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The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 51

June 23rd, 2014 No comments

IMG_3028 - Version 2This is the fifty-first and penultimate post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

If you read through these posts from start to finish, you’ll notice that the photos on the side have gotten more and more relaxed as the year has gone on.  In some ways, that’s kind of what has happened to me as well.

The doing hasn’t shifted — there’s still people to call, sessions to set up, coaching to do, minglers to go to and countless ways I can be of service.  Oh, and of course, e-mail.

It’s my being that has changed.  I’ve gotten a lot more relaxed about what there is to do.  The intensity and necessity behind all the doing has lost a tremendous amount of its significance.  That’s the part that coaching has made a difference in.

I’ve never needed help doing things.  I’ve been a prodigious doer from day 1.  I suspect that when I was in the womb, I had the best organized placenta of any womb.  My mum was probably very proud.

The trouble with doing is that it’s often based in reaction to something external.  Concerns that I won’t be successful, that I’ll fail, that I’ll drop below a minimum required number of clients and everything else you can dream up.  That’s the magic that working with my coach has created for me.  An ability to let go of the significance and the attachment to things working out, and really getting that it really will all work out, even if it doesn’t happen to work out the way I might want it to.

When I just put my attention and intention on doing what I love, the rest of it kind of falls away.

That’s not to say that those fears stop showing up.  They don’t, because I’m taking on things that are deeply important and inspiring to me.  In the face of that much possibility, its inevitable that fear is going to show up.  What has happened instead is that the significance of the fear has dropped away.  Getting scared that I’m going to fail doesn’t really mean that I’m going to fail.  It just means that I’m scared that I’ll fail.  Allow the emotion, be with it, and them move on to whats next when its passed through me.

(Even as a I type about that fear, I’m aware how funny it is that other people’s fears seem so obviously fabricated, while ours seem so obviously real.  That’s the gift of altitude that working with a coach provides — being able to see our own stuff with the same altitude that we see others’.)

See, here’s the ultimate lesson from this.  I’m living my purpose on this planet.  I am here to inspire and empower people to live their lives as their highest and best selves.  Even if I get a dead slump of no one hiring me for a year, I’m still going to coach.  I can’t not do it.  It’s simply too important to me.  So from that place, it becomes easy to see that the rest will fall into place.  Maybe not as quickly as I want it to, and maybe not looking exactly the way I want it to — but that’s okay too.

That’s part of life.  If you want to control and try to prevent that… well, entrepreneurialism probably isn’t for you.

 

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The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 49

June 9th, 2014 No comments

IMG_3009 - Version 2This is the forty-ninth post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

Here’s how my days go lately:

I wake up.

I get scared.

I look at my calendar, see a bunch of appointments.  I get scared by everything I have to do.

I eat breakfast, make tea, clear, and then meditate.

Then I remember that I get to choose to do whatever I want.

And then I choose to serve whoever is next in front of me, powerfully.

That’s all I need to do.

So many funny things have happened on this journey.  One of the silliest, to me, is getting over my ridiculous fear of the telephone.  As a kid, I hated the telephone.  I was always worried about it being awkward (like if I didn’t know what to say), or not being a good enough conversationalist.  I hated calling up my friends to ask them to hang out, because they might say no, and I couldn’t bear for them to hear the disappointment and rejection in my voice.

Text messages and e-mail were a godsend for that part of my fear.  They let me empower my fear totally.  I never had to talk on the phone!  I could just send people e-mails or text message, and then manage the fears however I needed to when we were in person.

Imagine my skepticism and concern when I found out that most coaching is done over the phone.  First of all, I gotta call this jerk I’m paying money to?  Why won’t he meet up with me?

And then second, you’re telling me will likely be using the phone with all of my clients?  Oh geez.

And then it got worse!  All of the training I saw and received screamed to me: “PICK UP THE PHONE”.

My fears were perfectly aligned with the reason that coaching happens over the phone, and why communicating over e-mail or text message really doesn’t work much as a coach.

The phone allows for intimacy and connection.  E-mail and text messages don’t.  There’s no connection with a human being.  Sometimes you get the emoticon, or you know the person in front of you so well that you can get a decent amount of meaning from their e-mail, but even then, with 80-90% of our communication being non-verbal, it’s clear how crappy digital mediums are for genuine human connection.

And it was the connection that terrified me.  I didn’t like connecting with people, because then I was vulnerable.

49 weeks in, and all that has changed.  The first thing I ever tell someone to do, if they’re interested in being referred to me is “call me”.  Call me on the phone.

And when I see an e-mail land in my inbox, the first thing I do is look for a phone number.  I want to get on the phone with that person right away. I don’t want to spend time crafting an e-mail, deleting it, editing it, getting it just perfect (notice, those are all things that actually stand in the way of genuine connection.  Being human is to be imperfect).

There’s some other things that are cool about the phone.  You know what I don’t have?  Call waiting.  Or another line.

If you’re talking on the phone with me, that’s all there is.  There’s no additional calls coming in, there’s no queue for me to get distracted by.  It’s not like e-mail, where I can be crafting my message to someone, and suddenly get distracted by the message I think I need to craft to the six other people that just reached out to me.

So simple.

So I guess the theme for this week has really simply been that business, and life, happen in intimate, connected conversation.  Not in e-mail, not in text messages, but in conversation.

Want to increase your business as an entrepreneur?  Stop e-mailing and pick up the phone.

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 48

June 6th, 2014 No comments

IMG_2997 - Version 2This is the forty-eighth post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

What a crazy week.  Nothing has physically changed in my world since when I posted last week, but how I am being within that physical world is radically different.  I’m not even the same person any more.

Transformation really can be that dramatic.  It isn’t always — sometimes it looks like a snake moulting its skin, gradually shifting and growing out, until one day it just slithers away and the skin is no longer a part of it.  Other times it looks much more like a caterpillar turning in to a butterfly.  Caterpillar, bag of goo, butterfly.

I think, in this space, the theme for this week has been service and connection.  Last week was filled with terror, fear and panic.  This week, I woke up with those same thoughts.  Sometimes I would be sitting on my couch and they’d leap out at me and spear me in the ass (or wherever my body chose to manifest terror at that moment).

The difference was that they didn’t seem so significant this time.  Like, the thoughts hadn’t changed, and the circumstance hadn’t changed — but I had.

So what?  I was scared.  That didn’t change the way mustard tastes.  It didn’t change what there was for me to do.  It didn’t change what I could provide the next person in front of me.

And from that place, everything shifted.  I just got into action.  I reached out to people that had expressed some interest in the past and chatted with them.  I got in touch with some previous clients and offered to give them some coaching in the moment.  I looked beyond the fear-based thinking (“What is going to get me a client RIGHT NOW?”) and instead looked at service-based thinking (“Who can I really serve right now?”).

I looked to my existing clients and looked for ways that I could serve the living daylights out of them.  Serve them in a way that would astonish them.  That team you’re managing that you’ve been struggling with?  How about I come in and coach them all for you for a day?  Your companies that are working to integrate?  Why don’t we bring the teams together and I’ll work with them to create a more powerful corporate culture?

Is that going to make me more money?  I have no idea.

But that’s besides the point.

What I know, with absolute certainty, is that it will serve the people in front of me in a way that they’ve never been served before.  And if my clients, as a result of working with me, create breakthroughs in their companies, there’s only so long I can continue making that happen and have people not reaching out to talk to me.

I hate sales, and so does every other entrepreneur.

Instead of selling, turn your focus to serving.

(I promise you, it’s way more fun).

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 47

May 23rd, 2014 5 comments

IMG_2981 - Version 2This is the forty-seventh post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

The theme for this week turns out to be miracles.  I didn’t think that’s what it would be.  I thought it would be hate, or anger, or frustration or defeat.

I wrote this post for Evergrowth earlier in the week, in the throes of a breakdown.  Struggling to be with my stuff.  Hanging out in panic.

It’s ugly when I start panicking.  It’s busy too.  So busy.  I get working hard, I stop focusing on my heart, what really matters and the things around me.

But then stuff started to shift.  Slowly.  Somehow, it started to seem less like everything was falling apart around me.  I got supported by people.  People were telling me, if I could listen, what a profound difference we were making in their lives every time we had a coaching session.

In one of my coaching sessions with Steve Chandler, he had me look at the places I was currently underserving my clients, and I saw opportunities everywhere to take things even further.  To be the coach that doesn’t stop at “customer satisfaction”, and instead aims for “customer astonishment”.  And I took those on too.

I was out for dinner last night to celebrate my birthday with Bay, and Happy, by Pharrell Williams came on.

I said “Man, this is such a good song, what is this?”.  Bay told me about Pharrell Williams, and what the song was about.  Her enthusiasm kind of touched me.

Then I woke up this morning and put on the song just before a client call.  While watching the video, suddenly a chord was struck in my heart.  Then six more chords were struck.  Then the whole piano came crashing down.

Suddenly, I was crying.  I was overcome with emotion.  Joy.  A release.  I started to manage it, to avoid being too emotional — what if Bay saw me crying because of a music video?

But then I realized:

WHO FUCKING CARES?

After reading about the song on Wikipedia, I saw this link to Steve Carell (along with a bunch of other people) dancing to the song, and I got hit again, right in the heart.  The emotion didn’t run out or stop before my client called, and I didn’t want it to.  I answered the phone, and choked out that I wanted to share what had just happened with him.  And then, while doing so, I had to put the phone down for a few seconds, just to be with everything that was showing up.

I went over and hugged Bay, and then came back and just sat with my client.

I’ve been searching for intimacy for 2.5 years, and this morning, one day after my 35th birthday, a miracle occurred.  Suddenly it was right there, sitting in front of me.  Rolling down my cheeks and making it hard to speak.

Miracles can happen.  Thanks for letting me share mine.

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 46

May 10th, 2014 No comments

IMG_2958 - Version 2This is the forty-sixth post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

Astonishing that we have only six weeks remaining.  Writing this series has taught me one thing for certain: writing an ongoing weekly series of blog posts for an entire year is a lot of work.  Even though each of these posts is fairly small, the simple act of sitting down and writing every week, consistently, is hard work.  It does not come easily.

And that speaks to one of the big takeaways from this week: commitment.

Without my commitment, right at the start, to take this series on, I have no doubt that I would have given up.

Some days, I wake up and have zero desire to write.  I don’t want to open my laptop, I don’t want to type words, I don’t want to take another photo of my socks and shoes (no matter how damn good they may look today).

I just want to crack a beer, play some video games, and watch Game of Thrones.

But I haven’t done that, and the reason is because I’m committed to something.

Creative endeavours are notoriously challenging to make a living at, because some days, you get up and you just don’t feel creative.  No matter how much you want it, you don’t feel like doing that thing that your creativity produces.  Steven Pressfield wrote about this exact thing in his book The War of Art.  

In a lot of ways, entrepreneurialism is a creative endeavour.  Perhaps the ultimate creative endeavour.  There’s no precedent for what you want to do (or at least, not the exact thing you want to do).  There’s no one there to tell you that you’re taking the approach in the wrong direction, and there isn’t anyone that is calling you in to their office telling you that the work you did was or was not good enough.

The only thing that will really keep you going, through the ups, the downs, the fear, the inspiration, and every other part of the ride, is your commitment.

Steve Chandler compared struggling coaches to a truck driver.  A struggling coach doesn’t have a system.  When they wake up and don’t feel like working, they mill about.  They say they don’t feel like working and they choose instead to spend their time doing something else.  They wake up to a bad e-mail and decide that today isn’t the day to take on that project they’ve had set aside.

Contrast this with the truck driver.  The truck driver doesn’t have a choice about how they feel.  They wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, and head out to their truck.  Whether they’re feeling happy, sad, motivated or tired, they go out and drive truck.  Whether its raining, sunny, thundering or clear out, they go to work.  Their mood is irrelevant to whether or not they do their work.

The missing ingredient is commitment.

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 44

April 19th, 2014 2 comments

IMG_2873 - Version 2This is the forty-fourth post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

Mindfulness and a life by design.

Those are the two things that have really been on my mind lately.  One of the things that really drives my life is passion.  If you spend two hours talking with me, you get a sense that I’m deeply passionate about the things I take on.  I’ll talk to you about the funk-styles of dancing forever if you want me to.  Ask me about what makes a good angle in boogaloo, and I’ll tell you all of the theories I have, and everything I’ve come up with over the years of getting down.

If you ask me about the nuances of P vs. 2P in Virtua Fighter, I’ll explain the situations where you want to choose one over the other (actually, you don’t even have to.  You can just go and read the blog I used to write about that exact kind of thing here).

Anyhow, that passion really drives me forward.  I’m voracious when I start to love something.  The flipside of that passion can be obsession.  I want something so much that I lose sight of the life that I have around me.  I put all of my focus, time, and energy into what I’m pursuing, and then realize I’ve spent a week working on it.

There’s nothing wrong with that, if it’s a joyful, intentional week, but with obsession, it starts to get dark.  Instead of loving the progress and the journey, I can start to focus only on what I’m not currently achieving.  Then it becomes a treadmill that I’m always running faster and faster along.

This week, I’ve been really taking on a practice in mindfulness.  Because, whats the point of having an amazing life, if I’m not present to it.  I get to do work that I love, but if I’m not taking the time to stop and really appreciate everything I’m creating, it’s only slightly better than a life than I spend with my head buried in a bunch of papers at a deskjob I don’t enjoy.

Mindfulness means doing things like running and really focusing on every aspect of the run, rather than just doing it so I can stay slim.  (I caught myself doing that recently.  Crazy).

The other thing that has been dawning on me has been how important it is to design our lives as entrepreneurs.  I mean, it’s why we get into the work in the first place — freedom!

I’ve slowly been reviewing the pieces of my schedule and life, and determining whether I actually want things to look this way.  If I don’t, then I look at what needs to happen to rearrange them.

That’s a lot different than the space I was coming in to 44 weeks ago, which was “I’ll say yes to everything and find a way to make it fit”.  I know I can be successful under that paradigm, but it’s not what I’m really interested in.

But I have to start somewhere.  If I don’t be a demand for the schedule I want, who will?  That doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will be happy about it, but that’s not what matters.

What matters is that I love my life.

Speaking from the Heart – Part 8

April 3rd, 2014 1 comment

Time to put myself out there again.  My intent here is to actually own my own stuff as it shows up — not to be melodramatic about it.  I believe that we all experience these sensations from time to time.  It’s okay to have them, and the more we share and allow them, the more they can flow through us.  So here’s where I find myself today.

I’m bouncing in and out of fear like a pinball machine. I’m in breakdown (so I do declare) and realize I have been here for about three weeks, if not longer.

I need reassurance that I can actually achieve the big goals I’ve set for myself, and have a story that that reassurance ultimately needs to come from within — so what’s the point of even asking for reassurance?

My teammate, Brian, in San Diego, reflected to me that just because I’m on a journey to generate that trust and reassurance from within doesn’t mean that I don’t need some externally to support me as I move forward.

My coaching practice is full, and I’ve never felt more like my client game is in breakdown. I judge myself as not being a powerful enough coach for at least a month now. And, I can own that when I do, I quickly pave over the feeling by finding the things that I’m doing wrong. I set up complimentary sessions with new people, but those people aren’t really interested in powerfully moving their lives forward. They’re tourists — curious about what I do, but not so much in creating breakthroughs in their lives.

I can see the pattern, and yet don’t seem willing to choose something else.

I’m practicing slowing down, and it makes me want to run faster than ever before. “There’s more to do, I’m not doing enough, hurry up and get new clients you useless piece of shit, why the fuck can’t you generate anything, augh!” is how my inner voice rages away.  It’s an all-out war inside my head; a battle between peace and tranquility and my judgments and stories.

I’m sad. I’m sad that I am not experiencing joy. I’m sad that every bit of success feels fleeting.

My projects sit derelict, like half-constructed model airplanes sitting in my room as a child, and my metaphors feel like melodramatic facebook posts.

I’m embarrassed to share this with you — not because I’m having these thoughts, feelings, body sensations, etc. — that’s natural.  I’m embarrassed because I can see that I’m currently unwilling to let go of them.

You know what’s funny?  It’s the judgment about being unwilling to let go that is keeping me stuck.  What I can see is that if I simple let myself be where I’m at, things would start to slide forward.  As long as I hang on to the judgment about where I am and who I am being, nothing can shift.

I guess what I want to enroll *you* in is actually noticing where you do the same thing yourself.  Where do you find yourself in a certain place, and then rather than empower wherever you happen to be, judge and resent yourself for it?

Don’t bother sharing it with me though, I’m going to be over here kicking my own ass for where I’m currently at.

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 41

March 28th, 2014 No comments

IMG_2853 - Version 2This is the forty-first post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

The theme for this week has been all about hanging outside of my comfort zone.

It’s not that this is new information for any of us.  We’ve all seen the image on the internet pointing out your comfort zone, and a space outside of it, which is labelled “Where the magic happens”.  But that’s fine — this series isn’t about providing you something brand new, as much as it is to chronicle my own journey in the hopes that you take something away from it.

I started preparing to deliver our training this past weekend and was instead presented with a different offer: head over to the other room where we were starting a new program, and begin acting in a different position.  I was moving up — and that meant stepping in to leading a new team, meeting that team, showing up as a leader in a room full of new participants, and taking on things I’m not comfortable doing.

The thing I noticed is that this is what is next for me, but my gut instinct was to resist it.

“Maybe when I’ve learned a little bit more.  Maybe once I’ve watched someone else do it a few more times”.

The same things I hear my clients try to enroll me in when we look at what is next for them to take on in alignment with the lives they really want to be leading.

Seriously, the exact same stories.

How embarrassing.

As I sat there, trying to strategize my way out of feeling intimidated and like I wasn’t good enough, I had an awareness come over me.

“These people don’t know that I’m worried, or scared.  I want to be a certain way so as to hide that from them.  But I don’t need to.  I can just show up the way I show up around anything I’m comfortable with, and let whatever happen, happen”.

And it was that simple.  That doesn’t mean it was easy (more on this over at Evergrowth’s blog soon) — but it was simple.

The way I show up when I just let myself be authentic is connected.  Open and witty.  Insightful and brilliant.

All there really was for me to do was trust that it would be alright, that those qualities are always available, and to connect with the people in front of me.

And that’s all there really ever is to do when you’re willing to step outside of your comfort zone.

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 39 & 40

March 21st, 2014 No comments

IMG_2849 - Version 2This is the thirty-ninth and fortieth post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

This is the second time I’m doubling up weeks, on account of the theme for this past week: getting support.

I’ve been up against a lot lately, it seems.  I’ve wanted to take on bigger things and have increased the scope of my projects accordingly.  If you’re not scared by the goals that you’re taking on, you need to make them bigger.  As a coach, I have to live by that mantra.  I have to model the work.  And I have been — and my projects and goals have been scaring me.  So much so that they’ve led to overwhelm.

See, here’s the thing.  If someone isn’t taking on a project big enough to scare and sit outside of what they know they’re reliable to produce, it won’t require any transformation on their part to get there.  Life isn’t simply about accomplishing goals, it’s about continually growing and stretching.  Developing ourselves, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Big projects allow for that.  They require that, in order to achieve them, we have to change how how we’re being in the world.

I’ve been overwhelmed with everything I’m taking on, unsure of how to handle it.  All of my defaults are working, and they’ve left me filling my time up in ever increasing increments so as to get everything done (ostensibly to achieve my goals).  

When time gets stark for me, I look to become more efficient.  

“How can I get even more done?”, I wonder to myself.

It almost never crosses my mind that the real way forward is to seek support.  In fact, I actively resist support when I need it most.  Instead of reaching out to people and asking for help, I tell myself that that will just require more time, and dammit, I don’t have any of that.

This time though, this time I did something outside of my pattern: I asked for support!

I asked for support from my teammates, my coaches, my mentors and my friends.

And you know what?  It made a huge difference!

At one point I was talking with, and getting coached by, a colleague and coach I have deep admiration for.  As I shared with her what I was up to and what I was struggling with, she listened, and then said to me:

“Well, Adam, I’m going to use your own quote against you.  You said that goals big enough to scare you actually enable you to transform…  And it just seems like you’re resisting all of the transformation that is available to you here”.

Oh.  Well that would make a lot of sense.

A bunch of my teammates reached out to me offering support.  Contrary to what I assumed, time became available.  I got coached, listened to, and held.  It was easy and simple, and it didn’t leave me frustrated, just heard.

It certainly isn’t the first time I’ve said it, but entrepreneurialism is a funny gig.  We’re drawn to it because we’re lone wolves that want to make our mark on the world, and do it our way.  We don’t want to be beholden to someone else’s rules, or vision that is too small — we want to be able to create the vision that we have.

While that is admirable and a spirit that you should never let go of, it’s important to recognize that it can be a hook too.  Everyone needs support and to be supported.  No one is an island, and anyone that thinks they can do it all on their own is almost certainly going to be limited by their own blindspot.

Get supported.

And on those days when it feels like you simply can’t get supported?  Get supported twice as much.

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 38

March 7th, 2014 No comments

photo - Version 2This is the thirty-eighth post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

(No, my sense of style hasn’t gone out the window — I’ve just been suffering with a cold as of late).

Sometimes, all it takes is a good run.

That’s this week’s theme.  With all the demands constantly besieging you as an entrepreneur, it’s easy to lose sight of the vision you started with.  If you’re not careful, your days can deteriorate into a battle simply to get yourself to inbox zero, address every damn thing coming your way, and get through this day (as well as the next one, and the one after that, and oh god they never end!)

The funny thing is that as an entrepreneur, your job IS to maintain the vision.  That’s what enrolls people to follow your leadership.  The vision is what inspires people to take up the mantle behind you, and to pursue your dream, even through the fear and the tribulations that are inherent in the work.

And, that being said, it’s still really easy to fall into the trap of forgetting this fact.  Today, someone cancelled on a lunch that I had set up, only minutes before I left my house to make the appointment.  It left me thinking “Oh geez, things are never going to work out”.  And when I get confronted with that story, I do what I always, predictably, do: I get attached and focused on doing.

Who else can I contact?  I better get in touch with thirty people to ensure we don’t fall into the abyss of failure.  Maybe I should reduce my rates.  I should probably say yes to all those other things too.  Maybe I should start looking for jobs as a lawyer again.

So.  Much.  Mental.  Chatter!

It goes and it goes and it goes, and my survival mechanism really just wants to grab a hold of it and get me doing stuff, because at least when I’m doing stuff, I’m moving forward.

But sometimes, all you really need is a good run.  The thing that I’m most likely to deny myself when I’m in the throes of it all (well being and space) is often the best medicine.  It’s funny how, as entrepreneurs, we deny the very thing that got us in to the work in the first place: our freedom.

The opportunity to be ourselves is what draws us to entrepreneurial work — and predictably, that’s the very thing we start to shut down and deem impossible (or worse yet, that there isn’t enough time for).

So when things get tough, remember: sometimes all it takes is a good run.