So, I’ve been having a conversation with expansion.
My work is flowing. I love teaching. I’ve found a schedule that supports and nourishes me. It’s working. Or it was, until I decided to expand. I’d watched other teachers create tiers and weave together a ‘sales funnel.’ I’d seen friends and teaching colleagues launch all kinds of big splashy programs and pull six-figure book deals and attract thousands of followers.
I was ready!
So I hired a business coach. I thought I’d lay out all of my questions about balance sheets and marketing plans and he’d teach me everything I needed to know. But each time we got on the phone, all I wanted to talk about was God. God and process. God and integrity. God and my parents. God.
This is all I ever want to talk about.
I used to think business was an engineering project; I thought that you had to design maps and grids and business plans. You had to lay foundation and build structure and get every nut and bolt properly placed.
And I felt completely unsuited for that project.
What I’m learning is that business is like every other part of life. It’s a process, and expansion is much more like breathing than ‘construction’. It’s organic, an unfolding, a flow.
It’s not nearly as hard as I make it.
But all of this discovery has its cost: in my determination to go through this process in an authentic way, I am often having to process things in front of people. Starting something and then, when I realize it’s not working, taking it down. Making mistakes and apologizing. I am having to admit that I’m human, that I have doubts and concerns. That I am not perfect. Hard for a ‘teacher’. Hard for a person who is leading a program called “The Soul Caller Training.”
“I think you have to be willing to be naked,” says screenwriter Charlie Kaufman.
I think so, too.
In my quest to expand, I’d come up with a wonderful new program – an advanced Soul Caller Training. And it is such a lovely program – full of beautiful gifts for my students (and for me – cuz I learn right alongside them.)
Three days before the first class, I withdrew it.
I am determined, fiercely, to honor what is here – to stay present. To see, and to feel what is real. This new class was wonderful but the writing of it and holding the space for it in my life was too much for me.
At least right now. Because I have this family. This house. This real life.
My best work arrives from that life – from the people and situations that arise as I make my way through it. I listen to life – to the world – and sometimes, I notice something that’s worth telling you about.
Right now, the thing that seems worth discussing is expansion itself, and what expansion is asking of me: surrender.
Kaufman suggests that you keep telling new stories, in new forms. This is what all writers – all artists that I love – seem to do.They keep it fresh: Meryl Streep appears in a musical. Cate Blanchett plays Bob Dylan – and she plays him really well! Steven King plays in a rock band (along with Dave Barry, Amy Tan and several other best-selling authors.)
This week, when a friend asked me: What was the most effective thing you did to expand your business? I answered with this: I started the class. I had an idea and, instead of strategizing and planning and holding it back until it was just right, i let it go.
Since then, I’ve tried to put other things out there. They don’t always work. I will continue to try.
You have to let yourself expand, a little at a time, outside the lines of yourself. And, if you want to make a living as an artist or a teacher or a poet or a screenwriter or anything else – you have to start doing it.