Confidence is such a funny thing; you can have it in one area in your life and not in another. You can also have confidence at certain times in your life and then lose it. But one thing is for sure, confidence can be elusive at the times when you need it most. That moment for me was when I was fired from my C-suite position.
After 14 years climbing the corporate ladder at the same company, I had broken the glass ceiling, was recognized as one of the most influential women in radio, headlined countless conferences and had been promoted numerous times. To say that I was in shock the day another woman looked me in the eye and told me my position was eliminated is an understatement. At that moment, I really needed my confidence, but sadly it wasn't there. What was there, thankfully, is a lifetime of experience learning how to build my confidence muscle back up when it had been depleted. I got to work quickly on my 30-day plan to rebuild my confidence in order to put myself in a position to handle this new challenge with the right mindset.
Heather Monahan's book cover for "Confidence Creator"
Over those 30 days, I saw amazing support from my loved ones and network of contacts. I reached out to others for help, and they showed up. I saw terrific opportunities present themselves to me. I had started to rebuild my confidence and shift my perspective. As that change occurred, it became clear to me that I wanted to write a book. Now that may not seem like a big deal to you, but it certainly was to me. While I have always been a public speaker, a mentor and a leader in business I have never been nor have I been viewed as an “author." That seismic shift to be willing to see myself in different areas and not in the one box I had always been in was scary. Would I be good at it? Would I even be able to get it done? To start something new, you need to be willing to be a beginner and take the risk associated with doing something new which can be petrifying. So many ideas flood your mind, but the biggest is what if I fail. To push beyond that feeling and get started, I needed to remember all that I had accomplished in my life, past challenges I had overcome and how I had been a beginner at everything at one point and figured it out. I decided I was going to figure this one out too. That is when I decided I was going to write my book.
Once you decide to take a risk and try something new, you need to figure out how to do it. I had no idea how to write a book so in my standard operating procedure, I googled it. I really did. I googled how to write a book and found an outline and a webinar. The basic takeaway for me was to just start writing. To stop overthinking and worrying about what I was going to write about or what I would call the book or if anyone would like it and instead I set up space at my desk, cleared everything else off and just started writing. Since the thing on the top of my mind was getting fired, I decided to start there. Each day I would sit and write whatever it was that came to my mind. Over the next two weeks, it became clear that I was writing a book about my life, my experiences and how each one of them taught me how to build confidence. Again, I did not know this when I started but through the process of doing it, I figured this out. This strategy has worked with so many different experiences and I am always reminded that taking action and taking steps will help you to figure out where you are supposed to be going.
After writing for a couple of months, I realized I was going to need to tap a professional to let me know if what I had was good enough, needed to be modified or needed to be trashed. With no experience in writing a book, I didn't have a benchmark to compare it to. That is when I started surfing the net looking for an editor. As always the simple process of taking action led me to one. When I told my fiancé how much the editor was, he called a friend in the book business who recommended someone else, that is when I found my editor. While I wasn't entirely sure that he was the right editor for me, I felt we had a fair agreement, and he really seemed to care, I sent him everything that I had written.
Heather Monahan interview with BOLD.
Photo Courtesy of BOLD
Having an expert on board was a game changer. He immediately taught me the need to re-organize and categorize my stories and always take in different ways to benefit the reader. He showed me where I was redundant and where I need to fill out more detail.
Working with an expert allows you to leapfrog the process and this was a wise investment. We are working together back and forth on email and before I knew it things were beginning to look like a book. I will never forget the first time he emailed me over a rough draft manuscript of my book. We had been going back and forth on word docs with each chapter. Unbeknownst to me, my editor had put each document into a rough draft manuscript and the first time I saw it I cried.
Even though I had been working on this for months that was the moment I realized I was really going to be publishing a book. Every step forward takes you closer to reaching and realizing your goal, and each of those steps helps you to overcome the fear. This doesn't mean that the fear of failing or not finishing or anything else wasn't there because it was, it just means that the further you go and the more milestones you reach the closer you get to the train has already left the station so I better just let go of second guessing myself.
Heather Monahan #Bossinheels - Behind the Scenes.
Photo Courtesy of Heather Monahan
During this time I was working with my editor, I began to have conversations with others with experience in the book business, and everyone told me I needed a publisher. My fiancé knew a book agent, so I called the guy to get the inside scoop.
He said to me that without being a previously published author or without having a significant social media following or another type of large reach, platforms like tv shows or movies, there really wasn't much of a shot of getting a publisher to take me on. His suggestion was to write a book proposal and start cold calling publishers and pitching my concept. I worked on this for about a week until I realized that book proposals are a lot of work and I was basically finished with my book, and then the final straw, which was finding out the publishers would want 12-18 months to bring my book to life. That was it for me, the pivot began, and I started working on self-publishing. One thing I was clear on was I wanted my book to come out now. The timing was really important to me, and I wasn't going to risk waiting.
As per my usual, I began googling self-publishing and setting up calls with companies that guide you to self-publish. I quickly found a number of different solutions based upon the investment you wanted to make. I found a company that was willing to offer me products a la carte and I chose them since I already had my manuscript finished and edited. From that point, you would think things would move quickly but they didn't.
There is the typesetting, the fonts, the copyright and everything else that moves painfully slow in the publishing process. Even though I selected the name Confidence Creator and the cover image before I even went to the self-publishing company, we still had to go through different iterations on the cover before we found the final version. The process was much longer than I would have liked and like anything there were times that deadlines were missed and I was frustrated. There were also lots of mind-blowing moments like the day I picked my final cover and the day the final locked PDF manuscript was sent to me or the day I held my first proof copy. This week I received cases of my book to my house and I stood over them and cried. The act of holding something that was just an idea months ago is beyond surreal and gratifying. The feeling of pride and accomplishment that goes along with taking a risk and doing something new is overwhelming once the task is completed. Still not knowing what the world will think of my book, I stand here today realizing that no matter what anyone else thinks I love my book and this is already a major win for me. My confidence is at an all-time high and my ability to take risks on has never been greater. Now, I am a proud author who will no longer be put in a box. I have successfully torn down the walls that I had previously allowed to limit me. Standing here now there is only one thing I can think of and that is what I will create next!
Personally, I am over the top excited that we are on the cusp of turning the page on not only a new year but also on a new 10-year window of opportunities and possibilities!
You may be thinking, whoa…I am just embracing the fall season…yikes… it is tough to think about a new decade!
Yet it is this groundwork, this forward thought that you put in place TODAY that will propel you and lead you into greatness in 2020 and beyond. Designing a new decade rests in your ability to vision, in your willingness to be curious, in your awareness of where you are now and what you most want to curate. Essentially, curating what's next is about tapping into today with confidence, conviction, and decision. Leading YOU starts now. This is your new next. It is your choice.
Sometimes to get to that 'next', you need to take a step back to reflect. Please pardon my asking you to spend time in yesterday. Those who know me personally, know that I created and continue to grow my business based on enabling the present moment as a springboard for living your legacy. So, indulge me here! True, I am asking you to peek into the past, yet it is only in order for you to bring the essence of that past forward into this moment called NOW.
One of the best ways to tap into what's next is to clarify what drives you. To design a new decade, ask yourself this question about the past ten years:
What worked? What were my successes?
Make a list of your achievements big and small. Don't type them, but rather use ink and paper and sit with and savor them. Move your thoughts and your successes from your head, to your heart, to your pen, to the paper. Remember that on the flip side of goals not attained and New Year's resolutions abandoned, there was more than likely some traction and action that moved you forward, even if the end result was not what you expected. Once you have a full list of a decade's worth of personal and professional accomplishments, think about how this makes you feel. Do you remember celebrating all of them? My guess is no. So, celebrate them now. Give them new life by validating them. Circle the successes that resonate with you most right now. Where can you lean into those accomplishments as you power into the decade ahead?
Now comes a tougher question, one that I used myself in my own mid-life reinvention and a question I adore because in a moment's time it provides you with a quick reconnect to your unique inner voice.
If it were 10 years ago and nothing were standing in your way, no fear or excuses to contend with…what would you do?
Don't overthink it. The brilliance of this question is that it refocuses purpose. Whatever first came to mind when you answered this for yourself is at its core a powerful insight into defining and redefining the FUTURE decade. Bring your answer into the light of today and what small piece of it is actionable NOW? Where is this resonating and aligning with a 2019 version of yourself?
Then, based on your success list and your answer to the above question, what is your 2020 vision for your business and for the business of YOU?
Designing a new decade begins as a collection of 3,650 opportunities. 3,650 blank slates of new days ahead in which to pivot and propel yourself forward. Every single one of those days is a window into your legacy. An invitation to be, create, explore, and chip away at this thing we call life. One 24-hour segment at a time.
While you have a decade ahead to work on design improvements, you have the ability to begin manifesting this project of YOU Version 2020 right NOW. Based on exploring the exercises in this post, begin executing your vision. Ask questions. Be present. Let go of 2019 and the past 10 years so that you can embrace the next 10. Position acceptance and self-trust at the forefront of how you lead you. One choice at a time.
Don't get bogged down in the concept of the next 10 years. Instead position clarity and intention into each new day, starting today. Then chase every one of those intentions with an in-the-moment commitment and solution toward living a legendary life!