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.
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.
Things I Wish I Knew When I Began my Event Business: Part 2- The Expert.
I have a strong skepticism of The Expert. People who tell me how to do things are likely to get a polite listen, slow blink, nod, and about face.
This goes for all professions and beliefs people want to share. It’s not that I disrespect their experience or education, I just don’t trust that what they have to say will necessarily work in my life in the same way it’s worked for them.
This wasn’t always the case. When I began my business, I was rabid for information on how to do things right, be profitable fast, figure out how everyone else was doing things. I was sure there was a ‘best practice’ for everything. I felt vulnerable operating my fledgling business, knowing that I still hadn’t learned that nugget of wisdom that would allow me to market and operate as a professional. Until that point, I felt like I might be called out at any moment.
This led to second guessing myself and worse, belittling my own immense efforts and little business in small ways. As if to say, “Here’s my business, it’s a little scrappy, but it’s good. But if it’s not as good as you think it should be then just know that it’s brand new and I’m still figuring it all out.” The veil between confident excitement about my startup and discouragement was so thin I felt that any positive claim needed a cautionary disclaimer. Any compliment received was followed by something like, “If you think we’re good now, wait until I really figure out what I’m doing.” Not a way to instill trust in your clients and just not true.
So here’s the third thing I wish I knew when I began my event business:
There are no experts… Except you, of course.
The only rules to make and follow are those agreed upon between you and your clients. You do what works for you, and your client likes that or they don’t. If they don’t like it, maybe you are willing to tweak your operation or product. Or maybe this isn’t the correct client. And back and forth and back and forth until you have the right balance of what you both want.
Expert advice is useful only to give you ideas of stuff to try. I liken it to art making and art history. Learning about art history can give you knowledge about art, a deeper appreciation for it, a vocabulary to talk about it, but it won’t make you an artist. To be an artist you have to produce, experiment, and go through all the drama that comes with combining materials, ideas, humans, and time. Unexpected outcomes and all.
Expert advice is a giant pile of poo. You and I are poo shovelers. Get digging and see what parts are worth composting in your garden. The success of your garden isn’t going to be because of the poo, it will be because of your care, guidance, and hard work.
Ultimately, you gain the sanity saving knowledge that whatever you need to figure out, you will. This alone allows me to walk into new, strange projects with the confidence to dive in. Added bonuses of this sort of healthy view on experts include:
- less money spent on expert advice,
- appreciation and happiness for others’ triumphs in their business,
- less judgement of other businesses products and operations,
- and a more objective perspective on one’s own successes and struggles,
- The ability to predict if a new pile of poo is even worth reaching for the shovel,
- Big ‘ole sighs of relief.
If you missed part one of the “Things I Wish I Knew” Series and the first two “Things” , here it is!
This is the second part of a series of 10 conversations about the struggles faced in the early parts of business development. If you’d like to make sure you get the other 8, sign up for our mailing list below! You will also be able to download all 10 topics for free so you can put them in a place to remember. Sign up below!
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Creativity and Baby Making.
Always be making. This is kind of my maxim. It’s not really a motivational thing so much as just the way things are.
The drive to play with materials and make something is why I started Lola Creative and why I can say I’ve got the best job ever. Last week we made a giant 12 foot octopus. This week it’s vintage computer geekery. For the last seven months, I’ve been making my first human.
Human production, as it turns out, reduces one’s available brain space for most everything else. Add onto that the daily requirements of a business and there’s just not much left for free-creating- making stuff for fun, making stuff not related to my business projects. About all I have energy for right now is to make these here Skittles, sitting next to me, into painting apparatus with my own spit and draw smiley faces on my humpty-dumpty belly. (I mean, if I weren’t pregnant, at least they’d be an impressive design).
and then there’s the fear that once this squirmy bump IS actually a human, what if I have even LESS creative mojo? Oh man! Is creativity like love, it just grows to satisfy a greater desire to give it? A muscle? Just plain old discipline and habit (ergh)? I’m hoping for the first since that seems lovely and easy. But just in case, I’m inviting myself to casually make with whatever is available.
The wise woman in me says, “Oh honey, a creative outlook doesn’t go away, it’s just cast upon whatever you are doing. You will never be wanting of creative outlets that satisfy and inspire you. ” The neurotic pushy person in me says, ” Better get to making or your abilities will dry up like pregnant feet in flip flops made of asphalt and good intentions.”
This is what wise woman probably looks like
Now I’ve learned that the wise woman is usually right and the pushy person is lovable but misguided. But a little casual making never hurt anyone, right? So here’s my first share from a trip to my sweetie’s family cabin of making just to make. Materials are whatever is in front of me. Thanks nature for the materials.
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The Pursuit of Ease… (and pruning)
Ease. Just the word alone lengthens in your mouth and softens posture. It’s the word 97% of my clients use to describe their perfect social party. It’s also the word I use to lure my business and personal life along toward success.
Ease is not lazy. It describes calmness and stillness but also connection and alertness. Ease accepts what is happening now and observes, taking on new obstacles as they come up. This is especially important to me in a business that has a lot of ambiguity. Sanity and resourcefulness comes from being able to ease the mind, observe, stay connected, and adjust as necessary.
As I write, I’m wearing a flowey tunic from Free People (clothing to promote ease), and thinking about other ways ease is working (or trying to work) in my life and biz.
Maybe it’s because late winter/ early spring is the perfect time for tree pruning, but I can’t help but think about pruning and its metaphoric application in other areas of life. When you prune a tree, you keep the big picture in mind. What is the natural shape of this tree, where does it want to go? Then you select a few branches as the structural elements that will get your tree to its balanced shape. Remove branches surrounding these branches that are not structurally sound, unhealthy, or even healthy branches that rub (or will rub) against your selected branches. This way, your selected branches will have space, more light, more air circulation, and all the tree’s resources can be redirected to the strong parts. New branches will form on these strong parts and fill out your tree. Finally, don’t remove too much at once or your tree may not be able to adjust in time.
Ease in event design first has a lot to do with movement and space, clarity, and editing. Before guests can be wowed, they must be at ease. Guests can move their bodies and ease easily throughout the space. It’s not cluttered, there is a hierarchy of attention grabbers, and physical and sensory obstacles are minimized. The message is clear and your guests are comfortable.
Ease in flowers comes naturally in the garden. Ease in floral design comes from observing nature and mimicking shape. Floral designs with ease have an air of natural form. There’s also a curvature and sort of supported heaviness that comes from a thin stem working against gravity to hold up a big, fat bloom. It’s appropriately scaled and like event design, ease in floral design limits visual obstacles to a few attention seeking contrasts.
This bouquet for Adrianne and Michael was one of my favorite bouquets. It’s whole air of the day was full of ease. Oh, and it was definitely NOT easy to make. It’s a good reminder that the pursuit of ease takes a lot of refocus.