This morning I woke up with a smile on my face. It felt like I was being embraced by the world, and who doesn’t love a warm hug? I was the only one up, so I sat for an hour in my rocking chair, eyes closed, just feeling myself move gently to and fro. The joyful sound of chirping birds filled my ears, and I never even heard the insistent ticking of the kitchen clock. In that moment there was no schedule, no deadline to meet. The hour I spent in meditation connecting to this powerful energy was certainly paying off. I was experiencing true joy. The joy that comes only from within. This joy put me in such a good mood!
I then spent the rest of the morning with my CEO hat on, singing and dancing as I prepared for my first phone meeting with my publicist. My publicist!
Who knew that the little girl who’d spent three years living in a house with no electricity or running water would be waiting for a call from a well-known publicist. That thought alone made me feel like I was sitting on top of the world. Suddenly my phone rang and it was my publicist calling, she quickly asked me to get on Zoom for our meeting. I was excited and hopped on Zoom, something I had only recently learned to appreciate (get with it, girl!).
Seconds into the call she says, “Naomi, what is the launch date of your book?”
“August 21st,” I blurted out, grinning from ear to ear. “Isn’t that great? It’s right around the corner!”
Uncomfortable silence. And then she said, “Naomi, in the world of publicity, that’s like…tomorrow. There’s a lot that must be done before you can successfully launch your book. The August launch date won’t work. It has to be pushed back. We need at least a couple more months.”
A bucket of ice water hit my head, at least that’s what it felt like. I was anxious and a bit…no, a lot…deflated as she went on to tell me all the reasons why it could not happen as scheduled. My thunder was gone and my joy suddenly disappeared. Fear and anxiety covered my being. Was I about to let you and everyone else waiting for my book down? That was the last thing I wanted to do.
The rest of the day continued swirling down the drain. I found myself depressed and in need of a way to escape. I took off my CEO hat and decided it was a great time to take a nap. “Why shouldn’t I have a nap?” I rationalized. I was up early. I’d been working hard. So I curled up in bed and closed my eyes.
What should have been a short nap turned into five hours of sleep. And I woke up hungry as a bear coming out of hibernation. The snacking was on! I rampaged my cupboard and ate everything I could get my hands on so I wouldn’t have to deal with all the emotions I was feeling. This is my own unique way of running and hiding the embarrassment, pain, and disappointment I was feeling.
I bet you are saying, “Uh, huh, I know that, Naomi. Been there, done that. Gained five pounds when my work proposal was rejected.”
I know you see me as a guru and someone who has her act together, but I always want to be honest with you. Life hands me all the same crap challenges that it hands you. I’m not exempt because of my culture, race, or gender. I’m not exempt because I own my own business. I’m not exempt because I get to do work that I love. Yes, just like you, I experience set backs. One minute everything is going according to plan and the next all hell breaks loose. Just when I feel like I’m making progress, I experience yet another set back.
Honestly, I had all the same fears and insecurity you have about starting your own business, and I continue to have those same fears. What if I fail in business? What if it costs me my family? What if my business doesn’t bring in enough income for me to support myself? What if no-one buys the book? You know the drill. But again, just being real here, it’s that ‘teetering on the precipice’ fear and excitement that keeps me going. I love the thrill! I think you will too.
But here’s the deal. It’s how you handle your set backs that will determine if you will finish the race and create your dream business. I learned it and so can you. Please allow me to share a few tips on how to handle the set backs you are experiencing in your life and on your journey to starting your own business. Because no one—not me, not you—is exempt from set backs. However, there are a few things you can do so you don’t stay in the bed or in the pantry indulging your self-pity mode for very long. This is how I did it…
Spoiler Alert: You are not in control of anything. No matter how much you plan, the universe always has the final say. Things sometimes just don’t go according to your plans. When they do, just be grateful. When they don’t…
Eliminate blame: Never blame anything or anyone for the set back. As I was having my Cheetos catered pity party, I had to acknowledge that it wasn’t anyone’s fault. It’s not my publicist’s fault that I’m a novice and don’t understand all the moving variables. When we blame others, we cannot see our own roles.
Just let it go: The sooner you let it go, the sooner you can take the next step toward creating what comes next. Scrub the orange stuff off your fingers and let it go, then you can move into the space of “okay, that sucks, now what?” This is the space that allows you to reach the next level. When you are in this space you start to focus on what needs to be done right there and then. When you are in this “letting go” space, answers and solutions to the challenges you are facing in your life or business magically come to you with very little effort on your part. Those are the moments when you will say, “How come I didn’t see it sooner?”
There’s not a lot I could do about the delay of my book launch, but I can certainly share my experience with you. Set backs are not meant to destroy you or your plans for the future. Set backs happen to get you to look at the bigger picture, to consider options that you might not have considered before. Set backs happen to open you up to what else may be possible or available to you. Like that scene in Moonstruck when Cher’s character slaps her lover across the face and yells, “Snap out of it!”
While I had felt let down by not meeting the original launch date for my book, several wonderful events have since taken place that will make the launch even more special. In the coming days, I promise to share the great things that happened for me. I hope you’ll be as excited as I am!
So, please, the next time you experience a set back, cancel the pity party, put down the Oreos, and step into the realm of possibility. That set back might just be a fantastic opportunity poking its head in the door saying, “Excuse me, but did you consider…”
P.S. Here’s a quick exercise to help you overcome the challenges you are facing. Pull out your journal (you DO have a journal, don’t you?) and write down fifty things you are grateful for. At first, it’s going to feel like fifty is a lot. You might even say, “Naomi, I can’t find fifty things.” But you can. Start with being grateful that you are reading this article. Be grateful for the bed you sleep on, the food you eat. Be grateful you woke up today. You get my drift? Gratitude leads to more gratitude. Notice how you feel at the end of this exercise.