If you're like most creative entrepreneurs, you started your career wearing all the hats. Along with that came a sense of responsibility for all the parts and pieces of your growing enterprise. That's logical. After all, if the business isn't making money, you're not making money, and that's a problem!
But a bigger problem I've found in my years of working with creatives across the spectrum, is that as the business grows, you're still trying to do too much. You're trying to hold yourself accountable to things that are just too hard to handle on your own.
There's a time and a place for self-accountability. There's also a time to know when to let go and get help. (Tweet this)
Creatives want to be independent. Chaotics see themselves as free-thinkers and free spirits. Fusions almost always have a better way to do something, and Linears don't want to be hampered by too many cooks in the kitchen. Holding yourself accountable is efficient and effective.
Until it's not.
Simply put, you can't manage it all, and you shouldn't try to do it for long. Humans just aren't wired that way. Okay, maybe SOME humans are, but they are the exception, not the rule, and even they need help from someone else at some point.
So why do we hold out so long when it comes to self-accountability?
According to Mark Samuel & Sophie Chiche, authors of the book "The Power of Personal Accountability", there are three fears that come into play when you try to hold yourself accountable for everything.
When I was a kid, it was my job to dust the living room. I hated dusting. We had a coffee table that frequently had rings because people wouldn't use a coaster. It was tough to keep clean. There were several instances where I got in trouble because someone else came along and left a ring after I had cleaned, but before Mom had inspected. No matter how spotless the rest of the room was, she would often point out how I "missed a spot" on the coffee table.
One time I got so mad I yelled at my Mom. "Don't blame me. I did my job!"
According to Mark & Sophie, "We associate accountability with blame. We fear that if we're accountable for something, we'll be the one to get blamed if it goes wrong."
Sometimes, we do get blamed - like with that infernal coffee table. But more times than not, we don't. And, as I learned with the coffee table, sometimes there are smarter ways to do things. One of my siblings finally suggested I do the coffee table last - just before Mom got home. That way, she'd see me working on it, and nobody would have time to put anything on it before she inspected.
It was a simple solution that I couldn't see for myself. I just wanted to be DONE with it, so I could check it off the list. I was afraid that I wouldn't get it done if I waited, and I let fear drive the bus. I've talked before about unconscious self-sabotage, driven by fear. We get triggered by feelings of inadequacy and decide to do nothing instead. It takes that outside eye to help us see things differently.
I have a friend who really struggles with this one. Simple requests get rejected, for fear of letting someone down. I remember asking him if he would remind me to do something later in the day - something we both needed complete. He said "I'll try to remember". He never texted, and the thing didn't get done. When I asked why he didn't text me, he said "I never promised I would."
This was a recurring theme in our friendship. When I finally confronted him about it, he confessed that he didn't want to make a promise he wasn't absolutely sure he could keep, because he'd feel like a failure if he let me down and didn't follow through.
I told him, "It's a text message, not a kidney transplant!"
This fear of failure stems from not wanting to feel incompetent or look bad in the eyes of others. "To avoid feeling that way," the authors state, "we play it small. We stay in what is familiar. We don't challenge ourselves with bigger choices, so we don't have to ever feel inadequate."
We worked together to "game the system" in his brain. We looked for what Teresa Ambile calls a "small win", and re-trained his brain to focus there. I reminded him that "trying to remember" was also a commitment. That he couldn't just blow it off without even trying to remember to text me... that he would be lying to me. Integrity is a HUGE deal to him, and he recognized how he's be letting us both down (double trouble!). It was a small change in his thinking, but it opened his eyes to a new way of honoring the commitments he was making and gave him a chance to build his confidence with small wins first.
Taking risks can lead to mistakes, or even (GASP!) failure in the short term. But is also leads to learning. Learning means we might not get it right the first time. But knowing you've got a safe space to take those risks takes the edge off a bit. It's hard to create that safe space by yourself. Instead, you stay stuck in the echo chamber in your mind.
It's time for me to resurrect that Marianne Williamson quote. You know the one. "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. "
To some, this may sound like a cop out. I know it did for me the first time I said it. All kinds of worthiness issues cropped up that kept me from moving forward on things I knew were important to me. I had to ask for help... sometimes from people I barely knew! That's hard, but certainly not any harder than staying stuck. Our authors give us more insights:
"If we increase accountability, we will accomplish more, and we know it. We will gain more responsibility. We will be expected to achieve at a higher level of performance. We will have to maintain excellence. We will have to deal with people's jealousy and our own guilty feelings for outperforming others. That is a lot of pressure. It is strangely easier to dream of success than to actually achieve it."
So yeah, I can see how that might feel like a cop out to some people (myself included). The reality, though, is that if you're feeling pressure, the last thing you want to do is create more pressure for yourself. You'll do anything to take the pressure off, if you can, which means doing less, or doing nothing, so that you're not feeling that pressure anymore. And there you are, right back at ground zero on those things you said were important to you.
Get others to help hold you accountable. If you're a technophile, maybe you'll use an app like MyFitnessPal. I struggle with apps because they require me to be attached to my device in order to stay consistent. That's not me. If it's not you either, you might try a more personal approach.
I've had an accountability partner for years now. Winnie has seen me through more ups and downs than all the roller coasters at Cedar Point. We meet once a week and debrief what happened since our last meeting, what we're working on, and where we're needing help. If you don't know who you could turn to, consider a group accountability program, where you've got the "hive mind" and power of the group behind you to celebrate your wins and help you navigate the rough spots.
Fear's not going away any time soon, so anyone who promises to eliminate fear should set off all kinds of red flags. You may not be able to eliminate it, but you can mitigate it. Here are a few ways that external accountability can help.
Eliminate blame - you'll have a safe space to practice. Members of Accountability Club (A-Club) will often ask how to handle a tricky situation before they try to handle it publicly. And if they do have a "facepalm moment" they know they're not alone, and can come to the group to talk it through, be encouraged, and regroup. It's a judgement free zone that safe for everyone to practice.
Focus on progress, not perfection - This takes the sting out of so-called "failure". By dropping the judgement and celebrating what DID get accomplished or what you learned, you've got a chance to make every opportunity into a teachable moment. Are you further along than you were before? That's progress. Celebrate it! By looking for and celebrating the small wins, you're re-programming your brain to train it for success.
Take the pressure off - Take your focus off just the "strike zone" and celebrate the tiny steps along the way. Focus more on the actions you can take and less on what other people might think. Put your attention firmly on the actionable steps on your to-do list that lead to your goal. That way, others lose their power over you. Guilt drops away because you can point to exactly what you did (and how they could do the same thing to get comparable results).
It isn't about you being "magical" or feeling guilty about your hard-won progress. You did the work, dangit! This also keeps you clear on what's really possible for you. If your plate is full of action steps, you simply CAN'T take on more. There's no room! You can start learning new skills - like delegation, and team building.
Can you do these things for yourself? Sure. And sometimes you have to. I've been there. But even as a self-starter that loneliness and isolation can be tough. Not to mention the echo chamber of thoughts that start rattling in your head. That's when trying to hold yourself accountable can start holding you back. You simply can't manage it all by yourself all the time. It's just too hard.
If you're ready to take the pressure off and get the support and accountability you need to move forward, the doors are open to Accountability Club. Enrollment is only open a few times a year, so now's the time to get on board! Not sure if you're ready? Join us for our free monthly training call this weekend. We're talking with Becky Mollenkamp about how to use LinkedIn to grow your audience of Raving Fans. You can listen live at no cost, but the recording is only available to members of A-Club. As long as you're on my mailing list, you'll get an email with all the details.
"What does a fish know about the water in which he swims all his life?"
Einstein was talking about how the very things that are crucial to our existence are very often the things to which we're totally oblivious. They're everywhere around us, we're so entrenched in them, that they've become part of our life's scenery. We've assigned them to the pile of things we "don't know we don't know", without even realizing it.
But we'd miss them if they weren't there.
If that sounds a little convoluted, bear with me while I untangle this mess.
See, each of us has blind spots. Things in our lives and work that we take for granted, or assume that anyone can do just as well as us.
These erroneous assumptions (because that's really what they are) can come in a variety of forms, and we don't even realize the ways they shape how we show up in the world.
I admit that I have blind spots like these in my life and work - though I'm getting better at them. These assumptions are your "water". You swim around in them every day, and if they were suddenly taken from you, the world would be strange and painful.
Not so fast, my "fishy" friend!
There are blind spots unique to your work, they way you were raised, and also your creative entrepreneur type. This week's episode of Creative Freedom reveals the top blind spot of each of the three primary creative types. Which type are you? Take the quiz, then check out the episode and tell me if it resonates with you.
Some of our assumptions help us be better people and do better work. Assuming that you're great at planning and strategy helps Linear creatives get impressive results. But assuming that planning and strategy are all you need keeps Linears from enjoying the results they get. Likewise, Chaotics can walk away from planning and strategy without losing sleep - something that's important to see the bigger picture of life, but assuming that plans and strategies aren't necessary keeps Chaotics from seeing some of the results they most desire.
Assuming that every creative is just like you is another death knell for your business. Linears and Chaotics don't often understand each other because they're swimming in different "water". Fusions have a better time of understanding and "translating" because they have tendencies on both ends of the spectrum, but that can often make them appear wishy-washy, or like a Jack-of-all-trades that is good at a lot of things, but not GREAT at anything (which isn't true).
Until you understand your creative blind spots, you'll just keep treading water. (Tweet This)
Take a moment to reflect on how the things you take for granted (and the assumptions you make in your life) might be coloring the work you do - or how you show up in the world. What are some of the benefits? What are some of the downsides? Share your thoughts in the comments and let's be a rising tide for everyone!
UPDATE: Great news about the Creative Freedom Incubator! Applications are now being reviewed and accepted through August 31 for an October start date. If you're ready to get help working in and on your creative business, download the application today.
First things first:
I'm THRILLED to announce that the Creative Freedom Entrepreneur Types made their public debut this week over at Charlie Gilkey's Productive Flourishing blog. If you're a creative and you're not familiar with Charlie's work, I highly recommend checking him out.
My guest post is an excerpt from my book, detailing the 3 different types of creative entrepreneurs, along with the process I used to get clear on my target market (which is what started me on this research journey in the first place). Please take a moment to stop in and leave a comment or share the post. The more creatives that we can reach with this message, the better the world will be. I truly believe that.
Also, my accountability partner, Winnie, just posted my interview for her podcast, where we dive into the nature of assessments in general, and why self-awareness is a powerful tool in building your business. The Let's Talk Tech Show takes the mystery out of all the tech-y tools, platforms, apps, and software that solo-preneurs deal with as they grow their business. If you're a Chaotic creative - or otherwise feel overwhelmed by the tech stuff, Winnie's show is a great place to get some basic understanding in plain English.
Okay, on to this week's episode...
I've known Mike Michalowicz for years now. First as a fan of his work, then as a member of his book launch team, then as an editor of his last book, and one of the first certified Profit First business coaches in the world. Now, I think it's safe to say we're friends. And he's an interesting dude. Like me, he's a guinea pig for all the methods he teaches. As a Linear Cusp creative, he's great at creating and implementing systems, but he's got just enough Fusion in him to make it fun and easy to learn what he teaches. Mike's new book, "Surge: Time the Marketplace, Ride the Wave of Consumer Demand, and Become Your Industry's Big Kahuna," is the next installment of his guinea pig adventures. Using surfing as his framework, SURGE is actually an acronym for the steps you need to take to find and ride your own wave of business success.
Does it work? Watch the episode, then read on:
If you read the book, you'll see plenty of case studies supporting Mike's process - including examples from his own business. As I mentioned in the video, I was a smidge disappointed about the lack of specifics around the "cool kids" strategy, until I realized I did it myself, without really trying.
I've been doing the research on the Creative Freedom Entrepreneur Type spectrum for about 18 months. Interviewing creatives from around the world, analyzing the data, and testing theories. Back in April, Charlie posted on Facebook saying he didn't resonate with particular a social media platforms. I said that it made perfect sense to me because his creative entrepreneur type wasn't a good fit for those platforms. That got him (and a few others) curious, so I explained a little about the research I was doing. Charlie was intrigued enough to have an email convo with me that led to this week's guest post on his blog (and with a little luck, an interview on his podcast later this year).
Luck is where preparation meets opportunity - which typically looks like work! (Tweet this)
Charlie has a solid track record in the realm of creative entrepreneurship. He's one of the "cool kids" in the marketplace. But I had no idea how to get on his radar until HE said something where I had an opening.
There are a couple of things that you need to understand:
This was an organic way to "reach the cool kids" - and it worked. Will it continue to work? Well, I have a few more "cool kids" to check out before I can let you know!
One of my favorite shows on PBS is "Finding Your Roots" hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. It's always fun to learn about the ancestors and personal histories of some of the most well-known people of our time. I really enjoy getting to know how these people came to be who they are through the stories of their ancestors.
I believe that who we are is largely colored by the choices we make, and that includes the choices of our ancestors, since without some of the choices they made, we might not be alive today. Those immigrants, tireless workers, and visionary family members made a way for us in the world. It's important that we recognize and honor that part of them that lives on in us.
So when Nely Galan asked me to be part of her book launch team, how could I refuse? Nely is a Cuban-born immigrant who made a name for herself as the first Latina president of a U.S. television network. Her book, Self Made: Becoming empowered, self-reliant, and rich in every way is now a New York Times best-seller, and in it, she shares not only the story of her success, but also the stories of dozens of other women who are creating their own way through the power of entrepreneurship.
This week's episode is a new segment I'm trying out this season - book reviews. I read a LOT, so it seemed fitting to share some of what I'm reading in a meaningful way (and save you a headache or two if the book is a bomb). I'm sharing the highlights and lowlights of Nely's new book, along with some childhood photos, of every stage, including the time when do babies talk properly (and yes, a baby picture, too).
In short, Self Made is an excuse-buster of a book. Nely gives you every angle on how to carve out a space for yourself as an entrepreneur, using case studies from other entrepreneurs who are doing it themselves. She even includes a fun story about Jeremy Renner (#TeamCap). If you'd like to win a copy of Self Made, just answer one of these questions in the comments:
I'll compile all the comments from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and my blog, and randomly select one winner, who will be notified via email.
"You can't win if you don't play."
Mom used this sentence to justify a lot of behavior when I was a kid: learning to ride a bike, auditioning for plays, joining the cross country team (I took 11th place in the city meet). And yes, mom played the lottery. She had a winning streak where, with a little help from technology and lottery dream books, she won several days each week for a few weeks. Naturally, those words rang through my head every time I was faced with a risk-reward decision.
Until this week.
If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you may have already heard about how I found this lottery ticket on the ground while I was on a field trip with my kid. I thought it was trash (LITTERBUGS! ARGH!), so I picked it up to throw away when we got to the car.
But when I saw it was a lottery ticket, I figured I'd check the numbers when I got home, just in case.
I won the BIG money, honey! TWO WHOLE DOLLARS! WOO HOO!!
Every morning, I sit down to do The PEACE System (a process I created to help clear my head and prioritize my day). Because field trips can be stressful - particularly with a special needs kid - I made a point of setting the intention to look for miracles.
Frankly, a well-behaved child would have qualified as a miracle in my book. I certainly wasn't expecting free money to fall at my feet. But hey, I'll take it!
I asked for (and was looking for) a miracle, and I got it. And the kid behaved, too!
You've probably heard stories about people who say "I won the lottery and it changed my life." Never did I think I'd be one of those people, since I don't play the lottery.
But winning those two bucks most certainly changed my life. If you want to test out your luck as well, you can go to sites like 바카라 사이트, for example.
"You can't play if you don't win" is a double-edged sword. In a way, I did "play" because I picked up the ticket and cashed it in. But in a way I didn't play, because I didn't actually buy the ticket. It wasn't even given to me (in the traditional sense). And the person that dropped the ticket probably thought it was a "loser" because they played $10 and "only" won $2. They lost money on the deal.
But from my perspective, I was $2 richer!
The last 18 months have been arduous and hard for me on a lot of fronts. At some point, I probably faced down some depression, though I was never clinically diagnosed. I've done a LOT of questioning my worth, my value, and why I'm really on this planet in the first place.
Two dollars won't even buy me a soda at my local restaurant, let alone pay my rent, but it was a sign. A clear sign that miracles are there if we are looking for them. I know that sounds kind of mystical and metaphysical, but it's true. I found that money because I was looking for it.
Well, I was looking for a miracle, and I chose to see this "win" as a miracle.
You have to have your eyes open and show up.
You have to be willing to go for what matters to you - even if it seems unreasonable. Even if it seems impossible. If it's in your heart to have it, you have to be courageous enough to show up for it. And keep showing up consistently.
In that respect, Mom was right: you can't win if you don't play.
But she was also wrong. I won without playing "the game" (by society's rules, at least). That little lottery ticket opened a Pandora's box of questions about the "teaching" that's been passed down through my family for generations. The "lessons" and "stories" that, in a previous era, had to be true for survival no longer serve the person I'm becoming in this era of creative entrepreneurship.
In the past, if you didn't "play by the rules", you wouldn't be taken seriously, and you probably wouldn't even get a foot in the door, let alone win. There were gatekeepers, expectations, and unwritten "rules" that were foisted on you by your industry, society and "the world". These rules were designed to keep certain people out, and to protect the survival of others. You had to play their way, or you simply couldn't play.
Now, you have a lot more latitude to define success on your own terms and not just survive, but thrive. You can create your own career, doing what you love, and make good money doing it - without selling your soul. That's the entire premise of how I help my clients!
Those old stories that once served to protect, inspire, and motivate me, had been holding me back from the life and career I was meant to have. I couldn't see that until I won the lottery.
What thoughts, beliefs, and stories do you hold as true, that might actually be limiting your success without you even realizing it? Untangling those beliefs and thought patterns can be tough, but the rewards far outweigh the risks.
But here's the other thing that rattled my brain. I won $2. Winning anything was contingent upon someone else. Somebody else played the game, bought the ticket, left it on the ground. At least three other people walked right past the ticket before I picked it up. In short, I had no control over the outcome. All I could do was be in the right place at the time of the miracle.
Miracles are awesome, and they can feel magical. But they are, in many ways, unpredictable - even if you're looking for them. You don't know when they'll arrive, or in what form, and sometimes it's hard to know if it even is a miracle until well after the fact. Sometimes the worst thing that ever happened to you is actually a blessing in disguise... a miracle you won't see until years later.
In life, we can wait for others to open doors for us, or we can make a plan and get sh*t done. (Tweet This)
Waiting around for miracles is the snail's path to success. Can it happen? Sure! I just won the lottery, for crying out loud! But, I only won $2, because that's all the ticket was worth. Someone else got to dictate the terms of my success. I could only win what they played and paid for.
I don't want someone else to dictate how successful I can be. I don't want someone else to have that much influence over my success journey. I mean, I won't turn away blessings when they show up - even the $2 variety - and I'm not going out of my way to play the lottery, either.
I know I can't control everything - and some might say that control, like safety, is an illusion. But if I set an intention and follow it with consistent action, I'm going to move the ball further down the field more often than the guy standing around, waiting for a winning lottery ticket to fall at his feet.
Will there be setbacks? Most likely. As we all know, the so-called "overnight success" stories usually involve a lot more preparation and hardship than we realize. As Thomas Edison famously said, "opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
I'm no stranger to hard work, although I'd like to be. 🙂
There were other gems of discovery that I'm still unpacking, and I'm sure you could tease out a few lessons of your own from this story, but ultimately, while I welcome all the miracles and blessings coming my way, I'm not going to sit on the sidelines and wait for them. I'm going to keep showing up, sharing my Great Work, and defining success on my terms. Not my mom's terms, or the terms of my ancestors, or even the terms of my fans and clients.
My game is the only game that matters for me. It's a game I'm happy to play, and one I can't lose, because I make the rules.
[Note: This is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, Creative Freedom. If you'd like to be part of the advance team and get more sneak peeks of the book, contact me for more info.]
There's a quote often attributed to John Lennon:
"Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end."
Dreams are kind of like that. It sounds trite, I know, but the reality is that if something really matters to you, there are really only two things that will prevent you from pursuing it in some way:
1. Death (in which case, you're no longer dreaming).
2. Something else that matters more (in which case, it's no longer your dream).
Death is fairly self-explanatory, so we'll leave that here and explore option two.
When I was a kid, I fancied myself as the next Madonna or Paula Abdul. I was a pretty good singer, and I spent countless hours practicing dance routines for the world tour I imagined I would lead once I became a rock star. I studied music at college, got a degree, and even moved west in pursuit of that dream.
Then life happened: single motherhood, relocation, marriage, second kid, etc.
For years, while my dreams of professional achievement languished, I put my focus, energy, and money into being a wife and mom. That was my priority. I made it so. I chose that life over pursuing my dream.
There are all kinds of "reasons" I could give as to why I made that choice. Here are a few:
Ultimately, I let guilt, shame, and fear dictate my priorities. Choosing to be seen in a certain light (by my family, friends, and children) were more important to me than pursuing my dreams.
So I didn't.
For more than a decade, my dreams sat in a metaphorical box on a shelf in the attic of my soul. I didn't touch my musical instruments (I owned seven). I didn't even play the radio much. Music was all but absent in my life, with one exception: community theater.
I was somewhat of a fixture at the local theater. Ted, the Artistic Director, knew I was talented and a hard worker, so I was practically guaranteed a role every season. Usually not the lead, but something that allowed me to be in the spotlight, share my gifts, and get me out of the house a few nights a week during the run of the show.
That was my "fix" and, for a while, it worked. I was happy to contribute and be part of something that gave me a small glimpse into the life I wasn't ambitious enough to pursue because of other "reasons".
A friend and I had approached Ted about doing a holiday musical revue. He loved the idea. As we began rehearsals, Ted told me that ours would be the last show produced at the theater. After 15 years, he was closing his doors.
At first, it didn't register how much I depended on Ted and this rag-tag bunch of musical misfits. We all had "other lives" that kept us busy - teachers, lawyers, service workers, college students - but on Ted's stage we were all equals. We were all craftsmen.
We were family - and Ted was breaking up the band, so to speak.
I didn't realize, until recently, how important that creative outlet was for me. It was my primary source of adult conversation and a safe space to practice my art. It was also a happy-medium for a married mom of two with responsibilities and "reasons" that kept me from pursuing my dream.
And then it was gone.
I briefly toyed with the notion of taking over the theater, but my life and financial situation at the time just couldn't swing it. That's when everything in my life started to unravel. My kid ran away and ended up in jail, we filed bankruptcy, I lost my car, my home, and I hit the skids - quite literally.
I was driving my husband's car on the freeway. As I started to change lanes, it spun out of control. I threw my hands into the air as the car swished and fishtailed across three lanes, landing in the ditch, facing oncoming traffic. I looked up just in time to feel the rush of wind as an 18-wheeler sped past.
Somehow, I was still alive. Unscathed. Awake. The car had stalled out, but was otherwise fine. A Freudian moment.
I reasoned with myself that I should probably be dead. The only reason I survived was because, as Lennon put it, it's not the end.
So why I was still alive? What was this wake-up call all about?
God talks to me in the voice of James Earl Jones - very deep, precise, and clear. Each morning for a few weeks, I posed the "why am I still alive?" question during my sacred practice. One day the notion to spend a year working on a new album crossed my mind. That thought led to doing 100 songs - just 2 songs a week. That's when Darth Vader boomed in.
I've learned not to argue when my inner Darth starts talking. So I started on the journey that has now become my 300 songs project.
Jim Rohn famously said "Become a millionaire not for the million dollars, but for what it will make of you to achieve it." About 100 songs into the project, it became clear that it was less about the number of songs, and more about who I was becoming in the process of making them.
I was unpacking my dusty box of dreams, recalling the value of these old treasures - some of which still had meaning for me, others from which I was finally ready to move on. I pulled out those old songs, those dance routines, and I had to decide what my dream really was.
See, your dream is relentless. It persists even when you don't want it to. You almost can't let it go because it keeps coming back to haunt you. Fantasies, on the other hand, are something that you can plow a lot of time, energy, and money into, but at the end of the day, you feel a relief to let it go.
Dancing was like that for me. I still love to dance, but I'm almost 100 pounds heavier than I was when I dreamed of being the next Paula Abdul. While I'm working on getting into better shape, the thought of re-conditioning my body to the level of a professional dancer feels like a punishment worse than death!
When I gave up on the dream of becoming a dancer, I felt unimaginable relief. Can I still dance? SURE, but on my terms - without the pressure of maintaining a dancer's body.
Becoming the next Paula Abdul or Madonna was my fantasy, entertaining and inspiring people is my dream.
In fact, I can't imagine my life without a spotlight and inspiration in some way, but if I could never dance again, I don't think I'd cry too much about it. As a kid, I believed that's what I should do, if I wanted to be famous. I should learn to sing, act, dance, and play an instrument - and be good at all of them. That way, I've got a much better chance at "stardom".
But as I unpack this box of dreams as an adult, it isn't about the "shoulds" of the world around me. I'm older now, and while I still care what people think of me, it matters far less than it did a decade ago when my roles defined me.
Those priorities don't matter like they used to. I stopped defining myself by what I couldn't have and began to shift my focus to what I really wanted - what truly mattered to me.
And that's the point. When something else - even fear - matters more than honoring the Divine call of your dream, you'll try to ignore it. But if it really matters to you, it will not remain silent. It will fight to be heard. It will wake you from your anesthetized way of living. It will violently shake you - with the force of an 18-wheeler - until you make a choice.
Then you will find a way to pursue it - in stolen moments while the kids are at school, or while waiting on hold with the power company. You'll get up early, stay up late, and make any excuse you can to take even the smallest step toward realizing your dream.
Or you will choose to let it go. No longer a priority. No longer the dream it once was. In which case, it's not your dream anymore, so it no longer needs pursuing.
Mourning the loss of a dream, or letting it go joyfully (your choice) is not uncommon. Kids do it every day, with much less drama and heartache. They find something new that captures their imagination, and they pursue it until it's not worth pursuing anymore. Everything they pick up and put down acts like a filter, helping them draw closer and closer to what it is that really matters to them.
For me, dance and drama led me to refine my skills as a storyteller, a performer, and to be more comfortable in my skin - critical skills that make me a better musician, author, and coach. For a time, I thought dancing was part of my dream. Dancing wasn't my dream, but it pointed the way.
Will your dreams always manifest the way you envisioned? Not likely. But that won't deter you if it's really your dream. Many are the stories of elderly men and women who found success with their dreams much later in life. Who cares how long it takes? The pursuit is part of the work of building the dream in the first place.
And should there come a time when other choices, other goals, other priorities truly do matter more than your dusty old dream, then pack it away for a time, pass it on, or simply let it go.
In the end, whatever you choose will be okay. And if it's not okay...
Feeling stuck and unsure of your direction? I am honored to be co-hosting a webinar on May 12 with Tajci Cameron that might help. Tajci's a former Croatian pop star who left it all to try her hand at the American Dream, only to get stuck herself. Join us as we explore the steps she took to awaken to joy and purpose in her life and break the cycle of pain and fear that was holding her back. Click here to meet Tajci and register for this special event!
[ALBUM UPDATE: We've got about half the album recorded and I've approached a couple of engineers about mixing and mastering the project - one of whom has worked with artists like Clapton, BB King, and Rod Stewart. This is getting REAL, yo! If you haven't had a chance to pre-order your copy, there are only a few days left to do it before the first song goes out to sponsors!]
I've noticed a disturbing trend in business books recently: more and more crap books that are nothing more than thinly veiled sales pitches for the author's big-ticket program or service.
Now, I'm all for marketing inside your book. I think a strong call to action is important to get readers to join your list, become aware of the work you do, and eventually work more deeply with you.
But I don't want your ads "sprinkled" throughout the book. A book is not a live webinar. I can READ, for pity's sake, and I can go to the "references" section in the back of the book and find all the offers you have mentioned - if you've written your book properly in the first place.
And that's the problem. So many of these authors (and sadly, a LOT of them are internet/info marketers) capitalize on the size of their audience and their ability to sell a product to push out a book that isn't really all that good - leaving a lot of readers put out by how much advertising there is compared to the content. You can read hundreds of Amazon reviews about books that seem to be nothing more than a bad advertisement for their schlock, that is why the photography used for content and the reviews are so important.
Somebody started telling business people that a book is a great business card. They're WRONG.
A business card is designed to give you some information about a person: their profession, some contact information, and some of the more sophisticated marketers of the world even manage to slip an offer in there to get you to take action.
Here's the thing: I don't pay for your business card. I pay for information. Knowledge. I pay for your to give me the answer to my problem. And the answer isn't to pay you even MORE money to get the full answer. Sorry. That's crap.
If that's all your book does. STOP IT! Your book is NOT a business card!
A book is meant to disseminate information - helpful, useful information. Can you imagine getting a teacher's edition of a math book and having to opt-in or pay extra to get the answer keys? That's essentially what's happening here. They give you the problem, and a taste of the solution, but then hook you into coming back to them to get the real answer you were looking for in the first place.
This isn't an indictment of internet/infomarketers. There are some great books in the world. But a whole industry has risen up around creating your non-fiction book in 30 days and gaming the system so that you, too, can claim to be a best-selling author.
Which only waters down the effort and value of bona fide authors that put in the hours to craft a meaningful, useful book that actually serves the audience that buys it.
So after I found myself paying for and reading through another painful example of a best-selling author who didn't deserve the title, I couldn't help myself.
I got a little snarky. And I don't apologize one bit. I hope SOMEONE will prove me wrong, because what I'm seeing is a sad ripoff of people who genuinely want help - who actually pay money to get it - and are then sold a bill of goods.
I even called on TLC (the musical group) to make this point abundantly clear.
Let me hear from you. Have you paid for rotten books lately? What are some of the best business books you've ever read? Let's build a super-helpful reading list of must-read books and be a Rising Tide for everyone!
PLEASE SHARE THIS POST! If you know someone about to publish a book - or someone about to buy a book, do them a solid and share this video with them so we can curb the "crap book" population. 🙂
(NOTE: I'm just about finished with the Creative Freedom entrepreneur type quiz. If you're not already on my mailing list, subscribe [in that handy box above] and be the first to get access!)
This summer, I've been channeling my inner crafty woman. I'm a pretty good singer and speaker, but I never really thought of myself as creative - as in making things - until I married a guy who decorates our Christmas tree with origami cranes.
I fiddled around with drawing as a kid - but my cousin was a much better artist. In fact, I could pretty much guarantee that someone I knew was better at any crafty thing than I was.
Turns out, that's part of my Creative Freedom type. I'm a Fusion, which means that I can always find someone more creative, more strategic, and more "better" than me if I look hard enough - but that's because my life is filled with a mix of awesome Chaotic and Linear Creatives, who will always be further along on the spectrum than I am. Fusions, on the other hand, sit right in the middle of the spectrum, which means we can do lots of things other people can't. It's why our analytical friends call us "the creative one" and our creative friends call us "the smart one."
This is just part of what I've been exploring in preparation for the launch of my new book "Creative Freedom." Once I learned I was a Fusion type, it gave me permission to embrace ALL the ways I'm crafty and creative. Finally, a place where I don't have to choose, I can just enjoy being me!
And I made an origami daffodil to prove it! It's my first attempt, and I used a plain sheet of paper instead of origami paper, so it's a little wonky, and I'm proud of it!
There's another reason I'm sharing this daffodil with you, and it has to do with a story that goes back about 20 years. You may have heard of it. It's called "The Daffodil Principle" by the late Jaroldeen Edwards.
But before I get there, let me tell you why I'm sharing this story.
I got an email from a reader who has been struggling with building her Noble Empire because of some stuff she's been dealing with in life: health, money, family... you know.. life stuff. She's a little frustrated and overwhelmed about wanting to be further along on her dream, but also stuck in the reality of where she's at.
Which brings me to the Daffodil story.
Jaroldeen's story is actually about a real garden in Running Springs, CA, designed and planted by Gene Bauer - a lifetime effort spanning more than 50 years. Every fall, at her vacation cabin, Gene would plan and plant each bulb by hand. When she started, she didn't even know which end was up.
Can you relate?
As creative entrepreneurs, sometimes we don't know what direction we're going - let alone if it's the right one or not. But Gene's an example of just showing up, year in and year out, and letting the creation unfold into a life's work. Most people don't know Gene was actually a teacher, and planting daffodils was just an interest, that became a hobby, that became a passion.
This week's video tells the rest of the story - the part that happened after Jaroldeen wrote her story - and I think it's probably even more powerful than the original, because of how the Bauers had to overcome adversity when fires besieged the property. Oh, and if you watch really closely, you'll get a quick glimpse of New Kids on The Block and a young Marky Mark Wahlberg before he got all grown up.
The more I researched the story, the more fascinated I became. That's part of why I learned to make an origami daffodil - since they're out of season right now (you can also make a stem if you'd like). Gene and Dale even compiled a history of the Running Springs property to give people some background on how the 5 acre plot of land came to be in their hands, and ultimately covered with so many varieties of daffodils.
THAT, to me, is what it means to build a Noble Empire.
What small step are you making? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments and be part of the Rising Tide. Have a question you'd like to see featured? Hit me up! I love requests!
In my house, there's a never-ending battle that's almost as epic as the fight for the remote control.
My husband likes it hot. He closes the vent in our room and bundles under at least two blankets even during Summer!
My son likes it cold. If it's warmer than 65, he'll turn the thermostat down to 50 because he thinks that'll make it colder faster.
Me? I like it in "the dead zone" - a comfortable 70-72 degrees. Not too hot, not too cold.
Needless to say, we've had a few arguments about this. In fact, hubby and I are finally switching sides of the bed this week because he's been sleeping closer to the vent (which is why he keeps closing it).
But...even more datstardly than our family fight for the house thermostat is the epic battle that's been going on between my ears for years with my metaphorical "success thermostat".
You may have heard it called an upper limit problem - that's a term Gay Hendricks used in his book "The Big Leap." Like a thermostat, our brains have a "success set-point" that keeps us comfortable. When we get too far below that set-point, we get uncomfortable, and start working to turn up the heat on our success. But I had a cap on what I believed I deserved. My "success ceiling" was a set-point that actually kept me earning poverty-level wages. No joke!
It was as if every time my money situation started improving, or things started going very well for me, invariably something would happen and things would start to fall apart. My success set-point kept trying to cool things off just as I was heating up!
In her book "Overcoming Underearning" Barbara Stanny says that "money is a metaphor" and that "under-earning is a symptom" - specifically a symptom of a lack of self-worth or self-love. It manifests differently for each person, but ultimately, it centers on a success ceiling/upper limit problem around what you think you deserve.
This week's episode of Creative Freedom revels how to know if you're a chronic under-earner, how I discovered my under-earning success ceiling, and how I've worked to eliminate my upper limit problem in my own life. Oh, and you'll hear bits of my U2/Journey mashup from the 300 songs project.
One look at the Symptoms of Underearning from Underearners Anonymous and you'll have a better idea of whether or not your current financial state is because of a conscious choice to live on less, a short-term slump, or a chronic condition that's due to something deeper.
1. See the truth and OWN it. Just like a real thermostat setting, we have to make adjustments if we want to see things change. For most of us, we can't just "flip a switch" and solve the problem. Further, the "temperature" of our situation will most likely change gradually. You can't go from 32 degrees to 70 degrees in a matter of seconds - it takes time to turn up the heat! Decide on your new direction. What's going to change for you? Then commit to it, and be willing to make small (even microscopic) changes as you move toward your new set-point. The smaller the better actually. It might feel more tedious and time consuming, but micro-commitments are more likely to stick and lead to lasting change because they don't activate the fear centers in your brain. It's the fear center that triggers the thermostat to go back to what's "comfortable" - clearly a relative term when it comes to success.
2. Be wary of people who aren't used to your new settings. They will be uncomfortable (so will you). I have a colleague that says "new level, new devil". Remember what I've taught you before - you train people how to treat you based on what you've come to accept from tehm and what they've come to expect from you. Changing your success thermostat means you're changing the expectations. Some people won't like that - get used to it. It happens. The key is to recognize when people are trying to change your settings and stay the course even if things start to get a little (okay, a LOT) uncomfortable.
3. Believe you are worth it and stay vigilant! This is where all the micro commitments make a difference. Trying to re-program your brain to overcome years of unconscious programming ain't easy. When you've believed for decades that you're not capable of achieving a certain level of success, your brain may have difficulty accepting new ideas that seem to fly in the face of that old understanding. You need to keep looking for evidence for the file clerk in your head that says you are capable. Celebrate your wins even if they seem "small" or "insignificant" - the file clerk doesn't judge.
Eventually, the new set-point will feel comfortable. It takes time and patience, but it's totally doable.
Under-earning is one of the most prevalent problems of the creative community. From working for "exposure" to donating our time and offerings to way too many worthy causes, creative entrepreneurs need to reclaim their money making power! If you've overcome an upper-limit problem, we'd love to hear about it! Share your stories in the comments and be part of the Rising Tide community!
At the beginning of every year, I sit down with my Dreamblazing program and set my goals - then I review them each quarter.
But they also say that "life happens every 6 months" - and here we are at the middle of the year. It's a great time to make sure you're still on track, and if you aren't here's a reader's digest version of my planning process - including a sneak peek into how Dreamblazing makes it easy.
To help you lay the foundation, I've also included the worksheets from the first day of the Dreamblazing program so that YOU can take stock and do a little review of your own - and set the stage for your future success. Oh, and Hall & Oates help me out with a special "guest spot" - sing along if you know the words!
Whether you use my Dreamblazing process you some other method of planning, make the commitment to complete the entire process - especially if it feels uncomfortable. I see a lot of entrepreneurs (creatives in particular) that start planning, and when things get tough or they feel stuck, they quit. It's fine to take a break and come back to it later, just make sure you actually do come back to it later. Dreamblazing is elxible enough to complete in a single
It's hard to know where you're going if you don't know where you are. It's hard to know your trajectory, if you don't know where you've been. A lot can happen in a year. I lost count of all the awesome surprises that happened to me each year, so I started keeping track, and using the "Evaluate and Celebrate" section of Dreamblazing to remind me of just how awesome my life and work can be. That's particularly helpful when I'm in the middle of a funk, or things aren't going as well as I want them to in the moment.
Evaluation also allows me to see where I missed the mark and need to tighten my focus - or re-calibrate if a goal is no longer applicable.
In my book, The Secret Watch, I lay out the 5 Key Areas (Faith, Family, Fitness, Fortune, and Freedom) - but the way you define them is entirely up to you - which, again, gives you the flexibility you need to develop D.U.M.B. goals. Hone in on what will give you the most cause for celebration at the end of the next 12 months in each of these areas, then you can begin to set milestones along the way to help you know if you're on track to hit them.
If you're following the Dreamblazing program, you'll pick 6 goals to drive for the year, but you've also got to prioritize them. It's better to do that NOW before there's a conflict, because "life happens when you're busy making other plans" as John Lennon famously said. If you don't prioritize your goals, then when an opportunity arises that pits one goal against another, you'll be forced to choose. In the heat of the moment, sometimes we choose what's urgent, rather than what's really important. Prioritizing your goals gives you a filter to run all your decisions through.
And if you change your priorities later, that's fine too.
It takes a little time to develop a solid strategic plan, but it's worth the effort. Whether you use a tool like Dreamblazing or develop your own method of annual planning, it's important to make the plan. Eisenhower once said that "plans are useless", but "planning is everything" - and I think he's right. While many of my plans go awry not long after making them, the fact that I took the time to actually sit down, clear my head, and focus on what really matters to me keeps me moving in the right direction. It also keeps me agile so that when life throws me a curve ball (and it happens more times than I'd care to count), I'm able to respond thoughfully, instead of react in a knee-jerk way.
Plans may go awry, but planning keeps your head in the game when life throws you a curve. (Tweet this)