A few weeks ago, my nieces Bianca and Victoria along with their friend Corina, planned a cozy celebration with a family gathering to make their dad’s 50th birthday special and memorable.
They thought of everything with a detailed checklist including a home cooked meal and for the birthday cake, a cheesecake; his favorite!
As they began mixing the ingredients for the cheesecake, I kept sneaking a peek, watching and trying to learn from them. Instead, I was reminded of a very important lesson I learned years ago when I first started my on line coaching business and giving conferences.
I want to share it with all of you in hopes that it will inspire discovering your hidden creative potential the next time you make a mistake and feel you have failed.
At some point, I noticed the three of them standing and staring at the mixture with a blank, puzzled look on their face without saying a word. “What is it?” I asked.
“It just seems clumpier than usual,” Victoria said. Corina grabbed the bowl, “It’s fine. It’ll all come together while it’s baking.”
Half way in the baking time, Bianca grabbed the flour from the counter and noticed that they had used whole wheat flour. “OMG! That’s why it was clumpy. The cake is ruined! We can’t serve it to people like that. It’ll be too dry. It’ll taste like bread. We don’t even have time to start over.”
In a matter of a few seconds, the perfect day suddenly turned into a disaster. The cake was the most important thing. In total despair, the two sisters nearly broke out in tears. They were ready to pull it out of the oven and throw it out.
The party was over before it even began.
I couldn’t watch them throw out something they had worked so hard on without at least trying something, anything. “Hold on, maybe there’s something you can do to make it moist,” I blurted out. Corina jumped up in the air, remembering a secret recipe her mom once used that could transform a cheesecake into an apple crumple cheesecake. “It’ll work,” she said, “The juice from the apples will moisten it and give it flavor.”
It was actually perfect timing because the added secret recipe was required to be placed on top of the cheesecake only fifteen minutes before the end of the baking time.
Without following a recipe book, the girls quickly prepared the apple crumble topping. They determined the amount of the ingredients according to a taste test. They added more brown sugar when the apples were too sour, throwing in a pinch of this and a dash of that for the correct balance of the acquired taste.
They seemed to be having so much more fun mixing stuff together without measuring, than when they were following a recipe and concentrating on avoiding making a mistake to achieve the perfect cheesecake.
It was the most amazing, delicious, scrumptious apple crumble/cheesecake I ever tasted!
What does this cheesecake experience have to do with starting my coaching business?
Back then I knew nothing about all the technical stuff and building my own business. I read books, blogs and took courses. I followed every single step and put all my energy and effort in growing an audience before launching my coaching business and give conferences.
I waited and waited and waited… Nothing seemed to work. I couldn’t quite understand what I was doing wrong. No matter how I looked at it, I just couldn’t see it. Now, it’s a good thing I have long, thick hair because I pulled out so many that by now I’d probably be bald. I thought about throwing out the whole idea and doing something else. The thing is, this was my dream! Now, it was over before it began.
If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that when I first started, I also began my journey by traveling and living across South America. I was meeting travelers from all over the world who became my Facebook friends. By this time, I had started my blog. No matter how many times the people I met told me that some of my posts had inspired or touched them in some way, I kept focusing on the fact that nothing worked from all the other stuff I had learned and applied to grow my audience.
Pause for a few seconds here.
Do you see where I’m going with this? Not just my story, do you see it in your life?
Ok, let’s go on.
Because I was so focused on following a set of rules, guidelines, system or whatever you want to call it, I was missing different paths.
One day, after reading one of my posts, two young Croatian ladies who were studying in Chile, approached me for coaching sessions. It was like a light bulb went on and I finally understood my mistake.
Focusing on ‘systems’ to grow an audience, was NEVER the goal. It was the result of letting my passion speak and express itself to others. In doing so, people spread the word!
Some of them actually became my first clients before launching my on line coaching business. Some referred me to friends and family. I had an International clientele (Germany, France and Holland) before launching.
Now, please don’t get me wrong. Everything I ever read or enrolled in, helped me a great deal in so many ways. The thing is, by focusing COMPLETELY on a fixed guideline and a fixed goal (number of an audience or readers), I moved away from allowing my inner passion of connecting with people, open my eyes and discovery an unforeseen path with the ingredients that were right in front of me.
I felt I was following along with a crowd, trying to reach the goal of growing my audience, but going the wrong way.
Turns out, it wasn’t a question of it being the right or wrong way, it was NOT my way.
Even when I started giving conferences, it’s not always easy scheduling the perfect date and time that’s convenient for everyone. This time, instead of waiting for the ideal number of participants, I agreed to a client’s request of hosting a private conference at her home to six people. I continued hosting these private talks in people’s homes. That’s right. I was like the Avon lady.
The discussions and their questions gave birth to new themes for a series of eight conferences. With every event, my clientele grew and more ideas came to life. Eventually, I hosted conferences within organizations and to the public to audiences of up to 100 people.
At this point, I had launched my on line coaching business. Check this out, although I did use social media, my clientele grew via my website, but mainly through, are you ready for this, WORD OF MOUTH!!
It’s been five years now and my journey has been an evolution of my passion with so many other unexpected projects which have crossed my path. Each one has had its own share of colorful mistakes and heartaches. At the same time, each one has brought about a creative, fun new way of doing things.
Yes, I still have so much to learn and there are so many amazing mentors out there whom I continue to learn from. But, no one can tell me what my own journey will look like. No one can tell me what I need to learn from my own mistakes. I can trust myself to learn from every mistake and mix things up to create my very own personalized apple crumble cheesecake!
Life has so many more lessons to teach me throughout my journey. I look forward to discovering from every single step and unforeseen path of the journey, NOT focus on one particular destination.
How about you? Has mistakes led you to discover unforeseen paths?