The Highway to Business Misery: Doing it Someone Else's Way

I noticed my shadow on the pavement in front of me as I left the house this morning. I thought how nice it was, to see my shadow. I don't know why. It just felt good. Like I hadn't seen her or noticed her for a long time and then I was like, "oh, hey there, shadow."

I went to meet a friend for coffee.

She's one of my very best friends. The really loyal kind. The kind who'll always be there no matter what. She gets me. And it feels good to be got.

Somewhere in our conversation I told her about what I've been feeling lately. That the "problem" I keep having in my business is that I keep changing. Sometimes I'll stay the same for months and I'll think I've figured it out, you know. This is who I am. This is my message. This is how I help people. This is what I believe. Those periods of time feel good. It feels very neat and organised and controllable.

But inevitably it disappears. I see through my beliefs and I understand once more that it's all an illusion. That really I have nothing solid to teach or to share or to believe. And that causes problems for my business. At least it does in my mind.

Because people seem to want reliability. They seem to want consistency. They seem to want to follow someone who's very sure of their message and who'll share it day in and day out in the very same way.

I understand that. I think it makes people feel secure. In the same way it makes me feel secure that I know I can go to such and such a blog if I want to hear X message. Or such and such a blog if I want to hear Y message. So I understand that my changeability and the way my beliefs change from one day to the next is a bit unnerving for people.

Maybe that's why they keep leaving me at the click of a button.

But this has really been going on for years. And I think it's because it's very nice to have something solid to believe in. To grasp onto. It's nice to be able to say, this is what I believe. Full stop. It's easier to sell things that way. It's easier to build a following. It's easier to be known for something. It's very appealing.

I've also discovered that it's very impossible for me to be this person. The only thing I'm very very sure of is that everything's unsure and uncertain. And I'm only just now beginning to appreciate myself for that. To realise that in my uncertainty maybe I'm the one who actually has it figured out. The idea of certainty is the illusion. The problem.

I don't ever really want to encourage people to believe what I believe. Or to think how I think. Because ultimately they'll only be disappointed when they find out that what I believe isn't really true. Or it's not true for them. Just in the same way that I've become disillusioned with every person I've ever followed online. Because in the end it all breaks down. It all dissolves.

I think most people (including me) have just become blind online. You think you're thinking for yourself and sharing your "unique" message when in actual fact you're just sharing some regurgitated message of one of your online heroes or mentors.

I'm not judging. It's very easy to become a product of the stuff you're surrounded by. And we're surrounded by people selling us on their way of thinking.

So anyway, I was explaining these feelings to my friend. And she just looked at me and said, "but Leah, you don't need a message. You don't need a thing. Your message is your honesty. That's always been what people love about you. That's always been what people remark on."

And because I know what she said is true, peace flooded my heart. Because inside me I know that there's no need for me to share anything in particular. That the reason people read what I write and buy what I sell is because as much as I can possibly make it from wherever I am right now, it's real and true.

And as my friend put it, people can see through the bullshit.

I'm learning to trust that. Learning to trust that people do see through the bullshit. Because I'm not always sure. And then I wonder whether I'll be "behind" and everything I've built will collapse because actually what people want isn't honesty, but nice little messages tied up with string.

Anyway, then my friend looked right at me and with tears in her eyes told me how proud she was of me. Because nearly 4 years ago, it was her desk I went to on the day I handed in my notice and said, "Beth (and Sophie, who was my other friend there at the time), what should I do? I can't do this anymore."

And they replied:

"Go and do it. Go and hand in your notice."

And so I did.

And I never looked back. And she's seen me go through a lot. A lot of struggle doing this thing. And she's been there every step of the way supporting me. And now things are going quite well. And she's proud of me. And I'm proud of me. She's really a wonderful friend.

On the way home I saw a penny lying on the floor of the tube carriage.

Normally, I'd leave it there, feeling too proud to pick a penny up off the floor.

Not today. I picked it up and twirled it around in my fingers.

"See a penny, pick it up, and all day long you'll have good luck."

And when I got home I checked the letter box. And inside was my flatmate's bank card. He's been waiting for it for weeks and he's not been able to do anything because he hasn't had a bank card and it's been really pretty infuriating for him.

So I called him and told him the news. And he was so, so happy.

Sometimes the luck isn't for you, but for someone else. But it makes you feel just as lucky anyway.

Besides, I've had way more than my fair share of luck these last 4 years.

Love and courage,