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Everything I know about courage, I learned from completely messing up my life.
(And, upon realizing I’d messed up something, deciding to learn from that).
Courage isn’t something you’re born with; it’s a habit. It’s a practice that you create and cultivate over time.
Again: everything I know about courage, I learned from completely messing up my life.
Sleeping with the wrong guy(s). Ahem.
Expending effort trying to get the wrong people to like me.
Wasting time on better looking, more impressive titles, thinking that it would give me something, somehow.
Questioning every obvious sign the Universe threw me.
Doubting the support and love of people who truly cared.
Throwing a Molotov cocktail of anger at people who didn’t deserve it.
Complete and utter lack of boundaries.
Alienation and isolation.
Not being myself.
Not telling the truth-truth-truth.
What I Know Now
What I understand now is something that informs the backbone of all the work that I do: understanding that courage ain’t precious. It’s shadowy and difficult and open not to the perfect and heroic, but instead to the everyday person who has done her share of messing something up.
In other words: if I could change the things that weren’t working, so can you.
What I know now is that the most courageous thing anyone ever does is tell the whole truth about all of who they are.
What I know now is that it’s painful to be pretending you’ve healed your inner critic stuff, more than you actually have. (Psst! Whole lotta life coaches out there are in some pain).
What I know now is that I don’t have anyone else’s answers, but that having walked through the spaces where I didn’t like myself very much is what gives me the capacity and the container to hold space for someone else while they do the same.
What I know now is that courage is about truth, not confidence.
What I know now is that I hold very loose concepts around “what I know.”
I put more faith in groundlessness than I do in holding ground, and that’s just for starters where I get into the Buddhist wisdom that has prompted me to sit on zafus, breathing in, breathing out.
What I know now is that it’s because I have gotten more comfortable with not obsessively needing “the ground underneath my feet” that I can stand a little taller, be a little less swayed by discontent, square my shoulders, and speak the words that feel like coming home.
“What’s it really like to run a business as a life coach?” you ask.
Well, then. Let me share.
Life: I wake up when I hear my daughter’s feet running down the hall. I used to try to get up earlier, but my husband agreed that I’m way less crabby when he gets up with our daughter, first.
I check Voxer to see if my VA/Mistress of Communication, Adrianne, has left me a vox about anything critical. Usually, the biz is pretty chill, and while Adrianne doesn’t work a ton of hours, I largely credit her with keeping my head on straight and reminding me of things.
We have breakfast together as a family. I stay in my pajamas as long as possible. My husband leaves for work, and I hang out with our daughter a little longer. We read books, dismantle and then pull apart her train set, dance in the kitchen to the Dixie Chicks. Then I drop her off at daycare, and I’m usually home and ready for my day by 10am.
Pleasure: With a few exceptions—launches or times when I’m on a deadline for a project—I adhere to a “Pleasure, First” work policy. Nope, nothing saucy in that statement (though hey, now that I think of it, that could also be an interesting way to start the workday), but rather I start my workday with something that brings me pleasure, which is usually writing but other times can be camping out on the couch with a stack of Triathlete Magazine back issues, calling a friend I haven’t talked to in awhile, doodling with Micron pens, or hanging out with a favorite book.
Work: Each month, I look at what I’ve got going on for the month and identify the top five things that I want to get done that month. I hang that on a wall in my office, somewhere really visible. In Basecamp, I break those five things into to-do lists that Adrianne has access to, and I delegate some of those lists to her. Work tasks range from changing something on the backend of my website to writing to creating graphics to setting up newsletters to being interviewed for podcasts. I’m usually working between 11am and 4pm, with a break for lunch.
Money: I’m a fan of the idea that we are all in our relationship with our money. If I’m in relationship with something, I need to give it respect, time, attention, validation, and listen closely to what it needs. My worst money habit? Not planning for paying taxes at a measured pace throughout the year, and then needing to pull big sums of cash out of savings when the deadline officially looms. My best money habit? I’m not big on emotional spending; I feel very clear that if I’m feeling crappy, spending money on stuff that I don’t really need is not likely to make me feel better.
Connection: My business and life BFFs, Valerie and Rachael, are my go-to women for reporting something I’m frustrated with, something I’m celebrating, something I’m trying to figure out. We Vox and text about business, relationships, and all of life in-between. I’m also in communication with the CLCC Leadership Team and with other colleagues, I am a fan of the impromptu Skype coffee date. Scheduling calls, for some reason, always brings up this feeling of constraint—I don’t like the feeling of something I have to do at a set time—so I rarely have them and usually, instead, I end up jamming with friends at random.
What’s Most Time Consuming: Anything that has to do with content creation or establishing a new system. With systems, for instance, when I learned that my old digital delivery processor had changed their shopping cart page in such a way that it looked as if the only option for payment was PayPal, I needed to research and test different digital delivery applications, change sales pages, update things on the backend of my website, etc. (Three cheers for my new system, Gumroad! I am loving it). When I’m creating a new program, I need to research, outline, edit, test, create, and add visual design to the content. I could hire out for more of what I do, but since I’m typically only working afternoons, and because creating content/curriculum is something I love to do, I don’t hire out.
Triathlon training: By 3:00 in the afternoon, my attention is moving to how I’ll wrap up the day and what workout is scheduled. My training schedule is long run on Mondays, Master’s swim followed by spin class on Tuesday evenings, a shorter run on Wednesdays, a distance swim on Thursdays, a distance bike ride followed by a short run on Fridays, and vinyasa flow yoga on either Friday or Sunday. I try to get all of my training done during 9-5 working hours. My very wise friend who is an informal triathlon coach/mentor has told me that I’m not doing enough targeted training specifically for speed drills or strength, but c’est la vie—adding those in would mean time taken away from work or my family, and I’m clear about my priorities.
The kiddo: Wherever I can, and usually that’s a few times a week, I pick up my daughter early from day care and we chill at a park, the library, or the house, getting some special time together before the hubs gets home. Evenings are all of us together and are full of more book reading, toddler meltdowns, and lately, my daughter’s emphatic pronouncements: “I did it!” and “I found it!” and “There it is!” Weekends are when we get a lot of our quality time as a family.
The hubs: We get one date day on the calendar each month, and we always eat dinner or have a glass of wine together after our daughter has gone to bed. He leaves me post-it notes on my office door, and I send him Bitmojis of myself in compromising positions. It works. We are in regular communication in pockets of the day, and we always know that we need more time when we start picking at one another.
Household: How the hell do I run the household, with all of that going on? Simplifying meal planning was the big first step. I created two weeks worth of menus. Week 1 has its shopping list; week 2 has its shopping list. We just flip back and forth. The meal plan is posted on a cork board in the kitchen, so that my husband also knows what’s for dinner and can get started on something if needed. We each dump the same amount of money into an account for bill paying. The rest—laundry, housecleaning—gets shoved into nooks and crannies here and there. Our house is often messy. Everyone’s fine.
What makes it easier: that I’m not in my first few years of business; that I know what I want my business to be about; that I’ve diversified my offerings between digital programs, life coaching, our life coach training program, speaking, and a facilitation course. Having created all of those things, now my attention turns to the sharing about and running of those things, and it’s always less time-consuming to manage what you’ve created than to be starting from scratch in business, figuring out what you want your brand and message to be about, getting a website up.
What I’m really excited about: we’re finishing off our garage and then we’ll turn it into an art area. It’ll be a big room where canvasses sit, waiting to be slashed with paint. I’m opening registration on my new “how to facilitate” course, Facilitate with Impact. Summer break is coming, and with it there’s the magic of longer days, wine in the back yard with friends, and digital sabbaticals.
Technically, the “right” thing to do, the very “self-helpy” thing to do when one is in the midst of confusion would be to get grounded, immediately and as quickly as possible.
And as I imagine you do, too, I haaaate it when I’m feel disconnected from who I know I truly am, when I’m walking unmoored in a space of not knowing my place in the world.
A few times a year, it happens. I find myself confronting groundlessness. All of my courage and Buddhist practices rise up and confront me and I don’t feel like I can lean into any of them.
Mindfulness? Pfft. Courage? Ugh.
This is all very human, and it’s hard being a human.
What gives me comfort at such times—what I hope gives you comfort, too—is drawing power from my discontent.
The Power of Your Discontent
If you decide that numbing out is not an option, eventually, you’ll get either sad or pissed.
If you get pissed, you’ll be profoundly uncomfortable but you’ll also be firing up the burners for reconnecting with the part of you that says: No. Abso-fucking-lutely not. I’ve gone as far as I can go, and I’m not going to go any farther.
The power of your discontent—of mine—of the discontent behind any movement—is that if you keep the channel open, that discontent can transform itself.
No. No more.
At the moment when you know you won’t take it for another second, you’re officially defining your future.
This is how you start a revolution, from within.
So at the same time that I often feel lost when I’m in the midst of discontent, I’m also waiting for when the tide will turn. I know that if I struggle enough with something, and if I keep waiting, there will be this moment of transformation—the discontent into action—that hits.
When the truth-truth-truth comes knocking at your door, you know that life is about to get real.
These moments of reckoning are hard, but they’re everything when you know the gold that lies within them.
The next time you’re in the midst of flailing, keep your senses attuned for when that fierceness within you dares to rise. Don’t shut it down. Welcome it. See it as the next step in a process that says: No more.