“Life is tough, my darling, but so are you.”
– Stephanie Bennett-Henry
It’s 6am. I’m doing something I’ve never done before. And I’m noticing a pattern.
Sitting in my house waiting for the sun to come up – and for this day to be over. I’m miserable. My face is swollen from crying all night. I blink away more tears as I stare at my laptop screen. A spreadsheet featuring a colossal mistake. It shows me every reason NOT to do this. It explains why this will never work. I’ve heard these whispers before – those little a$holes in my head – the ones telling me this is going to be too much and not enough all at the same time. Because I’m too much and not enough…
It’s day one of filming my first professionally-created online course. I’m a wreck.
I am going to be on camera with a professional videographer sharing how to show up in their own confidence while doing something terrifying for most people – speaking on a stage.
I have my outfits ready. My team is setting up the scenes for me. I have every detail outlined in order with all of the specifics so I don’t forget anything. I have been working on this for a year. AN ENTIRE YEAR! And I had NO problem doing this in person – no problem helping people through my methodology and doing the thing that scares most people as much as death – getting on stage. But the idea of doing the same thing in front of a camera is making me break down. It’s not comfortable. It’s totally new and not at all what I want to do. If I just cry hard enough, they can’t film me.
The whispers are coming at me from all angles and I’m listening to them. They’re winning.
All the whispers tell me:
- You need to do more research.
- No one will sign up for this.
- You won’t price it correctly.
- You won’t be good on camera.
- Too many people will sign up for this & it’ll get out of control.
- You won’t find the right software to make it work.
- You don’t have enough prepared.
- You’ll find out how many haters you actually have.
- You won’t deliver it correctly.
- You’ll miss too many pieces.
- Someone will say you’re competing with them.
- Someone will critique you.
- Someone will hate you.
- You will suck.
- You already suck.
I KNOW the whispers mean I’m on the right track. I know this is a HUGE project and it will make a ginormous impact. I know that when something big is about to happen, EVERYTHING will try to prevent it.
Both times we’ve hosted Rock Your Talk, the precursor for this online course, something has come up for almost every speaker the week of the event. A dying family member, a friend going through a rough patch, business getting overwhelming – they start doubting themselves – those negative whispers get louder- and it’s because they’re on the right track. If they overcome it and get on the stage, they show up even more brilliantly.
During the week of filming SPEAK With Confidence (launching in Q1 2018), every bit of negativity I was holding in my body surfaced. The same thing happened to me when I started the podcast. And it’s even showing up doing something I know I’m good at doing – WRITING THIS POST! EVERYTHING has prevented me from starting AND finishing this. Excuses ranging from not being interesting enough for someone to read – to not being able to breathe or focus at altitude. SERIOUSLY?! MELANIE! WTF?!
But guess what? I know exactly what I’m terrified of… and it’s kept me from the success I really want in my life AND my business – and it’s getting ridiculous.
I’m afraid of being… SUCCESSFUL.
And I’m sabotaging the shit out of myself.
Whenever I share my fear of success, someone always says “Oh, wow. I definitely don’t have that. I’m afraid of failure.” I mean, it makes sense. The only fears we’re born with are falling on our faces and loud noises, so a fear of failure is basically innate. If you want to look at it figuratively, failure is a bit like falling on your face. But what I’ve found is the craziest? We actually can’t fall on our faces when we’re standing in our own way.
I am a 6’ tall powerhouse of a woman – and I’m standing in my very own way. I am strong – so dang strong. I know this well because I will fight myself every step of the way to something amazing – with excuse after excuse on why I can’t do it. Anytime someone hears that I’ve had a tough time creating something or doing something, they’re blown away. “You make it looks so easy.” I’m SO glad it looks easy because it was anything but.
Without realizing it, I’m not asking myself “What if I fail?”, I’m really asking “What happens if I make it?” and “What if my excuses don’t work and I end up getting everything I’ve ever wanted?” And my favorite: “What if I don’t have to struggle anymore?”
WHAT?! yeah. Fear of success.
I’ve done this in my career, my business, my relationships, my family – really asking myself “WHAT IF IT IS AMAZING?!”
Ah, but there lies the problem: the struggle is SO GOOD!
Certainty is getting the safety and stability – the comfort we need.
Uncertainty is where we love surprises – the need to shake things up.
When we have too much stability, we crave the variety. When things are unstable for too long, we crave certainty. (Are you feeling it?!)
When I travel too much, I want to be home.
When I’m home too long, I can’t wait to travel.
When I work too much, I want peace.
When I have too much quiet, I crave the busy schedule.
When I am lonely, I crave humans.
When I have too much of the humans, I crave solitude.
The struggle is REAL! And once we accept it, we can finally move on to do the thing we’re meant to do.
Remember, I’m a powerhouse of a woman standing in my own way! This fear of success? It’s WAY harder to get through than the fear of failure. Failure is inevitable. Failure is how we figure out success. Failure isn’t an option. (I know, I know… you’ve heard all of the inspirational quotes.) But it takes bravery – bravery to stand up to your fears and do what is inside of you to be successful – which, in turn, creates impact.
If you’ve been waiting for it, this is your sign.
It’s time to be BRAVE!
The last month of 2017, I had to find my brave. I moved my DC life 2000 miles away to another DC – Denver, Colorado. I did this while recording an entire online course, closing out the end of the year, taking care of clients, rocking a few workshops, speaking in different states, training a new employee, packing boxes and bags, and driving in a MINI with all of the things I’ll need for half a year – including my boyfriend and my dog. No big deal. (Insert wide-eyed emoji)
Rewind to the beginning of that month when I had kickass habits – running, meeting my trainer twice a week, homemade meals, not drinking booze, reading books, meditating, getting to work early, writing at 5am, etc. Everything was simple – I was rocking my business and my life. Until every bit of certainty I had was ready for a big surprise.
I had decided to move from DC to Denver after 11 years – and 11 hours later, I had manifested that shit. With almost zero effort to rent my house and find a furnished house to rent in Colorado – No joke. I know it was a God thing, but I also know that when you’re ready for something, you name it and put in the work, it manifests. I was ready for uncertainty, but I didn’t realize how much I was in for – but then, I’ve always loved the struggle.
Right after making that decision, I was told to slow down.
In a SUPER painful way.
With WAY too much on my mind, I went for a run. It’s the only way I know to clear my mind. Within 3 minutes of starting, I tripped and fell – skinning both knees and both hands – OUCH! I limped home and shook it off. Three days later, I went for a run again to clear my head. At the end of 5 miles, I tripped and fell on the same spots – ripping off all of my scabs. (shudder) I cried. I bawled. I sobbed the half mile home with blood dripping down my knees and hands. I screamed in the shower. I felt like a huge failure. I couldn’t wear pants for weeks. I was a mess. (Don’t worry, I won’t share the photos.) And it took me some time to realize that I had too much on my mind to go for a run… Even if that’s what helps me clear my head. Then… my habit disappeared. As quickly as I fell.
For the next few weeks, it took every bit of effort to talk myself into getting out of bed each morning. To workout. To meditate. To not lay on the floor of my bedroom scrolling through my social media feeds trying not to think about everything else I have to do. To not just pour myself a glass of wine. To not just go pick up something to eat. To not find another distraction. And I found them all. My habits broke down quicker than I ever imagined they could. Because I let them.
BECAUSE I LET THEM.
I had all of these certain habits that helped me be successful and as soon as uncertainty showed up, I broke down. Without my routine, the feelings of utter failure showed up in my chest every time I was a little behind. The anxiety wells up and I start shutting down. Without my routines and habits, I lose sight of what really needs to happen in my life and my eyes glaze over – literally and figuratively – giving me every excuse not to do what I KNOW I’m meant to do.
This is where I was at 6am the first day of the filming. I hadn’t run in 3 weeks. I hadn’t been eating super healthy. I hadn’t been sleeping well. My calendar kept getting moved around. I had more on my plate than I could handle. I woke up every day with mounting anxiety. Everyone forgave me for canceling because they knew what was going on. Yes, I had people to help – but my mind was set that I couldn’t possibly succeed at everything.
So, that morning I decided I wasn’t willing to do the filming. I was ready to call everyone and tell them I was canceling the shoot and we’d have to wait until later in the year. Until Gisell, my Helpful Human, walked into my bedroom to find me crying and asked my puffy face the question that changed everything.
“What are you really afraid of?”
The word walked out of my mouth as if I had known it all along: Mediocrity.
I was standing in my own way with my hands on my hips worrying about being MEDIOCRE. Mediocre is something I don’t understand. I’ve never done anything mediocre in my life. It’s against everything in my nature to do anything half-assed or crap.
I was making more work for myself because I was worried that I wouldn’t do my best. I wasted hours and hours worrying instead of doing – when I had ALL of the information already inside of me. I was deciding NOT to do ANYTHING because I was worried it wouldn’t be perfect – or enough… those negative voices had ended up making me believe I wasn’t enough. So, I sat there crying and deciding nothing was better than something.
Wasn’t I the one who says “Do epic shit” and “Manifest that shit” and “Wear your awesome” when people are having a tough time? And I was the one sitting on my bed crying about doing a video shoot!? WHO AM I?!
Oh yeah, I’m the woman going through a laundry list of the most stressful situations ALL AT THE SAME TIME. I needed encouragement – the same kind I send to so many. The same kind people reach out to me to give them. And I had NO idea how to ask. So I posted a note on my FB wall saying that I was struggling. I got a TON of incredible response to motivate me as I got in front of the camera, but one sweet woman sent this to me offline:
“There are so many perfectly boring, uncreative, uninspired people who make changes, are affiliated with good products, etc. It’s almost embarrassing how much mediocrity succeeds in our society. YOU ARE NOT MEDIOCRE. You are exceptional, you have a vision, energy and intelligence to do what want to do. And you have a thoughtfulness and intention . . . so don’t waste your damn time on self doubt.
Think of all the crap out there — even if you don’t complete something to your vision of excellence — you know it is going to be 10 times better than all the mediocrity. And remember, we learn by upgrading our models — so put your stuff out there, test it, upgrade it and move forward. Don’t doubt — it’s a waste of time. Just talk to yourself as if you were talking to a client.”
Every time you doubt yourself, read that.
After that teary-eyed morning, I filmed the course. And guess what?! It was all inside of me. EVERY SINGLE BIT OF IT! All I had to do was show up and start. I haven’t even seen the videos yet, but I know it’s going to be amazing – because I’ve already done the hardest part – I had to stop sabotaging myself. And I could have done that WAY quicker had I kept up my good habits – my routine. It was there to support me and I abandoned it along with myself. Until I was forced to show up.
I don’t want to think of what would have happened if I hadn’t walked downstairs and made it happen – because I did it. And I’m already successful, even if the course doesn’t go the way I expect. Even if it’s not perfect. Even if I need to upgrade it later. It’s perfectly imperfect just as it is. And SO many people will be able to benefit from my own bravery.
That pattern I was talking about – the one where I stand in my way – this is me admitting I have a pattern and it’s time to break it. By publishing this post, I’m breaking it. I almost threw it out but realized that meant I was doing something that would be impactful by sharing. I almost quit the filming but I know it’s the first step of many to give others a way to share their story.
But this post isn’t about me. This is about you. I’m only sharing my shit so you can see how f*ing hard this is for me. The behind-the-scenes is never easy. And the smoother something looks, the harder it was. You’re reading it because you needed to hear this – so you could stop standing in your own way. Step aside, you have big things to do!
I want you to know that you are already successful – just because you showed up for yourself. I am proud of you for being ready for what’s next. It’s up to you to make shit happen. So…
What does your brave look like?
And when are you going to #manifestthatshit?
DO THE THING:
- Download the Manifest That Shit worksheet.
- Jump into the Kickass Humans Club and let’s do it together.
- Make sure you’re on the list to find out when SPEAK With Confidence launches