As you may know by now, I’m 4.5 months pregnant with Baby G 2.0. It’s a girl️. While growing this little human, it seems my over-achieving self got a little busy growing as much as it could… and last week I had an emergency abdominal surgery to remove a 10cm cyst from my ovary. To avoid complications for the growing babe, the entire ovary had to come out by way of a 6 inch incision straight up my ever-expanding belly.
Not the way I had planned to spend my Wednesday.
The cyst is gone (and benign, btw) and now I’m beginning the long process of healing. Which has given me time to rest, time to think, time to reflect. Of course, being the logical person I am, I went straight for this question:
Why did this happen? What lesson do I take away from all of this pain?
I’ve talked about it a bit on my Instagram these last few days but it came up in two powerful conversations yesterday and I wanted to share those with you.
But before we get to that, here’s where you might want to stop reading my blog.
You see, my entire business to this point has been built around being “the systems girl”. I know Asana inside and out and I can tell you exactly when, why, and how you should decide between Buffer and Edgar. Creatives have come to me to help organize their teams, improve their processes, and integrate systems into their businesses.
And it’s been really fun. I’ve made life-long friends from some of those clients and grown in ways I didn’t think possible. My words have been read by thousands (millions?) and I’ve built up a nice little reputation for myself. In fact, when I started working for ConvertKit about a year ago I had an inbox full of emails of people saying they were sad they couldn’t hire me any longer.
Yet after nearly five years of talking about the importance of systems, I am realizing that it’s not the systems that are important at all. It’s what you do with them, it’s how you use them. It’s who you are heading into those systems that make or break them.
My most successful clients have been those who peeled the layers of the onion back, unpacked the Russian Nesting Doll of their business, and saw all the moving parts and pieces. They saw how much they were doing and what was giving them real results. They took a good hard look at what truly mattered and made a difference and let the rest go. They challenged themselves to think outside of the solution and look at the problem first.
You can stack all of the systems and tools you want on top of a boat full of water, but they’re only going to add more weight and help that boat drown.
If you don’t find out where the water is coming in from, you’re only adding to the problem at hand.
My friend, we are approaching our businesses all backwards. We think if we have the right tools or systems in place that everything else will be easy. That we can do more. That we’ll grow faster. And that’s true once you’ve reached a certain point and you’ve done the hard work of looking at the problem first.
But the majority of us haven’t done that work. Because it’s big work. It’s sitting still, shutting down Facebook, listening to that internal voice kinda work. It’s early morning cup of coffee on the back porch kinda work. It’s “this is actually going to change the way I work and think in business and in life and that scares the crap out of me” kind of work.
It’s the work I’m coming through the other side of. And it’s the work I want to take you through.
So if you’ve been here for systems and tools and you really still want that, I have some options for you. I still believe in systems and what they offer, they just have to come at the right point. My friend Natasha is a powerhouse with systems if you are in that magical place and she and I are teaming up to give you an afternoon workshop all about using Asana to help you blog consistently. From here on out, I’m sending you, dear systems lover, to Natasha. You’re gonna love her.
If you’re ready to do that bigger work, to let me hold the space for you to Do Less, Better, this is your official invitation. Comment below to tell me that you’re tired of trying things that work for others but just aren’t having an impact for you. To tell me you want to stop putting out so much effort for so little return. You’re ready to know that what you’re doing works. So share in the comments and tell yourself you’re in.
Now, about those conversations.
These are two exact transcripts of chats I had just yesterday that I wanted to let you in on. Both were with good friends who are also in the business/life building space. I woke up thinking about them and can’t wait to hear what they get tumbling around in your head.
Hit reply and let me know, would ya?
Convo #1 (on big things I’ve been pondering during my time at rest)
Me: We have to say what we need. Especially us women. I made a post to FB telling people what happened and 3 specific ways they can help in detail and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But I knew my family would not survive the next 6 weeks if I didn’t. I wouldn’t survive.
You would be amazed at how many women reached out to me thanking me for setting that example for them.
I didn’t do it to set an example or pave the way or anything, I just knew I needed to for me.
We all post up like we’re good but we’re not. We need each other. And we don’t live in societies that revolve around church families or neighbors who know us well any longer. So we have to build those for ourselves.
I wrote about it on my Instagram a bunch this weekend. It’s so important.
That and slowing down. Doing less for more impact. I’ve had “learning to do less, better” in the bio on my social media platforms for well over a year now and am now actually in the process of doing that.
Friend: Agreed on all of this.
It would be nice if social media reflected more of a true sense of community.
Me: It’s not just social media, it’s everywhere. It’s in business, in families, in friendships. We have to start with each other and work our way out.
I’m basically at this place in my life/mindset “Fuck competition and trying to prove ourselves to each other. Let’s just all admit we need each other to get by and then find out how we can help each other shine.”
But the only way we can *get* to that place is if we slow down and actually look at ourselves and each other.
So it’s a two part thing.
Friend: Yeah. I did a lot of thinking this weekend about similar themes.
Voicing what I actually need. Saying out loud the things that hurt / make me angry / that I’ve been holding onto as tension in my body for too long, etc
Me: Yes. Because it all manifests itself eventually. What if this cyst was growing so rapidly because my hormones were in this wicked confused state all because my *mind* is trying to process so much at one time??
Look, my mom died because she didn’t say what she needed. She couldn’t see out of her right eye and it was getting progressively worse for days before she casually mentioned it to a friend on the phone and my dad overheard her. He took her to the hospital but it was too late. The infection that took her sight caused a stroke and killed her.
All because she didn’t say what she needed/felt.
So I didn’t learn that lesson 5 years ago when she died.
I certainly have now.
And I refuse to go out that way. Mentally or physically.
Friend: Yep, I hear ya.
Convo #2 (on the hard parts of recovery and having a toddler at home)
Friend: It is a test. Sadly, it won’t be the last time you will have to deprive her of something. You will get strong from it and so will she. I know it is hard.
Me: Yep. This is all just prep for March when baby comes.
Friend: You are a wonderful mama. Hang in there.
Me: I’m tryin’ to. Working only part time is helping. Also giving less fucks about what used to feel like Big Important Things. That helps too.
Friend: That’s the gift of this, if there can be one.
Me: It’s the best gift, actually.
Here’s to your own big revelations this week and beyond.