In late October I sat on a conference call with the marketing team from my publisher and my literary agent. It was to be a discussion on how we (I) were going to sell the book.
Many things were discussed in that hour + long meeting, but only one thing stood out to me. The person in charge said to me, “Pre-orders are not where we would like them to be.” My first thought and what came out of my mouth was, “Well, of course not. I’ve barely mentioned to my community that it’s available because it’s so far out. Our plans for the big push were mid-November through January.”
My next immediate thought was: “They’re disappointed in me. I’m failing at this. I’m not big enough, popular enough, or good enough. They bet on me as an author and I’m losing.”
I felt the wash of shame.
The marketing team was simply doing their job. Selling books matters to them and their bottom line. I want to make it clear that I was the one making up stories about what they thought of me and who I was.
I got off the phone and cried. I called my friends and told them dramatically that my publisher was disappointed in me (keep in mind– they NEVER used that word, I did) and wondered if it was too late to quit.
Then, I went on my book tour. First stop was New Your City. There was an odd cold snap that came up the entire east coast, and people started cancelling for my book event and a dinner I had put together. I got an email from my publicist that the bookstore in Chicago for the following week was worried about their January events because of the cold. I immediately thought, “I’m not worth the cold”. I was in the Lyft thinking we should just cancel both events in NYC and Chicago. I was actually thinking about cancelling it all. Here’s what was happening: I was looking for any excuse not to show up. Looking for any small inkling of evidence that it was too hard, that people didn’t like me, that I wasn’t good enough, and that I should just quit.
Yesterday I talked about the Upper Limit Problem and this is a classic example. Things were rising for me. The ante had been upped. It was risky and vulnerable and scary and my inner-critic was totally and completely freaking out. I didn’t want to fail, I didn’t want to disappoint people and not measure up. It was all so incredibly uncomfortable.
No matter how successful we get– whether it’s in our jobs or our relationships, or are even in top physical health, I think we’ll always have moments of feeling not enough. I am no exception.
Stick around for Friday’s episode where this all comes together, I’ll tell you what ended up happening at those NYC and Chicago events and what to do when you find yourself wanting to just quit aka SABOTAGE your life when you’re upleveling and things get uncomfortable. There’s even an assignment for you!
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