Lessons in Success from Chrissie Swan
I love August for so many reasons: a lingering winter which continues to provide the best possible excuse for mulled wine, open fires, hopes (usually false) of snow in the city fringe, and big coats (or as I like to call them, ‘mobile cuddles’). August brings some of my dearest friends’ birthdays, lots of reminiscing with my hubby about the trip that we have without fail taken in the July school holiday period and, if you are a Victorian business owner like me, August is also all about the Victorian Small Business Festival.
You can learn more about the festival, its roots and everything it has on offer here, but, in short, for me it is always an extra opportunity to get out of my office and into the community, to immerse myself in some free business system training (I can’t tell you how much I feel like I need this!) and to meet fellow sistas doing their thing in the big, passionate world of business and entrepreneurship.
When I saw a dinner with Chrissie Swan titled ‘Success Doesn’t Just Happen, You Create It’ pop up on the events calendar for the festival this year, I was instantly in. I met Chrissie in 2010 when I first appeared on Channel Ten’s ‘The Circle’ alongside herself, Denise ‘Ding Dong’ Drysdale, Gorgi Coghlan and Yumi Stynes. I had done a lot of radio interviews before then but The Circle was my first live national television sesh and, to put it mildly, I was near-crap-my-pants nervous. Chrissie had such a beautiful and calming presence, but when the interview finished and the on-site crew were counting down through a news update (aka my cue to get off the couch and scram before the ladies were back live), the lovely Ms Swan happily kept me there chatting, eager to know more about my passion and my work and so quick to confirm that I was the right person for the job. When the count-down made it into single digits and my quivering butt was still firmly planted on said couch, my nerves morphed into inner panic. I was lucky to manage a “goodbye” as a crew member led me off the set at the very last moment. Chrissie cared.
(On that same day, the beautiful and chuckling Denise Drylesdale snuck up and went at my skirt with a DustBuster in the green room when she mistook me for Georgie, but that’s another story…)
Chrissie was the first public figure to openly tell me that she thought what I did was meaningful and that I was good at it, and that has stayed with me to this day despite having never shared a room with her again, until last Wednesday.
My four favourite take-aways from Chrissie that night:
1. Don’t be an arsehole
Chrissie suggests that this is the single thing that should be at the forefront of your mind at any given time and that if your sole focus was on not being an arsehole, everything else would undoubtedly fall into place.
Amen to that! I am a firm believer that magical things happen when we live from a place of genuine love and kindness (more on this coming soon) but Chrissie cemented this even more so in my mind with a personal example of her never being without job opportunities or support despite being fired from some very public roles. Why? Because she goes through life not being an arsehole.
2. Value sleep
I felt that uncomfortable twang of knowing and guilt wash over me when Chrissie mentioned that we just don’t value sleep enough. She spoke about the importance of a good night’s sleep in maintaining momentum (and sanity), as well as the importance of knowing what you need in the snooze department.
Where does sleep fit on your priority list? How much are you getting? And, more importantly, how much do you NEED?
There are many things in our lives that we can’t count on others to prioritise for us, and life loves cashing in on this one whenever we will let it.
3. Know what success looks like to you, and measure it accordingly.
Chrissie remarked that “If I can say I’m having fun, then that is success for me. I put all of my opportunities through the fun filter.”
I loved hearing this. It is so easy to compare ourselves to others when we are looking to measure or define our success, but give me a feeling-based definition any day of the week. And OMG – a fun filter!
What is your personal definition of success? What do you need in order to FEEL successful? How can you bring more of that into your life?
4. People’s opinions won’t always match the reality of a situation, so stay in the facts.
Chrissie knows, more than many, the number of varying opinions that can surround a single situation. She reminded us beautifully that there is no need for her to give two s#*ts about the opinions of others because, at the end of the day, she knows the reality of the situations that they are so quick to judge. Stay in the facts.
If you are someone who struggles with negative thoughts based on the opinions of others, you can get your hands on my top tool to challenge them here.
The reminders and lessons that I took from my evening with Chrissie aren’t rocket science, but then again I rarely find that the most meaningful things for our personal growth are.
And despite walking away from The Pier in Geelong with some new insight, a belly full of delicious food, some lovely new connections, a jaw sore from laughing and the promise of an exciting new opportunity for Heart Sparks, the highlight for me was undoubtedly hearing Chrissie speak about the power of someone first telling her that they thought she COULD do that big thing that she dreamed of, while I was sitting there remembering the time that she did that exact thing for me.