“I’m sorry I ignored you” the email began.
It was 2008.
I’m at my home office and this was the email I received from a young woman I met at a marketing conference - I hired her to work on a project for me.
I emailed her one week after our initial sharing of notes about the project. to check in on her progress and to fill in any blanks.
She hadn’t replied, which I found odd, but the internet is known for gobbling down messages like a hungry badger, before it ever gets to its intended recipient.
I didn’t sweat it and sent another follow-up message.
Until the following week, when I still hadn’t heard from her.
My mind went where most peoples go after two messages with no reply:
Did she even get my messages?
Is she ignoring me?
Why would she ignore me?
Did she take my money and run?
*inserts fingers into bowl of peanut m&m’s conveniently sitting on desk*
Is there another email address I can try?
Wait, do I have her phone number somewhere?
Ugh, please tell me I got her phone number?
Maybe I should put in a claim to get my money back?
*immediately logs into Paypal*
THE NEXT DAY…
...and minutes before I pressed send on the fraudulent seller letter I prepared for Paypal, I got her message…
“My life is a mess. After we talked, my husband and I started divorce proceedings. That’s not a good enough excuse to ignore your messages. The truth is, I didn’t know how to tell you that I don’t have the skills to complete your project. I was excited by it at first but then realized I didn’t know how to put it all together. I’m embarrassed to tell you this but you deserve to know the truth.”
I read her message several times and wasn’t quite sure how to respond back.
I hated that she hadn’t set clear boundaries around what she could and couldn’t do.
I hated that she ignored me for weeks instead of telling me the truth from jump street.
And mostly, I hated that anyone would feel so trapped they couldn’t use their voice.
When I replied back, I told her I was disappointed but that I understood.
Oftentimes, I think about her, any time I feel afraid that maybe where I’m about to stretch is out of reach.
Will I convince myself I can’t? Or will I figure out what I need to do, be, or have in order to do the thing?
There hasn’t been a time that I’ve convinced myself I can’t.
Because to do so is a fate (almost) worse than death.
The moment I realize I don’t know how to do something, I can either choose to fold my hands quietly in my lap and tap out of the game OR roll up my sleeves and stretch the boundaries of what I’m capable of.
I’ve been an entrepreneur for a helluva long time and you know what I’ve come to realize…I’m capable of a lot.
More than I’m qualified to do “on paper.”
That’s not to say I haven’t made a tremendous number of mistakes, because between you me and the diet cola I’m sipping as I write this note to you, I’ve made mistakes in virtually every category know to man and woman-kind.
But I recover from those mistakes not because I’m super smart, or because I have an iron will or six-pack abs (I have neither).
My resilience is based solely on one thing…trust.
Trust that you’ll always be okay.
Trust that you’ll land on your feet.
Trust that you can course correct just about anything at any time.
But trust isn’t something you snap your fingers and poof, it appears. If only!
In order to activate trust you must create an environment of motivation and determination.
Like a timid pup tucked into the safe corners of it’s crate, you must lure it out. It takes patience, commitment, compassion and sometimes a cute squeaky toy.
Patience with your progress, commitment to do what you know you must in order to succeed and self-compassion because new skills, new approaches, new ways of being require all three.
And let’s not forget rewards for our good behavior.
Trust will inch its way into your life, bit by bit, if you create the right environment. And that is the very environment that transforms anything from seeming daunting to feeling invigorating.
Even when you don't feel like it. Even when you’re not sure you can. Even when you’re so afraid you think you’ve wet your pants.
An environment of motivation and determination - hell, any environment of transformation - requires action. There’s no getting around this truth.
Every day, do something. Little daily actions lead to big results.
And soon, there won’t be anything or anyone to stop you…except maybe, yourself.
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