I Fell Last Night: On Preparing For Success

When the warm up exercise included doing monkey bars, I knew I was in over my head.

Rewind to a few weeks ago: I noticed a post on Instagram about our local bouldering gym having a women-only beginner bouldering class.

I Fell Last Night: On Preparing For Success

It was starting in 2 days and–for some reason–I decided I needed to do it. I had no climbing experience. Not even tree climbing.

Superman might have arms of steel. I have arms of aluminum foil.

The very first class wrecked me. I was sore for 4 days.

The second class was better. But I still couldn’t get to the top of the “boulder.”

During the 3rd class,I made it higher than I ever had before. I was just one foothold away from topping it out…

…but I didn’t have one more foothold.

I held on and on and on, trying to figure out how to I could get the leverage I needed to go just one step higher.

Soon enough, my arms and legs started to shake.

At that moment, I shifted my focus from going up to getting down.

Now, there’s only one way down.

Falling.

I put energy and brainpower into figuring out how to fail–even though there was a giant pad directly under me.

I already had what I needed to fail. I didn’t need to put energy into it. I could have stayed up there until my muscles gave out looking for a way to get over the top.

But I didn’t. And that’s where things got really dicey.

I’ve gotten pretty used to falling in 3 short weeks.

When I fell this time, my neck snapped back pretty good.

Eventually, I had to call it quits because I knew what was happening to my body… and that I was going to have a rough few days with some muscle spasms in my back.

Once I was up from the fall (it really wasn’t that bad), the instructor pointed out that there was, in fact, one more foothold. I just didn’t see it.

I couldn’t have seen it because I let my energy focus on failing instead of forging ahead.

Why didn’t I see it?

I didn’t scope out the route (or the “problem” as we call it in bouldering-speak) before I started.

Because I assumed I would fail.

I have failed every time I’ve attempted to climb so I didn’t properly prepare.

You can bet I won’t be doing that again. I’ll know my line of attack, I’ll have taken account of all of my resources, and I’ll know some options should I get hung up.

And if I fall again? No worries. Falling isn’t bad–but not anticipating what I need to succeed is.

Now, dear reader, this isn’t just a story about my poor attempts at climbing over a fake boulder.

This is a story about your business–of course.

I want to know if you’re planning to succeed or merely paying success lip service.

I want to know if you have all of your energy and focus on your idea of success or if you’re regularly refocusing on what will happen when you fail.

Planning to succeed doesn’t mean just having a plan or even “doing the work.” It means making decisions and taking actions that prepare your business for meeting your goals.

Are you taking into account everything you’ll need to succeed? Or are you spending more time thinking about what you’ll do when you inevitably fail?

For instance, consider your year-end revenue goal. Maybe it’s $50,000. Maybe it’s $500,000. Maybe it’s $5 million.

Have you considered how many customers you’ll have to enroll to actually hit that number?Have you considered the number of hours it will take to service that many customers? Do you have the right team or schedule to process that customer service? Do you have the right processes in place to fulfill orders?

In other words:

Is the business you have now (systems, tech, team, management, service) the business you need to hit your goal?

It’s tempting to think that you need to hit the goal first to have or even earn “that kind of business.”

But you have to build the business that has the capacity to reach your goal in order to reach your goal in the first place.

That can mean making some uneasy decisions about the kinds of offers you want to sell, the people you want to hire, and they money you want to spend. When you’ve planned to succeed and created the capacity to reach your goals, you’ll feel so much more confident actually going out to make it happen.

And that confidence will translate into action that produces much, much better outcomes.

Finally, I want to say that contingency planning is important too. You should know what you’ll do if things don’t go to plan. But don’t let contingency plans inadvertently influence the action you take. That’s how self-sabotage happens.

You can wait for the right time forever

This is Natasha Vorompiova. She helps teams amplify their impact by creating systems for scale.

You can wait for the right time forever

Natasha has made a lot of changes in her business in the years that I’ve known her. What’s more, she’s helped me make a lot of changes in my own business—training our COO Rosie, changing the way I think about business systems, and constantly demanding (in the nicest way possible) higher and higher levels of work from me.

She’s the kind of person who takes intentional and decisive action when it comes to the growth of her business (and her clients’ businesses too).

We spent a week together in the Flathead Valley of Montana talking about what’s next for her business. And, I have no doubt she’ll succeed at making the pivot she’s working on now.

I’ve watched a lot of people make plans to change their businesses over the years.

Some, like Natasha, succeed—they earn more, grow their teams, stay focused, and stress less.

Most don’t.

The ones who don’t succeed wait for the right time to make a big change. They wait for their bank accounts to have a certain amount of extra padding. They wait for their schedules to thin out enough. They wait for permission from the universe, from social gatekeepers, or the market.
Most of these business owners are still at it.

They’re still plugging away at their businesses the way they’ve always worked. They’re still selling the things they’ve always sold. They’re still working the schedules they’ve always worked.

There’s never a right time to make a big change in your business.

There’s only now.

Right now, it’s scary and uncertain to consider pulling the plug on the offer that’s consistently made you money (but sucks you dry).

It’s scary and uncertain to let go of the team member who’s been with you for years (but hasn’t kept up with the direction of your business).

It’s scary and uncertain to stop doing what you’ve always done (but hasn’t given you the results you want).

You can mitigate risk—but you can’t avoid it.

You can’t avoid taking a leap of faith—if you really want what’s on the other side of the gap.

I’m fond of saying that we don’t set big goals to achieve them, we set them to change our behavior.

Changing what you do is the only way you can change your situation.

If you want a different business model, you have to make a change. That likely means you have to stop offering something, start offering something else, and focus on making the new way work.

If you want a different customer base, you have to make a change. That means you have to stop catering to  some people, start wooing others, and focus on building relationships with the new folks.

If you want a different schedule, you have to make a change. That means you have to cancel appointments, shift responsibilities, mark days off, and focus on making that schedule work.

That probably all seems obvious but so few people actually do it.

They wait and wait and wait.

They grow more and more frustrated that things aren’t going to plan. That their plans must be broken. That they’re just not good enough to make it work.

Yet…

…they haven’t even started on the new plan. Not really.

Now, it’s time for some deep introspection.

Reader: am I talking about you?
If I am, there is no shame in that.
Now you know.

You know that it’s time to make the change you crave.

It’s time to pull the plug, make the call, send the cancellation.

It’s time to start the new thing. Make it happen. Focus your attention.

Because the only time to make the change you want is now.

Rebecca Tracey did just that a couple of years ago. She realized that she wanted more space in her business. She wanted to be able to pursue rock climbing, backpacking, and spontaneous travel.

But she was stuck in a cycle of launching her core offer 6 times per year.

So she pulled the band-aid off.

It required a leap of faith, a bit of investment in going big, and an iron will to make it work.

And now she can take months away from her business if she wants to.

That’s what we talked about in this episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit.
Click here to listen or read more on making a big change in your business to pursue a more adventurous life.

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A non-obvious way to gain more power

My kid loved her 3rd grade teacher so much that she threatened to repeat 3rd grade.

When I informed her that, if she tanked the last bit of the year so she could repeat, there would be no way she would have the same teacher.

“They’ll assume he failed you, sweetie. Just don’t do it.”

Of course, she wasn’t serious…
…but she was completely serious about her love for her teacher.

A non-obvious way to gain more power

At her school, they get “tickets” for certain behavior and achievements. These tickets act like currency for certain prizes (pencil erasers and such) or experiences.
(I have mixed thoughts.)

My kid saved up her whole year’s worth of tickets so she could have a private lunch with the teacher.

I’m not going to lie, I would have done the same thing at her age!

When she cashed in on her lunch, she was allowed to invite two friends to dine with her. She invited one of her little besties and she also invited the newest girl in the class.

I teared up a little when she told me.

It was such a kind thing to do.

She had plenty of other friends she could have invited but she chose a girl she barely knew.

I can imagine that that girl will become one of my daughter’s close friends. She’ll be there for her when things get rough and she’ll cheer her on when she’s working toward a big goal (like becoming a mathematician—her current career aspiration).

This girl will also, no doubt, remember that kindness for a long while, possibly for the rest of her life.

Now, this isn’t a story about kindness on its own. It’s really a story about power.

Power, as Dacher Keltner defines it in his book The Power Paradox, is “our capacity to make a difference in the world.”

Sure, you can make a bad difference…

But I love how this definition of power puts us in the mind of doing good. We can rise to power—as leaders, business owners, change-makers—in order to make a positive in the world and the lives of the people in our networks.

My daughter gained a little power the day she decided to reach out to someone new. And I have a lot of confidence she’ll use that power for good.

Now what does this have to do with running your business?
Quite a bit.

Especially if you want to use your business to further your mission and improve people’s lives (and I know you do).

Every day is a new opportunity to gain power for yourself and your business by reaching out to others, share your experiences through stories, offering some help, or simply collaborating on a project.

But first, I have a new podcast episode that’s a great corollary to this idea. I interviewed Jordan Harbinger, host & co-founder of The Art of Charm, for Profit. Power. Pursuit. this week.

The Art of Charm is one of the top podcasts on all of iTunes.

I’ll admit: I was very, very nervous before this interview.

But Jordan put me at ease right away and assured me that he wanted to give me the best interview he could.

His take on the benefits of reaching out & developing new relationships?
“The only way to maximize your return on your networking is to help everyone you can without actually expecting anything in return.”

So if the idea of reaching out makes you nervous, or you’ve had bad experiences with networking in the past, or you just don’t even know what networking looks like beyond bad cocktail hours, this interview is for you.

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What Kind Of Person Are You?

I’m not the kind of person who wakes up early to exercise.

I’m not the kind of person who is outdoorsy.

I’m not the kind of person who makes a lot of money.

You have a story (probably many) about who you are and what you’re about.

Those 4 were some of mine.

Have a minute? I’d like to share more–but it’s personal.

***

Last January, I hired a personal trainer because I thought I needed someone to hold me accountable for exercising on a regular basis.

I didn’t like the way I felt, the way I looked, or the amount of energy I had. It seemed like a reasonable solution to the problem.

Guess what? I went to the first 2-3 sessions of the package I purchased and didn’t show up for the rest.

This January, I decided I was going to set my alarm for 6am and start the day with a workout.

I’ve massively succeeded. I feel more comfortable in my body, I love the way I look, and I have pretty boundless energy.

The difference? When I hired a trainer, I told myself, “I’m not the kind of person who exercises on her own.”

When I got serious about changing my routine, I told myself, “I am the kind of person who wakes up early to take care of herself.”

And, now I am.

***

I moved to the coast of Oregon 5 years ago.

Every day, I felt like a “city person” in our small fishing town.

I loved spending time outside in the temperate rain forest, at the beach, or in the state parks. But I looked at Sean’s friends–who would hike up a mountain and then ride their bikes 20 miles on the beach in one weekend–with jealousy.

They were “outdoorsy” people.

When I moved back to PA 2 years ago, I grieved the loss of the wild outdoors. I wanted mountains, beaches, and rivers. But I realized that PA Dutch countryside, deciduous forest, and rail trails were cool too.

We bought a Subaru. We got a bike rack. I bought hiking shoes.

And we used them.

One day Sean said, “I think we’re becoming the kind of people who go hiking & biking every weekend.”

I said, “We already are.”

***

When I started my business, I set my earning goal at about $30,000.

That’s how much I had been making in my previous job.

After all, the person I am–the interests I have, the skills I have, the way of thinking I have–isn’t the kind of person who makes a lot of money.

Luckily, I met a lot of women (and men) who were exactly the kind of person I knew myself to be (smart, ambitious, values-driven, philosophically-minded…) who were making a lot of money running fabulous businesses.

I changed my mind: I am the kind of person who makes a lot of money.

Not only that, I’m the kind of person who leads a company that makes a lot of money.

And now I do… and now I do.

***

What I’ve discovered is that, quite often, when I say, “I’m not that kind of person…”

What I mean is that “I wish I was that kind of person. Too bad I’m not.”

What’s more, I’ve discovered that I can be any kind of person I really want to be simply by changing my story and taking action to make it real.

Now, left to my own devices I might have been perfect (dis)content to limit myself to my preconceived notions of who I am and what I’m capable of.

But I make a point to surround myself with savvy, fiercely intelligent, healthy, and happy friends. They’re business owners who are constantly improving themselves, their companies, and their craft.

They’re the members of CoCommercial–an online community of small business owners serious about making waves in the New Economy.

Yesterday, during CoCommercial‘s The New Economy & Your Money virtual conference, I asked our members to consider their money stories.

They shared the “kind of person” they believed themselves to be.

And many, many of them realized that the kind of person they believed themselves to be was only a shadow of who they truly wanted to be.

They realized that by shifting their money stories, their entrepreneurial stories, or their personal stories, they could change the action they took and the reality they lived in.

Think about the reality you’re creating with the stories you’re telling yourself about the person you are.

If you don’t like the “kind of person” you believe yourself to be, take action to change it. When you do differently, you become something new.

When you become something new, it might be the person you’ve been all along.

***

Interested in surrounding yourself with the kind of business owners who can help YOU make this kind of leap?

Claim your FREE 30-day all-access pass to CoCommercial today!

Why You Need to Think Bigger About Your Next Business Goal

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When I’m feeling cheeky, I will admit to having retired two husbands with my business.

My first marriage ended (it’s better for everyone involved). And my second, well, okay…

Technically, we’re not married. But we own a house together, pay the bills together, and he survived about 25,000 miles of travel with me in one 12-month period. So, give me a pass on the shorthand.

Now, a few months after I retired my first husband and hit the biggest revenue goal I could imagine at the time, I started looking for a new goal.

I felt rudderless without a challenge to work toward.

I asked everyone: How do you dream bigger when you’ve just achieved more than you’ve ever dreamed of?

How do you dream bigger when you’ve just achieved more than you’ve ever dreamed of?

Now, I realize that sounds like a really quality problem to have–and it is.

But there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Here’s why:

You can’t create what you can’t see.

When you’re a student or working in a corporate career, your goals are based on what’s in front of you, what you’re exposed to.

You eye the scholarship. You fantasize about the acceptance letter. You want the promotion. You look for a raise.

You can see yourself attaining any of those things because they’re right in front of you. You see people achieving them and know they’re possible. They might be a dream, but they’re dreams you can see yourself living.

With business, it’s often very different.

I didn’t know I could dream of running a million-dollar company. I didn’t know I could dream of hiring a team of fabulous employees. I didn’t know I could dream of speaking on stage in front of hundreds or thousands.

Before I was connected to people who were dreaming those kinds of dreams and–more importantly–working those kinds of plans, I didn’t have a clue about my potential as an entrepreneur.

Every step of growth my business has taken has been a direct result of my connection to someone or something that allowed me to finally visualize a bigger goal or challenge.

When I retired my first husband, I didn’t know how to think beyond, “I want to make $100,000 per year and retire my husband.”

I had no close relationships with people who had achieved that.

When it came to ambitious colleagues and friends who took their businesses as seriously as I did, my well was damp at best.

As a result, my business suffered from my lack of vision and creativity. It kept growing but not at the pace it could have.

I worked harder instead of smarter.

I pushed for incremental successes instead of exponential steps forward and new ways of creating value.

Now, you might be thinking, “Tara, I haven’t hit the goal I’m working on right now. How can you expect me to look beyond that?”

Here’s why I expect you to–and why I believe you must:

The action you take is dictated–consciously or unconsciously–by your vision and goals.

Try this thought experiment.

What would you have to do differently to reach your goal for 2017 in the next 6 weeks, without working more in your business?

Your first reaction might be panic. But your second might be a pretty creative way to reorganize your business and your time to achieve more, at a faster pace, than you originally let yourself plan for.

That’s why you need to be connected to people who push you, challenge you, and take their businesses as seriously as you take yours.

Those connections help you take dramatic steps forward in your business–starting with the way you spend your time and the action you take right now.

They help you get creative about how you’ll achieve your goals and see new possibilities all around you.

The decisions I make and actions I take today are based on the vision that I can now see myself living, and that vision was inspired by the possibility I’ve glimpsed in the lives of people I know.

It’s such a relief to make big decisions with ease and take action that supports those decisions.

And, it’s all thanks to the ambitious and open business owners I’m connected to on a daily basis. They’ve helped me dream bigger dreams and take different action.

On Monday, I’m going to share with you how a completely different kind of connection–with people who have businesses wholly different than my own–helped to dramatically transform my vision for my business.

Plus, you’ll get a sneak peek of what we’ve created for you to solve this problem.

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Don’t Put Off Another Project Because You’re Not In The Right Seat

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Wanna make a bet?

I bet you’ve held off on a project because you didn’t know how to make it happen.

You had a great idea, something that would really make a splash, really get your brand out there.

You could see the finished product (idea, book, offer, etc…) in all its glory.

And then…

You realized you had no idea how to make it happen.

  • How would you shoot the videos?
  • How would you get the new website up?
  • How would you edit the files?
  • How would you market the opportunity?

I’ll admit it: I feel pretty safe making this bet because I’ve been there, done that.

If I look back on the last 8 years, are there probably at least 15 times I could have changed the course of my business if I’d only been willing to step back and let someone else figure out the details.

This week on Profit. Power. Pursuit., I talked to Jenny Dopazo about a project like this, her web series The Fabricant Way.

She actually told me, “The one thing that was certain was that I wasn’t going to put myself in a position where I needed to learn how to do this. Me becoming a film person was not part of the vision.

Learning Is Your Job But It’s Not Your Only Job

As a small business owner, you’re constantly putting yourself in the position of having to learn how to do new things.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing–learning is part of entrepreneurship (and it’s one of the reasons I love it so much!).

But it can become the default setting: new idea equals something new to learn.

And when you’re overwhelmed, overloaded, and overscheduled, it means that the things that could really change the course of your business–like Jenny’s video series–often get left behind.

Jenny said that once she realized that becoming a “film person” wasn’t part of her vision for the project, she was able to get clear on what seat at the table she really wanted to be in.

Then, she could identify all the other “seats” she needed and find the right people to fill those roles.

Now, I understand that that in & of itself might sound intimidating. Maybe you’re not in a position to make that kind of investment or maybe you’re not connected to the right people.

But once you know how you want to position yourself in a project, you can start to get creative about making it happen: maybe you can trade services, maybe you can ask for introductions, maybe you can set up a revenue share, etc…

Don’t table a project just because YOU don’t know how to make it happen.

Get clear on your vision and your role in that vision–and then get creative about the rest.

Listen to this week’s episode & subscribe:

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