A colleague of mine was giving some talks at a local school. When he asked the seven year olds what they wanted to be when they grew up, they shouted out the whole range: I want to be a pilot. I want to be a doctor. I want to be a football player. I want to be a teacher. I want to be a scientist.
And when he asked them what might stop them from becoming or doing those things, a sea of blank faces stared back at him. Nothing to stop them. Nothing and no one.
I keep thinking, building a business is like a really big jigsaw puzzle. I used to love doing those puzzles, sitting at the kitchen table or alongside my Gran Gran (that's what we called my grandma on my dad's side) if we were staying with her after school.
It's 5:30am and I'm getting dressed for another weekend trip to London. I look through my wardrobe, by which I mean I scan the several piles of folded clothes sitting on the bedroom floor because even though it's eight months since I moved into this place, I still haven't organised a space to hang my clothes, and I'm beginning not to care.
We were standing in the kitchen of our holiday cottage on the Isle of Mull. My friend turned to me and asked:
"What would make your life even better?"
The tears that rose up were sudden and unexpected as I blubbed out in response, "Nothing. There isn't anything I want. Everything is perfect. Life is perfect. There isn't anything that could make this any better."
Do you ever feel that maybe sometimes you're just asking for too much? That maybe you've got it wrong? That maybe what you're actually supposed to do is let go of the life that calls to you and find contentment with what is?
All of us, over the course of our lives, will feel the call to deviate from the more common path. Something inside of us will be called upon to go left, when it seems that everyone else is going right.
It might arrive as a creative urge, to create something different, in a way that's different, to what the masses around you are creating. Or it might arrive in a deeply felt sense of the "right" thing to do in a particular situation, when the powerful pull of the majority would have you keep quiet and toe the line.
Sooner or later, if you're lucky, life will help you see that the goal isn't for everything to go the way you'd planned or hoped. Sometimes it will and sometimes it won't. The goal is to know that both in succeeding and failing; in rising and falling; in gaining it all and losing everything; in making enough and not making ends meet - in everything and all of it you're still ok.
It's up to you to take time out to (re)define what matters most to you. It's up to you to (re)define the life and lifestyle you want to live. And it's up to you to wake up every day and intentionally create your life and business in a way that makes you feel good.
Let’s not forget this, shall we?
When you’re beating yourself around the head for not getting the results you want as fast as you want them…you’re out there doing it.
When you’re having one of those days when you’re feeling a whole lost less than…you’re out there doing it.
When you’re questioning your entire freakin’ existence on the planet…you’re out there doing it.
"Find your own path and embrace the journey."
It was marked on one of those decorative boxes you can buy to store things in. It caught my eye. And yesterday, when I was out for a hike with a client-turned friend, it took on a whole new meaning.
It’s 15 years since I passed my driving test. Fourth time lucky, isn’t that what they say? I was never a dangerous driver. I was a cautious driver. I remember failing at least one of those tests for hanging out too long at a junction.
And then I moved to London, a place where having a car is probably more inhibiting than it is liberating, and successfully avoided being behind a wheel for the last 13 years.
Being back in the North of England feels a bit like being in a new country. And although this is the town I grew up in and so feels very familiar in many ways, I also feel like a child at Christmas, discovering all sorts of new gifts.
Yesterday morning I ventured into town to run a few errands and popped into a vintage clothing shop I'd been meaning to take a look at. Lancaster isn't known for its quality clothes shopping and I was keen to find something - anything - that might stock the sort of thing I'd wear.
"It's only an ebook at the moment", she said.
I saw it. And I heard it. On her face. In her voice. In her nervous smile.
It's the look that says it needs to be more than what it is. The tone that says it's not quite enough.
But it's not only an ebook, is it? It's never only an ebook. Just like it's never only your first client, your first programme, the first piece of art you sold or the first poem you ever went public with. It's never only anything.
It’s Monday morning. I’m in my brand new apartment and I haven’t had hot water, heating or a functioning hob since Thursday. The boiler’s broken. The. Brand. New. Boiler. The best part of Saturday was spent on the phone trying to sort out my predicament. And I had to do that standing outside the building because, as it turns out, the walls of this beautiful Victorian ex-mental health hospital are so thick that there’s almost no signal to be found. I’m told this is not an emergency and I’ll have to wait until Monday. At least.
I go right into my poor little Leah place.
Doubt. Procrastination. Stuck in the thought cycle of wondering if you’re good enough. Not sure if your work is reaching anyone. Feeling like no one cares about the stuff you really want them to care about. Feeling like you’re never going to get where you want to go. When your new idea tanks. When the money isn’t coming. When you put out what you believed was your best piece of work yet and all you get back is...silence. When you’re lonely. When the motivation just isn't there.
Every single person I know who's started from nothing and who's now beginning to truly see success, is someone who just kept showing up, no matter what. They might have had their moment or two of whinging or feeling sorry for themselves or just needing a break, but eventually they always get back up and carry on.
Everything looks easy from the outside. Easy success. Easy money. Easy relationships. Easy health. Just...easy.
But look behind the scenes of anyone who looks like they've created easy success and you'll find the same thing, over and over and over again.
Years of putting in the work. Years of commitment. Years of getting back up after being knocked down. Years of taking action, even when there was no visible sign of that action adding up to anything at all.
Today I'm done.
Done dancing around the truth. Done pretending I don't see what I see. Done with the worry that my words won't land or reach where I want them to reach.
There's something you have to know.
There's something you have to see.
You. Are. Infinite.
Responsibility. It's yours.
Complaining is never productive. Shut it down and walk away.
Spend time on the important stuff. Ditch the rest.
Know that the important stuff might mean embracing a little guilt. Remember, time out for you is an act of service to the entire freakin' planet.
It's real, dammit.
The whisper, the feeling, the sense, the knowing that:
I'm here to create...something.
I'm here to change...something.
Never in all the years gone by and never in all the years to come will Life Force express itself in the way it expresses itself through you.
Follow the crowd.
Keep the job you hate.
Satisfy yourself with mediocrity.
I was walking down the hill towards the train station. Jack was walking the opposite way, on the other side of the road, hunched over and with a scrunched up piece of white paper in his hand. I didn't know his name was Jack then.
He called over to me..."is this the way to the train station?"
You know you’re not living your truth. You know you’re shying away, shrinking back, telling yourself it’s not possible, that you shouldn’t want everything you want and that you should settle for something more…normal.
I woke up this morning with the remnants of a sweet dream floating in my mind. I’d been sitting side by side with a man I knew, talking. Eventually, FINALLY, and to my great satisfaction he leaned over and gave me the sweetest kiss I’d ever known.
As I lay there listening to the pitter patter of the morning rain on my canvas roof, I thought about this missing piece of my life.
As you move down the path of entrepreneurship, it’s easy to become jaded. It’s easy lose sight of all the high hopes, big dreams and unbridled energy you held in the depths of your being.
There’s a force weighing down, dragging you increasingly into the murky depths of the day to day business of just getting it all done. And yes, I know, there’s a lot to do.
There are times when your shine and sparkle begin to dim, you get tired, you can see it in your own eyes. Less fire. Less conviction. Less trust that you wanted this at all.
Your words matter. Your words make a difference. They bring more love to the world. They help change the conversation. They help change perceptions and world views. They inspire people to action. They help people heal. They make people laugh. They motivate and inspire. They disrupt the status quo. They change the story. They bring people a moment's peace. They bring people together. They give someone a new idea. They give people permission. They make ripples of kindness. They get someone through a difficult day. They stop someone pulling the plug - on a project, on life. They move people. They touch people.
I spent actually a great deal of time writing a post yesterday. Having not written for a full week it took more effort than usual. I had to think about it. I had to find the words. But I got there and it was ready to go.
And then I woke up and there was just this.
Messy, spontaneous, in your face life.
If fear had its way I wouldn't write today.
For the first time in four years of writing online, I'm afraid to put pen to paper and fingers to keyboard. Afraid to share myself. Afraid to say what's actually there. Afraid of letting the world in.
I think I might have mentioned once or a billion times before that, growing up, I was never very much into sports. In fact, I hated them. I was the girl with limp arms who couldn't throw. I was the girl with gangly legs with knees that turned too far inwards. I was the girl who, in step aerobics classes, found herself mostly turning around on the spot because she couldn't figure out all the arm and leg coordination.
Perfect is the enemy of success. It's also the enemy of impact.
Give up waiting to get it just right. The website. The videos. The book. The idea. The workshop. The programme. The truth is, no matter where you start, you're going to look back in 6 months, a year, or two years from now and cringe at what you created. Start where you are with the resources you have. Publish your crappy website. Share your crappy videos. Put out your first book. Run with the semi-formed idea.