I’ve been pinching myself just about every hour this past week.
Today was the final day of Playing Around Istanbul, the creativity workshop I’ve been planning for close to a year with my co-conspirator and fellow Poobah of Play, Kelly Hevel.
For over fifteen years I’ve had a dream of teaching a workshop overseas, something involving creativity and art. For most of that time, the dream seemed far away, maybe even impossible, but this week it came true in vivid, glorious Technicolor.
I’m in Istanbul, listening to the call to prayer as I type this, the magnificent Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque mere steps away from my window. All week Kelly and I have guided our participants in a week of playing in the Creative Sandbox in the mornings, with afternoon excursions to experience the richness of the city.
We’ve written, and painted, seen exquisite miniatures and traditional shadow puppets (and a lot more) in the maze-like Grand Bazaar, smelled and tasted exotic spices in the Spice Bazaar, gawked at glorious mosaics at Chora Church, donned headscarves and doffed shoes to soak up the beauty and serenity of different mosques, drunk Turkish coffee and eaten food that is as delicious as it is unpronounceable, tried our tongues at Turkish phrases, met artists and made friends with Turks of both the human and cat variety, and laughed and laughed and laughed.
In short, it has truly been a dream come true!
Here’s a video that Poobah Kelly took while our group visited “Little Hagia Sophia” mosque yesterday, while strains of Spanish guitar filled the air:
How did I do it? How did I turn the idea of a workshop in Istanbul from a dream into reality?
Six simple steps is all it took. Steps that, when I think about it, apply to every dream I’ve ever manifested in my life. Steps that you can use in your own life, to make your dreams come true, too.
1. First, have a dream.
Allow yourself to dream it, to imagine it. Let yourself feel what it would feel like if/when it comes true.
I’m not of the camp that believes this, alone, is enough, but it is an essential ingredient. When you allow yourself to feel your desire, it energizes and motivates you to press forward and take the actions you need to take to manifest your dream.
2. Be open to opportunities.
Last October, I emailed a brief, personal thank you to a new subscriber. She sent a brief reply, and I noticed that her signature said she was an artist and creativity coach in Istanbul. I emailed back that I’d always dreamed of visiting her city, and soon we were confessing to mutual dreams of creating workshops in inspiring locations around the world.
I could have just said, “Yeah, someday,” and left it that. That certainly would have been the easy thing to do.
Creating a workshop with someone I’d never met? Who lived half-way around the world? Crazy, right?
It sure sounded that way to anyone I mentioned it to, but I was open to the possibility that maybe it wasn’t crazy. And that openness is what allowed this week to happen.
3. Take a leap.
Accomplishing anything of value, no matter how big and overwhelming, is simply a matter of breaking it down into baby steps. In her wonderful course, Playing Big (which I took earlier this year, and for which I’m an affiliate), Tara Mohr calls this leaping.
Kelly and my first leap was not actually to start planning our workshop, but to first meet on Skype, get to know each other, feel each other out, and see if this dream was one that made sense for us to manifest in partnership.
We spent 2 or 3 meetings going over several important questions to see if we were on the same page — we were going to be starting a business partnership, after all, which is a lot like entering into a marriage! Not something to be taken lightly! It was important for us to set expectations in advance about who would take on which responsibilities, and see if we would work well together.
4. Set SMART goals
Once we confirmed that yes, our values and goals were in alignment, we needed to figure out what the specific task were that we’d need to accomplish to make this workshop happen. Things like:
- Decide on a name (Playing Around Workshops for our business; Playing Around Istanbul for our Istanbul workshop)
- Buy a domain
- Create a website
- Set a date
- Find a venue
- Create our content/curriculum
- Determine what to do on our afternoon excursions
- Figure out our price structure and payment schedule
- Get the word out
And on and on… Once we had our goals and target deadlines, we could…
5. Keep leaping forward
Baby step by baby step, baby!
Kelly and I had a standing appointment every Monday to meet on Skype for 90-minutes to two hours, to go over what we wanted to accomplish over the next week, and little by little, our plans moved ahead.
Which brings me to…
They say there are three things that determine the success of a brick and mortar business: location, location, location. I put forth that the three most important things that determine the success of a creative business (or any creative pursuit) are: persistence, persistence, persistence.
Not only do you need to keep up with those leaps and baby steps, but to get something going from zero you’ve got to persist, even when the going gets rough.
I will admit that there was a lot of nail biting re. Playing Around Istanbul. In truth, we did it backwards: the smart thing would probably have been to spend a few years each doing small, local, weekend retreats and workshops, building up an audience of willing attendees and raving participants before attempting a week-long, destination workshop, several thousand miles and an expensive plane ticket away from the bulk of my audience!
But the calling was there, and opportunity knocked, so I opened the door. And the Universe smiled.
One person signed up. Then another. And we decided that even if our workshop became more of a semi-private tour than a group workshop, we were forging ahead with it!
I’m so grateful we did! In the end, we hit our minimum goal of 4 participants, and though we didn’t do much more than break even this time around, the experience has paid us more richly than money ever could. We have learned so much, from the things that have gone well (like the fact that our “pass-around stories” game was a huge hit), from the things that didn’t go so well, and from countless surprises.
Doing the workshop has been the best lesson in how to do workshops! And we’re abuzz with plans and ideas for next year’s Playing Around Istanbul, and scouting for additional locations (southern France is a top contender, but if you know of any inspiring venues there or elsewhere, we’re all ears!)
Wash, rinse, repeat. The six steps above are really what moving from dreaming to doing all boils down to.
Along the way there are numerous tools and techniques to bring into the game (“little things,” like taming the gremlins/Inner Critic; learning to lean into fear and uncertainty; growing a thick skin so that criticism and praise don’t throw you off course… all expertly covered in Tara Mohr’s Playing Big program for women, btw, which starts up soon — check it out here*), but if you follow the six steps outlined here, you’ll be manifesting dreams like nobody’s business.
Let me know how it goes! Me, I’m headed out to the courtyard garden for our Playing Around Istanbul 2012 farewell dinner.
Then tomorrow Kelly and I will start working on making our dreams for next year’s workshop come true.
Are you dreaming of joining us? Use the steps above to start saving and planning to make your dreams real! Click here for info.
* BONUS! I’m proud to be an affiliate for Playing Big, and all the links on my site are affiliate links. This means if you click through and buy, I’ll earn a 50% commission.
I want to see you get the most out of Playing Big, and it would feel good to me to use my commission to help you, so if you do decide to take the program, and you purchase your spot through my affiliate link, I’ll give you a package of 4 one-hour coachsulting sessions, to work with me one-on-one (normally $580). We can schedule our sessions together in any way that works for you during the 6 months of Playing Big (my schedule permitting too, of course! ;)).
If you’re interested in the course and don’t want to send a commission my way, just don’t use one of my links. I’ll never know the difference. 😉
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