The theme this month at Trust Tending is starting new things (click here for a list of past and future themes) and today I’m delighted to introduce you to a few of the muses that have inspired and helped me in my own new endeavors. I’m doing this for two reasons:
1. I’d love for you to know about and be inspired by these people, too!
2. I want to dispel the myth that successful entrepreneurs aren’t real people with real fears and challenges to face.
So today each of these 8 entrepreneurs (alphabetically below) answers the following question:
Chris Guillebeau is a writer, entrepreneur, and world traveler with the goal of visiting every country in the world (click here for his current count). He creates super practical guides and products for anyone interested in breaking out of the status quo to a) live the life they want to live and b) change the world for the better. I love that combination! ($58 versions of linked items eligible for give-away) He publishes the Art of Nonconformity blog at ChrisGuillebeau.com, and has recently published a book by that same name: The Art of Nonconformity: Set your own rules, live the life you want, and change the world.
Chris: Resistance… in many forms. I have a hard time figuring out the timeliness of things. Why now? Why is this important at this particular season? That’s the bad news… once I figure it out, everything else tends to click.
Me: And how do you go about figuring this timeliness out?
Chris: It helps for me to get started, to work out the end game and plan backwards, and to latch on to one key thing — a component of the offer or message that everything else builds around.
Hugh MacLeod is a cartoonist whose drawings on the backs of business cards transformed his life…and now transform tens of thousands of others’. Like Chris, he writes a lot about living outside of boxes and changing the world for good, and has published two books that communicate related ideas as only Hugh can: Ignore Everybody and Evil Plans. Hugh’s drawings were a huge inspiration for my own sketch-a-day practice, and I remain inspired and agitated (in a good way) by the ideas his images convey. Read his blog at gapingvoid.com and sign up for his free, daily cartoons here.
People often get stuck when they start comparing themselves to others- when they spend too much time watching what other people think.
I was never particularly good at following other people’s paths, but it took me a while to realize, hey, that’s OK.
Like I said in Ignore Everybody:
The biggest gift to humanity The West has made to this world, is the idea that everyone must find their own path. That’s what the ancient Greek mythology is all about. Ditto with Christianity, Star Wars and Rock & Roll.
Remember the power is within you.
Jen Lee is a Brooklyn-based writer, photographer and a regular performer in NYC’s storytelling scene. She leads workshops and retreats focusing on creative expression, and has recently launched a multimedia course titled Finding Your Voice. I had the great privilege of attending her Companions retreat in Brooklyn last year, and can vouch with heart-felt conviction for her powers as voice-finding and voice-healing guide. She blogs at JenLee.net, and her honest writings there about her inner world combined with the soul-shifting work she offers through teaching and storytelling have been sun and water and nourishment for the growth of my trust.
When I launch new projects, having to actually tell people about them and spread the word is my most dreaded task. It makes my stomach turn and my nerves really raw, and all I know to do is to keep the hot cocoa flowing and keep focusing on the gift the work will be to others. How happy they will be to discover it, how changed they could be on the other side. I reach out for support and encouragement, even though I can hardly bear to ask. And it really affects me–pretty sure I’m losing weight over this latest project’s promotion. Self-care, gentleness and rest are the best medicine I know. It takes a lot of love to be brave, and self-love surely counts.
Jennifer Louden is a best-selling author of six books with close to a million copies in print, a retreat creator, and Comfort Queen turned activity catalyst. She just launched a new project that I’m following with so much joy and inspiration, called The Savor & Serve Experiment, at jenniferlouden.com, where you can also sign up for her acclaimed Self-Trust course and learn more about her Savor & Serve Cafe, her support center for women to do what they love in service to the world (2 months on me if you’re the winner of the drawing and choose this as your prize!).
Only one block? I only get one? Why? I think two or three would be much better.
And there you have my lovely block, my dear old friend: choosing. Limits. Driving a stake into the ground and saying, “This is it. I dedicate my heart to this.” I love potential. I dig vision, the first flush, the rush. By the time I get to the launch? Getting a bit bored. After that? Yawn.
What’s a lover of more and new to do? Investigate my fears of staying put – tease out my stories. Embrace how I want to work – don’t make it wrong. Build a project-based business with support that allows something to run without me. Have friends who see me about to abandon horses mid-stream and say, “Stop it.” Do creative stuff just for the sake of creating. Charge more so I can pay people to do stuff I hate. Partner with great people who keep the whole process more yummy. Give myself lots of vacations and rest (boredom is sometimes exhaustion).
Most important of all: focus on serving something larger than myself.
Jonathan Fields is (in his words…) a giddy dad, husband, New Yorker, serial wellness-industry entrepreneur, author, recovering S.E.C./mega-firm hedge-fund lawyer, slightly-warped, unusually-stretchy, spiritually-inclined, obsessed with creation, small-biz and online marketing consultant and venture partner, book-marketer, professional speaker, copywriter, entrepreneur-coach, yoga-teacher, columnist, once-a-decade hook-rug savant, blogger and career renegade™…gone wild. In my words, he does many things unusually well, and spending any time at all at his blog, jonathanfields.com, will give you good things to think about and apply – not just to business, or entrepreneurship, or fitness, or spirituality, or life…but really all of the above!
First, the word “block” bugs me. Language matters and when you frame something as a block it gives it more “immovable” weight and creates a perception of an impass. So let’s change it to “challenge,” which is something you rise to, something that’s far more easily framed as an opportunity.
Okay, now what is one of my major challenges in starting something new? For me, it’ often deciding where to allocate my energies. I don’t have much trouble beginning new things and taking risks. I’ve launched, built, succeeded, crashed and burned and lived to tell enough times that I know I’ll be okay. But I also know anything worth doing will take away from other things worth doing, so deciding where to spend my energy is a big focus.
I run numbers, plan, assess leaps of faith, but in the end, the greatest adventures always have unknowns and you’ve got to learn to tap and trust your intuition when making the call. I also ask a simple question – “Will this opportunity allow me to spend the greatest amount of time absorbed in activities and relationships that fill me up, while surrounding myself with people I cannot get enough of, contributing to the world in a meaningful way and earning enough to live well in that world?”
Marianne Elliott is a change-maker, a human rights advocate, a yoga teacher and a writer. She is the creator of 30 Days of Yoga, an online course to establish a regular home practice of yoga and build a kinder relationship with your body. She is currently writing a memoir about her life as a UN peacekeeper in Afghanistan, and blogs thoughtfully and soulfully at marianne-elliott.com. Marianne’s writings and presence are, for me, a true trust serum.
When I launch new things I face fear! Fear of failing, and equally fear of succeeding too much or attracting too much attention. Fear that I’m not actually good enough to do the things I’m trying to do.
I’ve thought a lot about how I work with fear and I keep coming back to Susan Jeffers line: ‘feel the fear and do it anyway.’ It is simple, and over-used, but when you pay attention to what it says, it’s powerful.
1. Feel the fear
What doesn’t work for me is ignoring or denying my fears. I have to allow myself to feel the fear, soften towards it, meet it with compassionate clarity. And then…
2. Do it anyway
I love the simplicity of this. I’m not ‘overcoming my fear’, I’m just acting despite feeling fear. To find the courage to act even when I’m feeling fear, I connect.
I connect to people who support me. I connect to the energy and power available through my breath and body (hello yoga!). I connect to my sense of purpose, my reason for acting and I connect to the greater whole of which I am part.
Melody Ross is a free spirited visionary artist, product designer, and writer. After growing an international, multi-million dollar company from her kitchen table (chatterboxinc.com), Melody joined her sister, Kathy Wilkins, to found The Brave Girls Club, an online community of women from around the world who want to live the best, happiest, most productive and brave lives they possibly can. Whether or not you feel you’re brave, the Brave Girl’s Club is truly worth exploring – retreats, ecourses, and other products (including this soulful CD) – not excepting!
I have started enough things in life that I have fallen on my face plenty of times. I have also had some tremendous wins…and that is a blast!
I think when you have had a lot of what can be perceived as “failures” in your life, it can be both very good and very difficult. It is good because you know that you have failed before and lived through it, so if you fail again, you will live through it…just like before! It can be difficult because you remember the pain, and the weak part of yourself doesn’t want to feel that pain again.
So…how I overcome this is to remind myself that ANYONE who does big things in the world has a few “failures”…and that is where they learn what doesn’t work SO THAT they can learn what DOES work. It is part of the process.
And, if it is part of the process, it is necessary and good. So, if this time it is one of those “lessons”, I will learn wonderful things that I will able to use to get to my next win. And…I will be able to pass those lessons on to others so that they can avoid the pitfalls, and that is always a good thing too!”
Seth Godin has written thirteen books that have been translated into more than thirty languages. Every one has been a bestseller. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything. I’m challenged by the many simple, profound, unconventional ideas he writes about at his blog, and by his persistent message to “ship it!” – get your ideas out into the world without bogging down incessantly. His official website is sethgodin.com
Seth: I think the biggest internal block (for most of us) is the rationalization that looks like fact but is actually fear. We seek out proof that our fear is justified.
Me: And your strategy for identifying and moving through that rationalization?
Seth: Saying it is the strategy.
My heart-felt thanks to all the interviewees – for your good words here, and for being the lights you are in our world! My life, and trust, are better for it!
To join the drawing for a free product of your choice (linked items throughout this post are all eligible), comment on this post by Tuesday, April 19th at 8pm PDT. I’ll announce the winner here shortly thereafter.
UPDATE: I just put all the comment #s in a hat and drew….#1! Congratulations, Lindsey! I’ll be in touch to find out which product you’d like as your gift.
Much warmth to all!!