This week started out like any other. The Monday morning launch meeting for Enliven Books was fabulous. I presented Quantum Success, The Ghost Photographer, Living Light, and teased out Revolution Generation. All of these books I’m quite excited about, and the response to them was fabulous. I was flying “high” as I do when presentations go well. Seeing my phone ring with our Vice President’s name made me think I was being congratulated, what happened next wasn’t expected.
With a sorrowful tone, our VP said he had some tough news. My immediate thought was, “Oh, they are letting me go, poor guy has to break the news to me.” (Self-esteem issues, anyone??) But instead he told me that our President, my mentor, was leaving the company. My stomach dropped. I felt pressure build in my chest, making its way all the way up through my throat and then shooting from my eyes—tears that were so big and bold they were unstoppable. We said some kindnesses to one another as I hung up the phone and began to sob in my seat.
I thought, “But, I don’t know publishing without my boss! I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her asking me to!” I know I love it now and always loved books, but she saw something in me I did not see! She believed in me after I’d been fired by the chairman at the tea company. She gave me back my dignity!
Mourning throughout the next three days took on a poignant beauty. I had heightened emotions and also heightened appreciation. I meditated more and prayed that the Universe would help me adjust and find my way without my leader, my queen, my mentor. It’s been four years under her tutelage, what if I’m ready now to claim my own role as a leader in the industry? What if instead of leaving a vacuum, she’s left me a call to action?
YOUR LEADERSHIP ROLE AWAITS
I don’t know about you, but I have often put others on a pedestal. Although people who open doors for us are the emissaries of our greatness, if we believe we cannot do it without them, where does that leave us when they leave? What happens when hero worship turns into a crutch to our greatness?
I remembered many times I was hesitant to take a risk until I received my mentor’s approval. I thought back to times when I didn’t feel I could make a move without her nod. Although it’s important to understand we are not masters of something until we’ve mastered it, it’s also crucial we don’t completely surrender to our leaders that we wait on the sidelines of our potential.
Where are you holding back because you’re waiting for approval or permission?
Are you hoping to get an agent, or a book deal, while your book could be self-published?
Are you waiting for someone in the press to recognize you so you can feel seen?
Are you adjusting your original dream to fit some trend in the marketplace?
All of these are ways we surrender our intrinsic value for the illusion of being not enough, or not ready. Sometimes we aren’t ready until an outside situation shows us that in fact we are.
THE BALANCE BETWEEN LEARNING AND LEADING
What would it take for you to stop gathering feedback as if your life depended on it and dive in?
How do you know when you’re ready to self-edit your novel and get it out there?
When do you know when you’ve learned enough to lead?
What are you looking to others for that you yourself are meant to provide?
What do we hold back because we wait for permission to claim our role, or for recognition in an approval process?
When you’ve been learning, taking classes, practicing your craft, following and reading the wisdom of others, you can choose to stay passive in that, or you can choose to take the wisdom and become the leader of your life in full. You can take the help you’ve received as you also take the helm.
There hasn’t been a day I haven’t been grateful for my mentor’s guidance. Seeing her as my tether to NYC publishing is also not fair to myself nor to her. Feeling like she “left us” is a codependency and an excuse for me to not step into my own role of leadership. We often do this even with people we don’t know. We think, “Oh she already wrote that book, so there won’t be a market for mine.” Or, “My business/product won’t have value because I don’t have this or that.” We subjugate our greatness before we even attempt our great leap. We often hand our power over without vetting its true place in the world.
THE SILVER LINING
After a couple days of inquiry, I realized, Judith didn’t leave me, she left to see what else was possible for her. It took courage to leave a company/imprint she’d founded 15 years ago. It took strength to take a leap into her own unknown.
She didn’t leave us in her absence, she invited us into our future. She didn’t drop us, she gifted us a way forward to be leaders now in our own right. In her absence, she is still mentoring us, and me, to step into and claim our rightful roles as leaders—to stop needing her. Her wisdom in departing continues to teach me what a true leader does, they take their own growth as paramount, and they do not expect you to be dependent on them. They do not make you need them. They follow their heart and their own path, and if you’re on their path for a period of time, you’re damn lucky. I know now that I’m ready to lead and claim my role, had she never left, I may never have known that.
I wonder what it would look like if you unapologetically went for your own brass ring today. Would you buy that URL, build that site and kick some content booty? Would you click “publish” on that super honest, searing blog? Would you stop waiting for approval and seek your own satisfaction?
Where are you waiting to take your leadership role? When will you claim your expertise more fully? Are you waiting for your mentor to crown you capable? What if she’s not there anymore? What if it’s solely up to you?
I’m looking forward to hearing how and what you’ll claim. I adore you, thank-you for taking this time with me. See you in the comments!