You never can tell what a thought will do
In bringing you hate or love -
For thoughts are things, and their airy wings
Are swifter that carrier doves.
They follow the law of the universe -
Each thing creates its kind,
And they speed O'er the track to bring you back
Whatever went out from your mind
"Think and Grow Rich" - Napoleon Hill, 1937
Last week I picked up my copy of Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. I have the original 1937 text in a faux leather bound book, with gold gilded edges. It looks like a bible.
And in many ways, for me, it is.
TAGR may be the most influential and timeless book on the power of our minds - our thoughts - to manifest what we desire in our lives. The more I read, the more I see the literal power of language. Everywhere. All around. In all things.
That's the simple philosophy behind Affirmagy - we get what we affirm, confirm and impress into our minds. Powerful stuff!
If you haven't thumbed through TAGR lately, I encourage you to. And grab your highlighter while you're at it. Because, whether it's 1937 or 2010, Napoleon really nailed it.
About three months ago I was introduced to a gentleman who has a really big idea. I left our meeting thinking three things:
NOW, listen. This is critical. There are things you need to know before proceeding! Offering "help" can be tricky. Here are the rules:
Now after months of helping, sharing, and supporting his big idea is becoming a big part of my life. And right now, that's workable for me. I am having fun. And the trick is this.... To make it work, I am "fitting it in".
"Fitting it in" is a very cool concept when understood. Fitting it in gets you the time to write your book, an hour a day, until it's done without turning your life upside down or putting you in financial jeopardy. Fitting it in gives you the freedom to explore other projects while staying true to the things that make your life work - like your family and your job. And fitting it in gets you connected to others who like to life in a big, bold way.
So, my good guy and I are just fitting it in... 6am calls on Sat and Sun mornings. Conference calls at 8pm. We're both fitting it into our very full lives. And it's working. Doors are opening. Opportunities are unfolding.
What is in your life that is wanting to emerge? What dream, project or goal that once realized would make a huge difference in your life? Can you start fitting it in?
When we found out that our US manufacturer had closed their doors, I paused for a moment, and said "Ok, well, something really great must be in the works!" By choosing to be joyous about the situation I took what can seem like a disaster as an opportunity to transform and move into another direction. I made it cause for celebration.
Choosing to be upset, worried, freaked up and an emotional wreck is certainly a viable choice when something of this magnitude happens. But why? What would upset and worry have gotten us? Well, more upset and worry.
Our emotions are incredibly magnetic. They have the power to instantly create a set of circumstances that get you more of what you are feeling.
More upset attracts more upset. More joy attracts more joy.
I remember the day we found out we literally had no way to produce our product any longer. And we could have chosen to let this event have a destructive impact on our lives.
Instead, we chose to be in joy, and receive this news as a gift. We got into the mindset that this was the beginning of a whole new wonderful journey, and that in releasing what we thought would be the pathway for Affirmagy, we stepped into a whole new realm of possibility.
Nearly a year later, I am here to tell you the view on this path is remarkable.
To all the friends and family of Affirmagy, we are grateful for the letters and emails you've shared about how this little company impacted your life. Nothing inspires me more. Thank you.
As I transform from being "the blanket lady" I am inspired to share some of the wisdom from my journey simply because the thing that made it possible for Affirmagy to live in the first place is the fact that I am an entrepreneur. And I believe that one of the greatest gifts I am here to give is to inspire others to listen to their heart, and follow their dreams.
I think entrepreneurs are visionaries who like to create things. And boy did I love creating Affirmagy. Every piece of it was a joy. I am proud of what we accomplished and the lives that we've touched. What I will take with me are the lessons I've learned.
Here are a few:
I've never not been successful at something before. I always make it work. I am an entrepreneur through and through. And prior to Affirmagy, I started Design Duo Inc, a graphic design and marketing studio. I've always made DD work. Through our start up years in the 90s, through the dot com bust in the early 2000s, through Graves' Disease that seriously set my butt down for the better part of 2004.
I've co-owned a seasonal consulting company.
I've helped starts up take off, and watched as they've stumbled.
I've run non-profit boards.
I've bought and sold investment real estate. All on my own. Little old me.
I set me sights on something and I make it work.
I always make it work. Until Affirmagy. And then I experienced what it's like to not have something work. To spend all your money, chasing your dream. To follow your gut, your passion, your vision up and down and in and out.
To step into the great unknown. To leap without a net. To put your own financial health and that of your business partner on the line. To be scared to death and in action anyway. To listen to that deep still voice, and follow it. To have the courage to set it all down and celebrate the journey.
And I've learned the true power of choosing how to define success.
Affirmagy was an idea on a napkin in late 2004. I didn't see it coming. I didn't see it enveloping my life for the better part of three years.
I didn't see selling my house (in totally committing to Affirmagy, I gave myself 2 years to make it work... having a house and a yard would slow me down, I thought. So the house went and I downsized. Turns out I sold at the height of the market in April 2006. Talk about unseen blessings)
I didn't see at the end of three years together, my man - who was in my life from 2005 to 2008 - would tell me he thought I didn't have a viable business and he didn't think I would be successful.
I didn't see not taking a paycheck for 2+ years, and that my business partner would come to work day after day, month after month, because she believes in me.
I didn't see the tens of thousands of lives we touched. The letters. The stories. The days I would read emails from our customers and I'd cry and cry moved by the compassion and love human beings are capable of expressing.
I didn't see getting partnering with Chicken Soup for the Soul, and Susan G Komen. I didn't see creating fundraisers for kids to go to church camp, and raise money to go to take care of elephants in Thailand, and build schools in Malawi (my thanks to Linda Reppond for reminding me). I didn't see articles in national newsstand magazines, and being considered by a senior producer for the most popular daytime talk show ever. O my! I didn't see the hundreds of people I've met and letters I've received. And the countless who told us our blankets helped them say the things they couldn't when their loved ones were transitioning.
I didn't see getting on QVC and the financial heartbreak that it was. And the blessing it became.
I didn't see grieving my identity as the owner of Design Duo after 10 years... and having to reconcile that it wasn't a step backwards coming back and being that again. (To my shock and delight our past clients we THRILLED we were back in the design/marketing/branding game. I had no idea we left a hole when we stopped taking new work in 2006).
I didn't see gaining such deep levels of strength, resolve, resiliency and fearlessness that were either a part of me already, or that I gained during this journey.
And I didn't see that an idea on a napkin would shape the rest of my life by not fully taking flight. You can call Affirmagy a failure. I call it one of my greatest creations and greatest successes to date.
In the coming days I'll being sharing the lessons I've learned and the incredible gift this company has been in my life.
About the same time as I got into massive action by reaching out and connecting with people in February, I decided I was a YES to life. A YES to pretty much whatever was put in front of me. Boy oh boy. It's been absolutely fabulous.
A friend gave me an invitation to a 3 hour workshop about communication that totally rocked. (I am doing the weekend workshop next). I've had the good pleasure of working with Matthew Ferry who is truly a world class coach and mentor. Today I was offered an ongoing 1-2 minute spot on a local radio show to present an affirmation for the week (how cool is this!?).
The more I am a YES, the more comes. It's really remarkable. Give it a try and let me know what happens.
People are so amazing. Here's a link to what has become known as The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch given Sept 18th 2007 to a group of 400 people at Carnegie Mellon University. What a perfect example of living a life you love.
We don't always get to pick the circumstances of our lives, the time line or how things exactly unfold, but we do get to dream, set intentions and watch for the opportunities that the Universe serves up to make it all come to be.
It's truly awesome. And Randy was truly a lovely man. You'll be inspired: