Have you ever said something out loud without realizing what you were doing?  And then the “wrong” person hears you and it's too late to take it back?  Well, that's how the Career Mastery Challenge happened.

It started in my comfort zone

I attended Brendon Burchard’s Experts Academy conference last September where one of his speakers (Chalene Johnson, personal development guru) mentioned that she had launched a 30-day challenge and served 10,000 people.  I thought that was pretty cool and made a mental note of “must do a challenge one day”.

This challenge idea made its way into conversations with close friends.  I debated with fellow professor, Minu, at ASU whether a leadership vs career success challenge made more sense.  I batted around with my UK business partner, Catherine, whether to give personal examples vs just tips, etc. etc.

Basically, I was firmly and comfortably entrenched in my analysis-paralysis procrastination zone.

What was I thinking?!

Fast-forward to early December and I'm talking strategy with Mickey, my Digital Media Strategist who also designed my website:  What to do next now that my website is up and running?  How to serve more people?

In the spirit of any good brainstorm, I mention a host of ideas including this challenge concept.  For better or worse, I had finally gone and done it:  voiced this seemingly far-off goal to the one person that could actually help me make it happen.

Before I knew it, I committed not only to putting together the Challenge, but to doing it in time for a January launch.  That gave me just 30 days to prepare.  Not only that, there was this little thing called Christmas smack in the middle of it!

The time from committing in early December to emailing the last Career Mastery Challenge Tip on February 12th was an intense blur, and I still can't believe that it’s now “done and dusted”.  I think I'm either still in shock or going through withdrawal.

The 30-Day Career Mastery Challenge was really a 60-Day Challenge behind the scenes, and I had no idea it would turn out to be such an enormous amount of work accompanied by so much (mostly self-induced) stress… and a huge amount of fun that made it completely worth it!

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

So what did I learn from this experience?  Here are my three key takeaways and how you can benefit:

The Good

The main thing that I got right was to work with professionals.  Nobody does this alone, and it really helped that I found somebody who not only “gets it” when it comes to the online and technology world, but, equally important, someone who “gets me” and can provide the support I needed.  Thank you, Mickey!

The other thing in the “good” category was I followed my instincts (for the most part) when judgment calls had to be made.  Whether you're an entrepreneur, corporate executive, or “ordinary citizen”, it's your reputation and you are the one who has to live with the consequences of the decision.  Trust your gut.

And beyond “good” was the excellent reception our wonderful participants gave me – thank you!  I loved hearing from everyone, both in the public comments and in private emails.  It was joyful to all learn and grow together.

What I learned from “The Good” and how you can apply it:

  • When recruiting or working with team members, remember that trust trumps technical skills.  However far into the genius zone they (or you, for that matter) are, the group won't achieve its full potential without trust among all its members – the kind that's earned every day.  The same holds true for choosing friends and life partners.
  • With your clients or the people you serve (which my favorite blogger, Seth Godin, refers to as your “tribe”), you'll have opportunities to build trust every day.  What matters is not just how you handle the big visible events, but also the small things day-to-day that form a pattern that says, “Yes, you can trust me.”
  • And as an individual, learn to trust yourself to look out for your own best interests by listening to your gut and heart, and not just your head.

The Bad

I made the mistake of closing off the sign-up at midnight of the launch day without warning people that I was going to do that.  I was sleep-deprived (see below) and made a bad call.

Fortunately, I have some very good friends who emailed specially to say that people they had invited to join – including two CEOs, some Managing Directors and one of Canada's Top 40 under 40 – had been shut out.

We did reopen the Challenge, but I'm sure some damage had been done.  My sincere apologies to those who missed out as a result of “my bad”, as my kids would say.

What I learned from “The Bad” and how you can apply it:

It’s helpful to have clarity on “the rules of the road” right up front – in this case, clarity in my own mind as well as clearly communicating it to those who needed to know (i.e., all of you).

Whether it's with your team, boss, partner or kids, it's about having a conversation at the outset to communicate and set expectations – to discuss and agree how things should work.

This is what we call “good contracting” in the coaching world – having that clarity on what the contract or “the deal” is upfront helps get the relationship off to a great start, keep the project on a strong footing, and prevent headaches later on.  It also gives you something to refer back to in case things need to change later on.  And as they say, change is the constant…

The Ugly

Although I promise I did shower every day, the first two weeks of the Challenge were grueling for me.  I didn't get much sleep and was definitely not on anybody's best-dressed list.  It felt like being a junior associate at Morgan Stanley all over again, but without the benefit of a secretary, analysts, and IT guy (well, okay, Mickey gave me help on the IT stuff).

I was so nervous leading up to the launch that I got an excruciatingly painful crick in my right shoulder just from sitting at my laptop all day for the 30 days leading up to it.  On top of that, I was scheduled to be in Arizona – seven hours’ time difference from the UK – for 10 days right in the middle of the Challenge, which only added to the stress.

And I was afraid, afraid, afraid:  What if no one signs up but my mother (and she doesn't even use the Internet)?  What if people sign-up, but no one comments?  What if people comment, but they’re mean?

What I learned from “The Ugly” and how you can apply it:

Don't waste your precious time worrying about things that may never happen, and especially those that you have no control over.  I can vouch for the fact that it is emotionally draining, and often physically painful!

When you're facing those “what if…?” fears, stop and replace it with the one question that converts wasteful worrying into something constructive: “Is there anything else can I do to help achieve the desired outcome?”

If the answer is yes, then go do that thing.  Keep going until you have taken all the actions you can, and the answer to the question is finally no.  When you’ve done everything you can, you can let go of the result as well as those “what if…?” fears.

In the end, I walked through my fear and, while my mother didn't sign up, more than 200 people did and we had over 3500 visits from people in 43 countries during the Challenge!

And from the very first day, people actually read the tips and even commented.  I was so thrilled that I replied to each and every one of them almost immediately, not realizing that people aren’t expected to do that.  Even though it meant I had “newbie” written all over me, it turned out to be one of the instincts I’m glad I listened to.

So what’s next?

The question I'm asking myself now is, “What do I do after such an intense experience?”

Since I've never been one to look good on a chaise lounge, I'm already focusing on how I can serve you and others even more.

Many thanks to those who provided input on what you'd like to see next.  I’m putting all the feedback and ideas into action, creating something exciting and special to help you succeed further in your career.  So stay tuned… !

In the meantime, if you took part in the 30-Day Challenge then I would love to hear how the Tips are helping you towards Career Mastery.  Let me know how you got on and share your success stories in the comments section below…

Image credit: © Justin Reed