Cascades of angry-looking waves push up against my kayak, threatening to tip me into the cold black water of Lake Huron. They are frothy and white at the edges, coming at me with a force that I was not prepared for.
I’m recounting the many mistakes I made to get to this point.
I didn’t check the wind speed before I left.
No one has my itinerary or knows where I am.
My phone has 8% battery left and all I have for backup navigation is a shitty tourist map that’s disintegrating inside a dry bag somewhere in the bowels of my kayak.
I am lost.
“Georgian Bay Islands is the largest freshwater archipelago in the world, comprising more than 30,000 islands,” I remember reading on some placard yesterday.
Thirty. Fucking. Thousand.
Why did I not learn how to read a goddamn compass? I am such an asshole. And now I am a lost asshole, surrounded by islands I do not recognize.
Every vein in my body is pulsing with adrenaline as I watch the waves from the sandy shore of some unknown island. Only by sheer force of will do I talk myself back into my boat, where I beat back the waves toward the shore of what my best guess tells me is the island I’m looking for.
I will save the details of this story for another day (or Substack, more likely), but, after much frantic consulting of my near-dead phone and soggy map, I eventually found Beausoleil Island, where I abandoned my kayak on a narrow inlet and hike-ran back to the safety of my campsite.
There is a time for muscling through a patch of rough weather, but an experienced paddler knows when it’s time to call it.
A lot of subscribers have asked to hear more about why I chose to dial my business back so suddenly and unexpectedly, especially as a profitable company with a wonderful team in place.
There’s something few people talk about in conversations about growing your team so that you can “stay inside your zone of genius.”
With every person you add to your team, the pressure to produce is increased. And for a personal brand like mine, that means more live calls, more free trainings, a variety of offers at different price points, showing up in the right places, doing more publicity, publishing more content, more more more.
The relentless pressure to produce the amount of output required to create enough revenue to keep everyone employed?
It’s a lot.
It felt a lot like sitting in that kayak, paddling frantically against those frothy waves, hoping hoping hoping to make it around the next bend, and that there will be shelter there.
The truth is I have felt profoundly dysregulated for some time, in business and in life.
About a month ago Sandra and I sat down to plan our next offer, a small-group mastermind, which we needed to promote almost immediately in order to hit our baseline revenue. I got off that call and a knowing in me woke up all at once.
I realized that I would not be able to lead from this adrenaline-fueled, highly-activated state. Not in the way my customers need me to. Being in leadership requires presence and clear-headedness, and I was short on both.
When I spoke about putting some things down for a while in this email, what I mean is that I’m taking time to rest, reflect and regulate. Not an easy task.
One of the great travesties of capitalism is that it teaches us we must be in a state of constant productivity, since our worth is determined by what and how much we are able to produce.
This is a lie.
It keeps us caught in a cycle of never-enoughness, leaving little time for reflection and integration, the very things we need in order to have meaningful, joyous and FULL lives.
So that is what I am now doing. Camping, paddling, writing, listening for what’s next. There will be another season of hustle and hard work around the corner. There always is.
In the meantime, I’m working with just two clients on projects I’m actually really excited about. I have a business coach (Sonia Simone) and a writing coach (Sofia Apostol) that I’m working with, both of whom show up on our calls in that calm, regulated place as the sort of leader I aspire to be myself.
It all feels very right.
Even though it’s not the shiny 7-figure affair I had going, I am prouder of myself than I have ever been. My subscribers (i.e. you) are more supportive and responsive than they’ve ever been in my seven years of email marketing, so I know I’m doing something right.
And SRSLY, you should see me paddle.
Watch out, Dartmouth 2023. I’m coming for my medal.