Tag Archives: business

Redefining Luck

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It has been eight years this month since I left the family home I’d made in Sebastopol and moved out to the coast. With little money, a fledgling career, and two daughters still to support, it was a leap of faith greater in magnitude than any I had yet tried to pull off in my life.

The past eight years have been marked by significant losses and hard-won gains. My business crashed in the downturn and I scrambled to build a new one. My father, nephew, and several friends died. As hard as I worked, progress was always slower than I hoped on many fronts.

And yet, I have had tremendous luck. Not the kind of luck that means my worries are over, not the luck that prevents me from having to make hard choices more than once. But a slender thread of luck and serendipity is all we need sometimes to affirm that we are on the right path, doing what we’re supposed to be doing, no matter the risk.

Golden Gate Bridge 75th AnniversarySometimes it’s the small pieces of luck that feel the best, like approaching the Golden Gate Bridge on its 75th Anniversary just as the sun sets behind it. Or catching the most beautiful moonrise by virtue of getting home late after a hard day.

One of the first things I needed in my new life was to rebuild my wardrobe for where I was going, not where I’d been. I had no money for clothes, but sometimes I’d have a sudden urge to visit one or another of my favorite stores. Invariably, the one thing I really needed would be there, in the perfect color and size, at a super cheap price.

Other times my luck was larger and more harrowing, for instance when I had no work for several weeks at a stretch. I was doing everything I could to generate more work, so I took my unwanted time off as a nudge from the Universe to sit down and write that book. Each time, I had just long enough to finish the project before work started flowing in again.

And then there were numerous instances when bad stuff happened in mild ways, or things broke but the damage was minor. At every turn there was something that tested my faith and resolve, and unfailingly the answer came back: Yes. You are on the right path. Keep going.

You don’t pass this kind of luck by. You thank it, accept it, be grateful for it. Gratitude increases both the size and frequency of luck, helping you stay healthy and live longer in the process. It is absolutely my magical tool of choice.

In his memoir, Robert Johnson names this kind of luck “slender threads,” “the mysterious forces that guide us and shape who we are.”

The possibility of the slender threads operating at all times is so staggering that most of us can’t bear it…Life is not meaningless, it is overflowing with meaning, pattern, and connections.

Serendipity, synchronicity, luck, fortune, fate. Call it what you will; it will answer.

I still have grand ideas of the kind of luck I want, and I continually shoot for them. Maybe soon one of those big plays will succeed in a flash of light. Meanwhile, a million little moments of luck glitter on the path all around me, lighting my way down the road no matter what.

The Art of Getting Up Again

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I had a great conversation with Dr. Joan Borysenko this morning on Dream Talk Radio. We talked about dreams and mind-body healing, and at one point discussed the limits of what can be taught in a workshop. I commented that there should be a workshop titled “The Art of Getting Up Again,” since that is the summation of pretty much every piece of advice ever given to anyone, in any context. She laughed and we went on, but the idea has stayed with me all day.

By definition, life hands us tough knocks from which we have to recover, regroup, and press on. Getting up again is what we do after we’ve been knocked down, or have lain down to rest. It is standard business advice that getting up again is what determines whether you will actually achieve your goals. It is equally true for everything else.

Everything we try to do, whether it be meditating in the mornings, remembering our dreams, quitting smoking, eating better, marketing our business, being nice to contentious people—everything comes pre-loaded with about a hundred ways it might not work. The secret to making it work is getting up and trying again that 101st time.

In aikido the art of falling, called ukemi, is very important, because getting thrown is inevitable. Falling allows us to flow with the movement of the incoming energy. It lessens the physical impact of a throw on our bodies, and gives us several strategic options for getting up again, which we decide on as we hit the ground.

How we get up from a fall in aikido is one of the subtleties of the art that most shows a person’s skill level. It can be fluid and graceful, as though it were a seamless weaving of the last fall and the next strike. When you see two people training and they show no energetic separation between one throw and the next, you are watching true aikido in action.

Getting up again in real life does not always demand this level of skill from us, thankfully. But we do need to keep in mind that falling is an art, not a failure. If we relax into it, our bodies can use that energy to find the best way to come back up again.

Metaphorically speaking, we make the fall hurt more by berating ourselves for falling, blaming others for our fall, or denying that we are indeed about to hit the ground. How much more sensible it would be to let the fall help us organize ourselves for rising again—to make getting up as effortless as possible, a seamless part of trying something until we eventually succeed.

Business is Magic

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I am not happy about publishing only one post in June, but while not writing I have been very busy mulling over how to make the best use of this space, and all the other spaces I have on the web. Some of you may have seen Jason’s post about the changes at Serpentine Music this summer, to which I would only add that if you want great deals on great music, the albums are going fast so order now!

Serpentine Music was my first business, a start-up back in the home-based business craze of the 1990s. It has been my do-it-yourself MBA, a crash course in music production, publishing, distribution, planning, niche marketing, sales, web design, direct mail, customer service, database management, and small business ownership. Winding it down has taught me a ton about how to carefully assess which pieces of a business should be tossed out for the useful stuff to thrive. Having an objective eye for something that you’ve poured your heart and soul into, and not being afraid to kill things that don’t work—that is tough, and it is also exactly where transformation happens.

This summer I have also undertaken the birth of a new business, Creative Content Coaching, which combines my experience as an educator and writer with everything I have learned about small business, consulting, and building a public presence. Shifting in such a short time from one business model to a completely new one, while not really shifting the essence of what I do at all, has taught me the biggest diy-MBA lesson yet: business is magic.

Allow me to explain. I have spent years helping people understand the spiritual messages in their dreams, while my dreams were advising me to make all sorts of changes in my professional life (which I followed). Eventually, the spiritual and practical streams in dreams merged for me, and I began doing dream seminars for businesses, while clients came to me looking for career guidance in their own dreams. (It is easy to find once you know how to look.)

Similarly, I started this blog on a whim five years ago, mostly to write on spiritual and personal topics. By hanging in there month after month, I’ve built up a large readership, leveraged it into writing for the Huffington Post, and now know more than most business coaches about the different kinds of web-based writing and how to do it well.

Magic is the art of sensing patterns, following the energy, and doing it all while staying centered and tapped into your creativity. What emerges is total transformation. What can also emerge is a very practical application of all that esoteric stuff, a vehicle through which we can use our whole skill set to bring positive change to the greatest number of people, while living by our core values. In other words, a very cool business. I hope to blog more about magic and commerce in the near future, and meanwhile I welcome your thoughts.