For the past three years, I’ve been working on my first book—Stop Saying You’re Fine. Writing your first book is exactly like starting a business. You plan, you work your tail off, you obsess about every detail and then you throw open the doors and hope for a stampede of customers on Day One. My first book went on sale this week. And just like every business launch, nothing went according to plan. In fact, last night, all hell broke loose. Here’s what happened… It all started three years ago. I was lucky enough to be invited to give a keynote for the Boston Chamber of Commerce in 2008. At the end of that event, Paul Guzzi—the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce—said. “Mel, if you ever write a book, we’d love to have you back.” Here’s a photo from that awesome event:
It took me three years to get it done, but the day the book went on sale, I knew there was only one place that I wanted to be for the launch date—before the Chamber of Commerce; and by the grace of God, and some big fans at the Chamber of Commerce, we actually pulled it off. My book launch would happen three years from the date that Paul said that fateful sentence to me. So, it’s all perfect, right? Not so. The night before the big launch, I was sitting on my bed and I suddenly realized, “Holy Cow—I don’t have a book seller lined up for tomorrow…. I have no books for the event.”My heart began to race. My face turned red, and I started to panic. My internal dialogue was really uplifting: “Oh great, it’s only taken you three years to write it, Mel and now you are about to kick off the book tour and you have no books to sell? Brilliant. Bloody fricking brilliant.” I sustained the self-verbal-assassination for a good minute or two and then I did what any accomplished woman would do—I started crying. No, actually, it was more in the weeping category. I would have called someone but I was sucking wind and sobbing. I pulled the sheets over my head and cried. The dog left the room. I was alone feeling very emotional and very sorry for myself. I didn’t fix it. I just sat in my tears and pitied myself. At some point, I got out of bed to go to the bathroom and then walked into the kitchen. I poured vodka, straight over ice, took a slug and said “Stop crying you jerk and just fix it.” And then, I popped a Claritin and went to bed.
Why am I telling you the ugly truth? Simple. Life never goes according to plan. Even when things seem to line up beautifully and you are on a roll, there will be problems. Things will screw up. That’s how it works. It rains on your wedding. You work your tail off on a PowerPoint and the sales pitch gets canceled. You plan all day how you are going to seduce your lover and the moment they get home, they utter the death knell “God I’m tired.” You plan. You attract. You put it all out there. Occasionally, life disappoints.
When I am disappointed, I just allow myself to feel it. I find that a great cry, followed by a stiff drink, exercise or a great meal flushes the emotions, and then I’m ready to be powerful again.
I write extensively about finding your power in the book: how to train yourself to push through overwhelm, disappointment, fear and lack of motivation. I woke up and was not exactly on fire, but I was at least dehydrated from crying and well rested and decongested from the Claritin. As soon as I pushed myself from the cocoon of my bed, out the door and into the car, I started to feel better. When I feel bad for myself, I’m usually alone, so getting moving is hugely helpful. It’s hard to sustain self-pity when people are around. By the time I reached the hotel, I was feeling really excited and privileged to just be able to be with so many amazing people. And then I walked into the room and realized I had been so bloody selfish. I was focused on selling books because I feel insecure. I’ve never written a book. I’ve never sold a book. I’m afraid I won’t measure up to all those amazing authors I admire like Gretchen Rubin, Chris Brogan, Dan Pink and others.
I was guilty of doing what we all do—focusing on my fears—instead of my dreams. My dream is to spend my waking hours inspiring people. To make you laugh and learn and think and act. I lost sight of that desire because I got so afraid that I would fail at selling books. How stupid. How shortsighted. We all do this. You get so focused on your fears, you forget about how powerful you truly are…. You get so worried, you squash every great idea, game-changer thought or cool inspiration you have. What is so crazy is that my book is about getting out of your own way and being more powerful than your fears. And yet, here I was 12 hours before the on-sale and I’m a puddle—all fear. There’s a lesson there: fear, overwhelm, tears, frustration are all part of the process. You cannot rid yourself of fear. Being powerful means being unstoppable when they inevitably overtake you. I want to be doing exactly what I was doing this morning—experiencing the energy, wisdom and love of a room full of amazing people. Book sales are gravy. This audience. This energy. This privilege—now that’s what it’s all about for me. That’s where the power is. There’s power inside you too. I know you are up to big things, that’s why you read SUCCESS. Check out the book—I know it will give you the tools you need to be unstoppable too.