Ten Years, Ten Things


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Ten Years ago- this summer- I left my job and started the Say Yes Institute.
I didn’t have a big business plan, or a well thought out strategy for what I was going to do or how I was going to do it. I just knew I needed to work with people in a different way, so I gave my notice. With a feeling of excitement- and a healthy state of disbelief this was really happening (and I had really left a “sure thing” for a big unknown), I began this journey. A journey I am still very much in the midst of and still learning from. Big time.

Someone asked me recently if I had any thoughts about what I had learned over the past 10 years, or what I wish I knew when I started, so I thought about it. Turns out, I did have a few thoughts. Without overthinking anything, and in no order of importance, here’s a quick summary. 
Ten Years, Ten Things…
1. A plan is good, but not necessary. Some wait forever to start because they want a plan. Sometimes you just need to leave the gate. I’m not saying it’s bad to plan, i’m saying the “planning” can keep people on hold indefinitely. 
2. Fear is a plus. Being scared means you are going beyond where you are comfortable. I train people on appreciating the fear, and the importance of leaving the comfort zone. I keep reminding myself this also (surprisingly) applies to me. This is a big one for someone who loves her comfort. Perhaps more than I should admit. 
3. If what you’re doing isn’t working, change it. Quickly. I have changed offices, I have changed direction in a training, I have dumped entire pieces of what I was going to do when it became clear the room wasn’t ready/willing to go there or they weren’t with me. Do not attach to something which isn’t working. Toss the plan and respond accordingly. This earns you credibility and respect, since so many people stubbornly cling to the original plan- however inadequate it has proven to be.
4. When you “feel it” you’re probably doing it right. When I am in the zone, fully present, and connecting with the audience, I feel it. When I feel it, I know they do too. That’s when I know i’m doing it right, and that’s how I assess if i’m doing what I most need to be doing. I am at my best when i’m in this place, so I am spending more time working with people in ways which create (as I affectionately call it) the “chills/tears” feeling. For me, that is the real deal. 
5. Everyone has an opinion. People will have a lot to say about what you should or shouldn’t do, and what will and will not work. If I listened to every opinion I have ever been given, I never would have started this journey or had the privilege of working with the thousands and thousands of people I have worked with, because I would still be listening to reasons why this won’t work. People love to talk- but don’t let their talking stop you from moving.
6. There are many paths to the top of the mountain. There are millions of ways to get “there” (wherever the “there” may be for you). For most of us, most of the success comes from slow and steady movement. Feeling lost, or tired, or overwhelmed will come with it too- and that’s ok. Keep showing up and you will keep moving up that mountain. It may not be flawless, or graceful, or even linear- but you have the ability to keep plugging onward & upward. Promise.
7. Laughing will always work, and it always helps. This is a sanity saver, and the foundation to so much of what works for me with people. When people laugh, they are open and receptive to looking at all parts of life, even the hard stuff. Turns out that’s how I work too. I do best when I can find the humor, even when it doesn’t appear to be that funny. I have learned the worse I feel, the more I need to find a way to laugh. Keep people in your life who can remind you it is possible to laugh. I wouldn’t be able to do this, or be me, without my people! 
8. Care. A lot.This matters more than most of what you know, because ultimately this is what people will respond to- and this is when you are at your best. If there is a day that my heart doesn’t break (open) at what I am hearing and experiencing, that is the day I will close it all down. 
9. Believe it will work, but keep a financial safety net.  I couldn’t have done this without keeping a buffer. Huge, huge, huge to have a financial buffer. There isn’t a biweekly deposit in this “do-your-own-thing” business world, so set it up to make sure your energy doesn’t get sucked in to uncertainty and fear. 
10. Just. Keep. Going. You’re doing a lot right, even though there will always be an endless list of what  you can/should do better. There are so many things I can tell you that I’m not doing, or could be doing, or should be doing. I get that. But I also know that daily I have real people telling me about real impact these skills and tools have had on their lives, and I know THAT is what really matters- at least to me. The rest can be worked on- but the most important pieces seem to be (more or less) in place. For that, I am grateful.
Thank you for  indulging me as I reflected back on the 10 years I have been in business.
I look forward to what is next!

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