A Guiding Principle.
I believe we all have guiding principles we draw from our life experiences and personal values. They typically reveal themselves over time. So perhaps, when we’re younger, we’re not even consciously aware of them. But as we age, and our experiences mold us and we become more confident, they become apparent.
That’s how this guiding principle—Inspiring Contemplation, Instigating Change—came to be for me. In fact, in many ways it’s become my personal mission.
I’d like to tell you a story to explain how this personal motto came to be. I hope reading my story will inspire you to reflect on, and identify, the guiding principles in your life.
How Inspiring Contemplation, Instigating Change came to be.
While I was raised to be a good girl, I always had a quiet rebellious side. As the second born twin, I was smaller than my sister. And, it seemed to me, my bigger and older (by 5 whole minutes) sister had more confidence. She was the dominant one in our relationship.
At least that’s how I saw it. We also had very different personalities: I was quiet, shy, and reserved; she was outgoing and popular… an extravert.
Perhaps feeling like I had to fight a little bit harder to be seen and heard is what fostered my quiet rebellion.
When I was younger, I had a sharp tongue. Sarcasm was my way of speaking out. My smart mouth got me in trouble more than a few times. But now I see it for what it was, my way of lightly expressing my sometimes strong opinions.
After putting myself through college I got my first job working in an advertising agency. Ironic, because I was, and still am, an introvert. Working in marketing and advertising, where much of the job is sales, ran counter to my shy nature. Still, I excelled, spending 13 years in the business.
I remember when I left one of my last ad agency jobs, the staff came together to wish me luck. One of my co-workers, a creative director and partner in the agency, raised his glass and made a toast. His comment was something to the effect that while I was petite, my personality was anything but. That was the first time I realized anyone recognized my strength. In fact, it may have been the first time I realized it.
All those years of fighting to be heard had manifested in a strong personality, which I suppose was somewhat unexpected given my diminutive stature.
After rising to the ranks of Vice President for an international nonprofit, and deciding I was done with the ad agency world, I chose to go out on my own. I opened a home-based marketing consulting business so I could spend more time with my kids, and have more control over my hours and the types of businesses I marketed. At that time, not only was I burned out, I was also growing tired of marketing products and services I wasn’t passionate about.
The seeds of my outspokenness had been planted.
In the mid-2000s, in an effort to grow my business and myself, I got involved in the personal development industry. Unfortunately, it hurt me more than it helped. Rather than increase my confidence, it eroded it. Constantly being told I could be, do, and have more, only served to inform me what I was already being, doing, and having wasn’t enough. And therefore, I must not be enough.
After too many years of striving for higher and higher levels of success to prove my worth to the world and myself, I dropped out, disillusioned and depressed.
The more research I did, the more I realized it wasn’t just the personal development industry or the coaching industry, it was much of our society. In fact, even the industry I had chosen to work in for so many years—marketing and advertising—was one of the biggest offenders.
I was angry and wanted to speak out.
I found it difficult to continue in my marketing business so I took a year sabbatical and started writing. The result was my book, Breaking the Spell.
It was at this point I realized my role as a disrupter.
A quiet disrupter perhaps, but a disrupter just the same. I remember a video I shot and posted on YouTube at the time, where I talked about “getting real.”
I felt it was time to talk about the realities of being in business and the truth about marketing. I was tired of the sugarcoating I saw. How easy so many of those selling success made it seem to build a million-dollar business. I knew otherwise. And I was ready to talk about it.
I was nervous about posting that video. So I was pleasantly surprised when it received an overwhelmingly positive response. It seems I wasn’t alone. Others were feeling the deception too. They were ready for the truth. I reinvented my business and focused on this get real platform.
Following my get real approach, my online business thrived, and I felt better about being in the marketing and coaching industry. I realized I was offering a viable alternative to people like me, who needed to market their services but didn’t feel good using the tactics many other Internet marketers were selling.
While Breaking the Spell was far from being a best seller, it did garner positive reviews and a loyal following among people who resonated with its message. It also sparked conversations with clients, friends, neighbors, online followers, and people I didn’t know but who had read the book. All of this affirmed my decision to speak out.
That’s when I knew this was my path.
Inspiring Contemplation is about sharing thoughts, perspectives, information, and opinions, in an effort to get people to stop and think, and even challenge what appears to be the accepted norm. It’s about illuminating things for myself, and others.
Instigating Change is about exactly that: prompting people to take action to change what’s not working in their lives or in our world.
We’re living in crazy times right now.
We don’t have to just accept what is if we don’t agree with it. We can speak up. We can start a conversation. We can advocate. We can take action. We can set an example for others.
Together we can create positive change.