A Storm To Show The Way ⚡
What do you think of when you envision a storm? Most people have a negative connotation. Storms are scary, they can cause a lot of destruction, and as a result, they create much fear. What if we reframed this view and we looked at the positive aspects of the beautiful sunshine that follows a storm. What positivity can it bring? What light is at the end?
As I reflect upon my life, I was in the midst of such a storm that happened exactly a year ago, to the day. Instead of the negative association, I choose to look at the power the storm gave me and the positive change it brought. This storm disrupted my life, which was so needed. I choose to look at the positive and the growth it brought me, not the negative aspects associated with this storm. I think about the quote “not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path.” This storm created so many beautiful paths for me and I feel fortunate. Everything truly happens for a reason.
So, what is this storm I am referring to? For those of you who don’t know me, last May I began my journey of reinvention. I was trying to find my way in this online world. I created a Facebook community for organizational psychology students and practitioners and I was seeking individuals for my professional community. I was just a few weeks into my masters program when this storm entered the scene. This storm was persistent and it had a stronghold on me. As much as I tried to avoid the storm, it was inevitable that I was being sucked in. This storm brought my business partner and completely transformed my world.
I did not know anything about navigating the virtual world. I didn’t know much about coaches, entrepreneurs, or marketers. This storm expanded my world and introduced me to so much. So many new, exciting opportunities presented themselves. This storm led the way to my role as co-founder of a tech company. I said yes, unknowingly, to this new position. I had no idea what a co-founder even was? I had no idea that this yes was about to change my whole personal and professional trajectory. I thought this would be another part-time side hustle and I accepted this challenge head-on like I have taken on every other challenge in my life.
The storm pushed me to take uncomfortable action. This storm pushed me to be vulnerable, which was completely out of my comfort zone. Specifically, I helped my business partner make sense of his problem-solving system in a way only a teacher could, so I was ideal for this role. We co-developed a unique problem solving communication that we predicted would change the workplace and change people’s lives for the better. Moreover, I learned how to effectively perform on podcast interviews, do my own LIVEs on my Facebook (FB) groups, write regular blogs for an online magazine and LinkedIn, and reach out to others who I categorized as “a person of interest.” The reality I was living forced me to learn and grow so much, beyond my wildest dreams. The storm showed me I was capable of so many fantastic accomplishments.
One of my favorite memories was my journey with the concept of decision intelligence (DI). I became fascinated with this topic after watching an interview with this amazing professor, Dr. Lorien Pratt, who coined the term. I was captivated with this concept because I believe that emotions guide our decision-making. As I reflect now, I realize why DI impacted me so much. Emotions are such a part of me and I tend to be more emotional than the average person. This has always been at odds for me because I am a rational, analytical thinker. Also, I believe that in life, we need to make well-informed decisions and when emotions hijack us, successful decision-making suffers.
It now makes sense to me as in my current study of neuroscience and therapy about why DI appealed to me so much. Consequently, I became Dr. Pratt’s FB friend, I supported her work, I grew her online community, and we finally had our conversation! I was in awe that I accomplished a talk with this brilliant, inspiring entrepreneur, writer, and professor. I was pushed to take this uncomfortable action and I met it head on. I appreciated her marketing advice and we had such a meaningful connection. I was thankful to the storm for showing me the way to this important conversation.
As I reflect back on the past year, there was so much I did that I had no idea what I was doing. I felt like an imposter and I was definitely espousing the mantra: “fake it til you make it.” I bought a webcam, through the direction of my video coach, and started producing marketing videos for us to launch our digital course, and later our problem solving app. Initially, I was very uncomfortable showcasing myself to the world. Trying to say lines and be so scripted was unnatural for me. I reflected on my delivery and after talking with one of my entrepreneur friends, he reminded me to be authentic and just be me. I took his advice to heart, created some natural videos about myself, and we had more headway with our marketing. These few days of video production were quite frustrating, but I was not going to let the storm throw me a curve ball and miss my eighteen minutes of fame.
The storm made me a full-fledged entrepreneur. Launching a new business is difficult and it can break you. I embraced my role as co-founder and this company became my company as well. Our products and services became my passion. Our mission became my purpose. Until one day, I noticed things were unraveling. I observed that my business partner and I were not aligned and we were not heading in the direction I thought. I started to question if I wanted my name associated with this company. I felt like I was on the Titanic and I could see the iceberg ahead and if I acted quickly, I could jump on my life raft, and be back to the life I had known. That being said, I realized that the mission was no longer mine and I wondered if it ever really was? There was too much toxicity and I could no longer serve in this role. It was no longer my dream and I had to escape this storm and evacuate the sinking ship.
Leaving this company was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. I don’t like giving up. I don’t enjoy accepting defeat. I am the type of person that will fight to the bitter end, but I could not here. The mission was no longer my mission. The storm was pulling me in another direction. This wasn’t my identity, anymore. This was not my passion, anymore. The storm was powerful and I had to follow it in my new direction. And, that was five months ago. A new storm has surfaced, but now I know to listen and follow its guidance because there is always a bright light at the end.
So, what were my lessons? As I was brainstorming, I uncovered seven lessons. I am sure there are more that I may be missing, but the old perfectionist in me has died and made the new me realize that “being good enough,” as Brené says, is enough. If I obsess about this blog, it will never get posted because I will think I need to share more lessons and I will stop myself from sharing at all. This will render the storm useless.
More so, I believe that everything happens for a reason. “Life happens for us, not to us,” as Tony Robbins asserts. As difficult as it was to endure the storm, I am thankful for the learning and the gratitude it has brought me. Here are my takeaways:
- I learned to believe in myself. The storm showed me that I had everything within me that I needed for success. Everything was there the whole time and I just didn’t see it at first. I was in awe of all this new content and developing a new skill set, which made me feel inferior, at first. During the storm, my business partner would hold up a mirror and show me that I could do whatever it was that I feared. We are all guilty of self-sabotage, and I was no different.
- I learned to dig deeper for my self-awareness. This can be a painful exercise and you may not always like what you find. I discovered some negative traits about myself. These traits have probably always been there, but I didn’t want to see them. In the past few months, I explored my life and examined my traumas. My trauma deep dive was intensive, and I may not recommend this approach to others, but it revealed some truths that I needed to see and then reframe them positively. Further, I learned to lean into self-compassion and show myself grace.
- I learned that my workaholic lifestyle was no longer serving me. The storm revealed my Type A, obsessive, achievement-focused, work sixty hours a week personality wasn’t best practice. I learned it was ok to put something off to the next day and that did not mean I was a failure. My work with mindfulness, breathing, and meditation has shown me peace and that being present and not ruminating about the past or worrying about the future is what I need to enjoy life. The storm has taught me to delegate and empower others because a one-woman show is not sustainable.
- I learned how important it is to push yourself to take uncomfortable action. Before the storm entered my life, I was holding myself back. While in the eye of the storm, I learned so much in a short period of time. Every week when I checked in with my close friends, they were in awe of all I was experiencing, which was different week to week. They often asked how I kept up with everything. I wasn’t managing it all very well, but I was loving doing new, creative tasks and I felt like I was finally living. I was challenging myself. I acquired the self-confidence to do what I needed. The storm showed me to do what matters.
- I learned to accept myself. No one wants to come to terms with being imperfect. I always strive to do my best, accomplish all I am capable of, and be a good person. Accepting that I have flaws and that those flaws impact others was challenging. I know I can be self-centered, I know I don’t always follow through on my commitments, I know my words can hurt others, and I know I can push my agenda too much. This self-awareness has been important for me and knowing a problem is the first step in solving it. The storm has helped me become ultra self-aware and do self-checks about my thoughts and behaviors.
- I learned to value and cultivate meaningful connections and relationships. I realized I was transactional in my approach, at times, and I needed to strive for meaningful connection. I realize that friendship is so valuable and having those close, positive relationships matters so much. Brené's concept of “marble jar friends” is something we all NEED. I learned that relationships must be fostered so they can grow. If you stop maintaining them, these relationships can cease to exist. I have met some amazing people who have been a part of my self-development journey. These inspirational women have changed my life for the better and I appreciate them. I do not take them for granted, and I am improving in my view of relationships. Lastly, the storm has helped me save my long-standing relationships because I was not placing enough importance or showing enough gratitude for these amazing individuals.
- I learned to focus on my goals and my true mission. I learned to look within for my goals, my purpose, my mission, my WHY. We can all find our passions and find the path to them. It may take time, but it is so important to put yourselves on this path. Do what matters to you. I want to help others. I want to serve. I want to leave this world a better place than how I found it. I want to leave a legacy. I know one person can impact the world and create social change. We have seen it time and time again. I know I am that one person who will do great things. Living through the storm has helped me prioritize what I value professionally.
I am here to help others weather their storm. We all have difficulties. We all suffer from self-doubt and self-sabotage. We all feel like imposters when we are entering something new. We are all “in the weeds” at times. I am here to share my story with others.
We all need a cheerleader or an accountability partner to encourage us to live our best lives. We all have multiple paths, it is about choosing our own adventure. As Amanda Gorman said, “There is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.” Yes, the light is there, even if our view is obstructed, especially if we are the ones obstructing it. If we are brave enough to do the hard work, the light will shine through in such a magnificent way. This storm brought me amazing clarity and revealed a beautiful sunshine.
“Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear the path.” I experienced a massive storm in my self-revelations, and not only did I survive, but I am now thriving. If you need help maneuvering through your current storm, take my hand to guide you out and show you the possibilities ahead.