Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Put yourself out there

A few weeks ago, I did something I wouldn't normally do. Fueled by Barbara Stanny's book, "Secrets of Six Figure Women", I decided to Google her name. She has a fantastic website that I started tooling around on. There was a Contact Me button, which listed her email.

Normally, I would have thought it silly to email an established author. She probably gets millions of emails a day telling her how wonderful she is, and mine would just get lost in the mix. However, if it wasn't for her I wouldn't be on this new wave of letting go of all the parts of me that said it was stupid. I sent her an email. I was so nervous writing it, I probably wrote three different drafts. Finally, after much deliberation, I hit send. This rush of relief and excitement washed over me. Off to her inbox it went. I couldn't take it back now.

Three days later I opened my email to see a message from none other than Barbara Stanny. She not only read my email, but read my blog. She loved it! She even thanked me for the email and said that it meant a lot to her. Had I not been at work when I read it, I would have jumped up and down and squealed like a 10 year old girl.

But it didn't end there. Just last week Barbara emailed me again. It was a short message, "Hi Amanda…check out my latest blog…it’s about you: www.barbarastannyblog.com"

She wrote her blog about me and my blog! Once again, I was prompted to jump up and down. She talked about the idea behind my blog and even urged her readers to check it out. I got some encouraging comments from her readers, (if you came back to read my latest-thank you!). It felt nothing short of amazing.

Point of this week's blog: don't be afraid to put yourself out there. One simple email brought about a series of events that made me feel that I had finally done something worth while. My dream of helping people overcome their fears wasn't too far off.

Special thanks to Barbara for her encouragement (and all that she has done for women everywhere). Contact someone you admire this week, and do it with confidence. You never know what could come of it!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Just ask!

Sometimes I am afraid to ask for things.

Randy Pausch's, The Last Lecture, made it onto my 'all time favorite books' list last year. For those of you who haven't read it, I strongly recommend picking up a copy. Chapter 55 is titled, "All you have to do is ask." On a family trip to Disney World, Randy's father asks him if he knows how people get to sit in the front of the monorail. Randy strides up to the monorail attendant and asks, "Excuse me, could the three of us please sit in the front car?" The attendant replies, "Certainly, Sir." And Randy, his son, and his dumbfounded father take their seats next to the driver.

I took this nugget of inspiration and rolled with it. I called my cell phone provider and asked for a lower monthly rate. The last time I called I was told that I had the lowest rate and there was nothing more they could do. This time I asked for their customer relations department, and again asked for a lower plan. She not only gave me two lower priced options, and then she gave me an additional 1,000 rollover minutes. I also asked about a texting plan I had taken off but wanted to put back on when I realized how many texts I recieved in a month. "Certainly Ms. Broadhead. And I will remove all the extra charges you accrued from that removal this month." Fantastic!

Even better was my email to Northwest Airlines. On a trip for work, I was bumped from my connecting flight, which was overbooked by five people. The next flight was not for another 7 hours, so I was stuck in the Detroit airport and my whole trip was screwed up. I emailed the airline. I asked if I could recieve a travel voucher. I justified it by saying that people who volunteer to give up their seats on an overbooked flight recieve travel vouchers, and the airline volunteered me themselves. Five days later I recieved a travel voucher for $200 and an apology.

If you ask for something and the answer is no, that just means nothing changes. The worst thing you could do is not even try at all. Pull a Randy Pausch this week, and claim your seat at the front of the monorail.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Essay contest

I finally did it, I entered an essay writing contest. I had clipped out the rules from Real Simple magazine about a month ago, and had thought about starting it a million times. Finally Sunday night, (did I mention it was due by 11:59 PM on Monday?) I started writing. About 4PM on Monday I thought I wouldn't have it done, and even told my mom on the phone that I wouldn't finish in time to submit. She gave a genuine, "Awww, that's too bad!" And for some reason that triggered it. 7 hours and 59 minutes? I could get it done!

And I did, along with 3 loads of laundry, dinner, and 2 episodes of Sopranos. The rules said 1,500 words or less, and around 9PM I kept hovering around 1,550. Not my best work ever, but my bigger goal was just to get something complete submitted and show myself I could do it. I'm not one for submitting sub-par work...on purpose anyway, so I am a little disappointed that I didn't start sooner.

I decided to write about my struggle this week because this was all a result of procratination-procrastination rooted in fear. It was like I was trying to give myself an excuse for the essay not to be perfect, so if it was critisized I could say, "Well I did it in 24 hours, so considering the time constraint it's pretty good." I realized I do this all the time. I put things off because I am afraid to do them, or afraid of what people will think of the outcome.

Really what did I have to worry about? No one was going to read my essay but the staff at Real Simple. Not like they are posting submissions on a billboard in Times Square. And as mediocre as it was, I'm sure there were many that were worse. It was all in my head.

We'll see if I hear anything from Real Simple. In the mean time stop putting off something you have been meaning to do and get started today!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Successful book

I didn't plan on posting again until next week when I did something scary, but everyone has been asking me what this amazing book about successful women is called. "Secrets of Six Figure Women" by Barbara Stanny is the book, you can buy it on Amazon for less than $10.

Even though it is geared toward women, everyone can get something out of it. (Guys you may just want to fold the cover back when reading it in public). This book makes you realize that you are the only one holding yourself back from being wildly successful. The women in this book are risk takers. They do not worry about what other people think. They make mistakes and learn from them instead of dwelling on them. They get out of their comfort zone and shake things up.

My favorite part in this book is called "Letting go of your cliff". The author tells a story about a mountain climber who suddenly falls and finds herself dangling from a cliff, calling out to God to help her. She hears a voice that tells her it will help her, but first she must let go of the cliff. An extreme analogy, but effective.

How many of us cling to things just because they are comfortable? And not even 'good' comfortable! A miserable day job we're afraid to quit because we'd lose a steady paycheck. Or a bad relationship that we're afraid to end for fear of being alone. Without letting go of the cliff, we can never find out the amazing things waiting out there for us.

I strongly recommend you read this book, and let go of your cliff!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My first blog...finally!

In 4th grade I declared I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. My friend Laura and I would sit on the metal grates on the playground at recess with our spiral notebooks and craft our book series (a knock-off of Little Women). On Book Day where we were to dress up as a character from our favorite book, Laura and I dressed up like our own characters and told the whole school that we were writing our own book series. It was going to happen. Besides, Louisa May Alcott was dead, who was going to come after us for plagiarism?

Those half-written manuscripts are somewhere in a Rubbermaid tote in my mom’s basement. I have yet to send my short story from college creative writing into a magazine to get published, as my professor suggested. And I have 72 pages of my semi-memoir written, but still have not gotten even that much into a cohesive string of thought. Why haven’t I done it? And why am I just now starting the blog I have wanted to write for years?

One simple answer-I was afraid. I had an epiphany this week after reading a book about successful women. The author discussed how many of us are afraid to be successful. We would rather stay exactly where we are-even if we are miserable-because the thought of taking a risk and shaking things up scares us far more than a life of being comfortably numb.

I thought about all of the great ideas I have had over the years that never came to fruition. I told myself I didn’t have enough time, didn’t have enough money to get started, and every other excuse imaginable. That was all they were-excuses. Because the main reason was that I was so afraid of failure, afraid of rejection, afraid of making a mistake, afraid of what people would think of me. Afraid, period.

And with that I found the perfect subject for the blog I was so scared to write for years-fear. I hope that by writing about it I can overcome some of my fears, and maybe help someone reading this to do the same. I already scratched one thing of my 'list of things that scare me' today. Success. I challenge you to do something today that scares you-and to be amazing at it.