Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. - Narcotics Anonymous*
The if-something-sucks-about-your-life-then-change-it part of me really loves that quote. It is the professional part of me, the Life Coach, that gets almost giddy every time I stumble upon it (or have good cause to use it with a client). Thirteen perfectly simple words, evidence that our problems are not so savvy and overwhelming that they can’t be changed.
When something isn’t working, stop doing it. Simple enough, right? Article finished.
If I ever do that to you—publish something as the all-knowing, perfect life having professional… without including the real me side of the story—please call 911 immediately and tell them to get an ambulance to my house. If I haven’t taken a bump to the head or something equally disorienting, then I will have lost an epic battle with my ego and you will need to stop me. Please, spare no expense in silencing me until I’ve come back to my senses.
Yes, the Life Coach in me knows things—powerful information, techniques, and perspectives—that make me good at my job. But, I’m also profoundly human and just like my clients… I’ve got work to do. At this very moment, my insanity short list has a couple of really solid entries that I can see are not getting me the results I desire out of my life.
When the old way of being isn’t working, we need a new way to be. We have one way of doing things—like when there is pain or discomfort, we sometimes turn away from it and find a distraction—and those choices produce a very specific type of result. The weight stays, addictions intensify, relationships deteriorate, and goals remain unrealized.
Living well is about using all that you have to work with in the ways that produce the best possible results. We need to get the most bang for every buck we invest in our day to day activities. This is simple energetic economics. If we have 24 hours in a day and we spend two of them poorly, we’re only going to get 22 hours worth of results. If we have $100 and we lose $50, then we’re only going to get $50 worth of goods for our $100 investment.
For example, I’m growing a still relatively new business. The offering that my business provides is me. Some businesses make cars. Others build houses. My business provides my clients… uh, time with me. It’s bizarre, don’t you think? But, it’s what so many of us are doing today.
We provide a service, which means our clients are paying for our time, skills, and experiences. There are so many varieties—professional organizers, nutritional counselors, feng shui consultants, coaches, massage therapists, energy healers, intuitive therapists, and teachers of everything from yoga and belly dancing to painting and acting. That doesn’t include those whose service results in a product like photographers, musicians, artists, jewelers, and writers. I know many, many people (mostly women actually) who work in this way, trying to heal and support and inspire others in order to change the world. For every single one of us, work comes down to selling ourselves.
Nothing in my past prepared me for this. Seriously, nothing. It has been far more difficult than I ever anticipated, although this ignorance was certainly a blessing because had I known how hard it would be, I probably would have chickened out. And, I’m not talking about carry-these-heavy-rocks-from-here-to-there kind of hard. I would have at least enjoyed the measurability of that challenge. Oh wow, look at how many rocks I moved… that’s awesome. Way to go, me!
This was about finding a way to believe in myself and my business when not one single person showed up for a class I offered… three months in a row. No, I’m not kidding. Or sending out a newsletter, well into my second year in business, then seeing that 13 out of the hundreds of people who received it actually read it. From the beginning, I was at least a pretty good coach but I knew absolutely nothing about starting and growing a coaching business. I made mistakes, lots of them.
I’ve now realized that through almost 20 years of working, I’d learned a model for doing business that wasn’t working for me. The old model said I didn’t have what I needed to start a new business. Period. It said this thing I was trying to do was a bust. The user’s manual for the old way could have read, “If you get to this point, it’s over. You have failed. Tuck your tail and go get a job. People don’t actually do this type of thing for a living. Regular people can’t afford it. Nobody wants to pay to talk to you. Oh, and one more thing… you can’t make money as a writer. Please deposit your dreams into the nearest trash can and make your way back into the mainstream work force.”
It was financially devastating to a family that was financially fragile (at best) when I started. All of that was hard but the hardest part was admitting that I sucked at some really critical elements of my job. Honestly, I thought the reality check would kill me but I couldn’t get a big black hole to open up and swallow me so I thought I’d give something else a try. I started telling the truth about my situation and asking for what I need, and I stumbled upon a new way of being.
There is a new way for people like me to be in business. I’m learning the new way, a little at a time, from women who live literally around the world. They are popping up everywhere, sharing their stories, offering suggestions, and supporting one another in ways that I couldn’t conceive as possible just two years ago. It’s about cooperation, instead of competition. It’s about trust, both in the process and in yourself. It’s about community and creative solutions. It’s about realizing your life has a purpose and then moving forward, one step at a time, as new possibilities appear. Perhaps most importantly, it’s about doing whatever it takes to say yes to you and your dreams, passions, and talents.
I’m a student, learning a new way to be and because I am also an empowerment agent, it’s driving me bonkers to keep these things to myself. So, I’m not going to. Why wait to share the goods? All of the great ideas don’t have to be mine! If they are helping me release the insanity (of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results), then I want you to know about it too.
After all, we’re in this thing together… and everything about the new way of being comes back to that over and over again. We are in this together. The great news is that when we embrace a new way of being, we can expect completely different results.
Next time, I’m going to share with you my friend Robin Rice and her life-changing Awesome Women Hub Tour. Go ahead and visit www.AwesomeWomenHub.com to see what it’s all about. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to connect with other powerful women and learn a new way of being for this new world we are cultivating together. The LA stop is next weekend… check it out.
(In the spirit of full disclosure, I am involved with the Nashville, Tennessee, stop of the Awesome Women Hub Tour but will in no way benefit financially from you visiting the site to learn more, or even if you chose to attend. This is not one of those affiliate situations where I get paid if you do what I’m recommending. In fact, I’m not really into that. I share because empowering people is what I was born to do. Coaching is what I do for a living, not recommendations. I would never accept a bonus for a referral without disclosing that ahead of time.)
Photo credit: DownTown Pictures via Flickr
* At first, I credited Albert Einstein for this quote. My wife saw it and believing that it was Ben Franklin, thought some research was in order. She found that while both men did indeed offer an impressive list of brilliant observations of human nature, this particular quote is believed to have been first recorded in the Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous (copyright 1982).