7 ways to climb out of the pit and get back your mojo

Blue ice cave

This past weekend was rough.

Very rough. Things were not working out and the universe was definitely off duty when it came to shaping itself around my desires.

I was in a pit. I can laugh (a bit) now, but it wasn’t pretty. Something about my identity had gotten triggered, my self esteem bruised, and my hopes dented. I didn’t even need to know why – although I had some clues. There was nothing I needed to fix. I just needed to find a way to make it to the next day (or sometimes the next hour).

I decided I needed small steps – specific things I could do to keep going (or not do in the case of just sitting and being quiet.) I began to write them up.

Now that I’m officially out of the pit, and have been so for at least four hours, I can look back on the wisdom I gained. I’m sure that my experience could be the foundation for a New York Times bestseller – or at least a $2.99 Kindle bestseller. Fifty things you can do to climb out of the pit.

 Today, I’ll write up seven – both as a teaser to my magnificent work and because I’m hoping you’ll send me some of your favorite recovery strategies so that I can make it to fifty (I promise to include you in my heartfelt and prolific credits at the back of the book!)

  1. Stop judging yourself. Maybe this is too tough to be number one. But it’s so important. It’s hard enough to be in the pits without kicking yourself for being in the pits. There’s such stigma around the d-word (I won’t even say it), and so many reasons that you “should feel different.” But that sucks. You feel what you feel. Sometimes happy and sometimes lousy.
  2. Do something mindless – mindfully. At one point I plunked down in the middle of the gravel path and started pulling weeds. It was an interminable task. At ten minutes a foot, no way was I going to finish the 80 foot path to my cabin. It didn’t matter. I weeded because it was mindless and because I had plunked my body down and felt some satisfaction seeing little bunches of grass coming up in my hands. Curious. I made sure not to turn my adventure into a “to-do” or make myself finish. I weeded precisely 6 feet, got up and felt better.
  3. Now your naturopath may be cringing, because, I know, too much caffeine will probably hurt you long term, but a strong cup of caffeinated green tea was a pleasant way to spend time in the pits. I could feel my motors starting to rev up a gain and even climb out, at least for a while. It helped me find the energy to make my list (strategy # 4).
  4. Make a List of Life Affirming Things (LLAT) that you can do right away. Like I said, I was waging a moment-by moment battle, so this was not time to plan a trip to New Zealand (or plan much of anything). What was helpful was identifying some simple things that would make me feel good without too much effort. I avoided the to-do list, although I did pick up a couple of times that I felt like doing (plant peas, clean off my desk). From my list: Pick a peony. Read the library book. Have another cup of tea. Eat popcorn. Call M. (Your list will be idiosyncratically yours.)
  5. Call a friend. This one’s tricky. As I said above, a lot of people have an aversion to the d-word and want you to snap out of it. Avoid these folks. This is the time to call your foul weather friends – the one’s who will understand because they’ve been there, have terrific empathy, or an arcane sense of humor.
  6. Watch a funny movie. Actually choosing a funny movie can be hard work, and comedy isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Plus thinking of Robin makes me sad. I ended up binge watching 30-Rock in honor of just completing Tina Fey’s book Bossy Pants. (Reading Bossy Pants would have been on my list if I hadn’t just finished it.) 30 Rock took me away from the Big Questions in Life and let me immerse myself in something I could enjoy and then be done with.
  7. Pet the cat. Cats, unlike dogs, don’t seem to have that empathy gene that would have them crawling all over you and licking your face when it feels like you need help. Or maybe they do, but they express it in a more cat-like dignified way. But the fact that the cat could care less about your work dilemma makes him all the more useful. He just cares about you petting him. Pretty soon your life will be blissfully reduced to this as well.

So that’s the start of my list. I have more in waiting. (I might share more if you beg me for another post.) Hopefully, with the addition of your proven suggestions, I’ll quickly make my full list of 50 things you can do (or up it to 100) and claim my appointed spot on the Kindle Bestseller list.

Last year, when I wrote: Lead with Your Legend about discovering and living into your own new story, I talked about the heroic journey we’re on when we make big changes in life. During that journey, there’s a time I call the middle muddle. It’s when we can feel lost, confused, disheartened, and yes, even depressed, because the end isn’t yet in sight.

Writing Lead with Your Legend reminded me that heroism isn’t always about slaying the dragon or grabbing the golden apple.

Sometimes it’s just about keeping going and taking the next step, the next step, and the next step.

So here’s to climbing out of the pit with a smile on your face or tears crusting around your eyes, or whatever you’re feeling…and just keeping going.



P.S.  Now it’s your turn: help me crack a hundred great ideas!  And drop me a note if you haven’t been able to pick up your copy of Lead with Your Legend

Find the courage in your unique legend

LeadWithYourLegend-Cover copyTwo years ago I started on a journey. I decided to re-launch my business at the very time many friends were letting go of their careers and retiring. But I’d discovered something that really called to me: through the use of story I could help friends, teams, and leaders connect more deeply to others and get their messages out.

Fast forward two years. It’s been a wild ride re-creating my work. Sometimes it’s exhilarating and I live with a huge sense of possibility. And sometimes it’s really hard.

Thank goodness for story. Even in those moments when I’ve asked myself, “will this ever work?”, I knew that I would persevere, because I was a choosing to live a story that I wanted to share with others. The heroic journey framework made a lot of sense as a framework for use, when I discovered that much of that story happens in the middle of the journey – when things are really rough.

Sure, the beginning of an heroic story, when the hero hears her call to action, can be sexy and intriguing. I love envisioning a bold future. The final climax and resolution, when the hero meets (or doesn’t meet) her goal and is transformed, can be thrilling and fulfilling. Or in my case, I hope it will be. But what about the parts of the journey where most of us live most of the time – the middle – what’s so exciting about that?

I wrote Lead with Your Legend: Craft Your Emerging Story to Live the Life You Want to honor the importance of the middle of the journey, and to show how each of us can live an heroic, legendary journey – if we choose to.

The middle of the journey is when the hero is confronted with challenge after challenge, setback, upset, disappointment, you name it. Inner gremlins and outer monsters. The works. Without the tension of having to overcome something, without risk, tension, and conflict, the hero’s story would be pretty boring and not heroic at all.

So, when you’re feeling lost on your path, you can still look for and claim its heroic essence. Knowing that you’re on a legendary journey can make it easier to welcome, or at least tolerate, the big challenges you never ask for. Even through the conflicts and disappointments, you can feel how your character is growing and being shaped by how you meet your challenges.

The person who moves forward with courage, authenticity and amazing perseverance in the face of sometimes overwhelming obstacles is what I call a legend.

My friend Lori is like that – I wrote about her a couple of weeks ago on this blog.

And I suspect you’re like that, too, which is why I’d like to gift you with my book.

The word legend may speak to you of pictures of celebrities, fame-seekers (Kim what’s her name?) and dead heroes. But I’m taking the word back and giving it to all of us, because it takes a lot of courage to live a life of authentic passion, and to recognize and follow your uniqueness, your calling, and the deep sense of longing that lives within you.

Lead with Your Legend shows how to apply the heroic journey framework to your personal leadership story, and use it to shape a story as you are living it, a story that’s emerging.

If you subscribe to my website, I’ve sent you a link to the book. If you haven’t signed up, you can do so here.

I hope that you look at it. It’s been a labor of love – part of my passion to acknowledge and support the people all around me who are living extraordinary lives, yet are sometime hidden or not even noticed.

They’re beacons of light to me. And as we go into this season of dark, I need all the light I can get!


P.S. Please let me know what you think. With your help, the book is going to continue to grow.

P.P.S.  And please share it. If you haven’t received a code for your copy, or need it, just shoot me a message and I’ll fix that right away!




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