After another recent speaking engagement (it's been a busy month!), someone came up to me and said, "What you're doing is really courageous. Leaving your job . . . Google of all places, and the safety of a paycheck to start your own company. I want to do that someday."
She saw my decision as courageous. And don't get me wrong -- I do too.
But more than that, I saw it as oxygen. It's what I needed to do in order to breathe again. In order to exhale. In order to live the life that was waiting for me on the other side of a seemingly insurmountable, suffocating mountain of fear. I loved Google -- but my heart turned elsewhere, even before my mind did.
"Never compare your inside with somebody else's outside"
When I'm at a speaking engagement, I feel really fancy.
I get dressed up, I actually accessorize, and I do something respectable with my mop of usually wet-and-thrown-into-a-bun hair. I passionately share my thoughts on big goals, pushing through fears, trusting your gut, taking baby steps, and trusting the process even if you can't see the whole path.
I've got to assume that from the perspective of someone in the audience, my courage looks effortless and maybe even impossibly glamorous.
It's not. It wasn't. It isn't. It almost never is.
Courage is earned . . . through tears, fears, heartbreak, and failure. It's messy. Ugly. Rocky. And you find your courage when you have no choice BUT to trust it.
I start my speech by showing the picture of a woman laying on the floor of an office (shown above), as I share the following story:
A year and a half ago, I found myself rolling around the floor of a Google conference room between back-to-back meetings, dizzy, nauseous and on the verge of throwing up. And no, I wasn’t pregnant. I wasn’t sick either.
I was burned out. Spent. Exhausted.
As Martha Beck -- one of my personal idols -- puts it, my essential self had been bullied into silence for so long that it was no longer willing to stand by and watch me run myself into the ground...again.
So it spoke up the only way it knew how -- by literally incapacitating me to the point where I didn’t have the energy to reach up from the floor, pick up the telephone, and cancel my next meeting.
In the Four-Hour Workweek Tim Ferris says, "The opposite of love is indifference and the opposite of happiness is -- here's the clincher -- boredom."
Are you bored or unhappy? Are you waiting to find your courage, wrapped in a big, beautiful glamorous bow?
If so, stop waiting and start doing. I know, I know -- I make it sound so easy. I know it isn't . . . but as Joan Baez said, "Action is the antidote to despair."
Courage isn't always glamorous.
- Courage is crying -- snotty, unattractive, red, splotchy hysterical crying -- because you know what you need to do, but you're scared shitless to actually do it.
- Courage is going to sleep so heartsick that you couldn't find the strength to change out of your clothes, but getting up and out of bed again the next day.
- Courage is not having any answers but taking action anyway.
- Courage is opening your heart and mind -- to hope and possibility -- despite crazy mind goblins telling you it's a terrible idea.
- Courage is agonizing over a decision for months or years -- then making it on your own time, when you are ready.
- Courage is listening to the whisper in your gut with such a fine quality of attention that it becomes a roar.
Courage is a hot mess. At least in my experience.
What's that? Yours too? See -- we're all more similar than you think. And we all have a much deeper well of courage than we realize.
What would you do if you had the courage? What would it look like to start even without it?
On that note, I've set the re-launch date for the second Make Sh*t Happen course.
I actually did it while writing this post, because I got really fired up about helping people realize that Making Sh*t Happen is not always glamorous or easy. Once you drop that expectation, the world is yours. If you're ready for me, I'm ready for you.
Doors open January 10, and I'm not raising the price or the class size -- it will be $297 and open to 36 people who are ready to find their courage and change their lives. Sign-up on the homepage to be one of the first to be notified when enrollment opens.
Now go get 'em, Tiger! :::virtually slaps butt:::
Okay now I'm just getting cheeky. (Punderful!) Signing off before this get's too crazy... :)