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.
Although the transformational path you’re on may be confusing to the outside world (as Carol Roth pointed out), your courage in pursuing your own truth is admirable. I wonder how many others would have the courage to do the same thing — and share the experience so openly with others as you’re doing.
And you said it *exactly*… you don’t have to build a big business to be valuable and make a difference in the world. That seems to be the idea that’s been put out there by highly successful internet entrepreneurs. That is, you have to build a 6 – 7 figure business otherwise you’re a nobody. Having alot of money can make life easier, but your bank balance does not reflect your worth, nor does it necessarily indicate the impact you’re having on the world.
I wish you continued clarity along your journey, and peace in your soul when the going gets tough…
Great thoughts. I can totally empathize- when I left investment banking, I know that folks probably thought I was crazy leaving that rocket ship career path behind. Reinvention can be a necessity, the key is that eventually you have to put a stake in the ground and go deep. Perpetual reinvention can be as toxic as being in the wrong place to begin with. I think I am there now and sounds like you are as well.
Looking forward to seeing what comes next.
Hi Alexis, a great thought-provoking post! I can certainly relate.
You are the intrepid (one of my favorite words) pioneer.
In support of your quest,
The first miracle I saw that is related on your topic is when I watch The Vampire Diaries Season 3 Episode 4 there you can see the magic with the same story of yours.
Keep going Alexis…you can do this, you ARE doing this, and don’t be too hard on yourself, okay?
Know that you are human, and going through what lots of people have and are going through. Find what stirs up your insides, what you would really miss doing if someone told you had to stop doing it today, and what makes you feel wonderful and fulfilled when you see that you’ve offered it to others, then apply your same wonderful passion that I’ve seen for the past few years in you, and GO FOR IT!! Again, don’t be too hard on yourself. Learn from the past, but don’t accuse yourself of being anything less than a wonderful, talented, loving human being, because that’s exactly what you are. Do you think God cares if you have ever failed? Absolutely not! If anyone judges you, that’s their lousy problem! Not one of us on Earth has the right to be judgmental of others. Do we do it? Sure, we do. But, when it comes right down to it, there’s only one who can judge us that really matters, right, and “He” isn’t that shallow.
Love to you…always.
Dear Miss Alexis….aka: Ali…. (isn’t it wonderful to have many names to express all the aspects of YOU!)…
Have been watching you from a distance for a while now and am always inspired to see the great Goddess strength that you are embracing after getting “caught up” in the “industry” as they say in the self help world. Your transformation has been inspiring and sometimes heart wrenching to observe, but all the while, I keep feeling into your determination to find your true soul’s spirit. And that, sister, is what our JOURNEY is all about.
Like you, I left my 6 figure world (about 10 yrs ago)- and all the stress of the corporate life. It afforded me comfort yes…but my soul was restless and I was living in such an unconscious way, I did not know there was any other way. The conscious path, is NOT an easy one…in fact, it is for the strongest, most courageous and one day…this will be a well known fact that will most likely challenge the those struggling with their own disconnection from their truth.
I see the others (who you thought were your friends) and I feel their deep inner pain…but I applaud them and their path, as each person’s path is their own to live. My own experience is that I was just on the verge of fully entering the self help circuit a few yrs ago, hired a ridiculously expensive and not worth the $ coach (sorry, but 17 out of 25 people left the mastermind group within a few months- she was a part of two of the “group” of high priced gurus out there and I got caught up too!!) – and suddenly, my life took a HUGE shift and I went underground for almost 2 yrs…diving into the deep depths of my soul, taking only a few clients at a time and giving myself the love and nurturing I truly needed. Of course, this took a HUGE hit on my financial status… and so, many things are shifting for me – I am now giving up my home (as you did) – and the huge mortgage it represented – and in a few months, my life will take that next HUGE LEAP…because I will be living in a new environment and all the energies surrounding me will be a part of that next path.
3 weeks ago, a HUGE GREEN Grasshopper decided to make his transition in my backyard..it took 3 days and I nursed him as best I could. Then this AM, the MOST beautiful Monarch Butterfly greeted me on my backdoorstep – having also transitioned to the other side of the veil.
The message: Take the GIANT LEAP (grasshopper) NOW TO TRANSFORM (Butterfly), Ali…it is safe for you, just as it was safe insects of nature to transition in your yard. There is something more for you, TRUST…Have Faith….and thus, journey continues!
Much Love to you, Sister….leave your THOUGHTS of Fear at the backdoor step and ALLOW Grace to enter…
I too have watched you from afar for some time. It takes courage to venture into your soul when your mind has been leading the way for so long. Way to go. I too have taken that path and it has been heart-wrenching, inspirational and indeed miraculous. I know that as you do this deep inner work the impact on you, your relationships and your children will be huge. It can’t help but be. The healing work you are doing with your soul will impact generations past, present and future. I commend you on your journey.
Be gentle on yourself and try your best to trust spirit’s timing. You needed to experience what you have experienced to fully realize the beauty of this moment. Over the past 18 months I have spent way too much money (family money) trying to find myself in my business – following other guru’s paths and not listening to my own inner guidance. I pushed and pushed trying to find my way, and yet only now have I found my way. It has taken me this long to discover what was already in front of me, that I have a gift and it is gentle, beautiful and expansive yet the more I tried to seek it, the more elusive it got. When I rest in my inner knowing, being gentle and loving on myself, the gift emerges as does the beautiful butterfly in Ali’s post.
Thank you for your courage in sharing with the world. It matters more than you know. Hugs to you as you take your journey into your soul.