Hey goal achievers, Kristin here. We all encounter monsters such as regret, worry, guilt, or fear on our goal achievement journeys. And I’m excited that recently, I connected with someone who teaches people how to get rid of those monsters so we can reclaim our power. During our conversation on the Elite Achievement podcast, she brought so much energy and was full of inspiring ways to take control of our futures!
L.Y. Marlow is an award-winning author and empowerment advocate whose life journey took her from a legacy of domestic violence to the opulence of corporate America. L.Y. made the courageous decision to step down from her 20-plus year corporate career to lead a life devoted to inspiring women through her award-winning novels such as Color Me Butterfly, national organization Saving Promise, and women empowerment brand, Monsterise.
I was so energized to talk with L.Y. and dig into her story, and I start by asking her to share what prompted her to leave her corporate career and instead lead a life devoted to serving and inspiring women.
“That is an excellent question,” L.Y. begins, “and one that inspired Monsterise. The answer is my monsters! Before founding Monsterise, I had founded a national nonprofit called Saving Promise. That organization was inspired by five generations of mothers and daughters in my family, my grandmother, my mother, myself, my daughter, and then my granddaughter, Promise. She became the fifth generation when she lay on a bed next to my daughter, as my daughter was strangled and nearly killed for the second time by Promise’s father. It was that story that, I won’t even say inspired because that is not the right word anymore, it was a calling on my life to do something. Eventually, I would walk away from that 20 plus year corporate career. I was going to shatter the glass ceiling, let alone just touch it, and I decided that I had to save Promise. I remember the night that I made that decision. I had gotten a call, and my daughter was still in crisis. The next morning after I got her and Promise to safety, I wrote a letter to the only person in the world that I thought could help me. That letter started with, Dear Oprah. And I’ll never forget. That was August 25th, 2007. I said, Dear Oprah, last night my daughter was strangled and almost killed for the second time. In so many words, I said, if you cannot help me save my daughter, help me save Promise. And that would start the launch of Saving Promise. Then, as I began to develop Saving Promise, I walked away from this career. I had no idea how to be an entrepreneur, no idea how to run a nonprofit, no idea even about domestic violence. I learned about it because I wrote my first book, Color Me Butterfly. It was that story that helped me dig into my family’s past, because it was normal for us to be in these abusive relationships. And then struggling to build Saving Promise now over 14 years ago. Then, about five years ago, I started to encounter all of my monsters – fear, worry, doubt, guilt, regret. Regret that maybe I walked away from this career for Saving Promise. I would go on and have all these struggles with these monsters. Then I wrote my third book, called Don’t Look at the Monster. In fact, that was something Promise said to me. And it was that book – when women started to read it and I brought the monsters to life – that book that bore the concept of Monsterise. I have to say, I’m so grateful that I get to live my passion, purpose, and power. My passion is to write. I write stories that matter, like Call Me Butterfly and Don’t Look at the Monster. My purpose is Saving Promise. And my power is using my story, using my mess that’s been transferred into a message. It’s using my journey and my experiences to empower other women.”
L.Y. had a calling to save Promise, which has led to a community that she created that allows women to recognize all the monsters we have and ask, what are we going to do about them? I ask L.Y. to share more about Monsterise and the monsters she is helping women get rid of on a day to day basis.
“Here is the thing,” says L.Y. “I started promoting Don’t Look at the Monster, and women were reading this book. I would go out and speak about it pre-COVID. It was almost as though I opened up Pandora’s box. I gave permission to women to come forward and be vulnerable, and honest, and real. Be real about your monsters. And the biggest monster we all face as women is fear. Fear because we often struggle with confidence, self-esteem issues, guilt, worry, doubt, regret. So, my goal is to say, you know what? I don’t purport that I have figured out a formula, so to speak, or a course, or anything to help people or women specifically overcome their monsters, because you will always have them. What I tried to do is say, you know what? Confront your monsters and do it anyway. Do it anyway! Use those monsters. Use that fear. Use that doubt. Use that worry to propel you forward.”
One of the characteristics of goal achievers is courage. I have found that so many of us want to wait until fear doesn’t exist before we take action. So, I love that L.Y. said you will always have monsters and you have to confront those monsters and do it anyway. We can’t wait for them not to be there. We have to do it anyway. So, I’m curious what strategies or practices L.Y. uses to help us confront our monsters and take action.
“I created this mindset,” begins L.Y. “A mindset around what is needed to really mobilize you, right? Because we become demobilized when we become stuck. So, the first strategy is to acknowledge that you have monsters and identify them. What is it? Is it fear? Is it worry? Doubt? Is it all of the above? Is it regret? Some of us are still struggling from past trauma, even from our childhood. Come to identify it, then confront it – stare it in the face. Say, you know what fear? I see you. I see you worry. I see you doubt. I see you regret and shame. I see you. Then you make a choice. Either you’re going to let your monsters keep you stuck and demobilize you, and just bring you down. Or, you’re going to use those monsters. Like my mama used to say in the south, ‘What don’t break you will make you stronger.’ So, use it. Build on it. Build strength! There is nothing that I have ever gone through that I don’t look back on and thank God. In fact, the subtitle of my book Don’t Look at the Monster says, the gifts, the lessons, and the blessings. Look at everything as a gift. It doesn’t always come bow wrapped. It might be ugly. It might be challenging. For example, if somebody walked out of your life, you know many of us struggle with a hard divorce or issues with our family or children or whatever, sometimes it’s a gift. You don’t see it when you’re in it. You just can’t let it go, right? But then, in hindsight, you’re like thank God! It was a gift, a lesson. Everything that happens to us is either a lesson, a blessing, or a gift. And most of the time, it’s a lesson. I love how Oprah used to say that the first week, we get hit upside the head with a pebble. Then we get hit upside the head with a rock, and then comes the boulder. We sometimes have to wait for the boulder to hit us four or five times before we pay attention. There’s a lesson for you to learn and you’re not open to listening. Look at the lesson and say, what is this here to teach me? Then, finally, a blessing comes when you moved all those things out of the way. Sometimes the blessing isn’t bow wrapped either. So, when you identify your monsters, then confront them, you make a decision to get unstuck. By looking at it as a gift or lesson, or blessing, you can move on and decide what is my next chapter? What is life here for me to do? What is my calling? And then you got to show up. You got to show up and take action. That’s it. There’s no rhyme or reason, or formula. It’s simple. And sometimes things that are too simple. We got to find a way to make them hard. Isn’t that the truth? We don’t have to overcomplicate it. Figure out your calling, and don’t wait for permission. Don’t wait for somebody else to show you or tell you or figure it out for you. Just do it, put one foot and step in front of the other.”
As L.Y. continues, she shares the story of one of her clients, “I have someone in a program of mine. And I had a conversation with her about two weeks ago to join this program that helps women step into their business idea. My goal is to make as many women as I can be entrepreneurs. I had a conversation with her about two weeks ago, and she was on the fence. So, we scheduled a follow-up yesterday. She got on the call yesterday and said, you know what? I got some news. I was like, yes? She said I quit my job. I’m doing this. Do you know what I said to her? Hallelujah! You can always get another job. Find a way to do it! There is a book called Find A Way by Diana Nyad. She was a woman that kept failing at her goal, and she’s 60 something years old. She wanted to defy what people told her she couldn’t do and swim from Cuba to Florida. On her last attempt, she had been swimming for like 24 hours. Meanwhile, she’s surrounded by sharks. She’s being eaten alive by jellyfish. Her face and her head are as big as a whale. Her body is swollen. She cannot stroke one more time. Now to break the record, she can swim up to the boat that’s guiding her, but she cannot get on. She cannot touch it. The support team can throw little sardines in her mouth. They can squirt water in her mouth. But if she touches the boat or tries to get up in the boat, she will be disqualified. So, she swam up to the side of the boat. And she looked at her partner. Her eyes were slanted shut. She couldn’t even look because the salt water was killing her eyes. She swam up to get enough energy to tell her she wanted to quit. Her partner, her coach, said ‘Look at me Diana.’ Diana recounts that she struggled to get her eyes open because the salt was burning so bad. Think of that salt that she was dealing with as our monsters. Think of that salt as those who tell us we can’t do it. Think of that salt as those moments where you want to give up because it feels too hard. So, Diana’s coach said, look at me. And she said to her, find a way, and she pushed her back in the water. Find a way meaning, find a way to go for that next stroke. Don’t think about the stroke after that. Just try to get that arm up and go for the next stroke, then the next stroke, then the next stroke, and then the next stroke. One stroke at a time, while you’re surrounded by sharks! What they don’t show us in that documentary – later you see it – is that, meanwhile, not only are the jellyfish stinging Diana and sucking her dry, but because of the blood that’s pouring from her, sharks are surrounding her. The support team has rifles ready to shoot a shark that is ready to eat her alive. So, when you have those sharks, jellyfishes, and the stinging and burning, find a way, find a way.”
So often, we wait for this magic answer or a quick way to do something. But what I hear L.Y. say is, there’s no magic to all this. The strategy is to find your way, confront your monsters, and take action. No one is going to do it for you.
“No one is going to do it for you,” L.Y. reiterates. “Those boats around Diana with those sharks and her coach, her team of about 100 people that put on this thing for her to break the world record. None of them could do it for her. She had to find her way, one stroke at a time. So, you might have a team. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a team. I’m not saying you shouldn’t ask for help, or even swim up to the side of the boat. You might have to do that. But one stroke at a time, get back in that water. Dive back with those sharks. Know that those jellyfish are going to suck you dry. The jellyfish are that you’re out of money. You don’t have the resources. You don’t have the time. You just lost your job. And if your calling isn’t to serve, if you don’t know your why, that’s why you’re being eaten alive and allowing yourself to be sucked dry because you don’t have a greater purpose than yourself.”
I ask L.Y. to share how we can discover our calling.
“Here’s the thing,” L.Y. says. “I’m going to talk like my mama did and say, there ain’t a soul on planet earth that does not have a purpose and a calling. The question is, are you ready to hear yours? And are you ready to receive it? Sometimes we go chasing other stuff. I had one person that I was helping, and she was like, you know, I want to do this. I want to sell cell phones or something. So I asked, that is your calling? And when she told me her story, I said your calling is for a greater, deeper purpose. You know what your calling is. Maybe as a kid, you used to love writing. But somehow, you have gotten away from it. You decided, oh, I want to sing. You can sing, but your calling is to write. You have to pay attention. I love the saying, ‘When people pay, they pay attention.’ You might be paying for pain and struggle and trauma because you’re not paying attention. Pay doesn’t always come in the realm of monetary. It might come in the realm of a lesson. Pay attention, you know, deep down in your belly to what your calling is. Are you ready to hear it and listen? Stop chasing stuff that you know is not where it’s supposed to be.”
That was a message I needed several years ago, because yes, I was chasing something I thought I wanted. I thought I needed. And I was too scared. All these monsters kept me from leaning into the calling on my heart to become a coach and help other people achieve their goals. So that message is incredibly powerful.
I reflect on all the insights that L.Y. shared during our conversation. She talked about paying attention to the pebbles, the rocks, and the boulders. And reminded us that sometimes those boulders are going to come at us multiple times. She also taught us to acknowledge our monsters. Give them a name. Is it fear, regret, guilt, shame? And then make a choice. We get to choose if we want to stay stuck or if we want to do something about it. She also shared the empowering message that the journey to greatness is not going to be easy. We are going to face adversity, disappointments. The question is, what are we going to do about it?
I ask L.Y. where to go to learn more about Monsterise and the incredible work she is doing. She suggests her website, lymarlow.com or to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before we close, she shares that she was so excited about our conversation. “I woke up this morning, and I went for a walk with my buddy Henry, my one-year-old Greyhound,” says L.Y. “And as I’m walking, I am saying to the universe, to God, thank you that I get to live my purpose. That I get to do what I’m passionate about! That I get to have the power and the integrity to do this. There’s something that many people don’t know about me, and that is that I’m an introvert! Like Beyoncé, I put on my Sasha Fierce! Beyoncé talked about her fears in the past and turning on Sasha Fierce, so I will say the same. Turn on your Sasha Fierce if you don’t have it within you naturally. If you’re an introvert like me, do it anyway!”
With that goal achievers, keep celebrating your weekly wins, learning from your lessons, and identifying your priorities. So, you can consistently pursue progress in the direction of your goals.