As I write this, it’s the end of the fourth week of lockdown here in the UK. And the question over whether the bird song is louder than previous years is one that I’ve been pondering on for the past few days.
I took a break from my hour exercise today and sat on the grass in a little valley, nestled in the Devil’s Punchbowl. I feel incredibly fortunate to be living just five minutes walk from acres of National Trust land, here on the Surrey/Hampshire borders.
As I closed my eyes, the birds around me were singing.
Are they louder than previous Springtimes?
There’s no doubt that for those of you who live in the cities, that the birds sound louder than ever before. But for me, sitting on that grass, I rarely hear traffic, even on the busiest of days.
I refrain from googling this question now I am back home because my educated guess is that, no, the birds aren’t singing any louder than before. Yes, we have seen some dramatic changes to pollution levels across the globe; from Venice to the banks of the River Ganges. But I doubt that our birds are pumping up the volume because we are all in lockdown.
The reason is more likely to be because I am quieter than usual.
Without the hustle and bustle of trips up to London for meetings, the regular family taxi pick-up from the train station and meet-ups with friends, I find myself, along with the whole nation, with absolutely nowhere to go, except my daily exercise hour and essential grocery shopping.
I find I have the time to sit on my bench in my front driveway to have my morning coffee. I have the time to take my hour exercise every day, walking across acres of heathland and woodland. I find I have more time to spend with myself, despite the fact that there are four other adults in the house with me.
My awareness of outside noise such as the Springtime bird song is simply turned up because I have been more still in one place than for a long time.
Now, what has this to do with business?
Plenty, I promise you.
Because it’s this stillness that allows you to experience your own business. When the emails are closed down, you stop scrolling your newsfeeds and the Zoom calls are finished, this is your opportunity to sit in the stillness.
I get it.
Stillness can feel incredibly difficult for a lot of people; especially for those Dominant Do-ers among us. It wasn’t something that came to me easily, either. As a self-confessed strong, independent woman who has spent the first 40-odd years of life being a person who strives in getting stuff done, I have had to learn how to be still.
I have taken courses, hired coaches and invested a lot of money in helping me settle so I can hear the stillness. Some may say it has been the menopausal awakening that many women experience during the start of their fifth decade. Others may call it a mid-life crisis!
But stillness has become the place I come back to any time I need to make a decision.
Stillness has become the grounding I need before switching tasks or taking on a new project.
Stillness allows me to connect with my True Profit Compass; my version of how I want the energies of money, creativity and impact to show up in my business.
And stillness now is allowing me to hear the bird song.
I’d love to know what you are noticing now you have nowhere to go. What has been amplified around you now you have nowhere to go?
Until next time, do less, be more, play bigger.
I’ve been running events, in-person and virtual, for sixteen years; ever since I first started up my coaching and training business. My first workshop was in a room above a local hair salon, usually used for training nail technicians.
Back in October 2004, they swept aside the bottles of nail varnish so I could run a very intimate life coaching workshop; one person who’d bought a £25 ticket from a poster I had up in the local village hall, my next-door neighbour and a friend who I pleaded ‘to make up the numbers’.
From there, I got braver and started running half-day marketing workshops, every half term at my local YMCA in Guildford. I ran those for about two years, getting fifteen people in the room who wanted to learn about email marketing, blogging and writing marketing copy. Teleseminars came on to the scene at about the same time, which gave me my first experience of running virtual training. Since then I’m not sure I can count the total number of webinars and virtual training sessions I’ve run over the years; the total probably runs up into the thousands!
But when it came to live streaming my training day, Play Your Bigger Game, I’d always had an excuse to NOT do it.
Play Your Bigger Game became a signature workshop that I’ve run for the past three years to teach small business owners the principles of True Profit Business; how to step up and grow, without burning out in the process. We also run these days to invite those interested in ongoing mentoring and accountability in their business growth journey to join our Momentum programme. With the support of my team, Melina Abbott, Senior Coach, and Alexia Padgham, Customer Support Manager, we have created a slick and efficient process to allow us to run these events effortlessly. I seriously have so much fun running these days and absolutely love the community of high energy people we attract and engage with during the day.
Why would I want to change what works?
Well, that’s exactly what we need to do sometimes to discover how far we can stretch to our fullest potential.
And if there is one huge benefit to our current crisis, it is that we are all being challenged to stretch and adapt to a new way of running our businesses.
As we approached our next Play Your Bigger Event during the threat of lockdown back in March, there was absolutely no way I was going to cancel. There’s a rule I’ve always lived by ever since that first workshop in a nail technician room; never cancel an event, no matter how few tickets you sell.
And ‘not cancelling’ didn’t mean that my event was going to be turned into ‘just another webinar’.
Yes, the content I was delivering could very easily be converted to slides and webinar presentation style. But we knew that it wasn’t just the content that people came for; they came for the engagement, energy and community.
They came to be inspired and to give themselves the space they needed to think bigger.
Once I had decided that we were going to put our full energy into making sure our virtual delivery still had the high energy and impact that many of our clients now expect of us, the challenge was on. I wanted to create my own TV studio at home and set up three different rooms for people to experience; a training room, the main room for group discussion and breakout rooms for smaller group networking and interaction. My photo below will show you the tangle of wires and camera set up that I used to create this on the day.
And what I wanted to share with you here today was some of the key lessons I have learnt from the experience to help you stretch your thinking about running live events, too.
1) Be inspired by what’s (im)possible
Call it divine timing, but a few weeks before my own event, One of Many, a women’s leadership training company, had to make the tough decision to move their own annual conference to a virtual experience. With more than 500 tickets sold, myself included, they shifted the whole two-day event online in just 36 hours. This happened a week before lockdown, so many had already travelled to London, some having flown in from different continents.
The One of Many team stepped up beyond belief and delivered an incredible two-day virtual experience. Inspired by what they were able to do on such short notice and such an enormous scale, I realised the potential of live streaming my own event.
2) Plan … but keep agile
The week before we knew we were going into lockdown, I booked a videographer and his team to come to the day. The intention was that we would still be in the room but open up the event to a live stream for anyone not able to travel or need to self-isolate.
A few days later, more and more events were being cancelled. The venue was still happy for us to be there, but because many people were now self-isolating, it looked like it could only be me, my team and the two video guys in the room.
A couple of days later, I made the call to do the event from home. Even though everyone on the team, and many of my ticket holders, was still prepared to travel at this stage, I didn’t want to take any risks.
A couple of days later still, we were in lockdown. The videographers were cancelled, and my team were still happy to run the day but from our home offices in Surrey, Shropshire and Kent. I got onto Amazon and started to order the tech needed to do this myself. One TV stand and photography stand and curtain later, I had got together my spare tripods, webcams and studio lighting; I had created my own TV studio at home.
Could I have planned it out like this? No. Every day our world was changing and new rules were being set. I held on to my vision of what I wanted to create but stayed agile to re-think all our possibilities with each turn of events.
3) Prepare to the nth degree
I knew many people who’d bought tickets to our originally advertised live event would be wondering how an all-day virtual training session will work, especially as many would be having a few more (big and small) people in the house with them on the day.
All-day virtual events aren’t new but I was guessing that for most people who were joining us, this was maybe their first time. It was certainly the first time for us to be delivering one!
So we got busy the week before, working through all the logistics to ensure everyone was prepared for this new and exciting way of learning and engaging. We covered the timings and agenda for the day, including opening up the Zoom room half an hour before we were due to get started to welcome people in, just as Alexia would have done at our usual registration desk at the venue.
We got comfort breaks scheduled so that everyone could move, stretch and refresh their drinks. And we ran a lunchtime networking to give everyone the choice to switch completely off or join a Breakout Session and have a virtual lunch with us.
In our delegate packs, we gave them full instructions on how to use zoom, including how the Breakout rooms were doing to work, and helped everyone communicate with their family members, suggesting they give them the timings of when you are coming out for breaks and explain to them the importance of giving you this space to engage fully. We even gave them a Do Not Disturb – I’m Playing My Bigger Game’ poster to put on their door.
4) Dress for success
We wanted everyone to be comfortable but to think about how they wanted to show up. This wasn’t a vanity exercise. Everyone may have started to enjoy wearing all-day-PJs but our day together was a day to stretch everyone’s business thinking and turn up for the day as the CEO of their business.
What you wear, including how you style your hair and make up your face, will mentally prepare you to play your bigger game. Not only did this make a huge difference to the energy of the day, everyone loved the opportunity to dress up when they hadn’t left the house for more than a food shop or their daily exercise.
5) Have the right team to support you
Technically I could have done this event by myself, but the reality was to ensure the high expectations that I had set, I needed my full team to support me.
Alexia’s eye for detail for pre and post event planning was integral to the success of the day and she amazed me how she quickly adapted our event ‘ops manual’ to cover everything needed to run this on Zoom. During the day, she managed the attendance, helped out with any technical queries and shared the relevant PDFs and links at the right times.
Melina stepped up and ran both the chat and the breakout sessions, which meant I could focus on the content and being the trainer for the day. Making the decision to put her in the driving seat of the Zoom session and making me co-host was definitely the right thing to do.
We had WhatsApp running so we could communicate outside of the Zoom room, as well as planned for emergencies such as power outages or Zoom booting any of us out.
It was only about half-way through the day that I really appreciated the fact that this virtual day was also being managed virtually, by three people across three corners of the UK. The team doesn’t have to be in the same room as you!
6) Go beyond your thinking, and hold that vision
‘An engaging and energy fueled day’ was my vision and I stuck to it. I didn’t want this event to be run as a typical webinar, where you simply watch the slides and send messages in the chatbox. This day started at 9am and ran through to 5pm so even though we were unable to bring everyone together in the same physical space that we normally do at our Play Your Bigger Game events, we put our full energy into making sure our virtual delivery still has the high energy and impact that many of our clients now expect of us.
During the day we invited everyone to join different breakout rooms and work with smaller groups on the various exercises we had planned. Plus we factored in quiet thinking time, as well as open Q&A sessions, to help mix up the day.
How did our event turn out?
To be honest, beyond my wildest expectations. We not only had everyone who bought a physical ticket – bar one – be able to attend the day, we also sold a further four tickets for the virtual event at the full £125+VAT price.
When everyone around me during our last week of promotion was offering free webinars and giving away content, I really did wonder whether it was the right thing to do. But I stuck to my belief that our event was worth it; it was the content and container that created the value, not the food and refreshments that the venue would have provided.
We’ve learnt a lot about how to make more time for our Breakout sessions and how to manage the chat better, but here are just some of the comments we got back from those attended:
“Really good. I think the use of the two ‘locations’ worked brilliantly. Of course, there is a lot to be said for meeting people in person but I think you did brilliantly. I started using online meeting technology in 2000 and I’ve rarely experienced a better session. Well done.”
“Surprisingly good, no post-lunch slump. I found my focus didn’t drop during the event and I probably talked to more people than perhaps I would have at a live event, not sure, I’ll have to attend a live event and then feedback on that!”
“I loved it. It meant I could take part without the worry and expense of travelling to the event. I get put off from attending events because of the logistics around my lifestyle, but this was a great way of doing it. Plus, no travelling for hours to get home afterwards either. Or getting up early to get to the venue on time.”
And we made sales.
I was nervous about this part of the day, for sure. Without being in the room with people, there is no opportunity to speak at length during the coffee break or in the bar afterwards. But this didn’t seem to make a difference.
It helps, for sure, having a programme that serves the right level of support that’s needed right now. Momentum is about supporting business owners to play the long game, to plan for the future and put in the systems, processes and team in place to help them grow. However, what we deliver isn’t a low cost membership so even with the four figure price tag, I was delighted that our event worked both as a training day, and a sales day.
We loved this format so much that I am planning another live stream event shortly (details coming out very soon) and it’s certainly made me rethink my event strategy going forward. Although there is no doubt that we will go back to meeting in person at some point, there is absolutely the risk that we will see a ripple effect of shorter lockdowns in the Autumn and next year.
Those businesses who have not cancelled their training events during this period, but postponed them to later this year, may find that if they don’t adapt to a new way of delivery, that they will have to cancel if we go into another lockdown again. And if they are unable to refund tickets because they’ve spent the ticket sales already, it’s going to cost them.
If you run live events and workshops, I’d love to know what you are planning to do. How are you adapting this new world of virtual delivery? And what have you been inspired to change and try out?
Until next time, do less, be more, play bigger.
I know that none of us could ever have imagined our current status quo. Some of you are now at home with children, others have now found your previously quiet workspaces occupied by spouses. We all have friends and family who we know are vulnerable, so there’s no doubt you are deeply concerned.
We are all facing some of the most challenging weeks and months ahead.
That said, I believe we have to find ways to keep moving forward and find a new normal in which to operate. Which is why I want to share with you today the story of James Stockdale, former vice presidential candidate, naval officer and longest surviving Vietnam prisoner of war.
Last week I was due to interview a good friend of mine for the next series of my True Profit Business podcast. She is inspirational in so many ways, not least because of her deep connection to intuitive thinking in her business strategy. I’ve known her since she started her business from her converted garage 14 years ago and have admired her balance of commitment and grace as she led her team to build one of the biggest brands in family holidays.
Decimated by the past six weeks, the day we were due to speak was following some of the toughest days yet. We both decided that now was not the time to do this interview. We spoke on the phone instead. Her story is not mine to share but suffice to say I was sobbing during the call. And for several hours after.
What I can share with you today is her introduction to me of the Stockdale Paradox.
His story is not an easy one to read. I’ve only skimmed the top; his seven years of torture and endurance contain many horrific incidents. However, it is his strategy of his survival that I have taken inspiration from and feel it’s so relevant to what we all are facing right now.
Author Jim Collins summarises Stockdale’s story in his book, “Good to Great”:
The name refers to Admiral Jim Stockdale, who was the highest-ranking United States military office in the “Hanoi Hilton” prisoner-of-war camp during the height of the Vietnam War. Tortured over twenty times during his eight-year imprisonment from 1965 to 1973, Stockdale lived out the war without any prisoner’s rights, no set release date, and no certainty as to whether he would even survive to see his family again. He shouldered the burden of command, doing everything he could to create conditions that would increase the number of prisoners who would survive unbroken while fighting an internal war against his captors and their attempts to use the prisoners for propaganda.
At one point, he beat himself with a stool and cut himself with a razor, deliberately disfiguring himself, so that he could not be put on videotape as an example of a “well-treated prisoner.” He exchanged secret intelligence information with his wife through their letters, knowing that discovery would mean more torture and perhaps death. He instituted rules that would help people to deal with torture (no one can resist torture indefinitely, so he created a step-wise system–-after x minutes, you can say certain things–-that gave the men milestones to survive toward). He instituted an elaborate internal communications system to reduce the sense of isolation that their captors tried to create, which used a five-by-five matrix of tap codes for alpha characters. (Tap-tap equals the letter a, tap-pause-tap-tap equals the letter b, tap-tap-pause-tap equals the letter f, and so forth, for twenty-five letters, c doubling in fork.) At one point, during an imposed silence, the prisoners mopped and swept the central yard using the code, swish-swashing out “We love you” to Stockdale, on the third anniversary of his being shot down. After his release, Stockdale became the first three-star officer in the history of the navy to wear both aviator wings and the Congressional Medal of Honor.
How on earth did he deal with it when he was actually there and did not know the end of the story?”
“I never lost faith in the end of the story,” he said when I asked him. “I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which in retrospect, I would not trade.”
Finally, I asked, “Who didn’t make it out?”
“Oh, that’s easy,” he said. “The optimists.”
“The optimists? I don’t understand,” I said, now completely confused given what he’d said earlier.
“The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart. This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end–-which you can never afford to lose–-with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
What I’ve taken from this story is the danger of blind hope and optimism.
We don’t know when all this ‘will end’. It’s not ‘business as usual’ and we will never go ‘back to normal’; what we are experiencing right now and in the coming weeks and months will be felt for years from now.
But this is not the time to be falling into fear and pessimism. Several of my Momentum members have been reporting over the weekend of requests for work still coming in. Hurrah! But there’s no doubt many of you are, and will be, experiencing a drop in revenue over the coming weeks and months because of projects postponed and client work cancelled.
Fear is percolating from all angles but this is not a time for panic. We only have to look at the impact panic buying has had our food supply chain to know that a scarcity mindset is NOT helpful.
If you are like almost all my clients that I work with, you are running a low-cost business that sells your expertise, talents or skills in some form or other. You may have a small team, but you probably aren’t one of the many thousands of businesses who will have to take advantage of the Government’s funding and assistance in the coming months.
You are self-employed, freelancing or running a service-based business from home or virtual offices, and even if you take advantage of the promised tax holidays, you will still have to pay your tax at some point; they are simply giving us grace periods to help manage our immediate situation.
However, this doesn’t mean we fall into the trap of pessimism and scarcity thinking. Money needs to flow so cancelling everything, hunkering down and restricting yourself to a diet of lentils is not helpful for a business like yours.
But go too high on the optimism scale and optimism will kill your business. If you live in the hope that everything will be OK in a few weeks, it will leave you with your head in the sand and unprepared for going the distance.
No matter what is going on for you right now, I believe that this is a time for holding your vision, with a healthy dose of pragmatism on the side.
So get a grip of your finances. Get really clear on what your monthly outgoings are, know when your next annual subs are due, such as business insurance, (because surprises hurt your cash flow!), and look at your household budget; this is the time to clean up your expenditures and to change up, rather than slash, your marketing spend.
Take time to pause and re-think your approach to how you can serve your clients and customers. Tearing up your business plans and knee-jerk into taking action on ideas could end up distracting you or end up with an unsustainable ‘cheap’ offer that exhausts you.
Prepare for the worst so you have the resilience to not only carry on but also be financially able to keep holding your vision and see where you can pivot and evolve your business offers.
As James Stockdale never lost faith that he would eventually leave captivity, so must we have faith that we can and will get through this.
Your business will evolve.
You will learn many new skills over the coming months.
You will have days of feeling helpless and lost.
You will have days of inspired action and an immense sense of gratitude and appreciation.
You won’t be alone. You will need to ask for help and support.
You will find yourself needing to be creative, daring and bold with your decisions.
You will need to dig deep into your vision and the difference you so want to make through your business.
And you will need to be agile and light on your toes to keep yourself available to the opportunities that do present themselves to you.
This is not a time for optimism and blind hope.
This is a time for vision and leadership.
Until next time, do less, be more and play bigger.
Thursday 2nd April 9.30am to 5pm UK Time
If you are looking for help moving forward and know you have to evolve your business, then take a look at our event on Thursday, 2nd April. We are live streaming our previously advertised in-person workshop and have re-designed the content to give you the four important steps we all have to take over the coming months: Pause, Pivot, Plan and a fourth session on People. It’s critical that we ALL reach out and ask for help, in business AND life, particularly now as we all seem to working with many more small and big people in our homes right now!
I get it. There are times that you find yourself in the trenches of to-dos. No matter what’s gone on before and how well prepared and organised you may have felt last month, stuff can easily pile up and get on top of you.
Sometimes it shows up as piles of post-it notes and scraps of paper, but in most cases, it’s a mental overload. You’ve got too much thinking going on and your brain can’t keep up with the number of tabs you’ve got open; you need to close down your mental browser.
Multi-tasking is a productivity myth and the word ‘priorities’ is a modern-day oxymoron.
You can NOT have more than one priority at one time.
But we are speeding up and trying to get more stuff done more than ever, so it’s no surprise that the feeling of overwhelm and the never-ending to-do list are common problems amongst entrepreneurs and mico-business owners like you.
I’ve been triggered to write this article this week because the conversation of how to deal with too much to do has come up in several client sessions these past few weeks. It’s Week 5 of my Momentum members’ 90 Day Plans and, at this time, I ask them to complete the 4 Week Review & Re-Do process.
Making time to review your progress every 3 or 4 weeks and map out the detail of the tasks for the next few weeks is critical to avoid overwhelm. I know this may feel counter-intuitive to stop and take time out but if you don’t, you run the risk of getting stuck in the trenches.
This is why I wanted to share this with you today because I know how easy it is to find yourself in overwhelm.
1) Dump it
The first step to take is to get everything out of your head on to paper. Having things swirling around your head is exhausting and your brain simply can’t cope. Don’t try to organise your thoughts at this stage; simply dump what’s in your head onto a piece of paper.
This isn’t a brainstorming session; you probably DON’T need new ideas right at this moment in time, yes? You are simply getting everything out of your head so you can then organise them and see when and where you get them done.
2) Chunk it
There’s every chance your to-dos are covering a multitude of projects; from updating your website to preparing for a new product launch to planning out your content for the next few months. So rather than just write a big long list, get a piece of paper for each project and chunk out your tasks in relation to the project.
Mind mapping can be a useful tool for this as this allows you to spider out your thoughts and get the detail out. The more ‘little things’ that can get out on to paper, the less of these ‘little things’ are going to take valuable space in your head.
If you manage a home as well as a business, I would also recommend you have a separate piece of paper for Family Inc stuff, too. You’re making it even harder for yourself by constantly switching your thinking from one to the other. So separate them out and don’t try to mix Family Inc stuff with business stuff.
3) Diarise It
This is the ‘magic’ step that most people don’t do and will make a HUGE difference to you getting the ‘right’ stuff done.
You have to stop using linear to-do lists and start to put your tasks into your diary. If you don’t decide when and where you are going to take action on what needs doing, you will find you will never get to the bottom of your list because you will simply keep adding more stuff. It’s a game you are never going to win.
Stephen Covey’s quadrant is a simple decision making task tool that I’ve used for a long time. When you ask yourself how urgent and important each item on your paper is to you right now, you will discover that very little on these lists you’ve written out will need doing RIGHT NOW.
80% or more will fit into either the DIARISE IT box or the DELEGATE IT box.
You may even find that 10% or more fits very nicely into your DUMP IT box as you realise that task you’ve written down is simply a busy-thing. If it’s not urgent or important, then cross it out.
By thinking about when and where each thing on your list needs doing, start to work out which order they need to do in. Sometimes it’s helpful to write out each task on to a post-it note and move them around until you feel you’ve got them in a reasonable step-by-step order.
For example, if you are dealing with a website update project, it maybe you have to finish writing two pages of content before your website designer can move ahead with giving you the next design draft to look at. Get clear on what deadlines you are working towards (quick check: do your deadlines need to be pushed back?) and then see what needs to happen first before the next thing and this way you can stop your mind seeing everything as important.
Once you’ve got your tasks in order, decide how long each task is going to take you (always over-estimate … never kid yourself that something will take ‘just 5 minutes’!) and then get your calendar open and decide when you are able to get these done.
If you really can’t see how you are going to get everything done in the time that you’ve got available, then re-check your tasks against the DELEGATE IT option on your Covey Quadrant. Are you trying to do too much yourself?
4) Psychology before technology
Grace Marshall from Productivity Ninja introduced me to this phrase recently. I love it because this simple phrase articulates perfectly what I’ve been advocating over the past 10+ years whenever someone asks me which productivity tool I’d recommend.
There are hundreds of really great productivity apps and dashboards on the market, however, a productivity tool will NOT help you get stuff done. They will only give you a place to organise your thoughts so you have to work out how you work first.
I know I am not the only one who has spent hours setting up a new productivity dashboard, set the colours and added my to-do list, to then never use the bloody thing. We think a tool that is designed to make us productive will make us productive. But that is simply not the case. It is just a tool to support us in the way that we work.
So work out the way you like to work first and, in my experience, analogue pen and paper systems are often the simplest and most efficient ways of keeping focused week by week. Yes, if you have a team working on different parts of a big project, an online project management system can be critical to keeping everyone aligned and ensure the deadlines are met. But my advice to you is to try a simple analogue system first; flip charts, whiteboards and an online diary are the three productivity tools that have worked best for me over the past 15+ years.
If you want to learn more about productivity tips and tricks, then I can highly recommend spending some time over at Grace’s blog https://grace-marshall.com/category/tips-tools-tricks/
It will be time well spent … especially if you then spend the time to implement her insightful and practical advice.
That’s all from me today. I’d love to you know how this has helped your thinking around getting stuff done so leave a comment below.
Thank you for reading. Until next time, do less, be more, play bigger.
Everyone doubts themselves at some points of their business journey. Sometimes feelings of fear and doubt can come from nowhere; one day you’re feeling great about your growth plans and then suddenly you’re reminded of an idea or a decision you haven’t taken action on, and you feel cross with yourself.
It’s easy to get triggered by what you see on social media. You’re scrolling down your Facebook news feed and up pops someone pictured holding their new book. Now you may not have *really* wanted to write a book, but suddenly you feel inadequate.
‘How did she manage to achieve all that AND find the time to write a book?’
Everything you have achieved so far gets forgotten. You get frustrated with your progress. You berate yourself for having not worked harder or taken bigger action.
You pull back.
Maybe all that you need is to feel more motivated; to be braver, to do something to feel stronger.
But the truth about using motivation to get back on track is that it is a short-lived tactic.
Getting motivated to combat your fears and doubts and shake yourself into action is like trying to mix oil and water. At first, it mixes. But, in no time at all, the molecules separate and the two layers of fear and motivation can be clearly seen again.
Motivation is a short term fix.
It’s your high energy workshop or weekend retreat. It’s listening to an inspiring podcast. Or seeing the latest Helen Mirren ‘%&*$ Off’ quote pop up in your Insta feed.
They can all give you a boost but it’s short-lived unless you keep giving yourself repeated hits, similar to drinking more cups of coffee to keep you awake; at some point, you’re going to give yourself the caffeine shakes and then feel even shittier the next day.
I have had my fair share of fears and doubts.
They’ve shown up in bucket loads over the years and have often appeared as a gentle tight grip on the inside of my throat; almost like a child’s hand trying to silence me.
I used to let this feeling in my throat silence me and pull me back, like a bungee cord. I’d come up with an idea that initially excited me; I would let my motivation play with the idea for a short while, maybe for a few days or even a few weeks. But as soon as the motivation wore off, the bungee cord of fear and doubt would snap me back.
Each time this happened I’d either dilute the idea to end up with a smaller, simpler version of it or would decide not to do it at all.
Yes, these bungee cord moments have been frustrating phrases in my business. But these moments have provided valuable lessons to help me learn how to feel into my uncomfortableness; the feeling of vulnerability, shame, guilt and whatever else my inner shit throws up at me every time I’ve wanted to step up and play a bigger game.
What I’ve learnt over the years is to see that gentle tight grip on my throat as my sign that, whatever I was thinking when I felt it, it was actually the right thing for me to do.
The fear and doubts I felt were actually all signs of my potential stretching as I started to feel uncomfortable with playing bigger and thus help me see where I needed to take a risk and step up.
Much of what I teach on business growth focuses on the practicalities of business structure, systems and processes. But in order for you to move forward and grow, you also need to go within and feel into when your fears and doubts appear to realise the power of your potential to play bigger.
Yes, fear is a helpful emotion to help keep you safe at times. If you were to find yourself wanting to take a short cut home, down a dark alley late at night, fear and doubt would probably reason with you that it would be safer to stay to the lit roads. But if you let your fear and doubt help you take only the safe roads when you go about your day to day business, then what potential growth are you missing out on?
Fears and doubts are actually your strengths.
They are reminders that you have the potential to stretch and even though you feel you don’t have the answers, it’s a sign that your heart, body and soul wants to grow.
So if you’ve been using bursts of motivation to try to give you the courage and bravery to step up and grow and wondering why it hasn’t been working, maybe it’s time to open yourself to feeling into your fears and doubts.
Thank you for reading. Until next time, do less, be more, play bigger.
Do you ever wonder if anyone is actually really and truly reading, listening or watching your content?
Today, all our content can be tracked by metrics; number of likes, comments, click-throughs and shares.
But do they tell the whole story?
I was out last night with a group of wonderful women who I’ve got to know quite deeply over the last couple of years. I’ve shared wine with them, lots of laughter and, at times, tears.
We got talking about my new book due out this September and I realised how many of them not only subscribed to my email updates but also read every email.
Now I do look at my email marketing metrics.
I can see that my average open rate right now is at 38.5%, which I know is high for my industry.
But I also know that open rates don’t tell me who actually reads my emails.
It’s one thing having a cookie sent back from their email server to mine that the email has been opened, but it’s another to know that the human being who signed up for my emails has actually read it. That would be a little bit creepy, yes? Having access to your camera on your phone to see if your eyes scan through the copy … too much ‘big brother’, thank you very much.
So to hear from several of the ladies last night that they read EVERY SINGLE email from me woke me up.
It gave me a much-needed reboot and reminder that the impact that we can make from the content we create cannot be measured by metrics alone.
It’s the same with our like counts on our social media accounts.
It’s easy to believe that a post with just one or two likes hasn’t done anything; it’s just slipped through the newsfeed and allowed the algorithm to swallow it up.
But this is simply not the case.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of the ‘right’ people who will feel inspired by your content without reacting to it. They watch, listen and read without leaving any trace, such as a click or a tracking cookie (because more people are switching these off than ever before).
What does this mean to you and me?
Firstly, it is important to recognise that you are here to run a commercial business. If you produce content for entertainment value only or just create content for the sake of creating content (think robotic, automated sharing systems that do nothing but create white noise), you end up with an expensive hobby, rather than a purposeful, profitable business.
But the feedback that I had last night from my buddies, inspired me to see that the content we create can have a greater impact than our metrics tell us.
Whether I get an email from you or not (although a reply to one of my emails boosts me no end – seriously – that quick moment of recognition makes a real difference to me), I am reminded that not everyone has time nor knows what to say to show me that they’ve read, watched or heard my content.
It’s the same for you, too.
If you ever find yourself wondering if anyone is actually really and truly listening to you, take a moment. Have the faith to stick to your plan and the impact that you are here to make. You don’t need hundreds of likes and click-throughs to tell you whether you are a success or not.
And it’s a reminder me, too, to take the time to comment or reply to the content that inspires me. A simple ‘thank you’ may be all that it takes – it doesn’t need an ‘intelligent’ or a mini-blog response that may take a half hour out of my day – but that response is my payment in kind for the content that inspires me and helps me reflect, grow or take action.
Thank you for reading. Until next time, do less, be more, play bigger.