When I was in high school, I was invited to participate in a weekend-long "Leadership Camp." I was totally stoked. I thought to myself, 'Oh, this is it. See?!? THEY think I'm leadership material! This is only the beginning of unending success.' In hindsight, it might have been closer to the possibility that the teachers hoped they might save a group of delinquents by making them feel as if they had potential. The only real detail I was able to glean from that weekend was an interesting diagram...one of a large arrow with a straight line in the middle of it, and then a curvy line crossing back and forth like a snake moving along the straight line. The message behind this image was that we all have goals, and the arrow represents an ultimate goal (lose 5 pounds, run a marathon, try not to become a delinquent...). The straight line in the middle represented the individual and the curvy line, the actual path to one's goal. Ultimately, the concept was that in order to reach your goal, your path will never be a straight line, so one should be patient with the twists and turns along the way, because eventually, you'll get there.
This image has served me for much of my adult life, giving me reassurance that I'll get there...eventually. But never did I imagine that the curvy line would divert so dramatically that it would cross over the sides, even sliding off the edge like the meat ball off spaghetti and onto the floor.
I had big plans for 2014. I'd decided to completely change my approach from a retainer-based business model to project-based consulting. In anticipation of this shift, I even resigned my traditional clients, was pursuing 13 different proposals under the new model and was revamping my website.
Many of you may be aware, but in January of that year, while on the phone with a designer about my website, three men entered my home with a gun and took my valuables. A week later, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. What followed in the weeks and months after was a roller coaster of severe PTSD, doctor appointments, criminal line-ups, paranoia, tears and corny movies with my mom smashed in between chats about life and death.
I'd still arrive at places, but I wasn't really there. I left my personal items everywhere, constantly double-booked myself, forgot appointmentsand lost virtually everything at one point or another, including my mind. I even lost my kid on Halloween. I was a failure; the delinquent student emerged and brought a flake cohort along. Only one of my 13 proposals materialized, but that one ended in a canceled contract (aka fired), and my website changes rusted to a stop.
In the business world, I felt like a hair in an enchilada: I might have been thrown into the recipe, but there was absolutely nothing right about me being there. I felt like an embarrassment and completely detached from business, my profession and my goals. I questioned everything that had previously felt solid.
After all, why did a website matter when your mom might only have another week to live? What was money when whatever it could buy could be taken at 10:23am on a Tuesday? Why eat organic when you could die any other way at any time, completely unrelated to your food consumption? Did any of it really matter?
For a year, I rode that coaster, flinging my hands up in gratitude on the good days, and screaming on the days I went down. I called my friends, I saw a therapist, a healing chiropractor and body worker each once a week. I watched my mother die, helped my dad move, had a memorial for my mom and celebrated the holidays with my kids. Someone else directed that year; I didn't have a choice. My to-do list was 'divinely dictated' and every time I tried to take control, my hand was slapped as a reminder that I wasn't in control.
Even heading into 2015, I was eager to dust off my new-old ideas, oil the website and turn the lights on, but a virus took over. Ah, life as my friend Kirsten says. So, why this blog post now, in November, 2015? Because it's taken me this long. Truly, I really don't even feel 'ready' now...things seem too messy for me...my website design isn't slated to start until January, I don't have a well-defined business plan, I'm not even 100% certain what to share. It's just time to begin. Again.
Even though I've been working, intermittently, I am finally ready to put a stake in the ground, honoring my curvy departure and return BACK to my intentions, professional aspirations and goals. ALSO, I'm hoping to inspire you, other business owners, colleagues and friends, to have patience and trust in yourselves and your own process; your own coaster. Because no matter how messy your approach is to your goal, we'll all get there.