Forever and ever I’ve wanted to be an author. And forever and ever I thought that was impossible. See, I’ve got this eye thing from childhood seizures (long story, I’m fine now) that makes it really hard for my eyes to see typos (I also CANNOT find Waldo, but that’s a story for another day). And to me, that felt like an insurmountable problem!
It’s not like people didn’t like my writing… they would read my blogs, and told me they enjoyed my emails… but I assumed they liked it because I have a quirky sense of humor, not because it was GOOD or anything like that.
Or at least that’s what I told myself because:
My imagination had been captured by TedX many years ago, when I saw Shawn Achor talk about his sister Amy. He convinced her she was a Unicorn and stumbled upon the power of happiness to shape a life (and evade consequences). I’ve talked about Amy the Unicorn many times since then in my classes, coaching sessions, and in conversations. Ted’s mission is to promote ideas worth spreading, and I’m doing my part! Then it occurred to me… do I have an idea worth spreading?
Thus inspired, I set out to discover how I might also give a Ted Talk. What I learned is that there are many, many independently organized Ted events– referred to as TedX events. In fact, in the last known accounting of TedX events (July 2015) there had been 13,522 TedX Events, in 3174 cities, in 143 countries. (By the way, featured TedX talks had received almost 600 million views on youtube, during that same time period. That’s a LOT.)
Each of these independently organized events accept applications, conduct interviews and choose 9-12 speakers… which, If I could apply to enough of them, felt like good odds!
I was walking down 5th avenue on my way to a networking event last night when this question struck me like a bolt of lightening:
“What if I can’t really create a successful business? Should you stick with your business or give the whole thing up? Who am I to think I can truly, actually, do this… for REAL?” My heart beat a little faster and a for a split second I was tempted to give it all up. “Just kidding! Never mind! I’ll just go back to my much less stressful existence as a professor and consultant and actually have time to do things like watch TV or read a book.”
This post was originally published on Quartz, on August 5, 2016.
I’ve never been an athletic or active person. My entire history of sports involved one season of track in high school and a brief flirtation with what I thought was a yoga studio but turned out to be more of a cult. But then, in my mid-30s, I had two children and gained 30 pounds. I was suffering from chronic back pain, and I knew something needed to change.
There was just one problem: When it came down to it, I didn’t really want to exercise. When my husband suggested I take up running, I said I’d do it if—and only if—a bear was chasing me. And yet, last fall, I did both a half marathon and a triathlon for the first time. How did I evolve from a self-proclaimed couch potato to endurance athletics enthusiast? I learned how to change my attitude.
One of the most frustrating things about trying to change your money habits is how hard it is! It’s not only hard, it’s mysterious.
How many times have you experienced this scenario:
Sunday night: “I am going to pack my lunch every single day this week!”
Monday at lunch: “I forgot to pack my lunch. How about Chipotle?”
Tuesday morning, en route to work: “Oh, I didn’t pack a lunch! Oh well, I’ll just grab a quick salad.”
Friday night: “I didn’t pack a lunch at all this week. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I do what I say I will do?!”
There are a lot of ways to interpret this kind of (very common) failure. Some will point out that you didn’t really have a process or a plan. Others may argue that you need systems and structures to support you in your lunch making. I wholeheartedly agree with both of them, but when I hear a story like that, an alarm bell goes off in my mind:
I spent my 20s in hot pursuit of a tenured professorship. I was in my sophomore year of college when the first person (my undergraduate advisor) suggested that being a professor would be a good idea. In my junior year of college I took a test that suggested what careers would be a good fit: 3 different suggestions were professor (economic professor, sociology professor, psychology professor). It seemed so obvious; it felt meant to be.
Between 2000 (when I graduated from college) and 2011 (when I earned my PhD) I was on a clear, well-trodden path. As long as I was getting closer to a PhD, I felt I could relax. There weren’t any major cross-roads; so long as I stayed the course I would inevitably end up where I wanted to be. Or so I thought.
Once I had a PhD, I got accepted to a post-doctoral fellowship and began to look around. It was time to find that professorship!
The prevailing cultural belief about change is that it comes when people are “ready” or it comes only to those who are “worthy” or “special.”
That’s bullshit, and it’s time to let it go.
You can be better tomorrow, even though you’re weak, imperfect and only partially (if at all) “ready.” The only thing special about people who change is that they are willing to change.
You can be special like that, too.
About once a month I do a workshop about change at the Brooklyn Brainery. One of the most common questions I get at the end of every workshop is “How can I learn more about this?” I suggest these books because they were pivotal to my own thinking about change:
Please get in touch and let me know how I can help you!
I talk to a lot of entrepreneurs who are working to grow their business, usually because they are aren’t getting the results that they want. When I ask them what they think they need to do to make move the needle, I get one very common answer:
This doesn’t add up. The vast and overwhelming majority of these women are already working their asses off. The already HAVE hustle and commitment and drive.
So why aren’t things changing for them?