It’s the small decisions that lead to big results. People were born to live a life of significance. But busyness and fear of failure can overwhelm and get in the way.
Now Misty Lown—founder of More Than Just Great Dancing® and MoreThanDancers.com—shares her secrets for following your passion toward success.
One Small Yes was written for people who want to make an impact, but are not sure where to start. One Small Yes is for you if you have ever wondered:
*What am I here for?
*What is my calling?
*Can I follow my calling without losing my family or my sanity?
*If what I see in my mind is possible, how on earth can I get it all done?
Forget about complicated calendars or excessive goal setting exercises. Following your calling is about moving forward, one small yes decision at a time. No matter the size of your dream or the difference you feel called to make, your journey starts with One Small Yes.
“If you want to build a life and a business that makes a difference, Misty Lown will show you the way. What she has accomplished one ‘yes’ at time is an inspiration to entrepreneurs everywhere.” —Darren Hardy, New York Times–bestselling author of The Compound Effect
“Misty Lown is a leader of consequence. She knows how to build a winning business through authenticity, grit and determination. Is her book a must-read? YES!” —Bill McDermott, bestselling author of Winners Dream
|Publisher:||Morgan James Publishing|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||2 MB|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Finding Your "Yes"
Yes. Three little letters with big impact. The word yes is an initiator, an activator and a commitment to something tangible. A yes can be a promise of the heart or a proclamation to the world. Whether it's an internal or external affirmation, saying yes to something leaves a mark on you, the people you touch and the world you live in.
So the question is: "What kind of mark will you leave?"
Everyone is called to leave a mark on this world, but not all people will do it. The excuses are plentiful: I don't have the knowledge, time, resources, connections, education or influence. My kids are too little, my job is too big, my cash is too low, my debt is too high. I don't even know what I would do. I'm not big enough, smart enough, strong enough, brave enough, organized enough or disciplined enough.
YOU. ARE. ENOUGH.
You have been equipped with everything you need to do what you have been created to do. Not all at once, of course. Not in one day or even one year. But one baby step, one small yes decision at a time, you can make steady progress towards making a mark in the world that is uniquely yours to make.
If you want to make a difference in your life or business, understanding your calling is key. Without it, you cannot make the mark on the world that you, and you alone, were intended to make. So what is the thing that keeps you up at night, that chases you while you sleep and that plays at the edges of your waking thoughts, quietly nudging you for more attention? What would you pursue if you had no constraints on your time and plenty of resources for the journey ahead?
You may refer to this mark you want to make on the world as a/an:
Dream Idea Goal Vision Hope Target Mission Objective Project Duty Ambition
But I refer to it as YOUR CALLING. Dreams, ideas and goals can change over time. Hope can be dashed and projects can be shelved. Vision can cloud and targets can move. Ambition can be lost. Missions can be rewritten and duties can shift. But a CALLING? That is different. A calling cannot be denied. A calling will keep after you until you answer it.
Discovering Your Calling
Your calling has been hard-wired into your DNA. If you don't believe me, all you have to do is look to your childhood to realize that a calling has left a trail of clues from your earliest memories to the present day. What did you play as a young child? How did you spend your free time? What subjects did you enjoy in school? What shows did you watch? What made you angry? What made you smile? What got you into trouble? Just like the fairytale Hansel and Gretel your calling has left a path of clues. You just have to follow the path home.
I remember when my calling became clear to me. But it didn't start out that way. I was a 20-year-old college student, working my way through a Spanish degree by teaching dance lessons at a variety of local studios and a Boys & Girls Club. Although I enjoyed learning Spanish, I had no plans to teach it, and I wasn't sure what else one would do with a Spanish degree. I had managed a 4.0, but had not managed to make any meaningful relationships as a commuter student at my college. I was looking for a way out.
Out of desperation, I did the most logical thing my brain could think of at the time and made a list of all the possible things I thought I could do with my life. The only thing that interested me was the first item on the list: "Become a professional dancer."
I envisioned myself at the barre for daily classes and sweating through hours of company rehearsals. I could almost smell the theater and see the bright lights on the stage. To be honest, I don't know if I was convinced I actually wanted to be a dancer or if I was just convinced I didn't want to be a college student any longer. Either way, I set my eyes on the bright lights of New York City.
Before I go any further, I need to set the stage a bit. For starters, this was the mid-90s. I had no internet and no cell phone. I was still waiting for hours in line at the university computer lab to type papers for school, papers that were produced on a dot-matrix printer. I had no technology to my benefit and no resume to my credit, but I did have a worn-out copy of Dance magazine listing audition dates for a training program at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center in NYC. Somehow, without a cell phone or internet, I found a flight and just enough courage to walk into one of the most famous dance schools in America and audition for their nine-month training program.
After an intense audition–one where they lost my paperwork and I was the last one waiting in the lobby for results–I got the answer I had hoped for: acceptance!
I envisioned my admission to the nine-month program as the first step towards my only goal of becoming a professional dancer. So when I heard weeks later that the Ailey Company was performing two hours away from my hometown, I made the drive to catch a sneak peek of what I was sure would be my future.
I was sitting solo in the theater watching the athleticism and artistry come to life in Ailey's most iconic piece, "Revelations", when suddenly my life's true purpose came into focus as I heard a gentle whisper in my heart, a quiet question asking me, "This is great, but how much of this performance will you remember a year from now, compared with how your students will remember the classes you gave and what you will remember of what you gave them?"
I slid down in my seat as tears filled my eyes. The truth was clear. I wouldn't remember the details of that performance in the years to come, but the students I had been teaching every day would remember my daily encouragement for a lifetime. I realized I had been chasing a dream to dance and ignoring my calling to teach.
As the final curtain fell, I rose from my seat. I knew what I needed to do. I don't remember much of that drive home, but I do remember using the phone in our kitchen to dial the Ailey school the next day to tell them I wouldn't be coming.
My calling was clear. The classroom would be my stage.
I have followed that calling for almost 20 years, one small yes at a time, and it has become more than I ever could have hoped for or imagined. Over the course of almost two decades, I've seen lasting benefits from encouraging my students in the classroom and beyond, mentoring them to use their gifts and talents to serve the community. My family has enjoyed the flexibility that comes with being self-employed, and they have learned from the sacrifices an entrepreneur must make. My employees have gained meaningful work along with full benefits–a situation that has given them the ability to focus on their calling for teaching. My business has raised more than $400,000 for the local Red Cross and provided more than $250,000 in scholarships to students and teachers and donations to various local causes. I have contributed funds to a new community theater and have partnered with the Boys & Girls Club where I first started teaching. My dance studio affiliation program has helped hundreds of studio owners save their businesses and become deeply involved in their own communities. Last month, more than 1 million students interacted with our online magazine that promotes positive messages to young dancers.
I have to admit that if I hadn't said that one small yes to my calling in the back of the theater all those years ago, tens of thousands of kids would not have been told "You have great worth and value as a human being" in our classrooms. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships and community grants would not have been funded through my business, and hundreds of dance studio owners would still be struggling to run successful businesses. And millions of dancers around the globe would be missing out on helpful and encouraging messages online, the place where most spend the majority of their free time. If I hadn't said that one small yes to pursue my calling to teach dance all those years ago, which then led to opening my own dance studio, my family, my employees, my community and the industry I work in would look a lot different.
Having a strong sense of calling is critical in creating a life of significance. If you know what you love to do or what you feel you were created to do, you will have the ability to make a bigger impact on the world because you will be working from a position of confidence rather than hopes and dreams. You will be building your life from a place of strong identity in who you are, instead of wearing other people's expectations or interests like a pair of bad-fitting jeans. You have a calling that fits you, and only you, and it is the key to making a difference that only you can make.
When I was chasing the dream of becoming a
professional dancer instead of my calling to become a teacher, I was experiencing an identity crisis. Perhaps you have faced a similar situation and you have put your stock into something you DO instead of someone you ARE. Your calling, that thing that only you can do in this world, is connected to who you ARE, not necessarily what you DO.
This might seem like an obvious difference, but think for a moment how foreign this distinction is in our daily language. Imagine this scene with me: You are at a reception and you are meeting someone for the first time. After the usual exchange of names and pleasantries, the very next question is going to be, "So what do you do?"
The mind has an innate desire to sort information. We are wired to put things, and people for that matter, into categories: safe/unsafe; interesting/boring; friend/foe. It's a modern version of self-preservation. We may no longer be running from bears or other predators in the wild, but there is still a food chain and our natural instinct is to find out where we fall on the hierarchy as fast as possible.
All of this information sorting, however, has led us to an identity crisis of sorts. We not only categorize other people by what they do, we identify ourselves by our activities as well. Let's unpack this a little deeper for a minute.
Here's a list of what I DO on a regular basis:
1. I run a dance studio for 750 kids.
2. I coach 164 dance studio owners around the globe.
3. I write articles for magazines.
4. I give keynote speeches.
5. I attend board meetings.
6. I chauffeur my kids around.
7. I eat dinner with my family.
8. I go to church on Sundays.
That's what I DO most of the time, but here's who I AM all of the time:
1. I am a teacher.
2. I am a business coach.
3. I am a writer.
4. I am a communicator.
5. I am a volunteer.
6. I am a parent.
7. I am a wife.
8. I am a child of God.
If my dance school goes away, I would teach something else because I am still a teacher by nature. If I decided to stop coaching studio owners, I would coach other business owners. I'm no longer writing only for magazines, and if I never give another keynote I would still be wired as a communicator. I don't need a stage to make a speech; just ask my kids. I can't really wrap my head around it at this point in my life, but someday my kids will go off to college. I'll still always be a parent and a wife. But, most importantly to me, even if I never had the chance to go to church again, I would always be one of God's kids.
Take a minute and read the following sentence out loud: Who you ARE is as important to your CALLING as your calling is to creating a life that makes a DIFFERENCE in the world. Now, let it really soak in. Do you see the math inside of that sentence? Here is the formula for you visual learners like me:
Who you are = your calling
Your calling = the difference you were made to make in this world
Sometimes it's easier to see this equation in the lives of other people than it is to see in our own lives. Take Walt Disney for example. Walt Disney was created to, well, create! He said yes to his calling and raised enough money on his own to build the "Happiest Place on Earth," despite a lack of support from his board of directors and even his own brother. WHAT he did was build Disney World; WHO he was, however, was a creative genius. Had he not said yes to his calling, 650 million people would not have experienced the wonder of imagination and discovery within its gates, and central Florida would likely still be swampland. Even if you have never visited one of Disney's theme parks, his characters were probably some of the most recognizable figures of your childhood.
Let's take a look at another recognizable world figure, Mother Teresa, a woman wired with a servant heart. She said yes to her calling to help the poorest of the poor, unwanted and unloved throughout society. WHAT she did was found a new religious community; WHO she was at heart was a messenger of charity. Had she not said yes to her calling, countless people would have suffered lonely, undignified lives and deaths. In 2011, I visited her Home for the Destitute and Dying in Haiti. I encountered profound peace there, despite being in the midst of some of the most heartbreaking situations I had ever witnessed. Had Mother Teresa not said yes in India over a half-century earlier, these men and women in Haiti would have been spending their last days in the garbage-covered streets outside.
Another significant leader, Abraham Lincoln, was a man innately tuned into issues of equality and justice. He said yes to acting on a deep conviction against what he called the "monstrous injustice of slavery." WHAT he did was abolish slavery using his position as president of the United States; WHO he was at his core was a brilliant mediator. If he had not said yes to his calling and written the Emancipation Proclamation–even without the support of his most trusted advisors–who knows how long it would have taken to get the 13th Amendment, ending slavery in the U.S.
And then there was Alex Scott, a young girl diagnosed with a neuroblastoma–a type of childhood cancer–who decided at age four to start a lemonade stand to help other kids fight cancer. WHAT she did was raise more than $1 million dollars to help find a cure for the disease that ultimately took her life at the age of eight. WHO she was, however, was an advocate for others. Had she not said yes to her calling, the additional $121 million dollars raised to date by Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer would not be funding pediatric cancer research today.
Don't let the famous stories fool you. It's not the size of the outcome that determines the value of your calling. Not all callings play out in the same way. My friend Carmen left her job as a hairdresser to home-school her children, an arrangement that gives her more time to volunteer in the housing projects not far from her home. Carmen is called to be a caretaker. Her best friend, Angela, gave up her time at home to take on a full-time job in order to help provide for her family. Angela is also called to be a caretaker, but the way she answers her calling–or "what she says yes to"–looks different than Carmen's does. And that is just how it should be. Had each of them not said yes to their callings in the way that they did, their children would not be the confident, capable young people they are today. Your calling, and how you say yes to it, is yours and yours alone.
Your Calling Leaves Clues
Earlier I told you that a calling has been hard-wired into your DNA. Reflecting on your life thus far, you can find clues to your calling. What you played with, watched, did and made in your free time as a child are clues. How you have spent your time and money are more clues. So are the things that made you happy and got you fired up. Or, more interestingly, what was that thing you got into trouble because you just couldn't help but do it? That can be a clue to your calling as well.
I want to introduce you to my best friend, Alana, who also happens to be my younger sister by ten years. As a child, every parent-teacher conference was a dreaded event for Alana. It didn't matter the teacher, subject or grade level, the conversation always went something like this:
"She talks too much in class."
"She's too social."
"She doesn't follow the rules."
"She can't sit still."
For most of her life, Alana was told she was a little too chatty, a little too loud and had a little too much difficulty doing things the school's way. All of it was a nice way of saying she didn't follow the rules. Alana marched to the beat of her own drum and school wasn't on her playlist, so she opted out of college and went straight into sales.
Twenty years ago, those teacher observations were presented as problems. Today, we understand them as clues to her calling. Alana now enjoys a thriving career in national sales and is the author of a successful blog called, Tiny Traveler–a chronicle of her adventures travelling 50,000 miles a year for a sales career with a baby in tow.
Guess what, folks? WHAT Alana does is TALK for a living, and it reflects WHO she is: a social, independent thinker. Had she not leaned into her natural gifts and pursued a career in sales, she would probably still be bumping up against people who would be telling her to pipe down, and she wouldn't be living the rich, fulfilling life she is today. Alana's story is an example of what can happen when you find your calling and say yes to who you really are.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "One Small Yes"
Copyright © 2017 Misty Lown.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Finding Your "Yes",
Chapter 2 The Challenge of Yes,
Chapter 3 The Everyday Yes,
Chapter 4 The One Small Yes Toolbox,
Chapter 5 The Unconventional Yes,
Chapter 6 The Smallest Yes,
Chapter 7 The Art of Yes is No,
Chapter 8 My Wish for You,
About the Author,