Be A Spider (4 Wise Moves for Entrepreneurs)

This blog post sponsored in part by the yummy food, great service and free Wifi at Gilbert’s on 17th Street Grill

Even though I’m a writer and creative consultant, I’m a scientist at heart. Most of my work comes from the revelations I have while studying nature and physics.

By David Maiolo (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By David Maiolo [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

On a walk the other day, I saw a huge banana spider suspended between a tree and a building. There was evidence in its web that it had already eaten a few creatures, and it was busy rebuilding the holes that were left.

On another tree close by sat an iguana.

Well, I thought, the iguana will have a healthy dinner.

But then I looked at the spider in the web again and realized I was wrong. There were four things that the spider had going for it that every risk-averse entrepreneur could learn.

1. Make your way by your strength.

Most spiders eat what they catch in their web. Others build traps and eat what gets caught there. Here’s the key: What they build sustains them. The most successful entrepreneurs aren’t selling someone else’s products. Build on the things that sustain you.

2. Know what is your bread and butter.

Spiders eat insects. So they build their webs where insects are: flying between trees, or in dusty corners of your house. Spiders test their success by what they catch—so even if a spider mistakenly builds a web across your doorway, once you walk through it, you’ll never see that spider web there again. If you’re not catching anything where you are, move.

3. Take a calculated risk.

Contrary to Spiderman’s web-slinging in the comics, spiders don’t shoot silk out to build webs across a space. They fling themselves out there, spinning silk behind themselves during flight. Even baby spiders build tiny little parachutes in a process called ballooning (aww) after they hatch and fling themselves into the wind to find new homes. They do that so that they can test the viability of the places they attach their web to. You can’t judge your market or your products with theory. You’ve got to get out there. One of the first things I tell my clients to do is look at what’s already working— but to use that to push themselves deeper into their market. I talk about that on my TEDxTalk here.

4. Stay on the Web.

The spider’s best strength is on the web. Its food gets caught there. It has a great vantage point on its environment. And the spider’s legs are so sensitive to it that any movement on the web alerts the spider immediately. That iguana would have to leap off of the tree in order to catch the spider… unless the spider comes off the web. Once you’ve found the work you are good at, get better at it. Use the gifts and strengths you’ve been given to protect yourself.

And here’s a bonus tip!

5. Have faith in the world around you.

Spiders that are ballooning were at first thought to plan their trajectory. After many years of research, scientists concluded that they don’t really have a plan. They just know they need to move, and move farther than they can jump. When you understand who you are, and what your strengths are, don’t be afraid to jump into the world. Wherever you land, you’ll bring all of that with you.

Be a spider. Just don’t get caught in my hair.

I admit it. I’m Lazy.

Yeah, I said it.

Now, that's lazy. Source: mrwallpaper.com

Now, that’s lazy.
Source: mrwallpaper.com

I’m lazy.

It feels good to get that off my chest.

I’m a creative launch and development specialist for entrepreneurs who want to make a difference in the world. That means I’m up at 3 AM in the morning with flashes of genius for their next product, and I work late at night on projects that would frighten normal people.

Every year, I throw a huge party for an organization that supports children and families with almost no support just because I want to do something impactful.

I teach over 300 students under the age of 12 the principles of drama and film every week.

But when it comes to my own business development, I’M REALLY LAZY.

I used to think it was fear. Digging deep might reveal something I don’t want to tackle, I thought. But I love a good puzzle. Figuring myself out has been one of the best mysteries I’ve ever discovered.

It’s not what I will discover that alarms me. It’s what I’ll have to do with it.

Once you discover your hidden potential, you have to do something with it. I was telling my adult students the other day that the scripture says, “If you have faith as big as a mustard seed, you can say to the mountain, Move, and it will move.” Your faith isn’t just something to have. It’s something to use.

And like any muscle, to be effective, it must be exercised regularly. It requires strength and discipline.

Eww.

We are not kept back by outer circumstances, but by the lack of discipline required to change those circumstances. -@NerissaStreet (Like this? Click to tweet.)

I know, right? Ick.

I’m lazy. I admit it. The first step to getting help is admitting there’s a problem. My problem is my definition of discipline.

Discipline isn’t what they’ve told you it is. It isn’t the punishment inflicted by way of correction and training. It doesn’t have to be difficult and unpleasant.

Tweet: Discipline = Devotion Intended to Support Consistency and Inner Peace, Leaving the Ideal Nurturing Environment. – @NerissaStreet

It’s devotion to the best parts of me. Not building systems that support me prevents me from fully serving the entrepreneurs and organizations I love.

So, this summer, I’ll be researching and experimenting with support systems: technology, partners and apps that will give me the creative strength to develop more workshops, create more resources, and introduce you to more ways to #beyourownanswer.

I want to produce and curate video, connect with more people on a larger scale and provide classes and consultation to shift their paradigms powerfully.

If you think you can help, comment below, or share this blog with someone.

More importantly, become devoted to yourself too.

Leaving Faith Behind

I’ve talked about faith in the real world.

I’m not sure faith is the best word for the experience I think is possible for you.

At this time, I’m preparing to host a large-scale fundraising event for one of my favorite organizations. It involves sponsors, artists, performers and filmmakers, social media, speakers and a 3-floor venue. It’s gotten feature media coverage from 2 major outlets and it will be documented extensively. It’s in 2 days.

Right now, the weather is monsooning.

I have no worry. There is work in front of me to do, and I’m taking care of it and myself.
At the end if the day, that’s what you can do: what’s in front of you.
I’ve already seen the outcome. It’s in my intention. Whatever happens, I’m not attached to it. It won’t turn out the way I think it should have. But it will be what I intended.

I trust that. So I challenge you to move beyond faith into trust. That’s what Be Still and Know is about.

Where does the knowing come from? That’s my next post.

What’s your experience been? What do you have faith in, and what are you struggling with?
What do you know that you “know”?

Comment below.

(Update: The outcome? 150 people swarmed our 3-floor venue and loved up 4 teens in foster care who took a chance on their self-expression. Pictures to come.)

Bullying — A New Perspective

I was asked to speak to a group of teen and tween girls about Bullying.

It’s a touchy subject, and it’s more and more pervasive– especially as snarky comments on reality TV get more popular. People “do it for the Vine” and don’t care about the aftermath of hurt feelings.

Sometimes, it’s just that someone isn’t doing what you need them to do, and instead of dealing with it, we bully them to get what we want.

Hurt people hurt others. I was challenged with how to help little girls understand that their hurt feelings don’t have to lead to hurting others even though how they feel affects their whole world.

Bullying stops with you.

Bullying stops with you.

I gave them some powerful tools, and a new perspective. The tools you can find here.

Please share the link with anyone who you think can use them.

How to Work a Crowd

In a previous post, I spoke about the number one leadership killer.

Although it’s crucial to be aware of that very common misstep that passionate visionaries make, it’s even more crucial to acknowledge a skill that is the backbone of leadership: crowd control.

We’re not talking “police officers on mounted patrol” type action. I’m talking about honoring a group of people who believe in your vision enough to give you their attention.

If you honor them, then you’ll treat their attention like the gift that it is and move them into a place they’ve never been before. That is “crowd control.” To do that, you have to build trust, and build it fast.

One way or another, a vision will attract attention and an audience. If you have a compelling vision, eventually you’ll stand in front of a group of people. It may be a group online, or it might be in person.

A good leader addresses these three types of people in the group in order to build the trust needed to move people where you need them to be:
1. People who have questions Continue reading

The Leadership Killer

I write on leadership because it’s my assertion that anyone can learn the skills to become a leader for a good cause. Not everyone is built for the task.

tombstone

Here lies leadership. Source: Columbia.edu

I design events and experiences for all kinds of audiences. I’ve spoken in front of and facilitated experiences for professionals, youth, government officials, private clients and the general public.

I have a sixth sense for group energy. I also have two certifications in adult and youth curriculum design and a degree in dramatic arts. So I can always sense the moment a speaker is losing the crowd, or leading them to a higher place.

Here is the thing killing your potential for leadership.

You’re not listening.

Really. I bet you think you’re listening.

You probably have a great cause. There’s something tremendously important that has to get done. You have a great vision and people have bought into it.

Now, some of those people are giving you feedback.

1) They have questions.

2) They disagree with you.

3) They may have been distracted and didn’t hear what you said.

All of that is feedback. If you push ahead and don’t address every one of those concerns, your leadership begins a slow death.

Or spirals down out of the sky like a kamikaze-driven plane.

People need to trust you. They need to know you’re paying attention to them. Even the dissenters. If you don’t address everyone, you’ll lose them ALL in some way or another.

How do you handle those three types of people giving you feedback?

I’ll discuss that in this post. For now, ask some questions. Tell me about the leaders you admire, and even the ones who you believe shouldn’t be leading. If you’re thinking of stepping into a new position, what’s your concern? Leave a comment, or share your insights.

 

The Surprising Reason You’re Sick

Yuck. Sick again? Photo credit: Andriana Mereuta

Yuck. Sick again?
Photo credit: Andriana Mereuta

Recently, I’ve been sick. Being both an entrepreneur and a teacher, illness is no joke.

In my spiritual practice, it’s even more serious. Our bodies’ natural tendency is toward health and growth. You see that in nature. Grass, plants and trees have to be cut to maintain a certain look, and even then, they must be cut on a continual basis. If you’re sick, you’ve wandered away from a consciousness of God.

Your immunity is your body’s system of resilience. Immunity is “exemption from obligation, service, duty or liability; being insusceptible to disease or punishment.” It is your body’s way of maintaining integrity in the face of anything that is contrary to what you are supposed to be.

Now, you can take this one of two ways:

1) A compromised immunity can be a punishment from God: you’re sick because you forgot you were God’s child. If I feel I’m a smart person, then that could be embarrassing. People who believe this don’t show up for Sunday service when they’re sick, and they stay away from our Bible studies and prayer meetings.

or…

2) A compromised immunity is a warning from your heart: you’re sick because you’ve taken on obligations, duties and liabilities that weren’t yours to begin with. Your energy is being spent on the wrong things, and it’s time to make some choices. In that case, you reach out to your circle of friends, spiritual partners and spiritual teachers for support, and you look within for guidance. You practice extreme self-care and enter what I call a “no-guilt zone.”

I chose the latter.

My sickness reminded me so much of my natural state of being that I looked through everything in my life that I felt obligated to, uneasy about, punished by and liable for. Anything that wasn’t true to who I am called to be was up for debate. Anything that didn’t contribute to my bliss didn’t make the cut. Even while sick, I wrote my blogs, and I taught my classes. I mentored and planned events. I went to the beach and spent time with people I love.

We can’t fear sickness. Sickness is a tool for growth. A tree with damaged limbs must be pruned so it can bear fruit. (Like this quote? Click here to share it on Twitter.)

If you’re sick, don’t just recommit to your physical health. Use the time of self-care to look at the mental, emotional and relational obligations that compromise your integrity. Then, choose joy. Even if your physical healing isn’t immediate, your true healing will begin.

What about you? Do you muddle through sickness, or is it a time of self-reflection?