When I first decided I wanted to launch the SheHive, my mentor invited me to come talk to him about my idea - but only if I brought a prototype with me. The SheHive was, in my original vision, a three-story Victorian home, so I got the idea to layout my prototype in a doll house. I'd decorate each room the way I saw the SheHive in my head.
Only problem? I had just quit my job - I didn't have the money to buy a doll house at the time. (Well, I did - but my money views were very skewed at the time). So I opted to lay out my dream in a $2.69 green, spiral sketchbook with a dolphin on the cover from Rite Aid.
I sat down at the kitchen table with a tub of glittery gel pens and spent a whole night, from 10 pm - 4 am the next morning, sketching out the visions I had in my head. The first page? The speech that had inspired the vision - Teddy Roosevelt's The Man in the Arena. I had discovered it via a Brene Brown TedTalk. It quickly morphed into the (Wo)Man in the Arena.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the (wo)man who points out how the strong (wo)man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the (wo)man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends (her)self in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Next up? The mission. What was this dream all about? I decided to test my creative confidence and added a drawing of a beehive that ended up looking like a big, orange, poop emoji. I am now confident that my creativity has some limitations.
Frame of Reference
The SheHive has always been hard to explain - it doesn't exist anywhere else (or at least didn't at the time). My accountant still tells me every time we meet that she can't wrap her head around what we actually do here - or, more accurately, why anyone pays for it. It's a different concept, so I needed a frame of reference that would help me explain it.
The SheHive is based off of the Women's Community Y in Leavenworth, Kansas - a space where I spent much of my childhood. I took classes there for what felt like years. At the Y I learned to dance, make friends, act, speak, shut up, plant food, nap, get outside.... The SheHive was my adult version of the Y, a place where I could learn about all facets of myself as an adult.
Side note: I had just bought a new printer and didn't know how to connect it to my computer yet, so I scanned a picture of the Y on my phone and taped it to the page. And, having not been home for the better part of a decade (thanks to a busy career, grad school and lots of volunteer work), we didn't have any scotch tape, but I did have, for some odd reason, fuchsia pink leopard print duct tape. In retrospect, it's fitting.
Room by Room
Page by page I started to lay out each space in the SheHive. It was three stories - each named for an important woman in my life. The first story, named for my paternal Grandmother, was a space for group conversations. The second, named for my maternal Grandmother was where one-on-one conversations would take place. Lastly, the top of the house, named for my mother, was where those important internal conversations would take place.
Every space was going to be designed to maximize the brave conversations that I wanted to spark - and wanted to be a part of...
The first room I laid out was our co-working space (though it became the second space we actually built out.). An extreme extrovert by nature, I always knew I needed to be surrounded by lively and smart people as I worked. Luckily we have a full-to-capacity co-working space now, but I worked at the SheHive, alone, for much of the first six months and it nearly killed the dream. I'd rather forgo my dream that have to go it alone.
The first time a group of us worked for the day inside the SheHive, it was a quiet as a pin drop - no one knowing if it was okay to talk or not. I finally spoke up and told them all I would buy them lunch if they would talk to me. Luckily they haven't shut up since.
An important part of your any future vision is knowing yourself well enough to know how you have to work, just not where or what you'll be doing.
Originally I had thought the SheHive had to be rolled out all at once - from top to bottom. It nearly stalled the dream before it began. I had just quit my job - I was in no position to buy a second home.
My mentor suggested testing one room at a time - an iterative approach to this grand experiment. "Try one room for 100 days," he suggested. Suddenly I knew I could do it - I can do anything for three months. The Arena (also known as the main classroom) was the first room we piloted. In my mind's eye the room looked like the inside of the I Dream of Jeannie bottle.
On to the second story for the one-on-one conversations - to talk about the past with your SheHive therapist and future vision with your SheHive coach.
On the third story we got silent and had those very important internal conversations we need to have in our head through yoga and meditation.
Even the front porch and the back deck were laid out. Every inch of the SheHive was created as a space that would connect women with each other to learn a little bit more about themselves.
Dancing on the Deck
By 3 a.m., when I started to lay out the back deck and outside space, I was giddy from lack of sleep. SheHivers were dancing on the railing, drinking wine...
Sharing the Dream
After sharing my original prototype with my mentor, he encouraged me to share it with others. I made a list of who I thought those others would be - women that I wanted to spend more time with. Some bought into the dream early on, some never warmed to it. One hundred of the right people - many whom I din't yet know - showed up to take their place.
I carried my notebook all over town, sharing my idea with my network of women. Each began to add their own flavor and new pages began to emerge in the book.
Cindy gave me a space to test the idea. Amanda introduced me to Andrea who would eventually help launch the pilot space. Christine gave us the idea that the SheHive should be centered on the idea of "life on the other side of should." Sandie thought it would be cool to have a bare room painted white where women could sit and dream of what they could do there. Martha taught me about beehives and how they could be used as a frame of reference for the community. Someone asked me what "brave" meant because I used the word a lot...
My husband even got in on the fun and suggested there be a HeHive, a man cave tucked in the basement. I told him I'd consider it if they agreed to use the back door.
Start with Why
My therapist suggested I get clear on why I was going to launch this dream. My mentor suggested that I define a set of "no matter whats" for how I wanted to show up in it.
Why it Mattered
Nowadays I look back on my original vision and am in awe of how much of it has come to be in just a few short years. More importantly, however, I'm struck by how much of it morphed into something entirely different because of the input of the thousands that walk through its doors and the thirty that hold it close enough to their heart to make it a continual reality.
I would have never been able to share it with any of them had I not been prompted to get it out on paper.
Defining a vision can be a scary proposition. It's scary to think that I can claim a dream that might not ever come true. What happens if it doesn't happen?
But what happens if it does?
This is what happens if it does. It morphs, it changes, it twists and it turns. The right people show up to make it become what it was always supposed to be. The initial spark, your vision, was only the incubator to something a million times better than you could have ever imagined because you just didn't know yet what you didn't know.
But none of it happens if you don't dare - dare greatly - to put it out into the world.
What's your dream?
Do you have a dream you're dying to get out into the world? I want to hear all about it! Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop a comment below.
With much love and gratitude,
Ursula Adams, MSPOD