When I knew it was time to quit…
I never expected this much new, fun and exciting content would emerge afterward. After I decided to quit and do what I really love.
I was free to really listen to my current clients and design a class that would help their specific needs and their problem areas. They also loved to laugh and so did I. (I began to record all my jokes that they laughed at during my exercise classes and presentations)
My latest and true, “feels right” journey started about 6 months ago when I decided to “quit” trying to force something on an audience that wasn’t congruent with who I was. I just couldn’t deliver. I kept “dropping the ball”.
Now I’ve read that you shouldn’t quit. “Don’t give up!”, they say. Keep trying and stay the course. Well, I did for eight years. I stayed committed to this audience and wanted to help them do what I had done. Which was to combine something I thought I loved with something I actually loved.
There’s a problem right there, yes?
Eight years ago, I decided I was going to combine my love for fitness with my skills and training in nursing and develop programs for a new field in nursing, called “Fitness Nursing”. These programs would train nurses, like myself who were interested in fitness & nursing, and combine the two.
Eight years ago was also the time that my mother, who was also my best friend, died. She was a retired nurse and she dropped dead while on a treadmill at a local gym. (BTW – My mother was a “young 72”, never sick or in the hospital as a patient.)
This seemed like the perfect way to honor and “show” her (my mom) that I wouldn’t let her down and really do something great with my nursing.
See my mom encouraged me to go back to school for nursing when I was a single mother on welfare and my current college degree wasn’t doing what I thought it would. I needed to make some money and support myself and my son. I needed to make her proud and get off welfare. And even though she was gone, I felt compelled to do this to make me feel better.
As Dr. Venus Opal Reese, “The Black Woman Millionaire Mentor” asks you, “When did life break your heart?”
Life broke my heart then and I had to do something to cover up that pain.
I was blinded by my grief and my guilt. I felt that I should have done more to help my mother. My goodness a treadmill killed her? Yes, exercise can kill. (Make sure you put that in your waivers and disclaimers) Exercise can kill, especially, when you’re not well.
Even though I had many ups and downs during the last 8 years, the common denominator through it all was… I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing. I felt like a “phoney” for 8 years.
Has this ever happened to you? Do you feel that way now?
I admired nurses, for goodness sake, my mom was my first exposure and impression of nurses. My mother named my brother “Corey” after Julia, the t.v. show in the late 1960’s about a black nurse played by Dihann Carroll who named her the t.v. show son, “Corey”. I even went to work with my mom at various healthcare facilities, usually during snow storms. So nursing was in my blood, right?
See, I wasn’t a nurse in my heart. Turns out, I was more like my dad… a performer, a joker, a sarcastic bitch.
I graduated from college in the 1980’s and went on the road as a traveling stand-up comedienne. (No, my parents were not too proud, but what could they do. I was grown)
If I told you how I got the great jobs/positions I did in nursing over the 25 years in it; you’d agree… I put on a performance.
They were dream jobs. Jobs NOT in the paper (we looked for jobs in the newspaper back then)
I was literally paid to speak in front of audiences out at community events, some quite fancy and others in basements… but they all involved me being able to do a “show”.
I even was paid a nurses’ rate to teach exercise classes for 2 major hospital systems for years. That’s the only reason I was able to stay in the field of nursing.
Being on the units, I knew I would eventually kill someone.
Since I was in those “I like to hear myself talk” positions, I felt I could train other nurses, like me who wanted “off of the unit” and to educate and demonstrate fitness to those people who had physical limitations too.
I never worked full-time as a nurse, I always had other “side gigs/positions” in sales, worked in gyms and trained people to become certified as personal trainers and did traveling and speaking gigs about stress and health for what was then called, Nursing Spectrum and other nursing organizations and private events.
But I found out quickly that nursing is quite conservative and too politically correct for my personality on stages. I was held back in what I could say, do and sell.
Other nurses in the industry of speaking were always telling me to “tone it down” or “you can’t say that”. On evals I would get, “I didn’t appreciate her humor or “her humor was inappropriate…” or “why does she dress like that… not appropriate for this venue”. My abs were so cut, that you could see them through the light and tight Danskin top I wore on stage (sometimes).
Meanwhile when I did my own private gigs, I got rave reviews and people would tell me to stop making them laugh because they were going to “pee their pants!” (Ironically something I help people with today 🙂 )
My mistake was I tried to carry my “private gig mentality” and making money and an impact, in a way that worked against what healthcare does AND into a profession who generally only cared about accreditation and if their employer would pay for stuff. Which I can understand. But it was so BORING to me. I wanted to entertain!
What is it that you really want to do?
So, I guess dropping the “F-bomb” once in a while and talking about crotches in a joke to make a certain point get across easier, usually didn’t make the cut for contact hours (credits for nursing licenses). So I kept it as “sterile” as I could.
The fitness nurse thing sounded like a great idea, I had collected, over time without much effort or marketing, 3,000 nurses on an e-mail list.
I made erratic money.
I was all over the place because it never felt right.
But whenever I did make money, I felt like I was tied up and partially gagged, even guilty at times and was doing things for the wrong reasons. (To please my mom)
The nurses who showed up, were great.
But that was it.
Because of lack of sales training and market development and identity/clear objectives, my program(s) fell by the wayside. In the garbage or on a shelf to never be seen again. The “shelf grave” I call it.
So after 8 years of trying to do this… I quit. I gave it up. All 3,000 names deleted.
Sometimes, as Seth Godin says in his book, “The Dip”, you have to know when to quit.
That time when you just can’t talk to another nurse (for 40 minutes) who says they “hate their job” and wants to do more “preventative” work (which doesn’t sell and I couldn’t say it anymore) and work with “healthy” people. Knowing in my gut that they aren’t going to do anything.
That’s not just nurses, that’s all people who suffer from the “grass is greener” effect.
I believe that you are who you are and your work is how you survive. I could have been working as a housekeeper, but I still would be trying to get people to laugh and sell them something on the side.
I am in contact with about 10 nurses who I’ve met through the years who are like me: brass balls, big mouths, sarcastic, non-empathetic to those who lived by the sword and then want “fixing” (immediately). Not really qualities of a “caring” nurse, you think?
Have you ever told someone to get their own damn bedpan? Or tell a nurse supervisor to kiss where the sun don’t shine? Well, yours truly has. (And I wasn’t necessarily having a bad day)
The truth is we (my other 10 “done with this shit” comrades) just happen to be nurses. It was not our “calling”. It was a job that provided a means to an end. I could’ve been doing anything, but because of the influence of my mother, (who’s calling was to be a nurse), I became a nurse… but for the wrong reasons.
I equate it to wanting to become a teacher to have the summers off.
(But don’t get me wrong, it’s NOT wasted at all. ALL LIFE EXPERIENCE contributes to your “calling”. We don’t always know what that is in a definite way. Our “calling” evolves with our life experiences. Even though I don’t want to work as a nurse anymore, I got a lot of “shick” (material) for my comedy while working in” nursing 🙂 )
We (these few soon-to-be former nurses and I) have bonded through my 8 years of fog. We are performers and heretics and don’t care what other people think who would never listen to our message(s) anyway.
We know we have to polarize and can’t help everyone. We are in it for the money (without apology) and that money allows us to make an impact in those 1,000 people, true fans, we know we can help. (From Tim Ferriss to Jeff Goins, all are talking about the “only 1,000 true fans we need” to find and speak directly.)
Focus on them and speak without worry of offense or backlash. That can only happen when you don’t worry about losing your job and following rules. When you know who your tribe is and what they want and how you can help them, there’s no stopping you.
Today, I use nurse in my title (The Joking Fitness Nurse) because in some of my jokes and stories I refer to healthcare. But that’s it. People ask me what I do I tell them I’m a performer and writer.
I continue to say, “Of all things concerning and improving the part of the body from ‘your navel to your knuckle’ in people over 50 years of age. That can be from a comedy act about how to STOP stuffing 10Lbs. in a 5Lb. bag to an exercise class that helps women ‘laugh without leaks’ to writing about how men over 50 can reduce their ‘Dicky-Dos’.”
Then I may say, “I call myself ‘The Joking Fitness Nurse'”. Only then may they get it. It’s new, but I love it and I’m sure not everyone will get it… but that’s o.k. I crack myself up everyday, anyway.
I also will work in a limited capacity with those 10 soon-to-be former nurses who want some expert advising on how to develop their message and programs in the fitness & diet space. (A Fitness Nurse Consultant)
But mostly, I focus on getting through to people over 50 who are not going to do the t.v. exercise programs and are concerned about holding it (their body) together between their “navel and their knuckle” through fitness, diet and fun.
And I’m glad that there are nurses out there who do what they do and do it well. I just am not one of them.
Are you in a position like this?
If so, consider strongly… quitting. (not your J-O-B which keeps the lights on), but some side gig that’s not going the way you planned after years of trying to be like someone else. (kind of, right?)
Consider quitting. Throwing out that 3-legged table and build a whole new one.
Start talking to one person who gets your message and is excited with how you are helping them. Then find 3 more. Then 5. Then 10 and so on.
It’s slow going but it’s much more gratifying to be authentic with 25 people who love and appreciate your work than 3,000 on an e-mail list who can detect your phoniness and only 8% open or they never open your emails. They don’t even show you the effort of unsubscribing. They really don’t care about a damn thing you say or do.
Just like Kevin O’Leary says on the t.v. show Shark Tank, “You’re dead to me”. This is what they are telling me.
Today my email list of just 50 “true fans” gets an open rate of 68%. I like those stats much better.
If you’d like to join this list please do so in the upper right.
I have left up my Facebook page , Fitness Nurse Consultant, with over 750 likes, but that’s over 8 years – not too impressive. However if it helps one nurse get clear or an idea, I’ll leave it up there.
The Facebook page that I will post all my stuff that I currently do, like Twitter posts and tips for my audience, is directly to the right – LMAO Consulting. Feel free to “like” it.
Much appreciated. I’ll reciprocate the “like” if you want.
Remember this “quitting” is after 8 years. Not something I started on a whim or a few months and then quit. So I am definitely not “giving up” too soon.
I finally through working with great mentors in this last year was able to say, “Sorry mom, but I’m moving on from nursing. I don’t owe it to you anymore”. The crazy thing about it all, is that my mom would
probably, no definitely, want me to move on and be happy in my work and life.
I’m off to teach one of my Navel to Knuckle exercise classes, called “Laughs without Leaks” for women over 50. Some of them call me the Joking Fitness Nurse, some of them call me a Fitness Nurse some of them call me a “sadist”.
But it is where I perform without fear of offense and backlash.
I help my clients, who love me, to improve all things in that area of the body which includes creating a safe space for them to be themselves, let it all hang out, then how to hold it in, how to decrease their tummies, activate their gluts (butts) and to “laugh without leaks”. (To NOT pee their pants!) Ha Ha!