In it’s infancy the whole idea felt distant and therefore attainable. As any big idea looks from far away, it appeared small and manageable. Something happens once you give an idea momentum – it gets closer, and looks bigger, until you suddenly realize you might not be able to pick it up by yourself. Such was the case with the Promoting Passion Convention. It was so simple to say that I wanted to create an event, but so difficult to pick that event up and take it where it needed to go by myself. So I got help.
First with Christine Heidel to help me secure a location, and then from Kate Hailey to help me find sponsors. After that, it was just me and Kelly working every day to make it come together.
There were three distinct times when I almost cancelled the convention altogether. The first time was before I announced it publicly. I was having a hard time finding sponsors to support a smaller, first-time event. I was having trouble communicating with the location. And I had nerves about getting anyone to show up. So just before I announced it online, I thought about canceling it and waiting until I had all of the sponsors in place so that I didn’t have to worry about money. The second time I almost canceled the convention was the day I announced it. Logically I knew it would take time for people to sign up, but in my imagination I was hoping for a massive success and that people would be beating down the door to sign up. When registration felt like crickets chirping, I panicked. I came much closer to actually shutting it down that very day that I announced it. The third time I nearly canceled was one month before it was set to begin. I didn’t have enough sign-ups to cover my costs and I was really worried about how much I might have to pay out of pocket.
The excuses I made are riddled with two attributes that I, as a general rule, don’t feed. And yet, in this case, I fed those traits everyday, with the most fattening food I could. Those traits were greed and shame. By canceling the event because I wasn’t making money, or because I’d have to spend my own money to make it happen, was just plain greedy. Perhaps I thought there was some rulebook saying that in order for something to be successful it must also be a monetary success. This has never been true and will never be true. The act of doing the thing is the success, and anything else is extra. The shame came from not wanting to look silly in front of everyone. I kept envisioning showing up and having there only be a few people at the event and feeling embarrassed that I couldn’t pull more people in.
But I realized that none of these things would be true. Success is not measured by money, and shame is something that can only seem a reality if you manifest it outside of yourself. The moment I act ashamed is the moment others can see my shame. The moment I cancel the event is the moment I draw attention to my own fears. So I turned my thoughts around entirely. I remember very distinctly writing down five reasons why no matter who came to the convention, it would be okay:
There will be a better sense of community with a smaller group.
There will be more 1-1 time and individual attention.
There is more room for audience participation.
The speakers can be more personal and interactive.
The attendees will have a better experience to spread the word for next year.
The moment I wrote out those five bullet points, I felt calmed. Sometimes all it takes is seeing the other side of a situation to silence your inner demons. And when I did, I was healed. We didn’t end up filling our seats to capacity, but when all was said and done we were only 10 people shy of that, and I found that to be a success. Because you see, no matter what the situation ends up being, there is always success to be found in the smallest triumphs and the biggest failures. There is goodness in all things if we choose to see it. There is a way to give thanks and a way to let it crumble, and I would rather be thankful, always.
I wanted to share very openly about my struggle in putting the event together, as I did throughout the convention itself, because we are not alone. I realized, as I stood on stage for the first time at my very first convention, that it would be easy for me to look out at a room of 100+ people and act like it was no big deal putting it all together. But that is the lie we tell ourselves. That is the lie we perceive about others. I thought that I must have looked so professional up there, lights blaring down on me, as I looked out at the amazing individuals who came out to support the event. But that is the lie, and this is the truth:
We are all scared.
And being scared should not stop us from realizing our greatest potential. It should not stop us from pursuing our greatest dreams. The moment it does is the moment fear takes over and quiets the voice inside that shouts at us to be more. It is that voice, coming from within, that should be listened to, never the voices from outside telling you all of the reasons why you will fail. They are cocky, overloaded, booming voices that speak from a place of hatred and never love.
In the midst of the convention, people started asking if I would be hosting another one next year, and I found myself automatically saying yes. The environment was so encouraging and loving that there was no space for that negative voice to be nurtured, and so I answered as my most loving self. I said yes. And in that moment I realized that I had missed something on my list of reasons why the convention would be a success, no matter what.
Someone would be deeply touched, no matter how many people showed up.
And that person, along with so many attendees, was me.
jen sulak - i felt all the things above…when with a tiny workshop…that i had to pay myself to attend….my husband simply wont’ let me “lose money” in the business…and it is a huge struggle to want to do something so passionately – yet feel bound by a piece of paper. 🙂 I know that creatively – I will move on and pursue what needs to be done – but in reality…i don’t like putting on events…I need to be a speaker AT one. My goal has come down to inspiring and sharing with others – it was always that. There just has to be the right time and atmosphere. Everything you typed is so real and reality. I appreciate that. All the greatest things seem to have great challenges to overcome to GET there. 🙂 I’m glad you pushed through…because we are ALL greatful for that.
brookeshaden - Your journey is a great one, and I am so glad that I can witness it. You really touch everyone you meet in a big, insightful way.
Katy Lopez - I’m very grateful for the example you are in my life Brooke. I’m very happy that you let your intuition led you along the way so we could be nurtured during the convention. We, as artists, need this kind of conventions where we grow in different aspects such as the spiritual, technical, business.
We are fulfilled with your presence in this planet. You are following your mission!!! I’m thankful of having met you, you made me feel that it’s possible!! It was motivating to see that you are an individual, just as I am, a human being!…But someone I can identify with, someone so loving, funny, sensitive, someone who lives from the heart…so genuine!! Keep on following your crazy ideas, your passion,your intuition! So that, we all are benefited!! 🙂 Much love!
Art H. - “And being scared should not stop us from realizing our greatest potential. It should not stop us from pursuing our greatest dreams. The moment it does is the moment fear takes over and quiets the voice inside that shouts at us to be more.”
No truer words.
Running a convention is a huge undertaking, no matter how “small”. Bringing like-minded people together and taking care of them for an extended period of time is an emotional and logistical challenge (I know firsthand!). As a participant, I felt so enveloped by love, caring and support from not only Brooke, the presenters and the behind-the-scene staff, but from all who were there to experience an amazing, unique event. And that’s what it’s all about. Love trumps fear. Thank you so much and please please please hold another one next year. Many of us are already planning to be there!
Sara McCormick - Fear is the mind killer.
So, so, so true. I can’t count the number of times I tried to talk myself out of going to the convention. And I knew I was doing it, was completely aware of old patterns trying to rear their heads. So I asked the universe for signs. I sat in my bedroom and talked to the air around me and said, ‘show me that I’m supposed to go, give me something to anchor myself to’ and not six hours later I was reading ‘Furiously Happy’ and saw your work and knew. And you gave me the space, encouragement and love to find my greatness and feel comfortable sharing it. So I’m glad you pushed through, because that allowed me to push through. And I know others feel the same. We are all just so very grateful. And looking forward to next year. 🙂
Federica Nardese - Brooke, it may seem weird to say but I was another one person attending even if from home in Italy.
I thought about you guys all the week end, really feeling the joy for you and feeling sad for myself because I wasn’t able to afford the travel costs this year.
I truly believe that this convention changed me already because I can feel the power it help spread around. Our BSPoP group in FB is a blast and passionate people are starting posting their amazing stories on their experience there, giving us – missing but wholehearted attending people – the joy they felt in being there.
To me this is magical and amazing: being a wonderful worldwide community so unite and unique… all thanks to the great job you’re doing.
Michael Albers - Brooke,
I would have come except I had already made vacation plans for the dates you selected for your convention. I hope to attend the next.
Paulo Carvalho - Basically, what I would say, already Federica said. I make of her words mine too. 🙂 XO
Jane Doran - Brooke, I can assure you that SO many people left deeply touched, including myself. Thank you for that gift. “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”
FIT BMX - This is why I love reading your blog, and watching your videos so much. You are just there, (If you know what I mean) you get the simple (and sometimes not so simple) meaning of happiness.
When I read “Sometimes all it takes is seeing the other side of a situation to silence your inner demons” it reminded me of a story I just heard.
“A young boy was walking down the street with a baseball in one hand and a bat in the other. As he walked he threw the ball high into the air, and swung at it as it came down, missing and the ball hit the ground. He picked it up and kept walking, after a little ways he threw the ball into the air again. Once again he sung and missed it when it came down, and picked it up. This time he went ahead through it into the air right where he was standing, and trying his hardest, swung with all his strength but missing the ball again. He stood there and looked at the ball on the ground, he gave a short whistle and said ‘Man, what a great pitcher!”
You just have to look at your problems the right way, just like you did.
You are a great person, that spreads a higher energy and love everywhere you go. Even when I am having a bad day, your post and videos brighten them up in a second! So remember that, if you are ever in doubt. 🙂
Scott Ungerecht - Hi, Brooke! WOW! Thank you so much for sharing your story and the fears you experienced before starting your convention. Your story reminded me of the fears I experienced a few days ago when I debated internally about whether or not I wanted to become a toy photographer. Last Thursday I wanted to find a new way to separate myself from other photographers, and to expand my horizons, and the idea of taking portrait photos of toy action figures suddenly hit me. At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to become a toy photographer. I was afraid nobody would like my work and I would be a total failure, even though I’d never taken photos of toys before. I was also afraid of purchasing lots of toy action figures and all the equipment I needed to create a small portrait studio in my home. And I was especially afraid that I would end up wasting my time, energy and money. But then I suddenly remembered something. Something I had learned while watching one of your lectures on YouTube. I remembered you once talked about fear and how we should always find a way to overcome it, and that somehow convinced me I should stop hesitating and just act. So, I took a bold leap of faith and I spent $1,000 on all the toy action figures and studio equipment I needed to make my dream a reality. Once I started spending my money, my fears began to slowly subside and I didn’t feel afraid anymore. I began to feel a new sense of hope and the freedom to dream about what I could accomplish as a toy photographer. So, thank you, Brooke, for posting your videos and new blog entries each week. Thank you for sharing with us your fears, your courage and how we can accomplish anything through the power of our dreams.
Rachael Ann Mare - Next year, we will have those 10 and then some. Thank you so much for not canceling the convention, Brooke.
Kori Rathbun - I hope that you do continue to host these types of conventions. I am located in CT and wanted to come so badly but it just wasn’t financially possible for me this time around. I would love to attend one in the future! 🙂 You are an inspiration above all else. This community is magic. It has opened up so many insights into myself by being a part of it (if only through the internet). It’s been part of my journey in realizing that I can do the things that live in my mind under the fear – I can be like all those that I admire…that I already am worthy and enough in my heart no matter what medium I use to create… I found you when I needed technical photography/art guidance through your photographs and tutorials, Brooke, but I remain an active follower of your activities because of your intense and genuine PASSION for people living the lives that bring themselves satisfaction and joy and for spreading kindness and understanding. You taught me that it’s ok to be myself. I don’t have to be what other people expect of me (or my perception of whatever that is). It won’t make me happy and it won’t make all of “them” happy…ever. So now I’m just being me. And I’m on this crazy adventure making music and art without someone else imposing their limitations on my potential… all while raising my beautiful little family and I look forward to getting one of those hugs you mentioned as I walk into a Promoting Passion convention someday in the future. 🙂
Tara Eveland - Brooke, thanks for getting back with me! I can’t wait until next year and I totally am planning to come, super excited! Everything I hear from it has been awesome. My baby is so little right now so here is where I need to be, but man I really am pumped for the next one! Thank you for always being so genuine and speaking from the heart!