Beginner’s Luck used to haunt me.
There I was, less than a full year into being a Woman of the World (aka full-time entrepreneur), and things were going, in a word, amazeballs. I had coached over 100 people. I was on a consistent 4-6 week waitlist and had been for months. I signed with a literary agent. I’d been asked to lead a workshop at the Etsy Success Symposium, which was a BIG deal. I mean, I can go on.
And, despite a recent conversion from pessimistic optimist/optimistic pessimist to full-on optimist, and despite my fairly recent decision to stop waiting for the other shoe to drop, and despite the real, true, honest gut feeling that this all wouldn’t disappear (I did trust it, and it hasn’t yet!), I couldn’t help but hear those very quiet Vampire whispers, saying “You’ve been here before… and remember what happened?”
My first full year as a real estate agent, from 2003-2004, I was the #1 agent in the office 5 or 6 times. It was a commission-only job and I worked my butt off 6-7 days/week, but I remember having lunch with a friend that year and saying, “I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner!” At one point the Vice President of the company I worked for started a sentence with, “When you have your own real estate company…” And even though I wrinkled my nose up, knowing that didn’t sound at all appealing, I kept at it, climbing the ladder. I was given my own account to be in charge of, I was asked to train new agents, and I eventually received the largest split in that company at that time.
Not bad for a beginner, eh?
My second year of real estate? Well, I landed on my face with a big thud. I made something like a quarter of what I made my first year, which was enough to get me into $20,000 of credit card debt and have to continually ask my parents for help. Not good. Not fun.
I’ve often wondered if I had beginner’s luck that first year in real estate, and there I was again – going into my second year as a Woman of the World, stressing over the same thing. Was all of my success as a coach gonna end up being beginner’s luck? And what the heck is so lucky about being a beginner, anyways? So many of my clients disparage themselves for not being experienced at something, and want to blow right past the beginner stage to the Know What I’m Doing stage.
Of course, as a business coach and a fully-converted optimist, I started thinking about all the awesome things that come from being a beginner. Things like:
Being totally open to experimentation without major repercussions, and learning the process that works best for you. At the start of a new idea/project/business, your biggest investment is time and energy (usually). The space is wide open to figure out what works for you, whether we’re talking about advertising or time management or your work process.
Yes, it sucks if you pour your heart and soul into something that doesn’t take off (like the first time I announced a group coaching program and had 1 person sign-up, which does not a group coaching program make), but you’re able to dust yourself off pretty quickly and tweak what might be broken or move onto the next thing.
You have more excitement and enthusiasm now than you probably ever will again. Not to say I’m jaded on lethargic or empathetic. Not at all. But man, when I look at pictures of my Freedom From Corporate America Party, I don’t see a single one where it doesn’t look like I’m drunk on happiness (and margaritas). I was ready to take on the world! Now… well, I’m still ready to take on the world, but in a more strategic one-foot-in-front-of-the-other way, not a toss-my-hat-up-in-the-air-a-la-Marlo-Thomas way. (Actually, now I toss my “YAY” crown! Maybe some things don’t ever change.)
You don’t have to work too hard to keep things new and fresh. I mean sure, I could have spent years just doing what I was doing, offering private sessions and running one program. I might have done pretty well for myself, too! But since variety is the spice for the multi-passionate entrepreneur and evolution is the only way businesses grow and thrive, new offers were created and old ones were tweaked or cut. When you have a newly hung shingle and one successful offer turns into two, that’s usually all you need to feel that things are working and you’re making it happen.
There are little to no expectations, and you accept that making mistakes is part of the process. Isn’t it so nice to be nice to yourself? By being a beginner, you usually tell that Perfectionist Vampire to shut up, and don’t beat yourself up when something goes wrong or looks ugly. But, after we’ve been doing something for a while? Whoa, Nelly – that’s when one wrong move has us saying to ourselves, “What happened there, idiot?” or “You thought you could do this for a living?! Yeah right!” Enough, please.
What have I learned from my own path? That it’s nice to feel all confident and experienced, but don’t be in a rush to get there. Take your time and revel in the excitement, the openness, the awesomeosity that’s being a newbie. And when you cross the beginner threshold, take the benefits with you: being nice to yourself, working on new/exciting things, being accepting (even enthusiastic!) of experimenting, and keeping your eyes open for the lessons that you’re always gonna be learning. Only then can you create your own “luck”!