Photo by Adil Ansari on Unsplash

The Courage of the Collective

This past week I flew to Phoenix and did a deep dive into an event I helped produce. While this kind of work is not my normal jam, in this instance it flowed seamlessly into my coaching practice. On any given day you’ll find me in front of my computer on a video call sitting across from women who are breathless with readiness. They’re ready to lay down the BS and make a big leap into something different. Something that lights their faces up with all kinds of Hell Yes! Something that feels good in their bones.

The thing is, you can’t unknow it. The feeling. It’s like a switch. When you wake up one morning, roll over, and think, “Wait. How did I get here, in this place? It doesn’t feel like me.” And then right on its heels is, “How can I get out if this place?” I remind my clients it happens one decision, one step at a time. And it takes will and courage to take control of your decisions and life. That’s what happened to me and I had to get REAL honest with myself to tear down the parts that didn’t fit and replace it with intentional components. Step by step.

It’s like this event, the one I was working last week in Phoenix. Called The Portrait Masters, it’s advertised as an opportunity to experience three-plus days of photographic instruction from world renowned photographers. The speakers were phenomenal for sure, but attendees took away so much more than photographic instruction from their week in the desert.

On paper in the line-up of staff my position reads Event Producer. True, but not the total picture. In reality, my role is all things attendee. Which means all day long I have the pleasure of walking around and talking to people. An audience of 500, it was 95% women. And while “Event Producing,” is not my normal jam, talking to women about what lights them up is 100% in my wheel house.

Sure, quite often I was asking nuts and bolts questions such as —

How are you feeling?
Was lunch tasty?
Are you ready to tackle the afternoon?
Do you know where to be next?
How was the morning speaker?

But here’s what I learned —

Through these run-of-the-mill questions came much deeper answers. While some were hesitant and feeling a bit insecure about their photography skills at the beginning of the week, they were determined to learn as much as possible and level-up. They were there to be inspired. To invest in themselves. To learn from the speakers and hone their craft. They banded together in groups and supported one another.

Walking around while they were shooting I overheard —

Yes! That was an excellent shot!
Ohhhh good idea, I like it.
….I’m so glad I met you…
I was nervous at first when I stepped up to shoot, so thank you for your guidance.

And I observed —

Countless fist pumps
Numerous high fives
Tears of happiness and joy streaming down faces
Untold numbers of heartfelt embraces amongst women (and a few men) who were just days before strangers

I watched —

Shoulders pull back with self-accomplishment
Chins raise with pride
Smiles erupt spontaneously
And more than one eye tear up with emotion

I loved it. All of it. Of course I walked 10 gajillion steps. (Yes, that’s a number). And my feet were aching and I would forget to eat sometimes and often I had someone in the headset talking while 4 questions stacked up in front of me. All of those things are true.

But what’s with me now, days after wrapping the tech room and embracing the last person good-bye is the witnessing of a transformation on a individual and group level. The spark of the collective and the rustle of their energy they carried back with them into their life and business.

That of which I will carry with me in each conversation I have with my clients over the next several weeks. This time of year especially feels especially ripe with opportunity for a leap and growth. Leaves are dropping, there’s a chill in the morning, and the air is thick with creativity — the greatest drug of all.

The kind of creativity that’s sticking with me days later after spending many, many, hours in the company of women all showing up with their best. To do their best.

I’m grateful to the group for showing up and their openness amongst one another. Through them I learned many things about myself and the courage of the collective.

What began as an unlikely job title on paper turned out to be exactly MY.JAM.