A few months ago on my blog I published, If I Knew I Could Not Fail, I Would … in which I listed all the things I would do right now if I knew I could not fail. I forced myself to dream big and think a little outside of the box. I wrote down everything I could think of, but I could only think of four items:
- Focus all of my efforts on group coaching
- Lead live, in-person workshops for groups of 100+
- Host a women’s retreat for 20 creatives
- Start a podcast
I was just putting it out there for the sake of putting it out there, to demonstrate how fun the blog topic was. But in response to the article, one of my previous clients said:
You should do those things on your list even if you might fail at one or two.
And she was right. Of course she was right! Not only do I coach next-level business to clients, my own business was built on my passion for growth and expansion. I constantly envision ways to improve and upgrade my day; it’s in my nature. So why hadn’t I gone for these big dreams?
I guess I was just … scared? Waiting for permission? Hoping to be recognized? Looking for a big break? And those things are exactly what I coach my clients not to do. I certainly could not leave my career wish list hanging. It was time for a big dose of my own medicine.
Do you know what I did next?
I went for the one I wanted the most. I began planning a women’s retreat alongside an amazing line-up of inspirational leaders in our field! I’d been dreaming of collaborating with a handful of amazing ladies, so I reached out to them and pitched my idea … and they all said, “YES!”
I cannot reveal all the details yet, but I can ask you to save the date! We’ll be meeting the weekend of February 27, 2015 in the lovely, culture-rich city of Charleston, SC. It’s going to be amazing. Pencil it in on your calendar because you won’t want to miss this event!
I realized that the upcoming retreat answered one of my soul’s cravings. So, I looked to answer more …
What are you truly craving?
Over the course of the next few months, the “If I Knew I Could Not Fail” experiment evolved into this question: What am I truly craving? And one of the biggest cravings I had in online business was for a deeper connection.
I’m a creative business coach, and when I feel a big moment coming in a session – a moment in which my natural intuition is about to align what is out-of-sync in the client’s life, I have to look up into the webcam during the call (away from my client’s face), so that she can have eye-to-eye contact with me when I deliver that important message. Only one of us gets to truly connect during that powerful moment, and since she’s the client, it’s always her.
The screen gets in the way of a real connection. It’s where I look at my webcam so we can pretend I’m looking into your eyes. It’s where I pretend I’m dressed to the nines while I deliver my greatest blog post, when I’ve really just popped out of bed. It’s where I share my sunlit side.
We always envy others, comparing our shadows to their sunlit sides. – Margaret George
I crave a deeper connection, and the creative retreat I planned for next February – where I’ll be able to meet people face-to-face, look into their eyes, and feel the magic in the room – was only the beginning. Here’s what I did next:
I found a place where we truly belong.
I love that I have built my own career from scratch, but truth be told, this work-at-home business can be lonely. I’ve missed building, brainstorming, troubleshooting, and goofing off with my co-workers. I’ve missed the feeling that comes from working partnerships that evolve into comfortable friendships, and I’ve missed feeling like I knew where I belonged.
A few short months ago, I found a place filled with creative connection + co-working opportunities + an abundance of love and acceptance. I’m a little late to the party, but I’ve recently joined the Oh My! community for creatives.
Inside the Oh My! Handmade Goodness community, you’ll find forums (they’re always buzzing), big ideas and projects you can join in on, plenty of opportunity to share what you’re working on, and loads of support and encouragement. There’s even an area where members share discounts, coupons and free downloads with each other (as an example, I share a free copy of my best-selling e-program, Shop Fundamentals).
When I arrived on the scene, I was able to jump right into the discussion, which was all about what we were going to let go of in order to lasso our biggest dreams. The timing was divine.
I developed my dream client.
I’ve coached hundreds of creatives, some of them ideal and some in disaccord, and I’ve learned a lot about who I want to work with along the way. I named all of the qualities and attributes my dream client would have, and then I placed an ad (aka blog post) to find her.
Once she found the post, I let her know:
I think you’re her, my dreamy entre-prowess. From now on, I’m going to gloss over everything else so that I can focus all of my attention on you and your needs. I’m going to write to you like we’re sitting down for a steamy cup of coffee, I’m going to email you love + kindness (just as a best friend would), and I’m going to create services and products that were made with you in mind.
You know, I’ve made some big changes to my line-up this year (such as posting my monthly income for all to see), and that’s changed the face of [my] blog and the depth of our relationship. I think that’s because you’re ready to make big changes, too.
I built a coaching package that honored my natural abilities.
This might have been one of the scariest leaps I’ve ever taken. In May of this year, I decided to give up smaller, yet reliable streams of income to go all in, on my terms.
I developed a “group coaching concentrate” where multiple business owners could learn from one another and support each other’s growth over a three-month period. I called the first running, The Summer Shift, and for a limited number of clients, I offered to monitor their actions and keep a file on the progress they made towards their goals. I promised to know their businesses as well as I know my own, and to be equally invested in its success.
I didn’t care if it failed; it felt true and right. I believed in it.
And because I did, the most amazing thing happened: The Summer Shift filled up with dreamy entre-prowesses. My work felt more meaningful and fulfilling than ever before, while my clients saw the progress + results they so desperately craved.
2014 will go down in (my) history as the year I lassoed my dreams.
You know that saying, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.”? Since opening my creative business and making big dreams come true, I’ve become a believer in the “uncomfortable zone.” Even though I often face scary challenges that leave me feeling vulnerable to failure and defeat, the rewards I’ve received have heavily outweighed the risks I’ve taken.
Here’s how to lasso your big dreams:
As we are each in creative business, I’m sure you’ve felt vulnerable about your work and business plan, too. I imagine you know how difficult “putting yourself out there” can be. I’m sure that you can relate to the fear and hesitation that feels inescapable when doing something you’ve never done before … because as creative business owners, we regularly have to try things we’ve never done before.
For the purposes of this article, I looked up the definition of “vulnerable.” From Dictionary.com, the three different uses for the word are:
1. capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon: a vulnerable part of the body.
2. open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.: an argument vulnerable to refutation.
3. (of a place) open to assault; difficult to defend: a vulnerable bridge.
I found this interesting because the one I feel most often in creative business is definitely #3: “(of a place) open to assault; difficult to defend.” Dictionary.com used “a vulnerable bridge” as an example of the definition, which got me to thinking:
Aren’t our creative businesses just that? A series of vulnerable bridges between where you are and where you want to be?
No wonder we build armor around our dreams, which by the way, is what I used to think I had to do in order to succeed in an independent career. I was taking a leap that NO ONE I knew had ever taken before, so each time I shared my big dreams, they were open to assault and difficult to defend.
This isn’t the first (and won’t be the last) bridge to cross.
Each next step in your creative business brings you to another vulnerable bridge. Even though you’ve already crossed many vulnerable bridges to get to the safe and solid ground you’re standing on now, the next bridge to appear on your path always presents more difficult challenges to overcome. These scary and seemingly unsafe bridges can sometimes make the journey utterly exhausting.
As I was standing in front of my last vulnerable bridge, I pulled a card that read:
Be Open to Love: The intellect employs an interesting strategy to avoid feeling insecure and facing possible pain or disappointment, especially in matters of the heart: It gathers as much information as possible in advance of a commitment. This works up to a point, but it will never be a substitute for gaining the wisdom and understanding that only come out of direct experience.
Your soul’s purpose right now is to learn about love by entering intimate relationships. Surrender control, and open your heart to these lessons. Ignore secondhand opinions and warnings from others to play it safe, and give in to intimacy.
Your soul’s lesson: Stop trying to avoid pain and disappointment by withholding your heart and commitment. Reflect on and decide what type of love you want from others, and then ask for it! If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you can’t expect anyone else to know, so be honest and take your time. If you’re afraid of intimacy or fear rejection, admit it. And don’t give more to others than you feel comfortable with, only to resent it later when you don’t collect the anticipated return.
If you’re facing the next vulnerable bridge in business, you’re sure to love those words as much as I did. You see, just before you take your first steps to cross the vulnerable bridge ahead of you, your mind plays tricks to protect your heart. You then desperately seek reassurance from others, and if you’re anything like me, most of the people you know in the real world can’t comprehend your vision, let alone the obstacles you currently face.
Moreover, if the bridge is especially vulnerable (higher and scarier than you’ve ever traveled before), the “secondhand opinions and warnings from others to play it safe” can stop you dead in your tracks for days, months, even years. And you’ll get stuck there until your desire for what’s on the other side of that vulnerable bridge trumps all, and you just go for it.