So last week, I launched CZ Classes.
Granted, the quote in the context of the film was nothing if not a tad malevolent, but the quote speaks to me nevertheless because I believe that it is true.
But here’s another thing I believe to be true: small beginnings and working harder than you’ve ever worked before are no guarantee that you will be successful.
What I know for a fact is that there’s no road map that tells you how to navigate your way through these things … you just do it. Each time, you take a leap with a little more wind and experience (read: bourbon) in your sails from the time before. And if you keep pushing hard enough, you’ll look back five, ten, fifteen years later with a smirk and say, “nothing will ever be as gnarly as those first few years.” The lesson here: Before comparing yourself to someone who appears to have it all together, consider that maybe they’re just seasoned in the art of risk-taking.
Okay, two things: 1) Swap out the bourbon for Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, and 2) I need to stop comparing myself to others. That said, I’m realizing more than ever there is no one single road map for success.
I’ve been self-employed, more or less, since 1999. During that time, I’ve worked for many clients other than myself. I even managed to snag a salaried position with benefits when I worked for Simple Scrapbooks magazine back in the day. And while I’ve always been very good at juggling clients, tasks and my time, it’s always been in a relatively risk-free arena.
When I started teaching for the old Big Picture Classes in 2008, there was some risk involved, namely, will anyone sign up for my classes? What if I put a ton of hours into something that people aren’t even interested in? Luckily, for me, the response was great. But there was no real risk. I was happy to let everyone else manage the details. I had convinced myself that I was a content creator, not a content manager.
Many times, for people who make their living in the creative realm, the content management piece is the Achilles heel of the process. We like to make cool stuff and put it out there but as soon as you start deciding to monetize it, you have to start wearing new and strange hats. Marketing. Promotion. Sales. Web design. And the list goes on.
I was more than happy to stay in a zone of working for others. The way I saw it, it let me do what I do best. Create and deliver.
But much like any business, everything changes all the time. I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself about change. It was time to figure some shit out and stop pretending like I was unable to take some real risks.
Speaking of great quotes, a student emailed me a little pep talk last week and shared this with me:
My son’s baseball instructor keeps telling him (and me) “Become comfortable with the uncomfortable.” My son, going through teenagering currently, snapped, “I hate that saying. I don’t get it it. I like routine. I don’t like change.” To which his instructor commented, “Kid, when you throw a ball does it always go where you want it to go?” (head shake) “Do you sometimes have to get off base, jump or stretch to get the ball to get the out or tag?” When my son nodded, the instructor continued, “That’s life. Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone—like getting off the bag—and doing something unusual to get what you want. Get the tools you need, gather that knowledge, learn to react to situations, have a plan, then get used to expecting the unexpected and being comfortable with the uncomfortable.” I think he also added “turn your brain off and react,” but I don’t think you have to go that far…
I’ve got a daughter in college and a husband in grad school. Playing it safe, especially when he’s going to make a major, income-reducing career shift in the coming year, means my job is more important than ever.
CZ Classes is that risk. And I am so far out of my comfort zone that it’s freaking me out just a little bit.
Do I know how to make stellar classes? Absolutely. Do I care about customer experience? More than any other part of my business. Do I know everything about building and managing an education web platform? Hell to the know.
But I will learn. And I will get over both my fear of failure and my fear of success. They need to exist side by side.
I will learn to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
And maybe back off the Reeses.
Thank you, seriously… for all the positive and constructive feedback for the launch of CZ Classes. I have decided to build a new site from the ground up that will be the eventual home, with all the bells and whistles I envision this site having. To keep apprised of the progress, please subscribe to my newsletter.