6 weeks

Love, Business, and Cynicism

I read two articles this morning: one titled, “10 Uncomfortable Things That Will Make You Happy and Successful” and one, “Why You’re Not the Success You Want to Be.” Both amount to a get-over-yourself-and-take-responsibility-for-your-(in)actions scolding or inspiriting, depending on how you feel about yourself.

The universe conspires to kick you where you most need kicking. Battling the daily should-I-Shouldn’t-I saps me. You can’t change without discomfort, disorientation, and discouragement.

It’s not just my face. I’m trying to build a business. No question, I love the company, love the motivational team spirit, and especially love the products and how they make me look and feel. The question is how to spread the love?

Seems like it’s so much easier to spread hate, gauging by the tenor of the news and social media. Hate’s easy. It’s a big emotion. Love’s both powerful and subtle. It’s expected yet exceptional.

But even if you’re not a hater, cynicism is an ugly offshoot–a not quite so mean relative. Cynicism safeguards us, makes us feel smart and smug. It’s also lazy, thinking of my own cynicism.  It derives from a knee-jerk preconceived notion that the world is suspect, the first line of defense that leaves me less vulnerable than keeping an open mind and waiting to see what’s what–which takes more work.

Fear and Loathing

I love what I’m doing. I’m afraid of what I’m doing. I love that I’m afraid and working on getting over my fears–eventually. Overcoming fear success stories are my favorite tangents when I’m lecturing the college kids on writing. The number one student writing challenge is fear: I’m not good at writing. I don’t know grammar. I can’t organize my thoughts. It’s so hard.

It’s hard because it’s daunting. Our thoughts don’t naturally form themselves into neat boxes called paragraphs on a page. They flit all over our messy brains in holy randomness. To capture one thought is to lose ten ones just forming. It’s chaotic, like lassoing cats.

Practice Makes Imperfect Less So

But there’s a proven method to successful writing (however that’s measured). It’s a formula + practice, practice, practice. It takes a shit ton of time to get better at it–those Gladwell 10,000 hours it takes to master something.

Okay, so Gladwell’s theory’s been debunked specifically vis a vis entrepreneurship (only 1% success attributable to practice), but practice is not irrelevant in writing or math for that matter.

But getting back to fear, overcoming it IS a matter of practice in my own experience. I used to be deathly afraid to speak in public. I spent 18 years in school avoiding it by never raising my hand or bowing my head down into my book when the teacher scanned the class for willing victims to answer a question.

I was the quiet smart kid who never gambled on risking mistakes. If I couldn’t bear to be wrong, I couldn’t give my thoughts a spin out loud to try them out. I suffered in doubt alone.

Direct Sales, Ew!

Luckily, my own dissatisfaction or unconsciousness threw me into professions that forced me to speak. I recall coming within seconds of passing out when I first taught high school and my boss came in to review my lecture. I thought I’d spew from every orifice. It took five years of appearing in court sick and vomitous before one day I realized that I wasn’t. I somehow forced the fear out of me.

My students are amazed to hear the stories. You? Afraid to speak in front of an audience? Clearly, I’ve mastered the comfortable teacher-speaker role. I can’t say I’ve mastered teaching or public speaking, but I’ve whipped one of my fears.

But the process of doing so never gets easier. I love what I’m doing now–preaching the good word on lovely skin and a great company. Only, I’m craving companions who are equally enthusiastic and likewise motivated to build something with me.

It’s hard to find–companionship, business partners. Most people fear to fail before they start. I get that–daily. But I’ve started and don’t plan to stop until…who knows? That’s the best part. Who knows what lies ahead?

What I do know is “direct sales” is as dirty a word to too many people as “telemarketing” or “car sales.” People brace themselves to be taken or taken somewhere they naturally feel reluctant to go–spending money or spending more money than they want or feeling trapped or getting ripped off.

I’ve always felt the same. “What does this person want from me?” It’s uncomfortable to feel out of control, doubtful, and suspicious. Our overexposure to being advertised to and sold things has given us fear and skepticism. I just go near a car dealership and feel like I need to put on my armor.

Let’s Be Realistic and Do Math

Why is that? If you need and want to buy a car, why not let yourself be sold one? The best armor is information and knowing what you want, so long as it’s feasible. Humans fear change. People fear losing control.

I don’t like spending money. That’s what I tell myself. That’s been my mindset. But I spend money all the time on what’s important to me–besides the bills. I’ll overspend on eating out to enjoy a good meal with my daughters or husband. I’ll relish a delightful bottle of wine that’s sinfully expensive to accommodate a ridiculously lavish, absurdly expensive meal every once in a while. I deserve it.

I don’t afford myself those pleasures when it comes to my skin–not til now. I bought on sale (my favorite buying if I buy at all) and the least I can get away with. What? $26 for a small bottle of moisturizer?! What’s in it, the elixir of youth? I always buy anti-aging formula with retinol, higher priced than soap or cold cream, but none of it has worked, not for years. Yet, I bought it.

And I was happy splashing my face with water or soaps and smearing a dab of my retinol-infused moisturizer before passing out at night or before going out in the morning. I was doing what I thought I could, and old, tired, damaged skin was my lot to bear for living as I did. Grown ups face that sort of thing and make peace with it, right?

So, after using Rodan and Fields skincare–actually taking the time to apply all four steps of a regimen–I overcame a couple misconceptions: that I’m a savvy saver and don’t really care about what I look like. Neither is true.

I was throwing money away using products that didn’t work. I might have been financially smarter to use mere soap and water to achieve the same results. And I do care about having smooth, soft, brighter skin that makes me look more alive. What’s the price on happiness?

I know that price. I’ve spent it on momentary happiness: procrastinating on social media, eating an entire supersized bag of Miss Vicky’s Kettle Cooked Jalapeno Chips and other hedonistic pleasures. What about the long-lasting improvement that leads to a more confident and productive person? Yes, that’s important.

Just Doing It

How many people want to make money doing something they believe in, something that has changed their lives for the better? Lots. I’m one of them.

Simply (NOT!) a matter of getting over fears–of rejection, failing and succeeding. Yep, there’s even a fear of succeeding. Then what? What’s my responsibility when I’ve succeeded? What if it’s not what I wanted? Ugh. Pick a fear, any fear.

Come what may, changes come. Even if my face stays right where it is, for now, I’m happy. There will be other changes–to more than my face–and more after that. Guaranteed.

Week Six:

 

I predict that I’ll get the exact match up photo by week 8. I’m a slow learner. Any bets?

 

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