(and You Can Use Them Too)
For the past 30 days I have been doing the AMAZEBALLZ challenge.
What the heck is an “amazeballs challenge”?
I’m glad you asked.
The Amazeballs Challenge was invented/conceived when I realized that I needed to complete the Storytelling Module within a 30 day period and I saw that I was getting ready to make another excuse and push back the launch date.
The excuse I was planning to use was that I would be travelling for 22 of those 30 days and that I just would not have time to produce something that big within that time frame. And then I realized that it was all bullshit. So I decided I would not change the launch date and complete the project anyway.
Then I thought about my usual MO when I am taking on such intense work of creation. I tend to get stressed and cranky and whiny. I realized that my emotional reactions were also a choice and I could choose differently, but it would have to be a conscious act.
I created the amazeballs challenge so that I would publically force myself to stay on track and solve these problems every day for 30 days.
The amazeballz goals:
1) Do the work (no matter what)
2) Enjoy the journey (there is always something cool going on)
3) No excuses (call yourself on your own bullshit)
4) Accountability (do what you say you are going to do)
The amazeballz format:
1) What did I learn today?
2) What did I love today?
3) What am I grateful for today?
4) What did I DO today to stay on track (keep focused)
5) How did I take care of my health/fitness (another area where I make excuses)
And it has been amazeballs!
What are the take-aways? There were so many great lessons experienced, but there are five that stand out.
Here they are:
5. I AM POWERFUL.
I am more powerful than all my excuses. I have a habit of underestimating myself because that is so much easier. I think that I am giving myself permission to “relax” and not stress out. But really I am just giving myself permission to be small.
When I am small, I am safe. No one can tell me they don’t like my work. No one can criticize my mistakes or shortcomings. No one is going to be offended or threatened or whatever impulse causes us/anyone to talk smack about someone else. I play small and think I will slowly grow to more.
That is now how amazeballs happens. Amazeballz happen when you put yourself out there and try. When you know you are NOT going to do it perfectly but you do it anyway because that is how you will get there.
In this challenge, I missed goals. I expressed my opinion. I took risks. I made mistakes. And I did it all in public. And while there might be some out there who didn’t like it or even those who think less of me for it, that is not the feedback I heard. I heard from people saying “This is interesting. This is inspiring. Keep it up.”
I am powerful. Not perfect, powerful. As me.
4. I SHOULD SPEND MORE TIME WITH MYSELF.
I have always considered myself, as an extrovert, a person who prefers to spend time with other people.
What if that is a lie? What if sometimes I prefer to be with people and sometimes I prefer to be alone?
I like spending time with me. I am pretty interesting to hang out with. It just requires me to shift into another gear. I do have an “alone” gear. It’s just a little rusty.
I used to tell myself that if I spent too much time alone “without adult supervision” in my own head that I would talk myself into bad/dumb things. That is crap. I am pretty smart. I have so much to offer myself. I can play big. I can exercise self-control and discover personal growth.
(Side note: I still LOVE spending time with others and learning from them, but I need to stop undervaluing my own brilliance and instincts).
Travel provides an amazing opportunity to get inside my own head in a happy way. I sometimes spend an hour on a plane looking out the window and thinking. And it’s awesome. I come up with great ideas when I have days alone. It’s like a reset button. For my creativity. For my brain.
3. THE MESSY MIDDLE IS AMAZEBALLZ (and terrifying).
Playing big and being powerful is hard work. Hard mental work. Hard physical work. Hard spiritual work. Hard relationship work.
When you play big you need to discover and exert to fatigue “muscles” that you did not even know you had.
Sometimes it is so hard that you cannot even see what your next step is and you feel paralyzed. I don’t want to step out blindly and do the “wrong thing”. And that is precisely what you must do sometimes: step out blindly.
We cannot see around corners. That does not mean we should not turn corners.
This part, the blind, confusing, frustrating exhausting scary part is the MESSY MIDDLE.
In storytelling, this is the journey. The trials and tribulations. Passing the point of no return. Losing things you did not want to leave behind. Getting roughed up and uncomfortable as hell.
This realization is based upon the work of Brene Brown. I read her new book, Rising Strong, during the Challenge and it was great inspiration point.
Brene says that in the messy middle we do everything possible to achieve what we want to without getting uncomfortable. And then we find out we cannot move forward without getting uncomfortable. And we have to act anyway.
The MESSY MIDDLE is resolving to act even when it is SO UNCOMFORTABLE. Resolving to act when it is hard, and painful and not the version we had hoped for (the easy version). The messy middle is when you get so stuck that you must surrender to the next step and go forth without certainty that it will all work out the way you want. But you do it. And you are uncomfortable. And you keep doing it even while it feels uncomfortable. It might even hurt.
But you keep doing and you keep going. Because that is the ONLY WAY THROUGH the messy middle.
The path to amazeballs has a messy middle. I have to slog through the messy middle. There is no shortcut. Embrace the messy middle.
It means something is finally happening!
2. I WANT TO LEARN MORE.
There is so much I do not understand. There is so much I do not know.
Our culture is often lazy and unfocused and judgmental. Learning is undervalued. Comfort is overvalued. We are soft sometimes. Soft = small.
But the cool thing about right now? Learning opportunities abound! Podcasts, books, smart people, and online education. It is EVERYWHERE!
The willingness to learn is the key ingredient. Consume new content. Think about it. Journal about it.
Maybe it’s not even willingness to learn. I think it is more willingness to DO THE WORK. Learning is work. It is fun work. It is rewarding work. When did we all decided learning was hard or bring or a chore? WTF. Kids LOVE to learn. They are so curious. When did we stop being curious?
BE CURIOUS! Ask questions. Be challenged. Be uncomfortable about new content that shakes up your old patterns and keep pushing. Consider something new. Consider something controversial. Consider.
LEARN MORE! ACTIVELY.
1. STORYTELLING TOTALLY WORKS.
The narrative voice is so powerful! I forget how big it can be.
I started this project, the Amazeballs Challenge Project, as a way to hold myself accountable to a process. The public jurnal was a way to keep myself on track.
But people (you) connected with the narrative. You were interested in my journey, both physical and metaphysical. You (my audience) bought into the story. My story. You were far more interested than I thought you would be.
I had underestimated the power of story, AGAIN.
During the course of this 30 day challenge I traveled to and through these cities:
I stayed in a long line of hotels, airbnbs, sofas, and guest rooms (and eight whole nights in my own bed). I drove hundreds of miles. I travelled thousands of miles on planes. I listened to hours upon hours of podcasts. I danced. I hiked. I read eight books. I wrote numerous articles and newsletters. I launched an online class. I answered thousands of emails. I texted. I called. I took pictures. I had two Fennec gigs.
And none of those details matter.
All that matters is the story.
The details are nothing without the story.
This is the story: I was on a journey. A journey to push and test myself for one month and to see what I could do.
Thanks for coming with me. You made a huge difference.
It was AMAZEBALLZ.
P.S. Why is it called amazeballs? Because I am a dork. And because I like to freak people out by saying balls a lot. And because when I spell it my way it has two z’s, which is cool. Right?
P.P.S. What happens next? I love the Amazeballz Challenge so much, I have decided to do another one. Maybe one with less travel but still big hairy and scary goals. Stay tuned to the Art of Story Project newsletter for details on the next challenge.
P.P.P.S. Yes, you can build your own amazeballs challenge! Please hashtag it #amazeballschallenge and tag me in in so I can follow your journey.
Do you want more story? Are you interested in learning to become a better storyteller?
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