Several weeks ago I appeared on Katie Couric’s new afternoon talk show. The topic was reinvention (of course!), and we played my new game ReinventionCards™: 52 Questions to Change Your Life with members of the studio audience. (It’s a card game I created earlier this year that’s designed to stimulate conversation and help you, in a fun way, get to the heart of what you need to know to reinvent yourself.)
Nine years ago, when I started The Reinvention Institute, my mission was to help individuals create a life they loved and to give them the tools to do it. Although I knew I wanted to help people on a mass scale, the vision in my head didn’t include being on a national TV show with a product I’d created.
That’s the cool thing about having a vision: you start with one picture, but if you remain open it often morphs into something completely different than your original idea. When I looked back at the journey of how I got to a place that was far bigger than I’d ever imagined (and frankly, would have scared me if someone had suggested it back then), five lessons jumped out at me:
- Lesson 1: Be willing to start small. Though my original goal was to help people on a mass scale, I started by getting my coaching certification and working with individuals, one-on-one. This gave me a very strong anchor of knowledge about what works (and what doesn’t) in reinvention, which paid off in a sense of confidence about the efficacy of my work that I wouldn’t have had if I’d tried to launch the big vision right off the bat.
- Lesson 2: Surrender to the timeline of the process. When I first started, an entrepreneur friend of mine told me it would take about five years for my business to gain traction. I thought it should take only two years for me to get launched and write my first book. My friend was right! But surrendering meant that I could spend more time building a bigger portfolio of press mentions which resulted in a national publisher and a wider audience for my book.
- Lesson 3: Follow those moments of inspiration. Earlier this year I was pitching a potential partner on options for licensing our content. In the midst of traditional ideas like mugs, t-shirts and water bottles, it popped into my head that there should be a dinner-party-style conversation game for reinvention. Rather than dismissing the idea, I decided to create a sample and toss it into the mix of alternatives. That “throwaway” idea resulted in ReinventionCards, our first product.
- Lesson 4: Be willing to change your mind. Originally we sold the cards in bulk to companies who used them as client giveaways; I also used them in corporate seminars for ice-breakers and team-building exercises. My COO suggested we offer them to individuals through our website, but I nixed the idea because setting up back-end fulfillment sounded like too much work! But corporate clients kept asking how they could buy the game for friends and family, so it became clear that I needed to be willing to offer individual sales.
- Lesson 5: Say yes even when it scares you. I was still dragging my feet on website sales when the Katie show called, so I was panicked when the producer–one week before taping and air date–pulled our original segment idea in favor of playing ReinventionCards on-air along with the chance to offer them as audience gifts. Saying no meant I’d be limiting opportunity due to fear, so I said yes–and set up the back-end inventory, warehousing and fulfillment in four days.
When I look at the picture that accompanies this article, where I’m reaching millions of people with the message of reinvention, it shows me how creative and amazing life can be when we follow what a vision wants instead of forcing it into what we want!