This summer I told Robin, my career coach of 15 years, how tired I felt from lugging fear around with me all the time. She responded “Maybe it’s time you made friends with fear. It doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere soon.”
Her words shot straight to my gut. Instead of facing fear or trying to hide from it, what if I simply made room for fear? What if I let fear out of the trunk and let her ride in the passenger seat? I’d already fed her half a bag of dill pickle potato chips, the least I could do was give her a little leg room and a butt-warmer.
The rest of that week I thought about the role fear played in my career path; how it held me back. I wondered what might happen if I chose to hold hands with fear instead of constantly trying to run her down, or suffocate her in the spare tire compartment where she smashes out my tail lights flailing SOS SOS SOS in my wake.
I got to thinking; I’ve been afraid of Listen To Your Mother since the day it expanded. Until that point in late 2010 I never want to lead an organization or manage people. NeverEver. was my stated intention to the universe. I never wanted my own business, and entrepreneurship never entered my vocabulary, not to mention my identity. Yet, I never let fear stop me. I filed an LLC, I trademarked my brand, I entered into agreements, I hired consultants, paid lawyers. I became a producer overnight, formed a leadership team and developed a curriculum of training and resources to teach others to do the same. I learned how to serve and lead–at the same time. I learned how to sit with uncomfortable conversations and turn them into powerful conversations. I edited a book and media-trained myself with each interview. I learned skills and endured situations that frightened me and still do. I felt afraid all the time, yet I always pushed onward.
As I wrote about fear and LTYM in my homework for Robin, the answer jumped out at me in magic marker letters: I never let fear stop me, because fear actually served as my guide this entire time.
It turns out if you let fear in the passenger seat, she might tune the radio station to precisely what you need to hear–that while you considered her something rotten and possibly eating through the wires of your engine, she was actually holding your hand the entire time, navigating you toward a version of you and what’s possible for you that you could never have dreamed for yourself.
For the past year I explored and conversed, analyzed and spread-sheet-ed, dreamed and contemplated the future of LTYM. All potential avenues–in a variety of different sectors–required years of hustle, investment and resources on my part, and on the part of my leadership team. Mostly on my part, as founder.
I considered LTYM’s mission, where we’ve been and where we go from here. The beauty of having a clear, strong mission from the very inception of a project is that it provides the true north for your organization as it navigates twists and turns. A mission also gives you a gauge for progress. Every decision made for LTYM circles back to that mission statement, and that mission delivers clarity every single time.
While the mission continues to serve, seasons are changing all around me, including and especially my own and that of my family. Instead of tiny children demanding my focus minute-by-minute during weeks-long seeming days, the weeks and months fly by like days and college and retirement demand a shift in focus and priority. Blogging and the online space–plus the way people consume media online– is in a vastly different season now than it was in 2010 as well. Everything has its season, everything has its time (Pippin).
Robin worked with me over the summer and it became clear that the time had come to go big or go home. Again. I say again because LTYM has done nothing but go big since day one. The leadership team and I– we knew that going big in a big way–again–wasn’t feasible for many reasons, but also agreed that bigger didn’t really move our mission forward*. We didn’t want LTYM to become the TV show that runs too long, collapsing from fatigue and losing its integrity, not to mention its energy, focus, audience, and impact along the way.
Meanwhile Robin said to me “You know this is going to end eventually don’t you? Endings are part of the natural life cycle of every single thing. Ending is part of the process.”
I felt afraid of the end, and that fear showed me exactly where LTYM needed to go next. It’s time for me to hold hands with fear and ride with LTYM into our most meaningful season yet–our grand finale! I hope you’ll ride along with us all the way to Mother’s Day 2017. Our full city line-up will be announced soon. Subscribe to the LTYM newsletter for updates.
Join me next week at the DreamBank where I’ll share more of this personal story about how LTYM took off in 2010, and how I built my wings along the way. I know schedules are full-to-bursting, and if you can squeeze in my talk at the Thursday 9/8 at 6:15, I’d love to see your supportive smiling faces. Register here for this FREE event.
What do you do when your dream takes flight before you’re ready? Ann Imig experienced it firsthand. When her stage show, “Listen To Your Mother,” became a national and social media phenomenon, she suddenly found herself leading a huge project involving thousands of people. Ann will share her unplanned journey and the lessons she’s learned about letting go, trusting, having faith and finally building her wings.
*Thank you to my dear friend and brilliant LTYM Madison co-producer Darcy Dederich for showing me the difference between bigger and forward as I wrestled over all of this.