About a year ago, I boarded a plane to return home from Engage!11. I missed my boys, but I wasn’t looking forward to the holiday season. For us, holiday season meant 18 hour days, screaming customers, acts of God (ice storms) that were out of our control, and this past year, no cash flow with which to manage any of the above. It was safe to say that dread filled my heart as I boarded that plane. I was flying back home to manage uncontrollable problems.
On the plane ride home, I wrote a blog post and titled it, On Being Stuck In A Rut. It’s encouraging to look back on my summary of Five Steps To Affect Change after the experience of this past year, not just because so much has changed, but because I’ve changed.
- If you don’t like where you are, see things differently. I know that sometimes, it’s hard to see the proverbial forest for the trees, but it is possible. Sometimes you have to just turn the scenario on it’s head, flip it over, and kick it around a little bit, but it is possible to get a different perspective on things. Last November, I started by envisioning a holiday season where my tree would get decorated. Next week, on Thanksgiving day, we are going to spend a quiet (ha!) family day decorating our Christmas tree, for the first time in two years. It is so important to me that my kids get to enjoy this holiday season with a momma who’s around to make them hot chocolate and play “trains with you”. Has fulfilling this vision required sacrifice? Yes. But come on, you can’t tell me my kids aren’t worth it.
- Gratitude is a tool that can unlock creativity, joy, productivity and success. I believed in the power of gratitude long before I heard this, but now I know that it’s one of the keys to getting through tough spots in life. I have so many people to be grateful towards, so many thank-you notes to write, it’s actually quite humbling. In the past year, we’ve been forced to ask for help in ways that I never would have imagined, and the depth of my gratitude towards even difficult people and difficult situations, while not unchallenged, has grown. Gratitude is an amazing train that continuously spirals upward. Get on it.
- You’ve got to let go of the old to make room for the new. This is a tough one. Letting go of things is never easy, but let’s face it: there just isn’t enough room in our lives for “everything”. We can’t manage it all. I said in a meeting last week: “You can have it all. You just can’t have it all, all at once.” I’m learning to practice the fine art of elimination, and setting challenges for myself to force me to practice letting go. I’ll keep you posted on my progress, but I can tell you that it does get easier.
- Embrace being better. Not bigger. Better. I feel like I still need to work on this one: taking better care of me. I need to be healthier. I need a new mascara. I need to start running again. I need to do something with my hair besides a ponytail. I need to walk away from my iPhone more often. Goodness gracious, it’s overwhelming to even start listing all that stuff. Reminder: better is gradual, not overnight. Better is tiny steps, not giant leaps. Better is one day at a time, one effort per moment.
- Give, and you will attract givers. This is where I see the biggest difference in myself since this time last year. I used to keep my business playbook very close to my chest. I never shared what books I had been reading, what projects I was working on, what software I used, or what firms I collaborated with. As I’ve opened up, little by little, to different people, different communities, and most surprisingly of all, the whole wide world (right here on this blog), I’ve found an amazing number of people willing to give right back. The emails, the e-hugs, the words of affirmation, all of these things have helped, in ways that you may never know. For that, I cannot thank you enough.
If I had to summarize this past year in hindsight, it would be in this statement: A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing. – George Bernard Shaw
I haven’t even come close to doing everything perfectly. There are still some days when the road ahead of me feels unbearably long, and I sense it will be littered with quite a few more mistakes. But I’m grateful that the mistakes lead to experience, and I have faith that the experience will count for something, somehow, at some point, and that at the very least, doing something–anything–is better than doing nothing at all.