Lessons on Finding Bravery In Unexpected Places: #Blog4biz Day 31:

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Today is the last day of the #Blog4Biz Business Blogging Challenge hosted by Fleur Management. It has been 31 days of blogging prompts about big things like business plans to small things like office supplies.

Today's challenge asks us to chose a business owner and (1.) write a pitch or proposal on how our businesses could collaborate and (2.) ask that business owner for a meeting to share those ideas.

This is a good challenge especially for small businesses. We can go farther if we begin thinking how can we work together to met a common goal. If you have been reading along, you know that I try to find some way to connect communication into every post. Today I am not going to that. In this last post, I am going to challenge you to open your eyes and find the lessons and chances to be BRAVE in everything you do.

When I signed I up to take this challenge. I didn't know what to expect. Thirty-one days of straight blogging was a huge task. Most people I know who blog daily don't do it alone. They have a team of people who contribute at least one day out of the week. I wanted to push myself and see what I could produce under a tight deadline. I took this challenge to get in the habit of blogging regularly, to get feedback from other bloggers, and to stretch myself creatively.

I experienced several set backs during this challenge. I went on vacation in the middle of it and had to plan on how to catch up. I was sick. I was in the middle of selling my home. I was registering my kids for new schools in a new town. I was interviewing for part-time fitness instructor jobs. I was joining a trade association. I was planning a birthday celebration. I was meeting my business development coach. I was guest blogging on a friend's faith blog. And I was a mom and wife everyday. All of these were demanding small pieces of my time. Those small pieces added up.

There were several days I tried to convince myself that it would be OK not to post. Even though it was a daily challenge, we didn't have to post everyday. But something fascinating happens when you make a commitment. Even when you are trying to convince yourself that you should break it, your allegiance to your commitment rises up and tells you to keep going.

Lesson #1: Your commitment has to be strong enough to resist your biggest naysayer: YOU!

Most people talk about haters. Haters are people who try to discourage you or talk bad about you as you are doing something. And yes they exist. But what happens when YOU are your biggest hater. My mom always said "We are our worst enemy" and she is right. We are the worst to ourselves because we know ourselves better than anyone else does. We can dissect ourselves better than anyone. There are times when you will have to say to yourself, "I'm doing this despite all the reasons I say I shouldn't." We can put up walls and remove ourselves from other negative voices, but we can't escape ourselves. You have to stand up to the negative self talk. You have to stand up to you fear. You have to stand up to your disappointment.

When I started this challenge. I decided I would write the post but not publish them on my blog. Why? Not because I was afraid of what other might say about it. But because I was afraid of destroying the image of who I wanted to project to you. I had in my mind a way I would project myself in my blog when it officially came back online. I didn't want to put a crack in that image by inviting you along on my learning. When you are learning, you mess up. I couldn't have you witnessing my mistakes, right? Turns out that you appreciate when I am honest and authentic. And my learning is much deeper when I am not constantly worried about my image.

Lesson #2 Fight for the probability of great and not settle for the certainty of average.

The greatest enemy to great is not bad. It is good. Settling for good is like camping on the beach of an island whose richest resource is only yards away. Many times during this challenge, especially late at night when I was ready to crawl into bed, I wanted to find the easiest way out. I wanted to just answer the prompt as presented. It would have been a good post. It certainly would have been faster and less stressful. But my commitment to growth pushed me to reach for great. Average is certain but greatness is a unknown road worth taking.

I decided that I would try to connect communication skills in every post. On Day 8 connecting office supplies and communication was a big stretch.  I worked hard on drawing the parallels. I was so proud of how it turned out. That post became one of my most popular posts. I stretched to greatness and in this case achieved it. But if you notice there are a couple of days in the challenge NOT published to my blog. I struggled to reach greatness with them and didn't get there. I wrote them but only shared them with the #blog4biz participants because I wasn't happy with them.

My favorite line for the Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn movie The Internship is when Vince says to the owner of a small pizza shop "If you fight for your limitations, you get to keep to keep". I'll be writing more about that movie in another post, but the point is this. If you are going to fight for something, make sure it is worth having.

Lesson #3 Learn when to stop thinking and just do.

I am all for well thought out plans. Plans, maps, guides, etc all help us navigate where we are going. But there is time to plan and then a time to put the map down and do it.

The business blogging hammered that home for me. Knowing that I only had 24 hrs to finish my task before the next came, forced me to make decisions quickly. I am one who generally suffers from analysis paralysis. I spend so much time thinking about it and then talk myself out of doing it.

On Day 14, I told you about Wanda and how a simple "Excuse me" set off a chain of events that gave me the courage to ask for meetings or introductions from my colleagues.
Wanda an I have been meeting every week since we met. Our businesses are similar enough to compliment and different enough not to compete. Wanda and I have been in talks about how our businesses could team up to produce events and projects. 

A blogger I admire, read my posts from the #Blog4biz challenge and asked if I would be a regular contributor to his blog. My topic? Communication of course.

In response to today's prompt, I have already done it. I learned the lessons necessary to be brave enough to write a proposal to a local school addressing their teacher/staff development needs. My contact is very much interested in what I have to say. I don't know what will come from this but my responsibility is to pursue the opportunity.

I found bravery in an unexpected place: a 31 day business blogging challenge. My challenge to you is to apply these lessons I learned and then discover your own! Everyday brings a new opportunity to find bravery in unexpected places. You just have to look!

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