Janna Taylor | If You Get Defensive, You’re Getting Close

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Several months ago, my friend Kathleen Stone introduced me to Manhattan entrepreneur Janna Taylor. Knowing of Janna's pedigree and track record, I was surprised to read that she had initially been defensive when people suggested she open her own tutoring business.

I had unequivocally believed that if people saw possibilities for us that we couldn't ourselves see, we would readily and gratefully embrace these possibilities. Yet as I reflected on my own life, I found that this has not always been the case.

BUT, here's what I've discovered — the more defensive I become, the closer I am to identifying my dream.

With Janna having pinpointed defensiveness as a bane, but especially a boon, to daring to dream, I've asked her to ‘tell her story'.

May you be as encouraged as I was.


In fall 2007, I opened Mind Full Tutors, a tutoring company located on the upper east side of Manhattan. Even though starting a tutoring business had been my dream for several years, I resisted pursuing it like a stubborn mule.

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Prior to receiving a Master's of Education at Harvard, I'd helped build a successful tutoring company. But when I graduated, I took a job working for a non-profit teacher education program with no plan to start a tutoring business. Even though my work for the non-profit was meaningful, I was unhappy. The job responsibilities did not play to my strengths and were far from the “action” of educating students.

When I complained to friends about my job, many responded with, “When are you going to start your tutoring company?” Each time, I met this encouragement with defensive responses such as, “There is no way I can do that,” “I can’t even think about that right now” and “Maybe someday…I don’t know.”

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I have wondered — why was I defensive?

Firstly, I was protecting my heart. I fervently wanted this dream to be a reality. But to pursue the dream would be to expose it to possible failure. I wondered if my heart could bear the disappointment.

Secondly, I was deflecting guilt for not acting authentically. I knew in my bones that part of living authentically was to start my own tutoring company. Because I knew it was going to be difficult and risky, I resisted.

These two factors blinded me to the possibility of success.

After several more months of job dissatisfaction, I decided to take a chance on what my friends and family could see, and what I had lost sight of. I wrote a business plan and five months later opened Mind Full Tutors. When I shared this news with my loved ones, all of the responses were akin to, “Finally!”

So what were my friends seeing that I wasn’t?

My friends saw an open road to success, where I saw barricades and roadblocks. They saw abilities, where I saw deficiencies. They saw, “Why not?” and I saw, “Because…” They saw my need to live with passion and purpose, and I saw a need to compromise because of fear.

I’ve learned that others can play an important role in anchoring us to our dreams. They remind us of what we can and are meant to accomplish in this life. While it is true that some people can detract us from our dreams, those who know us the best often see us for what we are – women of great ability and purpose.

Mind Full Tutors has been in business for almost a year now. My heart feels alive and I know that I am making difference in the world every day – one student at a time.

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How would your loved ones respond if you asked them, “What do you see is my dream? And what qualities and abilities do I possess to make my dream a reality?”

Have ever felt defensive when someone mentions you should fulfill your dream? If so, why?

Have you ever fulfilled a, “Finally!” dream?

Related posts:

Play to Your Strengths
Rock Climbing and Rethinking Our Competence
What is Your Dream?
Walking Through the Unknown

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