Thoughts on Bravery and Fearlessness…
Recently, there’s been a slight shift in my outlook on life and business. Maybe, just maybe, brute force when it comes to life and business is not the goal. Maybe bravery and fearlessness is not about making things happen. Maybe most of it is just good ole trust. (first I blather, then I explain).
I’ve never feel at ease next to the ocean. Beach vacations, sandy walks, oceanside camping; there’s an undercurrent of, “the ocean wants to devour me.”
The ocean is teeming with life so different from my own that it’s hard to understand. A true mystery. It’s unpredictable, it’s destructive, it can take a tree and paw with it until it resembles the sun-weakened ghost of a great beast. A beast much bigger and stronger than I. At the same time, it’s alluring.
When faced with great uncertainties in business I tend to jump right in, however, not with the ocean. I’d prefer to NOT try and understand it. I’ll enjoy it sure, but I’ll be wary. That got me thinking… Where’s all my bravery and fearlessness?
Our culture values bravery, stubbornness, and strength. People that will things into existence.
Historically, my go-to method for experiencing life and business has been the ‘DECLARE, DROP, THRASH’ method.
Oh, you haven’t heard of it? Oh it’s very prehistoric.
First you DECLARE:
I’m going to be ______, I’m going to do _______, I’m going to get_______, I’m going to learn_____.
Then you DROP yourself into whatever lifestyle, work or environment you deem necessary to achieve your declaration,
Then you THRASH about something makes sense. Until a path comes clear.
And if it doesn’t, DROP AND THRASH ELSEWHERE.
It’s been brutal, but valuable in that I’ve learned a lot quickly. Eventually, I’ve learned what to thrash on, and what should be left alone. I’ve learned what is already working and what will not improve with enhanced thrashing.
This process is the opposite of ease, elegance, and organic growth.
The rewards are a quick lesson in testing limits. What limits are solid and what is flexible? What rules do I want to follow? I’ve learned what level of risk I can handle, gained trust in my own capabilities, and have gained a fine tuned compass of what works for me and what doesn’t. I know that I am capable and can figure out anything, but that I don’t need to figure out everything.
You may have heard me tout this method because, well, it’s badass, brave, and fearless. Take something uncertain, research the messy bits, and take action. Experiment. That’s been my motto- all in pursuit of conquering more unknowns and achieving a satisfying career and lifestyle.
However, I recently learned of another way. Fierce satisfaction with what one has…. and not striving for more than that.
Historically, I would have called this ‘settling’.
But recently, I’ve been observing and really appreciating those folks who find joy in what they have, only poke and prod at uncertainty when it crosses their steady path, make small adjustments as they are needed… people that prioritize tradition and what is important in the moment. Some of these people seem to be thriving… 🙂
I’m thinking I’d like to have a bit of that kind of bravery too. After all, it comes from the same place, TRUST.
Trust that things will work out. Trust that you can handle it. Trust that you will know what to do.
These statements are the same sort of trust foundation that makes someone brave/ fearless- just on a different path, or maybe looking a different direction.
So for now, I think less thrashing, more trusting.
BUT, if you’d like to take advantage of all the thrashing I’ve learned from in my journey as an event designer/ business owner thus far, you may want to sign up for our email list.
Tips to evolve your business when a ‘life volcano’ erupts.
Life is full of transitions and shifts. Same goes for our businesses. But in a time when we feel pressed to find a niche, express your super focused brand, and do that thing consistently so you don’t confuse your audience, it can feel uncomfortable to allow your business to evolve with you.
At Lola Creative, we’ve (ehem, I’ve) had a few. First, just transitioning from a well paid corporate career with years of experience and a big ole bill of student loans to a fledgling floral design business took some guts. Then realizing we were more of a full event design company that makes custom fabrications was another turn. My biggest life/ business volcano however was when, almost a year ago,my volcano of a belly erupted into an actual human being. That has been the most startling adjustment to my business.
There’s a lot of trash-talk out there about the greedy business person trying to scrape what they can, but a lot of the folks in this industry left higher paying work for their current business. Why? Freedom maybe, greater connection with their customers, greater responsibility, to be able to create something of high quality and value, to do something that makes their heart all big and juicy, to work hard and watch that hard work pay off. Check, check, check, check….To do something that felt right, every day. To have your work and life aligned. To feel like work is your ‘life’s work.’ PURPOSE!
Parenthood, business changes, the loss of a loved one, these things can take your precious alignment and smash its contented face in. So, if that’s happened, or happening to you, here are some tips I’ve found to be helpful when what you thought IS, is no longer.
- Practice Patience. I know the ‘be patient’ advice can make your eyeballs twitch. But practice again and again to be patient with yourself. You need time to get your bearings. Keep things bobbing along or lay low until you gain clarity. If you just had a life volcano erupt, you may need MONTHS, to get back to where you feel you are clear headed.
- Feel like your path has split into two? Be Curious and find Creativity in both. Get to know each with respect to the other. Can I go this way and still maintain this way? How does it feel to do what I was doing while also giving attention to this new path?
- Find Your Core Driver. For me, becoming a parent felt like I might have to give up my creative life. Being a present, not-frazzled mom was paramount, and early on, I felt I could not do both parenting and running a business well. If you find that change is necessary, try distilling what is essential about your business. In what ways does it contribute to your sense of purpose and joy? How can you still get those things while still thriving in your new direction? When you are focused on the purpose, the means is not as important
- Release your identity. It’s hard to accept your purpose and the changes that truly support it if you are locked up in identity illusions. Stuff like, “well I’m a ______, it’s what I do, it’s who I am.” Puhleeez. You are a shifting, spreading, throbbing hunk of life and passion. You are a creative force, girl, no matter what you change. It’s okay to be indescribable.
- Break the Rules. Maybe your path isn’t going to look like you thought it would. Maybe your way of doing things doesn’t look like the way others are doing it. Perhaps there are social rules that don’t really fit into your new world. Liiiiiiike, maybe your baby hangs out in a baby corral at the workshop and gets used to wearing noise canceling ear muffs when you have to use the power tools…. just an example.
- Accept the Seasons. If not now, then maybe later. Or maybe not. When later is now, maybe something else. It actually is all-good. It is okay to take a break. It’s okay to stop and it’s okay to start again. It’s okay to say no to one path to fully embrace the new one.
Messy. Pretty. Pretty Messy. Glorious. Puzzling. Filled with light. Pissing rain. Whatever. Bring it on.
Mad Science Themed Photoshoot and Weirdos.
The birth of my son had a dramatic impact on my business. I’m not talking about having less time (though that certainly is true as well). I gained a new urgency that every project I work on needs to be aligned with what our business is all about. It’s guts. It needs to be meaningful and for Lola Creative, that sort of means it needs to be…. weird.
Our clients… well…they are kind of weirdos.
Just like we are.
I’m not saying we all are wearing our underwear outside our clothing or working our Halloween costumes into regular work rotation. It’s just that our clients seem to want to connect with a little bit of the delightfully unexpected. They want newness and imagination. Something that on paper, might seem a bit odd.
I’ve always known this about our people, but I got to thinking… maybe we are not clear enough on this.
So, to make sure our freak flags are big and loud, we’ve put together some new imagery for our main site that exhibits the values of our company. They are:
Guts, Brains, and Imagination
This mad science shoot is photographed by Easton Richmond and features the concept of ‘Brains.’ The brains component of our values identifies how essential research and planning is to our process. Because weird without good planning can be, well, scary.
Enjoy the photos! I’m going to go nurture my inner weirdo.
Thanks to all who participated in this shoot!
Creative Direction, Set, Props, and Styling: Lola Creative
Photography: Easton Richmond
Hair and Makeup: Jamyrlyn Mallory
Location: Seattle Wholesale Grower’s Market
Model: Lauren M. Kulbeth
What Does Business Related Fear Feel Like?
Before you can do anything about business related fear whether that be fear in starting your new business or managing your changing business, you have to first be able to notice that it’s happening to you. This is difficult, because the signs are sneaky. I just wrote an ebook that delves into my own experiences in fearing and learning to manage my business related fear. How do you know when it’s here? What does fear feel like?
In my new ebook “Be
Fearless Scared but do it Anyway”, I talk about managing fear. A lot of it has to do with reorienting fearful or anxious feelings and sometimes recognizing when it needs to stop all together.
With the birth of my son, my husband and I are having to make some changes to how we live and work. I find that while my creative energy and ideas are at an all time high (joy= creativity?), my available time is at an all time low. I’ve estimated I have roughly 20% of the time I once did to dedicate any serious focused brain power. It’s forcing us to simplify and clarify our visions for our future and to strategize in new ways. With that, comes the uncertainty and unease.
I had never practiced managing fear much as it relates to my family life so I was surprised when I was barraged by a bunch of old, familiar feelings. Here’s what fear and anxiety looks like when it pops up for me:
Irritability– I’m irritated. I’m irritated at the dog, at the baby for crying when I’m not immediately in front of him. I’m irritated that I can’t get anything done, that dinner takes a long time, that the water is tepid because I used up the hot water doing massive quantities of laundry. I’m irritated at slow people in the grocery store, slowness with my computer. I’m irritated that I can’t find my keys, that I can never find my keys, and irritate that I haven’t found a system for managing my key losing situation.
Restlessness– always thinking- the inability to not turn off. Being lostin thought about your business. Pushing to go faster, be efficient- but perhaps for no clear reason than just to get to the next task. The feeling that you have to hurry through this tedious, uncertain part so you can get to the part that is meaningful/ profitable/ the actual work.
While I’m able to be present with my son, the few blocks of uninterrupted time are often wrought with these feelings. And obviously these feelings are counterproductive to working well.
I’m finding I’m having to reapply the tactics I wrote about in my ebook, readjust expectations, prune my efforts to maximize effectiveness. Some pursuits will be delegated, while others will be recycled.
I love this journey… even though the course is ever-adjusting.
3 Ways your Inexperience will Help You Succeed in the Wedding Industry
It sucks to feel like a sputtering, throbbing amateur. It can feel like everyone else around you has figured it out and you are still groping for clarity. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my last 7 years of event and floral design, it’s that, unfortunately, there isn’t a manual and there’s no right way. I get into wrangling these anxiety-inducing topics in my new ebook Be
Fearless Scared, But Do It Anyway . BUT I also know that there are three key areas where you have the ADVANTAGE by being a newbie.
Because in uncertain times we need to acknowledge and be grateful for all the wins we can muster, right?
This applies to you if you are a burgeoning floral designer, event designer, planner, invite person, or if you make things I can put in my mouth. (I especially love the latter). Basically any service or product you can take a picture of.
Oh look, here I am (again) with my mouth wide open teaching folks how to make gardeney bouquets last year.
These three ways where your inexperience helps you are meant to empower you to take action and feel willing (note I did NOT say confident) to put yourself out there. It’s all too easy to observe, not get in the game, and chalk it all up to quietly gaining experience.
BUT that’s just fear talking. The fact is, the faster you start digging around, the faster you will figure it out, the faster you will gain clarity, the faster you will be profitable. In my ebook, I talk about my journey and how it took me five years to feel like this business was going to be okay.
THAT’S FIVE YEARS OF SLEEP ALTERING NAIL BITING!
You can do it in less and I want to help how I can.
These three facts are based on my own experience. These are things I did and they worked. They are based on forgetting about your problems, and solving the problems of others.
So here we go: 3 Ways your Inexperience will Help You Succeed in the wedding industry.
- Local Wedding Media Loves the Newbies.It’s true. Your local wedding magazine loves to feature new designers. It’s how they feel they are staying fresh. As a crusty, well worn designer reading through my local wedding mags, young whippersnappers such as yourself make up about 30% of what I’m looking at. All you need to do then is be seen.
Oh, and you are in luck again because their staff and interns are clammoring for new media to put up on their online platforms. Be nice, be generous, take some great shots of your work, or write a little article about something cool for them to put up on their FB page….. like, how to use write guests names on clam shells or something. Or how to make a veil out of bark…. don’t do that. Mention that you would love to be considered to participate in an upcoming feature should they need help with anything.
We were lucky enough to be featured in Seattle Met Bride and Groom and Seattle Bride early on. AND far before we could ever afford purchasing an ad. So, it works.
2. You Are A Blank Slate and You Listen.
After nearly a decade of doing this, I’ve sort of learned a way that works for me. I’ve learned I need a minimum budget for me to feel like we can deliver a stellar product, I’ve learned that we need a lot of responsibility and creative input regarding the entire event. We’ve learned what styles and what sorts of folks are NOT a good fit for us.
But you may not know that yet, and at least for getting work and developing relationships with other professionals and venues, that’s a GOOD thing. It means you can be truly open to listening how the other person likes to work, how they like to run their events, what their clients and audience is like.
You are in a perfect position to let the folks you meet with to feel like you really understand them. You are their person. They WANT you to succeed, so they will likely push work your way.
PS, how do you meet these folks? You call them… or email if you are telephonophobic like me:) It’s a modern cold call… don’t freak out.
PPS, don’t ask to meet them and show them what you do. Ask to meet them to learn about their venue/ practices/ approach, etc. Then work in your stuff but it’s not the point of the meeting. The point is for you to learn about THEM.
The last one is a big one and is a little hard to feel comfy with but is so important. In fact, we talk about it a lot more in my ebook. (See giant link image below:)
3. Sell What They Actually Want, Not What You Think They Want.
When I first began, I thought I knew what people wanted beautiful florals chock full of creativity, unexpected materials, and unusual flowers- preferably local. I was stressed out of my mind to make more stuff so I could have a stunning portfolio. After all, a great portfolio was going to get the work right?
I didn’t have a great portfolio, as a matter of fact my first floral designs were awful. What I did have was a background in project management. So I talked about that.
Ding. Ding. Ding.
As it turns out, my clients didn’t want the best floral designer. They wanted someone who was organized, responsive, who wasn’t going to make an ass out of themselves on site, someone who was going to show up, get sh** done and leave. They wanted someone they could trust to make their jobs and day easier.
I could do that. I could show that through my communication with them, by the way I presented my material, and later, in every aspect of the event day.
That right there was a revelation for me and became our basis for selling for years…. still is. Our process and execution is paramount. Are we the best designers? meh. doesn’t matter- at least not as much as trust to my clients. (though we are pretty damn good…obvs:)
So think about the process, execution, client relationships, conflict resolution, all the things that can be trouble for your client and communicate how you plan to resolve them, or even just show that you take those aspects just as seriously as the actual creative work.
Get Deeper Into This Topic
If you’re interested in delving a little deeper into this topic and are curious about the challenges I faced starting out and how I dealt with them, check out my FREE eBook, “Be
Fearless Scared, But Do It Anyway.”
This will give you some perspective, and will show you how this beautiful (and humble!) creative took action and worked her way through the maze and reached the other side.