Thank you. To the men and women who never made it home, thank you. To the families who have lost brave soldiers on the battle field and in conflicts, thank you. We will not forget you. We remember. Happy Memorial Day. God bless.
See the little guy over left, paddling away with his eyes wide-eyed and wild? I can relate. In my previous post here, I described how I jumped in with both feet and was hired to do my first website. Now it was time to sink or swim.
Have you ever seen a dog paddle? I have. When we were newly married, we got this black lab mix. She was more of a mutt, really. Her dad was a purebred black lab. Her mom was, well, something that resembled a calico cat with three legs. Yes, her mother only had three legs, but she managed to give birth to a litter of 11 puppies. Just wow. But I digress. We got this puppy, and thankfully she took after her father in the looks department. She was pitch black, and in the Iowa hot, summer sun, she was miserable.
We would take her to the farm pond down the road to cool off. And you know what? That dog lived to swim. No hesitation. No backward glance. In she'd go, and the dog paddle would commence. It didn't matter how deep the water was, or how far out she got, she just kept steadily, methodically pumping those legs up and down, up and down, her head calmly above water as if she didn't have a care in the world.
It didn't matter that before we took her to the pond she had never been in water deeper than a bathtub. She just drew on what she knew already knew about what her body could do and the trusting relationship she had with us, her owners, and she went for it. She knew she could swim, so she did.
Those same concepts are what enabled me to move out of my comfort zone and jump into something new professionally: the skills I already possessed and the trusting working relationships I was a part of.
The Skills I Already Possessed
I didn't start from ground zero. There were several skills I already possessed that kept me paddling away:
Good Working Relationships
When I approached my client with the new website idea, I had been working with them for years. We'd had time to develop a very solid working relationship, and there was a lot of trust there on both sides.
Now It's Your Turn
Are you considering trying something new in your business? Maybe you've already made the jump and you're paddling away right now on something new. (You can read the first post in this series about my decision to jump into web design here. It's a good time, I promise. I talk about hairy men jumping into frigid Lake Superior. No I'm not kidding.) Is your head is above water, but you're not sure when you're going to reach the shore? Don't give up. You're closer than you think. You can do this! Here are a couple tips on what you can do to help keep yourself doggedly paddling away:
Take inventory of your skills. You have a skill set full of talents and abilities. They are the platform that have brought you this far and will carry you through, even when things get hard. If it helps, sit down and write a list. Ask yourself:
Tap into those working relationships. You've worked so hard on developing those trusting working relationships. Those will pay off. Again, make the list. Writing it down helps solidfy it in your brain. Ask yourself:
Light Idea: There's one thing I haven't mentioned yet, so here it is: I don't believe that web design was an out-of-the-blue whim for me. There's another reason I was willing to step out into the unknown and begin building websites, and it has nothing to do with my skills, abilities or working relationships. I jumped when the opportunity presented itself was because I believe that's where God led me. I trust the One I follow. All I have comes from Him, and He is good.
Coming up next - Digging Deep: Moving Beyond the Dog Paddle.
You guys are the bestest. XO.
There's a place in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, way up where the land juts out deep into Lake Superior, called Presque Isle Park. Presque Isle Park, although not as well-known as picturesque, take-me-back-in-time Mackinaw Island, boasts its fair share of hiking trails and scenic overlooks, but so do many of the area's state parks. Yet scores of people flock there every summer. So what's the draw?
Cliff jumping at Black Rocks.
My husband is an adrenaline junkie. I'm more of a safety first, plan it out, fasten your seat belt thank you type of gal. It works for us. Opposites attract, and that's how I often find myself on the camera end of fun adventures like hurtling your body into the frigid waters of Lake Superior in mid-July.
I didn't jump that day. He did, but I didn't. I'm not a great swimmer, and jumping into water that had had ice floating on it just two weeks prior . . . no thank you very much. I watched, I took pictures, and I took note of the way grown men with serious chest hair and tattoos jumped in with their game faces on and reappeared breathless in shock, mouths gaping, unable to form a single word. They knew it would be cold, but there's no way to prepare yourself for THAT kind of cold.
No, I didn't jump that day. But I know how it feels to gather up everything you have, ready or not, and launch into freefall. I know how it feels to take the leap, even while aware there's no way you can be fully prepared for it.
This business? It was my cliff.
Practical Promotions started out as a fledgling, partially-hatched idea. We took what we knew, what we already did - layout and design of various publications and advertising - and formed Practical Promotions around that. We put our feet under us and built a platform, piece by piece and rock by rock. It was a good platform. It was a safe platform. We grew.
And then, one day, almost in a surprise to myself, I jumped.
When we first started out, I worked mainly for one client on their promotional materials. I dearly love this client. They took a chance on me when I was just a 21-year-old college graduate with only a three-month internship of professional experience under my belt. One day, while I was working on one of their print projects, I went to their website to check some information. I had been to their website before, but for some reason on this particular visit, I just. Could. Not.
This client, who has customers all over the Midwest and beyond, had a two-page website that hadn't been updated in awhile. A long while. I couldn't find the information I needed, and there was so much more to this company than the website showed. I thought to myself, These people, who have treated me so well, who serve so many customers and clients with a high level of excellence and dedication, deserve better than this. We can do better than this.
My wheels started turning, so I called my professional mentor. The conversation went something like this:
"They need a new website. Badly."
"Yes, they do," she said.
"I can build them a website. I can build them a really good website."
"Do it," she said. Do it.
So I jumped. I met with them. I convinced them that their website could be so much more. I showed them how a functioning, attractive, and organized website would up their business's exposure, benefit and serve their clients and customers, and provide a cost-effective way for them to get information out to the public.
My next project for them: build them a new website.
Here's the part that left me gasping for air in frigid water: I had never build a website before. No I am not kidding. It's not super profound, but honestly, I had never build a website until I decided to build one.
No, I mean it, stop.
I built that website. When it was done and the positive reviews started to come, I built another for someone else. And then another one. You get the idea.
It took a lot of research, willingness to learn new things and commitment to the task. I also drew heavily on professional skills I already possessed and the trusting work relationship I had with this client. In the next post, I'll tell you how I used the skills I already had as a springboard into new professional territory and discuss the importance of client relationships. But for now, just know this:
You can jump off the cliff. If I did it, you can too. I'm petrified of heights. I don't like getting my hair wet. I'm allergic to goosebumps (not really, but it could be a thing). Yet when I saw the potential of what could be staring me in the face, I didn't let any of the rest stop me. I jumped.
What's over the edge of your cliff? What potential is staring you in the face right now? I'm telling you, you can do it. You're not alone, and you can do it.
Hi, I'm Christa, an Iowa-based messaging expert specializing in targeted messaging, copywriting, and ghostwriting services. I have one handsome hubby who's my partner in crime (not literally) and two great kids who keep us busy (Track and field! Volleyball! Basketball! All the sports!) Using words to help people promote what they love is my favorite!