If you truly want to change course, you need to stop thinking about what’s “realistic” and instead think about what’s possible.
For those of you who’ve been reading this newsletter since 1995 or even for a few months, this may seem obvious. But I assure you, not everyone is on the same page.
That point was really driven home a few years ago when I hosted a small dinner posted for a few friends.
One of my guests was taking a Spanish class. So I mentioned the invitation I’d received from International Living magazine to speak at a conference in Panama for people who want to live and work overseas.
Before sitting down for our dinner, I gave my dog Cokie his. As I mixed up a concoction of chicken and sweet potato, I reminisced about a delightful woman I’d recently met while in Paris who makes her living as a professional dog chef.
As we retreated to the living room for dessert, one of my guests picked up a copy of Sir Richard Branson’s biography on my coffee table. Much to her surprise it was autographed.
That of course required an explanation of how I wound up being part of an intimate “pick Richard Branson’s brain” roundtable followed by VIP seats atRock the Kasbah, Branson’s star-studded annual fundraiser for his mother Eve’s foundation.
(Click here for a cool video about her work helping impoverished women in Morocco to start small businesses.)
My friends have no idea who entrepreneurs like (counterclockwise) Ali Brown, Mari Smith, or Eban Pagan are.
But they definitely were wowed that I got to chat with the surprising T-I-N-Y Paula Abdul and was front row for Natasha Beddingfield, Estelle, Adelle, and Gavin Rossdale.
Then a friend and I traded compliments on earrings. She had no idea who made hers. Mine came from an impressive young Canadian jewelry designer and entrepreneur named Rachel Mielke.
I met Rachel while speaking at the Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan annual conference after which she invited me to tour her nearby studio.
I’m a huge fan of the hit television show the Shark Tank where entrepreneurs pitch venture capitalists to give them money to grow their businesses.
So you can imagine how impressed I was that Rachel had successfully pitched her business on the original CBS’s show known in Canada as the Dragon’s Den. And by the age of 29, she had been invited to attend a 2008 pre-Oscar Luxury Gifting Lounge in Los Angeles
As my guests were leaving one of them noticed my tube of lip balm “Chicken Poop Lip Junk.” With a name like that, I had to tell them about my recent interview with another determined entrepreneur named Jamie Tabor Schmidt of ILoveChickenPoop.com.
Everyone told her that you can’t name lip balm Chicken Poop. As it turns out, the novelty name is the reason they buy and why Jamie got her product into a huge national chain like Walgreen’s.
That was the moment my friend Joanne exclaimed, “Wow, you live in this total other world, don’t you?”
I honestly didn’t know what she was talking about. “What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well, you just got back from speaking at a travel photography course in Paris. You’re speaking in Panama. You meet these fascinating people that no one else ever seems to meet. It’s like you exist on a planet all your own.”
As I looked around the table at my guests – a district court judge, the training director at a university, a clinical social worker, and a college professor – I realized that I may not live on a different planet, but in a lot of ways I do inhabit a very different world. It’s a place I’ve come to think of as the World of Possibilities.
Life in the Real World
Sadly, most people operate in a world they proudly refer to as the Real World. You can always tell when you’ve met someone who has never lived in – never mind entertained – the World of Possibilities.
All you have to do is start talking about how happy you are when you’re baking and how you’ve been thinking of starting a cookie business…
Or you talk about how you’d absolutely love to run tours to Provence, France…
Or that you have a life-long dream of moving to the country and starting an organic farm…
The first thing you’ll notice is that Real World people look at you like, well, like you’re from another planet. Which, compared to them you are.
Next they are quick to recite with great certainty all of the reasons why your ideas are completely unrealistic.
After all, having never started a business themselves and knowing zilch about either selling cookies or running tours, being from the Real World they nonetheless deem themselves authorities on what is and isn’t possible.
And to underscore your other world status they will flatly tell you that you just aren’t operating in the Real World.
They mean it as a dig. What they don’t realize is that this is actually a very good thing.
Because when you dwell in the World of Possibilities you know these things are doable for one simple reason: People are doing them!
The World of Possibilities
Look around and you’ll see people who have figured out that a dream + effort = profiting from your passion.
People like 55-year-old Marla Romash, who after an amazing career in politics felt the urge to do something new. Today she bakes cookies with a political theme.
Or MaryJane Butters of MaryJanes Farm. What began as a passion for organic farming has morphed into her own magazine, retail stores, a bed and breakfast, a line of food and other products, a farm school and much more
Or Cynthia Morris who, after leading successful tours to France for years literally wrote the book on how to lead tours for fun and profit (if Cynthia’s name sounds familiar, she was part of a panel discussion along with Barbara Sher, Barbara Winter, and me that’s part of Making Dreams Happen.)
It’s likely that you have a foot in both worlds.
A big part of you knows in your heart that it really is possible to open an artist’s retreat or design your own skin care line or find some way get paid to research holistic healing techniques.
But the gravitational pull to “be realistic” keeps pulling you back to the Real World.
When I started this business in 1995, I could never have imagined speaking in Panama or reviewing travel photography courses in Paris or getting to pick Richard Branson’s brain or running my own career coach training program or meeting people who run the most fascinating businesses…
And yet, here I am doing all of that and more.
And so can you.
Dale Carnegie once said, “We all have possibilities we don’t know about. We can do things we don’t even dream we can do.”
The vacancy sign is always out in the World of Possibilities.
Whenever you start to think your dream is not possible, find someone who is successfully doing the thing you want to do and follow them. I guarantee that this road will lead you to a lifetime of satisfaction, well-being, and even greater possibilities than you could ever imagine.
Being realistic is not all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, as hip-hop artist and actor Will Smith reminds us, “being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity.”
NOTE FROM VALERIE:
Welcome to my world…one that’s about to get even bigger. That’s because next week I’m opening registration in my new 2012 Profiting from Your Passions® career coach training program.
I’ve put together a short video that spells out some of the key qualities and characteristics of people of my fellow Possibility Dwellers. Whether you’re curious about what it would be like to get paid to brainstorm business ideas as I do or not, I think you’ll enjoy video. Click here to watch.