Note: Bonfires are a time for us to kick back, tell tales, and share experiences in the warmth of a community of compassionate, creative folks. There’ll be a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff shared and it’s cool if you don’t want to join in, but I hope you do.
It’s time for another bonfire! March has been an exciting and busy month, and I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ve been up to.
Before we start sharing, though, I want to remind you that…
It’s Time For A Monthly Review
Take a few minutes to think about the following questions:
- What were the big accomplishments from last month, and what would you like to accomplish this month?
- What slipped last month that you’d like to either let go of or pick up this month?
- When’s the last time that you’ve truly rewarded yourself, and when’s the next time that you’re going to do it?
On (3), set a date. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth planning to do – especially if you don’t have a habit of doing it.
If you’d like some flexible support around your goals, you might want to check out the free planners.
March was a month of connections and conferences for me. I had a great time at South by Southwest, and then the following weekend ended up having a blast at the Wealthy Thought Leader event in Vancouver. I’ll share a celebration from each.
This was my second year to go to South by Southwest so I wasn’t nearly as overwhelmed as I was last year. What was surprisingly different this year than last year is that more people actually knew who I was. It was nice to recognized in person by the work I do, but, to be fair, I did have shirts with my name on them, so it’s not like people had to guess who I was. A surprising bonus of having your name on your shirt is that people can immediately jump in and start having conversations with you because there’s not that awkward “Are you…?” phase of the conversation.
Though it’s always nice to have people know who you are, it was particularly nice hearing that they knew me because of some of the very things that sometimes concern me. My blog is different than a lot of other blogs, and, for as long as I have been at it, the size of the audience is smallish, and, in all honesty, it’s easy to feel small when your friends have double and triple the size of readers. It was helpful to be reminded that size of readership ‰ size of influence; there was a surprising number of people that I admire tell me that they dig what I’m doing. That was a bit of a perspective shift for me.
Given that perspective shift, the Wealthy Thought Leader event was much different, because I wasn’t well known there; I went from thinking about how (sometimes incestuously) small the Internet world is to being reminded how big the Internet world is. It was interesting to meet people like Suzanne Falter-Barnes who was connected to almost everyone I’m connected to, yet we’d never communicated with each other – that doesn’t happen that often.
The fact that there were so many people I didn’t know made the Wealthy Thought Leader event a curious, fascinating, and fun experience for me because I absolutely love learning what people are doing. I wish I would’ve had more time to talk to them, too, because I only got to connect with about half the people there. As we were leaving, I had to keep telling myself that it was only the beginning of new relationships, and even now, as I write this, I’m a bit teary-eyed that we had so little time to hang out with each other. (It’s only the beginning…it’s only the beginning…)
Speaking of teary-eyed, probably the coolest thing that’s happened to me in a while was being voted The Wealthy Thought Leader of the Future by the attendees of the event. I’m still trying to get my head wrapped around it and I haven’t been emotionally centered enough to write much about it yet. It’s as if the combined coaching power of the attendees focused and told me something that I couldn’t see or hear the truth that others have been showing and telling me for months. I was surprised, scared, excited, and overjoyed all at once and behaved like any Guardian is trained to do: just keep your head down, do what you’re supposed to do, and reflect when you’re out of the situation. That’s not nearly the response I wish I would’ve had, but it’s the only one I knew how to do.
So, thank you, thought leaders, for your votes, recognition, and well-wishes. Your small act of putting my name on a sheet of paper has had an overwhelmingly big effect on the way that I see myself and what I’m doing.
And, for all of you, thank you for the support you’ve given me. Success is a social phenomenon and I can’t do this alone. Thank you for helping me share my gifts with the world.
With every success, there are new challenges and lessons to learn. Most of these lessons are things I already learned at some point but needed life to reinforce the message. You’ll hear me say this every month precisely because I’ve learned that there are always new holes for me to fall in.
What I didn’t anticipate at South by Southwest is that I’d do such a bad job of finding one-on-one time with some of my best friends. We spent hours standing five feet from another, yet most of us didn’t spend a solid 5 minutes in dedicated conversation with each other. Part of this was just because we all grew together and there were a lot of people to talk to and meet, but another part was that we just didn’t sit down and coordinate a good time to talk. You know who you are, and I’m sorry we didn’t get to talk more; let’s do better next year, okay?
Lessons learned: If you don’t plan a solid time to meet with a person one on one at an event like this, it won’t happen. It’s not weird, needy, or anal to ask someone if they can talk to you at a certain time – it’s necessary and probably brings down some of the overwhelm for them, too. Chris Guillebeau is the person to learn from on this front.
I also had some reinforcement around the fact that I don’t do nearly as well in large groups as I do in groups of 3-5 people. I thrive in those smallish groups, but, after that, it becomes more of a party scene that wears me out. This is a lifelong pattern that probably won’t change, but it’s at least good to be realistic about expectations and be aware of the fact that it’s challenging for me.
Lesson learned: The conversations and interactions that I most enjoy don’t scale past 5 or so people. I need to let go of the idea that I can be the best me when the social conditions create a different scenario.
Around 3:45 this last Tuesday, all of the travel, conferences, and pushing caught up with me. I didn’t pass out or fall down the stairs, but my body let me know in no uncertain terms that it was time to power down for a while. The truth of the matter is that I’ve been in overdrive since early January and that’s clearly unsustainable. It’s been a good run, but it’s time to settle down and get back on cruise.
Lesson learned: There are ebbs and flows in the course of a year, and I’ve been in a flow period. Things aren’t moving to an ebb just yet, but the course of the river has changed.
What’s In The Oven For March
Just because my overdrive period is done doesn’t mean that things are coming to a screeching halt. I still have a few things I’m working on this month.
Jonathan Mead and I are combining our Fus and will soon share the product that we’ve been working on for the last few months. I won’t spoil the fun, but let’s just say that we’ll be helping you do more of the stuff that matters.
One of the best outcomes from interacting with all the awesome people I did last month is that I now have a clear plan about how I’m going to release the book I’ve been working on and a lot of people expressed interest in it. I didn’t know whether I was going to self-publish it or pitch it to a publisher, but I had tentatively decided on self-publishing. That tentativeness came with a lot of uncertainty and stalling, but I’ve got that cleared up, so you’ll be seeing the book unfold this month. Your encouragement is going to make a lot of difference, so if you like what you’re seeing as it comes out, please do let me know.
Coaching Update: For the first time in a while, I’ve had to move to a waitlist. I don’t know how long it’ll be before I can serve new clients, but if you’d like to work with me, please contact me soon so I can let you know when I’m available. I look forward to hearing from and working with you, but I need to make sure my current clients are getting the help and attention they need.
Now It’s Your Turn!
That’s my time in front of the fire. Now it’s your turn!
What are you celebrating? What were your lessons learned? What Really Big Things are you working on? Come share with us so that we can learn and grow together. (No hard pitches, please.)
Just remember that you can do epic shit. What are you going to do this April to usher new growth in this spring?
Willie Hewes says
Am I first? *nervous*
OK, I wanted to report back to you on the reward thing we talked about last month. You said if you don’t think it’s worth rewarding yourself for the work you do, it’s going to be hard to think big about it or really go for it.
You were very right. I’ve been trying not to use the carrot-stick method of motivating myself because I have doubts about how well it works. On the other hand, marking an occassion of Work Well Done cheered me up and made it feel like more of an accomplishment at the same time. I also feel better about keeping up the momentum I built. I find it hard to get excited about accounting, so that’s pretty special. Yay, rewards.
So, March was generally good times, I tied up the loose ends from February, including doing the accounts of doom. It turned out I was doing better than I thought, and I rewarded myself by buying plants, which was great.
I also got a boatload of work done on a project I’ve been procrastinating on since, oh, start of January. Not only is it nearly finished, I believe in it again! *sparkles* I experimented with pulling the plug on the internet for two days. It was great. I did nothing but work, but it felt like a holiday. I highly recommend this. Especially to myself.
In April, I’m doing some work to prepare my little comics business for some events in May, and re-launching my mascot thing. My road to epic consists of lots of tiny steps, but I’m pretty sure that’s where I’m heading.
Thanks for the fire, and the chance to reflect. It’s weird to hear you mention you have a small audience. It’s hard to really know what size audience anyone has, but I think of you as one of the big guys. I guess even stuff like how many readers you have can be ultimately besides the point. Interesting, thanks for that.
Thanks for coming back to share with us, Willie, especially about the rewards thing. “Yay, rewards” indeed.
I also like that you shared about breaking away from the interwebs. I’m due for another weekend unplugged myself.
What I’ve learned is that it’s relative. I’m no Leo, but I’m happy with the quality of people I have in my audience and life.
Lessons Learned? (Well, still learning…) I am still moving boulders out of the way in my pursuit of my new path. And the biggest boulder is the feeling that it is weird and creepy to feel a connection with online folks whom I’ve never met in person. I’m starting to realize people like you, Pam Slim (actually, I’ve attended her workshop), Jonathan Fields, etc. are much more part of my “Tribe” than most of the folks I’ve called friends in real life are.
So, lessons learned/being relearned are:
— I’m not as Weird as I thought – there are people in this world who are on my wavelength. (At this point in time, most are online and I read their blogs).
— It’s Okay (i.e., not Weird) to write a blog – still working on getting that boulder off my path and out of my way!
— Asking myself what would I do or say or who I would connect with if this were my last 24 hours alive is a powerful focusing tool for me. Not at all morbid!
— Lack of Hostilities and General Superficial Niceness Equals Acquaintanceship. It does NOT equal Friendship (in a true “member of my tribe” sense).
— I cannot manage Outcome (when other people are involved); I can only manage my own Actions.
— Keep putting one foot in front of the other to continue walking down my path.
I used to wonder why I had a hard time relating to people until I learned that I was trying to relate to the wrong type of people. It turns out I just needed to find weirdos like myself so that I could thrive.
That little stream on the mountain carves a canyon one second at a time. The same applies to our actions.
Srinivas Rao says
I’m glad to see somebody else is doing a monthly review. I’ve been doing a monthly review and a quarterly review and it’s amazing how useful of an exercise this is. It not only gives you some great content, but gives you a way to measure progress towards your goals. In fact my post today is the Q1 Review :). On to just a few highlights
1) Celebrations: I’m celebrating a little over $2000.00 in freelance income that I have earned because of my blog. One of those is a 500 dollar a month retainer client that pays me maintain and update their Facebook fan page. I’ve also grown to 600+ readers which is not really anything big, but I”m really happy about it.
2) Big things I”m working on: The BlogcastFM project has been my “big thing” for 2010. It was a completely unplanned idea that really came out of nowhere and has given me an opportunity to pick the minds of of some of the most amazing bloggers out there. (hope that’s not considered a hard pitch)
3)Lessons Learned: Time management is essential. Writing everything down is important and make sure that you will 100% write down every single thing you do. I’ve been meaning to get around to outlining an ebook but I anytime I wrote down things related to it, they weren’t a priority. I think the key is having a todo list where you will finish all the items on it every single day. In fact I recommend people make a 5-6 item to do list every day and don’t try to keep adding to it. Then you’ll feel like you are making progress. So my next point is kind counterintuitive-, but I decided to stop keeping score for a while and live in the moment. I think if we can go with the flow we’ll really go faster and further than if we try to force success.
Jonathan Mead says
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the past month, it’s always helpful to see an inside perspective at how someone else is managing their stuff.
& thanks for the reminder to reward ourselves. I think it’s something that we unfortunately neglect too often. Lack of acknowledgment quickly leads to self-resentment and burnout.
What we don’t talk about a lot is that one of the great things about being a blogger is that you get lots of feedback for your work (in time). It becomes increasingly harder for your shadow self to forget to acknowledge yourself when others are helping remind you that you’re doing something worth acknowledging.
Granted, you can’t get all of your esteem from the feedback, but it helps.
I hadn’t heard this type of thing called a bonfire before; it really evokes a picture that would encourage people to join in.
Your three monthly questions are very helpful and I have just gone through them myself. Although I didn’t achieve as much as I would have liked I was surprised at how much I had got done. I agree with Jonathan’s comment here about acknowledgement and reward – we do neglect this too often.
I’m glad the bonfire metaphor resonates, as I do want people to come join in.
I don’t think any of us ever get done as much as we would like, but, invariably, when I ask people to review what they did do, it’s always more than they thought before they did the review.
Andrea / True Nourishment says
I feel grateful that I was able to connect with you over at South By :-). Congratulations on your Wealthy Thought Leader of the Future award! Well deserved indeed!
The most important thing I accomplished in March is my new ebook, which is in the final stages of design right now. I got the idea from Dave Navarro on Jan 22 (I just checked) so it’s a little over 2 months. Not bad ! I am very proud of this product and very hopeful people will dig it.
April brings high excitement and ”” hopefully ”” not a lot of stress as I leave the country for a while, launch the online summit I’ve been “cooking” for 4 months and the ebook. Yikes!
As I prepare this “biggification” platform for myself, I keep thinking about success. What is success? What does success looks like for me? What kind of responsibility does success bring with it? And about how becoming comfortable being uncomfortable is really the only way to keep sane as I stretch myself through my comfort zone.
Fears arise and I try to witness them without reacting. I’m doing a much better job, for sure, but you can’t do anything about what you don’t know, right? So I just keep focused on learning more and more about how my mind works.
YAY! I’m glad you got it done and I, too, hope that people dig it.
This is beautiful, Andrea. I personally like the idea of expanding your comfort zone rather than trying to get through your comfort zone. You’ll always be uncomfortable about something, but the trick is to be uncomfortable about fewer things.
Dee-Ann LeBlanc says
I made myself follow through on things I’ve been talking about doing for months. A surprising thing to me has been to discover that craft/art fairs and even farmer’s markets are so often “juried,” in that you have to apply and be approved in order to sell there. A deadline for a local market just hit on the 1st and I had 2 others that were in the forefront of my mind so I went ahead and signed up for jury appointments and did the paperwork, etc.
It can’t be underestimated how much I hate paperwork and forms so I’m pleased with myself that I’m ahead of the game. 🙂
Goal for this month is to keep making jewelry, experimenting with it, working on getting my name out online and locally, etc.
Congratulations for getting those forms handled, Dee! Things like that are why I say that any meaningful work is going to have parts you don’t like about it – there is no holy grail work that doesn’t come with some less than cool activities with it.
My biggest accomplishment for March was getting my site up and running. It was a real growth opportunity, and I stumbled my way through, posting 13 times, including my first-ever interview of someone! Really took me out of my comfort zone. 😀
Another accomplishment was sending out several article proposals elsewhere, to kick off a freelance writing career I have been putting off. Haven’t heard back yet, but that could take a couple of months.
What slipped last month for me was my weight loss/fitness plan. Gotta get back on that one, but it’s not such a priority right now that I’m overly upset about it. It will happen. Just have to shift some of my focus back that way.
My goal for this month is to do several guest posts, send out one article proposal per week, and continue doing at least two posts weekly on my own site.
I have been doing a weekly review on my site, but I really like the idea of doing a monthly review such as this.
Thanks so much for sharing this review!