Do you feel like you’re being tested?

Below is a piece I wrote a few years ago when I took a class through Mary Anne Em Radmacher. She is most famous for a quote that says:

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day, saying I will try again tomorrow.”

I took her on-line class in a period when I was processing a number of life events: my mother had recently died, my family had made a momentous geographic change, and I was learning information about the health of my children. And to top it off, I had broken my ankle, so for six weeks I had ample time to heal myself through writing. This was occurring right before my 50th birthday.

My humorous side revealed itself. How do you use humor to help you through a difficult period?

Dear Brenda,

You have been involved in an extremely rigorous testing period known as your 49th year. This is the year that culminates all of the learning you’ve been involved in just prior to entering your Jubilee Year. You are 85 percent complete in the testing period.

Your test questions are being randomly created by a computer in REAL TIME, so there is no way to prepare for the test. It will seem as if the test is being created by some gnome living in the backwoods of Montana who has no clue of who the hell you are. This is a safeguard to ensure you are not taking a duplicate test from some previous year, which you thought at the time was a year you were glad to be finished with. It is natural for you to feel nostalgic about those years.

You are not allowed scratch paper or a cheat sheet on how to answer the questions which come your way. You may access at any time, though, a large library of self-help books, but they won’t seem very helpful to you because you’ll think the authors of those books were endowed with some special characteristic which wasn’t doled out to you. While the concept of cheerleaders is noble, the quarterback has to take the hit anyway whether anyone’s cheering or not.

You will be allowed frequent Diet Dr. Pepper breaks during the testing period. Ignore the warnings of Diet drinks being harmful. Instead, enjoy these brief moments as a way to recollect your thoughts.

After you have answered a question, you may check with your fellow classmates for their answers. But you won’t be allowed to change an answer once it’s submitted. Also, your classmates are being given a completely different set of questions, so their answers won’t apply to yours anyway.

It may seem as if others are cheating or skating by on their test. In fact, this is true. Your pointing it out to the test proctor, though, will not change the test questions for you. Instead, the test proctor may give you additional questions if you take your mind off what you’re doing and focus on other people’s test process.

Certain questions may be written in such a way as to your not being able to answer them correctly. This is intentional. Give an answer anyway and move on. You may also see some questions which you believed could be answered perfectly by you and it will be marked as incorrect. In fact, those questions will be underlined and circled in red to bring attention to the arrogance with which you answered those questions.

One other thing: the test known as your 49th year may make you feel like it is stretching you beyond your capabilities. Do not be worried about this. Answer everything that comes your way, the best way you can, and move on.

Sincerely,
Your 49th year

P.S. There will be no class survey afterwards asking you for your opinion on how we may improve our process.

courage

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What will you learn by doing?

“You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; and just so you learn to love God and man by loving. Begin as a mere apprentice and the very power of love will lead you on to become a  master of the art.” Francis de Sales

frances de salesYou learn to write a blog by blogging. You learn to sell by selling. You learn to account by accounting. You learn to counsel by counseling.

You can read any number of books or websites to learn strategies for improving your performance but the real learning comes when you actually do the work. And when you make a mistake–and you will–don’t get discouraged, keep going. A year from now, you likely won’t remember the mistake. And if a year from now you still remember the mistake, then you will have had a deep and life-changing learning which will help you develop humility and keep you teachable.

Steven Pressfield offers a free five-audio lesson on the “artist’s inner battle,” based on his book The War of Art. Listen to it, but then take a risk and practice what your “wild and precious life” is calling you to do.

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Keep knocking it out until you’re successful

Affiliate disclosure: I do not have any affiliate arrangements with any of the products created by those mentioned in this blog post. If you buy one of their products, they will receive all of the profit. I will not receive a commission.

Do you feel like a fake, an imposter? Are you wondering what you’re doing putting yourself out there like that?

In “Steal Like an Artist: 10 things Nobody Told you About Being Creative,” Austin Kleon lays out the unspoken dilemma of people who are entering a creative or start-up phase: “nothing new is under the sun.” With the exception of actual inventors, nearly every one with a product wants you to believe they have an original idea or that they offer a special sauce to the established formula. What they offer is consistency of effort. The more times someone gets their message out there, the greater the chances that someone looking for that service or product will find it.

Look at Dave Ramsey. He didn’t invent either the envelope strategy or the concept of snowball effect for Financial Peace University. Those terms and strategies have been around for a long time. What he did, though, was organize a curriculum around a need he and others had for financial peace and, since then, has been sharing it with everyone he comes in contact with. His need has helped many others.

Lots of people will show you a formula on how to develop a successful blog. They may even have a course. They tried a number of things and kept doing the things that worked. So, if you are set on building a profitable blog, do what the successful bloggers tell you they did and yours will grow, too. Polish native Cristian Mihai began blogging in 2012. I started reading his blog, then. He did not have many followers. Now, over 132,000 people follow him. If I had done what he did beginning in 2012, I could be where he is now. But I didn’t. I started a blog and then stopped it. I started another blog and then stopped it. Remember, 90 percent complete to you, is 0 percent complete to your potential reader or customer.

Don’t stop. Keep going.

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A journey of a 1,000 miles, begins with one step. Lao Tzu

Just about anyone who makes an excellent living boosts their income when they present what they know to others. To do this, they sit down and organize their thoughts and strategies into a cohesive, sequential manner. People who sell courses on-line or offer public speaking services are teachers in disguise.

But marketing is the secret sauce to success. And at its most basic definition, all marketing is, is telling everyone you come across what you’re doing. Don’t be shy: just blurt it out. When I started out as a journalist, I applied to work at newspapers and kept applying until a newspaper hired me. Then another one did, and then another one. Then, I decided to become a counselor. I had to complete additional educational requirements to be in this field, but not all fields require that. Now, my private practice is growing because I tell everyone I know I’m a counselor.

Some people never finish high school and can become billionaire business owners. Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines, David Karp who invented the popular Tumblr social media platform, and singer extraordinaire Aretha Franklin are among people who were exceptions to the statistical outcomes of dropping out of high school. But the common denominator between them and people who became successful with Ph.Ds, is that they kept working at what they wanted to do and told everyone about it.

When you’re starting out, what you’re doing may feel like a version of the real thing. It takes a lot of practice and repetition for the stars to get to be stars and they all started as beginners. Even the prodigy piano player had to sit down at the piano for the first time to discover that s/he had the talent. Then s/he kept playing the piano over and over until enough people looked at him/her, young as s/he is, and noted s/he’s got talent.

It is the same for you. Whatever you pick to do for your living, keep telling other people about it and keep doing the work. Eventually, you will be known for your unique version of “nothing new under the sun.”

© 2018 Brenda Henning