SARA CONNELL // Founder of Chicago Women Starting Movements LIVE
Tell us a bit about your founding story?
I wanted to be a writer since I was in elementary school. But I got the idea from some teachers along the way that I wasn’t special or talented enough to grow up to be a professional writer so I stuffed that dream down and became an English major and advertising executive. I call this my shadow creative time. But that dream was like one of those blades of grass that shoots up through a sidewalk- I couldn’t let it go.
I began studying the craft of writing, I began writing every day. I became a life coach (work I loved) and began supporting others in the pursuit of their dreams. I slowly worked up the courage to show my work to people. I wanted desperately to be published but I didn’t have any connections to agents or editors. Finally, I had a manuscript and someone I knew said they knew someone who knew someone who knew a literary agent. They arranged a call and the agent said she would consider representing me if I make a whole bunch of revisions. You would think I would have run to my computer and now slept until I finished, but I didn’t. I froze. I didn’t write that day, the next day, that week. Three weeks went by and I couldn’t touch the work. I was so afraid that the agent would say I wasn’t good enough and my dream would be squashed.
Thankfully I heard of a writing coach in California. I called her and she walked me through those revisions any my lack of confidence. I flew to New York and that agent signed me (she’s still my agent today). That one moment led to being published in The New York Times, Elle magazine nomination for Book of the Year for my first book and being on Oprah.
I realized after I walked off the stage in Harpo Studios that I wanted to dedicate my coaching practice to helping other women who had a dream like mine- to share their story, to publish a book, to speak on stages- to make that happen. I re-focused my business and it has doubled or tripled every year since.
What was your aha moment that got you to where you are today?
An aha moment happened when I looked back and remembered all the things very well-meaning people told me I could not do: get a book deal, get an agent, get published in The New York Times, create a multiple six figure business. I realized that people don’t know what we’re capable of. I realized they were mirroring my internal fears and doubts. I realized that when I rely on someone else to validate me or give me permission to do something, I have given up my creative power.
I came upon a quote from an anonymous writer that I love on this:
The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.
My aha was that this battle was really not about people not believing in me, but me not believing in myself. The biggest adversary has been my own mind. Now when my mind says “you can’t do that,” I hug that part of me like an old friend and say, “thanks. I hear you. I’m going to go do this anyway.”
Then I turn on some fire up music and jump around my house and pretend I totally believe in myself. I try to take action from that place and trust that good will come!
What was your biggest struggle or challenge and how did you get passed this point? Did you have any fear along the way?
Constantly! I felt afraid my writing wasn’t “good enough”, that I wasn’t capable of starting a business or creating lucrative income. At each new level, I felt fear. After being a solopreneur for a decade, I felt called to start to scale my business and I felt terrified of leading a team.
Steven Pressfield talks about this in his books. He says that the closer we are to our soul’s mission or the deepest work we are here to create, the more resistance (fear, self-doubt, procrastination, terror) we will feel. Something that helped tremendously was starting to see fear as an affirmation that I was on the right track! I also needed to become okay with feeling uncomfortable- basically every day. The primal brain wants security and the familiar. Being an author and an entrepreneur required me to stretch and enter uncharted territory. I had to learn to choose the growth over the comfort. It is getting a little easier!
What would you say to a FEM that is fearful or up against a challenge?
I’d say you are more powerful than you think you are! I believe if we have a calling to write- speak, create a business or product that not only are we capable of achieving that thing, but that someone (or potentially thousands or millions of someones) NEEDS what you are here to create.
That’s great as an idea, but I’ve often needed help from coaches, mentors, colleagues to go for my goals. There’s no weakness in needing help. I think accessing the power of community is a sign of wisdom and success. Get whatever support you need to feel and access that power, clarity and passion- and go put your vision into the world!
What’s your personal mantra?
Get After It! (This is actually Jocko Willink and ex-Navy’s Seal’s mantra but it fires me up to take big action every day, so I use it!)
What’s next for you?
I’m so excited about our upcoming live event in Chicago: Women Starting Movements! It’s a full immersion for women who want to make a positive change on this planet get clear on their mission, harness their power and create a movement- a legacy- to change the world. I’ll be teaching my 5 step process of how to start, evolve or lead a movement as a published writer, speaker and to build a following that will allow women to make that massive impact. And we have some incredible guest speakers!
How can FEMS follow you and stay in touch?
Join me for Women Starting Movements Live! https://saraconnell.mykajabi.com/women-starting-movements-live
I’d love to stay in touch through social media or email me at my website: www.saraconnell.com