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I’ve been in NYC for seven months now and had my first up-close celebrity siting on the subway this morning. I recognized Christopher Palu, one of the finalists from Project Runway- Season 10, a design show I have avidly watched since its inception*. Anyone who watches any of these reality shows knows how close you feel to the contestants. We watch them not only demonstrating their talents, but also in their hotel rooms eating breakfast, quibbling with each other and dissing the competition.
But I refrained from greeting him by name in the subway.
I should have said what was on my mind. “I think you are amazingly talented, and I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated watching your creative process during the season you were on Project Runway.”
Instead, I was trying to be a cool New Yorker, accepting that celebrities walk amongst us, and giving him his space. I said nothing.
Why I regret it is, like many other business owners and ordinary citizens, I question my gifts on a regular basis. And then I’ll receive an email, like I did this weekend from a former client letting me know that she appreciates what I’ve contributed to her life. She wrote:
You never know where your face is shining. I just tossed a Mary Oliver book back in this basket (in my bathroom) and the books rearranged themselves to show your face. Made me smile. You’re sandwiched between Rumi & another Mary Oliver. Good company!
And I feel lifted up and re-energized. Yes, I would have survived another day without that input, but it was like a booster shot that added extra zip to my spirit for the day.
I want to go on record and encourage each person reading this today to share a good word with those you admire. Let them know. Say something positive to someone who has inspired you, touched you or made your life a bit brighter. Some of that karma may find its way back to you. And how would that feel?
It may be a little Pollyanna-ish, but I’ll cop to that and advise this anyway.
*At first I rented the DVD’s from the library to get caught up on the years I missed. Now, not being the owner of a television set, I download the show from iTunes when it’s in season.
The ‘impostor syndrome’ came up recently in a group I was leading. One member, who by the way had recently received major recognition in the media, described that less-than feeling she was experiencing. I encouraged her to share her feelings, because they’re real, painful and need an outlet. But I also wanted her to know that she was not alone. I asked if anyone else in the room ever felt that way. EVERY hand went up, including mine.
The best method I have for overcoming or dealing with envy of the competition is to drill down to what it is about their business model you wish was yours and use that information to grow your own company.
In my book Soul Proprietor, Lesson 9 is: In changing what is into what can be, we learn what we need to know.
That issue came up big time for me when I was first exhibiting my artwork. The jewelry display, and its proprietor across the aisle from my booth, were the objects of my jealousy. Not only did she have an elaborate set-up with brown ultrasuede walls dripping with her masterpieces, she also had a mob of women with fistfuls of money seeking her attention and products. There were other sales people in her booth helping her. In short, she had everything I wanted, but with a different craft and more experience.
That didn’t mean anything to me. I wanted instant recognition and fortune. Who doesn’t?
After a bout of unrewarded pouting, I began to analyze what it was she was doing and how she may have achieved her success. I had time on my hands as my booth was not busy at all giving me time to think and plan. Of course, you’ll have to read the lesson yourself for the details, but suffice it to say, my methodology worked. I became successful and stopped looking over my shoulder.
The impostor syndrome doesn’t go away, but now I can recover from it much faster or ask myself the question: Is that really what I want? The answers are changing.
You never know where inspiration and motivation will strike.
For me it was late Friday in a new chiropractor’s office staring at a sign on his wall. Under the emboldened saying were the words: “Five Dangerous Words to Say” and above that were the words themselves:
“Maybe it will go away.”
It doesn’t matter what the IT is. In this wellness provider’s office, it was body pain. But, no doubt, you’re familiar with that thought pattern even if it doesn’t land you in a health practitioner’s domain.
“If I don’t do anything,” it says, “it may get better.” And sometimes that’s so.
Last night, as my computer sputtered and stalled in the Outlook phase of my deskwork, I insisted, “Maybe it will go away.” The dreaded thought I continued to have after I abandoned ship for the night was that what I really needed wasn’t the new monitor I bought and installed last week, but a whole new system. Perish the thought.
This morning, however, I sailed through my inbox leading me to believe it was a connection problem and that everyone in my building was sucking the Time Warner cable lines dry at the same time. I won’t choose to dig deeper until the pain is too great and I have to.
You get to pick your challenges and where to check your foundations. You can sail along in your work/personal life for a long time without feeling the pain. But at some point, it catches up with you, and demands your attention. As it has with the back/leg pain I’ve been enduring for a while now. I know I need to look at the greater system and stop applying bandaids.
Where else that applies in my life is directly addressing issues as they arise and not sweeping them under the rug. It’s seeking out and going to a new doctor, asking for the contract IN WRITING, gently confronting the issue at hand IN THE MOMENT and not hoping it will go away. I’m not 100%, but I’m moving towards the goal of living in the moment, addressing reality and dealing with what is now.
I had the privilege and pleasure of seeing ANN, a play written and performed by Holland Taylor based on the life of Governor Ann Richards. I was inspired not only by watching someone who brought to fruition a 6+ year labor of love including the research and writing, but also the marvelous window she opened into this extraordinary leader’s world.
My particular favorite part was that the audience got to see Ann at work in her office, where she:
- Fielded calls from Bill Clinton
- Made a life and death decision concerning a man on Death Row
- Navigated family dynamics among her children regarding the playing of charades and her sensitive son’s feelings on the matter
- Paced nervously because her speech writer had not yet faxed her a talk she’d soon be delivering, etc., etc., etc.
For me, the greatest demonstration of her character was the way she handled what at first seemed to be a favor, but quickly turned into an expensive debacle.
A constituent had arranged a flight for her on a private plane. When she discovered that this ‘favor’ could be used against her politically, she offered to pay for the flight. It cost her over $8000, and she promptly wrote a check out of her own account, down to the last 40 cents worth. She called out to her offstage secretary that she should notify the bank that this large check that would be coming through. I loved how, even though it was a painful, expensive lesson, she didn’t hesitate to do the right thing.
I often congratulate myself for how much I get done in a day. Now, I’m going to laugh at my grandiosity when I think about what Ann Richards accomplished in an hour. Humbling, but truly inspiring.
I had the privilege of being the opening presenter at the Make.Art.Work series back in January. My topic, my specialty, was goal-setting. I got to be with the artists enrolled in the sessions held in Fairfield, New Haven and Hartford. I challenged them to come up with a pie-in-the-sky opportunity that would change their lives forever. We had dynamic interchanges and commitments to take the next right action in the direction of that dream.
On Sunday I had the good fortune to run into two of the artists who had attended. One of them, Lisa Keskinen, was exhibiting her art at a gallery in Cornwall, CT. Among her pieces was a mock-up of a public art installation that she had ‘dreamed up’ during my session. I was beyond thrilled to hear that it was in progress.
Attending her show that morning was Amelia de Neergaard who filled me in on what’s been happening since she attended my class this winter. I asked her to write up what she’d been doing, and she kindly obliged. I believe her response will be inspiring and informative to anyone who ever gets stuck:
At your workshop, I made the goal to develop a website before March 1st, something I’ve been intending to do for a couple of years. Deciding which company to use–there are several that offer templates for art portfolio websites–was the first hurdle. Finding one that allowed you to customize it so it didn’t look like all the others was next. Checked out wordpress–lots of customizable variations but need to learn how to use it. Signed up for lynda.com. Sat for 2 hours just learning how to link the domain name to the website. There’s got to be an easier way, besides hiring someone to do it (cost is a factor, and as a former graphic designer, I want to learn how to do it myself).
In the meantime, out of a need to accomplish something more quickly, I decided to look at some of the artist residencies I was considering applying to. A deadline of March 1st was for the Haystack Open Studio Residency, a new, free program for artists who want to work on their own in beautiful studios overlooking the ocean in Deer Isle, Maine. I’d been there several times in the past to take a workshop in a specific media, usually paper making or fiber-based sculpture. The “open studio” in the title means that you can explore different media and work in one or a variety of studios– printmaking, metals, ceramics, fiber or wood.
I knew that I thrive in this environment, having worked 12 hours a day in past years, energized by the challenge and inspiration of this community of artists. No menial chores, no distractions, and wonderful food served three times a day. I applied: uploaded images, references, statements, resume, etc–and three weeks later was informed that I was accepted!
Another perk was seeing that the list of selected artists included two highly accomplished artists whose work I have admired and had considered taking workshops with in the past.I’ve been reading your blog off and on for several years, and appreciate your words of wisdom. “Start from where you are” is my favorite and gave me permission to ignore the myriad inner voices that try to tear me down– “I’m not good enough, I’m too old, I don’t have time…”
Lately I have been applying for grants and shows more often, and succeeding, much to my surprise. I’ve been letting my passions carry me, and not letting my fears control me. This has been a gradual climbing out of a very “stuck” place. When I finally got unstuck and took action, well, things started moving forward. I am also realizing that I have to learn to set goals and recognize dreams. Too many years of relying on somebody else to make decisions and set goals, left me just going from task to task, and helping others fulfill their dreams.
I was such a novice when I first walked into the doors of the Entrepreneurial Woman’s Network (EWN) 20 years ago. I didn’t even knew what the word networking meant back then. A colleague had mentioned that there were other women business owners in the Fairfield County area, and would I care to join her for one of their meetings.
In my youthful arrogance, having been in my own business for about 10 years at that time, I thought, “Sure, maybe I can teach them a thing or two.”
It’s only when we enter new arenas that we get to see what we really know. For one, I had no idea how to go up to a group of women and introduce myself. I was incredibly shy, but fortunately had a business name that attracted attention. “What exactly is An Egg by Jane?” I got asked over and over.
I learned that each time I replied and took note of the listener’s expression, my description (i.e. 30-second commercial which I’d also never heard called that) changed and improved. I got to define what I did and for whom.
The thing I most valued about EWN then and now is meeting women who could help me in business. From our membership I created my own Mastermind Group that is still going strong today, found graphic designers, computer instructors, marketing consultants and communications experts who have continuously helped me grow my business. I’ve also attracted clients from our midst, many of whom have become lifelong friends.
It’s always an honor to be asked to speak at any organization, but it’s particularly rewarding to be invited by the network that fostered my growth. Some of my earliest public speaking opportunities came through EWN when I spoke on panels and at morning roundtables. To have the honored spot for an evening event is truly a cherished dream.
I hope to see a lot of familiar faces on Tuesday night and would love it if you would join me then. I’ll be sharing the lessons I’ve learned in my 30+ years in business, plus answering questions from the group that they’re dealing with on a daily basis in today’s marketplace.
One lesson I included in the first edition of my book Soul Proprietor was how important image is. I remember looking up EWN in the phone book (that’s how long ago that was) and seeing an address on the Post Road. “Wow!” I thought. “Real estate on the main drag of Westport, CT. This must be a sizable organization.”
Turned out the address was a Mailboxes, USA postal box (before these were ubiquitous), but it got me to the next step of the relationship, and that’s what creating a big appearance can do for you. Once we met, a fancy address was less important that the quality of its membership, which I’ve enjoyed for all these years.
She’s the author of The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life, and a great speaker. She presented some astonishing facts–that Baby Boomers are turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 per day, and that we’re heading toward a world where there are more walkers (as in the metal kind) than strollers!
Marci shared some of her own story. I had read her columns in the NYTimes where she was a highly paid (by her own admission) freelancer. And how, in 2008, she was shockingly let go despite the popularity of her blog. In publicly sharing that story in the Times, she received an outpouring of response signaling her to investigate this trend–figuring out what to do next– more deeply and leading her down the path of Encore Careers.
That’s a smidgen of the day’s events. Read more about BA50 on their website.
I’m excited to announce that I’ve been invited as a guest speaker on a cruise this November. This has long been a goal of mine–to vacation and work at the same time, which I encourage every lifestyle entrepreneur to do as well–figure out ways to incorporate your desires, like travel, into your worklife.
I’ll be telling you much more about the cruise soon, but wanted to share an article I wrote for Lois Grasso, the woman who is putting this week together, particularly for holistic practitioners. I believe it’d be great for every soul proprietor as well. I submitted this piece for the cruise’s website.
Have you ever had a great idea, felt enthusiastic about making it a reality, gotten off to a rousing start and then fallen off the cliff? Did you say daily? Yeah, me, too.
Here’s what it can look like. You meet with a colleague for coffee where you brainstorm ways of working together. Your combined positive energy fills the place as you sketch out your business model on a napkin, estimate the dollar values you’ll bring to the party and even consider how you’ll spend the millions you’ll be earning as a result of these efforts. You shake hands, slap high fives, pack up your equipment and part company.
And nothing happens.
Oh, but it does.
An unseen force creeps in, unseen and unbidden, and begins the process of sabotaging your best efforts.
A little voice inside your head whispers, “I don’t really belong in this partnership.” “He’s going to discover what an impostor I am.” “What was I thinking? I can’t take on another project.”
You don’t pick up the phone to follow up. You carry around the weight of indecision and procrastination. Time passes. The enthusiasm and energy of that meeting diminishes and fades away. Sound familiar?
I call this spiritual vandalism.
Something entered your mind and heart that had nothing to do with the initial spark of enthusiasm and commitment. Left untended, that negative energy takes on a life of its own. It’s intangible, but present, and saps you of your drive.
There is a concept in criminology called the Broken Windows Theory which feels like a ‘real world’ parallel to spiritual vandalism. From Wikipedia:
Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it’s unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside. Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or even break into cars.
Mayor Rudy Giuliani took this model to heart and made sure that graffiti was removed from subways; he cracked down on public alcohol consumption and fare evasion as a signal of zero tolerance.
What if, instead of succumbing to your negative thoughts, you immediately took action and combated your gremlins and saboteurs with positive steps in the direction of your vision?
I’ll tell you what will happen. They will disappear as quickly as the Wicked Witch of the West melted when water was poured on her. These vandals are emotional and spiritual bullies who love to keep you stuck. I know because I’ve had them all my life, but have built up my spiritual forces to combat them daily.
Here are my two winning strategies for eradicating these thugs from your life:
- As soon as you recognize you’re having a ‘vandalous’ thought, take an immediate action. Pick up the phone, do the next thing on your list, move a muscle—change a thought.
- Shine the light of day on the hooligan. Call a friend and report this monster. “I’m having a bad thought and just wanted to share it with someone who cares about me.”
I’d love to tell you that they’ll disappear in time, but they are relentless. They will continue to pop up and thrive in an atmosphere of neglect. Your spiritual awareness and heart are the antidote to this kind of vandalism. Keeping up your daily practices of meditation, prayer, random acts of kindness and interdependence with others is a healthy prescription for vandal-less living.
Often I get passionate about an idea, then make it bigger and bigger so that evenutally it becomes impossible to make any progress. Then I use “failure” as an excuse not to try anything like that ever again. Telling my husband about it, I explained it like this: when building a fire, it’s smart to get rid of the old ashes, light some crumpled-up newspaper, then put some twigs on. After the twigs have caught, put on some small logs. When the small logs are burning nice and hot, then larger logs can be added. All too often, I plunk a large log onto the newspaper shortly after it’s caught fire. The flame is snuffed out and I say, “see, it didn’t work” and then sit in the cold, pouting. So in keeping with my analogy, I’m going to sit and watch my twigs burn for a while.
Our next session is on Friday at noon (EDT).
I take notes at most events I attend, mining for gold to pass onto you, and also because I immediately forget so much of what I hear! When I transcribe these words, I highlight what I found most important and save it in a document.
Last week’s Women’s Summit provided definite keepers. I enjoyed Kay Koplovitz’s talk and have this quote to share:
Sometimes naivete will take you across borders you shouldn’t cross.
I can’t remember the title of the course on satellite transmissions she caught sight of and was transfixed by in her early 20′s–definitely not a subject that would have attracted my attention. But Kay was riveted by the subject matter of those waves that send images to our TV’s from outer space way back before ANY of us even knew about satellite dishes. She was also a mega-baseball fan and arranged the first satellite televised game between the Yankees and the Red Sox. She had a signed contract with George Steinbrenner (speaking of borders you shouldn’t cross…) and was tickled to be such a pioneer. Until the next day when baseball’s Commissioner Bowie Kuhn phoned her to cease and desist.
After a back and forth gambit about the rights she thought she had, she offered Mr. Kuhn to trade possessions–his baseball games for her ability to display them worldwide. He invited her in to talk.
My mouth dropped open at her courage, knowledge and naivete. Who did she think she was to go up against the likes of Bowie Kuhn?! I even went to the microphone to ask that out loud (in different words). How did she have the courage and know-how to pose such a question?
I loved her response to me.
I’m paraphrasing: When you know what you have to offer and listen really carefully to what you’re being told, the answers are there for you to hear.
She knew she had something of value and that baseball could benefit from it. She did make a deal, and that relationship put her on the map and gave her a seat at the table. She got my vote.