It was late December of 2017 and Christmas tree pine needles littered the floor. We were all tripping over new toys and the post-Christmas turkey was finally gone. My husband handed me a bright yellow book he had just finished reading: The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon. Hm. The floors wouldn’t clean themselves. But a voice
I opened the cover and soon met George, a businessman experiencing a breakdown of sorts, and Joy, a bus driver full of smiles and wisdom. I had no idea what an impact Joy was about to make on George and me.
At the time, I was punching a clock daily in a communications department for the largest health system in Georgia. I enjoyed the work itself and the people I came into contact with, but I often felt like a small cog in a giant corporate machine. I certainly did not feel like I made a difference. And I had accepted that in exchange for a steady paycheck, the feeling of a secure job and a pension.
The Energy Bus
Before I tell you more about my journey into business, I’ll say The Energy Bus is a speedy and entertaining read about taking responsibility for your own future. It is actionable wisdom set to a story, which speaks to my own personal feelings about the power of storytelling (and how we should all be doing that in our businesses). It’s about developing a vision with purpose. Surrounding yourself with people who believe in your vision. Inviting them to ride your bus. And fueling your vision and yourself with positivity.
I wouldn’t have picked the book out for myself. But it was exactly what I needed to read. I’m thankful I was exposed and reminded of some really wonderful and foundational concepts that carried me through the first year of my new business.
George – the main character of the book – revamps his life, his marriage, his career
“You have no idea of the challenges I am facing right now. I’m hitting a lot of roadblocks,” George complains early in the story.
That’s when Joy – the bus driver about whom George is quite skeptical – introduces him to the importance of positive energy. It is the fuel that keeps his, mine and your vision moving forward. Without it, we’re eventually stranded on the side of the road.
“And we’re not talking about the fake kind of chest-thumping rah, rah positive energy that simply masks our negativity and annoys people…We’re talking about real positive energy that help you overcome obstacles and challenges to create success. We’re talking about trust, faith, enthusiasm, purpose, joy and happiness.”
A bus full of cheerleaders
Not even a month later, I began seeking a new job. But nothing felt right. I wanted to make a difference – not punch a clock. My husband told me for the umpteenth time that I should start my own business. I put on my ear muffs and kept looking for the right job.
I made a lot of phone calls searching for ideas and opportunities. And then someone else encouraged me to start my own business. And then someone else.
I finally started listening.
The conversation sounded different when I called people after that. I’d say, “I’m thinking of starting my own business. Can I have some advice?”
That’s when I realized I had a bus full of cheerleaders. They believed I could really help people. Which helped me believe it. And do it.
In The Energy Bus, there’s a whole section on how to lead people and how to get people to follow your vision. There are steps you take to ask people to get on your bus. While I didn’t have a team to lead at that time, I realized that I had a lot of cheerleaders on my bus. I had an incredible gift of positive energy all around me.
I took that fuel and I hit the gas like I was 16 driving a sporty red VW to Ft. Myers Beach. (Memories…)
Seriously, the early days of building my PR business are a blur seen from a vehicle going way over the speed limit. I had little sleep and stared into the bright blue glow of a laptop into the wee hours of the night. I made countless phone calls and had too many face-to-face meetings to count. But those people on my bus cheering me on helped fuel those late nights…and fuel my business with referrals – THANK YOU!).
Here’s an off-the-cuff video I recently made to say thanks to all those cheerleaders who have been on the bus with me. I didn’t list anyone by name (other than the family) – there are just too many.
Leave energy vampires in the dust
Just because I had a busload (fleet?) of support, that didn’t mean it was always sunny and 70 on the highway. On one occasion, I took time out of my crazed schedule to catch up with an old acquaintance. Who nearly sucked the life out of me and my dream.
I couldn’t believe how fast the air whizzed out of my tires when I spent time with an “energy vampire,” as the book calls it. I came home KNOWING I would fail. I sneered at myself for trying to start my own business. What was I thinking? What was I doing?
Luckily, I snapped out of it.
A quick consult with Joy, the bus driver, says there is no room for energy vampires on the bus. That’s a priceless lesson. Once I made a decision to move forward with my business, I hadn’t doubted myself until an energy vampire did it for me. And I almost let that run me off the road to
The first road trip
About 2 months after I read The Energy Bus, I launched ClearWing Communications.
It’s been a year of learning how to lift people up in the pursuit of their goals. Luckily, I am surrounded by a lot of incredibly smart people who share their own experiences and help me grow. And…I read great books.
Thanks to many incredible cheerleaders on my bus, ClearWing has helped 30 clients in pursuit of a goal. Some were big goals, like communications around a new business launch. Others were smaller pieces of a larger plan, like writing taglines, a speech or a thought leadership article. It’s priceless to get to work with many of these clients continuously, leading their strategic communications, marketing plans and execution every month.
I’ve had the opportunity to serve incredible clients who are changing the world in a variety of ways. I get to be their cheerleader. I bring a lot of positive energy to each team I’m part of or that I lead. And, as the book recommends, I strive to bring more value and joy to the work my clients and I do together every day.
And all of my cheerleaders? Sometimes they surprise me. My daughter’s third-grade teacher patted my arm one day at a school event. She said, “Penelope is so proud of her mom. She loves telling us that you’re a writer and you help people.” Knowing my daughter was proud. Also priceless.
Enjoy the ride
The bonus step at the end of the book is to have fun and enjoy the ride, which I am most certainly doing every day.
Final thoughts: you should know that I only touched on a few points from the book here. The Energy Bus covers “10 steps for fueling your life, work and team with positive energy.” You’re missing a lot if you only read this blog post.
My husband, who recommended the book to me, keeps a shelfful of copies at his office to hand to employees, vendors
If you or someone in your life could use a little gas for current endeavors, get your ticket for the ride of your life before you roll on to the next thing. Here’s a link to The Energy Bus on Amazon.
And if you need support on your journey or just want to chat about the book, contact Christy at ClearWing. I’m over here, enjoying the ride, and so happy to cheer you on.
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