Climbing Out of the Rut

Oregon Trail Wagon Wheel Ruts, by Doug Letterman

“Growth is painful. change is painful. But, nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong.” ~ N. R. Narayana Murthy

“If you experience that feeling of being in a rut in your life, then something’s not right. A lot of people who feel that way don’t take the time to say, ‘O.K., well, what am I doing? Is that what I want to be doing? What is it making me feel this way?’ You have to identify what specifically is making you feel stuck. ~ Joy Mangano

I don’t know about you, but I get into routines that become ruts. Please don’t misunderstand me, I think routines are valuable. But sometimes I let them rule my life. I get comfortable and don’t seek new adventures. I don’t try to learn anything new, change my attitudes, try new restaurants or recipes, or challenge myself even in the entertainment I choose to enjoy. It all becomes a round of the same-old, same-old.

For quite some time, I’ve felt a vague dissatisfaction with my life, a kind of rumbling beneath the surface, but I didn’t take time to examine why. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other day after day doing the same old things and feeling stagnant.

Climbing out of my rut really started when my sister told me that her husband wanted to walk The Camino, in Spain to celebrate his upcoming 50th birthday. The whole family was going along to be tourists while he walked and they wanted Barry and me to come along. Barry decided he wanted to walk The Camino with my brother-in-law and I decided it was time to learn Spanish.

Maybe it was the daily short Spanish lessons I was doing on Duolingo on my phone that started to shake things up in my mind. I mean, I had been feeling like I needed something new, but learning a new language wakes up different parts of the brain, and I guess that’s what I needed because I finally responded to the ads I’d been seeing on social media about The No Pants Project. It’s a program that teaches participants how to become freelancers. Doing that has really stirred up my thinking. I’ve realized, in a life changing way, that I’ve been in a deep rut for quite some time. The walls of my rut are so big that it’s a bit scary trying to climb out.

This morning I awoke feeling jittery in my solar plexes. Yesterday I watched the NPP video starting the second week of the program, designed to help us identify the superpowers we can use to help businesses and individuals be more productive, or learn something new. I let my unease lead me to their source. I found dark attitudes and emotions lurking that I’ve been hiding from myself for a very long time.

The first thing that came to me is that I really hate business culture that is all about the bottom line and in the process devalues the human beings who work so hard to help the company succeed. And that prejudice could be a real problem, because the whole point of NPP is to find niches to use my superpowers to help individuals, and businesses owners. Okay, I’ve got to reframe how I view business owners, especially of huge businesses. I need to see them as human beings just like me.

The next thought that came to me was that part of my dislike has to do with the fact that I have never felt completely valued for my knowledge, experience, or the talents I was born with. I mean my top strength, according to the strength finder questionnaire at the end of the book, Teach With Your Strengths by Rosanne Liesveld and Jo Ann Miller with Jennifer Robison, is empathy. Empathy! Who’s going to want that skill? Who is going to want to hire someone who feels the emotions of others? That just doesn’t seem to fit into any business model I know of.

Maybe part of my hesitation has to do with the fact that I was once passed over as a candidate for house president at my undergraduate school because they thought my answers were unsatisfactory. I think the question/answer that killed my chances was: What would you do if a girl came back to the dorm late at night drunk? I said I’d find out why she was drinking so heavily and see if I could get her some help. That’s what I learned from my dad, you find out the reasons behind the behavior. But, that’s not what they wanted to hear. They wanted me to say I’d turn her in to the higher ups so they could discipline her. Yes, they were right, we should face consequences for our actions. But punishment without finding the reasons behind the behavior, in my experience, creates more wounds. And isn’t that what education should be about. Not just the acquisition of knowledge, but self-discovery as well.

The next thing that came to me is that most of my superpowers, are what I would call soft skills. According the above mentioned questionnaire, my other top strengths are intellection; I like to think, connectedness; I see everything in the world as connected, Ideation; I’m fascinated by ideas, and my last strength is strategic. In other words, I can look at the clutter and find a way out, I can identify patterns and consequences that will occur if a certain decision is acted upon.

Now, I’m only in the second week of my twelve week coaching program so I’m sure the coaches will be able to help me focus in on one marketable superpower. But this morning I was feeling extremely skeptical about that possibility and I just have to work through those feelings. I’m going to continue doing the self-examination they recommend so I can move forward with my goal of becoming a freelancer.

I want to make one last observation. I’ve tried to build a business using my knowledge and skills before, but none of the programs fit my mode of thinking and working. I always felt like they were speaking a language that was completely foreign to me. I didn’t understand the steps I was supposed to take and they didn’t help me with that. Nor did I understand the vocabulary they used. I was left feeling stupid and unsatisfied. It’s so nice to finally find a program that speaks my language and lays out the process of creating a business in little manageable chunks.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it. Have a happy hump day.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Allowing the Stretch

Temporary Book Cover
Temporary Book Cover

“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” ~ John Wooden

“Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one’s potential.” ~ Bruce Lee

“There’s no limit possible to the expansion of each of us.” ~ Charles Schwab

“My ambition comes from my passion: finding what I love and then expanding on that.” ~ Miranda Kerr

In general I love learning new things except when I don’t think I have a facility for it. Then I resist the lessons. I have this idea in my mind of my skill set and for the most part I don’t want to stretch past that. Most of us don’t want to do things we don’t think we’re good at. But sometimes we surprise ourselves if we try to learn something new.

When I became a full-time writer, all I wanted to do was concentrate on the writing. I didn’t want to think about the marketing and promotion that I was inevitably going to have to do when I published my books. I’m not a marketing genius, nor am I a good salesperson. The idea of peddling my book made me cringe.

Knowing that at some point I was going to have to address this issue, because I plan to self-publish, I would from time to time read how-to essays by artists and writers about the ins and outs of getting their work noticed by the general public. Unfortunately, after reading only a short portion of the book or article, my eyes would glass over and the pit of my stomach would sink. The experts I read said you have to be aggressive, you have to get your name out there, you have to talk about your work on social media, you have to push, push, push. Ugh. I hated it.

I’m an introvert. I don’t want to do blast marketing where every hour a tweet or post screams at people to go buy my book. That’s just not me. It seemed to me that most marketing and promotion wisdom is created by extroverts who have no problem tooting their own horn. I have a difficult time doing that. But the problem of how to market my book kept nagging at me. I knew I needed to come up with a plan but what?

So, I meditated and prayed about the problem. I hoped that providence would send me a new way to promote myself and my work that wouldn’t feel awful. I was just beginning to despair when Hay House sent me an email about Jeff Walker, with an internet marketing scheme that intrigued me. His business is called the Product Launch Formula (trademark). I watched the first video and was surprised that he gave so much great information about how to market anything I might want to sell but, as he said in the video, not is a sleazy or used car salesman kind of way. A few days later another email with a video link came and a few days another. By the time I’d watched the three videos I had the outline of how to market my book in a way that fits who I am.

Jeff is all about giving good value to your prospect ahead of time and asking for their advice and comments. If you can get to know the people who are interested in what you have to offer, it’s easier to promote your product. I loved that! Unfortunately I wasn’t able to sign up for his six month course this time. But when I was poking around his site I discovered he had written a book (Launch) that contains the information I needed to get started. I bought it that very day and have since read it. As I read, all kinds of great ideas of how to promote my work popped into my mind. This method was exactly what I needed. Because of this book I feel like I can be an expert at building a list of followers without coercing them to buy. That’s something I didn’t ever think I’d be able to do.

Before the Jeff Walker videos, I couldn’t imagine how I was going to build a list of followers. Part of my mind was closed. I didn’t want to have to market my books myself. Couldn’t I just have someone do it for me? However, the reality for authors today is that you’ve got to be actively engaged with your readers or potential readers even if your book is published in the conventional way. There are so many books being published, that it’s hard for new authors to get noticed and to gain a following. Jeff suggests you begin by using your email list to grow your customer base. You can start small by directing potential customers to an opt in page and you can also use word of mouth to attract new followers. I love that!

Even before learning about Jeff Walker, I made it a practice to avoid the best seller lists and read books by authors who aren’t as well known. If I like their book, I write a review on Amazon, iBooks, and/or Goodreads so that hopefully the author will expand their readership. Already I’ve made some online writer friends because I’ve written reviews, or retweeted the link to their book. It’s amazing how many new people I’ve met using this method.

Maybe I’ll coin a new phrase, “Karma Marketing,” in which helping others be successful will help me be successful too. That’s what Jeff Walker advocates. As you start your business, you make connections with people who resonate with you, and you support each other. He uses the term Mastermind Group, which is more than just a networking group. In your mastermind group, you hold each other accountable for improving your business by offering new products or services that your customers or fan base can use. Always give more value than they expect. It’s a new trend in business to be of service, rather than bilk your customers by selling inferior products and getting top dollar for those products. That’s something I can get behind.

Of course building a fan base takes time and effort, but it’s effort I’m willing to make if I can offer my readers something they will enjoy. Something extra I’ve created just for them. When I do this I may make some friends along the way. That’s always a good thing. Now I can breathe a sigh of relief. Finally someone who thinks like I do, and who is willing to help me build a business that is people friendly.

I’m going to do a little bit of word of mouth promotion for Jeff. If you buy his book, Launch, you get a step by step process that will help you begin your business, and access to a resource page with videos and instructions on how to do some of the technical stuff that an online business requires. This is what makes me excited. I won’t be alone as I step outside my comfort zone and stretch into learning a new but vital skill I will need to help me grow my fan base. Thanks Jeff and thanks Providence!

Feel free to leave a comment and thanks for reading.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015