7 Lessons for Living (or what I learned on my book tour)

I just finished my last public event of Book Tour 2015 on Sunday night. We had a wonderful evening, with really thoughtful questions from attendees and a courageous volunteer. It was a great experience, and I’m now going to take some time off until the end of the year so I can rest, restore, and write. (Don’t worry, I’ve pre-loaded my blogs, so that you don’t miss a week of inspiration.) :)

Over the past seven weeks, I have learned a lot about marketing, events, and engagement. I actually think these lessons apply to life in general, not just book tours and public speaking, so I thought I’d share some of what I learned along the way.

1. Follow Your Heart. It sounds so cliché, but it’s true. This is a simple piece of advice that I have heard over and over again that seems to be difficult to employ. Here’s what happened when I did: I found peace. Peace, for me, is comprised of calm, joy, and confidence. Following my heart meant that I wasn’t attached to specific outcomes, and I was allowing myself to be guided by what I knew to be true in my heart, rather than what I was told to expect or desire. It’s a way of moving through life more intentionally, letting go of the “shoulda-coulda-woulda” dialogue that keeps us stuck.

2. Live Deliberately, not by Default. This was not something “new” that I learned on tour, but was reinforced for me repeatedly. It is something I have learned, practice, and teach my clients. Living deliberately requires strength and vulnerability. It’s the difference between choosing to show up or just being somewhere. It would be easy to dismiss it as an attitude, but it’s more than that, it’s an action. It’s active choice. During my tour, when I chose to deliberately show up as all of who I am, from my heart, everything seemed to work and flow better. When I chose to simply be responsive to life around me I felt stifled, which created opportunities for the Doubt-Monkeys to come frolic in my mind.

3. Doubt-Monkeys are My Friends. This was new for me, and may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s true. Doubt is a natural component of being human, especially when you’re choosing to be more visible. Interestingly, I have learned that doubt can be a great motivator to go deeper. I used to feel despair when the Doubt-Monkeys showed up, as if I would never get to a place of zero-doubt, which would be an indicator of authentic alignment. It’s simply not the case. I’ve come to learn that when the Doubt-Monkeys come knocking, they’re actually bringing a hand-delivered invitation to stand taller and recommit to my purpose. The Doubt-Monkeys will only run rampant, if I see them as uninvited guests. When I look for the messages they’re offering (which show up as triggers), I am able to embrace their arrival and learn something I needed, which often leads to their swift departure.

4. Investigate All Assumptions. We all know the pithy phrase, right? To “assume” makes an “ass” of “u” and “me.” Well, it works both ways when you assume. Assumptions need to be verified. Whether or not I assume anything, positive or negative, it needs to be checked out. If I assumed someone was doing something for me, I ran the risk of being let down. Conversely, if I assume that nothing is being done then I am taking on too much (by believing “I have to do it all”), and subsequently overwhelming my system. The bottom line here is: ask. I know we sometimes fear asking questions, but it costs nothing to ask, and there is so much to be gained.

5. Expectations Create Obstacles. This is, again, something I think we all know, but don’t necessarily have at the forefront in practice. It goes along with assumptions. Expectations create assumptions, and thereby create obstacles. Expectations need to be vetted. They need to be explored, understood and then communicated. If not, they can become giant hurdles in your path that either make you overextend yourself or actually have to turn around and repeat your steps in a different way. U-turns and obstacles are the result of unexpressed expectations, both of which can lead to compromised health, time, or purpose.

6. Make Room for Your Favorite Things. Since I was traveling for an extended period, I chose to pack some items that would aid me in my down time. That means I had a mini coloring book and markers, my favorite teas, my greens drink powder, a couple books, and my favorite music. These are the items that I reach for when I need to decompress, restore, and reconnect to myself. They fuel my body, spirit, and mind and have become trusted tools in my toolbox, so I made room for them in my luggage and my days. Making room is about honoring your Self and choosing to be a priority in your own life.

7. Joy Is Important. This was perhaps the most important reminder along the way. It’s important to have fun, to instill your practice with joy. Whether you are a teacher, a lawyer, or a janitor, no matter what you do for a living, it’s important to infuse it with some joy. It will go a long way to creating a healthier environment in which to spend your 8-10 hours/day, and it will help those around you do the same. Even if you have a serious job, such as being a trauma surgeon or EMT, it’s important to layer elements into your life and work that make your heart smile. Joy is important.

Of course, there’s always more to be learned and remembered, and this was certainly not the entire list from my tour, but I like the number 7. It feels good, balanced. Even if you choose to focus on only one of the items on the list, your life will change for the better. In fact, that’s often what I recommend: choose one thing, focus on it and allow yourself to witness the changes it creates. Then, once it feels good, choose another.

That might be lesson #8, though I think it’s the basis of all lessons, really: Choice. Choice is possibly the most powerful tool in your toolbox. It empowers and emboldens us to live more fully, with more meaning and more joy… and what can be better than that?

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