The first time I stepped into a corporate office I had dreams that I could change things.
Aren’t we all idealists right out of college?
I would add color and graphics and inspiration to my PowerPoint slides, but inevitably, they were “revised” to the standard blue, gray, black, white. Over and over and over again. For almost a decade.
I felt like my brain was in a straight jacket. At first it was confusing, restrictive, frustrating. But over time you get used to living like that. You get used to living with the discomfort. I got used to living with it.
For years I was trained to separate the two parts of myself:
imaginative, playful, childlike creative vs. hard-working, linear, thoughtful producer.
At work I could only show up as the producer. There were expectations put on me that I had to follow in order to be “successful.” I used so much of my left-brain from 9 to 5 I couldn’t even find the discipline to use the right-side when I left the office.
I was trained to believe:
Business = slides, spreadsheets, check-lists, always being late to meetings…
I adore coaching. It feeds my soul in ways I can’t even describe. But when I put it in the “business box” in my head, it became this system that felt a whole lot like a stuffy, old financial company.
I put rules around what I had to do or couldn’t do. I saw deviation as failure.
- Wait, you didn’t post seven times this week? Failure.
- You didn’t use any buzz words in that copy? Failure.
- You didn’t stick to your prescribed color pallet? Failure
And you know what happened? I felt like shit. I felt uncertain and confused and restricted and lost. Don’t get me wrong, I was really good at faking it – pretending that I had my shit together and was doing #allthethings. The reality: I lay in bed every night wondering if I would ever be legit enough to leave my day job or if I was even good enough to try.
It took a LONG time to unlearn things.
It took several incredible and vulnerable coaching moments.
It took slowly pulling bricks down from the wall between my creator side and my producer side.
It took realizing that I am 100% all in with my business, which means that 100% of ME needs to show up. No one wants to hang out with producer-only-Anna. She’s super boring – trust me. Creator-only-Anna would probably forget to show up at all.
Creative and thoughtful, messy-fierce, organized-chaos Anna? She’s pretty damn awesome.
So let mine be a cautionary tale.
You are a whole and complicated person. You have been living with a certain set of rules that had to be followed in order for you to succeed. Your behavior was shaped by what allowed you to win in the past.
But here’s the magic: My house, my rules.
- If I want to start every day with crayons? I do.
- If I want to swear in my copy? I’ll drop F-bombs whenever I feel like it.
- If I want to share all my book-nerd recommendations? I do so without worrying about whether I’m too much.
No one, not even your past-self, gets to limit how you do your heart’s work. You make the rules.
There are approximately eight billion different ways to do this.