I’m going to admit something and this is so close to my heart that it scares me to talk about it. To anyone, let alone to thousands of people. But, you all need to know what’s going on, so here I go.
I’ve been frozen in place. Just in-the-reeds, no-idea-which-way-to-go stuck for more than a year now. Longer if I’m being honest.
I want to grow the Penelope site. I know, to the marrow of my bones, that there’s a huge tribe here and that there is a way to serve that tribe’s needs, and build a community that empowers this specific type of woman. And I want to do that, more than I’ve ever wanted anything else professionally.
And yet, I’ve been stuck. How to make that happen? I mean, I have a big job running an entire company. I have 4 children, including a preschooler. I have a house to run and meals to cook and tidying to do. For heaven’s sake, the tidying!
I knew I couldn’t jump ship and leave my company. I love my staff and what we do way too much. And, my family needs me to make a good living. The option of leaving was just off the table.
And I knew I couldn’t make Penelope into all it could be unless I could somehow get it into my every day workflow. There just weren’t enough hours in the day for both.
So, you see? Stuck.
But the time and the work wasn’t really the issue. That was just the story I was telling myself. It was the fear. That big, hairy, black thing sitting in the very middle of the neat, tidy room of my mind. That fear, every single time I’d come up with a plan for growing Penelope would ask me, simply, quietly,
But what if it doesn’t work?
What if you build it and they don’t come?
What if they don’t like you?
What if all the success you’ve had in your career so far is just a series of lucky breaks and has nothing to do with your abilities?
What if you fail?
Oh, man. I could hear him so clearly, even when he whispered. How did he do that?
And my reaction to his words was to say that I couldn’t see the plan clearly for Penelope because I was too busy. There was too much going on. I couldn’t do it all.
Liar. I could do this. I was just afraid to do it.
So I finally started asking myself what my real dream was for Penelope. If I was willing to step around that horrible furry fear in the middle of the room, what was my dream?
And I saw it clearly: it would be a brand-new, much fuller, much broader version of the Penelope site. I want it to be the hub for your inherent Penelope-ness. Not a blog, but a full-fledged content site with a shop with curated and branded products and resources and, and, and… So much more.
And it wouldn’t just be me writing and creating it. It would be MY TEAM creating it. Because every person on my staff is the most Penelope person I’ve ever met. And they are passionate about the Penelope concept and brand and community. That was the key to me. Bringing them in on it. Because I already know that, with them, I can do anything. So, when I mentioned maybe, possibly folding Penelope in with Here Comes The Guide (our existing business) they delighted me with their huge, resounding, group “yes”. It was a moment that gave me chills.
With my team behind me, I was able to start really talking about my dream for Penelope. About what was making me stuck and what I was afraid of and what I knew I wanted the next version of the site to be.
Apparently, my fears weren’t invalid, they just were irrelevant. Sure, we could fail. Sure, products might not sell or traffic could suck. We could try things and have them fall down, hard, hugely and publicly.
But who the hell cares? We’ll all still be ok. I know for sure we’ll have learned something. And maybe that something helps us to the next iteration or another venture entirely. But I also know for sure that if we don’t try, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life.
So I kept talking, voicing aloud my fears about the best and worst case scenarios, making progress, then taking a step or two back into the stuck-ness.
And my friend and colleague said “Meredith, stop trying to foresee the WORST thing or the WHOLE thing and just tell me, what is the NEXT thing? Just the one next thing we need to do. Then we’ll do that. And then the next and the next. We’ll get where we need to go.”
So that’s it. We’re doing the next thing right now. Lots of next things. You won’t be surprised to find we’re compiling big, long, juicy lists of “next things”.
It’s gonna take a while and the road will not be straight, but we’ll get there and I hope so very much you’ll be there when we do.