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When Life Gives you Lemons…

You’re supposed to make lemonade, right? That’s the cliche on every Facebook meme, bumper sticker, and every well-meaning dime store self-help book. 

But as someone who has been through multiple life-changing tragedies and who makes “lemonade” for a living, I have to say — that cliche kinda pisses me off because making lemonade ain’t for everyone. 

You may not be good at making lemonade—but maybe you’re good at making lemon sorbet, lemon meringue, or lemon popsicles. Or maybe you need time to find the right recipe for whatever it is you’re going to eventually make. 

Finding purpose through life’s obstacles, challenges, and tragedies is the hallmark of what makes us human and what separates us from the beautiful animal kingdom. It’s how we move forward, how we connect, and how we even help the next generation. 

Take care, take your time (which means allowing yourself time to rest, and time to jumble the recipe until you find the one that tastes good), find and cultivate a healthy support system, and don’t let anyone tell you that you should have figured it out already. You’ll get there when you’re supposed to. 

The Story of My Life… Not Just a Catchy “One Direction” Song

(Band member not pictured: Joshua Rivedal)
If you could use only one word to tell the story of your life up to this point, what would it be? What word would others use to describe your life story? What about ten words? One hundred? One thousand?

Of course, you’ll never be able to tell your entire story with one word or a thousand—but with that sort of exercise you can:
  1. Find the “story-arc” or the major theme(s) and decide to recalibrate or stay the course
  2. Figure out patterns and uncover reoccurring problems, or even successes that at one point didn’t seem to be connected 
  3. Use your story to connect with, help, or inspire others (and yes, maybe even serve as a cautionary tale. In certain parts of my life, I can definitely relate)
The great news is, for the most part, you get to control the (true) story you want to live and how it affects you, the world around you, and your legacy. 

Storytelling in every sense of the word is one of humankind’s greatest achievements, and it’s how we connect to our soul and to the world around us. What story do you want to be known for? 
PS. In June 2017, we’re releasing another edition of The i’Mpossible Project, with the subtitle Changing Minds, Breaking Stigma, Achieving the Impossible. This one is all about mental health: OCD, bipolar, depression, schizophrenia, suicide and more. Each story is 1000 words a piece, and we’re looking for more people to tell their story. Message me if you’re interested or if you know of someone good to write for the book!! Thanks!

I’ve Tried Everything and Nothing is Working… Help!

Disregarding extreme cases, I hear the phrase “I’ve tried everything and nothing is working,” and it makes me want to throw on an ugly sweater and have a little heart to heart, Cliff Huxtable style.

Definitely an ugly sweater... but it could be uglier. :)

If you’ve tried everything, then you would be where you want to be. 

I wasn’t getting email responses back from literary agents and publishers on the fantasy novel I’m working to sell, so I decided to go to a writers conference to try something new (and got an agent interested in my book. #booyah). I wasn’t happy with how my brain was working and my mood, so I got into therapy.

Our efforts on just about anything is research-based and our desired outcome usually falls under a need in some combination of: support, mentorship, networking, self-study, academic study, testing, or personal development.

Rarely does it fall under an acknowledged lack of effort. You don’t know what you don’t know. But you can keep searching for a new angle. 

Instead of trying everything, take a breather and try something different, maybe a little out of your comfort zone. If you don’t know your next step, look for others in a similar situation as you and ask the different steps it took to get where they got today. And if you really don’t know, you can always ask me and if I can’t point you in the right direction, I’ll try to find someone who can. As always, I’d love to hear from you! Your response will be kept private. 

Your Quick Fix Happens When You Change Course

So, I have a little confession to make—I arrived to TV’s Shark Tank a little late. I just started watching the show, and it’s amazing. To see people follow their dreams, and hit road bumps, obstacles, nightmares, and in some cases to become huge successes, and to make it entertaining—it’s jam packed with life lessons, cautionary tales, and inspiration to keep your motor going toward your personal goals, and if you have them, business goals. 

One of my favorite stories starts with two gentlemen who came on the show to pitch their personal security app and get a round of money to help the app grow. Of the two men, one was the founder and the money guy who funded the app (up to that point), and the other was the first employee who also happened to be a former police office and also employed previously in the field of security.

Their app was a good idea but it was missing something. The former police officer had some good ideas but they didn’t jump out. The show’s panelists discovered that the founder/money guy paid around 3 million dollars to develop the app up to this point—and overpaid by nearly 2 million dollars.

The panelists’ advice: We’re not giving you any more money than you already have. You don’t need more money to make this thing work. You need more testing. Or you need more sales and if that doesn’t work, you need to stop or rework, also known as a “pivot.”

“Pivoting” is a familiar word in the startup world. When your first business model isn't working (and this happens more often than not), the CEO and team pivot to plan B.* 

I liked this idea of pivoting because I could see that these guys had a good idea but it wasn’t great and instead of giving up entirely (the easy but painful way out), they could rework it into something that made more sense (the more difficult but ultimately more rewarding path).

I’ve had to pivot in my career with plays and books I’ve written. Relationships. And even my personal life. And each time I’ve pivoted I’ve learned a lot about myself, my surroundings, my relationships, and the field of business I’m employed in/working on/studying.

The way the founder/money guy approached his work (we just need more money and then the app will be great) before coming on the show was similar to the ideology or phrase: “if I had ‘A’ then the rest of my life/my relationship/my company would be amazing and I could have the ‘B’ I always wanted.” Or “I’ll be happy when she falls in love with me/I get a promotion/I move to a new city.”

It’s impossible to be hard-focused on ‘B’ when there are so many uncontrollable variables in life. We need to have back up plans for ‘C,’ ‘D,’ and ‘E’ and make sure we can derive as much fulfillment out of these back up plans as possible. 

All we are in control of is how hard we pursue what we want and what we need for our emotional and physical well-being, as well as our personal happiness. And the best ones in life are the ones who are pivoting on a consistent basis (see: "daily" for all of the variables life brings us.)

What’s something in life/work/business/relationships where you’ve “pivoted” before? What’s something in your world right now where you might need to pivot. Reply here and as always, I’ll keep your answer private. I'd love to hear from you!