The game of Jenga and your business
Have you ever played a game of Jenga? I always loved that game-every move was so full of suspense. I was the girl that ruined the game for everyone because I’d scream really loudly when the Jenga tower would topple.
Someone’s mom would get mad about the screaming, shut it down, and then everyone would give me the stink eye.
No matter what I did, I couldn’t help it! I loved the thrill of seeing how high we could build the tower before it toppled.
Little did I know that I’d get the same thrill in my business.
The only thing you can count on in a game of jenga is that the tower WILL topple. It’s inevitable.
How I created a business filled with avoidance
And, I learned that operating my business from a place of avoidance was the same as playing a game of Jenga. My business would topple.
Because I kept pulling out my own foundation by avoiding all the things I was scared of or overwhelmed by and only doing things that looked good from the outside. Pretty soon my business had no legs to stand on. I ran my business right into the ground because of avoidance. My husband had no clue that the things he passed off to me to do were just being added to tomorrow’s to-do list. Every. Day. for eight months.
It only took 8 months to realize that my really tall tower was wobbling. I had gotten us publications around the world. I had gotten us opportunities to shoot in other countries, meet people that were where we wanted to be. Grow our instagram numbers. Isn’t that success?
It was a wobbling Jenga tower and it was about to crash down. Why? Because I learned that:
You can’t go for very long avoiding the emails because you don’t know how to answer them.
You can’t go very long avoiding an unhappy client because you’re scared if you bring it up they’ll leave you a bad review.
You can’t go very long avoiding your profit and loss reports because you don’t know how to use quickbooks...and you’re afraid of the truth they hold.
You can’t go very far without building your network because you’re scared that everyone’s better than you.
You can’t build a business without asking for the sale
You can’t hope people will book you because they like you so much that you don’t have to differentiate yourself
You can’t hope that someone else will just do the hard stuff for you
You can’t eat away the fear
You can’t starve away the fear
You can’t scroll away the fear
You can’t pleasure away the fear.
You can’t avoid the fear.
Here’s the thing. If you run your business from a place of avoidance, it can grow. Just like a Jenga tower, you’ll have false hope that your business is growing. You’ll feel like the avoidance is something that doesn’t really matter-it’s not really a problem, right?
But all you’re doing is pulling from the bottom to add to the top. You’re pulling out your very foundation to make the tower look taller.
You’re celebrating instagram followers and engagement when you don’t have customers
You’re celebrating a publication or feature when you don’t have visibility
You’re celebrating your portfolio when you have no message
You’re celebrating your success when you have no time to enjoy your life
And pretty soon, you’ll find yourself watching the whole thing topple.
How my Jenga business toppled
I didn’t realize my Jenga tower was toppling until I was photographing a wedding during my second pregnancy. I was experiencing horrible cramping and working with some of the most unkind vendors I’ve ever worked with. I was working in the most extreme conditions-the longest timeline, the most extreme cold temperatures, and deepest physical pain.
And I started to wonder if I was losing the baby I hadn’t told anyone about yet.
I was in so much pain, I could barely stand and was being monitoring by an overbearing contractor who decided it was her job to make sure I was constantly busy. I kept stepping away to stretch my back because I couldn’t stand up straight-I knew something was wrong.
And she kept searching for me and giving me menial tasks. I started asking myself if all the work I’d put into my business was worth this moment, eating a cold, gummy pasta salad after 10 hours of hard work, not being able to take care of myself and being micromanaged by someone who was overcompensating for their insecurity by bossing people around. This felt like the lowest moment of my business.
The next morning, my worst nightmare came true for the second time. After one of the most trying events of my life, I lost my second baby.
It was during that time that I realized that none of what I’d built really mattered because all I was left with at the end of it was avoidance, fear, resentment and pain.
I had built a business that looked good on the outside, but that I frantically wanted to escape from.
The pain of avoidance
It doesn’t have to be that way, you know. You don’t have to run your business from that place of avoidance.
You don’t have to carry around that tattered rotating to-do list of things you said you’d do yesterday but avoided. You don’t have to make a new set of goals, hoping they’ll fix you. You don’t have to dread tax time, not having a clue what your numbers are. You don’t have to dread your sales calls because you don’t know if anyone will actually book you.
The beauty of being scared
You don’t need to be anything BUT scared. I’m giving you permission to be scared. You don’t need to change how you feel in order to do the scary things. Scary isn’t a sign that something is wrong. So just go do it, my love.
Do it anyway
Do it scared
Do it unsure
Do it without it all figured out
Do it and cringe afterward
Do it and facepalm
Do it and get back up
But just do it.
Do you know you’re still beautiful when you’re scared? You’re still worthy? And you’re still successful? It’s not the fear that’s the problem, its avoiding fear that created the Jenga business in the first place.
You can’t increase your site traffic if you never publish that first cringeworthy post.
What is one brave step you can take today that will move you from avoidance into action? You can do this-I’m cheering you on!