OK. So part of this experiment I’m running called my business is making a practice of being honest. I may not always shout it from the rooftops — sometimes I want to hide, and there’s no shame in hiding — but I’m owning my truth and living transparently.
So here is the deal. I put together a workshop called Playtime with Your Inner Critic. I showed up tonight to lead the workshop. And nobody else showed up.
That’s tough. But the bright side is, I had planned to lead a group through exercises in turning your critical energy around and playing with it — so I am well prepared for the critical thoughts that I am now having. And I’m in a beautiful room with big paper and markers and all the tools I need to work through my critical thoughts.
So I might as well share that process. A virtual workshop, in a way. A workshop of one.
First, I am going to write down what sucks about this situation.
- I suck at promoting workshops
- I suck at picking one thing and repeating it. I’m pretty sure if I’d picked one workshop topic a year ago and did that once a month for a year, people wouldn’t be so confused about what I’m doing and when and why.
What is the opposite of those things, that is also true?
- I am great at hiding out. I am great at bursts of inspiration at the last minute. I am great at under-promising and over-delivering.
I mean, I really did have a great two hour workshop planned:
- I am great at offering wildly divergent things. I am great at improvising and never doing something the same way twice.
- Maybe I could find a way to offer that wildly divergent zone regularly. Would anyone show up for that? Maybe if people knew SOME of the why and what, and if the when and where was always the same, it would be clear enough to stick.
Let’s go deeper into my frustrations with this situation
- I’ve been through this before
- I knew this would happen
- I’m tired of this pattern
- I feel embarrassed: where are my fans, where is my momentum?
Have there been things that did not follow this pattern?
The answer is: yes. And ironically, the events that I’ve had the most success promoting in the past are my failure workshops. Two questions arise:
- Do I want to lead a regular workshop on failure?
- Would I have come to this workshop today, if I weren’t leading it?
I think the answer to both is: no. I love my failure practice workshops — but I don’t want to lead them every month. I want something bigger, more open — I want failure to be part of what I’m leading us through, but not the only framework.
And if I weren’t leading this workshop tonight, I am pretty sure I would have found an excuse to not come, because the idea of dealing with my inner critics when I’m tired and cranky and hungry does not appeal to me. (Oof! This is hard to admit, but it’s true).
So what IS the workshop that I would drag my lazy ass out of the house to attend every month?
As soon as I ask this, 3 ideas pop into my head. Ideas that are open enough for me to go wild but have a simple structure that speaks to a clear need (I think). I have no idea if anyone else would like these, but I know I would.
I’m getting too heady, so I take a break to draw my critic
This is Beebee Eye Roller, rolling her eyes at all this WACKINESS which she is sure everyone will think is SO STUPID.
BeeBee Eye Roller is basically 15 year old me, frozen in time. (Wearing a weird hat and with yarn for hair). And I’m making light of this, but I also want to say: her concern comes from a real place. Her fear of humiliation is real. I can still remember the fear I felt in high school — so don’t think I’m not taking Beebee seriously. It’s just that, I’m 38 years old now, and I am wearing a unicorn shirt, and a headband, and taking selfies of myself jumping in the air, and what’s the worst that could happen?
Then I put on Cyndi Lauper and we dance it out
I dance like I am Beebee Eye Roller and no one is watching.
I dance like I am a ballerina even though I am not.
I dance with white girl abandon even though my greatest fear is dancing like a white girl.
And I am going to share the video I took with you, even though I promised Beebee we wouldn’t share it.
She thinks it is a TERRIBLE idea. Actually what she thinks is something like this: This is not how you run a business. Who would ever hire you to do anything based on this video? Oh my god you are going to embarrass yourself.
An opposite which I can also find a way to believe is: This is an inspired way to run a business, one that other inspired lunatics will respond to. I would love anyone who hired me based on this video.
So here it is:
Oh yeah, and here are the 3 ideas for future workshops:
- Dance with your monsters, critics and fears: a hilarious dance party with our monster selves. I bring a playlist that takes us on an hour-long journey and throw out prompts to inspire us to dance with our monster energy.
- Failure storytelling circle: share stories about your mistakes and messes, get practice bragging about them instead of hiding them, and get active backup and support from the group for doing hard things.
- Big crazy idea clinic: bring your big crazy idea and we’ll brainstorm ways you could make it happen. (You can bring in ideas you think are terrible or would never work and we’ll still give it our best shot. All ideas are taken seriously.)
I would love to know which (if any) of these you would come to.