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Tag Archives: women and work

So You Want to Start Something Stupid? Why You Must


Richie Norton

In my coaching and training work helping women lead more fulfilling lives, I’m asked every day questions like this: “Kathy, do you think this is too stupid an idea?”  or “This may be really crazy, but I’m thinking of…” or my favorite, “My family says this is nuts and will never work, but I’m thinking of…” Thousands of people are wracked with fear, paralysis, and embarrassment (or even shame) when considering if they should pursue something “stupid” that their heart desires most.

But after 10 years of helping people turn “stupid” into amazing, I trust wholeheartedly in the power of starting your own version of something stupid, and have seen how this process turns a mediocre and unsatisfying life into a thrilling one.

I was intrigued, then, to discover Richie Norton’s new book The Power of Starting Something Stupid: How to Crush Fear, Make Dreams Happen & Live Without Regret, and couldn’t wait to speak to Richie about his ideas and his journey from “stupid” to stupendous.

As I read the book, I was deeply moved by Richie’s personal story of losing his beautiful and perfect infant boy of only 10 weeks, and having to make the unbearable decision not to resuscitate him as the process would only prolong his suffering and in the end, not save his life.  As is often the case when tragedy rips a gash in our reality, we feel forever changed by the loss.  In Richie’s case, his life took on a very real sense of urgency, and he faced the shocking realization that circumstance is completely outside our realm of control.  Not just certain circumstances, but ALL circumstance.  This realization opened the door for Richie to learn the biggest lesson of his life to date, what he calls “Gavin’s Law” (named after his beloved brother-in-law Gavin, who died at 21, just two years before the death of his baby boy Gavin).

Gavin’s Law is this:

“Live to start. Start to live.”

There is so much to learn in Richie’s book, but I want to share here Richie’s 6 steps to making our dreams happen.  From my perspective, this model covers all the key bases, and if you use this as a roadmap to pursuing your crazy, stupid idea, you’ll be on the right track.

The 6 steps to Making Dreams Happen and Living without Regret:

1.  Crush Fear
It’s not the actual circumstances that we should feel threatened by, it’s the fear of the circumstances that poses the real threat. The bottom line is that people with high aspirations are going to experience a proportionately high level of fear. If high aspirations are equal to high fear, then the flip side to that truth is that overcoming high fear is equal to achieving high aspirations. To crush fear doesn’t mean you eliminate it; crushing fear means you literally crush it down into smaller, more manageable parts and tackle one piece at a time.

2.  End Pride

The line between fear and pride is nearly imperceptible. At the heart of pride, is the fear of looking stupid. Pride convinces people to feel justified in quitting because, for prideful people, approval is sought at all costs—even at the cost of success. Prideful people won’t ask for help, they won’t ask questions, and they don’t want to do anything to challenge the status quo. To overcome pride, you must embrace “The Humble Power Alternative” –  lean into your “stupid” ideas, do more than you think you should do, take ownership of your life, don’t blame others for lack of success, and encourage others in their success. There is true power born of humility.

3.  Overcome Procrastination

When we procrastinate, we fill our lives with the tasks that are right in front of us rather than make the concerted effort to leave enough room in our schedules to pursue dreams. Procrastination doesn’t always come in the form of frivolous activities. Often we’re filling our time with good or even essential tasks, but even so, anytime you postpone doing the things that are most important in your life, you are falling victim to procrastination. “Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried” (the slogan of Procrastinators Anonymous). Procrastination must be overcome or it will rob you of the things that could be most significant in your life.


There are so many helpful ideas in Richie’s book, including how to evaluate a “stupid” idea to see if it’s stupid smart, or viewing the starting of something stupid as a “project” rather than a do-or-die endeavor, or my favorite tip: making a pact to surround yourself every day only with people who embody the “serve, thank, ask, receive, trust” philosophy.

But what you’ll find most in this book is a powerful reminder that within you is a kernel, the seed of something enormous that others (or your inner critic) will say is stupid, but when honored and nurtured, will show you why you’re on this planet at this time, and why no one else can contribute and make the difference that you can, if you only start.

Are you deeply longing to start something stupid?  What will it take for you to crush your fear and start it today?

(For more about Richie, check out and The Power of Starting Something Stupid.  And to gain clarity on the stupid ideas you long to pursue in your career, take my free Career Path Self-Assessment.)

My 52 Mistakes

(Or: How I’m Turning My Mess into a Message Every Day)

Bottom line – “Embracing and loving who I am and what I’ve done is not a fixed state – it’s a long work in progress.”

As many of my friends know, I’ve immersed myself in a 9-year life reinvention, and shifted from a miserable and chronically ill corporate professional to an author, consultant, speaker and entrepreneur who absolutely loves what she does for a living and what she’s focused on, despite the enormous challenges.

It’s been one heck of a ride, with pitfalls, bumps, highs and transformations, that I barely recognize myself from the individual I was 10 years ago.  The core essence of me is still there, of course, but there’s been so much shifting and morphing that now I see much more clearly what I truly value and need to have in my life and work and family experience.  I “get” myself a lot more deeply than I did before.

The other day, I was talking to a new friend, Justin Krane, about some of the mistakes I made in business and in life, and he mentioned that he’d be really interested in hearing my top ten mistakes in business.  And that got me thinking…

So I’ve decided to come clean with My 52 Mistakes.

Today, I’m starting a new blog/vlog project called “My 52 Mistakes” Project. These are the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my life and work thus far. I want to share them so you won’t feel alone in your mistakes, and you can learn from mine.  (I’ve created a new Facebook page for My 52 Mistakes, so please join me there and add your stories!).

The goal of the My 52 Mistakes Project is to give brief look at the havoc each mistake wreaked in my life, and the breakthrough that emerged from it, so my mistakes can be of use to others.  I’m also hoping this will provide a needed, open forum for women around the world to candidly share their mistakes, what they’ve learned, and how they’ve grown and healed from them.

For this project to help as many people as I hope it will, I need more than just my experiences, I need yours – your stories, lessons, mistakes and breakthroughs – I need it all!  We’ve spent a good deal of time here together building our community, and now we can help each other with our collective wisdom. 

Which of these mistakes resonates for you?  What other mistakes would you add to your list?  Show me your lists, and tell me your top three.  (We’re getting honest here people!)  And please pass this along to anyone you know who’s committed to learning from mistakes and experiencing breakthrough.  Comment here or email me.

Let’s do this together!  Let’s turn our messes into messages of honesty, forgiveness, and acceptance.  I hope I”ll see you the Facebook page My 52 Mistakes.   And all along the way, know that I love you, my friends – mistakes, warts and all!  xo

Here goes…

My 52 Mistakes…

As a professional…

1) Letting my ego lead me around by the nose

2) Believing the myth, “Build It and They Will Come”

3) Letting the “pendulum effect” rule my life (Waiting too long to take action, then being devastated and running to the opposite extreme)

4) Spending too much money on my business before learning how to earn

5) Listening to people who claimed to be experts but who are in fact full of s—t

6) Putting all my eggs in the Plan A basket without having a Plan B

7) Holding back from sharing my insights, wisdom, and knowledge for fear I’ll give too much away for free

 8) Not listening enough to my instincts and my gut feelings about people and directions

9) Ignoring my husband when he said, “This is not working!!”

10) Running around thinking I’m God’s gift to the world

11) Wasting time in the company of people I don’t adore and respect

12) Comparing myself to others instead of figuring out exactly what I want to offer, to whom, and why

13) Staying too long in a job I hated, not realizing it will, eventually, hate me back

14) Hiding from my fears instead of getting in the cage with them

15) Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome (thanks, Einstein!)

16) Taking on a narcissistic “goliath” expecting to be a successful “David”

17) Remaining in toxic, miserable situations believing that I had good reasons to do so

18) Letting my salary define me

19) Feeling like an “impostor” because of my flaws and mistakes

20) Thinking that this just “happened” to me– not realizing I co-created it

As an author/writer…

21) Believing I’d get rich writing a book

22) Launching my book and work into a vacuum

23) Letting my accomplishments blind me

24) Thinking my personal story was enough to generate a bestselling book

25) Mistaking myself for a writer when I wasn’t writing and reading every day

26) Longing for national recognition from writing a book

27) Being overly attached to one idea, approach, or outcome that I thought was amazing (as journalists say, it’s time to “kill the baby”)

28) Keeping the truth from myself about, “What do I want, and what do I really want?” from my writing and my work

29) Not having had the guts to say what I mean – to a whole slew of people

30)  Being wholly unprepared for the transformational process of writing and launching my book

As a coach/therapist…

31) Believing the hype of “experts” about the earning potential of coaching (sorry folks, there’s very little money in it)

32) Not having sufficiently powerful boundaries to protect myself from the pain of helping people who are suffering

33) Letting people walk all over me because I felt badly for them

34) Wasting months not liking my therapy work but thinking I should (if you don’t like it, you’re not supposed to be doing it!)

35) Believing having my own coaching business would be an easy way out of my miserable corporate job

36) Not understanding,” If you don’t LOVE your clients, you don’t love your work”

37) Stuffing myself into another person’s “model for change” when I wanted to create my own

38) Not healing my wounds sufficiently before being in service of others

39) Coddling my clients instead of helping them turn their mess around by themselves

40) Limiting myself to seeing only one way to make a living

As a woman…

41) Wasting precious time not speaking up for myself

42) Waiting for my Prince to come and rescue me (and being really pissed off when I realized my husband wasn’t the Prince)

43) Letting my mistakes devastate me

44) Being exactly the perfectionistic overfunctioner that I write about

45) Spending more time complaining about my situation than changing it

46) Worrying about polarizing people and alienating other women (it happens – get over it)

47) Not accepting that having it all means I’m working non-stop and so busy that my head’s going to explode

48) Waiting too long to find amazing, awesome people to connect and engage with

49) Believing I didn’t need or want great female role models

50) Letting my gender, generation, upbringing, traumas, cultural baggage, beliefs, fears (my “whatever”) keep me from accomplishing what I wanted to

As a human being on this planet today…

51) Listening to my mind to the exclusion of my heart and soul

52) Not understanding until my forties that I’m unique, special and powerful and can make the difference I long to make

*  *  *  *

OK, friends, your turn!  Please share your top mistakes on My 52 Mistakes on Facebook, and what you’ve learned from them below or email me at  Let’s get this going!  (Special thanks to my dear friend Krista Carnes for getting me going!)

You’re awesome for sharing! xo

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