Getting Unstuck: How to get off the platform of your (psychological) zip-line

On Belay!Today’s the day.

Today’s the day that one of my coaching clients will be zip-lining for the first time in her life, riding no less than nine different zip-lines to get down the mountain at a top-notch program near here.

In fact, she’s taking a whole group of women friends and making a day of it in celebration of her 50th birthday. That’s a wonderful way to celebrate, don’t you think?

And I don’t know the friends who are going, but I’ll bet there’s a mix of feelings in the group about what to expect.

Some will be thrilled. Excited. Eager. First in line.

Others will hang back a little. They’ll be troopers; they will give big smiles and say they’re happy to be there, but they may be scared to death inside.

And isn’t that exactly the way most of us feel before making a big leap in our lives? Ending an unhealthy relationship. Moving to a new city. Going back to college. Getting serious about your health.

Starting a business.

All big stuff. All exciting. Exhilarating even. And scary.

You have this Big Idea, a big dream, a goal with an Attitude, and it’s perfect. Suddenly, you can see exactly where it is that you want to go, exactly what it is that you’re supposed to be doing.

You’ve got your first steps figured out. You’ve got the name of your practice, the clients you want to serve, one or two programs or products in mind that you’re ready to develop. You’ve even got your eye on an office in town.

You’re ready to put up a website, create a Facebook page, and tell the world that you’re Open for Business.

But just before hitting “Send” on that first batch of emails, or “Publish” on that first, rough-draft website, you pause.

You hold your breath.

Think about it for a second.
Go get a cup of coffee.
Come back to the computer.
Make a few more tweaks in the copy.
Get ready to go.

Then you pause again.
Think about it for another second.
Go get another cup of coffee.
Come back to the computer.
Make a few more tweaks in the copy.
Get ready to hit ‘send’.

And again…

You’re stuck.

I’ve seen this happen many times on zip-lines (or when someone’s gearing up to do a rappel down a cliff – but I’ll save that story for another day).

Everything’s ready. All the safety mechanisms have been checked and rechecked. All the right support is in place. You know what to do, and you know everything will be fine. You’ve watched other people do exactly this, for heaven’t sake – and THEY made it!  

But you stand there, staring out at the line that stretches into your future, and you’re terrified to jump.

You don’t trust the cables. You don’t trust the harness. You don’t trust yourself. You worry about whether you’ll “do it right”; worry that you’ll do a spectacular crash landing on the other side.

You’re stuck on the zipline platform in your mind.

See – one of the hardest things about doing a zip-line for the first time is just stepping off the dang platform.

And one of the hardest things about launching a business is, well, launching the business.

At some point, you have to tell other people about what you’re doing. You have to invite them to engage with you. And you have to share – with confidence – your enthusiasm, and expertise, and your belief that you are someone they should do business with. :)

But launching a business means stepping off that old familiar platform of security, and letting go of a lot of things.

  • It means letting go of (the illusion) of financial security, as you become powerfully responsible for your own income.
  • It means letting go of blaming your boss, as you become happily responsible for your own success.
  • It means letting go of perfection, because running any business is a messy, imperfect, unfolding process.
  •  It means letting go of hiding, because you have to step out in to the world and allow yourself to be seen.
  • It means letting go of playing small, because you have to believe in your own value so that others will believe in it as well.
  • It means letting go of mediocrity, since you have just declared to the world that you intend to create something More.

No wonder you hesitate. :)

But here’s the good news.

When you DO step off that platform, you are in for the most powerful, thrilling ride of your life. Of course It’s scary. But it’s fun, too.

And you won’t believe where it will take you.

I never had ANY intention of owning my own business, much less three or four different businesses! But today, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So if you’re all strapped in, ready to fly – but find yourself frozen on the platform, feet firmly clinging to familiar territory, it’s okay. Take a deep breath. Do what you have to do to make sure all your safety and support systems are in place. If you need to, ask someone to help you get off the platform.

(An extra hug can help!)

And then…jump.

Seriously. Don’t take too long – because the longer you wait, the harder it gets.

I’ve jumped off a lot of platforms in my own life. If it would help, I’d be happy to do a quick 30 minute call with you to help you check your harness, before you make your own leap. Maybe a little coaching could help. Click here if you’d like to set that up.

And just know this.

You won’t fall.

You’ll fly.

I’m sure of it. :)

Photo Credit: Justin Jensen on Flickr

What to Do When Your Mind is (Too) Full

Porch Sitting

Empty.

That was it. That was the word my coach used to describe what she called a critical first step towards greater productivity as a business owner.

“First, you have to empty your mind,” she said. Capture all those thought fragments, need-to’s and should-do’s, have-to’s and to-do’s, someday’s and one-day’s on a giant flip chart or a blank page in your planner first. Dump it out on paper, so you don’t have to carry it in your head for another second. Then move on from there.

And I get that.

I’m a business owner, a multi-business owner, in fact. And like every entrepreneur I know, my head, too, tends to be full of noise – sheer energetic clutter as my thoughts zoom from the client I forgot to call yesterday to the Secret Adventure I need to promote for next week to the program I want to launch next month.

There are days when I push through one event after another, one deadline after another, by sheer force of will. You don’t even want to know what time of night – or morning – I sometimes finish these posts. :)

And at the end of a day – or a month – of constant, charged intensity, I have to crash.

I have to just stop for a minute.

I have a deep need to create “empty” space in my mind.  

It’s not just a tool for better planning. It’s a self care skill that is critical to managing our lives, and to thriving as an business owner.

In fact, I preach this to my clients all the time.

You need a vacation.

At MINIMUM: Two weeks at a time.

Every year.

Every. Year.

And in between vacations, you need daily doses of empty time.

Empty time.

Creative time. Quiet time. Open time.

Empty time creates space in your spirit for new thoughts, new ideas, new awarenesses to emerge.

Empty time is rest.

Renewal.

Restoration.

Space.

It’s sooooo easy to seek this out unconsciously.  Our bodies crave it. Our brains need it. So we gorge on junk food and mindless TV or scroll blankly through Facebook while having a 3rd slice of Meat Lovers Pizza.

“I deserve a little downtime”, we tell ourselves.

And that’s true.
 
But there are healthier ways to meet this need, this ebb and flow in our energy that is as natural as the waxing and waning of the moon.

When I spent time in California earlier this year, I was delighted to stumble on a local tradition where I stayed just north of San Francisco. All the neighbors on this particular stretch of beach come down to the shore at sunset, every night. They bring a glass of wine or hot tea or whatever the beverage of the moment is. They sit on benches and chairs, walk a little in the surf, catch up with each other.

IMG_3720And wait. :)

When the big orange ball in the sky drops below the rim of the Pacific, everyone heads back in to start their evening.

Empty time.

Here at home, sometimes, I’ll just drop what I’m doing, stand up and stretch, and go for a fast walk that feels as good to my body as it does to my mind.

Sometimes, I listen to a super-quick TED Talk on something whimsical, that is, anything that strikes my fancy.

Sometimes I set my timer, stretch out on my couch and take a 15 minute power nap. (And yes – that does help.)

But my very, very favorite thing to do is to pick a porch that fits my mood (I have several). Leave my phone in the house. Turn off the TV or radio. Grab a little fan if it’s hot, or a shawl if it’s cool.

I pour myself something good to drink, choose a spot, put my feet up, lean back with a sigh…

…and wait.

I wait for the clouds to drift across that patch of sky. I wait for the sun to come up over the mountain. I wait for the moon to rise past that one patch of trees. I wait for the bunny I just got a glimpse of to come back out of the brush pile. I wait for the bluebird sitting on my clothesline to flutter off to the tulip poplar nearby.

I wait for the noise in my head to quiet down.

Just a little.

I took the photo above from my open porch a few nights ago. I’d finished a long, full day of meaningful work, guiding clients and witnessing triumphs, teaching and talking and writing and reading and, well, running a business. :)

Then, at the end of the day, I took a glass of wine and headed out to a spot where I could see the open sky. I needed Big Blue Space. I needed fluffy white clouds that crept so slowly across the sky I could barely tell they were moving at all. I needed to breathe for a little while.

I know that you, too, are pulled in (too) many directions. Every woman I know is stretched thin – but it doesn’t have to be that way.

You will be far more effective, whatever you do, if you create space in each day for some Empty time.

So what about you?

Do you take time like that? What do you do? And how does it help?

 

How to Go After Your Big Idea

Have a Chair - or 100...

So you have this idea.

And it’s a doozy.
But there’s something really important you want to do.

It may be a big change you want to make in your personal life. It may be a bucket-list goal that you’ve suddenly decided to go after.  It may be an idea for a business you want to start or a non-profit you want to launch.

Whatever it is – it’s important. It matters. The timing is perfect, and you know it. Everything in you tells you that this is exactly what you are supposed to be doing at exactly this moment in your life.

In fact, now that you see it, the decision is remarkably easy.

And with that decision, there is an incredible rush of emotion. Your purpose and passion come together in a moment of clarity that takes your breath away. Suddenly, it’s as if all the questions have been answered, all the doubts have been erased. All roads, you now see, have been leading you to Now, to precisely this moment.

You take a deep breath and clap your hands, happy, energized, excited.

And then it hits.

The Fear.

The first wave washes over you like the feeling in your belly as your car rolls over a small rise in the road. It’s brief, and sharp. You take a deep breath. Try to regain your balance.

But the doubts come back with a vengeance.

Don’t worry – this, too, shall pass. :))

“Anything I’ve ever done that was worth doing,
initially scared me to death.”
-Betty Bender

Whenever you’re ready to move up in your life in some way, to take a bigger stand, play a bigger part, build a bigger dream – there’s going to be fear.

In fact, I would say that if not, your idea, your goal, probably isn’t big enough. :)

But that fear can be paralyzing sometimes.

So here’s how to keep your balance while taking those first wobbly steps in this brand new Adventure.

1. Accept your lovely, imperfect Self.

You are exactly who and where you need to be in this moment. You have come to this place and time with a set of skills and a level of understanding that is just as it should be. Extend love and acceptance to the being that you are, just as you would to anyone else who found themselves in a similar place. Know that you’ll learn what you need to learn to do what you want to do. Honor the imperfections that remind you of this opportunity to learn and grow even more.

2. Seek out wisdom.

“When the student is ready, the master will appear.” Know that the help you need is all around you, just waiting for you to ask for it. In fact, once you are open to receiving it, you’ll be amazed at the way you’ll get exactly what you need. A good friend knows exactly how to do something you really need, but you never knew it. A stranger shows up with exactly the information, skills, or experience, to show you what to do next. Help will appear in the most unlikely places.

Look for it. Accept it. Appreciate it.

3. Hold the vision.

Create in your mind a clear image of what you desire. Here. Now. Use journaling, scripting, or meditation to craft a picture of exactly what your desired outcome looks like, feels like.

Imagine it as if it were already true, and hold that vision in your awareness as much as you can.

4. Trust the process.

Know that growth is a messy and unpredictable process, and that it rarely proceeds in a straight line. Instead, it evolves in your life in a winding, curvy way – more like a spiral – as you circle back around to learn a little more, discover a little more, create a little more. There will be curve balls and distractions, dead ends and u-turns, but relax.

It’s all part of the learning.

5. Release the outcome.

Care about what you do. Care about how you do it. But let go of the any attachment you have to the specific outcome. Whatever happens, happens. You can only control how you show up in the world, how you contribute to the work… after that, it’s out of your hands. So be prepared to do your absolute best, and to be okay with how things turn out – however they turn out.

There’s peace (and power) in that.

6. Embrace the joy.

Knowing that you’ve had the Courage to go after something so very important is something to be proud of.

Knowing that you’ve done everything you can to bring this to life, is something else to be proud of.

And when it all comes together (and it will, one way or another, in whatever way it is meant to be), celebrate the success. Appreciate the lessons. Allow yourself to feel the pride of a job well done, and effort well made.

And embrace the joy!

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If you have an Idea but aren’t sure where to start in bringing it to life, there may be a way that coaching can help. Click here and tell me if you’d like to set up a 30 minute strategy call to see if coaching would be a good fit for you. I’d love to hear from you!

Photo Credit: Ebelien on Flickr

C2C Apps: Life Lessons from the Back of a Canoe

SACW #27 - Little River Canoe Trip

Little River Canoe Trip                                                                                  Photo Credit – Wendy Pitts Reeves

There is no such thing as a straight path – to anywhere you really want to go.

Whether you’re talking about the path to love, the path to self-confidence, the path to success, there will be surprises and lessons at every bend along your way.

In fact, no matter where you want to go or what you want to achieve – your journey there will be messy and unpredictable. It will carry you forward in ways you will never really expect.

Sometimes you’ll spin around in circles, sometimes you’ll get stuck. Sometimes you’ll fly forward and sometimes you’ll just…drift.

Much like floating down a river, don’t you think?

That was just one of the things I thought about during our recent Secret Adventure for Courageous Women.

Last weekend, a small group of Courageous (and trusting) Women joined me for a day of Adventure, with no idea what we’d be doing. They signed up for the August trip, the kickoff to our 4th season, knowing that whatever we did that day, we would learn something interesting, meet some wonderful folks, and have – most likely – a boatload of fun.

Pun intended.

And yes, that’s exactly what happened. :)

We took a long, winding canoe trip, paddling just over 7 miles down the Little River. This lovely river has headwaters that start way up high at Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and flows over 60 miles before emptying into what will become the Tennessee River.

The not-so-large and often unassuming Little River is the source of all drinking water for over 100,000 residents in Blount County, Tennessee, and brings untold millions in recreation and tourism dollars to this region of the state.

It’s a beautiful stretch of water.

If you live around here, you’ve followed that river a thousand times, driving beside it as most of us do when visiting Cades Cove for a family picnic or a Sunday drive.  You may have even done a little tubing up at the “Wye”, a popular spot where locals cool off on hot summer days.

But moving with the river from its center,
with a paddle in your hand,
is a completely different experience.

This is a gentle river, a perfect place for those who want a day of peace, with just enough excitement for anyone just learning how to paddle a canoe or kayak.

And it has much to teach us.

Our guide for the day was Jon Michael Mollish, the son of River John, who owns a little bit of paradise in the form of an island downstream. Jon Michael grew up on that river. He’s an aquatics biologist for the TVA, so he knows everything there is to know about what lives in, under, on or around most of our southern waterways.

He was a terrific guide, patient with our inexpert paddling, brave during sharp turns and what rapids there were. At times, he stood waist deep in the water and acted like a human bumper shield, pushing us away from trouble and back out to safe water.

He poked around to find young dragon flies (they don’t look anything like their pretty adult selves) and used words like “cartilaginous”. (Say THAT three times fast!) He pointed out historical places and river willow and taught us the most significant source of water pollutant in the world.

(It’s not what you’d think.)

But in addition to the ecological, biological, and economical impact of a healthy river, there were other lessons waiting for us as well.

Here’s a few we took from our day.

Life Lessons from the Little River

1. You don’t really have to know exactly where you’re going, to get there.

Just keep moving forward. No matter how winding and wandering your path, you will eventually reach your goal, even when you’re not entirely sure what it looks like.

2. Teamwork takes practice.

Sometimes you’ll be a better fit at the front of the boat, driving the engine, making things go. Sometimes you’ll be a better fit for the back of the boat, charting the course, steering the craft. You won’t know that, though, unless you try both roles, and are patient with your partners – and yourself – while you figure that out.

3. Trying something new is good for you.

If you’re willing to step outside the safe routine of your daily life and try something new, you’ll be proud of yourself for trying it, no matter what you do or how well it goes.

4. Laughter makes everything easier.

If you’re willing to make mistakes with gusto, and hold on to your sense of humor, you’ll enjoy the trip (that is, your life) a lot more.  :)

5. Hiring the right help makes all the difference.

Having the right guide on any journey makes a huge difference in the quality of your experience, the speed at which you learn, and the ease with which you arrive. That applies to everything from learning how to float a river to learning a new language to building a business.

6. You can always turn a negative into a positive.

If you’re creative, everything is a lesson, and even mistakes become a work of art.

One boat perfected their signature move, The Twirl, as they twirled their way through every rapid we crossed ;-) How often do you feel like you’re just spinning in circles, going nowhere? Just go with it, and you’ll straighten right back up again soon enough. Eventually, you’ll find that you’ve actually made progress – though you couldn’t tell at the time.

Another Courageous pair got better and better at getting stuck on rocks – and getting off them again. Doesn’t that happen to all of us? We get stuck on those same rocks all the time. We get overwhelmed and shut down. Or we run into a problem we (think we) can’t solve.

The key is to avoid the rocks when you can, of course.  But when you can’t, just figure out what you need to help you get unstuck, and be on your way.

One pair zigzagged from one bank to the other, like a drunk driver weaving down the river. That’s what happened when my paddling partner graciously offered me a chance to be in the back of the canoe. (I do so much better in a kayak!) Thank heavens she had a sense of humor!

Sometimes owning a business feels a little like that, as we careen from one idea to the next, one opportunity to the next. But with time, and practice, we will eventually get the hang of it, settling down into a path that flows forward with ease.

And if I can just get back into a canoe soon and get a little more practice under my belt, I might just get there myself! So I’m thinking of repeating this experience in early October. Let me know if you’d like to come. We might even throw in dinner and a campfire on the island next time.

In the meantime, be patient with yourself. You’re doing better than you think you are, and the river – that is time, circumstance and experience – is carrying you towards your goals too, in it’s own winding, messy way. Just keep paddling, and enjoy the journey.

You’ll get there soon enough. 

Courageous Women