A career-changing moment or experience
My Friend Freedom
The first time I walked the hallways at an NSA con- vention, I couldn’t have felt more out of place. I was a clinical micro- biologist gone rogue by
trying on a new career that was oh so
unscientific. These people were obviously naturally gifted with skills I
would need to work on. I had given
up the career my education prepared
me for and was experiencing the “You
are going to do what?” response from
my family. Security was gone.
I’m not certain this was the genesis
of the fear that stubbornly stayed by
my side for the first decade of my
business but nonetheless it played a
Alongside every success I had was
the fear of non-success. I proved
I could win excellent clients, but
worried I couldn’t get more. I proved
I could keep clients long term, but
thought often about the day they
would let me go. Year after year, I
proved I could generate good revenue
and agonized over whether I could do
it again next year.
In speaking businesses, a fearful
approach can have significant consequences. Fear influences how you
will set your fees and how closely
you will adhere to your fee structure.
It increases the likelihood of accepting engagements that are not in your
sweet spot and can be harmful to
your brand. Fear lessens your disposition to invest in your business and
grow it in new ways. It impacts your
business decisions every day and ultimately affects your success.
Outwardly, no one would guess that
fear was my core motivator, but close
friends knew the real story.
Ten years ago, one of those
friends, in a highly pivotal
conversation, said he didn’t
understand why I worried so
much about my business. He
vividly pointed out that I had a
good track record and was a good
steward. He convinced me I was
wasting time on something that ulti-
mately could destroy the very thing I
was worried about—my business.
It was actually in that moment
when I realized that as long as fear
was my primary motivator, I could
not truly embrace success. I would
never be free enough to pursue
something wonderful while tied to
this limiting habit. I couldn’t win
while focused on not losing. There
was no doubt in my mind that my
biggest obstacle was something I
could control. Subsequently, I considered all the worry elimination
strategies I was aware of and knew
they were not for me. I also realized I
needed a tactic as this skin of fear was
not going to slough off by itself.
The approach I took was a practical one. In every moment of decision,
I asked myself, “What is driving this
behavior?” I chose confidence in the
future over fear of no future. When
clients asked for my fees, I didn’t
hesitate. When asked to speak on
a topic not in my core expertise,
I referred other speakers. When
opportunities arose to leverage my
knowledge, I embraced them.
In the years since that vital conversation, I earned my CSP, wrote
my first book and I am working on
another. International opportunities
are coming my way and I’m writing
regular columns for several trade
journals. I journeyed from being a
generalist to being a specialist in customer experience.
Freedom is my awesome new friend.