“Bourbon. Neat. With a side of ice.”
A few months ago a client of mine ordered this as we pulled ourselves up to the bar. More importantly, the conversation that followed gave me perspective in how I think about my business – and how I think about life.
When I lost my “normal nine-to-five” job almost 4 years ago, I quickly became an entrepreneur. Less because I wanted to actually run my own business and more because I didn’t want to continue to do work I hated. Work that didn’t get me excited. Work that I couldn’t pour absolutely everything into. Work that didn’t feel like work.
Then things picked up. And they picked up fast. I made a lot of money and and I’m still doing well, but it wasn’t until I sat down, sipped bourbon, and had a conversation about the ebb and flow of being a business owner that I stopped being motivated by fear and started being motivated by confidence and passion.
During a recent client meeting I was asked, “Do good brands evolve or stay the same?”
Last week Seth Godin talked about the concept of treating projects like buildings or gardens. His point, that while projects may start out feeling rigid and structured (buildings), they are, in fact, much more synonymous with living, breathing, dynamic garden environments.
“Gardens are tended, they shift, they grow. They endure over time, gaining a personality and reflecting their environment. When something dies or fades away, we prune, replant, and grow again. Perfection and polish aren’t nearly as important as good light, good drainage, and a passionate gardener.”
The biggest obstacle standing in our way is ourselves. You’re the one that will motivate yourself to start – and you’re the one who will convince yourself that you shouldn’t because it isn’t perfect. That something’s missing. That your idea stinks.
At the heart of every strong brand – of every important project – is a compelling idea and a defined purpose. [tweet this] And while that idea, that purpose, should never be forgotten, our ideas are designed to act like a beautiful, thriving garden.
Our ideas – our brands – dreams – evolve – and as they evolve, they must be maintained, refined, and maybe most importantly, they must be given room to grow.
I’ve been fighting with myself quite a bit lately. In one corner is the present. The idea of “living in the moment”. In the other is my ambition. My pursuit of big ideas. My wondering “what’s next?” My battle with complacency and fear of getting too comfortable.
It applies to literally everything. When I pick up a new client, I barely celebrate before wondering what the next opportunity to be. I come back for a run feeling great, only to be dis-satisfied a few minutes later, convincing myself that I could have run harder and faster.
Ambition is a blessing and a curse.
And while I’ve been telling myself that I need to let go of those ambitions to be more present and focus on the “now”, I’ve realized that not only is it silly, but that without my ambitions – without my hunger to do more AND my awareness of what’s right in front of me, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
So what I’m saying is that it’s okay to be selfish. It’s okay to relish in the now and hustle for something more.
Enjoy the moment, but allow yourself to wander and wonder what can be.
It’s only through exploring possibility that we actually make things possible.
Last week my friend and fellow writer Sarah Peck posted on Facebook an encounter she had at her local DMV. At the counter, she was asked what her occupation was, in as she describes it, “that dry, sterile, get-me-out-of-here voice that anyone who works a job they detest” uses.
For the first time, Sarah replied, “Writer”. With confidence, she owned her reply as not something to fear, but rather, something to be damn proud of. Something she earned. In her own words, Sarah said, “my soul felt alive”.
When someone asks, “What do you do?” – do you find yourself stumbling to answer? Not because you don’t know, but because you’re afraid to own it?
We’re afraid of owning the role(s) we’ve created for ourselves. The titles that have not been printed on a business card by an HR department, but rather, one’s we proclaim for ourself.
“When you decide to go after a new dream, you need to give less to your current reality and more to your desired reality. I see this struggle especially with people who want to leave a situation to start their own thing: You set your sights on your dream, and yet, you keep giving your current, kinda-crappy situation 110% — out of habit, obligation, fear or image control. You keep putting in crazy hours at your current thing, while the New Thing just… waits for you to find the time… getting the scraps of your energy and attention.”- Danielle Laporte
Sound like you? It sure sounds like me. I’ve been here – and in some ways I’m there right now. I identify myself as a “Type-A Overachiever” or as Gretchen Rubin puts it, an “Upholder”. A go-getter type who’s 110% all-in to whatever may be in front of me at the moment.
But then something new comes along. A new idea (I have an insane amount of those). A new project or thought or topic to write about or focus. And then I feel torn – torn between the current normal and the new normal.
So inevitably being the go-getter that I am, I try to put 100% into both. But we all know that flat-out isn’t possible. Something starts to slack and becomes weaker, and then, being the kind of person that I am, I get stressed, frustrated, overwhelmed and retreat back to whatever was – instead of what could be.
But Danielle, as she often does, hits the nail on the head. Because, as she says, to be successful at whatever that new thing/idea/intention may be, you have to “take your energy out of what you don’t want to be doing anymore so you can put it in what you really want to be doing.”
It sounds so damn simple, but it can be incredibly crippling to actually execute. Because it involves taking a critical look at where you are and where you want to be – and it takes an understanding that, in order to get from HERE to THERE, you’re going to have to make some tough decisions and you’re likely going to disappoint some folks along the way.
But if you’re that concerned with letting OTHERS down, where would YOU be? Would you ever leave your nine to five? Would you ever stop blogging to focus on writing a book? Would you ever end a friendship to make time for the people in your life that really matter?
Dreams. We all have them. But we call them dreams not because they’re unattainable, but because we’re not willing to attain them. We’re not willing to give up something to get something else. We hold back from taking action.
And until you do – until you take your energy out of what you don’t want to be doing so you can put it in what you really want to be doing – what you should be doing, dreams will stay dreams and your reality will remain.
Today I task you with thinking about a dream you have - just one goal. For me, I’ve got a passion project (which I’ll be sharing the details of in the not-too-distant future, but, foreshadowing, it involves craft beer – surprise, surprise) that I’ve put off because I haven’t made time for it.
Whatever it is for you, if it’s simply a lack of time that’s holding you back, join with me today in MAKING time. Quit something. Spend less time on one thing that isn’t a priority to make time for that one thing that is.
“Obligate yourself to your dream” and make it a reality.