Several years ago I had an idea for a new business inspired by the idea that friendship is key to a person’s emotional health. I imagined “Lady Dates” would provide opportunities for women to connect, knowing that relationships are deepened through shared experiences. My team would orchestrate outings where clients could participate in a fun activity and in the process begin to build meaningful friendships. I imagined myself as a friend matchmaker.
I spent several weeks researching, making plans and talking to anyone who would listen. I had numerous conversations with other female business owners, listened to their advice and got some buy-in. Everyone I spoke with was excited about the idea, full of suggestions, and willing to be a part of my launch.
Then my bubble burst. In the midst of all my talking and all of my planning, I was invited to the launch event for a company with a concept that was nearly identical to my idea. The positioning was slightly different, the branding was wildly different, but at its heart, it was trying to meet the same felt need I had my eye on. It was an attempt to bring women together through planned activities.
Opening that invitation was a crushing moment. They beat me to market. Chicago is a small enough town that I didn’t want to compete, so I let the idea go. I let months of talking and planning and talking some more fade away.
What Moves Us From Talking to Action
For the next few weeks, I questioned myself and my inaction. Had I waited too long to launch? Had I spoken with too many people? Had I sought too much advice? Should I have talked less and done more?
I’ve heard people say that it’s important to launch fast and fail fast. Perhaps I’d just taken too much time. Why did I spend so much time talking and never pulled the trigger? What is it that kept me from moving from the talking to acting?
Jon wrote in a recent post, “I want to see the balance shift to more acting and less talking.” So, what is it that moves someone from talking about an idea to acting on it?
A Personal Connection
After my book release last year (#shamelessplug), I had a conversation with my publisher about building a network of other authors in Chicago. Mine was the first local interest book they had published in this market. I casually suggested that maybe it shouldn’t be the last. Initially, the conversation was just me dreaming out loud about having a network of authors to collaborate with as I tried to sell my book. I imagined us standing side-by-side at lit-fest tables around the city, sharing press contacts, co-hosting events, and cross-promoting our books. Having a network of writers around seemed like a way to make the “selling” process much more enjoyable.
My publisher listened to my dream, saw the potential in the Chicago market, and gave me the go-ahead to start recruiting writers that he could interview and consider. I couldn’t believe it. From a simple conversation came an exciting opportunity. I saw this as a chance to help other writers get published and make my work more enjoyable. I had a personal connection to the project’s success.
When the idea was mentioned, I didn’t hesitate. I acted. Immediately. Now, just six months later, Reedy Press has signed eight authors to book deals in Chicago.
From its inception, the project promised to be more than just an income source. It would be personally beneficial too. I was excited about more than the income; I was excited about the outcome. I looked forward to the possibilities it presented. I had a personal stake in recruiting new authors, so I moved quickly and decisively.
Invested Community Support
When Susanne Harrington created a small private Facebook group to invite friends in her community to take part in a day of service, she had no idea that One20 would be the result.
Her idea ignited a spark that launched a national movement. Her community plus many outside her community took the idea and ran with it. What started out as a conversation on social media became much more because of invested community support. People all across the country liked what she suggested and rallied behind her idea. Before she knew it, she was acting on an idea in a much bigger way than she initially anticipated.
A supportive community can do that. A conversation can quickly become action when an army champions the cause.
While it’s certainly possible that Susanne could have accomplished One20 alone, the reach and the scope of the event was possible because others jumped in quickly to help spread the word.
That Magical Nudge
Now, are you thinking, “But Molly, you had a personal connection to and community support for Lady Dates, and you still didn’t move from talking to action?” You probably should be, because I did. And I didn’t. So what’s the deal? The deal is, there’s a third magical thing that was missing.
Though less easily defined and certainly far harder to quantify, I was missing that magical nudge. You’ve experienced that nudge before, haven’t you? It gives you certainty even in uncertain circumstances. It makes you sure even though there are still questions to be answered. I never heard that quiet voice telling me to go for it or felt the confidence that it was time to move through the lingering fear and uncertainty that I was feeling.
The magical nudge takes different names for different people. Some people call it intuition, or discernment, or a calling, but the magical nudge is that extra oomph that moves us forward past uncertainty, through struggle, and beyond any insecurity. It’s what makes you sure even when you aren’t completely sure. It’s what gets you over the hurdle. We know it when we feel it. Hopefully, we act on it when we feel it. And when it isn’t there, perhaps it’s a reason not to leap.
In my case it was! That company that beat me to market is no longer in business. It didn’t last. Sure, had I moved forward with Lady Dates I might have done things differently and lasted a longer or shorter time than they did, but I’m betting it’s more accurate to say that the market just wasn’t there. They hosted imaginative events and did some creative marketing, and I’m not sure I’d have been as successful as they were.
I didn’t feel that magical nudge because it wasn’t the right project for me. That sounds simplistic, perhaps. However, looking back over what I’ve done over the past few years, I realize a lot of it wouldn’t have been possible if I’d been saddled with Lady Dates. What we say no to is even more important than what we say yes to.
Maybe by spending time talking instead of acting, I was saying “no” to Lady Dates before it ever had a chance to say “no” to me. It seems as though the company that beat me to market did me a favor by showing me that before I figured it out for myself.
What do you think of the idea of a magic nudge?
Is it something you’ve experienced in the past?