How to Reinvent Yourself - Christine Kane

This episode is kind of like part two of The Breakdown before the Breakthrough from last week. Because after the transformation takes hold our ego tells us we’ve reinvented ourselves. But…. the general concept of reinvention is kind of a lie …  in that our perception of reinvention comes from stories that are told with hindsight after the transformation has taken hold.

Once you’ve gotten through all the doubts, fears, and meltdowns that come with the transformation, it’s easy to look back and see all the clues, all the monumental tiny moments that led to your new, successfully reinvented self. But when you’re in it, it looks a lot more like sh*t hitting the fan.

So I’m sharing my story of how I walked away from my career – and identity – as a musician and started an online coaching company that ultimately became a multimillion-dollar business. I’ll talk about the truth of what it’s like to be in the breakdown before the breakthrough, and I’ll share a key decision I made when I left music behind.

Find out the 2 huge resistances we deal with in the early stages of a breakdown, plus I’ll give you 3 insights for when you find yourself in the beginning phase of knowing something’s going to change. 

Listen in to find out how to trust and move forward, even (especially!) when you’re not sure where you’re headed. I’ll teach you how to hold on to uncertainty so you can allow your growth to evolve, and how to let go of the urge to control the outcome.

Episode Transcript

So as you go through your own uncertainty, pay attention to what brings you joy.

Welcome to the Soul-SourcedTM Podcast, unconventional business advice for the highly creative secretly sensitive and wildly ambitious entrepreneur. I’m your host. Christine Kane. Let’s do this.

Welcome everyone. This is episode number 15 of the Soul-SourcedTM Business Podcast. And our last podcast episode was called “The Breakdown Before the Breakthrough”. And I didn’t want to call this “The Breakdown Before the Breakthrough Part 2”, cause I already did a part one and part two of one of my previous episodes. And I’m already tired of doing that. And I’m only on my 15th episode here, which doesn’t bode well, if I’m already tired of my own tactics. So even though this is a bit of a continuation of our last episode, I’m given this one, its own kicky title, and this is called “How to Reinvent Yourself”.

So everyone loves a good tale of reinvention and that’s because we can totally get behind that fantasy moment where you announced to the world I’m done with this, I’m off to new lands. I’m going to reinvent myself and then suddenly shifting gears and slaying monsters and living out some Epic Joseph Campbell-esque hero’s journey storyline. But folks, I’m going to go ahead and say it. That’s not how it works. In fact, the whole idea of reinventing yourself is kind of a lie. Now this doesn’t mean that the title of this episode is a total lie. It’s not like those email marketers in the nineties who wrote subject lines like Sex! And then the body of the email said, now that have gotten your attention. So the title of this episode, isn’t that kind of a lie, but here’s the thing, reinvention stories are told from hindsight and hindsight is a game the ego loves to play. It likes to step in and take credit and kind of rearrange the whole story, so that it looks as if it had control from the start.

Reinventing yourself sounds so much cooler than total meltdown or breakdown, which is what we talked about in our last episode together. And breakdowns, especially in your business are messy and ugly and you never really know if it’s reinvention that’s happening, or if it’s all just a precursor to guys in white lab coats coming carry you away and put you in a room for the rest of your life. Breakdowns never feel like those oft touted tales of reinventing yourself. A good old fashioned breakdown will make you feel like everything’s going to hell and you’ve lost your freaking mind. But then after all the messiness starts to open up into some kind of new order or create some kind of outcome when the breakthrough happens, guess what else happens the mind or the ego or the little me likes to enter the scene and then take all the credit.

And that ego then tells the story as if it had planned this all along, which it makes it all much more palatable for your readers or your listeners or purchasers of your screenplay. That’s because re-inventing implies that there was a plan and a lot of control and it gives others the illusion that they can do this too. While still maintaining a high degree of said, control. My point is this, you don’t and you can’t know where a break down before a breakthrough is going to go. This will cause much gnashing of teeth, old Testament style, but you have to eventually give in and trust and move forward. That’s how you reinvent yourself and your business, but you ultimately have little control over what exactly is shifting. But in my experience, there are some key insights that can help you navigate the process of the dreaded unknown.

So in this episode, I’m going to use my own life and business as a backdrop so that I can share with you. Some of the things that I did during one of my more Epic breakdowns during the breakthrough. And yes, I could totally call it a reinvention, except that given what I just shared that would make it sound like I was controlling any of it, which for a long while, at least, I was not. I’m going to share the story of how I walked away from my work business life as a fairly successful touring musician and songwriter and indie record label and started a coaching company online that ultimately became a multimillion dollar coaching company that has now served thousands of clients from around the world. Like it, it stuns me. I people have come to Asheville to our retreats from Iceland. I mean multiple times from Iceland and Germany and multiple times from Australia and South Africa. So it’s been this international growth that I could not have planned. So please note that as I’m sharing this, I’m sharing it from my perspective.

Now I have the gift of hindsight. And when you’re in this kind of change, when I was in this change, you don’t get hindsight. Your entire mandate consists of one word and that word is trust. So if you’re going to take this idea of being Soul-SourcedTM, like for reals, it ultimately means that you pay clear attention and you’re willing to know yourself, including your mucky parts, and you trust. So your business is always talking to you and you listen, which ultimately means you move to a different rhythm than many of your peers or other business owners, or as my case was other artists and musicians and you sometimes look like a freak to those people. And I’ll share a story of that as we close this episode today.

So just for timeline purposes, I’m going to begin this breakdown story by telling you that I started Uplevel in 2010 and in some people’s eyes, this looked like a total random out of the blue pivot, but it wasn’t. The inner nudges and changes and signs of a breakdown started in about 2005. I felt inwardly, I’m just going to say tired from my music career. And it wasn’t just the fact that being on the road constantly makes you start to look like Keith Richards when you’re only 35 years old, it was deeper than that. Sometime during that year after said nudges and signs, I knew I just deeply knew I wasn’t going to keep doing music, but the unfolding process of the breakdown or reinvention was five years in the making. And the reason for that was because I made a key decision that I’m going to share with you in a moment.

But first I want to share two things about the early stages of a business transformation like this. What can’t be emphasized enough is how comfortable we get, how wedged in we get in our identity, as this thing we’ve become. I was a songwriter everywhere I went in my city, people knew me as a songwriter and an artist. I got stopped on the street. I got stopped in airports. I performed all over the country. Sometimes out of the country. I headlined at festivals at performing arts centers. I had an office for my record label. It was my thing. And no I wasn’t Beyonce’. I wasn’t at the level where the whole world would see my breakdown publicly, but I was firmly embedded in that identity as artists and musician. So when you experience the first nudges of breakdown before the breakthrough, the resistance can feel huge at first, because your entire identity is involved. It’s like, but I’m good at this. I’m known at this. People expect this from me. And your whole sense of self gets fed because you are this thing and you are definable by other people. You fit in their world the way they’ve decided you fit in their world.

The second huge resistance was this voice in my head that said, you’re lucky to even be able to do this. You’re living the dream. You know, people clap. When you show up to work this barista here, did anyone clap when she showed up for work this morning? No, but you, they applauded for you last night when you got on stage and they’ll applaud tonight. Could you be more ungrateful? And yes, I realized I just, I just said that like Chandler, Bing, and that is the second voice, not Chandler Bing, but the other one, that’s the second voice that will shout at you to prevent you from even considering any big changes or decisions in your business. Again, it’s some version of the ever ubiquitous, who do you think you are voice?

So, if you experience anything like these two voices or resistances, there can be a temptation to kind of just collapse or make a grand gesture or make some kind of announcement to the world. Like just throw it all away and tell everyone you’re throwing it all away. It’s the classic farewell tool or that in music we’ve seen happen, but then it happens again the very next year. And again, after that, because grand gestures are not always effective. And I think they’re not always what’s called for when those first urges and promptings of a breakdown occur.

And this brings me to the first insight that I want to share with you. If you find yourself in the beginning stages of knowing that something’s going to change, and that is this as much as you can resist the temptation to go public or get dramatic and make some kind of grand announcement.

And this is hard advice to follow, partly because we don’t like to muck through the uncertainty and stand with the messiness inside ourselves. We want everyone to know that we know exactly what we’re doing here. And a grand gesture makes it look like we have control. Like we know what we’re doing. I actually toyed around with the idea of just quitting music and letting whatever my next thing was, just reveal itself among the wreckage. But, and this is where knowing yourself is so key. What I knew at that time was that if I did that, it would mean my fear was taking the reigns, that my fear of uncertainty was driving the bus here. And I didn’t like not knowing what my next thing was. And it didn’t like knowing that I didn’t want to play music forever, but I chose not to quit. I chose to not make big announcements.

I decided to just show up and do the work and let the next thing evolve, which as a card drama queen was nothing short of miraculous for me. And that choice taught me so much about equanimity and it’s helped me help other people create their businesses and leave their jobs. When the people in their lives, I thought they were crazy. And also people navigate through the natural and normal changes in their businesses because I can hold that uncertain space for them when the rest of their world doesn’t really like it. So the years that followed this awareness taught me a lot about not knowing and even about letting go of needing to know. And what I chose to do brings us to the second insight that I want to share with you. And that is that you can initiate an intention, even as you’re in the midst of what seems like a breakdown. All I did at this point was that I set a very gentle intention that something, some new direction was out there and that was it. I just planted that seed. I didn’t make a vision board cause I wouldn’t know what to put on it. And I didn’t stop playing music either. I was still writing songs. But what I did do, brings us to the next insight about breakdowns. And that is this.

You want to bring a sense of wonder, of curiosity to your life and just step into opportunities that feel fun or interesting or surprisingly compelling to you. Like watch what you’re attracted to. For me, what happened after I set that intention and I kept on performing and writing songs and doing showcases and showing up and all the usual stuff was that the next year it was, this was early in 2006, Derek Sivers who at the time was still the owner of CD baby. And I was a CD baby artist. Derek sent out an email and I don’t even remember what it said, like the content of the email, but he mentioned the word blog. And just to give you some context for that time blogging, wasn’t a big thing at this point. It, it wasn’t brand new. Like there had been people blogging since probably the nineties, I think, but it was new to a lot of the general public at this point. Like I remember asking my web guy about this and I wanted him to turn my website into a WordPress site, cause I started just diving in and learning about blogs and going in and figuring it all out. And my web guy mocked me. Like he totally laughed at me and said, Oh, bloggers are idiots and blogging is not going anywhere. And this is ridiculous. And some of my friends who were musicians, they mocked me too. They raised their eyebrows like, blogging? That’s what geeks do or stupid people. You’re an artist, you’re a musician.

And I had to really force and push my web guy and I made him turn my site into a WordPress site. And I started blogging, and this was right before blogging totally took off. In fact, my web guy came back around the next year and thanked me because I changed his business because as soon as other people started coming to him, he knew how to do WordPress. So when I started blogging, it resulted in some pretty interesting things. First off I started writing, which I had always loved and it wasn’t just songs. I loved, I just loved writing. And after my blog started up, my music sales on iTunes went up about 400%. And like I said, blogging was new. This is not a push to say, blog is what worked.

I’m talking about something that tweaked my interest in, I did. And what happened was my music sales started growing. That was really cool, but even better was that I had been hosting these women’s retreats for a few years at this point, and people who were fans of my music and on my list, they would come for these three day retreats here, Asheville. And I think at first I called them Great Big Dreams Retreats. And after I started blogging some of the attendees at those retreats or people who only knew my blog and they didn’t know my music at all, which was really weird for me at the time. Cause I was known as a musician and, and so I started offering more and more of these retreats as my blog audience grew. And then sometime in about 2008, I wrote an online program. It was a version of my retreats.

I think it was called the Great Big Dreams Online Seminar or something like that. And this was again before launches and seminars and programs were a big thing. I thought I was kind of inventing the wheel here, but I wasn’t. But I turned that retreat, those three days of that retreat into five weeks of daily lessons that I sent out, I did it manually every day. And that turned into what became the “Uplevel Your Life” program. And of course, that started moving everything forward in my coaching business. And I loved doing it. I loved it. And I had already worked with coaches myself at this point, but without knowing it I’d started coaching people myself, and this was happening by the way, while I was on tour, I was on a tour bus with the dance company that had choreographed a ballet to my music.

And I was, I remember sitting on the back of the bus and I was actually coaching clients at that time before our performances in the evening. And then I also started getting invited to speak about creativity and courage and confidence at various events. And then I was asked to do concerts for people after the events and just to wrap it all up, I made my last CD in 2009 and I didn’t ever actually make the big announcement that I was ending music. I never did a farewell tour. I’ve just started coaching people. And that started growing and I kept following the doors that were opening and the ideas that were coming. And if you listen to that last episode, you already heard me share the next insight, but I’m going to give you an example of what that next insight looked like for me at this time.

And this is, I asked you guys to pay attention to delight, like what lights you up. If you’re in the middle of kind of things shifting really what lights you up, what matters to you? And I’m going to share one instance that looking back now, hindsight, was a key moment that started to show me what was calling me forward now. So there was this one night and I was signing CDs after a performance and a woman got to the front of the line and she wouldn’t let me sign her CDs until she shared her story with me. And she pulled out this Manila folder and she smiled and she started pulling out her documents in the folder. And she said, these are my tax documents from last year and I’m blaming you for something. And she told me that she had her own business. And then she told me she had to pay more in taxes that year than she had ever paid.

And she goes, that’s because I made so much money and you know why I made so much money. And she pointed at her revenue number on her tax form and it was huge. And, and she goes, see, and she said it was because, and she called it my fault. She said, I’m blaming you because I listened to your song “Right Out of Nowhere”, every single morning. And that song made me take chances that I never would have taken. And that’s how I made more money than ever. And I paid more taxes than ever. And then she concluded by saying, it’s all, it’s all your fault. And that blew me away. Like my entire being lit up at the thought that I, in some small way had inspired someone to be bold and to take action. And now that I can look back from it from my perspective now, I believe that it was that night.

Like this was years before I had ever imagined coaching. I believe it was that night that my coaching company started because that delight stuck with me. I began to pay really close attention each time anyone shared similar stories with me about my music, inspiring them. And by the way, I want to point out I was not a motivational musician. I did not do any kind of ra ra kind of, you know, you can do it sort of music. This is something that just started happening, that people started saying that something about me, catalyzed them. That’s what I was paying attention to. So as you go through your own uncertainty, pay attention to what brings you joy. And this is a tough one to teach all of this kind of stuff is really tough to teach here because I’m teaching this linearly because this is how teaching works.

And when you teach, you try to set things up so that the brain can take it all in. But in reality, I can look back and it all looks like a lot of just random things that were loosely pointing the way. And for you, what I sense that it will feel like if you’re in this place, is that stuff starts nudging you, and little doors start opening and you start following it. But at this point it’s really dangerous, I think, to try to grab it and make some kind of sense of it all. Because like I said, the mind or the ego wants to step in and turn it into something and it really just needs to evolve. Like I can look back now and pinpoint that moment of blogging and that email from Derek as like, wow, that something triggered something in me. But if I had stepped in with my little grimy pause and said, this is going to be my next new big thing, it really wasn’t.

It kind of turned into that, but it was more led by just interests and huh, tweaking. And what’s this all about. So it’s a whole different energy. So if you’ve had a business for any number of years, you know that this is the opposite of what most of us do in a business or most of them, what most of us are told to do in a business. What we are told to do do is kind of a demand that we do top down goal setting. We say things like I’m going to do this big, huge thing. And here is my five year plan and here is my 10 year plan. And sometimes that works. And for some people that works, if you’re not going through a huge transition and breakdown, kind of a thing that might work. But for me, it’s actually never really driven me, It’s not how I think about a lot of business coaches. And they all seem to want to know my five year plan, my 10 year plan. And I was always supposed to dutifully shout out some timeline for some explosive success that I was predicting. I was going to kick the ass of each and every one of those five or 10 years. And you guys, if COVID has taught us anything, It’s been that your five year plan, It’s pretty hysterical when it comes right down to it.

So all I want to really say here is that in the retelling of this reinvention story of mine, it can sound very Cinderella like, but I will say that there is no arrival. I’m not sitting back and just, you know, sitting deck chairs, drinking Margarita’s, and having no challenges. There have been a lot of challenges that came with changing my own trajectory, not just in skillset, but also ego blows have been a part of it. Like I will, I shared this with some of my clients and they thought it was hysterical, but just a few years ago, like this was a few years ago. I was in a restaurant here in Asheville and I ran into a former president of a college that’s here in Western, North Carolina, and his wife. And he and his wife knew my music because I performed at a summer-long festival that they had on their campus, And I taught there and I performed there and they both walked up to me at this restaurant and they kind of tilted their heads and they’re like, Oh, we were so sad when you stopped playing music. Yeah. And then this, and I didn’t say anything cause I’m really, really attuned to just not trying to prove myself. I hate that side of myself. Like, I don’t want that now. I hate it.

But it’s just the natural thing. So I just sat and I said, yeah, yeah. And his wife tilted her head and she looks at me and she goes, we hear your life coach now. And it was almost like they wanted to say, could we give you a few bucks to get, you know, maybe a bagel for yourself. It was like, they were consoling me for my pathetic end and that kind of thing in the music world, I’ve had people get irate with me. I’ve had people show up at my, my retreats, and tell me how much they hated me when I started coaching. So the little ego blows you go through those little identity blows that you go through can feel very real. And that goes right along with you trying to learn skill sets like, you know, for me, it was hiring people and firing people and building a business.

So there’s, there’s not like some Cinderella end of this. You keep growing, you keep evolving and I’ve seen this kind of challenge, not just in my own transitions, but in others as well. I’ve coached, like I said, thousands of people at this point, the opinions and the approval of other people, and also the fear of money can keep all of us from ever exploring new directions or letting go or taking the time to be nobody or, or in my case to be, uh, you know, a life coach or having people project their expectations and their stuff onto you. Even the mere fact that I talk about this kind of stuff, this breakdown stuff, this reinvention stuff in relation to business, it makes business folks and coaches and strategists tell me that I’m woo. Or one of them said, Oh, you’re all Zen now. Or you know, some other such shit.

And I have learned that people don’t really actually see you anyway. They just project whatever they think you’re up to these days. And so this all brings me to the question that I would leave you with here. And that is this if money and people’s opinions and people’s approval were not even in this picture, what would you try? And that’s not a question you answer on the spot, it’s a seed to plant. And this of course is talking to you, If you’re going through one of these sorts of breakdowns, which so many of us are right now, a lot of people are because there is so much uncertainty right now, there is so much emotion right now, and it’s totally worth starting to see, what’s trying to be birthed inside of you right now. All of this is something to truly play with because at the end of the day, your work, your business, your life, there should be some sense of peace there.

It should open you up. It should grow you and be joyful at some level. I’m not talking bliss and you know, ever, never-ending passion at the end of the day, ultimately reinvention is always happening, but there should be some feeling sense of peace with it. And I’ll just remind you that control is a ridiculous illusion for all of us. I don’t care how much control you think you have, because the truth of it is even though I’m doing this podcast, even though I have a book coming out, I have not arrived. I have gone through many breakdowns. I had a massive shift of like a pivot of reinvention breakdown to a breakthrough here that I’ve just told you about all kinds of change with that all different financial levels I’ve experienced and I’m still learning and growing and imperfect. But the alternative was to stay on a path that I knew I wasn’t right for anymore and to ignore the callings that were clearly happening and to not trust my own life or my own business or my own wisdom, which is a trade-off that I hope that you never make. And I hope I never make either. So thanks for listening to this episode, and I know this doesn’t apply to everyone and maybe, you know, someone who’s going through this by all means, send them to this episode. Maybe it will lend clarity to their next steps. And I hope that it does.

So we’re getting closer and closer to the release date of my book. It’s called the “Soul-SourcedTM Entrepreneur an Unconventional Success Plan for The Highly Creative, Secretly Sensitive and Wildly Ambitious”. Right now it’s on amazon.com for pre-sale. And if you’re subscribed to this podcast, I will alert you when we dive into next week’s episode. And you guys thank you also for your very kind reviews that you’ve posted. I so, so appreciate your feedback. And I so, so appreciate you. And I will talk with you next time.