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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.
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 started my Soul Proprietor Coaching Program on February 1, have held two sessions with the entire community and two group coaching sessions so far.
There’s buzz going on in our private Facebook area and comments being posted as our members begin to take on the challenges I’ve offered.
My sense is that it’s well-received, but only when I read the feedback do I gain a clearer picture of my impact. Are you like that?
In our virtual world, what’s the best kind of response for you? Until I hear from my participants, I feel a bit on edge as to whether or not my message is being transmitted.
Today I posted the challenges I put out to individual members, like writing a letter to existing clients announcing a price increase, networking proactively (i.e. soliciting time with the people you really want to meet), editing a LinkedIn profile, and immediately began hearing from my members. I also got excited to read all the exciting things these soul proprietors are taking on. I feel inspired as well.
I was signed up to march across the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday morning as a sign of solidarity with the V-Day events going on around the world. I’d met the organizer of this particular project, Miranda Leigh, at the Omega Women & Power conference I attended last fall. Miranda is the designer of gorgeous, well-designed and symbolic art umbrellas. (I hang mine on the wall between uses as a piece of art.) Miranda had gotten to know Eve Ensler quite well. Eve is the founder of V-Day and creator of The Vagina Monologues. She is a force.
And then I received a phone call that my friend’s mother had passed away and that the funeral would be on Thursday in Westport, CT. I couldn’t do both. How does one prioritize a one-day event and a once-in-a-lifetime celebration? It took me all of two seconds to opt for the funeral, old friends and an event that can never be repeated.
The service was an incredible testimony to Eloise Rabon Brunnemer who had reached the vaunted age of 100 last spring. She never wanted anyone to mention that number (why I don’t know–I’d be shouting it from the rooftops!).
She was the beloved mother of Mary Ann Hall, a remarkable woman and business owner whom I’d met 36 years ago when our daughters were both 2 and in a playgroup together. We were neighbors, became good friends, PTA parents and colleagues over the years.
Mary Ann is the founder of Music for Children, a thriving music education program for young children in which all of my kids participated. Naturally, the music at the service was exquisite starting with a flute rendition of Over the Rainbow. Friends of Mary Ann’s sang and the church reverberated with notes and love. Her son Daniel read from Where the Sidewalk Ends. A gentleman who’d survived the Holocaust, and who had met Eloise on an airplane and become a suitor for many years, spoke eloquently about this fine Southern belle.
There was a crowd of us from Columbus Magnet School days (Mary Ann was President of the PTA back then) who’d known each other for 30+ years there to support her. We stayed and stayed.
I never thought twice about my decision.
I was going through my ‘blogworthy’ file for ideas and came across a clipping from the Times–an article in the PREOCCUPATIONS column by Pam Slim, a successful business coach and author of Escape from Cubicle Nation. It’s entitled Is This the Time To Follow Your Bliss? and is as relevant today as it was when I clipped it in April of 2009.
If you have to live with uncertainty,
you may as well pursue what you care about deeply.
That was the highlighted quote in the piece, and the one I believe is perfectly timely in 2013.
Which is why I’m focusing on doing what you love on my next community call on March 1. When I started An Egg by Jane in 1980, doing what you love (and having the money follow) had not yet become the title of a bestselling book. I just knew that I would make a business out of my passion for my art form. My keynote address became: If I Can Make a Business Out of This, You Can Make a Business Out of Anything, which I still firmly believe.
I’ve never claimed that you’ll make a multi-million dollar business out of doing what you love, but quoting one of the people profiled in Slim’s article, I do believe you’ll be able to state: “My energy is high, I wake up with joy, and I feel alive.”
What a relief to read this wonderful volume and be affirmed for behaviors that rarely get affirmed. I’m talking about the new book sensation called Quiet whose subtitle is: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
If you’ve met me within the last 10 or more years, you may not believe this, but I was extraordinarily shy as a child and young adult. I literally hid behind my mother’s apron/skirt and only occasionally peeked out to see and be seen. It was safe in those folds back then, and I felt protected and secure.
Of course, that doesn’t really prepare you for the next stages of life, like school and work. I remember raising and lowering my hand to volunteer for show-and-tell in first grade. I raised it when the teacher was looking in the other direction, then lowered it when she turned back around to my side of the room. I desperately wanted to share about my new shoes or goldfish, but was equally terrified of opening my mouth. It was a dilemma.
I distinctly remember the first time I offered a thought of my own in an art class at Mount Holyoke College. I remember the room I was in, where I was sitting and even the content of my thoughts. Nothing dramatic to add to the discussion at hand, but enough of a moment in time that it was memorable – the day I first asked to be called on.
How many of you fall into this category? When they say painfully shy, there’s a reason for that well-chosen adverb. It hurts.
Therapy, 12-step recovery and joining Toastmasters were the tools and programs I used over the years to get past this crippling behavior. I’m now often the first one to raise my hand, will speak up when the spirit moves me and am no longer shy about adding my thougths to a discussion.
Even with these learned behaviors, I am an introvert.
Today, because of reading this book, I feel celebrated by the recognition and support that pours forth from Quiet. I heard about Susan Cain when someone suggested I watch her powerful TED talk, which I promptly did and loved.
Why I’m writing about her today is that I launched my Soul Proprietor Coaching Program on Friday and feel like celebrating and shouting from the rooftops, “I did it–in my own quiet way.”
I’m not looking for a million dollar business or thousands of clients. What makes me really happy is serving my community well and earning enough money to have the lifestyle I desire. Simply defining that is half the battle.
Cain’s words are reinforcing my own message to trust my gut, spend time alone developing my program and not constantly be comparing myself to my highly visible and voluminously marketed competition.
Here’s to us introverts! Shhhhhhhhh…
Before I post a quote I’ve heard, I check it out via google for exact wording and reference. This morning, it’s been a slippery slope that I am going to shortcut for the sake of getting this online.
I heard a quote, attributed to George Bernard Shaw, that hit home for me on this 11 degree morning in NYC–
The only decent climate is in bed.
Try finding those words in these days of global warming aka climate change. Call me lazy, but the sentiment of the expression was more important to me today than its origin, so here it is for your enjoyment.
I noticed what judgments went through my mind as I allowed myself the luxury of not getting it perfect. THEY‘ll think I’m a slacker. A smart, diligent blogger would go to any lengths to get this accurate. Who are you to use a quote you didn’t come across on your own?
That’s my message today. Notice when you’re being hard on yourself. Give yourself permission, just this once, to be okay with not being perfect. What Sharon said was that it’s not actually the step of allowing yourself to be okay with what is, but the step before that when you first notice that you’re NOT being okay with it and have that moment of awareness that you have the ability to change this. That’s where lovingkindness begins to take a foothold in your life.
Actually, that’s the decent climate I’m looking for today.
I committed to my goal buddy that I would do a run-through of my 2/1 coaching lesson for my upcoming Soul Proprietor Community by tomorrow morning at 9am when we check in with each other.
Since making that commitment yesterday, I have filed my tax returns, ordered theatre tickets, arranged a lunch date for my son’s birthday, confirmed breakfast plans with my daughter and granddaughter, blogged about my process, responded to emails and spent a few minutes on Facebook.
In actual preparation for that goal, I did take my notes down off the wall and arranged them onto sheets of paper in the order that I want to refer to them. That required a nap.
I know that I will have rehearsed once before our early call tomorrow, but I won’t pretend that it’s my go-to activity, even though it is the most important work I’m developing. I need a forcing mechanism–that call with my goal partner–to give me an artificial deadline. This way I’ll be 100% ready when I go live in two weeks.
I’m not worried about it. Just observing my behavior. One of the points I intend to make during that call is what I’ve heard described as the highest form of spiritual development (i.e. what I strive for every day): non-judgmental awareness.
“Ah, look at that, Jane. You’re putting other things in front of this activity that will give you great peace of mind once you’ve worked on it.”
I’m heading off to a meeting now knowing full well that when I get back, I will do my first run-through, with my recording device on, so I can experience having talked this through. It will most definitely get easier after that, and I will continue to commit to rehearsing again and again.
What’s different about my procrastination process at this point in my career is that I can be a casual observer to it and not a harsh critic of it. I wish you that peace of mind in your own procrastination behaviors.