Are you playing small? Do you ask for what you want? And if you do ask, do you find that you get what you want, or at least get what you need?

Last month was the third annual Climb Out of the Darkness. A global event to raise awareness for postpartum depression and other maternal mental illnesses. Teams all across the world hiked mountains, walked on trails, or even simply sat on their couch with other moms, and collectively we raised over $229,000! Incredible, right?

This year, I chose to be a team leader here in Reno, NV. It was a last minute decision for me, but one that had been in the back of my mind for quite some time. I say it was last minute because even though for the past fourteen months or so of thinking about it, I stayed hesitant and unsure. I lacked confidence, keeping myself in this limbo between yes and no.

HikeI’ll make the suspense short, mostly because you already know that I chose “yes” and partly because I don’t want to bore you with the little voices of discussion and debate that were going on in my head (you know, you have them too!).

I signed up about a month before the date of the hike, June 20st 2015 – longest day of the year and a fitting representation of the light that shines on all of us climbing out of the darkness of depression. Once I made the decision, it was full steam ahead, no stopping until I passed go, get out of my way I’m doing this! And it was, literally. Everything that I could got shelved and put on hold so I could focus on this event. Yes, life still happened and kids still happened, but my focus was clear and the hike was my priority.

Lesson One: Make a decision so you can actually move forward! Did you realize that indecision is actually a decision not to move forward? Choose (realistically) quickly and then course correct as you go along if needed – it’s better than wallowing in uncertainty.

Speaking of lack of confidence, as a team leader it was my responsibility to not only get people to join my hike but also to fundraise. The process was relatively easy as everything was set up for us through Postpartum Progress (the non-profit host, founder and organizer of the event) via Crowdrise (online funding platform). As I set up my team page, I was asked to input a “fundraising goal.” This scared me, I’ll be honest.

I don’t like asking for money – even when it’s a donation for a good cause, and this hike was a GREAT cause, and one very near and dear to my heart and soul. In the back of my mind there was a number that popped out quite clearly: $1,000. No, I couldn’t possibly put $1,000. That’s too much. I’ll never reach that goal. I’ll look stupid and like a failure. What if I’m the only one that makes a donation? Those were the voices in my head, and I listened. I chickened out and only put $500.

About a week before the hike, I was $55 away from reaching my $500 goal. I started to get excited, and that I might actually reach it! So I put out a post on social media and an email out to family and friends asking for small donations – 11 people at $5… that seemed manageable to ask for. Within hours, before I went to bed that night, I had not only reached my goal, but surpassed it and was now at $700! WOW! I was blown away. Then something truly amazing happened. I started believing that I could reach my original “before-I-chickened-out” goal of $1,000.

PPD walkI asked a few more people, I kept sharing the link and telling people about my hike and my fundraiser. I swallowed my pride and made a couple of direct requests to some close friends, still for small amounts, and then by morning the following day… I hit $1,000! Talk about feeling stunned and humbled all at the same time. By the day of the hike I had raised $1,200!!!

Lesson Two: Listen to your gut and your intuition. Don’t question yourself by letting doubt creep in. Believe you can do what you set out to do. Have faith in yourself! Don’t dwell on the what-ifs or the possibility of failure. Focus on what’s possible.

walkingAnother fast forward to the day of the hike. We had 10 adults, 7 kids and the local Channel 2 News. YUP! This mama got over her fear of making phone calls (sounds ridiculous, I know, but it’s true… I dread the phone sometimes), and fully reaped the rewards of getting some much needed media coverage.

It was another goal of mine in the back of my head, to have the local news there to do a story. And I will admit, I had the same doubt and lack of confidence, and little gremlins telling me I wasn’t worth it. But I had the tools (which started by asking for contacts or connections to anyone in the media – TV, radio, print… all and any), and there was no reason I shouldn’t call. After all, this was something important to me and important for PPD awareness.

After the initial contact with the three local news stations, I was feeling fairly good about one of them (Channel 2). Two days prior to the hike I re-sent the press release but this time added a really powerful video that was created specifically for our hike by Postpartum Progress (if you haven’t seen it yet, beware, it might make you cry…… here’s the link) and I added a personal note and request. I don’t remember my exact words, but basically I asked for them to please show up and give some media coverage to this illness that affects 1 in 7 women every single year.

What do you know? The next morning I get a phone call… from Channel 2 News, asking what time they can meet me at my hike on Saturday. That’s when I had a slightly silent panic attack mixed with a happy dance celebration. I couldn’t believe it. I got the attention of the media – and ultimately an interview, some video coverage, and my 10 seconds of fame on the 5’oclock news. Now I know this news story wasn’t about me, it was about a bigger cause, but you have to agree that was a big WIN for me.

Watch the video clip here.

Lesson Three: Ask for what you want! The answer is always “no” until you ask, and you never know how many times it could have been a “yes.” Often times we make up stories of why people wouldn’t want to help us, and it stops us from even asking in the first place. Wouldn’t it be better if we could tell the real stories of how people did step up to help?
PPD WalkThe entire experience of me leading the hike this year put a lot of things into perspective for me. It gave me confidence that I can gather a group of people together, raise money for a great cause, get exposure for myself and for postpartum depression, and it helped me bust down a little more of my fear of getting out there. Those are all really great take-aways, but the one thing it taught me most of all, the one area I saw myself and didn’t particularly like what I saw, was where else in my life am I playing too small?

So my challenge to you is this: Find something you are passionate about and go after it with all you’ve got. Don’t hold back. Don’t take no for an answer. Don’t stop until you’re where you want to be. Don’t play small!

I’d love for you to share with me what BIG thing you are going after.

With Love and Mommy Hugs,
Pamela Zimmer