[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!
On Day One of the Creative Freedom Challenge, we're taking a hard look at the biggest reason you're still stuck in energy-draining work, instead of getting paid well for doing what you love.
And it's not what you think.
Most people think the reason they're stuck is because they haven't made enough money yet to make the leap. If you're just getting started and stuck in a day job, that may be true. More on that in a minute. You can be several years into your career as a creative entrepreneur and still find you've created a "job" for yourself, doing things that aren't fulfilling - like putting out fires or picking up dropped balls.
In truth, "not enough money" is not the biggest reason you've stuck with your "job" for so long.
Lack of clarity often shows up in one of two areas:
1. Who you really are and what really matters in your life and Great Work (that's what we'll cover today).
2. How you want to show up in the world (we'll cover that next).
Amy Oscar is a friend and colleague. We met at a conference back in 2010, and she was kind enough to write the cover quote for my book, "The Secret Watch." Amy's building a global following on the back of her book "Sea of Miracles." Her Soul Caller program has evolved from a weekly free twitter chat into a series of courses, programs and retreats. She also does private sessions as an intuitive guide and healer. Amy has thousands of fans and followers around the world (some of them pretty well-known), and yet, with all those clear signs that she was on to something, she still hadn't quit her day job.
For more than 15 years, Amy was an editor for a national women's magazine. She LOVED her job, but as her Great Work through Soul Caller started picking up steam, she still hadn't let go of her day job to focus on her Great Work. Here's what Amy told me:
"I sensed that I'd put an important part of my soul in deep freeze."
She then told me how it took her months to untangle what was going on inside her. Ultimately Amy realized, when she considered her job versus her Great Work, the truth so many creative entrepreneurs face:
"One was always going to have me hiding behind someone else's glitter cape. I didn't just have a message. It was MY message to deliver. So many people are telling this story and each voice matters. Each story resonates. We need them all. Mine was different and it had to be heard."
Making the choice to pursue your creative calling can be complicated. It's not always easy. That's why clarity is so important.
Clarity comes from accepting your truth with what I call ruthless honesty: no judgement. Just seeing the facts for what they are.
Here's how Amy described her watershed moment:
"I was afraid to stand alone. It was never about the money. It was about my willingness to trust the world to love me when it could see me. And not just as a cog in someone else's wheel... It's about the willingness to come out of hiding. To stand in the light and be seen loving what I love. Being what I am. Which doesn't fit into anyone else's idea of what I could or should be or how I might serve their vision. It's about the willingness to step into the image I hold inside of my own heart of what I am.
"I realized that if I was going to be happy - and live a fully engaged, fully present life - I wasn't going to live a normal life. And I finally accepted that. I quit my job because the Soul Caller work was more important to me than a paycheck."
Amy got clear on the life she wanted to live, the Great Work she wanted to bring into the world, and who she would become in the process. When Amy got clear on who she was and how she'd outgrown her day job, she was ready to embrace her "own message to deliver" and share it with the world.
Amy's truth is a common one: more than the ability to make good money at it, the real issue behind making the shift into creative entrepreneurship is a lack of clarity (and perhaps a fear of being really seen).
Look, if a guy can earn a living wage making youtube videos about playing video games or unboxing action figures, there's no reason that you can't get paid well to do what you love, too. But you have to have clarity on who you are and what really matters to you before you can stake your claim on your Great Work and share it joyfully with the world.
Then, you've got to show up that way consistently. Sure, try it on and see how your Great Work can not only serve others, but also yourself. Once you've got clarity on that, you've got to have the confidence to step up and own your message in the marketplace on a regular basis.
But that's the next part of our challenge. 🙂
Today, spend a few minutes thinking about what REALLY matters to you - in your life and work. What are your non-negotiables? When I work with clients, we use what I call the 5 Key Areas of Success as the model for defining success on your own terms. Here are additional resources to help you get more clarity on what really matters and how you want to show up in the world:
Believe it or not, you already ARE a success. It may not feel like it right now, but it's true. Success is a destination, not a journey, and you're already here. Everything you've done (or failed to do) has led to this moment. Until you have clarity on what success looks like for your unique situation, it's pretty dang difficult to feel successful.
If you want to get all the updates in the Creative Freedom Challenge, along with a copy of my Raving Fans Toolkit, you can sign up right here (that box at the top of the page works, too).
What resources would you add to this list? Share your comments below and let's be a rising tide for everyone!
Recently, a new subscriber reached out and asked me about uncovering her "Great Work" in the world.
First of all, I LOVE it when people email me their questions! If you've got a question, hit me up in the comments or send me an email.
But to answer her question, I had to look deeper at what she wrote. Turns out, she's one of those "Jack of all trades" kinds of people. You know the type: someone who makes you sick because they're really good at a lot of things... but they can't figure out what their ONE THING is in order to make a career at it.
Oh, I know this problem so intimately well... because I'm one of those people.
For years I worked with coach after coach who told me to pick one thing, focus in on one thing, and get good at one thing and let THAT become my income driver.
Problem: Getting good at something isn't an issue. I'm a quick study and can pick up a LOT of things quickly. Then, my learning addiction kicks in and compels me to go deep in the topic so I'm GOOD at it, too.
Yeah, it's kind of annoying to me also. hee hee.
Over the years, I've had so many jobs and career paths that I was starting to think something was wrong with me... but there's nothing wrong with me. In fact, I'm part of a rising number of people that I call "Fusion" Creatives.
With a rise in demand for Liberal Arts and General Studies type degree holders in the workplace, we're seeing a resurgence of "renaissance" types who are versed in a variety of topics, and can hold their own in multiple environments.
Like being at the nexus of creative entrepreneurship, for example.
As a musician and a business coach, I've been pressured for years by coaches and peers to hone in on one thing... but that's like asking me which of my kids gets to live in a sacrificial offering. Not gonna happen. I'd cut out my own heart first.
...but the world hasn't been ready to deal with us until recently. Books like Barbara Sher's "Refuse to Choose" have helped give credence to "Scanners" as she likes to call them. We're not flighty, we're actually incredibly valuable - even if we have a hard time seeing it ourselves.
This week's episode of Creative Freedom unveils a glimpse into this
Fusion types often think of themselves as not creative when compared to their Chaotic friends and colleagues. Chaotics are the type we most often think of as the "creative" people of the world. They can be artsy, or crafty, free-spirited, and willing to "go with the flow". Chaotics are also pretty good with people, communication, and have a strong connection to their definition of the Divine. Some people call them "right brained" but that's a misnomer that's been debunked in recent years.
So us Fusion types tend to feel a little "less than" when compared to our Chaotic colleagues.
Fusion types also find that they're the "creative ones" when compared to their Linear colleagues. Linears are the type that think more strategically, enjoy working with patterns, numbers, and figures, and often find themselves at a loss when it comes to building strong relationships, networking, or handling customer service issues. Some people call them "left brained" but - as you can guess - that's a misnomer, too.
And yes, Fusion types tend to feel a little intimidated (or overwhelmed) when comparing themselves to their more financially successful Linear colleagues.
But I said "potential" and potential not acted on is wasted. Fusion types can be good at just about ANYTHING. They just need to hone in and stay consistent, while having the courage to keep sharing their unique blend of Linear and Chaotic awesomeness. Chaotics marvel at Fusion's ability to stay on track, meet deadlines, and generally get stuff done (as a one-woman show, I might add). Linears appreciate the creative streak and courage Fusions have to be "on" with people.
In short, we're pretty freaking awesome, and we have a hard time seeing it because everyone around us is more Linear (or Chaotic) than we are. So instead of seeing our unique blend as fantastic, we worry if we'll measure up.
But when we DO finally stay consistent, we are the Creative Freedom type with the greatest capacity for financial and personal success.
Each type also has blind spots that slow down their trajectory. For Chaotics, it stars by having a choke hold on your creative vision. For Linears, it's being too focused on bottom-line results. For Fusions, it's perfectionism and comparisonitis that keeps us stuck.
When you learn your Creative Freedom type, you shine a light onto those hidden areas so that you can take action and see success more easily. I stumbled on all of this entirely by accident over years of working with clients and noticing the patterns they were demonstrating.
If I did my math applying the 10,000 hours concept correctly, it takes about 10 years of consistent effort to reach world class status. At 40, I should be world class at about 4 different things, if I applied myself properly over the years. That means, I've got another 30-40 years (or more) to master a few more things. Heck, even Tony Bennett has established himself as a painter as well as a singer!
Fusion creatives don't need to pick just one thing. YAY! Instead, we need to think of our talents like a rock band - like the Eagles: you've got a lead singer, and others singing backup. Everyone in that band sings at some point in the show - and they've all got years of practice at honing their craft. No one is ignored, and they all get to shine.
THAT is how a Fusion makes the most of their gifts and talents. Put one or two out front while the others provide "back up" and have the courage to experiment and rotate them out from time to time - just make sure you keep practicing and honing your craft before you make a big leap. You don't see the Eagles trying something new at their shows - that's what rehearsal's for.
Have you been the Jack of All Trades in your circle? How have you created a meaningful body of work with your skills and abilities? Did you take the quiz and learn your Creative Freedom type? If so, what is it? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments and let's be a rising tide for everyone!
It's report card time around here. My youngest is struggling in gym class. Sadly, I've seen it before with his older brother.
"Won't even attempt new activities," the report card reads.
So hubby and I sat down with our 8 year old to find out what's going on.
"I can't do it." He said. "I'm not good at it."
It can be hard to try something new. And even harder to be GOOD at it - especially when you've never done it before. That doesn't mean you can't do it.
Try telling that to an 8 year old... oh wait, we did!
...what you really mean is that you've never done it well before.
Like when you say you can't sing. Yes. you can. Anyone with a functional voice box can sing. Even my husband, who can't carry a tune in a lead-lined bucket can sing SOME songs. You just have to find the right ones. Maybe you aren't Pavarotti, but even Madonna doesn't sound like Madonna (thanks, autotune).
So often we use the words "I can't" as code for "I'm not good enough" or "I don't know how." As we talked with our kid, it became apparent this was a case of being afraid to look foolish or be wrong in public. It was also a case of not being willing to ask for help to learn how to do something (or do it better).
Curse the English language!
We have gotten used to so much linguistic short hand, that we're actually programming our brains to believe something isn't possible, when, in actuality, it is. As entrepreneurs, we need to reclaim our truth and speak it without shorthand.
"I don't feel comfortable doing this, because I'm not as good as I would like to be."
"I don't know how to do it (or do it well). Can you help me?"
I've shortened my learning curve immensely in life and business by asking for help, yet, I'm the same person that still struggles with asking for help with things I think I "should" know already.
"The Shoulds" are a comfortable state of paralysis that most of us visit from time to time. It goes like this:
"I should really work out more." But you don't.
"I should really look for a new job." But you don't.
"My mother in law says I should spend more time reading to my kids." But you don't.
"My clients think I should offer evening appointments." But you don't.
And my all-time favorite: "I should already know this by now." But you don't.
In short, "The Shoulds" are a laundry list of to-do's that you have yet to accomplish - either because you don't really want to do them, or because you haven't yet figured out HOW to do them. It's a limbo-land that keeps you from taking action, and only diminishes our value as humans an entrepreneurs.
It's normal. we all go there from time to time. The trick is to keep our visits short. Otherwise, we're creating unrealistic expectations of ourselves. When we have an expectation of our capabilities that doesn't match our reality, two things happen:
Rather than root out the cause (living in "The Shoulds"), we keep beating ourselves up - over and over - until something happens. And that "something" isn't always helpful. If we're lucky, we've got a support system to help us see we're in "The Shoulds" and can point it out to us. But even that's not going to help you if you keep beating yourself up saying "Dangit! I knew I was in The Shoulds! I keep doing that! Gah!"
What are those "beliefs" that are conditioning you to stay paralyzed? How are they holding you back? What would happen if you looked at it as if the opposite was true?
What if you shouldn't already know this by now?
What if you shouldn't offer evening appointments? What if you need to find clients who prefer your current schedule?
That's the other type of "can't" we're talking about: when something really isn't possible within the understanding of human experience at this moment.
1,000 years ago, man couldn't fly or use the Internet. They hadn't been invented yet! So to tell someone to hop online and check your email would probably get you blank stares. "I can't" is an appropriate response in that case.
But the more accurate response for most anything today is "I don't know how yet."
Keep all your priorities in alignment while growing your business?
"I don't know how yet."
Make six, seven, or eight, figures (as PROFIT, not just income).
"I don't know how yet."
You get the idea.
Yes, being willing to acknowledge that you don't already know everything means there's a slight possibility that you'll be a target for ridicule. But that's rare. More often,what happens by saying "I don't know how yet" is that you open doors to new learning, new experiences, new connections, colleagues, friends - and yes, clients - by being willing to learn how.
That was the lesson my 8 year old had to learn. That yes, sometimes the mean kids will make fun of how he throws the dodge ball, but by asking for help, he'll get better at throwing the dodge ball and be able to bean the mean kids out during the game.
Perhaps that's not the best way to illustrate that lesson, but I think you understand my point. Sometimes, we need to "bean" the nay-sayers in our lives, and the only way to do that effectively is to get really good at what they're telling us we can't do.
Even if we are our own nay-sayer. Sometimes I need a good beaning, myself (just ask my husband!).
Where are you saying "can't" when you're really living in "The Shoulds? What can you do today to get clarity around a particular "should" and either decide to take action or decide to let it go? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
If you're ready to get help with moving out of "The Shoulds" consider a Next Steps session to help you get some clarity.
Every hero has values to which he clings. Superman had "truth, justice, and the American way" while MacGyver believed his mind was more effective than guns for solving problems. Some values are more honorable than others, but you can't be a hero without values worth dying for.
Not a concept that's widely embraced in the business world. Not too many corporations that I'm aware of would lay down their lives for the work they do (or the workers that do it). The very nature of a corporation is to generate a profit for shareholders - and sometimes doing what's right may mean NOT generating profit for shareholders.
So is it possible to be heroic in business? Absolutely. Because doing the right thing is always in style, even if the shareholders disagree.
Men and women of action always have a choice. We can choose to value principles over profit, people above things, and not be a martyr in the process. We can do what's right, knowing that the long-term reward is far greater.
And no, I'm not talking about "eternal rewards" or heaven here. I'm talking about the tough decision to close a business segment that's losing money, and shifting those people and resources into areas where better work can be done. I'm talking about the tough decision to NOT fire good people if they can be used elsewhere, even if it means a short term cashflow pinch (not crisis, mind you. That's different.).
I'm talking about having values worth dying for.
When "the world" tells you how things "should" be, even thought your gut tells you otherwise, and your values guide you in a different direction, do you cave? Or do you choose to be the action hero?
Will you take a short term beating for a long term gain?
So many people will do anything to avoid even the slightest amount of pain. Yet, pain is a part of growth. Discomfort & uncertainty abound in entrepreneurial circles. You can't avoid it if you want to grow. And yet, time and again I see people take what appears to be an "easy" way out, only to find themselves stuck in "the fire swamp" because they didn't trust their gut.
Remember, heroes are not above getting bloodied up a bit - so long as the fight is in alignment with their values.
As you examine your own business, think about these questions:
If you can't answer these questions, you've got your work cut out for you. It would be nice if you could stop and get absolute clarity on this before you do anything else. However, I recognize that's not always practical.
Remember, this isn't about issuing a "vision statement" or some other piece of equally benign paper. Show, don't tell. "Be the change you want to see" and all that.
Take a few minutes to share with me (via email or as a comment on this post) any/all of the following:
A. What do YOU value in life and business?
B. What did you learn when you asked others what they think you value?
C. Based on what you know about me, what do you think I value?
I'm sharing my results in a later post. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens!
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…)
Over the past couple of weeks, I've been offering up tools, ideas, and resources that I usually find helpful this time of year to help me get a jump start on the new year. From The Success Finder, to my new Dream Owner's Creed, and the Profit First Instant Assessment, each has been a part of what I use to get more clarity and move more confidently toward my future.
This week has been a little heady for me. On Sunday, I posted a song from my last concert with a story about a music teacher who realized his musical dreams as part of one of the most influential progressive rock bands in America. But then he had a kid, started looking around at the world, and realized that things weren't always what they were cracked up to be. So he wrote a song of hope as he was birthing his son into the world.
I still get a little teary-eyed when I hear that song. A bunch of people emailed and tweeted to connect with me and share that song with their networks. I didn't expect that kind of response from such a simple hymn-like tune.
Then, on Monday, we launched the Dreamblazing program with very little fanfare (there's still time to join, if you'd like). I've been going through it right along with the participants, and in the process, I've gotten the gut feeling that a lot of people are feeling stuck right now.
And I wanted to do something about it.
From now through the end of the year, I'm inviting you to schedule a no-cost 30 minute session with me to help determine your next steps in having a business and life you love. This isn't therapy, counseling, or tax/legal planning - that's not my area of expertise. What I'm good at is seeing the big picture, and how all the parts and pieces fit together in a way that creates more meaning, gives you more freedom, and provides you with a clear path to a profitable, sustainable business.
I call that a Noble Empire and an Inspired Life.
Interested? Click here to schedule your time.
What to expect:
Once you're scheduled, I'll be sending you some simple instructions. Nothing heavy-duty. Just the basic background info. Then, when we're in session together (call or skype), we'll dig into where you feel stuck, and I'll help you see where to get unstuck. It might mean referring you to a book, program, or professional that I know that can help. Or it might just be a mindset shift we can make right on the call. Whatever I think will be most helpful to you (based on your current situation), is what I'll be sharing with you in our session.
There are lots of reasons, actually. Because of the projects I've been involved in this year, I've not had a lot of time to lead teleclasses or workshops. That means I haven't been connecting with you as much as I'd like - hearing what's going on for you.
Being out of touch with your clients means you're out of touch with what's important to them (click to tweet). That's the fastest route to going out of business! Talking with you individually really helps me know who's reading my posts, what's going on in your world, and how I can better serve your needs.
Also, this is the time of year when things can get pretty crazy and a cool head, or objective viewpoint can be a blessing. I have the space in my calendar and I'd love to be that third eye for you!
Lastly, each year around Thanksgiving, I try to do something to give back to my online community. Last year, we gave away over 1,000 copies of my book, and we're doing another book re-launch next week (watch for an email on Monday!)
This year, I wanted to do something a little more personal. I've got a phobia I'm working on overcoming, and this will really help me immerse myself in serving with love instead of focusing on fear.
While I can't guarantee everyone will get a spot on my calendar, I've opened up hundreds of time slots over the remainder of the year (limit one per person, yo!). If you've ever wondered what it's like to work with a coach, or what it's like to work with me, there's never been a better time to give it a try.
In blessings and peace,
P.S. Last time, I promised to share a video I filmed about dealing with toxic relationships. You can find that here.
Ever have one of those moments where you think you know how something is going to go, and then it turns out completely differently, but it still works to your favor?
That was my experience last week when I asked my facebook connections to vote on a video topic for a contest I'm entering. I asked them to choose between these two topics:
Hands down, the winner was #1 - in all but one group where the vote was evenly split. For whatever reason, people I know can really relate to the struggle of showing up fully as themselves - a malady I can SO relate with.
But here's the thing... both topics are really about the same thing.
It almost sounds like a dangerous idea, right? I mean, there are "blueprints" and "formulas" galore in the world. There are gurus, guides, and coaches who want nothing more than to sell you their 'proven system' to help you be "successful" in some area or another of your life or work.
Heck, I'm a mentor myself. I have systems and tools that I use and offer to others, so it stands to reason I could lump myself in that category, too, right?
I wouldn't blame you if you did.
The thing that I hope sets me apart is that I detest the one-size-fits-all approach that so many leaders laud. A lot of people tread that path, and in my experience that's where the mediocre are. Back in my direct sales days, there was a "technique" that was touted as a sure-fire way to get business: pass out your business card to everyone with a pulse. Does it work? Sure. Eventually. But it's painful, awkward, and gives you a bad reputation.
Cookie cutter "blueprints" have their place. Like making cookies, or building houses. You want to know, before you invest your resources, a reasonable idea of what the end result will be. But you can take one blueprint and build two "identical" houses and they won't even be close to the same. Why? Location, interior decoration, and other considerations that have nothing to do with the blueprint itself. Likewise, three people can take the exact same cookie recipe and have three dramatically different results. Why? Again, lots of considerations that have nothing to do with the recipe itself.
The difference in the house and the cookies lays squarely with the owner. Who's the one doing the building, the decorating, the baking? That's what's really going to dictate how things shake out. That's something most coaches and gurus don't take into account in their blueprints.
Frameworks are helpful, but you can't expect to duplicate someone else's success because you are not that person! Believe me. I've invested my share of cash into training, blueprints, and frameworks. Any time they're a step-by-step "here's what I did to be successful" approach, it falls flat. Because I'm not them! I've been coaching and training for almost 10 years, and while there are some common themes, every client is different. There are no two people, no two businesses that are exactly alike. Even in direct sales, where every consultant is selling the exact same product from the exact same catalog, the results are markedly different because of WHO is doing the selling and HOW they are doing it.
A blueprint or a framework can show you how, but it may not work for who you are. It's the underlying principles, the concepts, and the WHY this worked that matters. Once you know WHY something works, you can figure out HOW to apply it to your situation in a way that works for WHO you are.
It was my very first tagline and it's still true. You are the most important piece of the puzzle in growing a profitable, sustainable business. Without you, it's just another product, another service, another offering. You are what makes it special. But if you're spending all your time, money, and energy trying to fit yourself into the mold of someone else, you're missing out on your biggest opportunity for success.
Showing up as yourself more completely means being willing to own your shadow and your light. None of us - not even the well-paid gurus and muckety mucks of the world are perfect. No matter how much spit and polish they put on. We all have bad days, make poor choices, and then have to live with the consequences. Being willing to admit your imperfections takes courage, and a little vulnerability, it's true. What I've learned, though, is that when I am willing to show up as myself - warts, sparkles and all - it gives the people around me permission to show up as themselves, too. It's an upward spiral that perpetuates itself.
When I finish speaking in front of an audience, I usually hear two comments. The first is usually about my energy and enthusiasm. The second is about how refreshing it is to see me be so "real" on the stage. They appreciate that I speak without talking down, insulting their intelligence, or making them feel inferior. They appreciate that I'm not afraid to tell the messy stories of my life. It gives them confidence to share their stories - sometimes just with me, but often with a larger audience they've been nervous to talk to.
From my perspective, life is messy. We all know that, yet so many people try to pretend otherwise. Embrace your mess, maybe even love it a little, since that's where the juicy stories come from. That's what makes you relatable.
Don't be afraid to be yourself. It's a job no one else is equipped to do. (click to tweet)
That doesn't mean you have to air all your dirty laundry. I do my best to share my stories in ways that are helpful to others. I'm one of those people who believes that if you can learn from my mistakes, then you won't have to repeat them. I also believe that every choice I've made (for better or worse) has led me to this moment. That if there's something from my journey that can help you on yours, then I want to he able to share it.
We've all put on the brave face, the happy face, the facade that says everything's okay when it's not. But I'm talking about something deeper. You've heard me talk about "The Pretender" and "The Coward" before. One mask protects you from the world, the other protects the world from you. Yet, neither serves your highest good. You have to take off your masks to risk being truly seen.
When you know who you are, you aren’t afraid to admit who you are not. I'm not a scientist. That's my husband. When the kids come home with math homework, I quickly remind them I was a music major in college, so I can count to 12 and divide by 7, but that's about it. I know my limitations there. But it's easy for me to forget those limitations when I slip on the mask of what a good mom is "supposed" to be. I'm pretending. It's frustrating. And it's just digging my hole deeper.
Once you start wearing a mask, it becomes risky to remove it. Showing up as yourself means letting people see what you don't know, what you can't do, what you aren't capable of in this moment. That's scary stuff.
But it also means showing people what you do know, what you can do, and what you are truly capable of in this moment. That is sometimes even more scary.
I grew up in a "gifted" program full of smarty pants kids. We were all too smart for our own good and socially awkward. Most of us had one or two things that we really knew - we were smarter than even the smart kids! But if we dared to show our intelligence in that area, we were quickly brought down a peg by someone who was smart in another area - just to show us that we didn't know everything.
Sadly, that attitude doesn't leave us when we're adults. So being seen as smarter, faster, or better than someone else can become an equally heavy burden and scary proposal.
Masks, to me, are like McDonald's. Once you've seen it, you know what to expect. When you walk into a McDonald's you pretty much know what's on the menu, where the bathroom is, and how competent the counter help will be. On those rare occasions when they're offering a special menu item (remember McDonald's pizza?) it throws you off. Now you're not sure what to expect. That could be good or bad, but either way, you're thrown for a loop for a minute while you get your bearings.
Masks become a cultural shorthand. The problem is that humans grow and change, and masks don't fit forever. Try taking a picture of yourself when you were a child and wearing it around during the day. Unless it's Halloween, people are going to be thrown off. Why is this grown-ass person wearing the face of a small child? What are they hiding? Why are they hiding?
Peeling off the masks is a must-do. How can we fall in love with you if we can't see who you are? If you're wearing a mask, we're not falling in love with you, we're falling in love with the mask, and that creates all kinds of internal backlash and self-loathing. It's a vicious downward spiral that keeps us trying on different masks, hoping that one will eventually fit.
It takes guts, and tremendous amounts of courage to be true to what really matters to you. Lady Gaga takes a risk every time she steps out in public in one of her crazy ensembles. Yet, it's far less of a risk than playing small and not owning her outlandishness. If you fell in love with "small-playing" Lady Gaga, you just might have a heart attack watching her tramp around in some of her crazier get-ups. Her outspoken, outlandish appearance is part and parcel to who she really is.
To deny any part of you is to deny all of you.
You can't say "that's not my hand" when it's clearly connected to your body. If you deny the hand, you deny the body. Likewise to deny what's important to you (family, faith, travel, relationships, etc.), is to deny YOU. You can't deny a part of you. You're denying your whole self, because that "part" is woven into the very tapestry of your existence. It's a meaningful thread of who you are... whether it's a piece from your past, your present, or your future, it's every bit as important as every other part of you.
In the next few days, I'll be sharing a special gift with my subscribers to help remind them to remove their masks and show up more consistently as themselves. If you'd like to get it, be sure you're subscribed above. In the comments below, I'd love to hear your stories. When did you recognize you were wearing a mask? Did you choose to take it off? Why? What happened as a result? It's in sharing your stories that we lift each other up.
About a year ago, my husband and I bought a Porsche. We call it "The Time Machine" because it's really a blast from the past.
When we bought it, we got the expected commentary from friends and family:
"A Porsche? Really? How can you afford that?"
"What are you going to do with a Porsche? It's way too small for your family."
"Mom, can I have it when I graduate from high school?"
... and on and on.
When they found out it was a Porsche 924 - a classic from 1977 - and we only paid about $1500 for it, the comments took a different turn:
"What are you going to do with an old beat up car?"
"Forget it! I don't want my friends seeing me in an OLD car!"
"That's $1500 more than I would have paid."
"Does it have seatbelts?"
"Regular or unleaded gas?"
... and my favorite: "Can you even fit in that thing?"
One guy I used to know - who owns a limited edition Porsche Panamera (valued around $75k) - liked to poke fun and ask me when we were going to get a real Porsche. He'd say to me "Don't you want to see yourself someday in a new Porsche?"
I wonder if he'd say that to his wife - who is about 20 years his junior. 🙂
Last summer was a rough one for us. After two years of trying to keep a failing business venture afloat, and some personal financial issues around the health of our kids, we made a tough decision (more…)
"I am enjoying showing up as myself more completely."
That was the nugget of gold I rendered from my weekend intensive with my coach this past weekend. Once a quarter I sojourn in Minnesota for a few days to do deeper work to heal my "stuff" and open up blocks around my mindset. Because I'm a coach myself, I know the value of having a different perspective to help me open my eyes to my own hangups about success and how my life "should" be at this point in time.
This revelation came as a surprise as much as it came as a soothing realization. There's ease in showing up as myself - without worry or self-censorship. Granted, there are times when a little tact is recommended, but to just be myself fully - warts, sparkles, and all - is a gift I'm learning to give myself (and the world) more regularly.
Comparisonitis is a dreadful condition. It's a horrible inflammation of the ego, causing immense discomfort about who you are, and overall dissatisfaction with anything you've accomplished. When you suffer from Comparisonitis, everyone else is always farther along, doing better, making more money, living the life you believe "should" be yours. There's no sense of satisfaction, and often you feel guilt - like there's something wrong with you, or you need to be doing more.
Comparisonitis is fear in disuise. Instead of doing what we can where we're at, we're constantly comparing ourselves to every Tom, Dick, and Jane out there that appears to be in a better position than us.
One of my first (and admittedly worst) cases of Comparisonitis was with a contemporary colleague of mine. It was around 2008, and another coach was having what appeared to be way more success and making way more money than me. We both launched our businesses about the same time, and I was frustrated at how much exposure she was getting, how many "big name" people were talking her up, and how she looked like she was on the fast track to success.
What I didn't know was that all that surface shine came at a great cost to her personal life. She had taken out a second mortgage on her home so she could invest in all the programs that those "big names" were offering, which came with a promise of promoting her stuff to their audience. Ultimately, she ended up divorcing her husband and starting over on a much smaller scale. She tried to leapfrog and wasn't ready for the hard landing that comes from such a high jump.
You don't know what's going on in someone else's world. Stop comparing your success to theirs. (click to tweet)
There's a difference between Comparisonitis and benchmarking - which I'll get to in a minute - but for now, realize that your first step in moving beyond Comparisonitis is to stop "shoulding" on yourself.
I forget where I first heard the phrase, but if you've worked with me for any length of time, you've heard me use it. We get so caught up in the "shoulds" - instead of accepting (and maybe even embracing) where we are now. I think Mark Silver over at Heart of Business said it to me best:
"As long as you are in comparison, you are rejecting what is true [for yourself], and you are not able to be present to what is... People make up stories to protect themselves from having to surrender to what is currently true for them."
- Mark Silver"
When we're not focused on what is, we're focused on what we think should be happening, what we should be doing, what we should be experiencing. All that does is create more anxiety, more guilt, and more frustration about where we are not, instead of appreciating where we are.
Yet, if we stop comparing ourselves to anyone (except our past selves), we can see how far we've come in our lifetime, despite the obstacles, trials, fear, worry, doubt, and pressure to be something other than who and what we are.
When I look back on my life (instead of comparing that life to someone else), I'm really proud of what I've accomplished, who I've become, and what's on the radar for my future. I get a chance to appreciate my own awesomeness (without arrogance), instead of poo-pooing and downplaying my life because it's not "enough" compared to someone else.
My coach has helped me practice what she calls "AWOJAWA" - awareness without judgement, awareness with acceptance. We often think that pain, discomfort and other feelings of that ilk are "bad" and to be avoided. While it's true that I wouldn't want to live there all the time, sometimes pain can be a powerful tool for recognizing a need to change. Fear can be a powerful motivator to get stuff done. It's not good or bad, it just is.
Likewise, we think that happiness, pride, peace, joy and other feelings of that ilk are "good" and to be sought after. Yet, how much happiness is there in chasing joy? How healthy is it to be peacefully blissed out and completely unaware of the 8 year old setting fire to your kitchen?
It's not good or bad, it just is. We are the ones putting all the judgment labels on our emotions.
Comparisonitis still flares up in me from time to time, and I do my best to use a healthier way to track my growth and progress. Benchmarking is an idea that's used a lot in corporate worlds, and one that I think we can use beneficially in other ways. The idea is to look to a standard and measure our results compared to that standard.
But here's the kicker - you can't measure to some external standard. Take for example, my weight loss journey. If I constantly compared myself to every other woman that was more than 100 pounds overweight, observed the charts and "standards" that governing health agencies said were ideal, I'd be miserable.
My standard, instead, is consistency. What can I do consistently? I can run - if I'm pushed - but I can't sustain that. I hate running (for now anyway). What can I do - and do it consistently? I can get off my butt and dance around my house for 10 minutes a day. Will that cause me to lose 100 pounds overnight? Nope. But once I'm consistent at 10 minutes, I can increase it to 15, and so on.
So I benchmark my progress against my own reasonable standard. Will I get there as fast as I want to - as fast as I think I should?
Um nope. But I'll be making healthier choices more consistently... which eventually leads to the result I want.
Did you hear that? I'll let you take a minute for that to sink in. You are already a success. How's THAT grab ya?
In benchmarking, I'm allowed to see myself as already successful. Because I'm comparing myself now to what I've already done, and what's doable for me going forward. I can celebrate my wins NOW instead of waiting for "someday" in the great beyond.
Tomorrow never comes, yo. And yesterday is always gone. Insert cheesy cliches about embracing this moment here.
So in showing up fully as myself - as often as I can - I get to experience the grace and beauty of my own success. I get to draw closer to the Divine ideal of my life - whatever that is. I'm still figuring it out.
Here's another tidbit I gleaned from Mark - if we look at "excellence" (or "success" in this case) as a way to Master our world, we miss out on the other, more glorious result - we draw closer to the Divine.
So becoming myself more fully means I'm becoming excellent at being myself - instead of becoming something else that moves me farther and farther away from Divine Alignment.
Showing up as myself more completely means I own who I am, and I speak from my true voice - my truth - warts, sparkles, and all. Which, I think, is part of why I'm here on the planet in the first place. God doesn't make extra parts and pieces. We all have a gift and the only way we can share it is if we share it from our true self. I think Judy Garland said something about being a first rate version of yourself instead of a second rate version of someone else. Why would you want to be a second rate version of anything?
It's so important that we understand how important we are - how important YOU are in this world. What do you see as your gifts? And what are you doing to share them with the world - fully as yourself?