Running is one of small victories I have achieved during the past two years when my consultancy business started to be erratic and unpredictable. I would have weeks packed with corporate training, speaking and coaching assignments, travels abroad, followed by weeks of single one-to one coaching sessions, with a few teaching classes and mainly non-paid conferences and volunteer activities.
Ebb and flow
Faking flow. Pushing for more flow. Sending compulsive signals on the web. Beacons in the Twitterverse night. On the ebb periods, waiting for the flow to come back and inundate my soul and my bank account, (insert a *grin* here) I would sit and stare at this screen, send messages in the bottle and spend an awful amount of time surfing the web and collecting beautiful sea-shells. I would “scoop” them, tweet them, “like” them, google plus and share them on linkedIn, more and more seldom blog about them.
Why not on my blog? Because I felt I had first to “be the success I wanted to achieve” and sharing these long periods of waiting for the next assignment was just making me feel even more miserable. I wanted to keep the cheerful “go and get them, girl” kind of face.
I didn’t want anyone to feel “sorry” for me. I didn’t want anyone to know that I could struggle with getting clients, with my financial autonomy. I am supposed to be a creative positive successful executive coach who walks her own talk with confidence and teach by example. Phrases like “fake it until you make it” are still very strongly engraved in myself. Or “success attracts success” and that kind of crappy law of attraction babble.
So I stayed out of my blog for a couple of weeks, which actually became two months. I found myself good excuses for not exercising (too cold, too windy, too rainy, my running clothes look ugly, I have my periods, I am not a sports person anyway, I have already taken a shower, I have to finish this conversation on twitter and then I’ll go…). You guess what? The ebb lasted a little longer than usual.
Fantastic rainbow projects co-designed with a couple of trusted partners (no signed agreements, though) since last november are still six feet under. I had pictured myself in spring, joyfully loaded with clients and new assignments, frolicking between airports, making Tuscan plans for the summer with family. I find myself at the ebb, on an empty shore, counting a few sea shells & weeds, still waiting for star fish. Explaining this painfully to my banker. Looking at reality in the face (face palm as my mischievous friend Sandy Maxey explained me on Twitter).
So, what does it have to do with cherry trees?
I took Steven Pressfield’s advice about horse power and exercise and resumed running. I also took my own advices actually. You remember the big triple crisis I had last summer? It led me to write Silly things that help during crisis. Well, I should have known better and sticked to these as a daily routine. They saved my sanity once, they should be used as preventive medicine, not only during the crisis.
When I say I go for a run, I actually follow the exact routine I have achieved thanks to an iPhone app called “Couch to 5K” (no sponsor!) and great music too! I may bridge into 10 k, but not ready yet…So, I do the exact same run every time and I’m starting to spot each tree, each country road, each rock by heart. I associate them with vivid smells, song tracks and the sound of my pulse in my heart, my throat and my ears and my feet on the earth. I have developed a habit of snapping a few pictures on my way, almost at the same places.
One particular tree always pulls me in. I have to stop and stare. Contemplate and meditate. Maybe it’s because the slope is going up, it’s almost the end and sweat starts to dripple between my shoulder plates. It’s the cherry tree you see at the beginning of this post. That was a couple of weeks ago, in full bloom, radiant and proud. Like me, coming back from a week’s leadership training for l’Oréal marketing directors and preparing for my first TEDx talk in Stuttgart.
Natural and so “cliché” vision of the seasons. What struck me, however, was the co-existence simultaneously of dead flowers and very lively fruits. It had never occured to me this way before.
Doubts and fears
I stopped and reflected. A major assignment I had counted on had been postponed. People who had asked me to do “tons” of business with them were becoming silent. I thought I hadn’t perform as well as I would have liked during my TED talk. I listed the payments I was late into and worried about making ends meet. I wondered if I’d better not get a “real” job and stop living in the Teddy bear’s house (bisounours).
Focus on Bright Spots
I gazed a few minutes, standing in front of the cherry tree, getting closer and closer, taking big breaths of earthy smells. I looked closer and I saw very clearly an olive like fruit, solidly and confidently growing among the withering petals. I regained trust and started to look at the future more cheerfully. This too will pass.
When I came back home, I cleaned and vacuumed and tidied. I woke up my three hibernating teenagers in Easter holidays, still sleeping at noon. I didn’t take personally their grumpiness and snorts. I went into the garden and cut armfuls of Lilac. I prepared simple spaggetti with olive oil and garlic and plenty of parmigiano.
After the lunch, I asked the twins to help me plant some potatoes. We’re starting a vegetable garden. Until now the earth had been too dry and tough to dig. They asked me for instructions. They saw my blank face. I said I had never done it but it should not be too complicated. We started to laugh hysterically together. We got dirty and exhausted from the hard physical work. Much harder than in the movies, when they are shoveling tombs for cowboys. We discovered we had fun digging and being outside together, instead of each of us separated in front of a screen…
When I eventually came back to my home office and sat down at my desk, I found this lovely post in my email box. “The Ebb of Absent”. I was not alone to feel that. It was ok, not the end of the world. I felt “validated”. I commented and almost immediately started writing again. Translating into English from French someone else’s thought, then finding my own voice again. I wrote “A Woman for whom Leadership has no Gender and is an Art”.
The next day, I spent two hours weeding the garden. When I came back inside, it was easier for me to convince the kids to get to do their homework. Incredibly easy actually. I sat at my own desk and, believe me or not, I had a confirmation for one of the Intercultural training assignments I was counting on, since november. Actually, I had just given up on “hoping” and decided to close that drawer for good. A small step, just a one day training, but I took it as a lucky omen. An olive-sized green cherry.
Some times, all what it takes is staring at a cherry tree and weeding your garden. click to tweet