While I was in Rochester with Craig this past week, a friend of mine, Carol Roth, author of the book The Entrepreneur Equation, wrote an article called “Why Madonna Syndrome Is Bad For Your Business” and when I read it, I knew it was about me even though Carol didn’t mention me by name. (I couldn’t help but ask, and Carol confirmed I was in part her inspiration for the article.)
Seeing myself in the eyes of other can be challenging, especially when it’s true and points out painful truths that are hard to look at.
Carol was right on when she wrote “There’s a woman I know who created a fantastic, media-friendly brand around her status as a category expert. She had it all — the tagline, the media presence, tons of exposure — and translated these assets into a six-figure business income.”
Yep, I had it all, alright. At least from the outside. But I couldn’t help feel as if something major was missing. I found myself pigeon-holed as a talking head lawyer going on and on about a fairly narrow topic that, while important, simply was not transforming the world.
No matter how much it massaged my ego, I couldn’t keep doing it.
Frankly, I was boring myself.
It wasn’t until I read this article by Michael Ellsberg on the Paradoxical Secret of Obsession Worthy Branding that I understood why I made the clearly bad business decision of, as Carol reflects, effectively trading in my tweed suite for a leather bustier.
A huge part of me (ego, perhaps?) was not satisfied with a successful business; it wanted (and still does) an obsession worthy brand that would create a transformational experience for those it touched.
So now I find myself lost in the uncertainty of exactly what that means, how to do it and what it even looks like.
I’m taking some solace from Jonathan Fields‘ new book, Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance, which I just downloaded onto my Kindle for support during this time of massive fear and doubt.
I’m not bored of myself now.
But, I am heading way into uncharted territory. The Madonna syndrome Carol describes has massively hurt my income, there is no question about it.
A year ago, I had more money than I knew what to do with (as evidenced so clearly by the many ways I squandered it, which I’ll have to share in another post) and yet what’s so funny is I felt more scarcity and fear then than I do now.
Had I stayed the course, perhaps there would be a Personal Family Lawyer® in every neighborhood of the US and Canada by now.
Maybe I would have developed that software platform I longed to create for the lawyers I serve.
Perhaps, I would have millions in the bank instead of taking this next step of my own evolution with a whole lot of debt, not a lot of money in the bank and no more credit.
But, that’s not what happened.
I woke up and realized how disconnected I was from reality. I found myself driven to shed everything I had constructed so I could discover what was real and true. And I’m oh so close.
I stand here now naked, vulnerable and facing reality more directly than I ever have before. Bad for business, yes. Damn good for my soul.
Some of the realities I’ve discovered so far:
- The work I do with and for lawyers IS transformational and I can be the whole me while I do it, even though that freaks some lawyers out;
- There are people I considered friends who it turns out were only interested in me when I had lots of money to throw around and I’m sad about that;
- Doing laundry, making my bed, grocery shopping and cooking is really good for me and I definitely don’t want to do it forever;
- I don’t have to build a big business to be valuable and make a difference in the world.
There’s more, but I want to finish this post and get to bed because my ex-husband and I are taking the kids camping tomorrow.
So, that brings me back to the Course. Days 7, 8 and 9 are focused on helping me to remember that my thoughts are not what I think they are. They don’t mean what I think they mean. And I don’t have to be attached to them because really they are representations of the past and take me out of the present.
Easier said than done, of course. My mind is insistent that I have royally screwed up and finds all sorts of ways to try and convince me of it. When I believe what it says, I become paralyzed, overwhelmed and stressed out. I get short with my kids, feel pain in my body and just want to get in bed.
When I can keep my mind in the present, focused on the reality that all is well right now in the moment and that all my needs are met as they have always been, I feel creative, expanded, and that everything is possible. From this place, I can serve the world and I feel great.
What about you? Can you accept the possibility that your thoughts do not mean what you think? That every thought is a mere reflection of the past and actually blocks the truth that is alive in the present moment? How would your life be different if that were the case?
Please keep sharing in the comments. I’m curious about your reality and how all this lands for you.
If you want more reality (not just mine, but an invitation to become more aware of your own as well), you may want to check out the new blog Craig set up for the show. You can see highlights from the show curated by Craig and the rest of the community as well as bonus content we’ll be adding over time. And if you haven’t joined us for the show itself, I hope you will next Tuesday and share some of your truth with us during the live show chat.