I’m winding down from a long weekend spent with some of my best girlfriends from grad school - my hive, my wolf pack, my ride or dies. Friday night we were talking about our first impressions of each other.
“I was so intimidated,” Barbara said to me.
“Of me?!” I asked.
“Yes, you were so put together!”
“Put together? I discovered halfway through our first day that my pants were on backwards,” I laughed.
Which is totally a true story.
It’s amazing how much of another person’s story we write in our own heads before we actually get to know them. They’re better than us, more put together, smarter, funnier, prettier…
And, truthfully, we’re not really writing their stories - we are writing our own. A story that says, “I am less than.”
Stepping into unfamiliar territory is, almost, always scary. I’m in Texas right now because the SheHive launches in three days and I am scared shitless. Scared that it’s going to fail, that I’m going to be a laughing stock, that it was a bad idea, that I’m going to bankrupt my family, etc., etc. I knew that I had to spend some time with a bunch of women that I trusted to help me remember that I am enough - now and always.
It is all I want for every woman that eventually walks through the SheHive doors. Which got me thinking…
Walking through the SheHive doors for the first time is going to be a scary proposition for a lot of women - for me, for Andrea, for the instructors, for the women that just want to be a part of a community. We’re all worried that we might not fit in and that we’ll stand out (and not in a good way).
I want to say to you, in no uncertain terms, if you want to be a part of the SheHive - you are welcome. Not just welcome, I really, really want you to be a part of my community and I want to be a part of yours. You are not a fluke, you are not the one women that is not going to belong and I will do just about damn near anything to help you find comfort in this community. Period.
We are all scared at times. We are all worried that we might not fit in. We are all worried that we are going to be the laughing stock when everyone else finds out what a fraud we are. I promise you that you are nowhere near alone in these feelings and if you just step a foot in the door, magic can happen.
So, please, tell me what it is I can help you step foot inside the SheHive for the first time. Do you want a personal tour? A coupon so you can bring a friend along the first time? A bottle of wine and a late night talk about how much I value you?
I’m game… because a whole bunch of women that mean the world to me just did the same for me and I am so very grateful.
There is magic and immense comfort to be discovered in the company of your future hive. How can I make it a little less scary to help you take the first step towards finding it?
I have this kind of weird habit that I'm going to totally own out loud. When I do something really awesome, I talk to my inner child. It's a hold over from when I first started therapy and Jillian, therapist to the stars, suggested that I carry a photo of me as a child and talk to her as a means of healing. I've been celebrating major life accomplishments with "little me" ever since.
Yesterday I started my morning at the SheHive, meeting with a new coaching client. It was the first time I had met a client there and as I unlocked the door and stepped into my office I yelled out inside, "Look what we just did!"
"My office. My client. My business. My vision. My work!"
Of course, the SheHive is intentionally a co-created space and business so it is not solely mine. But I am part of the Hive that is helping to create it, so it is mine too. My dream is that soon other women walk through that door and gleefully giggle like I do, full of pride because of what they - and all their collective inner children - have helped to create. I cannot wait until we are all in there together.
I have to admit, however, that as fun and wonderful and life-affirming as it all is, it is also scary and tiring...
I spent almost 17 years working in nonprofits in every facet from marketing to IT to community programming to HR. The one area I never worked in, however, was fundraising. I refused to ask people for money because I was always afraid of how it would feel if they said no.
Rejection is some scary shit.
I also knew, going into consultant work, that I was going to have to bite the bullet and get over the fear of selling. And not just selling any old thing - selling me.
Turns out selling doesn’t really suck quite as much as I thought it would. I sit down for coffee every week with a bunch of really cool people, talk to them about what it is they do, and what it is I do, and, sometimes, what we can do together.
Easy peasy, right?
A client reached out to me yesterday, via email, to let me know that she had decided to not move forward with her coaching contract.
I found ten new terms of endearment for her and called her every one of them in my head as I immediately deleted the email.
Thankfully those geniuses (genuii?) at Google know a little something about the way we humans think and they offered up a a “Are you sure this is the way you want to handle this? Like, really, really sure? Like, maybe you should consider undeleting that email and handling your shit like an adult?” prompt.
Okay, okay - it technically only read Undo Delete, but we all know what it meant, right?
So I undeleted the email and reached out to her, thanking her for candor and letting her know that if she had any feedback on what would have made coaching with me more attractive, or alternatively, if there was anything that was particularly off-putting to her, I welcomed her input.
And she gave it. And it was good. And I thanked her for her generosity. And I meant it. And then I ran around for 24 hours proud as hell of myself for making it through the first big rejection without losing my shit and running for the hills with my hair on fire.
Big girl panties, I haz dem.
I still wish that people would come knocking at my door asking me to work for them. And I still wish that every person or organization I met with would want to work with me forever. And I still wish that I would never have to worry about how crappy it feels to lose a client again. But I made it over this first hump not only alive and well, but a bit smarter because I opened myself up to feedback in the face of rejection.
Rejection is an inevitable outcome of the human condition. How we choose to respond to it a choice to be made. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that we can choose wiser.
Every day I am introduced to someone new who has heard about the SheHive and wants to learn more. What I am discovering, nine out of ten times, is that when someone reaches out to me to say that they want to “learn more,” what they really want is to offer something of themselves. Whether it’s a space, a service, a skill set, an introduction or a personal commitment to be a cheerleader and advocate, people everywhere are offering themselves up to make this idea a reality.
I am nothing short of humbled and in awe right now of how good people can be.
If you’ve been reading for any length of time, you might have gathered that I left my last job a little scarred. (And if you know me personally, you know you can replace “scarred” with “a full-on fucking case of PTSD.”) The last few months were kind of - kind of - like walking through a door every day knowing full well that a bear could potentially be on the other side. A frightened, power-starved grizzly that would rear back on its hind legs, froth at the mouth and then try to eat you for dinner.
The threat was so constant that sometimes a fuzzy, lost kitten would wander in and everyone would still go running in a million separate directions. “Beeeeeeeeeaaaaaarrrrr!”
Thing is, a change in scenery didn’t necessarily cull the fear. Ever since leaving the job I’ve been suspiciously tiptoeing around the city looking everywhere for bears. “Bear?” I’d ask myself every time I opened a new door. “Bear?”
Last Friday, as I was having coffee with, yet, another amazing woman who was sharing with me how she wanted to be of service to the SheHive - and as I found myself having to ask once again, “But what can I do for you?” it hit me… there really aren’t that many bears out here.
It took me 87 days to get over the fear of being eaten alive at every turn. Well, 87 days and a lifetime before.
“I want Ride or Dies who make me want to be a better person.” That’s a quote from Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes book. A friend shared it with me a few weeks back and I am reminded of it tonight as I reflect on how cathartic launching the SheHive has become.
I am nothing short of humbled and in awe right now of how good I can be and want to be surrounded by the Hive, by Ride or Dies.
I am nothing short of humbled and in awe right now of how good the Hive can be. So good.
I was turned down for a job I didn’t even apply for this week from a company that has already turned me down twice for jobs I did apply for. It was like they were saying, just in case the first two weren’t clear, let this third - unsolicited - rejection letter serve as notice that we really, really, REALLY don’t fucking want you. And even though it’s an ego blow to receive a third (totally harsh and unwarranted) rejection letter, I wasn’t being the least bit facetious when my response, upon reading said (really fucking harsh and really fucking uncalled for) rejection letter was, “I didn’t want to to work for you anyway!”
In fact, there aren’t many entities that I do want to work for any more. Quite a few I want to work with, but for? There’s about three and one of them is whomever is going to pay me copious amounts of money to do yoga on the beach every morning as a precursor to sunning on the beach all afternoon as a precursor to shopping at fabulous stores and eating at fabulous restaurants all night (also known as vacation).
Which begs the question, if I don’t want to work for much of the anyones out there, just why the hell do I keep applying for jobs?
The truth is, I have been searching for jobs because I am seeking external validation. Even though I have been successfully leading people and organizations through change for the better part of the last two decades, it’s scary as hell to officially call myself a change leader. (In fact, it took three days of this blog post sitting open on my desktop for me to type the words “change leader.”) It would be so much easier / way WAY less scary if some big official entity first anointed me as such, right?
The fallacy here is that there are a few big official entities that have already anointed me as such. There’s a mighty official looking diploma hanging on my wall right now, in fact, and a mighty official resume that details many other mighty official entities that paid me mad cash (okay, not so mad - I worked in nonprofit for a long, long time) to be a change leader. There are also a gaggle of mighty official direct reports, peers, mentees and current clients out there that can attest to the same.
So, just who the hell else needs to give me permission before I actually believe my own value?
Okay, okay… it’s me. We all know it’s me. The mighty, official… me.
Which is exactly why I’ve spent quite a bit of time this week doing research on overcoming Impostor Syndrome. My favorite piece is this one which starts out, “I’m a fraud and everyone is about to find out. I feel that every time I am about to share something. I feel that right now writing this: I don’t even have impostor syndrome. That’s how bad my impostor syndrome is.”
There are all sorts of practical tips out there on how to keep the Impostor Syndrome at bay. Lots of good stuff, in fact. But these two spoke to me in a BIG way…
Realize that nobody belongs here more than you and realize that when you hold back you’re robbing the world.
In my heart of hearts I know I am a good coach. I am a good coach because I can not only talk the talk, I have walked the walk. I have an academic understanding of how change happens but, more importantly, I have an intimate knowledge of what it feels like because I have done it. Save my hair color, there isn’t much that I haven’t changed in the past decade. (It’s a really spectacular hair color.)
I have earned the right to be here.
Also, helping others find their way to a more desired life brings me joy. It doesn’t feel like work - it feels like purpose. Why would I deny the world that? Why would I deny ME that? Because some mighty official big company won’t hire me? That’s not a sign that I shouldn’t be doing this work - it’s merely the universe moving me along to another place where the work is needed most.
But here’s the thing… I already knew all this - I just forgot it for a hot minute. Figuring out why, so I can recognize it quicker in the future (because it will happen again) is the work now. Because that’s how change works… back and forth, back and forth.
Us humans weren’t designed as the most linear of beings, but sure as hell the most interesting.