Last month I had a vivid dream.
I dreamed I had travelled abroad (again) to run a workshop (again) that had been arranged for me by someone I hardly knew (again). As usual, I had asked the kind organizer to source me enough students to recover my expenses plus my usual fee.
Duly, students arrived in the training room. Doing a quick calculation I realized there were not enough people to meet my financial target. My mood dropped like a stone but I painted on a smile, got to my feet and began to teach because it is what I love to do.
Suddenly, the room began to fill with people. Swarms of them. Hundreds. Dollar signs swam before my eyes as they all sat on the floor. The room expanded to become a vast white building with a swimming pool area sunk into the floor. The water had been drained from the pool and the venue had become my arena!
I had to shout to be heard over the noise of the new students. I had to stand on a box on the poolside and scream. Yet, while the small number of real students strained to listen attentively, the others chatted among themselves. Some even turned on the radio. I was furious! How dare they?
Then it hit me.
There was no point in shouting. The people who wanted to listen, would do so anyway. I needed to speak to the people who were really interested in my message and not waste my energy yelling at deaf ears. The louder I screamed did not make any difference, it just exhausted me.
So, I stepped down into the bottom of the drained swimming pool and sat cross-legged on the white-tiled floor. I spoke at a normal volume and it happened – the ones who wanted to listen, still could, while the others, who were simply not interested drifted away.
When I awoke I realized I had received a very clear message.
Remember the movie Field of Dreams, when Kevin Kostner said ‘build it and they will come’?
Well, I have spent years ‘building’ it, marketing like crazy, racing all over the world, promoting, writing, blogging, speaking … and actually, if I just stopped for a moment and took a look, I’d realize they are ‘coming’. The people who want to ‘hear’ are listening. I don’t need to try so darned hard any more. If I choose to greedily aim for a bigger market it dilutes my message.
Remember, back in January, when I wrote about picking a word for the year and how my word was brave? I think that for me, the bravest thing I need to do is to stop shouting from the rooftops. In a way it has become my security blanket. It takes courage for me to dare to slow down. But I need to be mindful of the fact that in reality, new clients contact me every single day. Every week, new authors submit their book ideas and complete strangers book my Fire Away sessions.
Now, I don’t want you for one minute to think that I am suggesting you all stop doing all those things I have urged you to do – the blogging three times a week, the setting up a Facebook page, the articles, the book reviews and everything. No, I am not suggesting that you stop, or even that you slow down. What I am suggesting is that you stop for a moment and consider the effects of all your hard work. If your dreams are beginning to come true and your goals are being realized, then maybe you could allow yourself to slow down a bit, to stop shouting and to just enjoy the fruits of your labours?
It is the summer after all. Many of you may be tempted to sit in the garden for a while, or to take a day off and head for the beach. If you believe that you have done enough building for a while, then don’t you deserve it?
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