Offer the Feather that Could Nudge People to Their Destiny with Terry Weaver

Episode 30

Elephants make bad pets. If you read Terry Weaver’s new release Making Elephants Fly, you’ll realize why. The “elephant in the room” for too many people is that they have dreams they aren’t pursuing. There’s no simple answer to what we ought to do with our dreams, but in this interview, Terry explains the havoc these “elephants” cause in people’s lives. Sometimes the greatest risk is to let an elephant make it’s home in your living room, where it doesn’t belong. What dream is chasing you? Who needs you to be a Timothy Mouse in their lives by offering a feather to help them believe in themselves?

You can find Terry on his website, www.terryweaver.com.

Making Elephants Fly is now available at makingelephantsfly.com,

and information about his live event “The Thing” at thething.live.

Full Interview Transcript

Andrea: Terry Weaver, it is so good to have you back on the Voice of Influence podcast.

Terry Weaver: I’m a fan. I’m excited to be back, a fan of your work, and it’s exciting to be back again today.

Andrea: Yeah, thank you! When we were talking back, gosh, I think your episode came out May, maybe even April last year or of this year, 2017 and we were talking about some of the things that you were working on your book. And now I have it in my hands and it’s so good, Terry. It’s great!

Terry Weaver:   Thank you! You know, there are courses that you take how to write book in a month. I did not take that course. It’s just more like how to spend way too long writing a book. It’s good to get it done and get it out of the world and start telling people about the stories. I feel like I’ve been treating this animal for the last five years and now I’m ready to take it off the press so that it’s out in world and hope that it helps people and doesn’t kill me.

Andrea: You’re asking people to be audacious so you’ll never know.

Terry Weaver: Exactly!   I mean, I’d rather them die living the best possible life than to wither away living the life that was not worth living.

Andrea: Yes!

Terry Weaver: Yeah. My friends give me a hard time because sometimes I kind of lead towards that morbid…but you know, we live in a world right now that it’s just seems like it’s going mad like Alice in Wonderland. And I was like “Has the place gone mad? Yes, I think it has.” And there’s just a lot of chaos. There’s a lot of hurt. There’s a lot of pain, and our time on this planet is really limited, so I want to do my part to encourage people to go on and live now and stop waiting for…

As you’ve read, you know, the beginning of the book really starts with the permission like literally. I’m giving people just permission to chase those big audacious dreams. There’s never been a better time to do what you want to do from where you are. And I’m not here to show and go that at the end of the journey is going to be easy. It’s going to be 10 times harder than you ever imagine.

But yeah, it’s so much work to make these things happen and to make these things become real and big dreams come with a lot of late nights. I’m ending a season of living from one season of hustle as I call it with a little tiny break in between. Now that I’m in my 40s, staying up until 3:00, 4:00, 5:00, or 6:00 in the morning working and getting things out the door hurt a lot more than it did in my 20s.

Andrea: Oh yeah!

Terry Weaver: So the bounce back is you know when you’re in college and you did those things and it’s like two cups of coffee the next day, you’re good. Now, it’s like in the middle of the following week, you still feel like you’ve been run over by a train, but we’re here proceeding.

Andrea: That’s right. The book is called Making Elephants Fly. So Terry, where did you come up with this title and why this title? And this is the title of your podcast as well, so why this title?

Terry Weaver: I was sitting in a Starbucks one day and a friend of mine was having a conversation online. And he was kind of talking about Walt’s quote where he said “If you can dream it, you can do it.” And I was just like “Yeah, but…” and I said something to him that I was like “No, no, what you miss is the fact that Walt Disney believed in the idea that if he can make an elephant fly in a cartoon that the imagineers can make an elephant fly at a theme park.

He believed that if there was an idea that he can get a team or process a way to move that idea forward. Really, all of our dreams come true if we have the courage to pursue them and we really chase to go after them. If we don’t give up, when trial comes and tribulations come. And if you know Walt Disney’s story, his story was one greater than pain and hurt and struggle.

So I was sitting at the Starbucks, at the time I really wasn’t writing much. I was blogging and I would write my blog there. I begin to just start talking to all the baristas that day because one of them said “Hey, what are you doing?” I was like “Oh, I’m just writing my blog.” That always leads to a longer conversation. I discovered everybody working in that building had no desire to be a barista. All of them had moved to the city of Nashville to chase a song-writing dream.

They came here to work on the production team or they came here because they knew there was a creative environment here. They came here because they wanted to get on in the medical field and they knew there was a lot of opportunity here because there was a big healthcare area. All these people were doing nothing how to do with their dreams and I was just like “Man.”

And then the thought kind of crossed through my head at the beginning there, imagine the elephant in a room that they’re living with. I switch sometimes working in the music business and I remember all the artists that quit right before things started. They were on the edge where the pain was real, the work was incredibly hard but they were moving to the phase where things were going to start to get a little at least differently and a little bit easier and the door is going to start opening a little wider for them but they quit.

I thought about all of them living with the pain of “What if.” Those two words can haunt your entire life, “What if? What if I never do this? What if I would have done this?” So I just started kind of thinking about the idea of an elephant. I don’t know about you, but I get a lot of ideas maybe too many. But when I do get an idea, I tend to kind of let it live with me and this idea of “making elephants fly” just would not freaking go away.

I had really, I mean honestly, no desire to write a book. I never did well in English in school. If you tell every teacher that I would be writing a book, they would laugh in your face, but this book just begins and just come out of me and so I started. I started but I was just like, you know, I’m a person of faith so I was like “So OK, God, if this is really something you want me to do, I’m going to call the Nashville Zoo and they’re going to let me hangout with the elephants.”

That totally seems like something that normal people would say no to, right? “Nope,” then next they say “Hey sir, we love to schedule the time. We love to have you. This is normally where they cost thousands of dollars but we love what you’re doing, we want to support you.” So I go to the zoo and get to interview the head zoo keeper and the guy stood out there and talked to me forever. It was literally like a 100 degrees in Nashville. It was incredibly off out of the normal day. And he was like “Hey man, it’s hot out here. Can we go back stage; I’d like to show you where the elephants live when they’re not on the zoo.” I’m like “Are you kidding me right now?”

So we go back and we get to spend time with the elephants and he was like “Hey, let me take you into their enclosures.” So we go there really through the bars into the elephants’ cage where they stay, which by the way, is freaking scary but it was also scary for the elephant. So I met an elephant by the name of Juno and she’s a beautiful elephant. She has since passed out of a disease elephant’s in captivity and they get a lot of diseases which is why it’s much better where they could be in a place out of the zoo and be out open and moving. A lot of zoos are moving more towards that.

As soon as I walked into the cage, she had to pee. And we’ve all heard the phrase, “You got to pee like race horse.” Nope, that statement should be, “You got to pee like an elephant.” Because let me tell you, the only way I could describe it, it was like a fire hose coming out of a 55 gallon bucket all at once and that was kind of her reactions to me coming in there. He said “No, no that’s normal.” I’m like “Man, there was nothing normal about what was coming out of her right there. That was the most fluid I’ve ever seen in my entire life.”

So that moment I truly understood and I really had a pretty clear picture of what is like to live with an elephant that you should have in your house. I just started to think of all my friends and all of the people that I kind of knew that have these big crazy ideas and are doing nothing about them. You know in my head, I’m just imagining this elephant going around and peeing all over furniture and I was like “Man, that’s a mess.” Then I begin to realize why they’re miserable, why their marriages were struggling, why they weren’t happy, or why they hated their job and so I wanted to write a book for these people.

Obviously, the idea of Making Elephants Fly inspired by the story of Dumbo in Walt Disney in desires to make elephants fly, and you can go to every theme park. Everywhere they’re located you can go and ride an elephants fly. I still get an elephant ride like a crazy person that go up and down and just to remind myself of like “Wow, someone at one point thought this was impossible to do,” but one man’s dream and one man’s passion for an idea made it happen. And now Tim Burton is actually in production of doing a live-action Dumbo movie, which you know, I love Tim Burton, so I hope that’s going to be cool.

But yeah, we all have these elephants. We all have this big dream. We all have these big passions; but the difference is a lot of us are just living with them. I’ve seen the other side of how inaction would do more damage than actually taking the risk of actually breaking free than actually doing the things and giving them a try. We’ve been taught at a young age that failure is a bad thing. You don’t want to be a failure, but one of those things that makes you a failure is when you don’t get back up when you do fail. We’re all going to not succeed at something. We’re all not going to achieve the things that we set out to achieve. But when we’re actually are pursuing those things, there’s going to be a lot of failure but it’s a lot better than just asking yourself at the end of your “What if?”

Andrea: Yes!

Terry Weaver: One of the big ideas in the book is even if you are nearing the end of your life, if you’re not dead; you’re not done. That’s one of the big ideas in the book. If you’re here and you’re living and breathing, you’re here with a purpose. You’re here with something to do and it’s never too late to accomplish those big dreams that you’ve been wanting to accomplish.

Andrea: Boy, I can relate to this idea of the elephant that is trapped and still in captivity inside, because that’s definitely how I felt a few years ago. I can tell you, I affirm what you just said about how it can just cause havoc. I actually read the part, about the elephant peeing, like that page to my kids. They just died laughing. I thought that was hilarious by the way, but I think that that picture I just get it. It resonated with me and I think a lot of people don’t realize it that they don’t see it probably because of the other thing that you talked about towards the beginning of the book was that the elephants that follow each other in captivity with their tails. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about that because that’s pretty good too?

Terry Weaver: So you’ve mentioned your kids, you know, the very first thing your kids learn when they go to school is what? They’re taught to stand in line.

Andrea: Oh yes! Don’t even get me started.

Terry Weaver: They’re taught to follow along. They’re taught to comply. In fact our entire education system is set up so that we will comply. If you don’t believe me in the story, go read books by Sir Ken Robinson and go read Seth Godin’s Stop Stealing Dreams. One of the best things I’ve ever read and it’s a free. It’s just a free PDF. But kids, you know, you’ll learn at an early age that you should just follow the person in front of you and you kind of march through your childhood like that, right?

I met a fifth grader a few weeks ago, he was talking about college. You know, when I was in fifth grade, the last thing on my mind was college, right? I was just trying to figure out how to stop picking my nose, you know what I mean?   I never wanted to grow up. And so I rode my big wheel. It was a chips big wheel. It has had the wheels that literally fell off of a thing, right? It’s very interesting how society and I think even the idea of the American dream, I talked about in the book is one of those things that tries to keep us in captivity.

You know that idea that you go to school and you go to college and then you graduate college and you have two and a half kids, too bad for that 0.5 child, right? Then you go on and you live your life and you’re working on a job that you really don’t like but you do it because it’s a safe thing to do and then you retire and then you move to Florida and you wait to die. That’s kind of the American dream. I was just listening to a podcast for speakers with Ken Davis. He’s on his late 60s he’s like “I’m not retired.” He’s like “Retirement for me is death.” There are a lot of us that are starting to say “I wanna get out of that life. I wanna stop complying.”

So elephants in the wild will sometimes do a practice called “tailing.” If you’ve ever seen the elephants in the circus or elephants in the zoo, you’ll see the elephant’s trunk will grab the tail of the elephant in front of them. That’s mostly a practice that’s used with elephants that are in captivity not because it makes them safer, but it does keep them in-line and it gives you the illusion of safety, right? “OK, these elephants are complying, they’re following instructions, and they’re just following along.”

I think we march through life with the illusion of safety. We march through life with the illusion that we’re going to get a job and it’s secure. One of my coaching clients, her husband just lost his job that he was nearing retirement for. He worked his entire life for the safety and security of a job that he really didn’t like. And now here he is when he’s kind of cutting on his job, you know, he’s kind of at the red zone of life trying to get across the goal line and the same that he had been doing something he didn’t love, he ended up giving up because they let him down.

I think of Jim Carey, if you haven’t seen Jim Carey’s speech. He’s like “You can fail doing something you hate, so why would you not try to fail doing something you love.” And man, get on the line and be the kid. Luckily, my mom kind of allowed me to be that kid growing up. I got a lot of trouble in school. I acted out a lot. I was the kid in second grade that discovered that if you throw pencils on a teacher, you can get out of the class.

Andrea: Oh no!

Terry Weaver: I was the kid that learned that it was even better if you could keep the pencils really sharp. So my poor second grade teacher, they’ve told me had a nervous breakdown and quit teaching after that year. I got to do second grade again the next year. Kids, if you’re listening, I’m not telling you that’s how you should act. My parents had just gone through a divorce, I was acting out. I was wanting attention, but even at an early age, I started to go “I’m not really one for following the rules.”

Obviously, you’ve got to be a law abiding citizen. There are some rules that you have to follow, right? Or they put you away. But there’s no rule that says you have to go and work at a job you hate. Obviously, you had to make a living and as you know put in together a portfolio of opportunity that allows you to make a living, that’s easier said than done, right? For me, the alternative of going through life hating what I do is just not something I’m willing to accept.

We’ve got one shot at this thing called life like there’s not a second act. There’s not a sequel to life. We live in a Hollywood culture where there’s a sequel to everything but there’s no sequel to life. You don’t get to do this again. You don’t get to fix what went wrong in your first one the second time. We get one shot at it. Man, I believe that getting at a line as soon as you possibly can in chasing and doing.

I’m so jealous of kids that are in their late teens, early 20s and the world that they’re coming into of opportunity. When I was in my 20s, the internet had really just become a thing. We were still on AOL where we wanted the internet; we had to hear this (ahh ehh err) sound in the internet. The internet crawled along and you could basically send email and chat. That was really it. You really can’t book an airplane ticket online. You could barely sell anything, right?

Now, we’re having a conversation of over a thousand miles away through the internet. It can be posted and people are going to download this and listen to it in their car on the internet. But it’s just crazy if you think about that, right? People can go online and buy your book, buy my book on the internet. They don’t have to go to Barnes & Noble to buy, they can go to a website and put their credit card in and in a couple of days, the mail will show up and put that in the mail boxes.

There’s so much opportunity that there’s just no excuse to not do what you want. I’m not one of these guys that’s like “You can do it and it’s gonna be easy.” No, I’m telling you, “You could do it and it’s gonna feel like it’s impossible.” It’s going to be the most fun that you’ve ever had, but it’s going to be the hardest work that you’ve ever done but the reward is going to be incredible.

Andrea: I love that. I love that when you’re talking about story time with the elephants and you bring this exercise that I think is really interesting, the storyboarding your life. Tell us about that. What are the steps and what do you actually tell people do?

Terry Weaver: So it is something that I did several years ago. I had a coaching client really before I was even doing coaching. That guy met me in a coffee shop and was like “Hey, man, I’ll talk to you for five minutes and you tell me to figure out more in five minutes than I have in my entire life. I live in another city. I’ll fly you in. I’ll pay your expenses. I know how much you get paid to speak, I’ll just pay you that for three days, each day, and can you help me figure out where to go from here? Can you help me get unstuck?”

And that was kind of the first time I had really done that, so I was like “OK, I want you to go to Wal-Mart or wherever you go or send someone…” He was pretty wealthy individual, obviously if he can afford to hire some kids sitting in a coffee shop. So I had him give out index cards and we did the process like he would storyboard a movie, and we did it with his life. He figured out what are his roles and his goals.

I’m actually kind of turning this into a course that I’ll be recording. My wife has actually had me take her stuff through it. She’s getting a really good deal because she kind of personally pays me. So I’m doing it for free, the things we do for our spouses. When you storyboard a movie, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen like a documentary, The Pixar Story, which is a Pixar movie.

It’s a great documentary by a lady name, Leslie Iwerks. Her grandfather was Ub Iwerks, which was Walt Disney right-hand man. If you’ve ever seen Mickey Mouse, Ub was really responsible for Mickey. Walt kind of had the idea and Ub made them real, and they’re doing the same thing about Disney imaginary called Imagineering Story that’s supposed to come out soon too.

In the Pixar Story, you can see what storyboarding is. If you’ve ever seen an image of an animated movie because of so much cost and expense goes into every frame, even with computer animation, someone still has to literally touch almost every frame. So when you storyboard, you figure out what’s to going to happen intentionally in every part of the movie. And so storyboarding your life is really just that where you take your story of your life and you figure out how do you go to the process of what you want your life to look like.

You know, storyboarding is something you use a brainstorming. I used that when I wrote the book. I carry about a deck of index cards. There’s another author by the name of Rob Bell and I saw him did that with index cards, I’m like “Do that and that’s the best.” I had every kind of part and piece of the book in every story that I wanted to tell and I’d begin to put them together like a puzzle. It’s just a process that allows you to kind of look, it allows you to kind of hover over a big idea and see the whole thing.

What I want to do when storyboarding your life is I’m going to hover over your life. You know, with Stephen Covey in his book, The 7 Habits talks about one of the habits is beginning with the end in mind. There’s an amazing story he tells in that book about, you know, imagine you were going to your own funeral in a few weeks and what would you want people to say about you. And man, that’s a jacked up exercise right there when you start thinking about the end of your life and those terms.

But when you start to look at how you want your story to end, it will have a great amount of impact of how you actually lived your life. The part of this process is really identifying your goals. When a movie is made there are a lot of people who watch the end credits. It’s unbelievable how many people it takes to make a movie. There’s hundreds and hundreds of you know, key group, craft services, and all of these things, right? Just really identifying all the people who have a role in your life and who of those people, who they are, and do they really matter both professionally and personally. What are your roles? What part are you playing in your own story?

A lot of people find out through this process that they’re the bystander in their own story. They’re kind of watching their life go by from the sidelines, much like a team that’s losing in a football waiting for the game to end. What I want this practice to do is to help people to get off the sidelines to get on life and figure out, “Let’s make changes. Let’s tell a great story. Let’s live a great story.” A lot of people really believe that life is an accident for them and life shouldn’t be an accident. Life should be something you do with purposes.

I think I talked about like defining what success is, establishing your why, clarifying your what, determining your how, assembling your who’s, and scheduling your when. Those are just the few things. For me, these things kind of helped because I’m all over the place and for me to have a blueprint or map, an outline, something to go back to know like “Wow, where am I going? How am I getting there? Who’s helping me get there?” Because I think one of the things that really helps you do is it helps you know who you’re going to need to help you make your story better.

When a movie gets to be a production, they bring in other people. They bring in other storyboard. There’s a great story of Walt Disney making the movie Snow White. It was the first kind of movie I like that was animated so firs animated movie and people were just like skeptical. So what Walt literally got his entire team together and he literally acted out the entire movie for everyone so everyone can see “Here’s the big picture guys,” and you know the next day, everybody went back to work and they got it. They understood the mission because the vision had been laid out. And most of us do that when we project-manage, we do that in our job but we don’t do that with our own lives. We don’t know where we’re going and we surely don’t know how to get there.

Not to say that life doesn’t throw you curveballs but things are changing and things are moving. Then you want to be moving in such a way with intention and live life with a sense of purpose in knowing how to get to that goal and knowing what that end of the movie. Because we’ve all been in the movies and been like “Man, that ending was the worst.” My mom is the best of that like if she gets to a movie, she’ll start yelling at the screen or yelling at the TV at the end that’s like “I’ve been sitting here for two and a half hours and they died. That’s what you did to me.”

We should want to take a great deal of control over the things and we can’t control everything that happens with our story. We can’t control the things that just happen that are part of that, but we sure can control how we plan or how we prepare and how we live with a great deal of intention with our own life. And that’s why I think storyboarding your life is a really powerful tool. I planted the seeds for people in the book and I’m excited to begin to even take that process.

I think I’ve done it with about three hundred or four hundred people and kind of gone through that process. So now it’s time to really take that to another level and make it with people who do that online and really just understand the process of knowing what where they’re going and what their stories going to be about and who’s involved. I think people, like you, who are available as a coach, you know, having a director and having someone that’s helping you guide the process who’s invaluable.

A lot of us think that we don’t need a coach or we don’t need a director. Man, the more people I coach the more I realized that man, it’s just a help to have people who can help us navigate. You know, we’re kind of sailing through life without a GPS and having people…and even if it’s just a couple of steps down the road, at least they know, at least they’ve kind of seen where we’re going and know at least what’s the weather going to be like when we get there and kind of prepare us and help just be ready for what’s coming. And help us really make sure we intentionally get where we’re going.

We talked about the “road less travelled” where a lot of us tried to take that path, right? It’s really easy to get lost in the road less travelled. There’s no other way that I would choose to go but I definitely know that I’m going need a guide; I’m going to need some help on that journey. I’m going to need a community, I’m going to a need a tribe. And so yeah, I think knowing your story, knowing where you’re headed in life, and knowing who’s going to help you get there is really what separates success or failure for a lot of people.

Andrea: Terry, I know that sometimes people feel like their dreams are not worth investing in or they aren’t worth the time and energy and even sometimes money that it takes to be able to move forward and to make their elephant really fly, what would you say to that person?

Weaver Terry: What’s the alternative? I think a lot of us when we think about chasing ideas and dreams, fear as kind of bars of the prison that keep us back. You know, I was like the exercise of like “OK, I get you, it’s scary.” What’s the worst possible thing that’s going to happen if you make this move and make this jump? OK, you’re going to quit your job, great. So you’re going to quit your job and you’re never going to be able to get another one? Is that what you’re thinking that’s going to happen, because that’s not what happens? That’s now how life works.

People quit their jobs all the time realizing this isn’t for them and they go back to do something else. And I’m not saying that everyone needs to go and quit their job to be entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur, I know that it’s not for everyone. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you may not have something that you do on the side, you know as Chris Guillebeau’s of the Side Hustle. You know, that’s a healthy thing.

I know a lot of your audience as mommas working from home. You’ve already got a fulltime kick raising children and then you’re also probably raising your husband. So you know, man, I just keep always going back to the idea you know, “Sure, chasing your dreams is going to be expensive, right? But what’s the cost if you don’t.” I thought that cost is much higher. You may not necessarily be financial, but it’s definitely emotional.

Andrea: Yeah.

Terry Weaver: Let’s just pick someone in history, imagine if Michael Jordan had said, “Duh, getting up every day and shooting free throws is too work, I’m gonna to quit.” Imagine if Einstein would have stopped the light bulb number 2,998. Imagine if Steve Jobs would have said “Yeah, it’s sounds like a good idea, _____ everyone wants to make it, but I still wanna do with telecom companies.” Imagine if Walt Disney had after he went bankrupt said “Nah, I’m not gonna get on a train and go to Hollywood with $40 twinning.”

I think we could do the entire podcast or read stats like this about everyone that you probably think is cool and they all have them across every field. It’s just story after story, after story, after story that you could say that the people that…imagine if they had to quit too soon. Don’t be reckless that you’ll put yourself on a bankruptcy over it, but there’s going to be some risk and there’s going to be some inconvenience. I’m not challenging people to do something that I haven’t done either. I realized that if you’re looking for an eight-hour work day, this is not the pathway here.

I’m coming off of season of a lot of 18-hour work days. You can probably hear it in my voice but that’s the season that I’m in, right? To make big things happen, big sacrifices required. We’ve been talking with my mastermind group about someone asked me what my business plan was. I kind of giggled with that you know because the idea of a business plan, most of the time you’re just try a business plan when you want someone to give you money. It’s people who make up numbers and like “Yeah, we’re gonna be doing $4 million in 18 months.” For me, I realized that the way that I do business was more tied to my core values than anything.

I write down that my business plan was to be someone that was empathetic, someone that value others. If you don’t think that business plan works, go to a fast food restaurant and take an order with someone who doesn’t care. We’ve all had that experience, or we’ve gone to some place like Chick-fil-A with their they’re trained to believe in excellence and to believe in customers’ care, and they care. They’re like “Hey, my pleasure. Thank you for coming in today,” and you know, the other thing is about generosity.

You know, on the flipside of generosity is also being selfish. Being generous with yourself, taking care of yourself, self-care saying “You know what, I’m gonna go with that massage.” “I’m gonna take this day off. I’m gonna take this trip,” because rest is part of the process. The third thing was integrity, and I think integrity is the key differentiator of success and failure that your yes is yes and your no is no.

We all have banks and investments that we make at other people and when you say yes and you actually don’t follow through, you’re making huge deductions out of your relationships. I think this integrity comes back to yourself, right? I love what Jon Acuff says, I went to his book launch. He said goals are promises that you make to yourself and so the integrity of reaching your goals. And even if you don’t reach someone you said you would but that you still follow through it. I wanted to have this book of like three years ago, but things happened. The timing is right now and the opportunity is right, and so I’m finally following through on that goal and I haven’t given up, and believe me I’d quit a lot. I normally quit a couple nights a week, you know, I’m just like “Done. I’m over.”

When you get back up the next day and you’re like “Alright, I’m back at it.” I also said imagination was a key part of my business plan that I want to be someone that’s, you know, if you noticed that I talked about Walt Disney a lot because it greatly inspires me to dream bigger and to have an imagination. Or I think, you know, we live in a world with big problems and I want the people that are going to be great leaders of our generation are going to be the ones of the best in imagination. We have a lot of problems that require a lot of creativity to solve.

And the last one is this and I think this is the one that is a real differentiator, and it’s really the generosity and empathy and that’s this to always be the one that brings the most value, to add the most value to every relationship, to every meeting, to every opportunity to come upon, to be the person that’s just adding values to other people. We live in a world where everything feels like it has to be transactional, right? Everything feels like “You’re a coach. I’m a coach. We get paid to talk to people all the time and sometimes you have to do things just because you’re generous and you want to add value. And once you do that, once you are generous, I believe that success and the financial rewards begin to come.

This guy reached out on LinkedIn and said “Hey man…” he mentioned the list of all three of my podcasts. I was like “OK, I’ll give you some time.” He was like “Do you have just a few minutes so I could pick your brain?’ And I don’t know, I always say yes to that. Most of the times I’ll just kind of send you to my coaching page and say, “Hey man, we can schedule some time here.”

But I was just being generous; I wanted to help him out and really would know a gender, right? I kind of, most of the time, give everything in return, I was just like “I’ll talk to this guy and give him 30 to 45 minutes.” It turned out to be like an hour and I really wasn’t expecting anything then he started asking me about my coaching program. He started asking me about the conference I produced. So by the end of the conversation, I’ll make way more than I can ever imagined just because I was generous, just because I added value to him. He’s probably going to attend my conferences of VIP and sign up for a coaching program next year when he has the budget to do it. That wouldn’t have happened if I wouldn’t have showed up. I think 90% of success is just showing up.

Andrea: You know, the last time that you were in the podcast, I actually got quite of a feedback, really positive feedback in how people were so inspired by the things that you were saying. I think the book and everything that you’re saying, it’s really not just about like you said before, it’s not just about entrepreneurship, but we’re talking about just taking a step towards something. I mean, going for it and being vulnerable in your relationships or maybe realizing that your job is not what you want it to be and maybe there is something out there for you. Why not go find it?

You know, letting go of toxic relationships or trying something new, some new exercise plan or diet or something, people don’t want to change. They get kind of set in their ways but what your inspiring I think is just an openness of mind like you said and your ability to imagine of what if life was something different. I love that this message reaches so many different kinds of people in so many different levels.

Terry Weaver: And I’ve learned to listen. Oprah has come up before we got in the call; I was watching a video that she was in it. Trust me; I’m by no means like a member of the Oprah Winfrey fan club, although one day I hope she gets a free car because that would be cool. But I do study her a lot as a leader. She’s probably one of the people in our generation that’s effectively led more people than anyone there alive. There was a season there that every woman in America at 4 o’clock, or whatever time she came on, was watching her. And if a product was announced on her show, a lot of people give the success of the iPad to Steve Jobs, but it was one of her favorite things that year and it blew up.

I’ll just read you this from a book, it reads with no quote, we get to choose what voices we listen to and once that we surround ourselves would change everything great leaders understand. And that Oprah Winfrey said, one of the best news is to surround myself with friends instead f asking why are quick to say why not and that attitude is contagious. She understood and that needed to surround herself with the right people. Most people who get stuck in this cycle that can’t get off, can’t make moves, or can’t go forward, the people that they’re surrounding themselves are responsible for the main captive, because they’re surrounded by a bunch of people who doubt everything, who question everything, or people who are OK with saying what if later in life.

But when you make the shift and you start surrounding yourself with people just giving you the permission of at least encouraging the conversation when you say “why,” they say “but why not?” It’s just such a paradigm shift when you move your life to the place where you allow yourself to be surrounded by people who are pushing you forward rather than holding you back.

Almost everyone who has had great success was surrounded by an amazing team of people both that are kind of in a frontline, behind the scenes, and people that you never see or hear about that are just there pushing you forward. That could be a spouse; that could be a mastermind group, that could be a mentor, and that could be a coach. In an ideal world that’s all of those things, working together in synergy encouraging you, pushing you forward, and not allowing you to quit when you quit everyday but saying “Hey, you can do this. You can make it.”

You know, I do thank you so much that I have heard from a lot of your listeners and love knowing that I’m inspired them.

But I would be a failure if I just inspired you today. I want to inspire you to do something. I want to inspire you to act. There’s a lot of inspiring people in the world. I want to be someone that’s inspiring people to act, inspiring people to do. And I hope that if you read Making Elephants Fly that you’re inspired, but I hope that you’re uncomfortable enough that you’re going to do something about what you’re inspired to do. Because there are a lot of people walking around in this planet with big dreams, but a lot of them are going to go to the grave with them.

They say that the biggest collection of dreams is sitting on the top of your casket as you’re buried. Man, I don’t want to live this life with anything undone. I want live it out on the field. I want to live this life. I want to do the things that I’m here to do. I want to make an impact. I don’t want to be that guy that dies with a bucket list of things that you wanted to do but never did. I want to get out there and live and do.

In my world that’s entrepreneurship, it’s chasing dreams, but it’s also taking both of our moms to Hawaii over Thanksgiving instead of cooking a dinner that costs $500 that makes us fat. We’re going to go in the beach in Hawaii instead and so it’s doing those things. I’m sure the timing of that is horrible for me right now, but if we wait for the right time for everything, we’ll never actually do anything. I don’t want to be the person that just talks about doing things; I want to be the guy that’s known for doing things.

I may fail miserably and embarrass myself, but man, when I get to end of my life, I want to be able to say, “You know what, at least I tried, at least I got up to the plate, I stood there and I kept swaying. I hit some balls, I miss some balls, I threw the bat and hit the bat boys, I struck out a couple of times but I stood there and I left it all in the field and I did what I’ve been put here to do.

Andrea: Yeah, yeah! I’ve got one more question for you for before we wrap up, is that OK?

Terry Weaver: Yeah, yeah, I’m good.

Andrea: You mentioned that you have ADD or that you might have ADD, and we talked about students and being in school earlier and I want you to speak to somebody right now. If somebody is struggling, maybe they’re students or maybe they’re in a job, and it’s not just going very well. They’re not very good at it maybe and other people around them are better and even their friends. Even the things that they’re really good at, the things that they are good at, their boss or their teacher, it’s like an inconvenience you know. It’s causing problems instead of being something of way that they can share who they are and use their gifts they’re not able to use. Those are squashed they’re just feeling down in the dumps. What is that look like for them to make an elephant fly?

Terry Weaver: Well, I think we live in a culture now more than ever where personal responsibility has gone out of the window. It’s really easy to blame everyone your circumstances, your peers, your boss, your teacher, or your environment. But personal responsibility says “You know what, this is my thing. I’m gonna do this. I’m utterly responsible for what I do with my life. I’m not going to worry about what anybody else’s things.”

If you go back to Dumbo, that story; Dumbo was very much that kid, right? You know, Dumbo was laughed at. The elephants didn’t want him. That’s the reason why I wrote this book because I was that kid, right? The elephants didn’t want Dumbo. The clowns didn’t want Dumbo. Nobody thought Dumbo could do anything. And staring at Dumbo with its giants ears which everyone would say was this “massively-ness” and Dumbo was able to take what everyone thought was his greatest weakness. It actually turned out to be his greatest strength because no one could see it except for one person and that was Timothy Q. Mouse.

I would actually like to speak to the people that have those people in their lives, be Timothy Mouse. Be the person that finds the good in someone and helps them believe in themselves because if you look, everyone had that person. I had that teacher. Luckily for me, my third grade teacher changed my life. She made me think, dream, imagine, and do things that I never thought I could do. Be that person. Be that Timothy Mouse. Be the person that everyone else that is holding them back and help them find a way to breakthrough.

If you don’t have someone that does that, you’re just going to have to find that belief in yourself. I had some great teachers growing up and I had some horrible teachers. Well let’s call him Mr. E for short, in case he listens to this podcast, but he was a horrible man. And I remember him pulling me out at a seventh grade one day at my Christian school, that’s the whole other subject and just telling me that my life was never going to amount anything. And I was just like “Wow dude, I’m gonna so prove you wrong.”

And sometimes you just have to be the one that proves everyone else’s wrong. Sometimes, you have to make your mess your motivation. You have to make that struggle and that pain… I mean, Dumbo can easily sat around and just cry about his problems. When you see a scene of the movie where he’s literally sitting there, it’s the saddest part of the movie where he was sitting there. His mom was in the car locked up and you heard the song Baby Mine. That’s why a lot of people don’t like Dumbo because you’re sitting there on your couch trying to watch this happy movie about an elephant and weeping your eyes out. It was a low point for Dumbo but he used that up to breakthrough, to find out what he could do to make him soar.

It was Timothy Mouse that gave him a feather that allowed him the strength to believe in himself and to actually find…that feather wasn’t magical but it was that nudge from someone else that pushed him over the edge, that led him into his destiny, that led him into doing what he was put here to do and that was to soar. We’re all supposed to be the elephant that can fly. We all have weaknesses. We all have things that maybe we’ve been told that’s going to keep us in doing what we want to do. We have this weakness or the shortcoming, it’s our size, it’s our lack of size, it’s our whatever, whatever your blank is that you’re facing.

Sure, I’ve got ADD. If you listen to me talk, I still have that. But you know what; we live in a world that really is kind of giving an extra dose of ADD because the idea of just doing one thing is kind of a thing in the past. Jeff Goins says on his podcast the Portfolio Life, “We’re building portfolio of things that we did.” When I told my wife I was having this book, she was like “You spend plates incredibly well.”

So I talked about a little bit about spinning plates in the book, you know but you got to learn how to take those things that really aren’t weaknesses. You just been told they are and I firmly believe that you should focus on your strengths but sometimes the things that we believe are weaknesses, like Dumbo’s ears, turned out to not be.

I think in closing this thought and this last question you wanted to ask, you know, this goes back to that storyboarding your life idea that we can either choose to let people define us or we can choose to be the one that gets to define and gets to set the rules moving forward. McNair Wilson, a Disney imagineer read the book and he was like “Dude, I can’t believe that you told some of those stories that you told about your childhood going through. I never heard you told those. Those are dark places that you had to go.”

I was like “Yeah, and I wanted to go there because I wanted to let people know that even through the pain that I went through, that even through some of that hurt that I can either sit here and look at those things and learn and make that a motivation to help other people or I can let that be that holds me back. I can let that be the chain on the elephant’s leg that keeps me in captivity.

What other people thought was going to be a weakness for me, actually it’s a strength. I’m going to own it. I’m going to do it. I’m going to accomplish it. I’m not going to let anyone else stop me because that’s what great about the elephant. If you’re going to herd elephants together, if you’re going to group people that believe in something, you’re not going to ever stop a herd of elephants, they’re unstoppable. So find some other people to fly with you and you will not be stopped.

Andrea: Yes, love it! Thank you, Terry. OK, I want to make sure that we cover The Thing 2018, would you tell us a little bit about that and where we can find information about that and you book?

Terry Weaver: So you can always find always find everything about me at terryweaver.com, you can find everything there. I hosted of it for people who were chasing “their thing and people who have “a thing” and everyone has “a thing,” right? And so we want this to be the place for people who had a thing to think how to do it better and how to refine their message and get inspired. Probably, by the time that this gets posted, registration will be open for The Thing. It’s thething.live, you can go there and we’ll have registration information there for you to register and for you to sign up for our 2018 event. We’ll be announcing the day. It’s very, very soon!

If you want to get a copy of Making Elephants Fly, you can just go to makingelephantsfly.com. You can get your copy there, depending on when the show gets put up. You may even able to get some of the presell benefits and all the tips. Actually, we leave them up until I know the shows but that’s for a week or so.

Andrea: November 6th.

Terry Weaver: Yeah, so we’ll leave it up for a few extra days so you guys can get some of the perks. I’ve credited a few some extra things. I’ve got the storyboarding your life stuff coming. Just be sure that you can obviously hear my podcast, Making Elephants Fly. That’s all in my website. Be sure it’s set up on my email list. That’s just a great way to keep track of what’s going on. I really do appreciate. I love hearing from you guys. I love knowing that you’re going to be inspired. I want to know what you’re working on and I want to see you actually not just dream it, but actually do it.

Andrea: Hmmm love it! Thank you so much Terry for your time and good luck with this book launch. I’m so excited for you!

Terry Weaver: Yeah, it’s an adventure.

 

How to Integrate Work and Life as a Visionary Creative with Jeff Goins

Episode 27 with author of Real Artists Don't Starve

Jeff Goins is the author of four books, including the national best seller, The Art of Work and his latest book, Real Artists Don’t Starve. He is also a full-time blogger, speaker, and entrepreneur.

Originally from Chicago, Goins graduated from Illinois College and spent the next year on the road with a band. After that, he moved to Nashville to chase a girl and spent the next seven years working at a nonprofit. He now writes and speaks for a living and runs an online business helping writers and creative entrepreneurs chase their dreams.

Jeff’s award-winning blog, GoinsWriter.com, has been visited by over four million people from around the world. His work has been featured in the Washington Post, USA Today, Entrepreneur, Forbes, and Psychology Today. He and his wife, Ashley, live just outside of Nashville, TN with their son, daughter and dog.

Links mentioned in this episode:

 

Full Interview Transcript

Andrea: So Jeff Goins, welcome to the Voice of Influence podcast.

Jeff Goins: Hi, Andrea, it’s good to be here.

Andrea: Well Jeff, recently published his fifth book, is that right?

Jeff Goins: Yeah, yeah. I was right too.

Andrea: Real Artists Don’t Starve – and I’m really looking forward digging into that here in a minute. But let’s get the influencer listening a little context. I’ll tell you that I first stumbled on you, Jeff, when I started diving into podcast about three years ago, when I was just trying to grapple with my own creative life, my own creative self and what to do with that. I found that your podcast the Portfolio Life, which it explores the questions what does the creative life looks like. So Jeff, what does your creative life look like?

Jeff Goins: The term, the Portfolio Life, I found in a book by a guy named Charles Handy. And apparently in the UK, it’s widely known in this term but I never heard before it. So a friend of mine who is a poet, who has an affinity for Japanese culture and also works a fulltime job as a marketing director at a medical company. You know, it’s just a bunch of different things, right? I remember asking him few years ago as my platform was growing, my audience was growing, I was writing books, and I was also helping writers online with online courses. And I felt torn because all of my friends whose success I admired it seemed as if they were about one thing and I felt broken. I was like “Am I the author guy? Am I the speaker guy, or am I like the entrepreneur guy?”

And my friend, his name is Keith said “You could be all those things. You’re living a portfolio life and it’s not for everybody but for those who care about multiple things. You can embrace all those interests and all of those different areas of interest and make each part of the portfolio better, you know.”   “So the fact that I read poetry, I’m interested in Japanese culture influences my day job, and my understanding of marketing influences these hobbies.”

So for me, it really became a question of not being a jack of all trade or becoming a master of some. That’s something I become more and more comfortable with. So I think of Portfolio Life is like an investment portfolio. I have just not invested in one company, I’ve got a bunch of different things that I’m putting my time in, but it’s not everything. So for me, my portfolio is like one part author. I’m always working on a book, promoting a book, or talking about a I’ve recently written that’s really important to me.

I love books. I love reading them. Every book I’ve read has been a gift to me from the author and I am honored to be able to try to give gifts to my own readers but also run a business. So I’m an entrepreneur and I like that. I’m good at that and it’s fun for me. And so I wear the hat of entrepreneur-employer-boss visionary you know for a good amount of time throughout my week. I’m also a speaker and coach. I’m having conversations with people on a fairly regular basis helping them kind of breakthrough to the next level.

And you know, I also wear the hats of dad and husband. And for me, it became very important fairly early on to figure how to manage all of this. I don’t believe in work-life balance but I like what Dan Miller calls it work-life in aggression. How does my work feed my life and how does my life feed my work. And Steven King wrote in his book on writing, “I used to think that life was a support system for art and now, I realized that is the other way around.”

He tells a story about becoming an author and buying this really big desk. That was the time he made this huge, you know, expensive oak desk and he put it in the middle of the room upstairs in his attic which became his writing studio. And he shut the door and outside that door, his kids were growing up without him. He was working on the next novel. He was addicted to a multiple substances and his art had consumed his life. Eventually, he got sober. He got rid of that big desk. He opened up the attic and turned it into like a movie room for his kids, who were now teenagers and he got a smaller desk and moved it into the corner of the room.

I just love kind of that word picture of my work used to dominate my life and everybody around me just had to support me. And then I realized, “No, this isn’t how it supposed to be. Work is supposed to feed the life.” So I opened the door and made my work very interruptible by my family because this is whom I’m doing it for. I remember like I was like “Oh I love that.” And two weeks after reading that, it was a Friday afternoon and my wife was like “Hey, do you wanna take the kids to the zoo.” I was like “I can’t, I have to work.”

If you have a day job, you can’t just say, “I gotta go to the zoo.” But here I was just placing these unnecessary arbitrary boundaries around my life because I was kind of addicted to my work. You know, it made me feel good about myself and that wasn’t why I got into this.

I started writing and started a business so that I can have more freedom doing work that I love but also so that I could provide for my family and spend more time with them. So here I was spending more time on this business than I was for the reason that I was supposed to be doing it for. I think that’s a long way of saying, my portfolio it’s very important that the work fits around the life, not the other way around.

Andrea: Yeah, and you talked about wearing a bunch of different hats, I totally want to get into your book but we’re going to keep going with this for now.

Jeff Goins: Sure, yeah!

Andrea: Is it hard for you to switch hats in the midst of all of these different things that you mentioned including, you know, husband and father? Do you feel like a different person when you have a different hat on or how do you navigate that internally?

Jeff Goins: It’s not hard for me to switch hats because I have a visionary personality. I don’t mean that like a complimentary way like “Hey, look at me I’m the visionary.”   It means I’m always onto the next thing. I’m always imagining the future and struggling to stay in the present.

There’s a book called the Synergist. It’s a business book by Les McKeown and he describes the visionary personality. He basically says, in an organization there are three types of people; visionary, operator, and processor. They’re all kind of in conflict with each other. The visionary says “Let’s go do this. Let’s go climb the mountain.” The operator says “Okay, let’s start marching.” And the processor goes “Hey, what’s our plan. How are we gonna do this?” So one is always going to do work, one is always thinking about the next thing, and the other one is trying to figure out how to build a process around it. And the solution that is the synergist, one who kind of synergistically bridges all these gaps.

So I am the visionary, which means I’m always thinking about the next thing kind of ADD type of personality or I’m just “OK, I’ll do this and let’s do this.” So task switching is easy for me for the most part. I have these friends who would like sit in a locked room and write for eight hours a day and I did that because that’s what I thought a writer was supposed to do. It was actually lonely and depressing and my writing suffered as a result of it.

I am at my peak when I’m juggling a few but not too many things where every day I’m spending sometime doing what Cal Newport calls “deep work,” where I’m spending a couple of hours working on my ideas like “That’s important and I can’t neglect that.” But then another part of my day needs to be spent interacting with people so that I can get feedback on those ideas. Like even this interview was an opportunity for me sort of riff on new ideas and old ideas and work on them and get feedback and see where the conversation goes.

So that’s really important to me going out to lunch with people, talking to my team, friend, whatever, you know, getting that kind of interaction is super important to me. And I used to feel guilty about that like I felt broken. I just realized “This is my personality. I’ve got to be doing a few, but not too many things.”

For me, that breaks down into three activities that I try to compartmentalize. I always need to be doing something to build my craft and to really grow as a writer. I always need to be doing something to build my brand, reaching more people so that, you know, you can continue to grow and I need to be doing something to build my business so that I can get paid so that I can keep doing all the other stuff.

And this kind of this vicious cycle, you build your craft and more people noticed and you build your brand and you build your brand, more people will pay you so you build your business which allows you the freedom to go back to building your craft. So every day, I’m working on all three of those activities in kind of frazzled task-switching kind of way. But I would say, Andrea, that there are these challenges switching from boss/influencer/author to dad or husband.

It’s a weird thing to talk about and the best way I can describe it, you know, with that story. So there’s this documentary about U2, because usually they’re going to this like 200, 300 day tours, right? They’ll be gone from their families for most of the year and gone from home anyway. And then they’ll come back home and Bono will come back home, and it will be a reentry process. It used to be he comes back from tour and when he back to the house, he was miserable and his wife ready to have a divorce.

So what they do now is he comes back to city that he lived in and stays in a hotel for two weeks and then will get together for dinner but then the kids and the wife go home and Bono stays in a hotel. And over the course of two weeks, they spend more and more time together and then eventually gets to come back home. And the reason for this is every night for a year; Bono was standing on stage full of 10,000 people who think he’s a God. They think he’s amazing and to switch from being that a star, where everybody will do literally anything for you to being dad, just dad or the guy who takes the trash out for the family that’s a hard transition to make.

And I don’t say this and like “Oh poor Bono or poor me,” but I know what that feels like psychologically to go from whatever hosting a conference with several hundred people, you know, sending an email to a hundred thousand plus people and getting a lot of really nice thank you notes and then going home and seeing the whole other area of your life, the other part of the portfolio where you know, your wife is going “You didn’t take the trash out,” or “You said you’re going was these dishes and you didn’t do that.” Or “Daddy, can we go play soccer?”

There is this really broken part in me that goes “Wait, don’t you know that I’m important?” I’ve realized that’s not a good voice but I like the very healthy part that Bono does which is life he insisted on. It’s a reentry process. So for me in a very small way, this kind of happens on a daily basis. I used to think that it was this ingenious. Now, I just think that it’s part of the job, like you would never say to a football player, “Why don’t just be yourself out there? Why are you wearing all those pads? And why are you screaming at the top of your lungs pumped full of adrenaline?” You don’t have to be that way at the dinner table. These are different roles, right? And you don’t want whatever the quarterback of Tennessee Titans to act the way that he acts at his job at home, at the dinner table.

So there has to be sort of ramp up period of the performance whatever it is that they’re writing the podcast and then there needs to be kind of a ramp down to reenter this other part of your life. For me, it’s not about balance; it’s about integration, so “How do I be the best dad and the best husband that I can be for my family in a way that also contributes and integrates with being the best writer, best writing coach, and teacher that I can be for my readers and my audience.”

For me, there’s a necessary good tension in those activities. And best way that I know, you know, you asked about sort of switching hats, I think it’s best to think of it sort of as “I’m on one planet all day long and then I get my spaceship and I fly home.” And there’s this reentry process that happens. Reentry is not an easy process, you know, you’re re-entery matters, if you do that the wrong angle, you know, we all remembers from Apollo 13, you could burn up. So having the things that I do at the very beginning of the day to ramp up into work mode and then also having activities that I do at the end of the day to ramp down and go into another mode, super important.

Andrea:   Yes, I totally agree. I think especially for people who are thinking a lot. It can be really, really hard to switch that gear. First of all, let me ask, do you ever find yourself in work mode when you’re with your kids totally distracted and then thinking to yourself “Wait a second, I got to get back. I got to come back to this moment.” I mean, that was something I really struggled with as a mom with little kids.

Before I started writing and doing anything else was that I felt so distracted all of the time because I didn’t have an outlet. You know, I wasn’t doing a podcast. I wasn’t writing. I didn’t have that outlet at a different time a day because I was with my kids 24/7 and that’s one of the things, I think maybe especially for moms, that it would be really nice if I would have taken a little bit more time to be able to get out when I needed to get out in a different setting to be able to use my brain in that different way and then come back to my kids where I could focus. Did you ever find that part very difficult?

Jeff Goins: I do. Yes and the best explanation for this was a book that I read, it’s called 5 Gears: How to Be Present and Productive When There is Never Enough Time, by Jeremie Kubicek. The book is just super practical about how to shift up and get into fifth gear which is like a deep, focus, work mode, and then shift down into the more social interactive time and then eventually you know, solo time. It’s the best analogy with anybody struggles with being present wherever you are, I highly recommend the 5Gear by Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram. A very short book too.

But here’s the thing like for me, I totally get the outlet thing and my wife is starting a business now, our kids are 5 and 18 months, and she’s always been the more career oriented between the two of us. I never really cared about success you know, We met in college and she’s very career oriented and graduated and had a job lined up because she had already done two or three internships.

I graduated and found a way to live in a house for the summer while I raised money to go, you know, do this music mission trip and skirted around the country playing music for years. So that’s kind of indication of how we do life differently. So we started having kids, you know, she was able to stay home while I was doing the writing stuff. She’s kind of eventually gotten back because I think it was really a good thing for her to have something to do, you know, have an outlet as you said.

For me and maybe this is a thing or maybe not, but for me I realized, I’ve been working all day and I was sort of addicted to that feeling of being important, people wanting things from me. And then I would be in the doldrums of daily life at home where there isn’t an immediate feedback. I write a blog post and people go “Hey good job, you’re smart.” Or you know, even in my job working for nonprofit. I have an idea, I share it with my boss or my team and they go “Good idea.” And your kids are like not impressed with your ideas, right?

Andrea: No.

Jeff Goins: It’s the opposite. It’s your job to say “That’s amazing, great picture! Good job! My son was playing with magnets and he said “Hey, what should I make?” And I said “You should make a shark.” And he made this thing and he’s like “Here look at the shark.” And I was like “Cool!” He goes “Does it really looks like a shark?’ And I could hear like that was an important moment, and he was like “Is it really good?” And I said “Yes, absolutely. It’s amazing, wild and so creative.” That could drain you as a parent.

Here’s the thing that I realized. I’d be sitting on a couch with my kids trying to be present and I would want to check my phone, “Ahh maybe they need something.” And the reality was this, in that moment that time, I felt like work was more interesting than being at home like I was bored and I was finding some way to appease my boredom. Instead of going “Let’s go do something. Let’s make this fun because this is incredible. I need to not be missing because you’re never to be like this again.” Instead I’m going “I’m kind of bored, I wanna get through this so that I’ll go back to doing the things that feel fun to me.”

I realized this is boring because I’m making it boring and I’m maybe a little bit addicted to that feeling of being important. And that book 5 Gears actually helped me and I realized if you’re going like task, task, task, task, all day long and in five minutes later you’re at home. And it’s like relationship, relationship, relationship, relationship; you’re not going to be present there because you haven’t done a good job of ramping up and ramping down from those experiences.

So having some healthy practices to kind of a immersed yourself into whatever your daily activities like even if that’s being a mom, being a dad, going to work, doing whatever; like that’s an activity where you need to be fully present. And then going back home like that’s an activity where you also need to be fully present and thinking of it sort of like entry and reentry that’s really important.

You know, I mentioned Stephen King thing where like his kids walked in where he was working on novel and he stops and he pitched with them and watches a movie. That’s really cool. I tried that, it didn’t work. It was bad for me. It was bad for my kids. It was bad for my wife and my wife, when we can afford it, said “Leave, you need an office.” And I’m really bad at this. I’m easily distracted. I don’t know that would certainly make me feel better that sort of things that I struggled with. I can’t like be in a place where stuff is happening around me and focus.

Andrea: Yes!

Jeff Goins: And so what would happen is I have my office and my home right next to our nursery when our son was a baby, and I’d like creep through there in the middle of the day to get some work done and I’d wake him up. Or I’d be working you know in the office and he’d wake up and I’d be in a podcast interview and something would be going on in the background. I’d be really distracted. Like right now, we’re talking and you know my wife texted me and I was like “Uhh.” OK, you know, it’s very hard for me to focus when other things are going on.

And if you’re at home and my kids would be knocking on the door saying “Daddy,” like they don’t understand I’m working. They just know I was behind that door, right? So what we realized is when, for the most part, like I tried to make myself interrupt the ball and I like to use the flexibility of being self employed. But for the most part when I network, I’m fully present at work because that’s important to me, that’s important to the people that I’m influencing, and it’s also important to our family for financial standpoint and when I’m at home, I’m at home.

When I was working on this thing on the side and it was a bit of a side hassle, I was working early mornings and late at night, because I had to and it was a season and it was necessary. I can’t remember today, six years later, I can’t remember the last time; I opened up my laptop after 5:00 p.m.   And it’s not because I’m a really good guy or because I have great boundaries, it’s because I have said “When I’m work, I’m fully present at work and so I’m all in.” And so at the end of the day there is no more work to do.

I mean, obviously, I could keep going but I’ve done everything that I wanted to do that day because I would force that activity to fit into a certain container, not I think it’s called Parkinson’s law where like whatever amount of time you have, you’ll find work to fill that time.

So I have intentionally decreased the size of the container as an experiment, like “Can I still get the same amount of work done in say 25 hours a week that I was doing in 50 hours a week?” And I found a way to do that, so I go home most days going “Hey, I’m done, I don’t have anything to do. I’d don’t want to be anywhere else but right here. I’m going to be as present as I possibly can be because I gave everything that I had back there, you know, five hours ago.”

That’s been helpful to me. I don’t say it’s perfect. I don’t say that when I’m in a middle of a project or something, my mind doesn’t occasionally wander, but by disciplining myself to be all in right here, right now during the day however much time that is, sometimes it’s four, five, or six hours sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less. Because I would do it like I would be destructed. I would work on something on the side, take notes, text, phone calls, whatever and I’d go “What did I do?” Like not much, you know, I let a few people know I was available. I didn’t accomplish much from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

When I stopped doing that and spend time with my family more and it’s still. We would do a lot. We would do a lot of fun things and create a lot of memories and so the return on investment of that time of being fully present with my family was so much greater than kind of being busy and kind of doing some work.

Andrea: Yeah, yeah. I’ve heard of like Todd Herman, he puts on glasses like he doesn’t need glasses, but he puts on glasses when he’s working.

Jeff Goins: I love that.

Andrea: It’s sort of like a uniform or a persona, really like you’re talking about you’re amping up for the performance. I like that. I think that finding tools and finding a system or a set of practices that you do to ramp up and then ramp down. I mean those are so important. I’ve often thought that somebody who is going away to work like when they come home, I live in Nebraska so where I’m at is a pretty small town it’s not very far from work to home.

And I’ve often thought, you know, somebody who is driving home like why not just go around the block two or three more times to sort of just settle in and be prepared when you walk in the door for family instead of still kind of coming down from that work day or whatever. But yeah, I love all that. It’s really interesting. You talked about a “leaky filter” in your book and you’ve mentioned before “Do I have ADHD” or whatever. Have you heard of the concept of sensitivity like neurological sensitivity?

Jeff Goins: Yeah, yeah.

Andrea: Have you heard of the concept of sensitivity? Eileen Aron has done a lot of research on that. I think that helped me to grapple with all that just realizing that I’m just taking in so much information. I’m a sponge and I have to have a way to get that stuff back out again too, which I think, again is that like creative expression. If you’re taking all of this data, this information, all these ideas, and these experiences and you’re making all these connections in your head, especially if you’re like an intuition person like I believed you’re ENTJ, if I remember.

Jeff Goins: Yeah, yeah – good job.

Andrea: I know. I know, I’m totally creepy with stuff like that but that internal intuition were constantly like putting all these ideas together in our heads and making these connections and all that building schemes and then it’s like “I gotto get it out somehow.” I’m kind of interested in hearing your take on this, but one of my struggles and especially I used to be that I felt like I had so many different points of reference in my head. All these different ideas, thoughts, and experiences, they were all connected with this. They’re just all just connected.

My struggle was, and still sometimes is, if I want to take one of those out and talk about it, it is very, very difficult because I pulled it out and outcome with a strings of other things and it’s very difficult for me to separate it from everything else unless I’m in a conversation with somebody else. If I’m in conversation then I can meet them right where they’re at with whatever I got. But if I’m trying to create a speech or write something that is totally self-directed, it’s really hard. Do you have any tips or any thoughts about that experience?

Jeff Goins: Yeah, I do relate the quote, it’s a writing quote about I don’t know anything about something until I read what I say, and I think that’s true. I think calling a verbal processor or kind of works. And there are advantages and disadvantages to that book that I mentioned, The Synergist.

Andrea: Yeah.

Jeff Goins: What you’re describing is the visionary personality. It’s somebody has a high threshold for ambiguity, lots of ideas, you can hold two opposing ideas in tension for as long possible. So you have to absolutely pick one of them. On the services, it can look like not being able to make up your mind or being flaky, and you know, there can be some of it if you’re not harnessing it. But there are some advantages to it where you can literally see solutions that other people can’t see because you can navigate the nuance and seeming contradictions of certain situations.

That’s always been surprising to me. Somebody will present a problem and they go “We don’t know what to do here. I don’t know what to do here.” And I go “Really? Just really this?” “Will that will work.” “Yes it will if you do it like this, this and this.” “What about that, I don’t know about that.” “That’s a detail but it’s okay,” like “It’s not an important one.”

The downside is when I have a conversation with my wife, I’ll see stuff like an argument that I don’t necessarily 100% mean, but I’s how I feel in the moment and she remembers all of it. And 30 minutes later, I’ll finally arrive with a thing and I was trying to say, I was like “Oh you know what, this is how I feel about this and I’m sorry about all the other stuff.” She’s “What do you mean you’re sorry about all that stuff? That hurts.”

Andrea: It still came out.

Jeff Goins: Yes, it still came out and I’m responsible for that and you know navigating that is challenging. But I’ve realized that there are some like this is how I made and I can harness this but there are some inherent advantages to being this way. I mean, that book is really interesting you know. He talks about how visionaries, basically, the traits of visionaries are they waffle from one extreme of commitments to another being super over committed to being way under committed.

And I’ll just go “Yeah, I wanna do that. Why am I doing this? Why am I doing a book signing?” “Well, because three months ago you said you wanted to do a bunch of book signing.” “When did the book came out?” And that’s what I’m excited about. And you get bored with the details. You talk to think and I think that’s an interesting way of thinking about it.

When I sit to think in a room, I kind of come up with an idea but then when I talk it out and I share and I get feedback on it that’s when I’m really forced to figure out how this works. You know visionaries also want to own what they’re working on. They don’t want to pursue somebody else’s vision, they want to do their own even if it’s not as good, the fact that they get to own it is important. They don’t like structures to kind of abhor that. Yeah, it can be a challenge, but I’m realizing there are some advantages.

So it’s like helping people that I worked with and people that love me, you know, I can harness these advantages and disadvantages and ways that better serves them. But I can also communicate with them why I am this way. I do like that concept of the leaky filter. I heard of a researcher named, _____ talked about it. And it is this idea that if you’re in hyper focused mood, you are missing other opportunities that come along. And at the same time, you could be so distracted that all of this input is coming and you’re not filtering it. So what I’m not saying is like being in a state of destruction is a good thing, it’s not. That’s no filter at all. It is good to have a filter for your inputs.

I have realized that having a Facebook app in my phone is mostly a horrible idea because it’s so much input all the time and it’s not good for me, it’s so distracting. I would spend hours on it literally doing nothing, “What am I scrolling to see? I don’t know.” And so you’ve got to have a filter but there has to be ways to penetrate. It has to be leaky and all I know is that every great opportunity that’s come my way, pretty much any significant accomplishment I can think of that was an idea that came to me while I was doing something else.

And so being open to opportunities, especially an entrepreneur is very, very important. But I’d say for any kind of creative, being open to inputs while you’re working on something else is super important. Don’t miss those opportunities, but I also think you’ve got to know what to do with it. So for me, my best ideas for my next book come when I’m working on my current book about at 51% mark of the book, right I’m over halfway through. It’s no longer fun. It’s no longer new, now it’s just work.

I mean, it’s kind of fun but it’s not as fan as it was when it was in the first 10% and this could be anything. Now, this is something. I’ve got a show up every day and now I’ve got a deadline and it’s a commitment. So I will get an idea for my next book at that point. The two extremes that I would do, “OK, forget this. Now, I wanna do this, right?” But you’re already finished anything doing that.

Andrea: Exactly.

Jeff Goins: I’m interested in finishing things including work that’s going to make an impact not just teasing the next idea but never completing anything. The other extreme would be “Nope, put your head down. Forget about everything. Shot the door or close out everything and work on this. And the work itself would suffer as a result because I was completely cutting out inputs and I was losing esteem. I was not being stimulated from other ideas.

So what I will do now is that I’ll be working on the book, I’ll get an idea. I’ll read an article. I’ll kind of tease the tangent for a few minutes and I’ll just write it down. I’ll put it in Evernote, I’ll say “Hey, I love you. I will come back.” And you know probably 90% of the time; the idea is not as good as it felt in the moment when I was simply procrastinating.

But here’s the thing, every single book that I’ve written, as you’ve mentioned I’ve written five, except for the first one obviously, but every single, you know that the next four books that idea came to me while in the middle of another book. So I would have missed that idea if I didn’t have a leaky filter and wasn’t allowing some inputs at that time when I was supposed to be hyper focusing on something. So I just let them in, I write it down, and I set them aside and I say, “I’ll come back to you later.”

Andrea: Yeah, yeah that’s so important. Do you find that it’s just more fun to think and it’s harder to finish the book because now it’s the, I don’t know…

Jeff Goins: I think it’s scary to finish. I mean, yeah it’s fun to dream up on new things but there’s also… I don’t know for me, I like committing to things. It’s easy and I’m happy to do that and then as I’m realizing the cost of that commitment, I’m going…like for example, last week I did a book signing at a local Barnes & Noble and I committed to like three months beforehand because I got a schedule and I’ve got do all that.

I wake up Monday morning and I go “Oh crap, I got a book signing today.” That means I got to get shower before my son gets up. I got to iron my shirt because I got to wear something other than a t-shirt. That’s means, I got to do this and I’ve got to get a lunch at this time and that also means that maybe nobody will show up. And I would have wasted an hour and a half of my time. That just would feel embarrassing to me and the bookstore who ordered a hundreds books. They’re going to be mad at me and I’m not really a real author; and people would probably see this on social media. It’s like I find every reason in the world to hide.

And I’m like “Well, you committed to it so here we go, get up.” So I think like how to do that because I didn’t you know, Barnes & Noble would be calling me saying “Where are you?” And I’m just going to not show up. But even though in the middle of the book projects or any kind of projects where you’re holding yourself accountable, it’s so easy to let that fear of finishing, which I think it starts like those voices get really, really loud of like that 51% mark, you are at the top of the hill and the momentum is taking over. There’s no way to escape and you’re going down the hill now.

But all the fears, like you’re on the roller coaster ride like “Wait a minute, this might right at the top.” What your brain is telling you right now is you’re going to die right now and it’s your own fault. And you’re like “What can I do to get out of here right now?” I think most creative projects are that way. You get to a point and you’re afraid of all the bad things that could happen as a result of finishing it and it’s so much easier if you just start the next thing. Because when you’re starting something, you’re not really thinking about of how you’re going to finish it. It’s just exciting.

It reminds me of that scene in Goodwill Hunting where Matt Damon was talking to Robin Williams as his therapist. And Matt Damon says “Well, I met a girl.” And therapist says “Yeah, how was that? And he says “Oh she’s great. She’s amazing.” You know and they went out one day and everything about this girl was perfect. She was awesome and he got to ask her out again. He was like “I don’t think I wanna see her again.” He was like “Why not?” He goes “Right now this girl is perfect and I don’t want to mess that up.”

You know, it’s this question of when I’m starting something, it feels perfect. It feels flawless to me and I don’t want to mess up that purity. In reality, it’s not perfect. It just feels that way. It’s just an idea like ideas don’t change the world, action does. I become less precious about my ideas over the years because the ideas don’t matter, the execution of the ideas is what actually impacts other people’s lives. But yeah, there’s this feel like I could mess this up, whereas right now, to me, it feels perfect and I just want this feeling of novelty to last because it’s really nice.

And going on a first date with somebody, you know, being head over heels is way different than being in your time of marriage and struggling with time this month to go on a date. But what would you rather have; a memory of a wonderful first date, or a lifelong partner?

Andrea: Totally, yeah. OK, so when you are in that moment of trying to decide, you’re not really trying to decide whether or not you’re going to go to Barnes & Noble, but in a sense, you are. In a sense, you’re facing that fear and whatever and I _____ before you want to outrun fear, move fast that it didn’t catch you.

Jeff Goins: Yeah.

Andrea: But besides to your commitment to the fact that you committed, what is it inside of you that makes you say “No, I’m doing this.”

Jeff Goins: Part of it is the fact that it’s public. So if I don’t do it, I’m going to embarrass myself and that’s a big deal to me. It’s not a big deal to everybody but my personality is an entertainer kind of personality, so I’m very interested in achievement, success, and the appearance of success. So there’s _____, or it would have been better that I just hide and let people think I am just an author than do the book signing and nobody show up.

So part of it makes me do it is, what I’m doing and what I try to do with all my work is I’m practicing in public. This is something I talk about in the book and it’s just an important theme that I tried to embody for the past six years. When you practice in public, you’re doing a couple of things and this is like blogging, if you’re a musician, you could be street performing. It’s simply doing your work in some public setting where a few people will see.

On one hand, if you’re a _____ musician, you don’t need to be opening for _____ right away. But you could be booking shows in local bars where 15 and 20, 30 people might see it. And what you’re trying to do is you’re trying to sort to feedback loops so that you could do your work and immediately get feedback on and then improve on it. So blogging for me was this. I was practicing with folks and speaking engagement services.

Podcasting is probably the hardest for me because there are skills that I want to get better. And yes, I could sit in a room by myself and practice, ensuring questions or practice giving a speech or whatever, but I’m actually not going to get as good at the activity unless I’m doing it in some public venue. Or if I fail, there’s a cost to it. And so I bring more of my A-game partly because I’m a verbal processor. I bring more of my A-game when I have to perform, when I have to do it in public.

So practicing in public, I think makes you better, faster, and it also has its beautiful byproduct where if you do your job well eventually, you’ll build an audience. So you don’t have to worry about getting good and then promoting your work and selling it to an audience because they’ve seen you practicing for the past few years and they know how good you’ve gotten and they’ve been following along cheering you the whole way.

And obviously the risk of that is some people may see you in the middle of that going “Well, you’re not that good.” And “That’s true but I’m going to be better tomorrow.” So I think for me what makes me follow through is there are two things. One, you give your word and this like you got to do this. Like my schedule has gotten kind of crazy and I had an appointment this morning at 9 o’clock but I’m not taking my son to school.

So yesterday, my sister reached out to a friend of mine where I’m scheduled a podcast interview with him and say “Hey, we’re doing a reschedule.” And he texted me like “You’re rescheduling me a day before?” And I was like “No, I can’t do that like I will find a way to be there.” There’s just something in me that if I commit to it, good or bad, right or wrong, I’m going to have to do it even if I don’t want to do it.

The other thing I remind myself is “When you are done with this, you feel good, right?” So every book signing and before book signing I’m like “Why am I doing a book signing. I hate book signing. This is stupid, I hate book signing. I’m never doing this. This is horrible.” And then afterwards, I’m like “This is good. I’m glad, I did this. We should more.” And to be honest podcast every week, every Thursday, I do bunch of interviews and every day I go, “Why am I doing this? This isn’t worth my time.” And afterwards I’d say “Hey, this is so good. I’m so glad I took it.” So I think it’s bad if I committed but also I understand that this is the scariest best way for me to get good at the craft that I’ve chosen.

When I was an actor in college, you know, I was acting in stage plays, you know theater, and you feel fear every time. You feel fear every time you’re performing for a live audience. But we do for weeks on them, night after night after night and we had a saying like “If you weren’t nervous something was going to go wrong, like it is good to have nerves. You’re supposed to have nerves, it gives you an edge. It gives your performance an energy. You didn’t want to be necessarily like throwing up, but you wanted to be nervous enough that you’re going to be focused and sharp.

So when I think about this, when I feel fear and anxiety before a book signing and interview, a speaking engagement, any public thing, a book launch, anything that I’m going to do where if it doesn’t go up people going to see it, I want to get out of them. I want to run. I’m afraid and I began to recognize fear, not as a signal that I should stop doing this work but as a sign that I’m on a right road headed to that familiar destination. I’m like “Remember this success that you had?” “Yup!” “Remember feeling fear right before it happened?” “Oh yeah.” And now I feel good and I go “Hey, there you are.” You know, it’s a friend now. It doesn’t look like an enemy.”

Andrea: Sure! I hesitate to do this but I want press in a little bit further on this because I know that you’re a person of faith and I have this feeling that it goes deeper than that, that you not only are wanting to succeed that the fears going to help you succeed at what you’re doing. It kind of get you to this point where you have to be willing to sacrifice the fact that you might fail in front of people in order to serve people.

Jeff Goins: Hmm

Andrea: In other words, you love people more than you fear them.

Jeff Goins: Yeah. I mean, I think I heard _____ say this one and I thought this is out. He was talking about marketing and he was talking about appealing to people’s motives. And as a marketer, you need not to be appealing to people with no blur motives and you know we were talking about nonprofits and his work for nonprofits like “We want to serve the greater good. We want to be at this mission. We want to impact people.” Those are good things but you assume that people are giving to a nonprofit because they want to be a part of that vision.

And sometimes the answer is like they want to give $30 a month to an orphan in Africa because it makes them feel a little bit less guilty about their short circumstances, which sounds horrible, right? And somebody was like “Really?” People aren’t good or not bad, people are mixed, and I think that’s true and I hope that doesn’t sound too cynical. I don’t mean for it to sound cynical, I just know myself and I know that in any situation there’s that angel on the shoulder, the devil on the shoulder.

So yeah, I go into situations and, you know, I do love people. I like being around people but I also like the feeling that I get to help somebody, like I like that feeling. And sometimes it’s an unhealthy thing; it’s a _____ of anything where I need to feel useful. And I’ve realized that in friendships, I start to feel disconnected from a friend or a peer when I feel like I’m no longer able to help them. Like now we’re just friends and healing message of the three is that you are loved of who you are and not what you do.

And I’m like “Yeah, but I should do something, right?” “You need something from me.” It’s kind of like broken unhealthy desire to perform and continue to prove your worth. I think because you’re brought up the faith thing, I love people because I know that I’m loved by God. And I also know that I didn’t really do anything to deserve that love and it’s a humbling feeling. When you are loved in a pure way by anyone or anything and you let yourself feel that love, the next response is to share that love. Not just reciprocate it and love that person back, but to spread the gift.

I mean that’s how I feel. That’s why people get married and the love each other well and then they’re like “We should have kids because we want this to grow.” Yeah, I would say, beyond the success and beyond that, the thing that I have been grappling with over the past couple of years is what does it mean to be successful? And I think this is an idea that we get wrong, particularly we think about influence like legacy is what people say about you after you’re gone.

This is such like an egotistic, like you’re still worried about what would people say about me and I don’t think that what’s true legacy is. I think true legacy is not about people caring on your work in your name or your name being on a building or something or people talking about you. I think true legacy is that the investments that you made in another people over the course of your lifetime then taking that and doing something better and more significant than you could ever do.

When I was in college, I spent two and a half years trying to create and honor code in our college, which is basically a code of conduct regulated by other students, where you know somebody’s cheating or there’s a process for how this is going to be dealt with. I got probably a hundred drafts of this 20-page document doing again and again to get everybody to like it.

And in the last day of school, basically, I am brought this before the faculty and they approved it and then I realized, all they’ve done is approve the document. Now, we have to carry this out. I can’t do the work, like I’m done. I have to leave. And so I had to pass ton on this other guy name Josh who had to actually implement these things and that was just idea. Years later I came back to my old college and I saw this thing called the “Honor Code” in every single classroom, and I was both appealing because I was a part of that and also humbling because it wasn’t just me.

And so to me legacy is about being faithful to whatever gifts you’ve been given, sharing those, investing those in the people’s lives and then knowing that they’re going to carry out that work in ways that will shadow your work. Legacy is not just about what you do, right? It’s about what you leave behind, those can either be at offices, buildings that eventually fall apart and rot and whatever or they can be seeds. I think legacy is about investing in people so that things can grow.

You know, in the Bible, Jesus tells His disciples; He says “You will do even greater things than I will do.” I was like “This is like Jesus.” They’re going to do better things that I will do? I think that’s really interesting and important and it’s true that they did. And that’s what good, healthy leadership and legacy looks like I think. It’s about investing another people, and not because you want them to say nice things about you, but because you love people, hopefully because you know that you yourself are loved and you want to invest on the projects and ideas of other people so that those things can continue without you.

By the way when I went back to college, I saw the “honor code” my name isn’t on there. There’s not like a history book that says Jeff Goins, none of that. If anything, a lot of the credit went to the guy who actually carried it out. And I just realized like in all of our striving to do great things, we all die with a little bit of the music still left in us like that’s by design. We all die right on the edge of the promise land with one more step to take, one more project to do. I think there’s this idea that we’ll be on our deathbeds going “I did all the things that I wanted to do.” That’s not the way this works.

If you did all the things that you want to do, you were thinking too small. You need to have such a big idea, such a big dream. Your calling needs to be something that requires the work of other people generations of other people that carry out. So by the time this thing is done, people have forgotten your name. And if you’re chasing something like that then you’re a part of something really big and important and purposeful.

Andrea: Amen! Alright, thank you so much, Jeff. I could sit here and chat with you all day. But you’ve been so generous with your time.   Thank you so much for sharing your insights and your experience that the influencer listening. I appreciate all that you do.

Jeff Goins: You bet, totally my pleasure. Thanks for having me, Andrea. I love your questions. You’re great on that.

Andrea: Thank you! Well, I hope that you enjoyed that as much as I did. Obviously, I really enjoy just digging in to how people think and the way that they are and what makes them tick and how to navigate this creative life which is why I’m so drawn to just podcast the Portfolio Life. I will link to that in the show notes along with some of the books that he mentioned. Most certainly, above all, his book; Real Artists don’t Starve, Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age.

So pick up your copy of Real Artists don’t Starve. Check out the show notes or list of other resources that we mentioned in the podcast and make your voice matter more!

 

END

 

Do you want to make a great first impression? Know what you’re going to say before someone asks, “What do you do?” Sign up for the Nail Your Elevator Pitch 5 Day Challenge today. (October 23-27, 2017)

 

 

 

 

 

You Can’t Succeed as a Writer Until You Take the First Step

Episode 09 with Chad Allen

Chad R. Allen (@chadrallen) blogs about writing, publishing, life, and creativity at www.chadrallen.com. He is an editorial director for Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, and works with such authors as Mark Batterson, Larry Crabb, Kyle Idleman, Chip Ingram, Kyle Idleman, and N. T. Wright. Allen was featured in Christian Retailing’s “Forty under 40” report and has written articles for Conversations, Radix, Relevant, and PRISM. He holds a B.A. in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has an M.A. in Theology from the University of Notre Dame. He and his wife, Alyssa, live with their two children in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Chad R. Allen’s website

Book Proposal Acadamy

Brendon Burchard’s book, The Millionaire Messenger

Listen here, on iTunes or Stitcher

Transcript

Andrea: Chad it’s great to have you on the Voice of Influence Podcast.

Chad: Ah I love this! Thanks so much, Andrea, for having me. I appreciate it!

Andrea: Okay, so I can’t go any further without asking you about Nebraska. Did you grow up in Nebraska or did you just go to school here?

Chad: Well, I was an Air Force brat, so I move around quite a bit in my childhood. But I did both high school and undergrad college in Nebraska.

Andrea: Aha, and so I’m from Nebraska so that was definitely something that I wanted to ask you about. So how did you get from Nebraska? You’ve been all over and now you’re doing so many amazing things with Baker Books but then also on your own. So did you get from there to here?

Chad: Well, so I graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Cornhuskers in the spring of ’96, and from there, I wandered around a little bit trying to find my way. I ended up volunteering for Douglas Gresham in Ireland of all places. Doug is the general consultant for the C.S. Lewis Foundation, C.S. Lewis PTE Limited. He’s also the stepson of the late C.S. Lewis. And so some of your listeners might know C.S. Lewis, he wrote The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe and the whole Narnia chronicle series as well as many other books.

So I flew out there in ’97, and I volunteered at his ministry there in Ireland. But part of that was just assisting him with his C.S. Lewis work. With that ministry, I got to see anything related to C.S. Lewis. New books would come across his desk for review and approval. And so I was exposed to the world of publishing through that volunteer opportunity and was just blown away. Because what I saw was that there was this whole back end to publishing and that people had actually an influence on the final product, and I was really captivated with that.

So that led to an interesting publishing and eventually working at Baker in Grand Rapids. I started out as a copy editor or project editor and then eventually made my way to acquisitions and now have been editorial director for six years.

Andrea: I know that you write as well, but not just write your own books but have an influence on other people that are writing books. You and I share very similar interests in that. That’s really interesting. So how did you decide that that was something that you wanted to pursue instead of going right after writing or something else like that right away?

Chad: Yeah, so you know, I was immediately intrigued with the ability to make a book better than when I received it and to really help an author craft their manuscript in a way that would make it as compelling as possible. So that was what initially brought me into publishing and I continue to do that work today.

About six years ago, I did start to feel this kind of pull toward doing my own writing, and so I started my blog to write about writing and publishing and creativity. So I do both now. I write my own stuff. And by the way, my wife is a great editor who helps me refine my own content and then I also continue to do the editorial work.

For me, it’s all about bringing what’s inside out. It’s about helping people do their art and get their content into the world. There’s just nothing that brings me more joy than that work.

Andrea: Why do you feel like it’s that important that people are able to bring that inside out?

Chad: Well, I think that we each have a unique voice. I was just talking to a coaching client earlier this morning and she was really struggling with…I think a lot of people struggle with this. You know, what I have to offer unique and to other people who talk about these things.

And I said, there’s nobody who’s going to do it the way that you do it. What you have to offer is unique. What comes easy to you does not come easy to others. The expertise you have in your particular area, you know, other people don’t have that and they need you to the extent you’d feel called to offer it. They need you to do that.

So, so much of work, Andrea, and probably this is why you have your podcast is to encourage people that their voice is valuable and it’s not going to happen unless they take the risk of getting it out there.

Andrea: With me, when it comes to this podcast and the passion that sort of drives it, it does have a lot to do with my own struggle in that area and then finding my voice and overcoming and that sort of thing. I’m curious if that is a similar thing that you found for yourself. Do you think that’s part of the reason why you’re so interested in helping other people find their voice in writing and creativity and drawing that inside out? Is that something that you struggle with personally?

Chad: Absolutely. I remember reading Brendon Burchard’s book, The Millionaire Messenger, not because I wanted to become a millionaire but because my friend, Andy Traub recommended it to me. He was the first person I heard say, “People really want what you have to offer if you just have the guts to offer it.” You know, there’s something here about trust and taking a risk and maybe a little bit of faith. And I just sort of trusted him and I went for it and that was six years ago when I launched the blog and I’ve been pleased to help a lot of people.

So I think that’s the other thing about this Andrea, as you do it, you know, we’ll make the road by walking it, right? As you do it, you get more and more confidence because you do see people reading your stuff and interacting with it. Yeah, sometimes I’ve seen a blog post in the world that doesn’t get much activity. That happens but then the next one I write does get some activity.

And so a little bit of success can be a big encouragement. You don’t have the opportunity for that success if you don’t get the first blog post out there, you know what I mean? Or the first article or the first podcast or whatever it is.

Andrea: Or the first 10 to see that all of them sort of matter and not everyone of them like you said will end up being that important or that popular. Yeah, I’ve certainly struggled with that in trying to figure out with what is the thing that resonates with the audience, who is the audience and that sort of thing. Is this something that you help people figure out?

Chad: Yeah. So I created this course called Book Proposal Academy. And again, this comes out of just putting myself out there and seeing what might happened. I was in a little Mastermind group when we’re talking about whatever we’re up to. And one of the people in the group said “You know, Chad, if you could show me how to write a book proposal that would be awesome.” I was like “Well, I’ve reviewed a few thousands in my career. I think I could help with that.”

So I created this course called, Book Proposal Academy. And what it’s specifically helps non-fiction writers do is write their book proposals and book proposals are how you eventually get published in the traditional publishing world. But what I found is that book proposals are also just a great way to develop your concept, to build out the structure of your book, to learn how to talk about your book, to make your concepts stronger, to think about the marketing of your book, and to begin actually writing your book because any book proposal that’s worth it. So includes a writing sample of the actual book.

So it’s been this great sort of tool for helping writers break through the barrier of getting started on their book projects. So that’s one way that I’ve helped people do that. The course is called Book Proposal Academy. Your listeners can find it at bookproposalacademy.com and that’s been a wonderful tool to help people. A lot of people have these scattered thoughts about a book they want to write. They struggle with getting started and I found that writing a book proposal is great way to break through that barrier and actually get your book into the world.

Andrea: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense and I can only imagine how valuable that is to people who are longing to write a book but they’re not sure where to begin and to develop their concepts. This idea of developing a concept I think is really interesting. What kind of things do you suggest when people are thinking about that maybe they have a book in their mind that they’d like to write? How do they turn that idea into a concept that’s really, really powerful and could get the attention of an editor or publisher but also would actually sell?

Chad: Yeah that’s such a great question. So the first thing to know is that the formula for publishing success is platform, big platform, plus great concepts, plus great writing equals publishing success. So you wouldn’t want to leverage a platform and service to a concept that’s weak because it’s just a waste of influence. You don’t have to spend all the time and energy into writing a great book if it’s not in service to a great concept because then you just invested a lot of time and energy that’s not going to go anywhere and that sort of wasteful.

So a great concept is really important. What I encourage writers to do is to first think about the need that their book is addressing, the itch that their book is scratching, and to really brainstorm what that is. What is the need that your book is responding to? And then even talk to people, would you buy a book that helps you do so and so, and even go to your Facebook tribe or just friends and family and ask that questions to get really clear your mind what’s the pinpoint that my book is going to relieve.

Once you have that firmly in place then I encouraged writers to brainstorm possible book titles and subtitles. When we talk about concept that can sound really amorphous and hard to get your mind around but titles are concept labels, they make concepts concrete. So as you play with different titles, you’re playing with different concepts. So with the need that your book is addressing in mind, you brainstorm working titles and subtitles for your book.

What I encourage people do, and I have folks who have actually done this through a pizza party, they’ll invite over all their most creative friends. You describe the need that your book is addressing and then you get them brainstorming titles and subtitles.

Andrea: What a great idea!

Chad: Yeah, so you just keep doing that until you have three or four strong titles, subtitles combinations and then you go to your Facebook tribe wherever you go for feedback and you say “Here are my top three or four titles, subtitle ideas, which of these would you been most likely to purchase?” And that’s the process that I encourage writers to use to develop a great concept.

Andrea: Yeah, those are great tips and great suggestions so one thing that you mentioned that you start with the need. And I think that a lot of times as somebody who really cares about making a difference and wants to get a message out into the world, sometimes we start with our own desire to share something instead of starting where other people are at, which sounds like you’re suggesting. Start where people actually feel the need.

So yeah, I just find that really interesting. How do you bridge that gap? How do you go from having an idea that’s inside of you and a passion that’s inside of you and turning it into something that’s actually going to meet a need?

Chad: Yeah, that’s the kind of million dollar question because we have these passions. We have these desires, this internal pull to write about something or to get some sort of message into the world and that’s really, really important. It’s important to know what that passion is to have a sense of that, but the real magic is when you can find the intersection between your passion and the world’s need.

You know, Buechner has this great quote about the place you’re called to is the place where your deep gladness meets the world deep need. And so I think both are really important, but definitely making a priority of determining what the need is and using your passion to meet that specific need. That’s the place where you are going to find the hearing and you’re going to be able to have increasingly more influence.

Andrea: There are a lot of people I think who might say “Well, I don’t need other people to read what I write.” I hear this a lot. “I’m just doing it even if it’s just for one person,” and that sort of thing. I can see why they would say that and I can say why I may have said that in the past at the same time I think that’s almost like cut out to finding this intersection that you’re talking about and it’s really hard work to find that.

Chad: Yeah. I mean, I do write just for myself sometimes. That’s called my journal.

Andrea: Right.

Chad: That’s really valuable, you know, there’s definitely a place for that. And there are things that I share my journal. I certainly wouldn’t share with the world. But I’m doing my blog, I want to serve people and yes that’s good for me. It helps me kind of untangle my thoughts and help me figure out what I wanted to say.

There’s a great quote about “How do I know what I think until I see what I say.” So am I getting something out of it? Absolutely, I’m getting something out of it, but I also want to help people and I just find that I get more readers when I’m speaking to issues that they’re really facing, that they’re really struggling with. And so I get a much better response when I’m zeroed in on serving people that I do when I’m focused on, you know, what do I have to say?

So it’s finding the intersection. And it’s a dance and it is difficult work. It’s also really energizing work when things go well. And like you said, sometimes you got to do this for 10 posts. Sometimes you got to do this for five years before you really see the results of your efforts, but the journey is worthwhile. So I hope that’s helpful.

Andrea: Yeah. Well, what’s the journey been like for you? So you already have a job, a really good job and doing something that’s really important and that’s your calling then you started to blog and what not. Did you immediately find a readership or has it taken a while to kind of get going?

Chad: It has taken a while for sure. Yeah, I mean what I did and what I encourage beginning bloggers to do is to get your first 10 articles written, and you know save on your hard drive before you even publish the first one, just so that you start getting into the rhythm of writing and sending your work into the world. So that you have 10 posts in the queue and then you can tweak them before you actually hit publish. That was how I started.

And you know, Andrea, those are some very fun memories for me of waking up early in the morning. Like you said, I have a fulltime job, but I would wake up and still wake up early in the morning most days of the week, and I often go to a coffee shop. And those are some of my best moments, right? Just me and my keyboard making something happen. I still love it. I get goose bumps even thinking about it now.

But yeah, it does take a while and it takes savvy you know. You learn ways of getting more and more eyeballs on your contents. I think a lot of it begins with learning that it’s really okay for you to ask people to read your stuff. You know, “Hey, I just wrote this. You might find it interesting, check it out.” You know, getting past the initial hurdle of asking people to check out what you’ve done is an important stuff to take. So it does take time.

And definitely if you’re going to do this, it’s important to have the long view in mind. I mean, there are stories that people who have sort of overnight success, but they’re the exceptions that make the rule. So definitely, you have to be content with the journey and the satisfaction of just giving your stuff into the world. But recognize that as you do it overtime and as you learn more and more techniques for attracting readers to what you’re doing or listeners to the podcast that you’re broadcasting. The longer you’re out it, the more people will learn about you that’s been my experience.

Andrea: Hmm, so when people are going through this process of trying to find that voice in writing, whether it’d be through using a book proposal or blogging, do you have anything in particular that you suggest people do in terms of taking care of themselves or how that relates to finding their voice?

Chad: Ah, I think that is so important. I’ve always been fascinated with the interplay between sort of caring for ourselves and serving others. I travelled quite a bit for work and we’ve all heard…anybody has been in an airplane has heard the flight attendant talked about, you know, if the pressure in the cabin goes down and the oxygen masks fall off and you have a small child with you, please place the oxygen mask of yourself before helping others. And I think that’s a metaphor for how we should approach creative work. We have to be taking care of ourselves if we’re going to help people to the best extent possible.

So when I talk about self care, I think about things like getting enough sleep. I think about eating well. I think about being connected relationally with people who are supporting me. You know, who’s your team? Who’s helping you do your creative work and how are you interacting with them on a regular basis? I think about the stimuli that I put in front of my cerebral cortex. What books am I reading? What shows am I watching? What podcast am I listening to that are going to help me do my most creative work? What’s my calendar like?

What kind of time am I committing to my art and how do I do that in a way that honors the work that I’m doing but also the person I am and my need for sleep and taking care of myself. So I encourage people to think about, how are you going to take care of you as you do this creative work? Because it’s when you’re living a full healthy life that you’re going to be able to produce the best content and help the most people possible.

Andrea: That’s some great advice. I self published a book recently and in that time of me writing, everything was so focused on getting this message out of my body and my head. Like I didn’t know exactly what I was doing. I didn’t even attempt to be published because I didn’t have that platform yet, and I just have this message inside of me that I had to get out somehow.

So I think I got so focused on just getting it out that it was easy to let other things slide, and yet I think if I were to look back and talk to myself back then, I would say something along the lines of “You have time. Take a breath. Make sure that you are doing these self-care things that you just suggested.”

One thing that really stood out to me was this idea of having a team around you that you connect with relationally and talk about. Is it easy to find that or how do you develop? How do you know who belongs in that position in your life when you’re trying to develop a message?

Chad: Yeah, I think there are at least three ways you can go about that. One is to enlist a mentor, and just think about somebody who’s farther along than you in the journey that you want to be mentored in and whether it’s creativity, health, blogging, or podcasting. Think of somebody in your current circles who may have more experience than you do and it could be somebody who lives near you, or it could be somebody that you’re just connected to via the internet and ask them.

You know, “Could we get together once a quarter?” Say, once a month or once a quarter, whatever works. “And you don’t have to do anything but show up and I’m going to ask you questions. I would just like to spend that time with you.” If you’re going out to lunch, make sure that you pick up a tab for lunch. I’ve done that to really great effects.

Another way is just a 1 on 1 meeting, so maybe somebody who is a peer of yours. It may not make sense for them to be your mentor but they’re somebody who’s also on the journey. So you have a rhythm of going out with them for coffee or lunch once a month again, once a quarter, or once a week whatever makes sense and you commit showing up with say 15 minutes of content that you’ve picked and they commit to the same thing. And you take notes when they’re talking or at least mental notes so that you are learning from them and they’re learning from you and you’re on the journey together.

And the third way would be developing what Todd Henry calls a ‘creativity circle’ where a group of people get together and they talk about, you know, “What are we working on right now?” Why do we need some accountability? What do we want to have accomplished by the next time we get together? And I’ve done those once a month, and again, they’ve been extremely helpful to me and supportive to me as I move forward. There are of course paid opportunities out there; coach, different mastermind, coaching groups that you can pay to enter and those are also worth checking out.

Andrea: What do you think is the value difference or why would somebody choose to seek out somebody like you to be their coach, their writing coach instead of finding a friend to talk to? What’s the difference there do you think?

Chad: Well, I think it’s just a different kind of help and somebody maybe the help they need is the help that only a friend can offer. I think the value of a coach is that a coach has walked this path before and they’re going to help you save time and energy so that you can just be more efficient and see progress more quickly. A coach can also help you with the accountability piece.

A friend maybe able to help you with that but if you’re paying a coach to keep you accountable then it tends to… You know, what I’ve noticed, Andrea, I guess when I pay for something, I’m much more likely to be invested in it with my own time and energy than if I’m getting a service for free. So that’s just the reality of human nature but I think both are important. I would hate to pick one against the other, but coaching does offer some things that other relationships don’t tend to offer.

Andrea: Yeah, that’s a good point. What else do you think you would like to cover, anything else that we haven’t really talked about?

Chad: I think this had been a really good dialogue. Sometimes an interviewer will ask me, you know, they’ll think about the audience they have in mind and they’ll say the people who are listening this podcast are tat tada tada tada. If you could only offer one piece of advice, what would it be? Maybe, we could end like that if you wanted to.

Andrea: Yes, absolutely! And also I’ll ask you where to find you, where people can find you and that sort of thing too. But I want to make sure that we didn’t have anything else that we need to cover. So Chad for the Influencers that’s out there listening, thinking that maybe they have a book inside of them that they’re not really sure where to begin. We know that they can come to your Book Proposal Academy and potentially take that course from you, but what was be the first step that you would suggest that they do in order to get that book out there to explore that idea?

Chad: That’s so great and it brings to mind a story, Andrea, if’ you’ll indulge me.

Andrea: Of course!

Chad: I remember when my son was about 4 years old; we went to Chuck E. Cheese. And this is not something I recommend usually to anybody because it just a lot of noise and a bunch of consumerism. But one thing that he came away with from the trip was slinky. And I think slinkies are pretty awesome toys. And it wasn’t long before we got home and he was trying to do what they do in the commercials.

He was trying to get the slinky to walk down our stairs. He just kept trying and took the top front of the slinky and slams it down to the next step, and to be honest, it was not just going off. And I thought “Oh boy!” You know, I’m going to have to break it for him. He was 4 years old and I’m going to break it to him that what they’re doing in the commercials isn’t possible in real life.

But little Lucas, he just kept trying. He kept trying to put that top of the slinky on the next step. And all of a sudden, I don’t know what he did, but he did something just right because he did the same thing again. He put it down on the next step and off it went 17 steps all by itself and it was like an incredible moment.

I remember, he was at the top of the stairs and I was at the bottom of the stairs and we both looked at each “Well, it’s happening.” And I looked at his mouth, it was wide open and it jumps up in the air and his hair was all over the place.

Now, what I want your listeners to do is post that image in their minds that image of a little boy jumping into the air with his eyes wide open with his hair flying everywhere because that’s what is possible for them if they keep trying the first step. So the first step could be writing a blog post once a week. It could be writing 250 words every week. It could be writing that chapter every month. It could be posting their podcast once a week or once a day or whatever it is.

Whatever it is to take the first step and the key to taking it over and over again until something hits, until something happens that goes just right, that’s what they need to do. Focus in on that that first step. They need to take over and over again, and if they do that and they do it faithfully, they can’t go wrong.

Andrea: Wow that’s a great advice. Thank you so much for all of this advice about writing and publishing. So Chad, where can people find you if they’re wanting to learn more about you?

Chad: Yeah, I’m at chadrallen.com and the same both on Facebook and Twitter, chadrallen, and you can find me on those various places.

Andrea: I’ll be sure to link to your website and that show notes. And I would also mention to the Influencers listening that there are a lot of great resources there. So please go ahead and check them out and the things that are free. I love some of the things that I’ve seen on your website. So thank you for all of the things that you’re doing to help us, to help people like me and the Influencers out there to be able to develop their own Voice of Influence as you’re using yours.

Chad: Thanks, Andrea. It has been a lot of fun!

 

 

7 Gifts that Help Creative Leaders Overcome the “Frozen” Feeling

You’ve felt it before. It’s the feeling that you experience when you have so much going on inside your mind and heart that you can’t say or do a thing to express yourself sufficiently. Being frozen in self-expression just might be the most frustrating and lonely feeling a Creative Leader must cope with on a regular basis.

I know.

For about six years I felt as though I was locked up inside my own body. I was stuck in my own head and I didn’t know how to come out. The sad thing to me was that I’d tasted the sweetness of creative self-expression before, but I just didn’t have the time or emotional energy to connect what was going on inside of me with words or actions on the outside. So what did I do? I distracted myself to avoid thinking or feeling. And all the while, the pressure in my subconscious world built up, leaving me ready to burst at any given moment.

After taking care of my physical need for chemical balance in my brain and my spiritual need for restoration of my relationships with God and people I loved, I decided to tackle the problem analytically by researching the gifts and curses of creativity. Here is what I found.

Your Gifts

The gifts that most Creative Leaders possess or have the potential to cultivate can either help or harm your ability to express yourself well in what you do and say. The key is to play those gifts like a fiddle instead of letting them play you. Let’s take a look at a few.

  1. Empathy. Empathy is the ability to feel what other people feel. It’s an incredible power you can use to connect and understand other people. However, it can be difficult to separate your feelings from the feelings of others. This might sound crazy, but you can choose what you will feel to a certain degree. What feelings are other people experiencing that you might be mirrorng simply because you’re around them? Are those feelings yours to own? Use your empathy to understand the other person, but then take a look at that feeling and decide if it is yours to carry.
  2. Sensitivity. Empathy and sensitivity are closely related. If bright light, being surrounded by certain colors or sharp/loud noises feels painful, you are experiencing sensory sensitivity to some degree. If chaos or commotion bothers you more than it does other people, you may be overwhelmed by sensory stimulation. Emotional sensitivity is related. When your nervous system is overwhelmed, your emotional equilibrium may be, as well. Sometimes, feeling emotional pain may cause you physical pain and vice-versa. The pain and overwhelm you experience could leave you feeling frozen or about to explode. Either way, sensitivity can also be used in your favor. When you become more aware of the things that overwhelm or cause you pain, you can choose to prepare ahead of time, avoid certain situations or, most powerfully, use your own sensitivity to understand when other people might be experiencing overwhelm. When you begin to take care of yourself, you can focus your efforts on helping others, releasing the grip of overwhelm.
  3. Intuition. This gift comes right on the heels of empathy and sensitivity. It’s that gut-feeling, not based on conscious thoughts. You just “know.” You might feel frozen because your gut is telling you it’s not a good time to speak for whatever reason. That’s OK! But sometimes what we just “know” is wrong. Intuition connects our past experiences and knowledge in non-linear ways. It is incredibly important to not only give yourself the opportunity to pursue good experiences and build a knowledge base that you trust, but also to be aware of what you are actually feeling in your gut and then ask if it fits with what you believe. Practice reflection on a regular basis to build your intuitive skills so you know whether that frozen feeling is irrational fear or wisdom.
  4. Idealism. Creative Leaders tend to be idealists. They see the world as it could be. Unfortunately, many people who begin as idealists may have been accused as being overly positive, irrational and not practical in their youth. As idealists experience the shame, injustice and disappointment of life, they may begin to question everything they previously stood for or believed. These kinds of situations can disappoint idealists to the point where they deflate like a balloon and feel utterly defeated. But that isn’t the end for you if you’re an idealist! Turn your idealistic demands into your ongoing idealistic vision. Let it fuel you as you strive to make the world a better place rather than depress you that it’s not what you thought it could be. When you feel frozen, find inspiration to tap into your idealistic vision and move toward it rather than letting disappointment overcome you.
  5. Initiative. You can be creative without utilizing initiative, but don’t call yourself a Creative Leader unless you do use it. Initiative begins with an impulse to do or say something and then it acts on it. Unfortunately, people punish or squash initiative all of the time because of the fear of failure and fear of the judgement of others. So what if we do something and it doesn’t work? Of course there are times when we need to heed wisdom, but Creative Leaders must be willing to stick their necks out by offering their ideas, service or art to the world in full knowledge that they might be rejected, ignored or shamed. Don’t let the shadow sides of empathy, sensitivity and intuition overtake the bright shining light you just might radiate if you act. Lead by being willing to appear less than perfect and you will not get stuck.
  6. Intensity. Emotional intensity is a powerful force, so be sure to learn how to use it for good. When you feel frozen, your emotional experience may be so intense that you don’t know how to contain it, though you think you should. You need release! The number one piece of advice I have for people experiencing emotional intensity is this: tap into your emotional core rather than living from your immediate emotional reactions. “Sad” is under “angry” every time. Give yourself permission to feel your sadness and possibly even cry. But don’t stay in that discouraged state. Find something that inspires you and open yourself up to how it could bring you out from your sadness or frozen feeling. Sometimes it helps to learn something new or be reminded of something old, but it is very difficult to will your heart to follow your head. Find something that speaks to your heart and don’t be afraid of the intense power within you. Use it!
  7. Problem Solving. Your ability to employ your creativity to solve problems is an incredible gift, but it is tempting to get stuck in a holding pattern where you keep trying to solve the same old problem. Unfortunately, for Creative Leaders, not all problems can be solved. If you find yourself frozen by the same old problem, it’s time to step out and gain perspective. Use those problem solving skills to analyze the situation. You might need to let go of the idea of solving the current problem and find a different way to look at your situation. Maybe you’re solving the wrong problem! Whatever you do, don’t allow yourself to obsess over the same problem forever. Keep moving forward in other areas and perhaps you will stumble upon the right solution at a different time.

Do you relate to any of the above gifts listed above? Which one feels most like a “gift” to you?

Unfrozen Self-Expression

I will say it over and over. Authentic self-expression is not about doing or saying whatever comes to mind in the moment. That’s reactionary self-expression. Authentic self-expression is based on a holistic perspective of who you are. It is awareness, reflection and action based on more than your emotions. That’s why I believe Creative Leaders need to go through the process of uncovering and refining their core message.

Align what you do and say with a robust understanding of who you are for clarity, confidence and focus. Download the Arrowhead Alignment PDF now.

Free Fall: Do this when you feel that sinking feeling

It’s days like today when I create something like this that I think, “you know? I think I’m right where I need to be.” I created this video based on the blog post I wrote yesterday. May you be inspired to take action!

Go find this video on (click these links) Facebook, YouTube and Twitter and like it. Share it. Comment on it.

I’m sending you a virtual fist bump.

Arise, my friend. Your voice matters.

~Andrea Joy