My @tedxcinnati video of my talk: Disconnect to Connect (below) was just released this past weekend on YouTube. This experience was truly life changing for me personally and as a speaker. I thought it may be helpful to share some of what I learned during this year while going through this process of creating a TED Talk, auditioning to make it to the main stage and then performing it.
I had an interesting experience in my yoga class. The instructor was playing random music from Pandora, and chose a classical station to end our practice with. What she didn’t realize when she turned on this station was how it affected me. I immediately went back to being a teenager as soon as I heard the first piece play. Life takes us in so many directions; we sometimes forget where our beginnings were. The pieces that were played were ones I played as a High School student on my viola in a local symphony orchestra. For that moment in time, I wasn’t in that yoga room anymore. I transcended back to my childhood bedroom where I practiced every note of those pieces over and over again. I heard the notes I used to struggle with and was amazed I still remembered the whole piece. I then found myself remembering working on those same pieces with my viola teacher, the things he said, the goals we set, the measures upon measures we worked on over and over again so it would come out sounding right.
As the piece continued…I remembered the feeling I would have on stage. As the music grew louder during the concert, the stage floor vibrating and pounding with the instruments, the conductor waiving his arms furiously with the music and remembering the exhilaration I used to feel that sometimes brought tears of happiness to my eyes when it all came together on stage. All the work that led up to that final concert and how amazing it felt to be a part of an Orchestra at that moment in time.
We all have forks in the road – when it was time to make a decision on college majors – the choice was between music and business for me. I chose business, and packed my viola away. However, just because I no longer spend hours practicing my viola and playing concerts, the experience of playing came into my business life without realizing it. These roots that we have inside us, create the education for us on how to conduct our careers later. I learned through playing viola, the concert was the fun part, practicing was not; but it was necessary to be able to achieve a successful concert. The discipline and redundancy of playing the same notes over and over until you got it right – is the same discipline you need in business. We all are performers, in one way or another. Whether we are presenting in a meeting, pitching a sale to a prospect or speaking at a conference, we have to practice and know our subject matter better than anyone else does.
The way you win in business is to have discipline and to set goals. Making decisions too fast is really hard not to do. Making sure that each decision is in alignment with the goals you have with your business is even harder. Taking your yoga practice in your business can help you with slowing down and making sure the steps are in place. Learn to breathe. Take a deep breath before making a decision and think through the impact. Just like in our yoga practice or playing an instrument, it’s the details that count. No one may actually know what happens behind the scenes before it all comes together, but the time has to be taken to go through the steps and “practice” to achieve the outcome you want. No one may know when you couldn’t touch your toes or you played out of tune, because the end result creates an amazing business that the outside world appreciates.
Take some time to go back to your roots. Let yourself go back to something in your life that had real impact to how you do things today. Was it the right way to do it? Are you following a path because you have always done it that way? Or is it time to step back and assess how to do it differently and set goals that take you into a different direction. Make sure you are achieving the successful outcome that you want. Practicing the wrong note over and over will not translate into a good experience for the audience of a concert. Going into a pose incorrectly over and over will create injuries and frustration that you are not getting it right. Instead aim for the appearance of a seamless orchestral concert where the audience doesn’t understand the mechanics to get there, nor needs to. You did the work and took the necessary steps behind the scenes so they get what they paid for.
When new students walk into class to practice yoga for the first time or a business opens its doors for the first time, a very similar experience happens. They both look around at what others are doing and want what they have today even though they are just beginning. I see in both cases they can be quickly disappointed if it doesn’t come fast enough. A yoga student may see the flexibility of the person next to them or see another person fly into an arm balance and ask how fast they will be able to do the same thing. An entrepreneur looks around at the success of other businesses that have been working in the same field for years and expect the same revenue and success as them in their first year.
How do we set the right expectations so we don’t disappoint ourselves and are able to enjoy the process of starting something new? Over the years I have seen people take steps through the journey and have intention as they go through the process and achieve success. I have also observed firms and clients alike try to rush through implementations without taking the steps to train, create unrealistic goals and a tremendous amount of stress for themselves and those around them. In yoga, I see students try to muscle through poses rather than understanding their breath and proper alignment first. They miss that if they slow down and learn the poses it will help them into each posture naturally with very little muscle involved.
I did the same thing when I started yoga. I started and stopped yoga a few times thinking I could never do what I saw others doing – whether that be their flexibility or ability of being still in a pose. Then I finally decided to go to a Beginners class and that changed everything for me. I finally understood where to put my feet, hands, gaze and utilize my breath. I also began to understand that I needed to stop focusing on the people next to me, that I may never do what they can do. I learned to be okay with that. I stopped being competitive and starting enjoying the practice. There is no reason that starting a new business line or service shouldn’t be the same. You should enjoy the excitement of starting something new and all the learning ahead of you. The climb is exciting and opportunities open up that you never realized were available.
I remember I was on a trip to Florida with my family in high school driving down a street by the ocean viewing one amazing home after another. My mom said to me that it must be nice to have a home that beautiful. My response to her (that I am still not sure where it had come from, but I felt it from the bottom of my heart) was that I believe I will have it one day – and I could picture what it looked like. She asked why I thought that and I couldn’t explain it, I just believed it.
The house itself really wasn’t what that belief was about – it was about a vision that I believed I was going to do something great one day. The house just represented the culmination of that achievement. I keep that vision with me when things go sideways, upside down or right side up. It helps me keep things in perspective that I am working toward a larger goal – even if I am not sure what that is at times, I just feel it.
Coming into the new year, I thought I would share what I believe it takes when you innovate and work toward something bigger than you based on my own experiences. Take from it what may resonate with you and leave behind what doesn’t work for your life from this post. This blog is based on my own self reflection and constant work I do to understand what internally drives me, which may or may not relate to your experiences.
I believe, innovation takes risk and it transitions to many different things over your lifetime. When you look at history, nothing stays stagnant. Things are always changing and developing whether it’s music, art, technology, business, etc. It never stays the same. It takes people to come along to push for transition to take things to the next step. I believe each person was put here for a purpose to make those changes and take those risks even if each person hasn’t identified what that purpose is yet. It’s important to understand what your purpose is and believe in yourself so that we all benefit. Many times we don’t even notice the changes until they have already occurred and we look back and can’t believe how much has changed in a short period of time.
Part of believing in yourself is allowing space to make transitions for another generation to come through to keep evolving our own creativity. I read a quote once from a prestigious yoga teacher named Seane Corn where she was asked to mentor a younger instructor that she personally felt had a great yoga practice, in addition to being beautiful. She answered the request from the younger teacher by saying that she would mentor her if when she encounters the same experience of another teacher just as talented that comes to her in the future by not feeling threatened to help that teacher grow and expand as way of paying it forward. I read this at a time in my life where I was making a transition in my career and this resonated with me. You know it’s time to move to your next phase in your gut and make space for new people to grow into the space you were at. You can’t stay the same or stagnant, everything must grow and change. Sometimes things come to an end to push you to take the next right path – rather than looking at change or endings as a bad thing – instead look at it as your next thing you were meant to be or to do, and not resist it.
Innovation also takes risk. Unleashing your creativity without listening to other people’s judgement or telling you it’s not possible is really important in achieving your vision. If you believe in it, do it. When I was younger I was fully into the arts – painting and playing music. Once it was time for college I was guided into business school even though I had opportunities to major in the arts. I don’t necessarily think that path was wrong; however, what happened was I began to believe that if I didn’t go to school for painting, I couldn’t paint. What I have found in the past year is I went back to my roots of painting and playing music and found passion for it all over again. I just read a quote in an article from Katie Holmes talking about growing up in Ohio and wanting to become an actress. Her comment was that she wishes she could tell her young self that acting is just a plane ride away. Everything is achievable, it’s about going after it, having a vision, putting your mind into action and not feeling there is a right way or wrong way to do it. It’s all a journey.
Creativity doesn’t need to be taught – it’s from within and it resonates with the eye of the beholder. It’s what touches you and may not for someone else. All you can do is keep putting yourself out there and not let others keep you down because of their own insecurities. There is plenty of judgement from those around you – even if people don’t know you – it’s amazing how many people have opinions about you that don’t know you or your circumstances. I have encountered that plenty in my career. Not sure why people take up space in their heads passing judgement, but it’s typically out of their own insecurities of what they have done to limit themselves. Living your life in the way that best fits you is all that matters and learn to shut out the rest of the noise as best you can.
In order to imagine new ideas you need to create space so you can explore what’s next to come. If there is no space to allow for new ideas, you won’t be able to do it. I find when I exercise or sometimes even on a plane – when I slow down, something takes over and all the sudden I solve a problem in my head that I couldn’t solve before. That is because there wasn’t space for it until I allowed for it. It’s also important to have the strength sometimes to let go of things that aren’t working too. You try and try and then you realize you keep pushing against the same thing and are not solving the issue. For instance, there are times when I am painting that I have a vision in my head of what it’s going to look like and no matter how many ways I try to fix it, it doesn’t work. After all that time and effort, I then have to muster the strength to throw out the painting (which drives my children nuts by the way…they fish them out of the trash and then I have to throw them away again). There are so many things in life that we have to have the wherewith all to scrap an idea or concept and move on or decide to change how we go about accomplishing the same thing in a different way. That’s innovation – but it needs space to breathe and grow so we can learn from it.
There are certain things that take over me, my soul, where time flies by and I lose myself – speaking to a crowd at a conference, teaching yoga, painting and listening to music to name a few. So when things gets tough, that’s why I don’t stop trying or throw in the towel because I put my whole self into what doesn’t feel like work, but what is innate in me. Rather than resisting what feels right for you, go toward it, rather than holding yourself back. Many times, I don’t have the line of sight of what that next goal to conquer is going to be – but I continue to wade through the darkness toward it until I find it.
Remembering to allow yourself space and grow with what you learn – which is mostly from what fails – will hopefully make each of us stronger and closer to achieving the vision we set out to conquer. If it wasn’t a journey, it wouldn’t feel so good when we have the wins. Believing in that feeling in your gut and shutting out the noise will help when things seem to collapse at the seems. When things go dark for me, I step back and try to understand what it is trying to tell me and why so many things are going wrong. There is usually a message in there if I make the space to listen to it so I can keep innovating and creating. Going into this next year, believe in yourself, your talents and block the noise.
Stay true to the vision you have for yourself so you can achieve all that you want.
To see more of Amy’s Blogs visit: http://thedrishtiqcpa.blogspot.com/2015/12/believe-in-your-vision.html