Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Power of Sparkle

A sparkling view from my home.

You’ve heard of Personal Power, PowerBars and The Power of Now, but have you ever heard of The Power of Sparkle?

Neither had I, until I stumbled upon it a few years ago.

Five years ago, a book I had co-edited that would help me launch a business, was released.  The only problem was, I couldn’t decide in which direction I wanted to take my business.  There were at least five possible directions, all with different target markets, products and services, but every possible direction was filled with an infinite number of unanswerable “What if...” questions.

It was impossible to know the answer to any of these questions without first taking enough steps in one direction to begin unraveling the “what if’s”, but I couldn’t even decide on a first step.

I was stuck.

One night, while looping around in my head with all the possible choices, I thought back to all the biggest decisions I had made in my life and put them into one of two categories: Good Decisions / Bad Decisions.  Both lists were short.  On the surface, there didn’t seem to be a difference between the two lists.  Even the Good Decisions had times that were unpleasant, super-challenging or unrewarding. 

But, I noticed that even during the bad times of the Good Decisions, I was still happy with the choice I had made.  Not so with the Bad Decisions. 

With the Bad Decisions, I could recognize some of the good learning and character-building that came from those decisions, but, looking backwards, I wished I had made a different decision.  Though I didn’t want to admit it, the Bad Decisions contained a tiny twinge of regret.

Knowing that I didn’t want to make another big decision that years later became known as a Bad Decision, I thought about what was different when I actually made the Good Decision vs. the Bad Decision.  I realized there was only one thing:


Every Good Decision felt “sparkly” to me as I was contemplating the choice.   I was drawn to it.  Just thinking about the choice made me feel alive.  It wasn’t that I didn’t have doubts or questions or what if’s, but the idea of saying no, was too painful to even consider: it had a power bigger than me.

Not so with the Bad Decisions.

With the Bad Decisions, there was nothing on the surface that seemed wrong or bad about the choices. They seemed practical.  Acceptable. Solid.  But, I didn’t feel “sparkly”.  I picked the Bad Decisions because they seemed like the right thing to do.

So, I decided to use this as my guide.  I decided that for one year, my theme word would be Sparkle. I would experiment with every business idea by speaking at various conferences and I would pay attention to the events that felt sparkly. I decided that I'd move closer to everything that felt sparkly, and away from things that didn't.

I spoke at twelve conferences over the course of eleven months on topics like: workforce analytics, employee engagement, employee retention and strategic HR.   Each was interesting, but they all landed a little bit flat.  No one asked me for more information.  No one wanted to continue the conversation.  Everyone just thanked me for my time and politely walked away. 

By November of that year, I was tired and disheartened, and I was beginning to think that starting a business would be a Bad Decision.

By December, I had one conference left: a coaching conference.

I had never spoken at a coaching conference before and I had no idea what to expect. On a whim, I had completed the application to speak at that conference earlier in the year.  I remember randomly completing the application and I was even surprised they invited me to speak.

When I got to the room where I was speaking, I discovered I’d be up on a stage. With a microphone. On a podium. And, a giant screen behind me. With a few hundred people in attendance. 

First, I had a brief freak-out moment.

And then,…. I found it.  My sparkle.  During my talk, I could tell I was giving the attendees information they wanted.  I felt useful!  I felt alive! And, we were all having fun together!  At the end of my talk, there was a long line of people waiting to talk some more.  I collected business cards. Lots of business cards.  And lots of requests to continue the conversation.  I couldn’t stop smiling.

But, just to make sure I got the magic universal message this was the direction I was meant to pursue, after nearly everyone had left the room, one person approached me and asked me to sit down and talk. First, he invited me to speak at an international conference in Europe. And then, he offered me my first consulting project…. In Italy.

That’s the power of sparkle: it lights the way you should go and makes it impossible for you to say "no". 

© 2014 Lisa Ann Edwards