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Finding the Courage to Stay the Course

Friday, April 17, 2015 by Marianne Elliott

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30 Days of Courage: a guide to bravery in action

Everything that matters takes courage - Marianne ElliottWe get started on our next round of 30 Days of Courage on Monday — and I’d love for you to join us: http://bit.ly/1Fv6eMr.

Do you wish you could find the courage to do what you really feel called to do? Are you holding a dream or desire that feels too big or scary to act on? Is fear getting in the way of you saying what you really want and need to say?

I made this for you.

A guest post from Brigitte Lyons

Sitting on my shelf is a book that terrifies me. A gift from my husband, I never made it past the fourth chapter.

I should have read this book. I’m the kind of person that always finishes books, even when they give me nightmares. I waded through Joyce Carol Oates’ We Were the Mulvaneys, which should come with a trigger warning. I read Stephen King’s Pet Sematary and Christine when I was 13, setting myself up for a lifetime of low-level anxiety.

But this book, which sits so innocently on my shelf and boasts the label, “National Bestseller. The book EVERY small-business owner should own,” stopped me in my tracks.

I was with Jay Conrad Levinson up until page 36. He writes about guerilla marketing being a dialogue, not a broadcast; he calls marketing “the truth made fascinating.” Yes and yes!

And then came the line that let me know this book wasn’t for me.

“Right here and now, let me tell you the two most important things you should know if you’re to succeed with guerrilla marketing: (1) Start with a plan and (2) commit to that plan.”

This business is a grand experiment. I’m not even sure I want to commit to it yet, much less a marketing plan.

I wanted to be free to change my mind.

And so I was. I tried on different course ideas, different content strategies, and my business shifted like sands in the desert.

From the outside, it looked like I was gaining momentum. Writing and launching and networking felt like progress. I was making just enough money to justify keeping the doors open, and I picked up some friends along the way.

Until the day came when I came face to face with reality. Have you ever had a moment of stunning clarity? When all the layers of self-deception slip away?

This happened for me the moment after I turned a project away — a project that I very much wanted. A project that would give my work meaning and purpose.

I hadn’t built the scaffolding. I wasn’t prepared to do the work.

The grief I felt in that moment was immense. I wasn’t free. I was chained to my fear.

Underneath my free spirited approach to my life and business, I envied people who seem so sure of their path. Who know that their life’s work is to bring yoga to inmates or teach the dharma to business leaders.

I’ve never felt that certainty. I don’t feel like I have one life’s purpose or a calling.

I found the courage to commit anyway.

A lot has changed since that day. This formerly structure-shy business owner is now a stickler for systems. I make deadlines and don’t miss them. I have a team now, and twice-a-month, I make payroll.

Today’s challenge is not to poke and prod my purpose, worrying it like a loose tooth.

I’ve chosen. And even when that choice feels terrifying and riles up my inner Oscar (that’s my inner critic; he’d be pleased to know I’m introducing you), I get up and add a new layer to the scaffolding of our business, making the structure strong enough to support even the most audacious of our dreams.

Maybe it’s time to go pull that book off the shelf.

Brigitte Lyons - Marianne ElliottMeet Brigitte.

Brigitte Lyons is the founder of B, a boutique PR agency that specializes in storytelling for the social era. She works with mission-driven businesses and organizations to craft storylines that hook the media and inspire action.

Her clients have been featured in media as diverse as Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Women2.0 and The Huffington Post. An advocate for emerging talent, Brigitte has a track record of teaching makers, designers, and creative entrepreneurs how to take media outreach into their own hands.

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