much perfectionism and comparisonits can set in – two traits common in us Fusion-type creatives. I looked to “formulas”, “blueprints” and any other “surefire” approach that would help me generate an income. Trying to scrape by without the financial means that a day job could provide held me back for many years. I didn't say, do, or act on what I knew to be true, but followed the herd instead. My results were mediocre, at best.
When I let go of that fear, and gave myself permission to earn my living in the way that worked for me (and took the pressure of my Great Work) things shifted. I let go of the “shame” and “stigma” that most creatives ascribe to having a day job. As a result, I was able to be more creative AND make more money doing what I loved.
Funny how that happens.
Elizabeth Glibert, in her book “Big Magic,” confessed that she held down a job until well after “Eat Pray Love” made oodles of cash (she had written several earlier books). She never wanted to pressure her art into being the source of her survival.
Letting go of fear doesn't mean being “fearless”. Far from it. Letting go of fear means being willing to experience fear and not let it stop you.
I don't mean the "feel the fear and do it anyway" tripe that people like to profess. THAT is easy to say and hard to do. What I mean is being willing to own your fear and find ways to navigate it - support groups, or taking even smaller steps than you think you "should" be taking.
Like Confucius said "It doesn't matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop."
That's what I mean. It's not about jumping head first into the thing that scares the pants off you. It's not about speed to market. It's about doing what you can, as you are able, and just not quitting until you're done.
Instead of giving up entirely, and resigning our creative selves to life under the thumb of "The Man," let's take a page from the likes of Pressfield and Gilbert - who both held down other jobs while they relentlessly pursued their creative work.
Recognize your "day job" as your biggest sponsor, your Sugar Daddy, your benefactor - the one who keeps you clothed and fed so you can hone your craft.
And keep showing up for your Great Work, too. It might take you a dozen years, or three decades, or more. But does it really matter if you're doing what you love?
Someone asked me if there ever comes a time to quit. I'll save my full answer for another day, but here's the spoiler:
Don't quit your day job, and don't quit your dream. That next little break could be your big one.
Hello dear one!
I have never been a big comic book fan. When I was a kid, I wanted to read "real" books. "serious" books. So comics were not part of the equation. Plus, I have an addictive personality, so that would be one more thing on which to spend money I didn't have.
So this whole resurgence of comic book films has been fun for me - to explore the heroic stories of these legendary heroes (many of which I wasn't remotely familiar with before the films). I'm one of those people comic book purists probably hate: I didn't read the books before I watched the movies.
Before this resurgence, the closest I could identify to a superhero was Wonder Woman - you know, the Lynda Carter version (again, never read the books, y'all!). She was something for my pre-teen, 80's self to look up to. But as an adult, I felt more drawn to action heroes like MacGyver, Jason Bourne, and the like.
Then came Captain America.
I admit, if it hadn't starred Chris Evans, I probably wouldn't have thought twice, but he seems like one of those really nice guys in Hollywood, so I went to check it out.
It just gave me another reason to love Evans. It also gave me a new hero.
One that reminded me of you.
In the movie, Steve starts out as this gangly little weakling of a kid (oh, and did I mention, he's an artist, too?). Through the miracle of "modern" science, he becomes Captain America.
But the core of Steve - that which made Captain America - was there from the beginning.
I was working on Pinterest lately, crafting a branding board for a client project, and came across a pin of this painting:
Here's little Steve, with all his heart, hustle, and commitment to the cause - regardless of his size or stature. He knows the person he's capable of becoming, even if the rest of the world doesn't see it yet.
Then, there's Captain America. He TOWERS over little Steve, yet, he's the same guy. The same heart. The same hustle. The same commitment to his cause, his beliefs, and what really matters in his world.
They are the same, even if the world doesn't always see it that way.
But that is how I see you.
I see you when you show up in your "small" self, just wanting to bust out. Ready to jump on your metaphorical "grenade" to save the lives of the people that matter most to you. I see you striving to be as big and strong as you know how to be. I see your "Captain America-ness" trying to burst out of you.
I see your potential - in all the various ways it can manifest: strong leader, successful business owner, deeply spiritual human, loving spouse and parent. I see your struggle for balance, your desire to win - but win something with meaning. To have a meaningful life, a beautiful living doing what you love in ways that inspire the world.
THAT is how I see you.
You don't need some crazy serum concocted by a mad scientist to get to where you want to be. That's just the window dressing that makes it easier for the world to appreciate who you already are. Steve was Captain America all along. The world just didn't know it yet.
I've seen it. I see it every day. I've lived it. I've had to look my own potential in the eye every day. Sometimes I see Steve. Other days, I'm clearly my own Captain America.
But it's all there, all the time. I know it, because I've lived it.
And I see it so clearly in you.
Thank you for letting me glimpse your awesomeness. Thank you for letting me shine a light so that the world can see your Captain. You have SO much to offer the world - even if the world doesn't get it yet.
I do. And I'm grateful to be part of your journey of awesomeness.
Confetti! Fireworks! Hooray! Huzzah!
This has been a goal of mine for several years, and I'm beyond thrilled that it's finally happened. It was a lot more challenging than I expected, and I've learned a lot along the way. As my channel grows I've developed a love and strong respect for the YouTube community. If you're on YouTube, please say hi and spread the love. Your awesomeness makes this show possible.
I was on a coaching call with a client this week and we spent a good amount of time talking about how hard it can be to shine brightly when everyone around you is complaining about your light.
"You're too bright."
"Can you turn it down a little?"
"You're always so enthusiastic about [topic]. I'm tired of it."
While occasional constructive criticism is important (when you work with me, I'm not afraid to give it to you straight), it's also important to remember that you've got Divinely-given gifts that are uniquely yours to bring into the world.
Shout it out! Tell everyone about your brand. Heck, have your brand name printed out onto face masks, hoodies, pens or mugs if necessary. Don’t hide them away; be proud of who you are and what you have achieved.
Often times, we're put down, or we feel guilty about being so awesome. And even if you're shy and reserved, it can be tough to deal with the criticism and "baggage" others want to foist on you when you're sharing your gift with the world. It often results in being overgenerous as a means to counter the criticism, to be liked, or to "apologize" for your existence.
Been there, done that.
You don't need to apologize for being awesome. We all shine in our own way, and yes, some of us are called to shine "brighter" or to a "bigger" audience (remember: size is relative. If it's your dream, it's big. Period.). That doesn't make us any more (or less) needed in the world.
Sometimes we're put in a position where we shine brighter than the folks around us because they need to get used to having more light in their lives. This isn't a statement of arrogance. Most of the awesomely talented people I know didn't ask to be awesome. They just are. But the amount of guilt they feel and crap they take for being so shiny is overwhelming. I'm reminded of the crawdads in a bucket that keep pulling each other back down so that no one escapes.
You don't have to make your light any less bright. That's what sunglasses and window shades are for. People can choose to be around you and they can choose to leave. This is a lesson I'm learning myself. For YEARS I have felt the need to dim my own light because the people around me couldn't deal with how shiny I am. I never asked to shine. I was born with these gifts, and while I've honed them over the years, it was never in an attempt to be better than anyone other than myself.
It's not your job to diminish your light. Your job is to shine your light into the world. (Click to tweet this)
There are plenty of people in the world who are afraid of the light. Heck, even Plato wrote about it in his Allegory of the Cave. But here's the thing:
Just because other people are afraid of the light, or judge the light, or shun the light, doesn't mean that you need to take it personally.
When I walk into my bedroom and flip on the light, sometimes my husband grumps about it. My light bulb doesn't get all defensive and start apologizing for being bright. That's what light bulbs do, for pity's sake! And while I might apologize for causing my husband pain, I rarely apologize for turning on the light because I needed the light to see. Don't apologize for your needs. Apologizing for your needs equates to saying "I'm not worthy of having my needs met. I'm sorry for my existence."
Word choices can be tricky, eh? But I've said this many times in the past: you train people how to treat you based on what you've come to accept from them and what they've come to expect from you. If you're constantly apologizing for your existence, then, Houston, YOU have a problem.
Katy Perry sang an inspiring song that confirms that the only way to shine is to ignite yourself:
"You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July"
I think it's safe to say that if you don't ignite yourself - and let yourself shine - it's improbable that anyone else will do it for you.
On the surface, Independence Day is about celebrating my country's establishment as a sovereign nation. It's become the high holy day of picnics, beach fun, and fireworks.
But at the core, it's a symbol to embrace what matters most to you, hold it out for the world to see, and stand your ground. Do you think the British were particularly pleased? Hardly. They fought us for several years before and after we claimed our independence.
You'll probably face a few battles of your own (both internal and external ones). That's to be expected. As several great minds (including William Lamb and Stan Lee) once said, "with great power comes great responsibility." Being awesome ain't always easy, but you've got it in you to handle it!
Need a little extra incentive?
Our Independence Week edition of Creative Freedom brings us a special "guest appearance" - this time by Katy Perry. It's a friendly reminder to own your awesomeness.
What are you awesome at? Go on! Toot your own horn (I dare you)! How have you been holding back your awesomeness? Do you know someone else that's letting their light shine "brighter than the moon"? Share your stories, thoughts, and ideas in the comments.
If you or someone you know could use this information, please share us with them and be part of our Rising Tide! Every share helps. THANK YOU!
OH, BTW... Des is coming back from California this week, so look for new videos in the 300 songs project soon! YAY!
She was sprawled out on the sidewalk, screaming bloody murder. The bike - a garage sale special (meaning there was no padding on the all-metal seat) - was still somehow attached to her.
She and I lived close to each other, and were about the same age, but I had no real interest in bikes when I was six. I wanted her to play dolls with me, but no. She was a tomboy through and through. And she really wanted to learn how to ride a bike.
Her parents bought her this scrap metal bike with what little money they had, took it home, cleaned it up with a bit of red spray paint, and after letting it dry, gave it to her.
She wasted no time. She hopped on (no training wheels), and took off down the neighborhood. I lived at the end of the street, so most of the kids used our house as the turnaround. I waited for her there.
She was no stranger to bikes. Most of the neighborhood kids had them and let her ride when parents weren't looking. Some with training wheels, some without. When this little girl climbed on her very own bike, she was a natural.
Still straddling the metal heap of a bicycle, but flat on her back, the girl was screaming bloody murder. Apparently, she hit a sidewalk bump where the concrete was broken up and the metal seat jammed her... in the... well, you know.
She lost control, the bike fell over, and she was sort of tangled up in it.
So much screaming. So much crying. I kept looking for blood, but didn't see any. Maybe she broke her leg or something. I thought for sure her folks were going to end up taking her to the hospital. Even her brother - who normally ignored his baby sister - set out to figure out if she was okay... or at least get the kid to stop crying and screaming.
Once they calmed her down, they realized that beyond the need for a padded seat, the only thing that was really bruised was her pride. So her father, in all his infinite wisdom, encouraged her to "stop crying like a baby and get back on the damn bike."
The little girl obediently climbed back on - after setting the bike back up and giving it a firm kick to show it who was boss. This time, instead of riding up and down the street, she practiced in my gravel driveway. She practiced turning, braking, and navigating the bike on "a bumpy road" as she called it. She even managed to teach herself to ride "standing up" so that the seat didn't get the best of her again.
She fell a few more times (gravel wipeouts - OUCH!), but under the watchful eye of her parents, she managed to get back up without shedding a single tear.
By dinnertime, she was racing one of the neighbor kids, giggling and playing as if she was a cycling pro.
Eat your heart out, Lance Armstrong!
A colleague of mine once shared a similar equation with me. She was using it to talk about the power of irresistible presence, and how, when these three elements are combined, you are more able to show up in a magnetic and authentic way.
The more I looked at her equation, the more truth I saw.
Success in anything can ONLY come when we have these three elements in proper measure. Without all three, you'll fall short in some way. Don't believe me? Let's look and see:
One of the most important things I've ever done for myself was develop The PEACE System. It helps me have crystal clarity on my priorities for any given day. Coupled with my Dreamblazing program, I've created my perfect solution to knowing exactly what matters most in any given moment. I have total CLARITY on what to do, and why.
After she fell, that little girl had clarity that her bike had a few issues, and that she needed more practice riding with it before she took it out onto the broken sidewalks of our ghetto neighborhood.
But clarity alone only helps you see the bicycle. It doesn't give you insight into how to actually ride it. Clarity says "I need to learn how to ride the bike." Confidence says "This is how one rides a bike."
You know what that means right? No? Here's the Urban Dictionary definition. CONFIDENCE comes from this space of knowing. When you've got clarity, you can make some decisions about what to do, and what not to do. You can even help other people make decisions based on what you know. As a coach, I am lucky enough to work with clients that need to make changes in their lives and business, but if all I did was spout off my knowledge, or tell them what to do, I'd be nothing more than a "sexual intellectual" that no one wants to work with. What's more, if I left my clients in that space, they'd never make any forward progress.
Confidence is the by-product of practice. Practice can only happen in a safe space. Like learning to ride a bike, there's always a fear of falling down, but training wheels and a steady hand on the back of the seat can make all the difference between riding down the street and never getting on the bike in the first place.
Confidence is built when the action you take is positively reinforced. When that little girl got back up on the bike, her parents stood by (safe space) and encouraged her progress. When her progress was reinforced, it gave her the confidence to know that she could ride this bike.
That little girl knew she could ride a bike - she'd done it before. She just needed to figure out how to handle the particular quirks of this bike. She quickly realized the seat would be an issue, so she needed to learn how to ride standing up. That would pretty much solve her "cushion" problem.
But knowing is only half the battle (GI Joe!)... or in this case a third of the battle. Because all the clarity & confidence in the world won't help you if you don't have the courage to do something with what you know.
For most people, if you've got courage, you've got confidence. COURAGE is the active piece to the "knowing" of Confidence. But sadly, people act with "courageous stupidity" all the time. You hear stories about someone accidentally setting their house on fire because they tried to kill a spider with a torch. Crazed drivers struck by road rage who speed up as someone tries to pass them - only to find out that person was a cop.
We all have something we're fighting for, something we believe in, something that in our bones we know to be true (that we'll defend to the bitter end). But without clarity (of what an appropriate response would be, for example), our courageous acts come off just plain arrogant or stupid.
This little girl could have thrown the bike to the ground in disgust and refused to ride it. After all, she "knew" she could ride a bike, and this one wasn't behaving properly. But because she also had clarity that this was the only bike her parents could afford, if she really wanted her very own bike to ride, she'd have to act differently.
Clarity says "I need to learn how to ride the bike." Confidence says "This is how one rides a bike." Courage says "This is me, riding this damn bike."
I'm leading a free workshop on Saturday March 14, 2015 to help you have more clarity, confidence, and courage in your life and business. If you're ready to learn how to create your own safe space to develop confidence and courage in your life and work, I hope you'll join me for this special, one-time-0nly workshop. You can learn more and register here. I'll also be sharing more about my Creative Freedom Apprenticeship and telling you how you could earn a scholarship to attend at no cost to you.
Anyone can be a hero for a day.
An above-and-beyond gesture. An extra dose of good-will. Being in the right place at the right time.
Anyone can have a day like that, do something awesome, and be a hero for a day or two.
True heroes walk the walk, even when it's difficult. They do the right thing when there's NOT a profit to be made. Sometimes, they do the right thing when the wrong thing appears to be far more profitable in the moment.
They're concerned about eternity, not about right now.
When I say "eternity," I'm not necessarily talking "heaven or hell", religion, or anything of that sort.
I'm talking about being able to wake up each morning, look yourself in the eye, and know that you've made the most of yesterday, with a commitment to doing your darnedest to make today even better.
Action heroes get banged up, scratched and dented, and take a few beatings from time to time. They get a little dirty, bloodied up, and still they rise, because they know it's not about the short-term gain, it's about the end game.
Who's going to be at your funeral? What are they going to say about you? How will you be remembered? Will you be remembered at all?
Sarah Robinson once wrote about what I call the "Hero of Now," the hero of right this moment. The flash in the pan that looks good on paper, seems to be on a hot streak, or appears to have some of the success you desire. This "flash in the pan" can be pretty easy on the eyes. In fact, sometimes we get mesmerized and then we're stunned when that flash turns out to be of little substance, or simply doesn't have the long-term value that makes them a true hero.
I've been there at least eleventy-jillion times in my own life and career (give or take a few jillion). You see someone that's doing their thing and it's hard NOT to notice. In fact, our brains are hard-wired to pay attention to something in which we're interested. The Reticular Activating System (RAS) in your brain is what causes you to notice every silver Jeep Liberty on the road after you decide that's the kind of car you want to buy next... or ignore the voice of every other screaming kid at the McDonald's playland except yours.
Here's an excerpt from what Sarah noted:
I thought part of a leader’s job was to search for unnoticed diamonds in the rough and start to polish them. I thought true leaders never, ever forgot that they were once unnoticed and that someone reached out to help them become who they are.
Apparently I was wrong.
When I see “leaders” huddled together in a self-congratulatory group (I’ve even heard of an event where the leaders sit in a roped off area, inaccessible to the “common” attendees), it makes me question any aspiration I might have to someday be among them.
I know not all experts and leaders are like this and that gives me the hope I need to keep going.
Speaking as the kid in high school that was the music geek with TWO 6th hour classes my senior year, I know the uncool factor, and wore it well for a while.
Just like in high school, those would-be heroes are quite often real-life zeros once the playing field is leveled.
I can't tell you how many kids from my past - that thought I was uncool, unworthy, un____, now approach me with some kind of "wow! Look at you!" amazement.
They know I've "arrived" in a way they never did. But I'm still striving, and they're stuck wearing the blue apron at the local big box store.
So too are many of those internet flashes in the pan that were once riding high now facing their own issues: health issues, family troubles, bankruptcies, divorces, lawsuits, and other not so pretty consequences of doing their thing for momentary success, instead of building for the long term.
People talk. Your audience sees you even if they don't always say so. Today's hero, if they continue to demonstrate heroic qualities, will continue to be a hero decades from now. If today's hero runs off at the mouth and ignores the music geeks too often, they end up fat, balding, and with no prospects...
Not that I speak from experience or anything (hee hee).
Think about music: Billy Joel is a legend. Starland Vocal Band? Not so much. Their one hit, "Afternoon Delight," was the biggest-selling single of 1976. They even won a Grammy, but by 1981, they had called it quits.
Do you want to be a one-hit wonder or a lifetime achievement award winner? Both of them may win a Grammy, but who will be remembered for their enduring contribution?
It's hard to ignore a flash in the pan... until the Hope Diamond comes along. (Tweet This)
When you look at your business, your life, are you building something that lasts? Are you a true hero to the folks you serve, the colleagues that seek you out? Are you "The Hope Diamond" of your industry, or just another flash in the pan?
Sometimes it's hard to know for sure. We've all watched someone skyrocket to the top of their industry, stay there for a few years, and then get "shot down" by some kind of incident, controversy, or some other bad PR issue.
They stand the test of time - despite their shortcomings. True business heroes are around for decades or centuries, not months or years. True business heroes continue to learn and grow, develop their network, and rarely rest on their laurels.
True heroes adapt, are agile, and realize that getting beat up is part of standing up for what's right. Just because a company is making billions today doesn't mean it has the wherewithal to be in a future edition of "Built to Last". There are plenty of companies (and people) that started with a future just as bright as Facebook, and ended up extinct.
What makes a true hero? Who are your heroes in life and business? Is there a secret ingredient? I'm guessing you have some thoughts about it. Share them in the comments, and let's start a conversation!
[AUTHOR'S NOTE: This article originally appeared one of my old blogs in March, 2011. I revised it for re-publication here, since I felt it deserved a little resurrection.]
I can't count the number of times I've heard that phrase in my life. It's usually preceded by "You can't do that!", or followed by "Why don't you try something else?"
I sometimes think that when God gave me the choice to be born, I told him to give me the absolute hardest path to success - just so I could prove to people it could be done.
Then again, I also used to dream of being a mermaid.
I have, however, always been a bit of an overachiever. I'm the kind of person that says "Oh yeah? WATCH me!" when someone says "you can't..." I've taken trips, been in programs, raised kids, and generally lived my life unconventionally.
It's only been recently that I've learned the art of quitting. I was always the person that flatly refused to give up. I worked a job where my paycheck bounced - twice -before I took the hint that I should probably move on. I've gotten better at seeing the signals that tell me it's time to move on. On the whole, though, I'm still a tenacious, relentless being. I don't quit just because something's hard.
In my years of experience, I've managed to see my way through a lot of "really hard" stuff. I experienced the joy of living on welfare, abuse, racism, and more - all before I graduated high school (with honors, thank you very much). I grew up in Flint, Michigan, the most dangerous city in America, for heaven's sake! I think that automatically earns me some kind of combat medal.
I left school and forged my own path. Then I got pregnant and did the single mom thing for a while. My 20's had their share of... well, me being in my 20's!
Then, I got married to a man who's had to deal with his own emotional baggage. I mothered my eldest through a lot of troubled times. My youngest was involved in his babysitter's conviction for child sexual misconduct. I built a company, closed it, and laid off my one employee. And that's just the last 10 years of my life!
Saying all this isn't about shock value. It's not even about bragging. Yeah, I've been through some tough stuff, but so have many other people I know and love.
This is really about staying power. Grit. Stick-to-it-iveness, and being willing to gut it out when things get really really HARD.
Because "impossible" isn't the same as "really hard."
Impossible, as originally defined, means "not able to occur, exist, or be done." If it's impossible, it's simply not possible.
But Napoleon Hill said "Anything the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can be achieved."
Now, good old Mr. Hill didn't say it would be easy. He just said it can be done. It's possible.
It's possible to fly, to plumb the depths of the sea, use touch fasteners to "tie" shoes, and chat with friends in other countries in real time. If you wanted to do any of those things 200 years ago, it would have seemed impossible. But the truth is, it would have been really REALLY hard... especially if you tried to do it all by yourself.
But someone eventually developed materials that made submarines and airplanes possible, "moving pictures" a reality, and velcro a staple in my kid's shoe closet. All the raw materials existed 200 years ago, but they hadn't been put together yet. It took a series of chemists starting in the late 1700's and early 1800's to figure out the polymers that would eventually give us Velcro in the 1950's.
It takes a village, yo.
When I was 21, and pregnant (more…)
A couple of weeks ago we started the studio/office rearrange when the new lighting came. I still haven't been able to fit everything in, but this new video gives you an idea of where we're heading.
It's also the start of a new format for the weekly songs. I wanted to do something that was a little more inspirational AND educational, so that they didn't just come across as a bunch of cover tunes for no apparent reason. When I started the 300 songs project, it was about getting practice and learning how to operate the equipment in the studio. Over time, however, I've been blessed to have built a cozy following of people who actually enjoy watching the videos, not just listening to the rehearsal concepts.
We've even done a couple of virtual concerts featuring some of those tunes. During those shows, I always try to tie the songs back to an important moment in my journey or a "teachable moment" of some sort, because I believe that music can be educational as well as inspirational (remind me to tell you how the music of Billy Joel helped me win the city quiz bowl tournament in high school).
To that end, I'm launching this new format featuring the song "Hide" made popular by Joy Williams. Whenever I feel "not enough" in any respect, this song kicks my butt and reminds me I'm awesome. I hope it does the same for you. If nothing else, you'll get to see a rare moment of me wearing makeup!
You don't have to hide!
It's time for you to shine and show the world how awesome YOU really are. (Click to tweet)