About 3 years ago, while sitting in my home office I had a defining moment that was a significant catalyst for change. As I sat pondering what I needed to do or become next to get to the things I desired most for me and mine, I heard that little voice from within ask the question,
“What would your world look like if the Internet was gone tomorrow?”
To some it might not seem like a “big” question and it rocked my world. At the time I was enjoying what I thought of as “success” having created it over a 10 year span almost exclusively using the Internet and telephone. I say “almost” because the relationships I fostered online eventually became very real as I hopped into cars and onto planes and ships to work, play and collaborate with friends from around the world.
As exciting as the lifestyle became, this exclusivity had created an imbalance and at the end of the days I was left with the realization that I didn’t really know anyone in my home town. The economy was taking a sharp left turn for God knows where, and the online world was becoming extremely crowded and noisy – the rules of the game I was used to playing were changing.
As a pioneer of Social Media some time before the term was even coined, I had created an online persona that depicted more of the real “Me” than the “me” I portrayed away from my keyboard. I existed in both worlds, with two distinct personalities. With the advent of Facebook came the others I had been waiting on for so long, the vision of all my “real life” friends joining me online was finally happening and as they came, I froze up, I no longer felt “free to be Me.” My virtual handle “DiamondJul – Ambassador for Connection” meant nothing to those outside my home’s door, to those without visibility to my online world I was still just “crazy Julie”. I was paralyzed by the prospects of what both worlds thought and the integrity gap widened.
It appears that in order to move fully forward in a direction that serves us, sometimes we have to take a few steps back, and as I did the success I knew began to show signs of sliding, I adjusted my life accordingly and my voice continued to dwindle amongst the ruckus of the online rush. The desire to serve in the community my butt sat in became a burning one. I set a new intention to simply start “showing up” with no particular agenda. I set out to make some kind of difference—whatever that meant I wasn’t sure—all I knew is that I had to move out of the comfort zone I had created for myself and try on something new.
I set out to find events to attend and things to join where I could Be Me with others and collect experiences that would allow me to both serve and grow as an individual and close the widening gap. I attended my high-school reunion and joined its alumni committee. I joined the social committee at my condominium complex, I went ice skating twice a week, I attended several churches. I even started dating again after a solid 4 years hiatus from courtship—but that’s a whole other article…
Specifically, I was looking for others that were self-employed or entrepreneurs because of the leadership, mindset and unique lifestyle that sets us slightly apart from the “status quo”.
One day while purging my spam folder, I happened to open up one of the emails I had been continually receiving from a site I belonged to for several years called MeetUp.com*. Lo and behold there was a meeting right here in town for entrepreneurs, I immediately RSVP’d to attend my first meeting and I knew I had found something right up my alley. I enjoyed the people and the meeting immensely and offered to help the organizers with the group, which shortly after (prodded by the sharp elbows of my fellow committee members) lead to the launching of my own MeetUp group “Attitude of Gratitude”. After more than a year and with the help of my wonderful co-facilitators it continues to grow steadily every month, one friend even calls it “a movement”! I knew “my people” were out there, I never dreamed there were so many that shared my vision to contribute and participate.
As the saying made famous in the classic flick Field of Dreams goes,
“Build it and they will come.”
Or, as one of my business teachers and mentors says,
“80% of success is simply in showing up.”
3 years ago I would walk around this city and never meet a soul I knew, wandering here and there asking the Universe, “where the heck is everyone?” It was a big deal to prepare myself for 1 or 2 socials in a week. I am an “ambivert”, that’s an introvert with a deep need to be with and around others as often as they like to be alone. With hindsight having 20/20 vision, I can now look back and clearly see the box I had built for myself while at the same time recognizing the symptoms of “social anxiety” that had crept in from too much high-tech and not near enough high-touch. I am now highly motivated to seduce others out of their limitations so that they may experience the thrill of personal transformation, diversity and opportunity.
As I write this I am chuckling as I hear the bellowing voice of an old friend to her house-bound children,
“Get out of the house and blow the stink off you!”
Today I am surrounded by beautiful people up to great things, I call them friends and we have each other’s backs! My calendar is messy with double booked events – I want to attend them all! I have some juicy collaborative projects to work on again and I live in the heart of my city, a part of it I never imagined I would love, yet here I am and I do. I am fostering productive relationships, partnerships and results. The “power of bump” (thank you Marc) is alive and well as I continually run into those I know. My success curve is once again pointing in the right direction…
“To infinity and beyond!” — Buzz Lightyear
There’s so much going on here, and it isn’t going to come to you. Show up and expand your circle of influence, become comfortable at being uncomfortable to find yourself, your passion and your gifts. You can’t imagine where showing up might take you…
*MeetUp.com is a website that facilitates the organization of local events for connecting like-minded, like-interested individuals. Create your profile and search for events in your town!