A client of mine has been going through a hard.

Some seriously menacing dragons showed up in her space to breathe fire at her. And they wouldn’t let her build a castle.

It was crappy.

We decided that we would outwit the video game by not doing any of the normal things (i.e. panicking, running away, being paralyzed with fear, pouting, raging, yelling, fighting, etc).

We would subvert the tired fight-vs-flight dichotomy by choosing none of the above.

And we decided to consciously, intentionally walk in a new direction until the perfect spot for her new bad-ass castle revealed itself.

Anyway. I am of the opinion that this (extremely hard and not fun) situation is sure to become one of her crucial turning points.

So now I’m thinking about turning points.

Except that turning points are so often easier to see in retrospect.

When you’ve gone far enough past them that you can see where and how the turning happened.

So I thought we could try to pinpoint some of the turning points in my own business, and maybe we’ll be able to reverse-engineer some bits of usefulness.


The first point of turning.

Not getting the domain I wanted! Drama!

You can read about this in How The Fluent Self Got Its Spots.

There were two turns in this one.

The first was consciously deciding that I was not going to do the usual thing and be pissed off at the world about the unfairness of it all. And instead I was going to find something that worked better.

This felt very weird and uncomfortable and not me. But also open. Full of possibility.

And the second turning was the way not getting the thing I wanted turned out to be the best thing ever.

Because now I get to be the pirate queen of The Fluent Self, Inc, most fabulous ship on the high seas. With a duck. Take that!

As opposed to being the duck-less president of a super-boring thing whose name is too embarrassing to ever be mentioned.

My own turning points …

Here are the ones that come to mind when I think about how my business has grown and transformed over the past five years.

And please bear in mind, this stuff was hard and frustrating and took time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Etc.

Bringing Selma into the business.

I don’t remember exactly when I stopped hiding the fact that yeah, I have a duck.

But I do remember the concerned expressions of the expert-ey people who said or implied that it didn’t look professional

Which, at the time, was my biggest nightmare.

Apparently, there are people who believe that if you want to make money, you can’t tell the general public that your business partner is a toy.

Pfffffft. Selma is hardly a toy. So I didn’t listen to them. That turned out to be a good thing. A really good thing.

For one thing, Selma is the best red velvet rope ever. And I probably wouldn’t have ended up on the front page of the New York Times Style section without her either.

Signing up for my first class.

When I first started my business, I had no money.

So any business advice I got was gleaned from newsletters and articles and any freebie resources I could get my hands on.

And after a while this became a matter of pride. Like, why would you pay for help when it’s all over the internet?! And anyway, everything I made was being invested back into my business.

When I finally took a class (with Andy, who is brilliant and wonderful and hysterically funny), I realized how stupid this was.

First of all, taking classes is investing in your business. Second, you make connections in classes that change everything. Third, the best way to learn how to run your own online programs (and how not to) is to take someone else’s.

Fourth, you meet biggified people who will later give you testimonials for your stuff.

Launching my first product.

Not that it made any money for a while.

Because it took its sweet time before we got to the point where product sales were paying my salary.

But because having products made me look crazy biggified. And all sorts of useful things came out of that. Wish I’d done it sooner.

Cutting out workshops.

When I started my business, it was based on live teaching and private coaching.

So I was constantly in the process of setting up workshops, teaching workshops, recovering from workshops.

I had to do them, since they were awesome. And since that’s how I got clients.

But it was exhausting. And at a certain point I decided we had to take a break. And that Selma and I wouldn’t do live teaching again until we were famous and people were standing in line to do a class with us.

And that’s what happened. Good decision.

Getting on Twitter.

I was hugely resistant to this one.

But about two and a half years ago, someone talked me into it.

And thank god for that. Because it’s my favorite bar.

And because it’s the magical place where I never talk about business but where most of my business comes from. Crazy and wonderful.

I’m @havi. Say kazoo!

Starting the blog.

That was two years ago. And it was the smart thing to do .

Thank you.

Dropping the noozletter.

I really dreaded writing the noozletter.

And I didn’t like having a list. And all the pressure to have it and build it and do things with it.

Not having one went against every piece of business advice I’ve ever been given, but I just didn’t care anymore.

Anyway, I don’t have a list. And we still make a very good living.

Rock on.

Email sabbatical.

Born of desperation, it was hard and frustrating. And pissed some people off.

But my life is seven thousand times better now. So yay.

Okay, figuring out what these turning points have in common.

Reverse-engineering time.

Or at least looking at the elements.

Here’s what I see. They include:

  • that moment of realizing that I’ve been wrong about everything.
  • permission to follow a want
  • permission for the want to be stronger than things like say, common sense, or what everyone else is telling me to do.
  • connection over isolation
  • but also removing myself from situations that are painful or uncomfortable
  • safety and sanctuary
  • sovereignty

And … where to go from here.

I don’t know if it’s useful to know that a pivot is happening as it is happening.

I don’t know if we need to necessarily be able to recognize the turns.

But I do think it’s useful to play with the elements.

Because I’m planning on taking many more turns. And I’m planning on these turns getting easier.

More smoothness. Less agonizing. More effortlessness. Less questioning. More fun. Less predictability.

Anyway, I hope some of this is helpful.

And I hope that some of your dragons turn into helper mice.

And that you see turning points everywhere.

The Fluent Self