Commitment, Fear, and My Nellie Ohlson Moment

Commitment, Fear, and Your Inner Mean Girl: My Nellie Oleson Moment with host Paula Jenkins

This week’s show is all about the amazing power of how saying yes to something, making a commitment, and facing your inner mean girl can lead to some powerful revelations.

Say Yes to Your Podcast (or other Creative Calling)
I feel fairly certain that nearly all of us have had the experience of getting a creative idea, and having it come back again and again. Its that thought that won’t leave you alone, and that you wake up thinking about, find yourself day dreaming about, and the one that you’ve journaled about. In a newsletter a couple of weeks ago, I referenced that Liz Gilbert talks about this creative calling like this:

“When an idea thinks it has found somebody – say, you – who might be able to bring it into the world, the idea will pay you a visit. It will try to get your attention. Mostly, you will not notice. But sometimes – rarely, but magnificently – there comes a day when you’re open and relaxed enough to actually receive something. Your defenses might slacken and your anxieties might ease, and then magic can slip through. The idea, sensing your openness, will start to do its work on you. And then, in a quiet moment, it will ask, ‘Do you want to work with me?'”

Liz gilbert

And, Liz Gilbert goes on to say that when you are asked this question, there are three possible answers you can give: No (and it goes away), Yes (with a vow to do this one creative thing at the expense of all other things you are doing) or Yes (with an open heart, and holding the idea loosely, honoring that it’s creative, and that it is meant to be playful).

I found all of this to be true when I started my podcast. As many readers and listeners know, I started my show in 2015 and it started with a list of 20 people I wanted to invite to speak at (what I thought was) a retreat. I was just finishing my life coaching certification and wanted to find a way to share and show people what I did, in a way that they could get to know me. Podcasting as an idea had played with my heart and my head for a long time, about 10 years (the first shows came out around 2004 and I’d listened on a commute into the city). And this was the inspiration, all of it, just waiting for me to say yes.

Commitment, Fear, and My Nellie Oleson Moment

Making the Commitment
Saying yes to a creative idea (or, your podcast) is just the first step. It’s a big step. The thing that makes it stick is the commitment. In doing my research for starting a show, a wise man (Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income) said that there were two things that led to the eventual success of a show: a commitment to do it for a year, and, consistency in publishing. When I started, I made the following commitments to myself, and my future audience:

1. Publish for a year (52 episodes)
2. Publish every Tuesday
3. Treat the show as a professional (as opposed to a hobby)

For me, this looked like making a mission statement. I told some other coaches in training that I’d be doing the show, and I was committing to a year, specifically 52 episodes. While at the time, I didn’t tell others for accountability, it later acted as such. I felt strongly that I had to keep going to honor the commitment to myself. I launched in 2015 when I had finished up 4 episodes.

Facing Your Inner Mean Girl
Four short months after I started my show, I pitched Alison Arngrim (known for playing Nellie Oleson on Little House on the Prairie) to join me, and she accepted. This was the first big name guest I would have on, and I was both delighted and terrified.

To understand the weight of this interview, it’s important to note that I am a big fan of Little House on the Prairie. If you are unfamiliar with the books – it’s also helpful to know that there are two main characters: the spunky main character of Laura Ingalls, and the original mean girl, Nellie Oleson.

Growing up, I  loved Laura, and wanted to be like her (I totally owned a prairie bonnet in grade school). She didn’t have an easy life being as a pioneer, but she approached it from a place of wonder and hard work. She seemed to create magic and stories wherever she went.

And, I was in awe of how she stood up to the snotty Nellie. Nellie seemed to be an amalgamation of every rich mean girl I knew at school, and Laura’s assuredness gave me hope. She stood up for herself, she always knew just what to say, and she seemed proud of who she was even in the face of a horrible, awful, mean girl with curly hair.

So I had the interview with Nellie Oleson, aka actress Alison Arngrim. She’s amazing. You can read the show notes and learn more – in short, I enjoyed every second of the conversation and was excited to share the episode.

Here’s where things get interesting. As I edited the episode, perfectionism hit hard. I questioned every edit. And as I listened to Alison re-read some of her lines in the show, my own inner mean girl got triggered. And then it hit – in this massive meta moment – I was battling my own inner mean girl in the midst of editing a conversation I’d had with the original mean girl, and I had that moment where I questioned if I should go on.

I knew full well that podcasters often hit the wall. The average number of episodes put out by podcasters is 7. SEVEN. It’s because people start, full of passion and direction and with a great love of the topic they’re sharing, and then hit this wall. They say yes, but in the way that Liz Gilbert explains as that Tormented Artist way (giving the creative outlet everything until it eats them alive).

And at 3 am on that Tuesday morning, as I sat there editing, awash in mean girl-ness from nearly every side, the thing that kept me going was the promise I’d made to myself. It was a promise that no matter what, I’d do my show for a full year. That I’d see this thing through. That I would find out what was possible, if I stuck with this one thing for a full 52 episodes.

And so, remembering that promise, I hit save on my editing, turned off the computer, and went to bed. I offered my inner child (who, no joke, I often visualize wearing prairie bonnet, dress, and cowboy boots a la Laura Ingalls – queue even more meta-ness) kindness. I told myself everything would be OK, and that I didn’t have to finish this edit right now. Yes, my show was due to go up that day. And, I told my inner kid that as long as the show went up before 11:59 pm it was on time.

Instead of continuing to beat myself up, a la mean girl Nellie Oleson, I leaned in to my inner Laura Ingalls and came back to the fight after I’d slept.

Here’s what seemed to hit me all at once in that moment:

-Done is better than perfect
-Extending yourself and your inner child kindness is the ultimate gift
-Courage means sticking with something even when it’s hard and you’d rather run from it
-The inner mean girl can pop up any time, over things that appear small from the outside, and she means business
-Trusting yourself builds more trust
-Setting a commitment to yourself can hold a vision for your higher self, and can guide you

Circling the Wagons for Your Podcast
I share this not to discourage anyone from starting their creative pursuit, but rather to shine some light on what happens in the moments that no one is talking about as you start to create something that is in your heart.

Just as you all have that dream that keeps coming back to us, once you say yes to that dream, you find out that you’re in the next phase of the journey. Saying yes is hard, and following through with your commitment is hard. You’re going to face your inner mean girl at both stops on the journey, and she will keep showing up.

And here’s what makes that kind of hard stuff easier: support. Here’s what that support can look like:

-Having a group of people that believe in you.
-Having a bunch of friends or colleagues or classmates that have heard that you are going to do this new hard thing, and are holding space for you to make this all happen.
-Talking about your show and why you are excited about it with others
-Sharing what is hard and why it’s hard with other people who have you back

If you’re looking for that group, and that kind of support from someone who has been there, I invite you to join my Jump Start Your Podcast class. I started it when people started asking me how I’d created my show and it’s grown from there. It’s a like minded group of healers, coaches, creators and medical professionals that gather with the intent of starting a show and sharing their message. We start June 20th, and if you’re saying yes to a show right now, I really hope you’ll join us.

Alison Arngrim on Beyond Surviving: Embracing the Gifts of Nellie Oleson (Episode 15)

Sign up for the Jump Start Your Podcast course

Liz Gilbert quote from The Irish Times 

Your inner mean girl just might have something to teach you. On this episode, host Paula Jenkins talks about Nellie Oleson and the lessons she learned from Little House on the Prairie’s mean girl. #podcast #joy #courage