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The X Factor

2019 October 2

“Congratulations,” she said and pulled me in for a loose hug. 

She tucked a discreet business card into my hand and promised it would all be great. 

I walked away and wondered what the heck I had just done. 

It was day one for me. At a business/self-development/creative retreat, tucked away in a vineyard in the hills of northern San Diego. The decision to come had been an easy one. Months earlier, a well-timed and eye-catching Instagram post, a leader who I knew socially and admired for her work, the promise of three days of clarity and inspiration and knowledge. 

This woman had gathered experts and motivators and thought-leaders – all female – to come together and build a community of business owners who would grow and change and evolve their work over the course of a three-day getaway. And that they did. They showed up and they spoke from the heart and they shared and they laughed and they offered words of encouragement and tidbits of advice and tips for success. 

And I stood on the sidelines. 

Even when I was sitting in the front row. Even when I was at the dinner table. Even when I was copiously taking notes. I was on the sideline. I marveled at the women around me. Instant connections forming before my eyes. Faces lit up with inspiration and drive. Instagram stories of new friendships and meaningful takeaways blowing up my feed from just a few feet away. 

But for me, it was a different kind of learning experience. One that seemed to shine on a spotlight on my lack of clarity. My seemingly fruitless search for motivation. My difficulty in finding the energy and aspiration to actually take charge of the life I am being given and steer it in the direction I want it to go. It felt scary and overwhelming and actually made me sad, because I wasn’t reacting and engaging and taking it all in like the other women in the room. 

One of the keynote speakers was a 25-year-old who works for Tony Robbins. Her talk was really great and I very much appreciated what she had to say, even though I was cynical at first. When it finished, she offered the retreat attendees an exceptional deal on an upcoming Robbins conference and asked anyone who was interested to meet her on the sideline for more detail. I made my way back to my corner on the opposite side of the room, buried my head in some emails I had to attend to, and watched the crowd around her out of the corner of my eye. Smiling faces, excited eyes, high fives and hugs. Women who were so certain about this next step, probably before they had even taken it. And as the group of them started to thin out and only one remained, asking her last few questions while the woman from Tony Robbins began to pack up her things to leave, it hit me. 

I knew that everything that intimidated me about this retreat was exactly what you get at a Tony Robbins conference – the energy, the drive, the clarity, the prowess, the high fives and the jumping out of your seat. And I knew that it wasn’t me. It didn’t feel right. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t comfortable. 

And that’s exactly why I had to get up and walk over to her.

I explained my concerns. I listed my excuses. I mused about all the reasons why I wasn’t sure it was something worth doing. 

“I have a quiet energy,” I explained, silently begging her to tell me I should skip it. To go back to my journaling and my reading and my emails. That maybe self-development just isn’t for me. To stay comfortable instead. 

“But what you don’t realize,” she said, “is that your quiet energy is your X Factor.” 

Because there are people who need that energy, who relish in it and who look to it. People who want to hear what I have to say and learn from what I have to share, even if it doesn’t come with a high five and a roaring chant. People on the sidelines and sometimes right in the front row, who appreciate that quiet energy and growing alongside it. 

It took me two days to get it. 

I made my way through the rest of the retreat in a semi-fog. A little overtired, a lot overwhelmed. I mentally beat myself up for not having the charisma or the charm or the road map that I saw all around me. 

And then I found my way back home. 

Back to my family and my dog and my work. Back to my environment and my to-do lists and texts from my friends. And it reminded me of how far my quiet energy has taken me. A solo entrepreneur for 11 years. A happy wife and loyal friend and engaged mom. A writer and dreamer and listener who has a lot of work ahead of her, but a lot of success behind her that has paved the way to here. 

I put her business card away in my drawer and took a deep breath. 

Congratulations, I silently told myself. 

It’s going to be great. 

One Response
  1. Kerry permalink
    October 3, 2019

    Love this message. I can relate.

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