I used to believe that success in small business was all about the Bippity Boppity Boo. You know, the whimsical little chant that Cinderella's Fairy Godmother invokes as she magically changes Cinderella's rags into a beautiful frock, her rodent friends into mighty horses, faithful dog into a horseman, and a pumpkin into a carriage.
I believed that if I worked really hard and studied really hard and figured out the “right” things to do, there would come a day when–Bippity Boppity Boo!–my business would be flourishing, the money would be flowing, and I'd be breezing my way through a nonstop cycle of blazing productivity followed by serene and stressless rest or recreation.
Bippity Boppity Bullshit
There is no one magic moment.
What I'm learning is that things transform at different rates, and that midnight comes not just once, but many times over, transforming things back to their pre-magic states at seemingly arbitrary times.
It's as if just when Cinderella's pumpkin turned into the carriage of her dreams, her mighty stallions poofed back into mice. Or just as she's frolicking around in her new magic frock, her magic hairdo bopped back into a chambermaid's locks.
In my business, just as I start to see a major uptick in client work and inquiries, my creative well feels like it dries up, and the writing work grinds for a while. And then just when I get a bippity bop on the creativity juice, the client work drops off. And then just as the client work boppity boos back into a peak, something happens to make finances exceptionally tight.
It's never a complete magic transformation. There is no waving of a magic wand that brings everything to a pristine and perfect state all at the same time. It's tradeoffs. It's exchanging focus in one area for focus in another, exploding success in one aspect while struggling in some other facet. It's getting that pumpkin-to-carriage transformation shored up just in time to observe the frock-to-rags devolution, and realizing your horseman is about to become a dog just as you're preparing to launch toward the ball.
Fortunately, it's not about magic; it's about moxie.
I'm realizing that there will never be a point in time where all of the bippities will be boppitied at the same time… there will always be something that's not quite fully transformed, and there will always be something that's in the twilight of its transformation and about to need some new attention and tweaking.
I'm also realizing that there will never be a point in time when I will need a post-Fairy-Godmother perfect scenario to get to the damn ball. Sure, it'd be nice… but not necessary.
Suppose Cinderella had gotten halfway there, and her carriage re-pumpkined on her. How much of a badass would she have been if she'd picked that gourd up, kicked off the highly impractical glass slippers, and hauled ass to the castle? Shown up, charmed the hell out of the prince, written her number on the pumpkin & left that for the him rather than a smelly old shoe. That's moxie, baby. That's adaptability when stuff doesn't go as Fairy Godmother thought they would.
And that's life.
You can go a lot farther on hustle and guts and a naked willingness to show up even when you're barefooted and holding a pumpkin than you can on the breathless hope that if you just work (or wish) hard enough, you'll reach a bippity boppity boo point at which everything will be just right.
Fairy Godmother's little secret
What I believe every Fairy Godmother knows, but we Cinderellas take a while to learn, is that midnight is far more devastating when it arrives for everything all at the same time than it is when it arrives in small chunks. Relatedly, perfection–or the peak that feels really close to it–is shockingly short-lived.
If everything in your business hits that SoCloseToPerfect point all at the same time (and it won't stay there for long), it all tends to hit midnight at exactly the same time too–leaving you defrocked and barefoot with a bunch of mice and an old pumpkin, not to mention a helluva long road back to anything resembling the success you so briefly realized.
But if things are peaking and “midnight-ing” all the time, at different intervals, you can handle that. You might wind up barefoot in the carriage, or you might wind up with only one horse and a very confused saddled mouse, but the rest of your entourage and ensemble is still working. Still moving forward. Still getting you where you want to go while you work on finding a solution to the barefoot or perplexedly saddled rodent.
You deflate the threat of midnight when you learn to juggle the changes.
Not that the juggling is easy, mind you… but if you can learn to handle the constant ebbs and flows in the different areas of business, you start relying a lot less on the perfection of any one facet–and you free yourself from the fear of losing it all the minute any one of them drops.
This is all much easier to remember at the times you least need it.
I consistently find myself believing this and trusting it far more intensely when I'm feeling more “Cinderella at the ball” than the times when I'm feeling “Cinderella at 12:01am.” I think that's human nature. It's easier to believe that stuff is cyclical and that moxie counts and that grit ‘n guts beats a magic wand any day… when you don't need it.
But it's when the moxie's called for and the grit ‘n guts are your only means to making it (barefooted and pumpkin in hand!) to that damn ball, that we're most likely to give up and wish for a bippity boppity boo.
That's part of why it's good to have a community of other Cinderellas you can Tweet to when the going gets tough–someone to remind you that what you lack in glass slipper you make up for in frock, and that even if your horseman is a mouse, your hair never looked better.
To my fellow Cinderellas, here's to bucking the magic and shaking our moxie-makers.
(Just remember to (gently) remind me I said that the next time you see me running barefoot to the castle with a pumpkin under my arm, okay?)
Fairy tales not required: What lesson are you learning?
What lesson are you currently learning or have you recently realized? (Metaphors to children's tales completely optional.) What recurring theme do you find you need to be reminded of from time to time? And what bit of “magic” have you recently called bullshit on–and been better for it?
Oh, I love this, I love this.
First, thank you so much for the generous info on guest-blogging. That was some juicy stuff and I think you emphatically.
I have no memory of when I abandoned Cinderella, although I know I must have. Was it when I was living on my credit card in order to finish my master’s degree? Or was it when I lost the promotion to the woman who had already quit the company in a huff? I don’t know when it was that the decades-long wait for a fairy godmother finally communicated its truth to me, but somewhere along the line I realized that no tiara was going to “poof!” itself onto my head and that mice mostly stayed mice.
But at the same time evolved an awareness of what I could do if I just kept myself oriented to the parts of my reality that were sound so I could deal with those parts that – temporarily – were not. Perhaps you’re right that our error is not in the belief of the fairy godmother, but our presumptuousness in assuming that she can magically keep all the balls in the air when, good lord, we never could ourselves.
In the mysterious labarynth that is starting my own business, while trying to maintain household with three children, two demonic cats and one (loving but high-maintenance) husband, it is easier than I ever imagined to fall into the well of overwhelmed. But if I can remember – even for a moment – of all the things that are either going right, or plugging along without the need for my constant oversight, I can muster the necessary emotional energy to deal with the crises. I can even, on occasion, crack the whip to line them up into a manageable line to cope with them one at a time.
If we give gramma-fairy-dust a little breathing room, or, dare I say, mete out the sparkly stuff on our own in a reasoned and responsible way, it does seem that we are capable of recognizing that all the midnight bells do not typically toll at once which should render us capable of appreciating the fine quality of those sultry skirts.
And yes, I will try to help you remember all this when you are running around sans footwear with a pumpkin tucked under your arm, if you will do same for me when I fail to notice that the mice are failing miserably at pulling along the glittery, rotund coach.
.-= Lori´s last blog ..Superheroes Welcome =-.
You definitely hit it on the head when you referred to starting your own business as a mysterious labyrinth. It most definitely is. Remembering to keep the fears about what’s not perfect in check by acknowledging all the stuff that’s pretty damn close is so vital… but so easy to forget.
So you’ve got yourself a deal, Lori. We will definitely help support one another in between the bippities and the boppities! 🙂
Brilliant, simply brilliant.
I will leave it at that.
Thank you so much, David.
Great post! And I LOVE that you ask us to remind you of it when we see you running with a pumpkin — I love when we share what we know in the spirit of humbleness (not acting like we are THE fricking fairy godmother of all knowledge)!!!
What a phenomenogorgeous 6 y/o pic!!!
.-= Square-Peg Karen´s last blog ..Friday Feel-Good Fuel =-.
Well, I’m not about to start pretending like I don’t have my run-around-with-the-pumpkin moments. (Or days. Or weeks…) They happen far too frequently for me to have any hope of pulling off that charade.
Besides, the company in the pumpkin-running group is much more interesting and fun than the company in the Fairy Godmother Of All Knowledge group, doncha think? 🙂
Love the description of barefoot Cinderella and her pumpkin…sooo much more interesting than the original story.
As I was reading this a couple thoughts crossed my mind:
1. I’m thinking that having the whole bippity boppity boo thing all lined up perfectly would be kinda boring. I never bought into the whole “happily ever after” scene. Where’s the challenge and excitement in that?
2. Which leads me to wonder whether I might be creating my own drama just to keep things interesting.
Thanks for writing…I’ve been loving your blog. 🙂
You’re right–that would be kind of boring! It’d be this huge celebration of “Yay–everything’s perfect!” followed by standing around and scratching our head and going… “Okay… but now what do I do?”
Of course, when things are swinging more to the not-so-perfect end of the spectrum, that moment of perfection seems awfully appealing. But I think you’re right–it wouldn’t hold much in the way of interest or fascination. Both of which matter to me!
Once again, you’ve put into words what I was thinking but not able to articulate.
I’m SO keeping this post in my Remind Me It’s Not Always This Shitty file. (Which I just made up, because I think I need one.)
::dashing off to start a RMINATS file of my own::
“Shown up, charmed the hell out of the prince, written her number on the pumpkin & left that for the him rather than a smelly old shoe.”
Cracking UP at this! There is nothing I love more than a woman on a mission.
.-= Megan Lubaszka´s last blog ..Hamburgers and Helpful Disclosures | The Secret of the Resistant Readers Part 4 =-.
Heck yeah. Let’s give it up for the women out there who are blazin’ trails on their missions! (Ourselves included. We gotta remember to give it up for ourselves once in a while too, right?)
Thank you so much for this. For most of the 6 years I have been running my accessories business, I totally have been expecting there to be a magic prince / wave of the wand / riding off into the sunset turning point where it all would just be smooth and easy… HA HA HA. I am waking up from that non reality finally and realizing life + business is much more fun, interesting and unexpected than some fairy tale happily ever after… Your post really resonated with my own experience and the importance of making your situation, whatever it is , work for you!!
Plus the phrase Bippity Bobbity Bullshit is pure genius and is sure to come in handy around here… Thank you for doing what you do.
Hi Jamila! I’m so glad this resonated with you. You’re right–making your situation work for you is key, and it beats a magic wand every time. (Though a good chant of “bippity boppity bullshit,” I’ve found, never hurts.) 🙂 Glad you stopped by & glad you commented!
I am loving the idea of CHANTING “bibbity boppity bullshit”. (almost as much as this post which rocks)
.-= JoVE´s last blog ..More on writing =-.
I quite tickled with the thought of said chant becoming a “thing.” I suspect that the more folks chant it, the greater its powers of B.S.-diminishment will be…