Here we are at the 2013 Type-A Parent Conference at the Westin Buckhead in Atlanta, Georgia. Our opening keynote today is by Amber Naslund – The Other Side of Courage: Embracing Fear, Taking Risks, and the One Truth You Need to Know.
Amber’s daughter is here because she didn’t want to do “the kid thing,” and she wanted to see what it is her mom does, and why she’s gone all the time. Amber has written this presentation three or four times, and scrapped it.
Through the process of building her career, and being a mom, and being a professional, Amber wants to share the things she has learned along the way. She’s not going to be talking about social media today.
“I live by the unexpected.”
Amber is not a planner. She is not a “type-a.” Her house is a mess, and she flies by the seat of her pants. That scares a lot of people, but that’s how she lives her life. Even her daughter was unexpected. But she was the best thing that ever happened to her, because it grounded her. “You have a life before kids, and you have a life after kids.” Integrating your kids into a very busy career involves a lot of improv.
One day, after she came back from her maternity leave, Amber was miserable. She had “that boss.” After talking with a friend, she decided to just quit. She didn’t have a plan. She’s not saying everyone should do this, but sometimes you just have to grab the bull by the horns. She started her life as an entrepreneur building a successful firm. That led to a full-time job with Radian6, and then she quit again when they got bought out.
She and her friend and business partner then decided to start SideraWorks, writing their business plan on the back of a napkin over a lunch of hot dogs.
Amber has adopted a rescued bulldog named Hope.
“Follow the fear.”
If something scares the crap out of you, it’s probably something you should be doing. Embrace the fear. Having a baby is scary. Quitting your job is scary. Starting a business is scary.
Imposter Syndrome is a thing that a lot of us are nodding about. Many of us feel like we don’t belong, and that everything is going to come down like a house of cards when someone calls us out and asks, “What do you think you’re doing here?”
“Who am I? What business do I have doing this?” Wrong, Amber says.
One day, Amber was going to do a keynote speech, and she got a cold…that never went away. For two years, she couldn’t breathe. Literally, she couldn’t walk from the kitchen to the living room without sitting down to catch her breath. Doctors couldn’t figure her out. A team of 11 pulmonologists at the Mayo Clinic diagnosed her as having something called Pigeon Breeder’s Lung. It was from her down comforters and pillows. It was all because of feathers.
When you’re sitting in a waiting room waiting for a team of specialists to tell you if your condition is curable or fatal, you rearrange your priorities really quickly.
“The only irreversible thing is death.”
You can undo anything until you die. (And who knows about that one either? Zombie joke. Laughter ensues.)
Amber has gotten out of $150k of debt. That’s a scary amount, but she did it.
Every successful person puts big stuff on the line. She’s risked money, relationships, sanity, health. Sometimes you just have to do things that seem completely audacious, because they are the ones that can pay off. Sometimes you have to go all in before you realize where you’re headed.
“It’s okay to quit things.”
Sometimes, we tend to beat our heads against the same wall because perseverance is drilled into our heads. If it doesn’t make you happy, fulfill you, make you happy, or help you reach a goal…if something doesn’t feel right, let it go.
“Careers are messy. Lives are messy, too.”
Laundry and dishes tend to pile up. Mitch Joel wrote a book called Ctrl Alt Delete. Career lines are squiggly ones. We need to think of them as a continuum, not stops along the way. Look at everything you do, from hobbies to home to career, as part of your body of work, what you’ll leave behind. Diversions tend to wrap themselves neatly in a bow.
“Even if it doesn’t feel like it, I am driving.”
We place a lot of blame on the world around us, but the one who is most accountable is the one who looks back at you in the mirror. We make the choices to do or not do things. Own your choices, your mistakes, your failures, your successes. People will give it back to you 10,000 times over.
We’re very good at listing our flaws, but we freeze up when someone asks what we’re good at. Own it. Own all of it.
“Quit taking everything so seriously.”
You have to have a sense of humor. It’s okay to laugh when things go wrong. Let humor be your saving grace so stress doesn’t eat you alive.
This goes for the Internet, too. Why do we care how many followers we have? Why do we care about blog comments? Don’t let it get you down.
Don’t go quietly into the night.
“Beware of real-life Photoshop.”
We see the world online based on the filter that other people choose to show us. People usually post the best parts of their lives, what they want you to see. You can’t compare some else’s best to your everything. You’re only seeing a piece of the truth. Don’t let other people’s truths stop you from finding your own.
“Having it all is having enough.”
Have enough people around you to support you. Have enough money that you don’t have to stress about paying your bills. Have enough activities to keep your life interesting. You don’t just need more, more, more.
“We’re all faking it. Yes, all of us.”
Show everyone what you want to be, and somehow it happens. Nobody pays attention to half-hearted attempts. We all think we’re the only ones faking it, but everyone is doing it.
“The standard for success is not insanity…it’s resilience”
Don’t be overscheduled. Be resilient. We can cultivate resilience to get through anything. No matter what the universe dishes out, you can bend to the challenges. You get knocked down seven times, you get up eight.
“Regret is a much heavier burden than failure.”
Amber doesn’t want to regret anything. She’s made some questionable decisions, sure. But everything she’s done, seen, and endured are part of her character, what made her who she is. Don’t let other people dictate the priorities of your life.
“The other side of courage is…”
…being afraid, but doing it anyway. You have to figure out what it is for yourself.