I asked for feedback and this is what happened.

“You stand more for everyone than they stand for themselves.”

I’m sitting at David’s Tea with tears streaming down my face….and not because I’m sad or frustrated. Because I’m completely and utterly moved by this feedback. The man sitting across from me is kindly acting like he doesn’t notice the giant tears (or the snot), but the emotion is moving me hard, and I’m not going to fight it.

Now to explain this, I have to rewind a bunch of weeks. Last month I asked one of my fierce supporters of a friend to run an exercise that Gina Bianchini suggested for anyone wanting to get a more crystal picture on their personal brand. It asked just a few simple questions about what makes me irreplaceable, what is holding me back, what they thought I’d be doing in 5 years, and an open forum for additional feedback.

It’s that feedback where the opening line of this blog came from.  I’m overwhelmed with love and support, and fired up with ideas on what drives me to build out my life, my brand, and my own future business endeavors. But more than anything it reminds me that who I will be is actually made up of who I am each and every day. We’re all the makeup of a million tiny moments.

My brand is just a very businessy term for who I am. And who I am is built like a pyramid, one block at a time. So is yours. I learned some major lessons from doing this exercise, a few that are so personal they’re not even worth sharing (because they won’t make sense), but a few that are incredible reminders for any one of us building something, anything, in our lives:

Your value to all is the same as your value to one

I realized by reading the comments of everyone who gave their incredibly thoughtful feedback that what we aim to communicate to anyone as a brand, as a thought leaders, as heads of a family, as the owners of a small business, can be distilled down to one individual person. What do we want to communicate to one? What do we want them to feel…about themselves, about us? That value that one person feels is our value broadly.

Legacy is consistency

I don’t often think about “what my legacy will be” because I’m too busy living it half the time. But it’s a really valuable question to ask ourselves. What will we leave behind? Because whatever that is should truly be lived day in and day out. Are we perfect? No. I’m sure not. And I’m not always consistent. I have bad days, off days, but the more rooted in my purpose I am, the easier it gets to be consistent. And that consistent value that I bring to others will one day be my legacy…and I can’t think of a more significant driving force to add value in the same way to many, many people’s lives.

What they feel is what you should feel

The line that came after the one at the top of this blog was “Stand for yourself as much as you stand for others.” It was a tough one to read, because it’s true. The pep talks I give others should be the ones I give myself. I should feel the same confidence about my life decisions and dreams that I infuse in my friends (and strangers I meet). We all have to be for ourselves what we are for others. This is probably the hardest lesson because it requires trusting our gut, our intuition and seeing the beauty and talents in our self that others see. If we can see it in others, shouldn’t we be able to see it in ourself?

I encourage every one of you to do this personal branding exercise with a friend….I promise it’ll have a few aha moments. And I can’t wait to hear them below.

Do it. Sit in your shit.

Being uncomfortable sucks so bad.

Do you remember the last time you were super, super uncomfortable. We’re talking the kind that means you don’t even want that chocolate chip cookie because you have too much anxiety to even dream of it being good. You’re so nervous about telling someone something that you look down and your neck is just a blotch of hives. And when you go to talk you kind of stutter. When you dream, all you can think about is the worst. When you text, all you do is panic.

I’m the first person to say, an extended version of any of these things are totally not OK. BUT… and I think there’s a pretty big but here (not to be confused with my own double t butt which is even bigger *wink*)… we all go through shit.

Shit – fear shit. scary shit. embarrassment shit. grieving shit. nervous shit. ugly shit. dark shit. anxious shit. f*cked up shit.

And as one of my favorite souls once told me… “Sit in your shit.”

Why though? Why would we want to stay uncomfortable? Because, in our attempt to get out of discomfort, we forget what that discomfort is all about: getting to the other side. Having the breakthrough. Seeing the light. We can’t have that “good stuff” unless we’re willing to literally sit, roll around and cover ourselves head to toe in the “shit”.

Do you remember the last time you got your hands dirty? Like physically dirty. Today I was crafting and got paint all over my hands. All I wanted to do was to wash it off, and wash it off ASAP. But instead, I said to myself, “Max. You’re going to rock this paint on your hands, and in your nails and on your face a little bit longer. You’re going to be dirty, and kind of uncomfortable with your blue paint all over you. And you’re going to like it.” I didn’t like it. But it was a great physical representation of my internal discomfort from the week prior. And what did I learn?

Discomfort will not kill us. It just gives us an even greater appreciation for being clean.

So whatever you’re feeling today– whatever unpleasant, prickly feeling is coming up…. own it. Lean into it. And remember, sometimes the only option you have is to sit. in. your. s h i t.

Change your relationship with fear

Fear is a crazy thing. It feels all consuming. It feels powerful. It seems like a thing that we should run far far away from. But actually, the opposite is true. Fear can be our north star, if we’re willing and able to get super, super uncomfortable…it’ll tell us exactly where we need to go:

Into it. Into the fear.

Growing up, we learn to treat fear like a fence. It keeps us away from things that could harm us: a high-speed bus, a rabid dog, a ill-intentioned stranger.

But as we get older, we learn those rules to the game. We know to lock our doors, walk in twos, stay on the inside of the sidewalk, etc etc etc. We understand that fear and stay away from it without fear needing to guide us back.

As an adult, fear becomes a much more powerful fence: an emotional one. It makes us think that we can’t go after what we want. It holds us back from speaking out truth. It keeps us from wanting to feel exposed, unsupported, or vulnerable.

Every time we keep that electric, emotional fence up and refuse to scale it, we put even more space between us and our dreams. We see our future, our love, our potential for greatness…and we can’t realize it because we’re so scared of the fear.

Instead, we should see that fence as our giant playground- run to it, climb it, dance ontop, jump off. Because on the other side of fear is the universe calling us to our purpose.

Follow the fear and we’ll find our way.

A place you MUST visit

*Reprise: It’s been exactly a year since I took the most life changing trip traveling alone through northern India. It was the absolute greatest gift I’ve ever given myself. In true nostalgic spirit, there’s no better way to relive the trip than with a read through this post. It truly is a place you must visit.

I hope you’ll go. It is an honest wish in my life that everyone gets to experience the magic of India at some point in their lives. I want you, I want everyone, to have their soul touched by the gut of humanity, and see the way it changes you. The way it lightly shifts your outlook while you’re in the midst of it, and then wildly shifts your heart after. I want you to have the adventure I had. I want you to stare at the Taj Mahal and wonder how love ever built something so magical. I want you to hop on a motorcycle and tour the countryside. I want you to send your blessings down the river Ganges or watch bodies being burned at sunrise. I want India for you.

So when you go, call my friend Gurpreet Kaur (the best travel agent ever over at India Inbound) and have her create the most magical itinerary that includes, but is not limited to my favorites:

The River Ganges in Varanasi

There are two unbelievable moments you must experience while you’re in Varanasi. The sunrise and the sunset. They couldn’t be more spiritually similar, yet radically different experiences.

At sunrise, wake up at 4am and begin trekking through the old city at dark. You’ll go through back pathways laid with stone. You’ll meander through the alleys, avoiding cow shit (and cows), seeing little children urinating in the corner, women burning incense and old police officers sitting around, guns in hand. Intense. I know. But when you get to the ghat, you’ll light a candle in a votive made of pink flowers, and you’ll send your blessings floating down the ripples. I sent blessings of love to the ones that meant the most to me, and similarly asked the holy river to send a great love my way. And when you get to the old boat made of rickety wood, you’ll float along the dirtiest river you’ve ever seen. But you’ll find yourself wondering how something so dirty could still feel so beautiful. And when your boat stops, look for the smoke. There you’ll find the bodies of locals’ loved ones being burned, their ashes, and their smoke, wafting off to the heights of heaven. There too you’ll find the deepest sense of belonging to a universe that is so much more connected and deep than our conscious even has the capacity of understanding.

And when the sun sets, make your way through the crowds, through the ailing locals begging you for money, and get to the rooftop to view the evening Puja of God. You’ll sit cross-legged on the ground with a group of 50 travelers, all there to watch 8 men dressed in gold dance around and send fiery blessing upward to god. They’ll chant, you’ll hum along, and somewhere in the midst of the fire and flower petals and the sunset on the river, you’ll be covered in goosebumps wondering how any moment will ever compare to this one. How you’ll ever go back to your grind of a life. Here’s a secret: you wont. You won’t return the same way you came.

The Taj Mahal

It’s one of the the world wonders for a reason. But don’t just go to see this one. Go and sit with the Taj at sunrise. Watch what happens when the sunlight hits the sides of the white marble. It’s like watching a soul come alive. It’ll twinkle and sparkle and you’ll never want to get up from that bench that sits just off to the right of the courtyard before this beautiful structure. Watch the people as they take their pictures. Look at the different walks of life that have all come around this one, glorious monument. While the visitors start to trickle in, somehow the beauty of this place will make you feel like you’re the only girl in the entire world looking up at it. Facetime the loves of your life and share it with them too. Relish in the moment that something this beautiful exists. I promise, once you sit quietly in front of the Taj Mahal, nothing will ever feel so epic. Be quiet. Don’t get up for a couple hours. Pray. Thank God, or the universe, or whatever greater power you believe in the for the grace and the glory that has led you to this moment. This unforgettable moment.

india_foryou_ilo_inspired

Amber Fot in Jaipur

You’re going to be heckled by countless men who want to sell you bangles, paintings and maps, but don’t let them get under your skin. There’s an elephant waiting for you. A beautiful, magical creature who will use her power and stature to get you up a steep 30 minute trek to the entrance of Amber Fort, the ancient capital of Jaipur state. As you’re riding, honor the lucky animal taking you there and breath in the first breath of clean air that you’ve had in a while. Look down the foothills, and see the plush green mountains that surround you. This is nature. This completely unrefined, hardly touched but mature civilization. Say goodbye to your elephant, and watch as she roars her trunk in the air. It’s a novel experience that you’re unlikely to have again.

Tiger Lake in Udaipur

No one is going to tell you about Tiger lake. It’s your magical jewel in Udaipur to seek out and find. But when you find your way to the lake, probably from hopping on the back of a motorcycle of one of the locals, know that the journey there is every bit a part of the destination. The small, dirt roads that take you twisting through the country side, the villages that you pass as the little children wave hello with their big brown eyes, the heat on your face that’s cooled with the whipping wind, this is all a part of the experience of Tiger Lake too. Don’t discount it. Where it leads to will rock your soul. The lake that you find, glistening in the middle of the mountains, it looks like it has never been touched before. Sit on the white stone with your feet hanging off the cliff and just be still. Enjoy the serenity. Appreciate the culture. Send your gratitude for all the the trip has served up to your heart. Life likely won’t feel this still again for a while, so tuck the experience away for when you need it most. For when you return home. It’ll be a gift that keeps giving, and it’s all yours for as long as you can hold onto it.

Whatever you do in India, and whenever it is that you do it…. Go and wildly experience it.

Is this getting between you and your dreams?

I’ve always been told that you should share your dreams with those closest and most supportive of you. And when I say dreams, I mean the life you see in three to five years, the trip you’re working towards, the business you’re going to begin, the MBA you’ll go after one day. Goals of any form…the thing that makes you really excited when you look at your future.

Well, I realized yesterday how fun talking about dreams and visions are. We tell our best friends over wine and get their insanely positive reaction. We brainstorm with our peer mentors, enrolling them in ideas and feedback. We share with our parents where we really see ourselves. And it feels so gooey good when they respond with support and enthusiasm.

It feels so good that it’s easy to stay there, to stay right there in the talking about it. In the getting peoples great reactions. In living in the energy of your own dream. Almost too easy.

But then there comes a moment when you have to actually do the dream. You have to risk something, or you risk your dreams completely. When you get to this point it’s usually really obvious. Aside from headaches (or is that just me?), you’ll feel your energy and your mind try and recoil you back to your comfort zone. This is when you know you must act on your goals.

And it’ll be completely freaking scary. You’ll have anxious butterflies, but you’ll know in every inch of your being that this is what you’re supposed to be doing. You’ll know that if you “fail”, it will have been worth it. And that’s precisely why it’s so scary: because when you act on your goals, there’s a chance you may end up flat on your face. Which is why staying in the feel-good “talking about my dreams” zone is so easy – there it is safe. There it is warm, and fuzzy and a vision of what will be.

But it’s time to bring that vision to life. We do it by getting really, seriously, excitingly scared. We do it by doing more- by supporting our own dreams with baby steps of work and risk. What can you do to act on your dreams today?

What’s really happening behind the camera

What’s really happening behind the camera

What you see is not always what you get. I remember growing up and completely glamorizing all the big-haired television hosts that I watched on the morning shows before school. Then, years later when I was the one mic’ing up and reading off the teleprompter, I realized no one knew the half of how un-glam it all was. Like how I was standing barefoot on the studio floor because I was too tall for the screens behind me.

Even though not everyone has had a taste in an “on camera” industry, our social media lives make every one of us the star of our own digital platforms. That can be tough when we’re also the consumers of those platforms. Just like I used to think the television hosts had the most glamorous job in the world, you likely see your galpals’ instagrams and think they’re having the best day, boyfriend, vacation or life…ever.

But it’s not true. They have some real stuff going on behind that camera just like you do. We all do. I wrote about this tale of two selves: the real and the digital one to get an evennnn better idea of what happens when the two meet. And while I was writing this, I took a look at my own pictures, to see just how big a gap there was between my “perfect picture life” and what I was actually feeling:

photo 1

“I dont know what I did to deserve you @meganblack623 #bestbigsister #housewarming”

While the flowers are gorgeous and my sister really is perfect, I had been in a disaster of a month. My landlord was redoing my place that I’d lived in and loved for 3 years, which meant I would be homeless on the streets of San Francisco unless I found something new. And in one of the toughest housing cities in the world, that is no easy feat. I had been a serious ball of stress and emotion trying get my situation figured out with only a couple weeks to spare.

photo 2

Bubbly and Ben.  #eurowoman”

I look surprisingly happy in this picture for as heartbroken as I was. Less than 48 hours earlier I had literally been on my bathroom floor crying my eyes out at the realization that a man who had held a major piece of my heart for many many years, fell in love with someone else. All the things I had once seen for a future were as wrecked as the sleeves of my mascara stained shirt. I had to cancel every meeting with my colleagues because I couldn’t get through a conversation without crying. Heartbreak is tough, we all go through it, and we all come out of it. But you’d never know from the looks of this pic.

photo 3

“North Beach Sunrise! #Home #BeautifulMonday”

You know those days, mornings or weekends when you just feel bad about yourself? I was having one of those. I was down about all the wrong things (all the things that don’t matter). But regardless, I wasn’t feeling overly confident, talented, pretty, funny…I just was meh. I woke up, went for a walk with a friend (where we talked about some of this) and saw this sunrise. It was a whole heck of a lot prettier than I had been feeling.

There’s not a “real” story behind every single picture we put out in the world. Much of it really is as happy and wonderful as we project. But just like I have this handful of “what was really going on” stories, so do the people that you’re looking at and comparing your life to. Perhaps it’s an encouragement to us all to be a bit more honest or real with the things we put out into the world.

For more of my thoughts on what happens when we filter out reality, check out my post today on The College Prepster.

Be a part of my dream: MaxieMcCoy.com is here!

Be a part of my dream: MaxieMcCoy.com is here!

Notice anything different?

Perhaps a whole lot of Maxie McCoy – ness and a whole lot less ilo inspired? Well, you noticed right. Today is a big change. A big step. A scary one…but an honest one.

Maxie McCoy dot com is here. There’s no more hiding anymore.

See, many many moons ago I dreamed of a career hosting SportCenter. I knew I’d get there one day, too. Not a doubt in my mind that chair would be mine. Until I realized I didn’t want it. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life reading off of a teleprompter or drudging out sports scores at 6AM. I wanted meaning. I wanted to make a difference. I didn’t know how I’d do that, but I understood it wasn’t as the identity I’d imagined. But I knew that camera would be in my future again one day.

I’m not there yet, not even close. But sometime soon you’ll see a much revamped MaxieMcCoy.com. You’ll see lots of video #MaxieMcCoyTV.  You’ll see a community of dynamos. And you’ll know you were with me from the beginning.

Today is a step in that direction. A step towards using this platform to inspire, to make you believe, to help you understand. It’s a step towards my dreams.

MaxieMcCoy.com is officially out in the world. And while much bigger, better, more beautiful things are in the works, you start by starting. And so I’m starting here: by being now who I imagine to be then: Maxie McCoy. It’s just me.

 

You Will Never Have Enough Time

You Will Never Have Enough Time

We all have things we want to do in life… write a book. start a blog. learn to golf. visit Australia. speak a second language. learn to code. play the violin. take an acting class.

What are the things you want to do? And how many times have you said to yourself that you’ll do it when you have more time?

Well, I have some good news. And I have some bad news. Bad News: There will never be enough time to start something new. Good News: That doesn’t have to keep you from your dreams. You just simply have to start. You have to make the time.

A few weeks ago when I wrote a few posts on writing my first book, I received emails and questions about how on earth I had enough time to do that. My response is the same as when people find out about this blog and wonder how I have time for it with my crazy travel schedule and insane startup job.

I don’t have the time. But when you love something enough and when you’re determined to take actions on your goals or dreams or hobbies. You find the time. You write your blogs on notes in your iphone when the plane has no wifi. You carve out Friday afternoons alone camped out at Whole Foods to finish chapters in your book. You don’t lose out on sleep, you sacrifice binge watching Scandal instead. The less meaningful things tend to fall away, making room for your dreams to become your reality.

Somehow, some way, you find the time. And it’s not from depriving yourself of sleep. I do not  not sleep. As I cannot function without 7-8 hours minimum each night. 

And here’s a trick on finding time for your goals that you don’t currently think that you have time for: put it out into the world. Put yourself on a schedule. Schedule your lessons. Have an accountability partner. Or, be accountable to yourself. Write it down. Schedule it in your calendar. Do what works for you.

But the point is this…if you’re waiting to have more time to go after your goals, you’ll be waiting a long long time. Know that when you really freaking want something, it’s up to you to make it happen with the time you’ve got.

As they say….beyonce

 

 



What are you waiting for?

Dreams and goals are so valuable to have. If you don’t have any at the moment, I encourage you to set some time aside and get really clear with what you want out of this life, or even just this year.

And then there’s those of you who are similar to me: you know exactly what you want. Or a rough a vision of where you want to be. But you’re waiting for everything to line up.

If I asked you what you were waiting for to go after your dream, you’d probably respond with:

the right idea. a more fleshed out plan. the right backing. enough money. support from my partner. until my kids are older. when I’m more confident in my skills. for the economy to improve. for someone to think it’s a good idea. for everything to align. after I get my MBA. for a sign. until I’m older. until I’m smarter.

Want to know what I hear in all of that? The need to be bullet proof. You’re waiting to be perfect. You’re waiting until a time when you can be guaranteed not to fail.

How do I know this? Because I’ve been waiting for the same thing.

I had a major aha moment when watching Brene Brown’s second Ted talk on Shame where she details that we’re all waiting to go into the arena (aka going after our dreams) until a time when we know we can’t fail. We’re waiting for an infallible armor. We’re waiting to be perfectly perfect so that the critics are quieter and the hecklers in the area aren’t as strong.

Brene says it best: that is never going to happen. We aren’t ever going to be bullet proof. And we sure as hell aren’t ever going to be perfect.

So, whatever dream you’re waiting to pursue, whatever goal you’ve suppressed deep, deep inside…go after it now. Start working on it now. If you wait until you’re perfect, it’s never going to happen. If you’re waiting to be good enough, it’s never going to happen. If you’re waiting for people to stop wondering “who do you think you are?” they wont. Because all of those critiques are only replayed by you. We all want to see you achieve your dreams. We want to see you reach your goals. We want to see you happy. But you have to begin the process. And then we’ll all be there to support you, to lift you higher.

What are you waiting for?

 



How to under share

A couple weeks ago I wrote about the need to pay attention to our words. Meaning, where our words go our energy flows.

I’ve really been trying to follow my own advice. However, one challenge that I’ve come up against is how to under share without feeling shady. Sometimes when I’m not telling someone the full story, I feel like I’m hiding something.

Here’s the thing though, not telling the full story is really really important. You can’t tell everyone everything. Especially because our worlds are much smaller than we all think. And it’s not like that’s supposed to be some scary, pessimistic way of looking at the world — but you just don’t know who knows whom. You could be telling someone some insane story thinking, “I just met this person, what could they know?, only to find out they know exactly who you are and the situation you’re talking about.

Being a private person is perfectly OK. Rather than making private synonymous with shady (as I have done in the past), privacy is really just about being selective.

I’ve realized that being selective with who we tell things is becoming more and more important as I get older, for a number of reasons:

Everyone knows everyone: It’s like this in most worlds…but you realize quickly how small the universe is. People know people who know people. So you kind of always have to be on your best footing when you’re meeting new people. It’s not like any of us are going around saying things we don’t mean, but it’s just a good reminder for life in general. Don’t write or say something you wouldn’t want blasted across the front page of the New York Times.

Our Energy follows our words: we only have so much energy. It’s ok to keep this for us. It’s ok to keep our problems and experiences to ourselves and choose to tell our worries to those who can help us create constructive solutions. To keep our venting to a minimum, to be selective about when and who that happens to, is a smart strategy for our overall level of joy.

Storytelling should be kept for inspiring: why tell a story that’s not doing anyone any good? Spend your energy lifting people up. Share stories of strength, of courage, of perseverance and not only will you see your own outlook lifted, but you’ll impact those listening to you as well.