(mantra) Trust the process. Trust myself | My AltMBA experience ? (part I)

Here we are, on this page, and I’m telling you the story of how it all started. It started years ago when Seth Godin launched the AltMBA. And Frank, whom I didn’t know as Frank back then, but as doubt, fear, that-crippling-I’m-not-good-enough thought, told me I cannot apply to the programme, they’ll say no and I’ll be crushed under the weight of that refusal.

Those of you familiar in the slightest with Seth Godin and his work, know about the drip strategy. That slow, convincing, more than encouraging story he tells bit by bit, gaining your enrolment long before you even realise that you’ve made up your mind and you’re in. So, there it was, the email about the August session, and here I was, pondering, doubting, investigating deep down whether I’m good enough – please, don’t ask about the standard I was comparing myself to, because, as you know, it’s all invented.

I’m not sure how exactly I ended up on Andra Zaharia’s blog, reading about her AltMBA experience, in a roundabout way. And I must have read it at least a couple of dozen times, looking for something, perhaps some sort of confirmation that this is right, and that I should go for it. After reading her blog, and listening to some episodes of her podcast, I put the thought away. And a few days after this, I got that final reminder email; and I read Andra’s blog again. And I applied, on a whim, a couple of hours before the closing deadline. I’ve signed up for the AltMBA in a moment of temporary insanity with a dash of tipsiness. I almost put a big fat YAS where I was supposed to put my initials – I was SO excited that I was finally doing this. Applying was a huge step forward for me because in doing so, I also realised I was okay with being rejected. I was happy to be applying, and I understood then that I would be okay with a no too. You see, this experience was a gift, so it had to come this way to me. Because I got the acceptance email on my 30th birthday. This experience was a tremendous gift, and it’s been an amazing journey. It’s the gift that keeps on giving ?, from deep a-ha moments to making a podcast!

I’ve learned so much about myself, it’s unreal. Here’s the playlist of this journey:

Under Pressure – AltMBA33

My a-ha moments and lessons from the AltMBA include:

# The meaningful specific we should all strive for. Seth Godin has been going on and on about this, in his books, in the TMS, The Bootstrappers’ Workshop. I’m surprised they don’t sell pointers to wave in your face with ‘meaningful specific’ written on them (you can’t unsee these once you’ve thought of them, eh?!) There’s a difference between the specificity going on in our own head, when we think we’ve covered all bases, and the one that you put down on paper, and people tell you to dig deeper, it’s not specific enough and you can do better.

# My second a-ha moment is related to the stories we tell ourselves vs the outer environment. And why sharing your ideas and thoughts with others can provide so much insight and thus lead to change. And saying I don’t know is not the end of the world, hahaha. There’s also that gap between what we see as a possibility and the array of possibilities out there, that could help you tell a better story.

# I realised what acting as if is referring to, how it changes our narrative and how yesterday’s impossible becomes today’s maybe.

# Open yourself to possibility. Be open, opener than you think you are when you’re saying you’re open. Yes, exactly that. Embrace openness with no expectations whatsoever.

# There’s magic in using a constraint. Let go of scenaritis. You know, that train of thoughts in which you build scenarios on situations that only happen in your head, and you panic and fuuuuuuuuudge!

# There’s magic in teams. We’re all weird, and smart, and different, and tell a unique story about ourselves to the world. Perhaps there is a thread of similarity in some of the challenges we experience, but we all internalise and solve things differently, and that’s okay. So, let go of doubt and bring your best self to work. Trust yourself, and trust that everyone is coming in with an open heart and an open mind. And embrace the possibility that anything and everything can happen.

# Trust the process. Always trust the process <3 It’s easy to be doubtful when embarking on new journeys. Keeping an open mind and an open heart does wonders to the process ?

The thing is, the story we tell ourselves is important too, and we need to act as if, not just think we act as if. It’s so easy to forget this magic of sharing and caring, and it’s so difficult to do it intently. And this is how and why I decided to start a podcast!

Dear Frank,

Firstly, let’s introduce you to the world. World, meet Frank — Frank is my part of my committee that resides upstairs. If you’re wondering, there are also Pablo (my Muse), Harper (my cowardness) and the Universe (needs no intro) in this committee, but more about them another time.

Frank gives voice to my fears, my doubts; he is the nagging voice creeping in when I’m doubtful. Frank is the manifestation of my Resistance. Why not make it fun, give it a name and converse with it regularly?

Frank, meet the World. Now, I’m sure each and every one of you out there has a Frank in some way, shape or form. I’m not pretending my Frank is unique here. I am, however, inviting him to the conversation, wining and dining him, and giving him the space he needs.

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I’ve noticed you haven’t really behaved this past couple of weeks. I mean, I’ve been a super busy bee, from attending an improv training to delivering edits on a few articles for a client, planning for this quarter and publishing a few musings of myself. I’ve also read two books, planned for the upcoming podcast and had multiple joyful conversations around it.

So, what is it with you, that you keep nagging me what I’m doing is not enough? Oh, and I also had a coaching session about time management. How’s that, eh?

You know what, Frank? Not today. Really, no time for you today. I’ve got a bunch of things to go through, so I’ll be ignoring you for the rest of the week. No, I’m not busy, I’m working. Mind your own business, Frank 😉

If oats can become milk, you can become anything

Saw this on Mantra Mag, on Instagram. As amusing as it may seem, it’s true. It’s one of those things we don’t think about, nor do we realise the true power behind these words.

A couple of years ago, I went on a trip to Thailand, in which I had the pleasure of spending a day at a Thai cooking school. [Shoutout to Let <3, defo stop by if you’re in the area, or consider booking a class in advance if you’re planning a trip to Samui] Among other delicious things, we were thought how to make our own coconut milk.

Newsflash: it’s a lot of work and the result are the more so rewarding. I mean, you can make your own milk. From coconuts. Using your very own hands, strength and patience.

You’ve guessed it right – the secret is in the patience side of things. Quite a lot we can learn from a process as simple as making your own non-dairy milk.

In this day and age, patience seems more like a luxury than an asset, and we need to change that. Having patience IS an asset and we should behave accordingly. Hurry slowly the saying goes, and it couldn’t be truer. Try this: check your emails twice a day – once in the morning and once in the late afternoon; skip social media, or only check it if necessary (i.e. is your job to do so).

You’d be amazed to find out that the world hasn’t gone anywhere, you haven’t imploded because of FOMO, and on top of that, you might actually not know what to do with all this free time you have, all of a sudden. Hint: do some work, stop being busy ? Good luck!

It’s all invented

We’re really good at inventing rules and setting boundaries. We’ve spent years and years perfecting these, and they’re usually aimed at the other(s). The thing is, once we’ve worked so hard and for so long setting rules and establishing boundaries, it’s kind of hard not to apply them to ourselves.

The irony here is that we don’t even realise it. We’re not aware of how contained some of our remarks are and can be taken aback when someone’s frank to us. It’s outrageous. When did we start saying more no than yes? How is it that we forgot to have fun? And why?!

I’m an artist, your rules don’t apply to me. Please read this in your own voice until you get, it until it hits home. Read it as many times as you need to, and think deeply about the rules you’ve set for yourself. And now go be awesome, do something, share it with the world. I’m rooting for you <3

The struggle is real

I wonder why we shy away from talking about our fears. Are we afraid of being ridiculed? Our fears being too small? What is it exactly that it makes us so reluctant in showing up with that side of ourselves, too? After all, it is an integral part of our psyche, and we come to the party with both the good and the bad. What I find ironic and a tad interesting is that we’re not that shy in sharing our dreams and expectations, our hopes and ambitions. We bring them to the table with a grin, we’re proud of them, we carry them like riches, and we want to show them off to people.

I’ve noticed that, when we share the hopeful side of us, there’s a twofold reaction we’ll get: Oh my god, so cool, glad you want this, go get it, I’m cheering for you and Oh, wow, that’s a bit crazy, why would you want this, what’s wrong with what you have now? One could be so lucky and only get the cheering, though I cannot stop wondering whether we need the pessimists, the detractors, just as much we need the cheerleaders. It’s a game of balance, of course, although I would say that it’s the no’s that kind of push us further and ambition us to turn that dream into a reality if we want it bad enough.

My question is: why don’t we share our fears, too? What’s keeping us from not showing that so-called dark side of ourselves? I’ve been doing a lot of fear-sharing lately, as part of an organized exercise (more of this another time). And I’ve realised that people don’t frown, and they don’t think you’re crazy, au contraire, they see and accept you. And they share their own fears, too, not because of the need for reciprocation – it’s their generosity that commends them to do that. And you want to know something else? Once we talk about our fears, put them out in the open, either in writing or in a conversation, we acknowledge them. Which means they become something palpable, they upgrade from the in-our-head status to in-the-present. And suddenly, they become manageable, they become actionable, we can see the possibilities that lie ahead, because we’re not stuck in the conversations happening upstairs.

Here’s my a-ha moment regarding fear. This whole fear aspect of the conversation doesn’t last long, you move to the next thing, conversation flows, as it happens when you’re in dialogue. What’s more, if you’re not comfortable in sharing this with another human being, in a verbal conversation, put it in writing, talk to your dog or your fish. It still works, and once you voice it out, the pen on paper will move on, you’ll find yourself telling your dog another story, and you’ll also feel relief. Try it out and see for yourself, observe your own change in motion. It’s magic <3

How to be a cutie pie

– a 10-step guide to cuteness –

Step 1. Smile to random people; 90% will smile back.

Step 2. Avoid frowning.

Step 3. Embrace your inner weirdness.

Step 4. Talk to strangers (without being creepy or stalkerish, though).

Step 5. Remember: it’s just air coming out some people’s mouth, so let them breathe.

Step 6. Dance like no one is watching.

Step 7. Enjoy lightness, even when it rains; look at the clouds.

Step 8. The middle finger: it’s a no-no.

Step 9. Drink water.

Step 10. Get your swag on.

I wrote this guide together with Becca, in a moment of quietness in-between what was a hectic couple of weeks. We had a lot of fun in the 5 or so minutes it took us to write it, and I just came across it whilst looking for something else on my laptop. And it made me smile, so much so, that I’m putting it here 🙂

If the guide seems too complicated, in a nutshell:

  • Accept & embrace your self
  • Hydrate your body and nurture your mind
  • Be present and kind