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I love a good fireworks display, don’t you? Late night gatherings, loud pops of color, occasional synchronization with music, and the mystery of what the next one might look like. It’s all fun.

Here’s what else I love about them.

Fireworks mark momentous occasions. They help entire communities celebrate things like our nation, or the end of a day at an amusement park, or the close of Whiz Bang Days, which was a local festival not to be missed during my upper elementary years, named after the long-defunct “Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang” joke magazine and forever immortalized by a mention in the show tune “Ya Got Trouble” from The Music Man. (Wait for it. It’s in there.)

Fireworks create community. I love being in the crowd, hearing the reactions, and jockeying for the best view. It’s all part of the experience. I’d never want a private fireworks show, even though a friend of a friend just passed her pyrotechnics test. Maybe it’s possible, but it just wouldn’t be the same.

Fireworks are coordinated toward a shared goal. How ridiculous would it be to go see one firework? Even when I’ve been out on a farm on Independence Day (in states where fireworks are ~ahem~ legal), the locals who set off fireworks on a country lane buy more than one. It’s all part of an overall experience. The slow build, the various colors, and the rush of explosions at the end create a sort of temporary public art experience.

Fireworks will not be ignored. Whether or not you watch them, you’ll hear them. Your dog will hear them, as he cowers in a corner. (Sorry, Fido. You won’t be put through this misery again until next year.) Fireworks are right out there, for all who choose to enjoy them, and right out there for those who don’t enjoy them.

And as Katy Perry has been telling us, we ourselves are a firework.

Far be it from me to disagree with Katy Perry. You ARE a firework. Do not be ignored.

And together we are a whole firework display, marking occasions, creating community, and working toward shared goals.

The firework that does not get lit by fire and explode into the sky is not contributing toward the shared goal. It is ignored.

As I have been coaching people in business and in life, it has struck me that many are struggling with the same thing: you need permission to let your gifts explode out into the world.

To live larger. To come out of the safe shadows. To shoot up into the air toward bigger goals.

Yes, I know I’m pushing this analogy pretty far, but stick with me.

I’ve been coaching non-profit leaders and job changers for a decade (eek! That’s a long time!), but I also just started to coach people launching or expanding side businesses. I thought we’d be talking about marketing and goals and how to use some coaching skills to share their bit of genius.

We are doing all of that, but we’re spending more time on:

~ connecting goals to faith and life

~ exploring self-worth

~ not hiding in the shadows

~ committing to growing the business and serving in the biggest way possible

It’s scary. I mean, to live your destiny as a firework you basically have to be shot into the darkness at a high velocity and explode. I’ve been there. That’s why this is a good conversation to have. And now is the time to have it.

This week, of all weeks, it’s time to step out of the safe shadows and explode into the air with all of your wonderful brilliance.

Celebrate your “wins.” Create community. Work toward a shared goal. Do not be ignored.

Action step: Identify one area where you have been hiding in the shadows and commit to being “a firework” within the next seven days.

If you’d like help with making your concrete plan to shine more brightly as a freelancer, non-profit leader, or small business owner, set up your first session here.

Let’s keep in touch!

Do you have those certain songs or photos that can take you back to an earlier era of your life?

I recently cleaned out my storage, and lo and behold, there was my high school show choir video. This wasn’t just a song or a photo, it was a whole hour-long glimpse of me at 16. I hadn’t seen it for almost a decade.

Show choir has come a long way since then, but in our era, we took first place at a regional competition the year of the video, and third at a national competition the following year (much better than New Directions did in the first and second season of Glee, as I pointed out on Facebook.) It was a major part of my high school existence, with 60 performances a year.

As I rewatched the tape, I became reconnected to 16-year-old me. I remembered what her stresses were, what she was excited about, what she was proud of, and what it was like to not yet have been exposed to some of the more difficult paths where life leads.

I also remembered what she hoped for the future. I’ve done so many of the things that she wanted to do, plus a lot of things she could never have imagined.

But what about the things I wanted to do, but haven’t done yet?

We all have those things, an “unlived life” of sorts. Sometimes we truly need to let them go. Other times, they just got pushed to the side, and could use some new energy.

This week, I encourage you to take some time to think about what 16-year-old you wanted for your life. Celebrate what you have done, and the gifts that you have been given. Mourn what can no longer be. And maybe after all of that, you’ll have a list of things that you know you’ve always wanted to do.

It’s not too late to live that dream.

If you end up with something on your list that really feels like it needs some time and attention, why not consider joining me for my next six week coaching program? It’s the perfect place to refocus your calling and launch a plan to make a shift in your life: launch a side gig, build a bigger megaphone for your message, or do something else that adds meaning to your life. Learn more here.

Oh, and if you want to see 2 minutes of the show choir video, click here. (If you were to subscribe to my YouTube channel while you were there, it would help me out immensely! Thank you!)

Let me know what you are going to do for your 16-year-old self. I’m headed out the door soon for my 3:10 appointment to audition for an upcoming Broadway show, something 16-year-old me could have hardly imagined.

You’ve heard the phrase “work smarter, not harder.” I usually assume that means to be strategic or more efficient. Create systems, delegate, reduce the number of decisions needed in order to complete a task.

What if it means to be more brave?

I recently ran across this post from Seth Godin, where he said, “It turns out that getting less lazy, more brave—more clear about your fears, your work, and your mission—are all easier than getting more talented.”

I’ve coached some really brave people this week. They have realized that truly stepping into their mission means stepping out of their comfort zone.

One person is figuring out how to “deputize” more leaders in his congregation to not just carry out his vision, but to truly lead some aspects of the program and run with it. His ministry will shift from “I do and you help” to “you do and I support and guide.” Now he has to figure out how to empower these people and also get comfortable giving up control over that part of the ministry. Big, brave shift.

Another person sees that her current job may not exist in 12-18 months. Instead of applying for similar jobs in her area, she is envisioning a job that doesn’t yet exist. She has seen a need in her area and realized that no one is meeting that need, so she is exploring who could provide funding for her to meet that need. Now she has to figure out how to become a new small business owner or non-profit. Big, brave shift.

A third person is on the other side of that shift. She made an appointment with a leader in her field, hoping to gain his insight and advice on her next creative idea. He didn’t just give advice, he offered to help, opening even more doors for her. Now she has to step up into a bigger, more high-profile role. Big, brave shift.

The first step is scary. That’s where bravery comes in. The second step is messy. That’s why you need to be clear on your mission, or you’ll just give up. But the third step, that’s where the true gifts are. Things go bigger than you ever imagined. You get to celebrate … and then move on to the next scary thing.

What does that mean for you? Where do you need to take the first frightening step?

We always doubt ourselves in moments that require bravery (If we were confident, it wouldn’t be so foreboding!), so I created this free download for you, “7 Helpful Hints to Prepare for Moments the Require Bravery.” Download it now, share it with a friend, and keep it for when you need it.

Want a larger or more structured conversation? Let’s talk (online or on the phone.)

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