I sat with this one for awhile before I pushed go.
I think one of the harder steps I’ve had to take in my own life journey is to learn to let go. Every bone in my body vibrates saying, “help others, serve, share,and hold the light up!” And if they can’t do it for themselves, do it for them!” Probably because I’ve felt this need to have a rescuer so powerfully too. However I’ve come to see it’s not my job to do that for others. As a partner, healer, Creator, and human being. My job is to do my damnedest to hold the right space for others to discover who they want to be. Letting go of the idea that others are helpless to create the change they need is an act of respect. By doing so I honor the Creator within myself and them. So, in a sense, letting go is a sacred agreement. It’s the space where allow the possibility for healing and a real collaboration can begin.
When we meet as equals we are within our strength. We open to the gate for re-connection, new adventures, and the dance of love to grow -if it’s meant to be. We can learn, listen, prepare, and then leap into the changes that are needed. If no change can be made, we respect that too. Why? Because allowing is the space where true love grows. And all souls are here to grow.
So practice the art of just being today. And let others be as well. And do you best to hold a space of love and respect.
So, life is amazing. You ever noticed how the right books and messages seem to fall into place?…
Ray’s book got me thinking about the role of business in both our personal and collective evolution.
Like many before him, especially the great stoics like Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, Ray praises common wisdom. Yeah, he’s a big proponent of AI, and automating systems, but he reminds readers it all needs to be rooted in common wisdom. He revisits the importance of the old stand-bys too, like a good work ethic, and discipline, staying open to struggle. He talks of creating systems and reliable circles of guidance to track and guide progress. And he’s also a believer in playing a part in a evolving whole. He’s really used his career and business success as a way to better understand the relationship between common wisdom and big system thinking.
It seems one of the things that’s made Ray such an enigma in corporate culture, was his ability to create cultures that work. Despite the radical profitability of his company Bridgewater Associates over the long term, there also seemed to be freedom built into his systems. This stood out. People wondered, how do you create such profitability, and still nurture the growth and freedom of your employees? As some of you know, I’ve spent time working in big company cultures. While many are great at creating the appearance of spirit, and establishing sound principles, ethics, and even compassion and care for the whole, cracking the nut called genuine spirit ain’t easy. Happiness doesn’t come cheap. The beating heart of true innovation often goes missing.
What seems to get lost in big organizations is that spirit isn’t actually something that gets reproduced. Or can be created by replicating natural systems, it’s actually tapped into. It’s there already, but needs the room to spread it’s wings. It’s not some extra energy source that gets created when we you put the right mechanisms in place. It’s freed. Well, this can be argued of course, but I’d ask you to be open to hearing me out. Imagine spirit as something we own, and have our share of, and nature owns the master share. Spirit, generally, comes alive in spaces where genuine connection can be made. That happens most when we feel free to express ourselves through choices -that make sense for ourselves. Nature is a great illustration of a GREAT SPIRIT unleashed, as it’s this grand system of tiny things all perfectly connected and free to do whatever the hell it wants. There’s rules, and systems, but these rules serve this greater freedom. And all things within it get the same opportunity to play. So Ray’s book helped spark this larger question; how can we get better as a society at creating systems that best reflect freedom? Nature, in this sense, is both the perfect guide and master. If we learn to do a better job of listening to nature, both within ourselves and outside in nature, we better our chance at connecting to the genuine spirit of nature called freedom. Like Ray’s book suggests, we are granted the blueprint. We’re freed up to co-create, as that’s what freedom really is. It’s a dance where new expressions meet old processes and new expressions of freedoms are made. So maybe our job as leaders in our communities is to help collaborate on creating systems that are better suited to help others reconnect to the freedom they carry. Practically this means giving people choices, and the space to be heard and express themselves. Some of you may be wondering if you can have all that and still maintain the integrity that’s needed to achieve a common goal.
A great example exists outside your door. This type of freedom is alive and well. Just take a walk outside in nature! Have a good look around. That freedom you see, remember it’s within you too.
This can lead to some serious soul-grinding along the way. However, as I’ve come along I’ve discovered there is a way to free yourself from this seeming paradox.
I’d suggest a first step at understanding these two approaches is to start looking at their similarities. If we wade in comparing differences, we’re headed for a long walk in dark woods. Unfortunately, this is where the bulk of the self-help and success literature falls. We often pit one way of life against the other, service-to-self vs service-to-other. Lots of books get sold this way. The truth is whether you’re serving yourself or others, the process of growth looks the same.
Each requires; asking, listening, adapting, and then giving. Giving, as well as sharing, are essentially actions. These are the fundamentals needed to grow and make progress, or find fulfillment. Let’s break these down by looking at service-to-self first.
Typically, for those that see themselves on a spiritual journey, or the “the road to authenticity,” this process begins by turning inward or looking within. This is the ask. To get answers to the big questions we have to learn to get quiet.
Then comes the practice of listening. Wisdom tends to be a whisper, so we have to learn to lean in. And this is important, because there’s alot of noise bouncing around in our head’s. Noise meaning we live in a world of information, advice, and agendas, and that includes our own internal judgement and expectations. Most of what’s in our head’s wasn’t consciously put there, it was swallowed. So the discipline of turning inwards and fine tuning is important. It helps us filter out the noise but also connect to truer source of guidance. Inner guidance.
Once we’ve made a connection, we then have to make adjustments. Many of our decisions in life are based on assumptions drawn from information. So adaptation a key step. Without the adjustment, we’re like planes stuck perpetually circling the airport.
Give it away
Finally, the last step is take what we’ve learned through the process and then share it with the world. This is the critical leap where a genuine contribution is made.
Now this process and steps are the same for those who live in service. The big difference, of course, is that they focus on helping others first. Or in other words, they start by turning their attention outward. When a person serves others, they work their way from the outside world in. So, instead of turning inward to ask as a first step, they ask the world, etc. In today’s business cultures the lingo is “value-driven.” Business, on the grand stage, sets up systems that operate in this way. They automate this process.
So, no matter your preferred path, if you learn to see life as an invitation to create a healthy conversation, things get better. Life is a good chat, or can be. The moment we stop listening is the signal we’re headed for trouble. Grace disappears, and things get sticky when we end up there.
I’m a huge fan of Glennon Doyle. Here’s a woman who for 10 years hid herself in a closet at 4:00 am to find the time and space to write. She began with a simple dream, an honest, heart-felt intention to reach out and touch the world. And she did! She started a truly magical conversation through her blog and then books. But then she remained open to continuing the conversation along the way. She shared her changes out loud because she made a commitment to not hide from life. Then later, when she decided to divorce her husband and then remarry another woman, despite being touted as an acclaimed “relationship expert,” she maintained her integrity. How?… She walked the narrow path. She didn’t listen to the noise and advice of those with agendas. She exercised her integrity. The art of integrity comes with knowing where you’re headed, and accepting direction along the way. The direction she accepted, of course, came when she learned to listen to life. She’s mastered the art of the conversation. Here’s a great article where Glennon talks through her decision to walk away from her marriage.
So, I guess I’d end by saying we’ve all been tasked with discovering a new way in life. We can call this “our way.” Whether we like it or not, there’s no way around the fact that we will create something brand new. The life you live will never be repeated again. Learning to celebrate this by staying open to change and embracing the process is a powerful thing. You’ll inherit a life filled with integrity and grace. Just keep the conversation going!
Watch the video and listen to the episode associated with this post.
This wasn’t a willy nilly move. I have a family I’m passionate about, and a beautiful boy who happens to have Down Syndrome named Gus. We have complexity in our life that adds financial pressures, as many of you do. So, consequently, I started planning a couple years before to my exit, which means I’d managed to save a bit for runway. I had a mission and plan and was bursting with purpose. But after about 6 months of burning cash like coal on a old-timey steam train, an alternative reality dawned. I realized I’d have to consider outside funding. Loans were a no-go, I have an uphill battle already to fight with my business. Taking on more debt seems foolish. So the next logical step seemed like crowdfunding.
Now, in terms of money, I’m in a somewhat unique position. I’m a therapist with a private practice. I can learn on my practice if needed. And also, selfishly, I can maintain my integrity as an independent business owner which is important to me. This seems a popular sentiment with many entrepreneurs. So my profession affords me a luxury every not every startup founder has. Many business hopefuls have to retreat back into the job world when things go sideways. And honestly, employment isn’t an option I can entirely take off the table either. But my position as a service provider grants me leeway. It’s also presented challenges. For one, I’m constantly stuck contemplating a fuzzy line, like how do I know when take my foot off the gas or double down? How far is to far? And how much debt can I take on? Plainly put, there’s an incredible investment of time, energy, and resources that goes into any new business venture. Giving up the tiniest bit of ground to spend time elsewhere seems ludicrous to me. Very early into it a basic truth emerged. You can goes as far as you put it. Progress directly correlates to the amount of the time and energy you put into your business. And also, importantly, the quality of the time you put in. Progress demands serious effort, consistent effort. It’s a beautiful struggle that anybody who chooses to go into business would be wise to prepare for. How you learn to manage time becomes essential. So this fact that I have options to fall back as a professional skill doesn’t help with this reality at all. It’s actually complicates it. It’s also at times it’s created a false sense of security. I find myself pushing in ways I might not push if I was forced to operate with a static bottom line. Perhaps it’s both good and bad, the jury’s still out.
So let’s start from the beginning. When blessed with this bright idea I began consuming books on Audible, like a Crowdfunder’s Strategy Guide, and cramming in Youtube videos like ->>THIS on Crowdfunding whenever possible. Lunch-breaks, and on commutes snacking on podcast like Mixergy , Funding The Dream, and EOFire. After a couple months of cramming this stuff down my throat, I decided to opt for what I thought was a healthy approach. I’d go slowly and take 3 months just building relationships in the online crowdfunding worlds. I’d then support others campaigners financially, and then scale. Relationship building is touted by many “experts” as a first step. Now, I get paid to give advice on relationships, so this idea seemed sensible enough to me.
After all, you don’t cannon ball into the pool at a pool party. You work on building relationships on the pool deck first.
The road-map that was laid out seemed to be rooted in the notion that crowd-funders are aware of the crucial importance of relationship-building, and so you can get good traction by starting there first. While this was a very big assumption, especially considering the diversity of campaigners in terms of age and experience, it was one I willing to go with.
Well, I got a surprise. First off, I found most campaigner weren’t open for friendly chats. At all. And why would they be? Most campaigners are hustlers bleeding time, energy, and money out their ears. Most don’t have the time to brush their teeth, let alone respond to the random emails of possible supporters. I was actually surprised to see how many didn’t respond at all. So, already in just the first stage of my plan, I’d was running into walls. And this advice was touted as the easiest and most important step. At this point I’d already dumped weeks of my money and time into relationship building. I’d tried reworking my messaging and introduction strategies. I’d even hired a VA to help with the effort. Essentially, after two months of I was facing a zero. I’d was standing in a crater of assumptions fed by crowdfunding experts, and wondering, “WTF.” After all that, I’d made one connection with potential. It was a 16 year old kid in the UK promoting his first album. I’m a 47 year old professional launching a media company…. So yeah. Not much potential to lay the ground works of a successful funding campaign.
This general air of stuffiness seemed to translate to both Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Sadly, my efforts may have done more damage than good. It seemed that campaigners operated well above the platitudes flung around in the books, blogs, and communities I’d run into. Instead, they focused on the relationships that make the most sense. At times it felt like a high school locker room, with the emotional subterfuge to match. There’s a lot of a value judgments that get made without much to go on. I found many campaigners to be reactive when they make an initial assessment about the value you represent. Very little chose to respond and play anything out to discover this. As a relationship strategiest, this was the first of a few red flags. If you’re new to these platforms, and haven’t established a history as a supporter or investor, most tend to shy away. Remember, campaigners, like me, come to raise capital. So investing time at the relationship level had to make sense. And as usual, this meant to a campaigner’s bottom line. Or at least that’s the way it seemed to me.
Also, the game is played at a much higher intellectual level than times previous. Many campaigns are hired and ran by professional teams. And those that aren’t are getting fed information from top level sources of guidance. Bigger companies are wading into crowdfunding and giving away their strategies these days to promote loyalty, so many smaller campaigners adopt attitudes and approaches to match. It’s a mismatch, of course, but it happens anyway. 15 year old kids with card games are operate like their prepping for an IPO. See this article for examples. It’s way more serious than I expected. While I get that people’s dreams are riding on campaigns, many seem to have taken an extra leap. I didn’t see the time devoted to interpersonal elements, like was suggested. People didn’t take the taking the time to chat when invited. I found it interesting that many campaigners were promoting social agendas and larger global initiatives, but I didn’t see a much higher response rate there. The marketing may looks fuzzier, but it didn’t translate down the wire. But I can’t leave out the possibility my approach and lack of skill in managing online communities was to blame. So, again, feeling this out out it can be tricky.
Probably 95% of the campaigners I reached out to ignored my emails. The 5% who did respond replied with suspicion, perhaps imagining I was trying to hack their funding models?… Who knows. A few were outright hostile. I had one fellow raising money for a biker cookbook belittle me for sending him what he called a spam my message. And honestly, it wasn’t my best. But his re-activeness was an example of a bigger pattern I ran into on Kickstarter and IndieGogo, which in the end made them both huge turnoffs. I saw oodles of false entitlement wrapped up in the clicky codes and operating ethics unique to the online crowdfunding worlds. At one point I got reported, which was funny to me. I wasn’t aware that this could even happen. But apparently it could, and it did. My banishment was executed on Kickstarter. I discovered they have a limit on the amount of messages a person can send. I was reinstated pretty quickly, but this seemed an odd response. I mean here I am on a community building platform, and I get excommunicated for trying to build relationships?… While I’d hoped and worked towards a better outcome, I wasn’t really surprised by what unfolded. Despite the expert advice, I could see the crap as I was stepping into it. The advice I’d got just didn’t prove applicable. It’s a different world of relationships in there with different rules, a mashup of those found in online communities, fundraising and social media circles. So, I had some real learning to do. From an observation level, what I experienced seems to jive with some of the research I’ve come across on the impact of technology and social media on relationship skillsets. The best and worse of human behavior tends to get amplified in the digital worlds. A colleague sent me this article published in the The Atlantic that seems to illustrate this idea pretty clearly. Interestingly, I stand in the middle regarding technology and it’s impact on relational development. I see good and bad, which seems a universal truth. I actually happened to be preparing to speak on a school panel on the issue of technology addiction while writing this.
So back to my adventure in crowdfunding…. So the dilemma became do I keep plugging away at this, or change things up? Perhaps make an effort to raise my public profile and then try to step back into crowdfunding world? Maybe being more visible could help get me cross the stuffiness gap I’d run into. Truth be told, I wasn’t offended by what I found. Frustrated maybe. It’s just humans doing human. If I’ve learned anything as a marriage and family therapist, it’s that there’s a world of hidden rules when we step into any new relationship. I was also reminded that people tend to shy away from people they’re not familiar with. Just review the magazines at the check out line the next time your in the grocery store. This idea scales in crowdfunding communities too. If people see you’ve been featured on a 30 second spotlight on Fox News, for instance, you instantly become a better bet. Ritual investments of time and money stand as proof that you’re willing to do what needs to be done as a campaigner. Being friendly and driven to do wonderful things ain’t enough, in most cases. Again, it’s a cultural capital thing not entirely unique to the crowdfunding world.
So, in the end, I decided to take a temporary leave of absence from Kickstarter and Indigogo. It turned out to be a good thing, as I discovered the value of alternative crowdfunding sources like Patreon. This platform grants more leeway to creator-types like me, and takes away much of the pressures that come with time-sensitive campaigning. I opened an account you can see HERE if you want a look. I have a goal of supporting community projects and larger global initiatives through my brand, so Patreon seemed made sense for this too. I addition, I decided to reach out to other founders in my networks who’ve attached their brands to larger community missions. One of the first conversations I had was with Cameron Brown,the CEO of Thriving Collective. I’d had a good conversation with him when he was a guest on The Pioneers of Insight, which is one of my podcasts. He’s a charismatic eco warrior who’s managed this tightrope of building a business around a larger cause. So, I’ll write about what I learned from him next.
Click here to listen to my interview with Thriving Collective CEO Cameron Brown
And here’s a video where I grapple with the issue of a purpose-driven life
In my interview with Thriving Collective CEO Cameron Brown, he talked about this cool concept. It’s the idea that the sum of all our experiences and the skills that emerge make us impossible to replicate. The art, he says, comes in finding ways to successfully blend and share it with the world. You do that, he says, and then you can create a only you can fill.
Seems reasonable enough, right?
Coincidentally, I played with this same idea on my show, but called it “Value X.” (Check out the 00 Episode) The quality, as I saw it, was the sum and soup of our lives that makes us unique. I made it the key driver behind alot of my questions early on. My hope was that by having guests go there listeners would start taking credit for their uniqueness too.
Why I am telling you this?… Ok, I have to bring you to now to bring this concept full circle.
And so that’s what I did. Just a couple days of magic with the family. While in the midst of it I had an aha moment. I’d come up for air, finally, and had a chance to take a good look around -metaphorically. I realized I’d had a vision to start with. And when I’d tracked my progress it seemed like I was way off track from that original vision. And by that I mean with my show and brand. With the Pioneers of Insight podcast, my first production, I’d hoped to plug people into the powerful wisdom that comes from surviving the “extraordinary” experiences. You know, real gut-wrenching, soul-twisting adversity, which I believed is magical and scales. But I concluded I hadn’t delivered on that concept.
My first instinct was to search for where I’d gone wrong. Here’s what I came up with, and maybe you can relate if you’ve taken a risk to build something in your own lives;
It took a couple days to process my reaction when the real magic happened.
I felt better when I realized the disappointment I was feeling was my own. Nobody else told me any changes were needed, or that I’d gone off track. The truth was I only received positive feedback. No huge wins yet , but only good signs thus far. So the show growing, I’d just ran into my expectations and insecurities again.
In other words, the expectations zombies had awoke and were eating my brains.
The crappy part of experiences likes these is missing the chance to create momentum. Taking times to celebrate, honor, and nourish our heart, mind, body, and soul along the way is essential. Perhaps some of you can relate too this. So rather than let these expectations Zombies continue to snack on my brain, I took my accomplishments back. I revisited my journals and journey to launch this company. There were too many tiny miracles too count, so much had magically fallen into place with my efforts. I thought about how much I’d learned and the wonderful new relationships I created. I leaped back into the world of possibility and realigned with my vision.
Shutting down fear allowed me to reconnect with the energy of a larger process. Growth. I came back to earth, really. Processes like are beneficial, however, as these nourish the soul of life. No matter where we are, we can use reminders like these to turn things around. We just need to take use them to discover what’s going “right” vs what’s wrong. What’s wrong becomes the soil from which a healthy realization springs. So, I’d actually had to stop and thank the Zombies for the reminder to listen to my soul again.
So, let me wrap this by giving you a sense of how I intend to infuse more soul into my brand as I move forward:
First, I’m retiring the Daily Insight blog.
First off, it’s called the Daily Insight. While I somehow managed to crank out posts daily 6 months or so without killing myself, I’m letting that go. The day’s of getting into the office at 4:00 am to crank out a blog, and vlog too, that read by 50 or less are gone. Perhaps the word read here is an overstatement. “Thumbed” or “glimpsed” is probably more accurate.
I bought into a lot of crazy notions in the early running -when I’d separated soul from my ambitions. Again, all of this is entirely my fault, as I stepped willing into the social marketing trap; I’d already developed the habit of trying to be everything to everyone, and social media feeds on this idea. But while coaching us to do it smartly, so it’s not obvious that’s what you’re doing. No blaming social media, I’d just fallen into a trap of a life long habit out of convenience. I’d chewed on this idea a bit in my interview with digital marketing disruptor Chris Kubbernus Actually, it may have helped put the bug in my soup. It seems there’s a business of selling sales culture out there, and I’m happy to have learned that. I refuse to go there. So, I’m readjusting my priorities pronto, focusing on quality over quantity, and putting my life, family, and soul back at the center where it belongs.
Overall, I hope I help bring art to adversity. Put the soul at the center of a larger conversation in media, and offer tools that help create continuity between our inner and outer lives. I want to help inject the language of the heart into business and culture by writing and producing cool stories and features. Thankfully I’m in a position to do that. I’ve got a lot to be grateful for.
So, in my new blog and the reflections I’m sandwiching between podcast episodes called, “Meditations for Soulful Citizens,” I’ll be doing a little of all of that. Besides being a coach, therapist, and media producer, I’m a healer too. I’ve made some good friendships in the Integrative Health and Healing worlds, so it’ll look to continue those conversations through premiere storytelling podcasts and webinars. I’ll probably try to inject more information about conscious business into The Pioneers of Insight podcast. And I will look to develop new shows that feature stories about transformation and change.
So, if you choose to follow along that’s what you’ll get.
Ok, hope to see you in the new blog!
Wishing you grace to fill your sails today and everyday!
What does it mean to give?… As a business owner I’m constantly reflecting and trying to dial this in. Is it really practical to focus on GIVING when there’s a bottom line?… When the survival of my enterprise and family depends on profit?… Admittedly I struggle here. I’m always grateful, but not joyful. And I know giving requires a joyful heart. When things are going well it’s easy to access joy. I give freely when I feel safe, connected, acknowledged, purposeful, and well taken care of. When my life is good and I’m moving forward -Man am I in the mood for giving. But when things aren’t going well? Joy gets lost at the expense of my own expectations and needs. I don’t believe I’m alone here, especially with the effort that’s comes with being an entrepreneur. Also with just being human! I imagine most can relate to what I’m saying here. Giving can become conditional to fair weather sailing. So this excerpt came from my daily meditation (see photo). The thought points to a powerful truth. Maintaining joy isn’t simply a practice. It a signal that we’ve entered intro freedom. Joy is enlightened living. We no longer operate from the struggle of unmet expectations or the binary language of transactions. We’ve made the leap into a joyful economy of being sorts. We give and serve freely because life is free and purposeful there -and so are we. As a stoic and believer in the practicalities of life I know I may struggle here. And I know all I can do is practice and stay mindful. But I believe I can make a quantum leap by finding joy in the struggle of getting there. And I do, so finding even more joy in the same. I encourage you to stretch to find joy as well until joy is all you’ve become.
Want to listen to an episode about this? Click here to listen to my podcast
What do you think?… Is life isn’t about taking, crushing, mincing, dicing, destroying, and conquering?
Or is life about learning how to participate? Challenges, as difficult as they may be, ultimately provide an opportunity to learn how to become better collaborators with life. And collaboration doesn’t work all too well when we’re crushing and competing. It’s a CREATORS game.
Creation takes a ton of work. The demands are high. The requirements placed on those who desire to make a mark as creators are high. That’s why so many try the easy way – by taking, destroying, conquering, etc. To become a CREATOR you must learn how to reach and share value. Value is within – and there’s no forcing it out. The “IT” of course is your PURPOSE. Your passion. The unique dream that only you can realize, create, and share with the world. It’s something the world desperately needs.
So before stepping outside into the world at the start of your day, ask yourself “How can I honor life today by sharing my best me?
Want to listen to an episode about this? Click here to listen to my podcast