Done is better than perfect
because perfect never gets done.
The first time I got up in front of an audience to speak, I was shaking the piece of paper I was reading from – the one I was reading word-for-word. Sure, I took speech class in college, but it didn’t really prepare me for the real world. I was sweating, terrified, and wanted to sit down. The story written on that paper was about how I learned how to tithe and I was sharing it with my church. There were maybe 30 people – all of whom I knew really well. It was the worst feeling a person could have and I won’t forget it.
Looking back on those three minutes of torture, I can see clearly now that I was taking a first step into the unknown. I was sweaty and shaking hoping I didn’t encounter into something that could eat me alive. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it was done. There’s no way I could have know that 10 years later speaking would be my number one source of income.
There was that time I got in my car and ended up driving 7,000 miles in 3 weeks (by myself) around the country on the Live Your Brand Tour interviewing 18 businesses about how they live their brand. This was before podcasting equipment and Siri recording all of your content for you. I wrote down everything they told me in a notebook and then compiled them into a series of stories. They weren’t perfect, but they were done.
Looking back on those three weeks of exhaustion and wishful thinking, I can see clearly now that I was doing epic shit to get noticed as a brand strategist. I was doing the hard work and putting in the time to get the research and knowledge to share with future audiences and clients. There’s no way I could have known that Entrepreneur Magazine would pick up the series, publish it all, and then interview me as a Veteran Brand Strategist.
When I started the Adventures in Branding podcast, I had no idea what I was doing. I hired a podcast producer, carefully mapped out my first 5 episodes, sat down and started talking. It was AWFUL. The humans sitting in the room looked at me sideways asking where I had found the NPR voice I was using. We deleted them immediately.
We re-recorded those first episodes and I shared the story of finding my purpose in life. They’re still the most-listened-to episodes of the podcast after 85 episodes. My 9th anniversary episode ended up as the #1 on a list of entrepreneurial podcast episodes in Inc Magazine. There’s no way I could have known that getting this podcast started would lead to hearing stories of how the episodes have changed people’s lives. They’re never perfect, but you know what, they’re done!
I closed Sisarina 18 months ago and launched a new brand. We launched Branded Confidence as a placeholder business until I figured out what I really wanted to do. It wasn’t perfect, but it was done.
On the same day we launched the new brand, we launched SPEAK With Confidence. (Go big, right?) I trained 12 people to rock their talk on stage. The event wasn’t perfect, but it was done and everyone had a blast. To the point that the audience members asked me if they could do it. So, we kept building it to the point that we built an online course and a workbook and launched it in a new city. It wasn’t even close to perfect but man, it was satisfyingly done.
For the whole time I’ve been an entrepreneur, my Crew has tried to convince me that I am the brand. That MY face has to be the face of the business. That our clients hire us because of my expertise. I refused to believe them and refused to let my face be the brand.
Which leads me to today.
As you’ll see, we ditched the Branded Confidence name and Sisarina is nowhere to be found. Melanie Spring is the brand. Melanie Spring Productions, Inc is the corporation. We create & host unforgettable in-person brand experiences for you and your team to tell your story. We create safe spaces for you to show up as yourself & walk away with everything you need.
SPEAK With Confidence is our 6-week online course + 4-night 3-day in-person retreat to help you craft & deliver your talk – your way. ispeakwithconfidence.com
The Define Your Brand workshop comes to your HQ to get your whole team on the same brand page while giving you implementable processes & systems build brand ambassadorship. see Workshops
Unforgettable Stories is a new 2-day workshop for brands to come together to collaborate, brainstorm & share ideas on how to tell your own unforgettable brand stories. Coming in June!
As one workshop attendee said, “EVERY SINGLE DETAIL was thought of. The thoughtful details throughout the week made me know that I could trust the process.”
My favorite part of all of this: we launched this website (the one you’re viewing right now) because it was done – NOT because it was perfect. I could write SO many lists of everything we need to do to get it to where we want it to be and it will forever be an iterative process. The brand will keep growing. Our services will keep growing. But our focus – our focus will remain the same.
We prepare humans & companies to tell
their unforgettable brand story.
Now, I’m going to get back to doing that instead of worrying about everything that’s not done. Like I tell my speakers – THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU. THIS IS ABOUT THEM.
Get out there and do the thing you’re meant to do. Get it done. Especially if it’s not perfect.
(Caveat: This is NOT for people who love the holidays & think they’re the jolliest. If you think they are, skip this post completely.)
As soon as the adorable kids in their uterus-tugging costumes walk away from the house and the Halloween decorations come down, you know it’s time for the holidays to really begin. CVS has had Christmas decor up since August and you’ve been hearing Deck The Halls-esque songs since the school year kicked off. (Side note: in Norway, they don’t celebrate Halloween or Thanksgiving so they’ve been ready for Christmas with their Norwegian sweaters and tinsel for months.) In the US, we’re bombarded with Black Friday ads since before the leaves change color – and yet all we can think about is “which relatives will be talking about their political views and how do I stay far away from them?”
I was Googling terms like “how to handle the holidays” – because I’m one of the many Grinch-grumps who doesn’t like Christmas music or Christmas decor until after Thanksgiving is put away. I’m actually the girl who looks forward to January 2 when the holidays are over, the unmet expectations are still crying tears of sadness and a new year of hope is finally beginning. I LOVE buying gifts for people all year long – I dislike buying things just to buy them. I also dislike having to see people I’m not interested in seeing JUST because it’s the holidays. And then there’s the whole “I didn’t get what I wanted” crap. Expectations are the reason for the season, right?
DID YOU KNOW: Two of the synonyms for “expectation” are FEAR and HOPE?!
Anyway – in case you were wondering, there are LOTS of articles about how to handle the holidays. They tell you all you have to do is: be positive, be grateful, love yourself, and breathe. Easy peasy. *eyeroll*
I mean, I’m typically a super positive human but I have to ask – have you ever wanted to punch someone when they tell you to “just be positive”? It’s not as easy as they say. And the people who say things like “just be positive” are probably the people who need to hear that the most. Also, “just” is demeaning. As if it was nothing.
Since I can’t find an article on how to unsuck the holidays without “just being positive,” I’m writing the dang thing myself. Mostly because I need to hear this but if it helps you as well? BOOM! Winning.
Let’s start with yoga. (but not really)
I was in a yoga class this weekend, and the teacher started the class sharing a prayer asking for wisdom through our pure thoughts, our pure words, and our pure hearts. We touched our foreheads, lips, and hearts. Throughout the class, every time we would get into Star pose (where you basically spread your arms & legs like a star), we would squat into Horse (where you squat in Star pose & put your hands in prayer in front of your heart) and touch our head, lips and heart. It was a reminder to purify our thoughts, words, and intentions. Over and over – for an hour. By the end, it was with each of us.
I walked out of class into the icy weather with a renewed heart, happier thoughts, and joyful words. It was just what I needed. A reminder that everything I have to give this holiday season is inside of me – not anyone else.
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Now let’s talk about church. (but not really)
That same day, I went to a church service about Forgiveness. I had just taken a test about my Strengths and got 100% on Forgiveness. I felt like – this is gonna be an easy service. I’ve got this.
Until he started talking about how most of us have a hard time forgiving OURSELVES. *sigh* Yep, he got me. I’m REALLY good at forgiving other people – but beating myself up about things I’ve done? Or things other people blame me for? I’m also really good at that. Typically I beat myself to a bloody pulp – FOR YEARS. (I still beat myself up over stuff that happened over 20 years ago…) By the end of the service, I was realizing how many things I had to let go of – that it wasn’t about being forgiven by others, but by MYSELF!
The fun of being human. Always something to work on.
Holidays are the best test of patience and self-reflection. From relatives who think you’re crazy for your political views, sexual orientation, tattoos, or haircut to the grating holiday music your older sister HAS to play on the untuned piano (and sing along to), there just isn’t enough rum in the eggnog to make it through. Not making the horrified face when you open a present from “that” uncle is almost impossible. And getting lipstick on your face (again) from your second cousin’s aunt Rose is imperative. Until your grandma reminds you that you’re too tall to find a man and you become 15 years old again sitting in the corner drinking more than your share of wine from a coffee mug so no one can see you’re a lush.
“Just be positive” isn’t going to work – but this weekend made me rethink how I can approach the holidays. You’re welcome to join me in my new holiday habits over the next weeks. Let’s change the conversation in our heads and see how we can find a little more of ourselves during the holidays.
10 Steps To Unsuck The Holidays
1. Forgive yourself.
That thing that happened when you were 17 isn’t your fault. Your brain wasn’t even fully developed yet. The stuff you think others still hate you for – it’s over and only you are still mad about it. That divorce, miscarriage, fight, misunderstanding – whatever it was. Let go of the mean things you think about yourself and whatever you feel is your fault – and forgive yourself for good. Then move on.
2. Limit social media scrolling.
Everyone is going to post all of their awesome holiday fun on social media – not all the fights or tears. Use the new iPhone Screen Time app to limit your usage so you aren’t just hiding in the bathroom scrolling through everyone’s parties while you’re miserable wishing you were somewhere else. If you’re having a tough time, share it with a friend. They’re probably have a tough time as well & can commiserate with you without making you feel worse.
3. Say nice things.
To yourself AND to others. While you’re sitting there judging yourself for what everyone else thinks of you and judging your family/friends for all their shit, you’re not doing anyone any favors. Find something you appreciate about yourself and the people you’re around – and say it out loud. The more nice things you say, the happier you’ll feel.
4. Buy yourself something you don’t need.
It doesn’t have to be expensive (but it can be if you really like to do that for yourself.) Choose something you REALLY want and buy it for yourself. All expectations for what you’ll get as a gift will disappear and you’ll enjoy yourself. (I’m buying myself a massage package to my favorite masseuse. #necessary)
5. Walk away.
When the shit hits the fan (and it will), instead of getting upset about it, take a deep breathe, say “I’m sorry you feel that way,” close your mouth and walk away from the situation. Period. Then text a friend who will cheer you up, go back in and keep holiday-ing. Staying in an argument or in a place where you’re feeling offended isn’t going to help you keep up the holiday spirit.
6. Do something nice for someone else.
Especially if they don’t expect it. And maybe even without them realizing it was you. Leave a sweet thank you note, gift a gift “from Santa,” send an unexpected card, send money to a friend, donate to your favorite organization, text a relative you haven’t talked to in years, spend quality time with humans less fortunate than you, and listen a little longer than you really want to.
7. Make a dish you love.
Food can be a big part of our happy memories. Make the green bean casserole the way you like to make it. Get up early and bake that coffee cake your dad used to make. And eat all the bacon before everyone else wakes up (just like he did.) Do what gets you into the holiday spirit by eating the things that remind you of your happy moments.
8. Know that it’ll be over soon.
The new year is just around the corner and you’ll be well on your way to “keeping” your resolutions. It’s just a season – and it’ll be over before you know it and you’ll have to deal with Valentine’s Day questions. So, ENJOY IT! Even if you have to choose one little thing to enjoy. Take a picture of your favorite part & look back on it with fondness.
9. Cuddle a puppy.
This is one of my favorites. Find a corner and snuggle a dog while you read a book. It’s amazing what dog affection can do for your soul. And stay there for awhile – without anyone realizing you’re gone. Having some downtime in the midst of the craziness will help you stay sane. And dogs are REALLY easy to talk to. They’re GREAT listeners.
10. Make up a new tradition.
Every family has traditions but where did they come from? Someone made them up. Buy everyone an ornament instead of a gift, find a new recipe that will become a staple at the holiday dinner, create a game for the kids to play, teach everyone a new card game, or let the kids stay up late watching holiday movies with the best homemade popcorn in their PJs.
There you go! You’re on your way to unsucking the holidays. (hey! At least it’s not “just be positive.”)
I’m going to make a concerted effort not to let my holidays be ruined by unkind words, thoughtless comments, or ridiculous expectations – especially if a certain person decides it’s necessary to tell me my dog is fat again (he’s FLUFFY!) I hope you’ll join me in this effort to unsuck your holidays. Let me know how it goes. And know that I’ll be posting the good, bad AND the silly. I’m with you, friend.
PS. Need a Kickass holiday gift? Go grab tshirts, tanks & mugs for you and the family members you really like. xoxo Shop
“You must expect failure as part of your journey of success, failure and success go hand in hand, you cannot have one without the other.” – Richard Parkes Cordock
Failure sucks. Thoroughly, painfully sucks. No one wants to fail – we all want to succeed. And we talk about success all the time – about how it’s not really failure, it’s just a pivot. “I’ve never failed, I’ve just pivoted.” That’s cute – pivoting is actually what we learn to do from failure.
It’s amazing how much we hear about success – but rarely hear about failure. We hear about how people made it but not the parts where they almost didn’t. It’s always so glamorous when someone writes a book about how to do it the right way – and then you wonder how they figured it out – and then wonder what’s wrong with you. It’s disheartening for struggling business owners and CEOs to think they’re the only one failing because “everyone else” is a “huge success.”
According to the Small Business Association (SBA), 30% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 50% during the first five years and 66% during the first 10. So, let’s hear THOSE stories. Then we won’t feel like we’re failing alone.
I’ve made it WAY past my own definition of failure – QUITTING – mostly because, for me, there is no Plan B. This business doesn’t look anything like it did when I started. I’ve quit parts of it, failed at other parts, and succeeded more than I ever expected. All of that led me to pivot hard and do something much more in line with who I am as a human. (read: Give me 1 hour, I’ll give you 9 years)
When I asked my Crew what they wanted to get out of our first real company retreat, every one of them said “defined vision & defined roles for every person.” Even ME! I want to know where we’re going and what everyone is doing to help us get there. I don’t have an exact plan myself since it’s been evolving so much. I want to make sure I have a Crew that will help me define where WE want to go. They will help me put the pieces together but at the end of the day, I’m still the Boss Lady.
Speaking of Boss Lady, it’s almost been 10 years of being her. Being the boss comes with SO many ups & downs and typically ends up being quite lonely. I’ve failed SO miserably and succeeded in ways I never thought I could. I’ve had lots of cash in the bank, while other times I’ve had to pray for it. I’ve always made payroll but not always for myself. I’ve made bad hiring decisions AND really amazing ones. I thought I knew where we were going and then realized I had no idea. I quit my business twice – and still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next.
When you start your business in your 20’s, you look back and wonder how anyone thought you were smart enough to do any of this. I never wanted to be the “boss,” but over time I’ve realized I ACTUALLY never want to be a manager. I fully believe everyone should do their job, make their paycheck, and keep growing. I hustle my face off, so why wouldn’t everyone else? Oh yeah, because if I don’t show them how to, give them the opportunity to do so, and give them an incentive to do it, why would they bother?
We all have to show up for ourselves. Whether we’re the boss, the assistant, the manager, or the helping hand. We’re all human – no one is BETTER than another and no one person is MORE IMPORANT than another. We all have to do our jobs in order for the whole business to work. We all have to put in the time & effort and keep growing. As the boss, we set the example for everyone else. When we set a bad example, it’s up to us to own it and grow from it so our teams can follow along with us.
This week we host our 4th SPEAK With Confidence – an event I never planned on creating, a methodology I never planned to write, and a course I never wanted to create. It was never in my plans, yet it’s been the most rewarding business venture we’ve ever taken on. It fits my skillset and my team does an amazing job of supporting me in it – even those who come in from other businesses to share their own expertise.
Now that I own the fact that we’re doing this, I’m starting to see the holes in my planning. I’m starting to see that as much as the event is the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done, it drains every bit of my energy and adds way more stress beforehand than anything else. And there’s a reason.
A goal is just a wish without a plan.
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery
When I asked my entrepreneur mom for feedback for our corporate retreat, she said: “At the end of the day, Melanie is the boss. And she needs to be respected as the boss, referred to as the boss & regarded as the boss.” Now I want that on a t-shirt.
The biggest reason I have never been “the boss” is because I made a decision 10 years ago that I never wanted to be a “boss.” I didn’t want to be the quintessential horror reigning over everyone with an iron fist. The best bosses I ever had never acted like the “boss,” but I never knew if they regarded themselves as the boss either. So, I never owned my own boss-ness.
I wanted to build a company and I felt like everyone I hired would just own their shit & do their job. Why would they need a boss?! We did everything we were “supposed to do” like create job descriptions, set up processes & systems, and make sure everyone knew what to do. I made all the big decisions and owned all of the failures while being grateful to my team for all of the successes, but I missed the biggest piece of all. I guess I kept waiting for the real boss to show up and take over.
Which left me sitting here wondering how I’ve had a company this long without being the boss. It was actually really easy – I WORKED MY ASS OFF. Hustled my face off. And learned how to live in a constant state of stress. I built myself a perpetual job instead of building a sustainable company that was focused & set up so that everyone was able to succeed. Including me.
Guess who’s owning their boss-ness now?! *raises both hands** YES! Me!
Maybe it took my mom saying something – or even my team mentioning it (over and over and over) for me to realize they would follow me wherever I went – as long as I finally took the reigns and got us somewhere.
So, what does it mean to own my boss-ness?
Being the boss is however we want to define it. There is no ONE way to be the boss. As long as we own being the boss. It really comes from who you are as a human – and I have a big idea of what I’ve been missing this whole time. So, I’m going to write it down and own it – and you can all hold me accountable to it. (You can write yours down too – I am more than happy to help you own it!)
MELANIE IS THE BOSS LADY
In order for Melanie to be the boss lady, she has to:
1. Slow down.
– Be willing to put herself first.
– Block time on the calendar just for what she wants to do.
– Make time for creativity.
– Learn to be proactive, not reactive.
2. Create real, tangible goals for herself.
– Understand what her perfect life looks like.
– Set deadlines for each goal.
– Set up regular calls with her mentor.
– Create accountability for herself.
3. Create real goals for her company.
– Work with her Crew to create tangible, big plans.
– Set up processes & systems for all aspects of the business with her Crew.
– Write job descriptions for every person on the team (even the future ones.)
– Create accountability structures for everyone, including herself.
4. Keep growing.
– Learn something new.
– Read the books on her bookshelf.
– Write the damn book. (Gisell, look!)
– Take a walk & enjoy time away from the internet.
5. Inspire her Crew.
– Make sure everyone is in the right place.
– Create team goals for growth.
– Set weekly/monthly meetings for check-ins.
– Schedule fun trips throughout the year for brainstorming & relaxing.
Success & failure go hand-in-hand, sure. Yet, when you have the right team and the team is inspired because the boss is inspired, success is inevitable. Which means I have to own up to being the boss & give my Crew the success they deserve.
Hi, I’m Melanie Spring and I’m the Boss Lady.
Now, what are YOU going to do to own your boss-ness?
“Suck it up, Cupcake.”
My friend Frederique even has stickers that say so. She is not the type to tell anyone it’s easy to run a business but she also dislikes when people complain about what they do. Suck it up, Cupcake! You were excited about starting this and now you get to do this, so why are you complaining?!
I sat here writing a post about determination. About being determined to finish what I started. About being determined to run this "stupid marathon" this weekend. About being determined to make our 4th SPEAK With Confidence a huge success. About being determined to be a huge success myself. I started giggling to myself. Out loud.
Determined!? Yeah, right. That’s a load of crap. If I was determined to run the marathon, I have woken up & run the last two weeks – and I wouldn't be wondering if I can even walk 26.2 miles fast enough to finish in under the cutoff time. If I was determined to make SPEAK With Confidence a huge success, I wouldn’t have been wondering about Plan B for so long (btw, There is no Plan B) and I would have been celebrating that we hit the number of signups we wanted. If I was determined to be a huge success myself, I would figure out how to focus better instead of complaining about how many interruptions I have during the day. If I… wait a second. Why am I ragging on myself? Don’t I already do enough – work hard enough – not sleep enough?!
Determination defined is “firmness of purpose” – or “a tendency to move in a fixed direction.” Ugh. That means that as hard as I’ve been working, I should have worked harder. I should have done better. I should have gone bigger. I should…
STOP SHOULDING ON YOURSELF.
Just listening to myself is tiring. Yes, I can focus better. I can work harder. I can get more done in less time. I can read all the books & posts about productivity and learn how to do this all better. But in the end, I really need it suck it up and focus on what needs to be done instead of complaining about it.
I teach humans about manifesting – I even have a whole workshop called How To Get What You Want (subtitle: #manifesttatshit). Manifesting is about figuring out what you want, writing it down, creating a plan, and working on it every single day. And I manifest the HECK out of that shit. I’m a manifesting human – I love figuring out what I want. I love writing it down. I LOVE planning. And I am SO good at doing the work. But then I find myself just doing the work – and forgetting about the purpose of it all. The direction I need to be going. Like this stupid marathon.
My friend Shari sent me a message one day a few months ago and said “I just signed up to run a marathon. You should run it with me.” So, Dan & I signed up, too. It was that simple. Except it wasn’t that simple. We now knew what we were going to do but we had to write it down, make a plan, and work on it. And we did.
We made a written plan and put it on the calendar and put in the miles. Until we didn’t anymore. Until we got so tired we didn’t want to get up and go. Until travel got in the way. Until all of the excuses kept us from getting up and going the distance. And now it’s coming up – on Saturday. Now we have to suck it up and somehow get to the end of this thing so we can get the stupid t-shirt.
Yes, I keep saying stupid because I’ve never run a marathon before. I’ve never wanted to run one. And I have NO idea why I decided to sign up for it. No, I’m not one of those “I’m amazing because…” kind of people – especially not with this kind of stuff. I HATE training for this. I will NOT rub it in your face or tell you why you should do it. I don’t think anyone should run a stupid marathon. I love running but I HATE when I have to do something – especially when I know I’ll suck at it. I keep trying to find every excuse not to run – snow in the mountains, a rolled ankle, can’t find a dogsitter, I got sick – EVERY EXCUSE NOT TO RUN THIS STUPID THING.
But guess what ran through my head as I was sitting here thinking about determination? I realized – I am healthy. I am whole. I am a badass. I have all of my limbs. I have full function in my body to run this. I have an amazing partner who will run this with me. I am an incredible magical human machine. I am determined to get to the end of this thing.
As I was wondering about why I bothered to sign up for this stupid marathon, Shari sent me a message and said, “I didn’t realize this when I signed up, but the day we run this marathon is the 5 year anniversary of me losing my finger and my career. It’s amazing how different my life looks now and there’s nothing I would change.”
I’m running this stupid marathon for Shari. I’m doing it because I can. Because I GET to. I absolutely don’t have to do this. I have zero pride in doing it. I’m also not doing it for me – I’m doing it for her. To celebrate this amazing life with her.
I don’t have to do any of this. I don’t have to run this race. I don’t have to run this business. I don’t have to run this speaking retreat. I don’t have to go anywhere. And yet, I GET to. I get to run this race. I get to run this business. I get to run this speaking retreat. I get to travel. I get to inspire others. This is all a gift.
My mindset shifted this morning. That quickly.
I woke up today saying, “I absolutely can’t do this.” And now I just keep repeating, “I get to do this.” I GET TO DO THIS!
YOU get to do this. This life. This amazingly imperfect, hard, rollercoaster, crazy life – and it’s all yours. Your perspective, your heart, and your determination.
You are an incredible human being – a machine – made of magical components built exactly the way you were meant to be built. You are perfect just as you are. Even if you don’t look, feel, or act like what everyone else says or believes is perfect – you are PERFECT. You are right where you’re supposed to be. You are your own kind of magic. It’s to you to decide to be incredible. To wear your awesome. To be the beautiful human you were created to be.
You GET to be here. You GET to breathe. You GET to do the work you’re doing. You GET to enjoy the life you’re living. You GET to love the people you love. It is not a RIGHT to live this life – it’s a REQUIREMENT.
Congratulations for hitting the human lottery – now, suck it up, cupcake – and DO THE THING! I promise, you’ll change how you feel about anything when you realize that you GET to do it. I get to do it with you.
Now, I'm going to drive to Utah, run a stupid marathon, celebrate with my friends, and eat ALL of the cupcakes. So, suck it, cupcake. hahahaha
HUSTLE HARDER. STOP EFFING AROUND.
TAKE MORE VACATION. STOP WORKING SO HARD.
FOCUS ON YOUR ONE THING. STOP DOING EVERYTHING.
BE MORE. BE BETTER. BE THE BEST. BE WHAT YOU WERE MADE TO BE.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. FOCUS ON YOU.
DO LESS! DO MORE!
Everyone has an opinion. And you know what they say about opinions.
They either tell you to work harder or they tell you to take more time for yourself. And everyone has their own formula for doing it – thinking that it will be one-size-fits-all when it’s not and it CAN’T be. We’re all unique snowflakes (I know, I know – but it’s true!). We all need our own balance/integration/way-of-doing-life. As much as personality tests try to stick us in categories to tell us how to do things, we still have to figure it out for ourselves.
I saw a facebook ad that literally said (and I quote): "FACT If you are not madly in love with every area of your life, overflowing in every area of your life which matters to you… (continue reading)” with a physically fit bearded hipster guy sitting on a rock looking out over rocky terrain & a link for his program to upgrade your life.
I couldn’t even "continue reading" because first, it isn't well-written – and second, I wanted to hit him the face for putting that kind of shit on other people. Those words are out there making people feel like shit because he OBVIOUSLY does this himself. *insert eye roll*
Let me be REALLY clear: NO ONE IS MADLY IN LOVE WITH EVERY AREA OF THEIR LIFE. NO ONE IS OVERFLOWING IN EVERY AREA. NO ONE. ABSOLUTELY BLEEPING NO ONE. The gurus, the monks, the coaches, the trainers, the experts, the spiritual leaders, the ninjas – no one has all of their shit together. WE ARE ALL HUMAN! We’re not meant to have everything together. We’re meant to keep learning & growing. The reason some of us teach others is because we’ve figured out how to authentically be ourselves and our purpose is to help others figure out how to do the same.
So many are REALLY good at hiding their shit – and it ends up eating them alive. If you ever hear a “guru" say that they have all of their shit together & that they’ve found the fountain of _fillintheblank_ and you look at their life, their Instagram feed, and see that they live a spotless life – RUN! Don’t buy that program. Don’t read their blog posts. Don’t listen to their podcasts. Don’t fill your brain with that shit. Don’t feel bad about your life.
Phew – now that THAT is over.
Over the last two years, I’ve been building a program
that is SO far outside of my comfort zone. This program allows humans to show up authentically on stages sharing their stories. It didn’t happen over night. And it has NOT be easy.
I hosted it three times – training over 30 people – before I even admitted I was doing it. I denied that I was training speakers – when in reality, I’d been doing it for years. I’m a brand strategist so it’s been my job for the last 10 years to help companies tell their stories. I’d even written talks and created slide-decks for people and companies – and stayed fully focused on the fact that I’m “just” a brand strategist.
Every time we hosted an event, I would always say it was the last. Every time we had to get butts in seats, I said I’d never do it again. Every time we finished the event, I’d be SUCH a Proud Mom – telling every one of my speakers' stories – and how hard they worked to get on that stage. And yet, I WAS NOT GOING TO DO THIS AGAIN.
Then I moved across the country, built the online course, and wrote a 140-page workbook – and, what did I do? I did it again. WHAT IS MY PROBLEM?! I’m NOT a speaker coach. I help people tell their stories, I don't teach people how to rock stages – AND this is REALLY HARD! Why am I doing this?!
This was until my Helpful Human, Gisell, looked at my ragged, weary, and proud face after our third event as everyone was hugging each other to head back home and said, “If you could hear what everyone says about you and this experience, you’d never doubt that you have to keep doing this.” So, we did it again. We posted a whole new event for October – added more days, made it all-inclusive, got a few signups, worked our tails off – and found that EVERYONE wanted to do the next one.
“I’m totally in for the workshop in April,” said the 53rd person.
Hearing this over and over, I took a weekend to decide if a handful of signups was worth moving forward with or if I should just wait until April. I asked my team to think on it, pray on it, and see what they thought. One of my trainers came back to me after the weekend and said, “I asked God for a word and although I wanted to play it safe and wait until April, He told me that you should listen to what He first told you.” So, we forged ahead with a new fervor.
Until I hit another wall.
I got up on stage in front of 300 women to keynote the Women in Business Network event. I’ve never felt more on fire than that morning in Dayton, Ohio. I shared the shit, I shared the awesome, and I gave them permission to take ONE step. Just one. To show up for themselves so they could show up for others. I told them “You are right where you’re supposed to be.” I made 300 new friends that day.
And the whole time I chatted & inspired, I was doubting my decision to make the October Accelerator happen – again. I was excited to be there and suffering inside trying to piece everything together.
A woman walked up to me & said, “I’m so glad I found you. I don’t know if this is weird or not, but while you were speaking earlier, God told me to tell you ‘There is no Plan B.’”
Talk about all of the air rushing out of my body. KEEP GOING! We jumped on it with even more excitement and decided that the people who were supposed to be there would be there. And guess what? THEY ARE! The Rockstars who have signed up for October are 100% right where they’re supposed to be. (Weird that I talk about this.) And this Accelerator would help me streamline every single one of the future ones – hosting more people and going even bigger. Because I was FINALLY COMMITTED! No more wavering. No more Plan B.
YOUR SUFFERING ISN’T FOR YOU TO KEEP.
Entrepreneur life is NOT glamorous. Anyone who talks about the hustle being sexy is lying.
Running a business is HARD. Building a team, managing your life, and making money is HARD. Especially when you AND your team depend on you for a paycheck. It’s not for the faint of heart. We can surround ourselves with incredible humans and still hit bottom over and over. We can be fully supported with a sound business structure and perfect marketing plan – and still miss the mark.
“It’s lonely at the top” is true AND false. It’s hard – there is NO doubt. And all of us have major decision fatigue on a daily basis. But it’s only lonely if we don’t reach out.
The problem is – when we reach out, people say shit like “everything will be ok” and “it’ll all work out.” We share where we are and it ends up being brushed it off as character-building. Which ends up reminding us to NOT reach out. Which reminds us that we’re lonely.
Encouraging words are all fine & good but most of the time we really need to hear “I’m with you” or “I’ve been there” or “I get it & I’m sorry it sucks.”
If you know me at all, I’m a HUGE encourager. I love helping people through rough times and reminding them to wear their awesome. If you need a hug, I GOT YOU! AND I’m also the first person to say “ugh, I feel that. I’ve been there. And I’m standing with you in it.” Because when shit gets hard, we really don’t want to hear that it’s going to be fine. We want to be validated in our feelings and know we’re not alone.
Sure, when we look back on the hard stuff, we may laugh at how silly it was. We may add it to a talk on a big stage or share it over coffee with a friend. Or we may just be glad we went through it because of all we learned. But when we’re in it, PLEASE knock off the “just smile & everything will be better” shit. It doesn’t help. A hug does. A listening ear does. An understanding note does. A word for the Big Guy upstairs does. Because it feels like no one really hears you when they say that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Screw the tunnel. Screw the light. Screw the great story this will make. Screw the character-building. Screw you for saying I’ll laugh about it. I’m just going to light that bitch on fire and we’ll talk about where the light and the tunnel meet.
Because what other choice is there?! Trudging?! Pretending?! Lying to myself and everyone else? THERE IS NO PLAN B.
I’ve been hustling my face off for 3 straight weeks without downtime, without sleeping well, and without feeling like I have all my marbles. I’m building an INCREDIBLE program that takes up almost all of my waking hours – and I know it’ll be worth it. It always is. And I’m tired.
I just turned off my wifi for two hours in a mountain town, put my noise-canceling headphones on, and pretended my business didn’t exist in order to write this post. I have a to-do list that’s bigger than it's ever been and I’ve delegated everything I can possibly delegate. I have zero phone calls on my calendar today and have been asked a total of 86 questions today alone. I’ve only responded to one email. And I finally got a note from my bookkeeper that said the sky wasn’t falling anymore. I am blessed – I get it. I REALLY do. And yet…
It’s been almost 10 years since I started my business. It’s been hard – and SO rewarding. I’ve transitioned, I’ve changed everything, I’ve revamped my life, I’ve moved multiple times, I’ve been through almost everything an entrepreneur can possibly go through. And yet, I’m still here. I’m still standing. I’m still hustling. I get it. It sucks and it’s so awesome – all at the same time.
If you’re in the shit right now, I feel you. I feel every particle of your being. I DEFINITELY don’t have all my shit together and right now, as much as I love celebrating all of the wins (and boy, there are some INCREDIBLE things happening), I’m also living in the shit. I need sleep. I need to delete my inbox. I want to go play. I sometimes wonder what it would look like to have a 9-to-5. And then I remember the impact of what I’m doing. The impact, the purpose, the stories, and the authenticity. I LOVE being me. I LOVE my life. I LOVE this shit. THERE IS NO PLAN B.
So, all that to say – I see you. My twitchy eye sees yours. My tight shoulders are wrapped around yours. I have a tissue box ready for you any time you need to just let it all out. And I will encourage you to LET IT ALL OUT. No matter who you are or where you’re from or what you’re going through, I’ll stand with you. Because that’s what we humans need – to know we’re not alone.
Have you ever started something you really wanted to create & found it later unfinished? A blog post? A love letter? An art project? A room of your home? A relationship? A business? Maybe you start it, get part-way through it and say you'll come back to it only to come back to it to see it's incomplete.
We've all done it. We get hyped about something we want to make a reality and leave it when something shinier comes along. And that something shinier doesn't always do us a favor – it can distract us from what we really need to do.
As an entrepreneur, my brain is going 100 miles an hour all the time. (Side note: you don't have to be an entrepreneur to have a busy brain.) When I wake up, I'm staring at the ceiling thinking about work. All day, I work on work. After work, I'm talking about work. Entrepreneur life is not the most conducive to thinking about stuff outside of work. Balance or integration is not easy but it's necessary for a healthy focus. Which is NOT something I've ever been good at – until recently.
When I get bored or run out of things to do, I create more work for myself and my Crew. I start new companies, pivot old ones, build new products, put together new services, create more content – and get way off track. This helps no one – not my clients, my Crew or myself. The business waters get muddied and no one really knows what to do.
I did this exact thing again recently. And it almost wrecked me.
Let me back up for a moment. I started Sisarina, a web marketing agency, in 2009. I NEVER wanted to be the face of the company. I was called “Boss Lady” because I wasn't really much of a boss. I was the leader but I would even use that term loosely. I did EVERYTHING wrong and managed to still come out on top. I had very little focus – we did all sorts of stuff. Websites, marketing, social media, branding, content, brand strategy – lots. I had a hard enough time to getting my own work done while growing a team of incredible professionals. Until I realized how much I hated checking my email wondering who was mad at me and what fire I had to put out.
A year ago, my Crew convinced me it was time to do what I wanted to do instead of what I felt like I “should” do. I decided to focus on the two things I loved the most – speaking & workshops. I was ready to focus – and it was time to become the face – a personal brand, a public figure.
At first, I tried to hide behind the name Branded Confidence. It was ok to have my face on it but it was a company – right? I didn't have to be “the thing” I sold. Then I decided speaking and workshops weren't enough so I thought “let's start another company to focus on corporate work!” WHAT?! WHY DO I KEEP DOING THIS!? I kept overwhelming myself because [you'll get a kick out of this] – I was afraid of success. <READ I wanna see you be brave>
I wasn't doing it on purpose but I realized that if I kept myself busy and kept doing more, I'd keep from being successful at any one thing. [WHY!? What's the point of that?! Oh yeah, MOST of us do this… It's not just a Melanie thing. Jane of all trades, Mistress of none.] I kept looking around and finding that I was even confusing myself with what I did.
I'm a brand strategist who helps companies tell their brand stories. That's what I'm trained to do. And I'm really good at it – but it doesn't bring me the joy speaking & workshops bring. All I wanted to do was write a book about how to rock your life and teach people how to share their stories. I wanted to share their stories from big stages so others could learn to tell their own stories. But, what do you call THAT? There's no college degree for this. There's no official title for it. The closest I could think was “motivational speaker” but really? #lame
Then, my right-hand-gal (Gisell!) held a mirror in front of me & asked me what I saw if I got to just speak & host workshops. JOY! She told me she'd follow me whichever direction I wanted to go, but we had to focus on one direction – not two.
BAM. So simple, yet so profound. My personal brand + kickass workshops + big stages to share the love = win/win/win.
And I don't have to sit behind a computer all day – I can be with the humans who need what I have to share. YES! Which brings me to this moment right here.
When I started writing this post, I was incredibly UN-focused. I sent notes out to my speakers about getting testimonial videos, started editing an email, got into conversations with my booking manager, checked and posted on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and even called my mom to celebrate a big win. I started a different blog post altogether but after watching my lack of focus, I knew I had to write about focusing.
After finishing the first draft, I took a walk and listened to The RobCast with Rob Bell sharing his Brief Guide to the Undernet – the underside of the internet. He was talking about how we have to choose what we want to do, post, share. And then he said exactly what I needed to hear to focus this post.
“A yes always requires a no.” – Rob Bell
We're always choosing. One thing for another. And when we say yes to something that doesn't serve us, we're saying no to something that could help us get where we need to go. Am I willing to say no to those things that don't help me focus on my goals?
If I look at my list of projects, I have an overwhelming amount of things going on – unfinished. At least 15 other blog posts sitting in Evernote, Quip or Google Docs somewhere. My computer desktop has a folder called Desktop Stuff where I dump everything I had on my desktop so I can keep it clean – but it's sitting there disorganized anyway – another project. My iPhone photos are in a Dropbox folder unorganized and completely lacking in any search-ability – I even have a person who can organize it for me when I'm ready to pull the trigger – or next time I'm on an airplane without wifi it might get done – if I'm not exhausted. There's a canvas I left in DC that's still white with a sketch on it and paints ready to color it in but I never bothered to paint it. I have a closet full of stuff that needs to be sorted & organized since my move – but it can wait until tomorrow. I need to shave Griffin so he can have a summer cut – maybe after work. I have to write my content for my updated brand – and it's slated for this afternoon but it's been on my to do list for at least two months. My car needs a bath and the office needs to be painted. Sigh.
I've left a LOT of things undone but saying yes to the ones I need to do requires me to say no to the ones I don't need to do. Kacy Paide, my professional organizer friend, would tell me to throw out the stuff I'll never finish and finish the things I want to finish. <Read How to be organized enough> Right now, I'm focused on getting shit done that NEEDS to get done. Getting shit done that requires my attention and that fits my overall goals. FOCUSED on it.
I may not ever get the focus to clear out my to-do list and that's ok. I'm creating and continuing to create things that make me smile, laugh, and grin at random times. All of this gets my inner 7-year-old bouncing around. As Kacy would advise, I'm making a promise to myself to finish everything that gives me joy. And throw away anything that isn't helpful or useful. Because what's the point of this life? To find joy, live in gratitude, and take care of those around us.
So, now it's your turn.
What is unfinished, incomplete, or getting undeserved attention? What do you need to throw away? What are you doing that doesn't fit your goals? And what do you need to start doing so you can be the huge success you were meant to be? Say yes as long as you are willing to say no.
Go – you incredible human – and enjoy this life you're creating. No matter what it looks like. Focus on everything that brings you joy.