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The April 2010 Bonfire: Review, Celebrations, and Lessons Learned
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?