When I think of ‘Life-Altering Choices’ I can’t help but think of an on-line friend of mine named Derek Sivers. We connected because of a ‘night time whisper’ that altered the course of my life forever. Let me explain…
If you aren’t familiar with Derek, you might have heard of a little company he founded called CDBaby.com. He sold it a few years ago for $22 Million dollars. Yep! Incidentally he put that money into a trust fund to help aspiring musicians live out their dreams, but that won’t be touched until after he dies. I perish the thought of Derek not being around to share his wisdom with the world, but what a wonderful way to leave a legacy when that day comes.
I first found Derek on Twitter, when I began my on-line career in 2008/2009. I was recovering from a brain/spine injury. I was also transitioning my coaching company to help a larger audience create better emotional connections in their personal and professional life. I was excited to be meeting new faces on line and so Derek was just one in a sea of faces at the time.
I remembered Derek’s Twitter page because of his adorable (tempting cheeks one might want to pinch) profile pic. I had never heard of CDBaby or Derek Sivers before. From a few of his tweets it appeared to me that he was into music and trying to figure some things out, or at least that was my pre-judgement at the time. I quickly left his page and went about working on my business.
Months later someone sent me a link to an interview and suggested I listen to it. It was something about ‘what not to do in business’, which I was interested in, so I clicked the link and who was it? That’s right, Derek, but this particular interview was filled with so much profanity that I had a difficult time listening to it. I clicked away from it after a few minutes but I remembered thinking his name was vaguely familiar. Now, he would be known to me as the guy with the potty mouth. That was all I knew, but I had decided it was enough.
Months later, I’m visiting relatives in North Carolina when they told us they planned to put us up in Elton John’s house (yes, the infamous musician). It was a very large, very PINK house which my husband got a kick out of. Elton no longer owned the home but surely we could see why he would have. It was very…..Elton-esk.
The Odd Whisper
On our second night there something very odd happened. It was the middle of the night and I was awakened by, what I call, a whisper. The whisper said, “Get up and write Derek Sivers.”
Now I am aware of how weird this sounds so go ahead and think it – I know I certainly did! At first I thought it was my husband talking in his sleep, but clearly it was not as I heard him snoring while facing the other direction.
I thought, “I must be hearing things.” So I turned over to go back to sleep.
Again I heard the whisper. “Get up and write to Derek Sivers.”
My eyes popped open and now my mind was racing. I slowly turned over, not wanting to wake my husband who might think I’ve gone mad. I decided to whisper back to the air, “The guy with the potty mouth?! Now why would I do that?! He doesn’t even know me, and besides, what could I possibly say to him that would make any difference to him?”
All kinds of other thoughts ran through my head too, like, “I can see it now, tomorrows headlines would read, “Woman gets arrested for hearing voices and stalking Derek Sivers.” Although I laughed to myself thinking about it, the fear behind that same thought also prevented me from getting up.
I tried to push the idea away again, turned over and tried to relax. It was no use. I was urged by ‘the odd whisper’ to communicate with this man a third time.
Now frustrated, I threw off the covers, waking my husband who wondered what I was doing up in the middle of the night. I went to open my mouth to try and explain but it didn’t even make logical sense to me, so I simply told him I was sorry for waking him and we’d talk in the morning.
I left our bedroom to search for an office area in Elton’s house.
Now feeling like a prowler with flashlight in hand, I found a computer desk in the den. I sat down in the large office chair and wondered who else would be awake at this hour. I let out another big sigh and reached below to turn on the older desktop computer. When the monitor illuminated I began researching Derek’s email address.
I opened up my email and hit the “New Message” tab. Without going into too much detail to Mr. Sivers, I explained that I was currently staying in Elton John’s old house, where I felt inspired (more like pressured) to write to him. I told him I didn’t really want to write him, but that I couldn’t get back to sleep until I did. I tried to convince myself, and him, that I really wasn’t a nut case, but that I wasn’t sure of the reason I was to write to him either. I said I didn’t have anything profound, or wise, to share except that I would have liked to heard his interview without all the cussing. I think I also mentioned that if he wanted to call the internet police and have me arrested I would understand, because this was by far the craziest email I had ever written.
The Nicest Man
The very next morning I received this reply:
“Hi Kellie, Thanks for writing and saying hi. Elton John’s house? That’s impressive. I enjoy hearing from people so no problem at all. Feel free to write me anytime. Derek”
Really? This guy with the potty mouth, that I tried to avoid or ignore, was actually nice? How can that be?!
Derek immediately gained my respect that day, potty mouth and all. You see he didn’t judge my crazy message, the way I had been judging him. He didn’t stop me from writing him, he encouraged it. He didn’t have a secretary write me and say, ‘don’t call us we’ll call you’. Instead, he acknowledged my decision to get up and write him. He accepted it and accepted me.
Stop Judging – Start Listening
I realized that my beliefs were very limiting about people that day. I knew I had learned to judge others harshly and judge myself just as harshly. I was grateful to Derek for helping me see that judging a book by its cover – or its cussing – will create blocks in your life that can sometimes be painful to overcome.
I needed to meet Derek Sivers in order to move into the purpose that was meant for my life. Since then, we talk a few times a year while he’s between writing books and helping thousands of musicians around the world. He became one of my greatest teachers.
There is someone out there you need to connect with too in order to fulfill your purpose. Who is it? Who will help you evolve or co-create?
I am always grateful for the night time whispers which continue to this day. Perhaps they began because of my brain injury years ago, but regardless, each one that I hear leads me to some of the greatest treasures on earth; Derek Sivers being one of them of course. and the gift of loving others right where they are without judging them – just to name a few.
When people send me crazy messages at three in the morning, I am just as gracious as Derek was whenever I respond to them. I have met the most amazing people because of it. What a fantastic lesson that altered the course of my life.
If I could do anything to help you become a greater leader, it would be to recommend Derek’s book(s), listen to his videos, watch his amazing TED talks, and simply learn from him. You will begin to have your eyes opened in ways you never thought possible; starting with learning to love who you are, and to see how you can help serve the world best by being you.
If you enjoyed this article please share it with others. Connect with me if you want greater relationships in your personal or professional life. Its not only what I do, but its also who I am.
Tailored to any audience, Kellie speaks on successful head and heart connections that develop sustainable relationships and businesses.