I remember the warm spring evening three years ago very well. I was on my way to a friend's apartment in Hyde Park. I was very nervous. Me and my new friend Jennifer had agreed just weeks earlier that we'd set up a new kind of women's network but in truth, we had no idea what we were doing. As I was walking to our venue I was rehearsing my words in my head, trying to sound convincing at least to myself.
We had invited a group of women, basically anyone who would agree to come. We believed every woman in this town would be interested how to become happier and more successful, but were surprised how difficult it was to get people to take action. Our only mission for the evening was to discover if these driven women would be willing to open up, share their journeys and help each other.
My definition of success was still very traditional at the time. High heels, glamorous apartment, building a successful business. I wanted people to see me this way. I thought it was necessary for people to look up to me. What I didn't know was that my 'success' would come in very different disguise, personal growth.
It is incredible how this journey has changed me, it has given me things I'd never known even to ask for. Luckily the universe does that to people who have an open mindset and who are ready to grow!
Here, these are my lessons from three years of LifeWorking and building DrivenWoman women's network in London.
Things never go as you plan, and that's a good thing.
Our first event was a success. It was a success in terms of creating excitement and gaining some supporters and members. DrivenWoman journey had begun.
When you are starting out something new it may be very difficult to appreciate those small initial steps. Looking back, I was already working on our growth scenarios, which naturally had no grounding in reality! Building our initial member base took incredibly long, but the key was that we were not willing to give up.
It's those early difficulties and disappointments that teach you the most. Read my earlier blog post about 'Lessons Learned In An Empty Room', it was incredibly powerful to me.
Learning to be present is the greatest gift.
Soon after that 'empty room' experience I realised things were gonna go slow. We had one fantastic group of women and we kept getting together once a month. I realised that the universe was teaching me a lesson. I could either go deeply in, be present, give these small group of women all I got and show my vulnerability. Or I could return to my comfort zone of 'achieving' and discard this project as a failure and move on.
Luckily I didn't really have this second option. I remember thinking "I'm secure in my purpose", which meant that I had a profound idea that building DrivenWoman was something I had to do, no matter what. I felt this was my calling. I would not give up so easily.
So I decided to look what my lesson was going to be. Perhaps the role of DrivenWoman in its infancy was not to become a 'business' but a personal growth path for me. I accepted this and decided to be fully present in all our meetings and only focus on what I could learn.
Even if it was just one person in the room my motto became to always make most of every situation. Have no expectations and fully value and enjoy every moment of this journey. The quality of the experience would not be determined by the number of people in the room or the type of people in the room. Everyone was equally valuable. This became the greatest lesson DrivenWoman has thought me. And possibly the biggest reason behind its future success.
Expectations are the biggest killers of your dreams.
But it's not enough to be present.
There can still be a great tendency to project the future and expect things to go in a certain way. This only distracts you, creates disappointments and a feeling of failure. How could you anticipate the future anyway?
I remember reading Chris Guillebeau's book '$100 Dollar Start-Up' thinking, the dude when on a road show for a year to interview entrepreneurs without any guarantee that his first book would be a success, how crazy is that!
But there are no guarantees. And you simply have to accept that. And then do the work. A lot of work. But when you are working on your calling, it's the only work you want to do anyway.
Giving up shame totally frees you.
Living to other people's expectations and worrying about how people are going to react to your choices is a terrible way to live. And yet, most of us are trapped in that minefield for all our lives. Before starting DrivenWoman I was one of them. But when you build something based on your own persona, your talents and your beliefs - you put everything you got on the table - the only way is to step out and stop caring about other people's reactions. You have to give up shame.
Once you've done that you realise you can do anything. There are no limits. The limits were in your own head! And you can now get fully and deeply attached to your work. I love this. This is another brilliant gift I've got from DrivenWoman.
Today is our third birthday.
I'm so proud of what we've built in the first three years of our journey together as DrivenWoman. And I'm so grateful for all the incredible women who have joined this journey with me.
And this is only a beginning.
This is becoming a community of women who want to uncover their true power, they are ready to make the effort and take the time, to constantly improve their situation and to move slowly towards a more abundant future. We are women who have realised that our lives are in our own hands. We can wait for the world to change, but better still, we can change the world around us and make things happen.
This community is about defining our own success. We don't want to accept the old fashioned pillars of success as for us it means so much more than money or power. For us success means being able to do something we love, being able to make a difference, being able to help others and to be able to live a balanced life sharing it with our families and loved ones.
It's about becoming the woman who we already are.
It's about enjoying the journey!
I invite you to join this incredible journey.