This morning I went to Creative Mornings – which you probably know is consistently one of my favourite events in Toronto. The speaker, Shannon Lee Simmons of New School of Finance wondered: What does it mean to be a boss? So she did a bit of research in preparation for her talk.
Of course any serious research begins with an instagram hashtag search. Simmons was puzzled by her findings: is working #likeaboss about having fancy pants? Working from the beach? Shenanigans with cool coworkers? Joking aside, she determined that the sweet spot of bossdom lies at the intersection of enjoyment, purpose, financial stability, and a sustainable future. Basic enough formula…right? Sure. but Shannon also admitted that she has been in the #likeaboss zone for about 4 hours of her entire career.
If a successful entrepreneur like Shannon’s bossdom is so fleeting, where does that leave the rest of us? It leaves us exactly where Shannon has spent most of her career: taking risks, facing the fear (or as she called it the ‘Oh Shit moment’) that arises every time she takes a leap, and then struggling onward and upward until the next ‘Oh Shit moment.’
Acknowledging this pattern, she wrote a letter to her future self, to break out at the next ‘Oh Shit moment.’ (Her letter is here, and it’s great). I left Creative Mornings and headed straight to my coworking space (a.k.a. not the beach), where I pulled out the laptop and started writing a letter to my future self. I asked myself, what does my future scared, stressed, depleted, anxious, paralyzed self need to hear?
And I came up with this formula to help you write your own letter:
- Reassurance: Remind yourself how awesome you are. That it’s not the first time you’ve felt like this and you’ve always survived. That you are your own best teacher and problem solver.
- Reframing: Look squarely at the fear, shame, or whatever negative emotion you are experiencing and reframe it as a positive thing, something that will lead to growth.
- Recommitment: A call to action. Encourage yourself to go for it and commit to moving through the fear.
- Relax & Recharge: Bring it back to wellness – encourage your future self to get out of her head and into her breath or body. Literally move through the fear.
And of course, sign off with love.
Here’s my letter. I know I will bust this out over and over again as I take risk after risk to grow SheCoSystem. Because it’s huge. And scary. And will lead to lots of awesomeness if I just keep staring down the Oh Shit moments and moving through the fear.
Dear Future Emily,
You’re doing it again: jumping off yet another cliff into the wild unknown. First of all, remember: you’ve done this before and you survived. And not only did you survive, you grew. And if you act in alignment with your soul in this moment, just as you did before, you can feel confident that this unknown leap will land you somewhere good. Remember how it feels to act from your inner Wild Woman. Remember that you have an incredible support system including the people around you, the natural environment, the healthy habits and creative practices that nourish you, and the whole damn universe itself. Look at how much you have accomplished and how many people you have touched – you’re a resilient, amazing being!
You might be scared shitless at the moment, but listen to that fear. What is it telling you? Are you legitimately afraid, or are you letting fear keep you too small and too safe? Remember the motto you’ve relied on before: fear means go. You weren’t content with the status quo and it’s better to feel afraid, anxious, or overwhelmed than to feel depleted and dead inside. Remember what you’ve told your students for years: discomfort leads to transformative growth. I know it’s hard to take your own advice, but you know these things are true. Acknowledging your fear and vulnerability is a courageous act, and the growing pains you feel as your comfort zone expands are totally natural. Your authenticity and Just F’ing Do It attitude attracts supporters, mentors, helpers, and collaborators. Don’t be afraid to let them in, and don’t hesitate to draw on these resources – they WANT to help.
So go for it. Leap with two feet. Commit to growing, to challenging yourself, knowing that when something feels not good enough, you must do something about it. The status quo was draining you, and you’re already on your way to fixing that leak and refuelling yourself. Stick with it.
Now: pause and take ten deep breaths. Inhale abundance, exhale gratitude. Seriously, DO IT – let’s do it together, even if ten breaths feels like it takes an eternity and you don’t have time. Fuck it – make time. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Roll your shoulders back. Stand up and shake. Get up and grab a glass of water. You’ve got this.
Love you up to the sky, down to the ground.