I’m launching a new mini-series soon and it’s truly changed the way I’m thinking about things these days. Where did it all begin? It started by building a “brighter flashlight” to find my way through these uncertain times. Sharing some thoughts with you about all this in my latest video message.
Be a Brighter Flashlight – Transcript
Maybe you’re like me. Many times over the past six months I have found myself paused in my path. It’s a pause that I can’t quite define, but it’s akin to indecision and that is not a road I find myself on very often. See, I’m a quick thinker and an even speedier decider. Ask anyone who has ever shopped with me. I’m good for one grand tour around the shop and then it is pay and go. If you’re a browser, I’m not your gal pal for shopping. When I create a plan in my business there is a healthy SWOT analysis, then I am off to the races, full steam. Looking back is not an action I was taught. In fact, my father many times would say to me, “Laurie, there is no sense looking in the review mirror, you can only focus on one direction and that is forward.”
That’s why when the pandemic hit and most of us faced an abrupt change in how we conduct business, I didn’t freak out. I didn’t rush around and take quick action, I just faced forward. However, for the most part, I stopped moving at all. I stood still on purpose.
Facing the unknown is like walking in a dense forest at night. Even with a flashlight in hand, you can only see a few feet in front of you. The darkness that stretches ahead is filled with the unknown, which can be scary. Turning and running back where you came from doesn’t help, it’s just as uncertain in that direction. The opposite reaction is to bravely put your head down and sprint as fast as you can and hope that you reach the other side without tripping on any hidden obstacles.
Neither of those choices made sense to me.
Moving cautiously, one small step at a time, while allowing myself the grace to rest and not keep up with everyone else was healthy for me. However, I knew that if I kept this mindset long-term there would be consequences, bad ones. Early on, I promised myself that by August 1, after five months of pausing, I would make a decision on what my next action would be. My choices ranged from retire early to build a bigger boat, with a lot of options in between. In fact, it is mind-numbing the amount of options that exist for what I could do next.
As the date approached, I realized that the real answer has to do with the flashlight, not the path ahead. It dawned on me that if I could use a brighter flashlight, I could see the path much better. With a little confidence, my strides could be longer and faster allowing me to pick up some momentum. Is that true for you too? Have you thought about how you can build a brighter flashlight?
For me, I found my brighter flashlight in these three things:
- I realized I have spent a lot of my life saying “I can’t wait until … (my kids get out of diapers, my kids get in college, we relocate to our new home).” Yet the very day I’m writing this, two of those things have already happened. So, aren’t I already living in the day I couldn’t wait for? Think about that for a second and enjoy whatever is going right in your life today.
- I realized that somewhere along the line, I quit doing small things that make me happy but cost very little. I love the feel of sun and wind in my face, yet I had stopped sitting on my patio. I enjoy a suspense novel and a cup of hot tea, yet I don’t remember the last good book I read. I thrive in creative projects, whether it’s a DIY craft or a fun gathering of friends, yet I hadn’t done either in over a year. What do you enjoy that has been abandoned for no reason?
- I realized that it didn’t matter what anyone else was (or wasn’t) doing in my field. Didn’t Teddy Roosevelt say that “comparison is the thief of joy”? I know a carpet cleaner who says, “The curb view doesn’t always match what’s inside.” He has seen multimillion dollar homes with no furniture, and that comment has stuck with me for years. Making moves that are right for our individual circumstances is so vitally important. As a good friend of mine says, “You do you.”
It’s been quite a few weeks since I started forward movement again. I feel happy, confident, relaxed, hopeful, and enthusiastic. A client recently asked me to do an hour–long program on confidence. This is a topic I have never spoken about before, so it forced me to stop and think about what goes into creating a confident self during challenging times. I had a blast giving the program, but what mattered most to me were the emails I received from several who watched the show and said it was just what they needed to hear right now. That’s when it occurred to me that maybe I can be a brighter flashlight for someone who only has a candle.