I remember right after high school I worked on a building project. We were nailing up cedar siding. I had done a lot of framing, the parts of building that never really get seen, but this job was different. The nails and the siding would be seen, visible, forever. It was my first experience where swinging the hammer wasn’t just about strength, but accuracy was important. No one wants big dings in their siding.
I have a friend who is a modern-day metalsmith of sorts. He takes dents out of cars. His forearms are ripped with sinewy muscles from twisting his tools all day, lifting little dings and dents. He says it isn’t hard to move the metal, it’s hard not to move it too far. His most important tools are a bright light that shines on the surface and his eyes to watch. He can always spot the amateur’s work because the innies become outies. They don’t know when to stop.
In the mountain town where I live, there are lots of ways to tear up a shoulder or a knee. A friend of mine works in the operating room sometimes and he told me about a doctor trying to remove a pin from a leg. For thirty minutes the operating room reverberated as the surgeon used a slide hammer to try to dislodge the metal. So much force required, on something so fragile – a body.
So what ties all these tales together?
It’s this balancing act of strength and skill that each of these real-world tasks require. Wood doesn’t give to a nail lightly, it has to be driven in. But there’s a risk that you miss and mar the surface you’re creating.
And metal is strong and don’t like to get pushed around, but watching a dent disappear is a pretty amazing process – realizing that it’s the skill of ‘just the right touch’ that makes the work awe-inspiring. I would just poke the tool right through the metal – boom, oops. Now how do we fix that?
And the pin, in a bone, that won’t come out? That one is hard for me to imagine. The whole story is a little far-fetched. That we can repair broken bones, that the miracle of healing can be facilitated, supported, and that even healing can require force and strength, but not too much. You don’t want to shatter something else in the process.
These stories of real work fascinate me.
I see a transfer into the world of virtual work, of relationships and leadership. So much work takes strength, and yet the skill is in not hitting too hard. Us entrepreneur types are strong, that’s what gives us the guts to face the world and live our dream so visibly. But that same strength has a risk. You might mar the wood. You might go too far.
Part of having strength is a responsibility to use it well. A responsibility to know that you have it. To know how hard you’re hitting and where. To stop before there’s a mark – on the wood, in the metal, on a soul.
While we’re building our business, our family, our team, there’s a time for the gift of strength.
Work takes strength, takes power, takes force. But if the only force we have is adolescent me driving the nail with all the power one can muster, it’s the wrong kind of force.
We need skillful force. Mature strength. Surgeon’s hands.
It takes time to learn it, and time to master it.
But it is time well spent.
Blessings on your journey,
Editor’s Note from Leonie:
Grant said to me a couple of things in the manager-mistake-mending process that stuck with me, and that this story enunciates so well.
Firstly, he said:
I don’t think you quite realise how strong you appear. You seem so assured of yourself, so certain, so forceful with your will. I don’t know how to argue against that sometimes. I don’t think you realise how you appear.
And I had to take a moment to let it soak in.
He was right. I had no idea. I’m so used to being Leonie The Force of Nature that I don’t realise how it affects other people, especially my staff. And if I want to create a culture of support + stability within my company, I need to temper some of my wilder ways in certain places. I’m not going to eradicate it at all – heck, my wildish nature is a part of me, my creativity + my joy. But it is best served in the creative places, not the managing one.
Secondly, he said:
You, as the CEO, and as the company owner has the greater power in this situation. That’s not a judgment, it’s just what is. That’s how business works. You are powerful, and you need to understand and wield that power well.
Hiro elaborated more:
Leonie, as you grow, and as your company grows, you cultivate more power + influence. And you need to be conscious of the strength of that, and how you use it. For every action there is a reaction. Everything you do causes a greater effect now. You have the responsibility to learn how to hold it + use it well.
What a blessing to learn all this, hey?
My response to both of them was:
Well. FUCK! Why didn’t anyone tell me this in school? Shit! Okay! I’ll learn it now!
And we all laughed and laughed and laughed.
Because it’s hard and yet it’s bloody hilarious really. All this learning + growing + getting over another chunk of your own stuff. Healing + blooming even more into yourself.
It’s the good work to do.
I should mention too – it’s not just me that’s getting my ass kicked into growing here. Ha! Grant will share his own lessons along the way too. That’s the beauty of surrounding yourself with other conscious, growing, evolving people – you have no choice but to up your own game too.
Love, the eternal student,
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I’m writing to you today because lately, you’ve been forgetting some things.
Your golden eggs.
Your rules + mottos + mantras + boundaries. The thing that makes my business thrive + my soul shine.
Are they the right rules for everyone? Nope. But they are for us.
And when we forget that… whenever we try someone else’s golden rules on for size…
We falter. Business slows. We feel lost.
So I’m writing this as a love note to us.
Gathering my golden eggs in a basket.
And lovingly reminding us that HERE… HERE is where it is at.
- Don’t watch the competition. It’ll make you feel crazy and downtrodden and not enough.
- Keep your eyes on your own yoga mat, as Liz says. Do business + life YOUR way.
- Keep family + lifestyle the most important thing. DO NOT LET WORK CONSUME YOUR LIFE. All work + no play makes Leonie a completely boring, grumpy, fixated obsessive.
- 25% of time spent in education. If you’re not learning, you’re not growing.
- IMPLEMENT that education. It’s not enough to just read it. You better fucking do something with that information, otherwise it is worthless.
- Institute work boundaries again: only work in the afternoons. No work at night. No work on weekends.
- Have hobbies outside of business. Seriously. Take up fucking knitting or something. Anything. Anything but work.
- GET.A.LIFE. Having a business is not having a life.
- Get outside + see friends face-to-face. This stuff makes you feel ALIVE.
- Make walks your saviour. Go climb the mountain + talk to the sky.
- Create instead of react.
- Don’t watch trainwrecks. No good shall come of that.
- Ask yourself every single day: What is it I need to do each day to drive my business forward? Then do it.
- Honour that you’re an introvert. Honour that you get sucked dry by too much personal interaction.
- If you feel alone when you are by yourself, you’re doing it wrong. Being by yourself is being with your very best friend. It should feel like a joy. It’s only when you are lost + drained + floundering that it doesn’t. All the more reason to be alone.
- Don’t be a perfect mum. Just look for the Kairos moments, as Glennon says. Or lower your expectations, as my friend Deb says. Or just be a real person with your kids, as my friend Leigh says. Or fill yourself up + flow out to your kids from that, as Karina would remind me.
- Your body is not your foe. It’s your soul’s signal. It tells you when you’ve overbalanced, exhausted, broken, need topping up. Please listen. You need to.
- Making art is where it’s at. Lay your heart + soul out on your sleeve. Get vulnerable. Share your story. It is incredibly healing for you. And incredibly healing for your right people.
- Put your fear blinkers on. Ignore everything but your dream.
- Trust the red flag. When someone behaves like an asshole once, they’ll do it again. Nip it in the bud earlier, instead of waiting for it to atrophy into Status: Fucked.
- Be a monk to your goals.
- Sex is really fun. Don’t forget to have it.
- Surround yourself with people who light you up, who make you laugh, who remind you that just to be Leonie is enough.
- The truth is healing. Don’t be afraid to share it.
- Write when spirit speaks through you. Be a vessel for the voice of the angels. Let it speak through you.
- Always have your yearly plan. You feel a bit lost at sea without it. Especially in your business. The more you look at it, the more on path you feel. When you don’t know where you are going, you feel panicky. When you set your course, and continually re-adjust the bow of your ship to get there, all is right with the world.
- Trust your gut.
- You need sleep. LOTS of it. Way more than everyone else. Go to bed before 9:30.
- Don’t believe the hype: staying up to work + clear the inbox + burn the midnight oil is NOT the secret sauce of entrepreneurs. It doesn’t work for everyone. And it really, really, REALLY does not work for you.
- Don’t sleep in too much. The early morning hours are sweet. Try + find something else to do with them instead of sleeping or working.
- Have lots of support. Do lots of therapy + healing + kinesiology. And also take breaks throughout the year as well from it. Just let it all integrate. Get back in with your gut instinct again. Let it all settle. I reckon a one month break every six months is a good thing.
- Read more books + less screens.
- No phones in the bedroom. Also: can we get Chris to hide the phone from us regularly?
- Don’t subscribe to magazines or newspapers. They (for me) turn a joy + a treat into a burden of Yet Another Thing To Read. I don’t know why, but it just does. Don’t do it, Leonie.
Allright Leonie, I love you heaps.
And it’s okay if you stumble + forget sometimes. It really is. We all do.
What’s important is the remembering.
The circling back around.
Back around to the place that is true + right + good.
I got your back, girl.
Always & forever, your bestie,
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This week, me + my Chief Operations Officer/brother-from-another-mother Grant will be answering one of your questions.
We hear this question a lot.
You might be wondering the answer too.
So the two of us will answer in our own ways.
Working for income while you’re trying to plan your business is a challenge for a lot of people.
Putting yourself in a position to start things moving forward in your business is key.
Ask yourself these questions to help you get there:
- Is there a different job you can take?
- Can you job-share?
- Can you change to a lower position of responsibility that will give you more head-space?
- Can you do some of your job remote, saving on some aspects of your commute and workplace related things like looking awesome (not that you don’t need to look awesome at home, but some days the first time I think about myself is when I see myself on Skype and I’m like ‘holy hell, what happened?’)
Look for ways that you can leverage what you know and what you can already do into a situation that is a solid next step. You might not need to jump fully off the cliff to make it work.
I know Leonie started her business while still working in a civil service job – but managed to get it off the ground enough to see the potential and while she still had to step off, it wasn’t the same as into nothing.
Yeah. What dude said above.
I have been blogging for 11 years + only fully quit my cubicle job 5.5 years ago.
I worked on my blog/fledgling business at night and on weekends.
As it grew busier, I slowly reduced my hours down. By the end I was only doing 3 days a week, and then I was ready to take the full leap + soar.
I’m a huge advocate for NOT quitting cold turkey to start a business. It takes time to test the market, learn how to run a business + build your audience. And it is way, way, WAY better to do that when you are NOT freaking out about paying rent each week.
So, here’s my advice for anyone who is working + business-ing it up:
Find a place that doesn’t suck to work.
You know – one that isn’t super awful & without a nutty boss. If you can find a place that is flexible & allows you to go part-time at some stage, even better.
Not having to worry about finding money to pay rent while you play with your passions & work out what you want to do is really, really lovely. Having the backup of a job’s money, structure & stability can be really healthy. It definitely was for me!
(This were from a month-long work competition I invented called The Cheese Awards 2006. The person who could selfie the biggest smile with me would win… a block of cheese. #thingsIdotoamusemyself)
BRING GLITTER WHEREVER YOU GO.
I’m convinced that half the reason my office job was lovely was because I made it lovely. I was the one who did angel card readings at her desk. The one who held a hugging competition and hugged 200 people in one day. The one who gave shoulder massages to other people. Who wrote very silly weekly roundup emails to bring joy to the job. Who interviewed people in the office to find out what their passions were, and got them published in our work newsletters.
I even took a three month stint doing financial reporting (yuck!) because I wanted to see just how far I could spread the glitter into the belly of the public service dinosaur.
My findings? People everywhere are open to love and joy and having fun. They just need someone to start it.
That time we did “Team Building” by going sailing on the lake.
Unfortunately, only one of us knew how to sail.
The rest of us mostly just fell off the boat laughing, and got stuck in swamps until the Water Police helpfully helped us out.
I would regularly create “Friends + Strangers” lunch dates where any of our workmates invited random friends + we would have theme parties + tell secrets + call each other by porn star names. Because #whythefuckwouldntwe?
(Above is everyone pulling their most “Sultry” Face. We then rated who won. Ben [second from right] won of course. He’s also a talented comic artist. He didn’t work with us, he was my “Random Stranger” invite. I met him on a bus. I meet a lot of people on buses. Yes, I’m one of those crazies that talks to everyone. I’ve made some beautiful friends + deep connections on buses! And yes – I am an introvert. I really do have to push myself to talk to people. I do it because I know there are miracles to be found in connection.)
In the ricketty old work lift with my boss + HR manager. Both of whom are still my dearest friends today.
Lile sat beside me for 7 years + we managed to never argue. After I had Ostara, she came + made me food. She is endlessly thoughtful + loyal as fuckery.
Deb introduced me to the magic of women’s circles + is one of the greatest spiritual influences of my life.
Office jobs pay good friend dividends.
Once your business is built up, and your income streams have been worked out and fine tuned, then you can start the process of transitioning from full-time work to part-time work to full-time business goddess.
It doesn’t have to be an ALL IN, ALL OUT kinda thing. You do NOT have to quit your job in order to start the business of your dreams. My recommendation is having some balance, and doing it in a way that is fun, easy, non-stressy and in line with the evolution and growth of your business.
I repeat: You can have a job & STILL be a business goddess.
Be gentle on yourself, dearest. Give yourself the gift of time to grow and have fun without massive pressure!
My studio where I would spend many joyous Mondays + Fridays by myself.
And something I painted on that very desk…
You have no idea where your experiences will take you and what your jobs will end up helping with in your business.
There were a lot of very, very boring things I did in my various jobs. And I always considered what I was doing to be completely the antithesis of what I really wanted to be doing.
But here’s the thing: every single one of the jobs I did taught me wonderful and valuable things.
Things that came in handy much, much further down the line in my business.
For example: the time I spent as a legal secretary helped with getting more comfortable with the legal contracts I needed to know about when we formed a company. The time I spent in financial reporting made me feel less squeamish about numbers and spreadsheets and profit and loss statements. My job at business.gov.au taught me all sorts of odd + wonderful skills that have come in handy – from project management to online editing to events!
Every job taught me wonderful things about how to interact with people, how to be compassionate, how to set boundaries.
All in all: the things you are learning right now in your job may end up giving you wonderful skills that end up being incredibly useful + prosperity-making in your business.
It’s all doable. It’s all possible. We believe in you.
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Hi my boos,
It’s so deeply important that we get to know
what makes us thrive
and remind ourselves of this,
So, to help… I made a fun free printable poster/worksheet for you today.
Click here to download + print.
Fill it out. Pop her on your wall. And send me a pic when you are done!
she hangs on my studio wall above my desk 🙂
To remind me of just what to do when my well runs empty + my soul starts longing…
To your thriving delight,
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SO… I’ve been thinking about something. Something I feel feminazi about. (Ruh roh? Do I sense KardashianGate #2 arising?)
And this is it: Why the fuck is it that only women have to wear makeup in order to look “beautiful”? But blokes? Blokes are totally fine as they are. They don’t have to cover their face with a chemical-laden mask.
Why is it we’re not enough, just as we are, just as we were born? Because we are. We are. We are.
Just as men are.
Now – to be clear – if you love makeup – I am not raging against you. Good for you babe. Whatever rocks your boat. I’m not judging you.
But I AM deeply questioning the fact that our society teaches us + pushes us into painting a mask on ourselves. That THAT is what it takes to be beautiful.
And our daughters know this more than ever.
Eating disorders happening earlier than ever. Girls wearing makeup + clothes to look “pretty” because they know that this culture values that above all else. Girls having sex earlier than ever, because they believe that that’s how they gain love + approval + acceptance. Racing around, looking for love in all the wrong places, not knowing that all the love they need is inside them. That’s where to turn to, again + again.
I’ve shared these images before, but the information in them (from a lecture I went to by Steve Biddulph) is so damn important, I’m sharing them again. Until it sinks in. Sinks in for me. Sinks in for you. Sinks in for all of us. And we get mad enough to demand things change. Because we’re the only ones who will and must.
And I mean, really, how the fuck can we teach them any different, if we don’t actually believe that + know that + show that ourselves.
So the work of healing our teenage girls must begin with healing ourselves too.
And full disclosure here: I do wear makeup a couple of times a year, and I get my invisible Scandinavian eyebrows tinted. I used to wear it a lot more, but my Give A Fuck meter lowers every.single.year.
And I question it more + more.
Like, I think about, how if I do a speaking gig, there’s this subliminal expectation that I’ll have glossy hair + glossy face (+ shimmery wet legs ala Amy Schumer). But if my COO Grant was doing that gig with me, his required grooming regime would be about 1/10th in comparison (he may coincide his weekly shave with that day, and attempt to wear a shirt with a collar, but hey – dudes in tech don’t even need to do that. Grab a hoodie + sneakers + you’re good to go.)
But apparently, in order to gain the same level of respect or “authority” I need to look fake + glossy + like a showpony?
Fuck that. I am not swallowing that. That is C-R-A-P.
Funnily enough, at a speaking gig I did do – I was completely ignored by the CEO of the company who hired me because I turned up in my non-speaking clothes so I could set my booth up. I got ignored TWICE actually – until I explained to her who I was. Her eyebrows nearly hit the roof, and the look on her face was clear. And I quickly let her know that I was just wearing my booth-setting-up clothes, and that I did have an “outfit” I would be changing into.
Because fuck me, if my outfit isn’t more important that what’s in my head.
I’m not a glossy Arabian showpony. I’m a workhorse. I’m a giant, clumsy, goofy Clydesdale.
And I am good enough as I am.
Without the tart-up. Without the mask. Without anything but what I am. My cells. My skin. My soul. My mind.
And so are you.
Ragey Mama Bear
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