My Mt. Everest | August 2006 Newsletter

My Mount Everest: August, 2006
Merle M. Singer, Founder

“Anything worth doing, is worth doing poorly – at the beginning.”

Keith Cunningham

Since everyone is different (although, also, very much the same), I cannot assume that my challenges are shared by everyone else. But surely I share them with some others – maybe, many others. Here is my challenge: maintaining, follow-through, perseverance ON MY OWN BEHALF. I have all the fine qualities for others, be they family, friends, or the community. This is the long way to say that continuing this e-letter is a challenge, quite a challenge. You can see that it is. Each month the e-letter is getting later and later in the month, so that this e-letter leads the following month.

What is it that makes it so challenging? Well, there are a number of things. Other interests take significant amounts of my time. But I think, really, it has more to do with feeling as if I’ve already said everything; that I have nothing new to offer. It has more to do with “buyers remorse.” All of a sudden, I get attacks of uncertainty about being so self-revealing. It is painful. I was raised to be so turtlized (encased in self protection as is a turtle {yes, I made up the word}) that showing “a bit of skin” is quite unnerving. It’s like walking down the wedding aisle and half way down saying “Oops; this is a mistake, or is it?’ There is an out. You can go screaming from the chapel, but do you want to? That’s the worse kind of buyer’s remorse. It’s worse than the buyer’s remorse of a pregnant woman entering labor. At least in that case, there is no choice. Baby will out. It doesn’t diminish the terror, but it does relieve you of choice. I am struggling with the choice versus commitment.

Doing my comedy performances at The Comedy Store and the Hollywood Improv were my opportunities to practice overcoming this angst of self-revelation. The comedy confronts and deflects at the same time. And laughing is my escape valve.

I know sharing myself has lessons for others if I can just persist. And in classic Merle form, the second comedy performance was more difficult in terms of pre (2-3 weeks) performance jitters. Yet, as one would anticipate, the second time I performed significantly better than the first. The Comedy Store asked me to perform again. I was back East and missed the date, but I still haven’t called to explain. I’m afraid that the Comedy Store booking agent will schedule me at a time that I can make. I still have 2 performances left that I am committed to. Two more opportunities to confront my demons. I need more than that, so this e-letter will continue on until I have learned what I need to learn.

It worries me that I work as a coach and show all this messy inner-working of me. How much confidence in me can that instill. Yet I appreciate when speakers and teachers, mentors, and coaches reveal their own issues. It’s when I (the audience) see the “guru’s” issues that are not intentionally revealed that I snicker. (I can be condescending at times.)

It is curious to me that I am so driven to stare down this demon at this later time in my life. I am not now a chick; I am chick-reminiscent — long in the tooth, but with attitude. I suppose that really, I have accomplished what I set out to do, almost entirely. I got a BS and MS in Education. I taught for several years. I partnered with my husband in successful businesses. I unified a blended family (kind of). I continue to be a devoted , “put your money where you mouth is’ mother and wife and grandmother. I definitely go the extra mile – and enjoy it. I like making the contribution. I am a good friend and have volunteered endless time and leadership in my community. I have been effective. I know it; I planned it; and created it. My financial life is comfortable, my health is fine. My husband is devoted and healthy. Yet, I so easily forget my accomplishments when in the light of others who assert with confidence.

At this point, Peggy Lee would ask “Is that all there is?” But that’s not my question, not at all. I love what I have; I appreciate it on a daily basis. I find the lovely moon in the sky each night, the welcome of the sun each day. I marvel at my ability to accomplish what I want so darn unconsciously. The buzzword for this feeling currently is abundance. It works. I feel abundant. And so “Is that all there is?” seems way to victim- mentality to me. What I am saying to myself each day is “What’s next?” What can I do with my life if I am actually conscious of my goals.

This brings me back to my approach to coaching &endash; Non-linear. It’s what I employ on myself to bring myself closer to the goals I hadn’t ever dared to dream before. It’s backing in with my eyes squinted to almost closed. What if I can make a big impact on the world. What if I can make significant money doing that. What is I can meet the people I admire and learn from the very best, and then share all of that. I know that I have a quirky, a bit off-center way of thinking, analyzing, expressing ideas that does resonate with some people. What if I dared to star in my own life and others. I am forcing myself to write this down.

I think being a woman out front is vitally important. We need as many as we can get – in every field. Women (and men) need to see how things get interpreted by a woman; it’s different. For instance. Napoleon Hill is so very highly regarded for his book “Think and Grow Rich.”

(Best-selling author Napoleon Hill teaches the 17 success principles used by the great success stories of the early 20th century. Napoleon Hill interviewed with William Wrigley, Alexander Graham Bell, Andrew Carnegie and 500 others. He shares the secrets that helped all of these great leaders rise to the top in their respective industries.)

I read his book about 15 years ago when I was in the insurance industry, trying to sell life insurance, a product I believe in. I was very put off my Mr. Hill. It was so quintessentially “male.” The sense of competition, the sheer aggression of the book made me feel inadequate, enervated, outside the “club.’ And, trust me, this is the first time that I have said this outloud. I wish I could have read the recent comments of Dr. LaVona Reeves, professor of English at Eastern Washington University, talking to Sarah Gibbard Cook, PhD of Women in Higher Education

“t’s an easy trap for women and minorities – to figure it’s our fault when others reject us or entrenched powers push us aside. We take what’s outside our control and internalize it. The way past self-doubt is the opposite: Externalize what’s inside us by writing and talking and sharing our stories.” Amen. Amen.