Nuggets From Shelly Ehler's Call
Posted by LuAnn Cooley on Nov 6, 2019
Shelly Ehler may be best known for her successful appearance on Shark Tank, but her lesser-known story of turning failure on its head is one of inner transformation. Shelly appeared on ABC's reality TV show in 2012, in which an entrepreneur seeks an investment from five venture capitalists who happily call themselves "sharks." Shelly is the only entrepreneur in the show's 11 seasons to have left with a check in her hand for her creation. Having lost her home from the recession, Shelly viewed her success as nothing short of a miracle. But nothing quite worked out. The business deal fell through and she never received the investment. But following the show’s airing, Shelly heard from thousands of people that she’d given them reason to believe in themselves. As she began reexamining her story, she saw that her perceived failure was actually her greatest source of resilience and inspiration, and that her purpose wasn’t to sell but to serve.
Below are some of the nuggets from the call that stood out for me ...
While changing her children at the swimming pool, Shelly was trying to hold a towel around her son, when her younger son asked for help. She had one of the “Calgon take me away moments.” An idea to put something over them came to her like a “surge of electricity from head to toe” at 4 a.m. and woke her up-- Put a slit in a towel and slip it over them. Instantly, the “party crasher” mind told her someone must be doing this. She jumped out of bed and got on the computer, “googled” her idea. There wasn't anything like her idea. There were other hoodie towels like a ducky, bunnies, but nothing as simple as a towel with a slit on it and none that weren’t for toddlers. She asked herself, “How could this be?” The answer came: “because it's been waiting for you.”
“Me? How could this be? I have no money, training, this couldn't be for me,” she argued.
“None of that matters. Don't focus on the how. That's the easy part. You have to attach to the faith. Take one step and the next will appear,” she heard clearly.
Although Shelly couldn’t believe she heard correctly, she did all this soul searching and went into the closet and made some. “I took them to the pool and people started asking about them.” And then ”everything I needed was there. I went to buy towels and they were 50% off. I went to buy supplies at Joann's and there was a coupon in the mail. Everything I needed was there…I didn't have the financial resources, but I was snappy and I knew how to attract things into my life. I wrote a focus list and how I wanted to make this business grow. Giving thanks for everything: partner, advertisement, that my towel would be on the Today Show, in Disneyland and in time, they all showed up… All these things happened because I followed this one little voice that I didn't have to wonder how. I still have a difficult time wrapping my head around what happened, but it all did (happen) without my knowing how. Everything was leading and building and I kept thinking. I couldn't imagine that my product was going to be on Shark Tank, be in Disney and my head was exploding on what this was going to be for me financially and for my family.”
Then she was on Shark Tank and was promised a check. “I never received the funding. I did sell in Disneyland, but it didn't perform as expected. When it premiered on Shark Tank, it didn't sell. It was just so wrong and felt like a true injustice. The day after my episode aired, I expected my email to be flooded with orders, but it was filled with emails. I didn't want to get out of bed. I heard a voice, ‘Get up and read your emails. This may not look like you think it's going to, but it doesn't mean it's wrong. Get up and go read your email.’ I finally read my email and my inbox was flooded with messages like, "Dear Shelly, I sobbed. I've gone through the same thing, but I saw you and know that if you can do it so can I."
It was this moment of ‘whoa!’ ‘Dear Shelly, my whole family was jumping on the couch-- you give me hope.’ ‘Dear Shelly-- I know I believe I can do it, too.’
I cried and cried and cried. I received so much love. I didn't receive the orders, but the love. I'd never received love like this. I spent the next 2 weeks readings every message and replying to every one. That's when I had this ‘aha’ moment. 'You were judging yourself. Maybe you were on the show to spread hope and inspiration. Maybe it was never about a towel.' When I was able to see it in that perspective. Every cell in my body said, ‘Yes, that's true.’
When I attached to that belief, I didn't see myself as a failure anymore. Maybe this is the beginning of something new. Something bigger, better than a towel. Maybe my purpose is to spread hope and inspiration. That's better than selling a towel.
It was difficult. It took me several years to really heal from the experience because I felt broken from the experience. I've learned how to learn from this experience. When we call it a mistake, that's a judgment. We put a label on it. It just is. If we can see it as something that is other than bad, then we can maybe glean other opportunities to it. Maybe if you could look at it through another lens, this lens of truth, of love, out of the space of your heart instead of your head. Everything we're judging, we're doing from our ego mind. Every opportunity, comes to teach us something.
So in any disappointment, ask it. ‘What have you come to show me, to teach me?’ When you get still and answer that question from stillness and heartspace, you will get your answer and when you get your answer you will be able to be at peace, move through it and bless it.
It has become much easier for me through this practice. In the past I might judge it as wrong. Now when I feel that agitation, that's when I need to spread light on it. What are you feeling? What thought brought this about? Examine that thought. Ask that thought if it's true. A lot of times, it might not be true. It might be something we're writing a story about.
First, examine the thought and go to that thought through your heartspace. Is it true? When you shine light on something that is irritating, you'll be able to see it in a different way.” For example, “Being cut off in traffic: what's happening is our ego mind is getting angry, being angry, but shift the perspective and come from the space of that person. I don't know who they are, their stress, but bless them. They must be feeling unhappy or there could be something difficult going on in their life. Look at it from compassion. Compassion helps to dissolve so much anger. It is a tool to use to move through.
I don't know what you must be going through, maybe you're in pain. I'm so sorry for your pain and that shifts everything. How can you feel anger with someone after you've felt compassion for them?"
Shelly is not concerned about being “a doormat.” She says, “I don't feel there is such a thing. No one can take advantage of you unless you let them. It's just a way that you frame it.'"
She cautions about timing when encouraging others. “Sometimes when someone is going through something challenging or traumatic, the last thing they want to hear is everything works out like it's supposed to, everything works out. That's hard to accept when you're going through a hard time. Believe that that is true, accept it, give thanks for it, but not to share with someone in the moment. I usually share that the best thing to do is to try to use gratitude to pull you through it. Gratitude is a transformational tool, one of the most powerful in the universe, but if you can find something to be grateful for in the moment. Asking what am I to be grateful for? Firefighters, people giving you shelter, people donating, people sending prayers, insurance company. If you start attaching your vibration to gratitude and letting that expand, that gratitude and energy will pull you through that difficult time.
What we focus on is what's missing and wrong and that part expands and we experience it over and over and over again. But if you can shift, and start being thankful for one thing at a time and letting that expand, it will pull your through it.
Shelly calls herself the #1 Oprah fan. “I started watching her show when it started and watched pretty religiously until it ended. I've learned some of my greatest spiritual lessons from Oprah Winfrey. My ‘aha’ moments I learned from her show. More recently she started the OWN network, life class, and spiritual Sunday. I think she's fantastic. The last episode of the Oprah Show, May 25 and Oprah was giving, the very last show, no audience, she was just talking about the top 10 lessons she learned during the show. I was listening intently and #5, you have to open to receive. After 25 years, I've learned that so many people don't feel worthy. You have to open to receive. You have to feel worthy. It brought me to my knees. That was a lesson I had been hearing, but had not been open to receive. We had been going through this horrible time and I was wanting to do it myself. Family would ask and I would say, ‘Everything's fine.’ People would ask and I would say, ‘We're fine.’ My mom left me a $200 check and I threw it in the trash. Open to receive was a lesson. I couldn't allow myself to receive. It was this pride in me. That lesson came into me. I dropped to my knees and I started sobbing. ‘I'm opening to receive. I know I'm worthy. I'm ready and I know I'm worthy.’ I rocked back and forth and crying like someone was dying. I came to realize that the part of me that didn't want to receive was dying. The next morning when I woke up, I felt renewed.
My phone rings a couple of days later and it was from New York. It was a producer from the Today show. ‘We're doing a show on mom's with ideas and we want to show your towel on our show.’ Miracles are waiting if you will open.
The last week of the Oprah show, the last one with an audience, she presented her #1 favorite guest. Tererai Trent. She came from a village in Zimbabwe, already had several children. A woman came to talk to them. This woman from Heifer International told them that if you believe in a dream, there's nothing you can't accomplish. She was breathing life and hope into them. Write down your dreams and bury them so they can grow up to the sky.
Terarai wrote, “#1 I want to go to America. #2 I want a bachelors degree. #3 A Ph.D.’ It's just this amazing feeling. If she accomplished what she did with what she had, name one thing that you can't achieve. It inspired me so deeply. I couldn't stop thinking about it. If she wrote her dreams on a piece of paper, buried it, and let it grow to the sky, then why can't I?
I wrote my dreams, put the paper in an Altoids tin, and buried it. I shared it with her (Terarai). Maybe I should share this idea with her and sell dream cans, sell them during her speaking engagements and she could raise money for her school. Eventually I found her on Facebook. She sent me her email and said she was busy, and she'd look at it. I shared it with her and the very next day, she called me.
She said, ‘I have had the exact same vision, but I don't know how to do it, but do you? She asked if I could do it for her. So, we worked together and put it on a website. We did this for a while until she could take it over. So, I am friends with Oprah's favorite guest. On my bucket list, I'm going to Africa and work with Tererai and work in service. I've seen it and I know it will come to be, to serve in her school and work alongside her.”
Shelly explained negative thoughts that intrude, “The party crasher is the voice of the ego mind and constantly running, telling us everything that we've done wrong, our limits, I'm better than, I'm my possessions, what I do and none of it is true. It is the primary voice that drives us, constantly chattering in our brains all day long and very disheartening because we believe that voice, follow that voice, not knowing that there's another voice. But you have to be still to hear it. Attaching through stillness is where you learn who you are. The mind is always is going to tell you why you can't. The heart will tell you to dream bigger.
Balance is always difficult. It isn't possible to stay completely balanced. One way is by scheduling my day. Putting things in my calendar. That's how I make sure I'm taking care of the things I need to and need to be done for children, family time. I've been blessed in that I have a supportive family. When I have to spend time doing workshops and doing the things that I do, they're cheering me on, they tell me they are so proud of me and what can they do. My husband asks, ‘how can I support you, how can I help you?’ I have tremendous support and I know not everybody does. I'm very blessed.”
Shelly also stays balanced through having fun with her family. “We have a family tradition of celebrating our dog's birthdays ever since our Yorkie (was a puppy). We had 17 people for dinner to celebrate. It's all ridiculousness. We eat in dog bowls. I made chili and served it in dog bowls. The whole house is filled with pictures of the dog. Everyone has face masks of the dog. It's just a fun family tradition.”
She is even practicing equanimity when it comes to her towel idea. “There was one stone I had not overturned: that the towel was actually meant for people with disabilities. I heard that this was to help people with disabilities, who needed assistance and wrap them in love…. My vision is to expand this work. I would love my towel business to take off in the disability space. I'm really not attached to how it has to look. God's the CEO and we are just cruising and we are seeing what will show up. I'm not interested in pushing anything anymore. I'm moving into the space of allowing.”
“My ultimate dream is to be an inspirational speaker. I have a book that is in me that will be birthed at some point. I would like to be an author, speaker, and spiritual teacher. I am a spiritual life coach at the church I attend. I love the concepts.”
Joy and passion fuel her energy. “I feel very blessed and the most important medicine I take is just love and connecting to the universe and source and getting myself in a good space and asking how I may serve and moving in that direction in whatever way I can.”
Showno.com is her website and you can contact her there if you need a towel. “If I were to take credit, then that would be not authentic. The towel did not come from me. It came through me. I felt the energy of it come through me. When we're connected to Source, so many blessings come through us, but if I were to tell you that it came from me, it would feel hypocritical. I wouldn't give credit from where it really came from. It's important for me to give credit where credit is due. It came through me. In my Shark Tank (interview), I presented really well and have been asked how. I laughed. It wasn't me. It was so special because Spirit was working through me. I surrendered. I kind of don't remember a lot of it. I am the vessel, and just really a conduit. I've had that ability my whole life. I never realized what a gift it was. It is natural to me. When I got to college I began to see it as a gift. I had to give a last-minute speech and it just came through me as if I'd been preparing for weeks. That was one of the first times I remember thinking, ’Huh, I've got some interesting mojo.’
“I didn't feel very talented as a kid, didn't feel like I had any gifts or called to do anything. I never felt like I had a calling or knew I was gifted in any way. In high school I remember wondering what I was going to do with my life. I heard a voice saying, ‘You're a good speaker, maybe you're discounting that.’ I thought about whether that was something you could do. Then thought an inspirational speaker has overcome incredible odds. Here I was this vanilla girl with no story to tell, but when life has a calling. My life twisted and turned and I learned so many things because of it, but I've found my story. I've learned that I was always supposed to be a speaker, but it took longer than I thought. ‘What's your heart telling you?’ Even if it sounds ridiculous because your heart is always telling you.
I love stories where miraculous things happen at the end.” She writes about miracles on her blog, “I had misplaced my mail key and it was on my key ring, my intuitive voice had been telling me to change it or you will lose it. That's exactly what happened. I lost the mail key. The next day when I realized it was gone, I retraced my steps back and forth and imagined every possible trajectory. We looked everywhere and I couldn't find the mail key. I was beating myself up because I didn't listen. The next day I was waiting until the mail man came and I asked him if he had seen my key and he said no. He said I had to go to the Post Office and pay $80 and get a new one.
I was in the middle of reading Michael Beckwith about life visioning. I was in the part of it about the process of forgiveness and letting go and through a meditative process, drop a bunch of things that weren't serving me. The next day my mail key was sitting in the hole. The mailman didn't do it. It came about through shedding all the things that didn't serve me, not worrying about the money. Logic could say someone put it there, but my heart said it was a little miracle. Everything is possible and here's your key to prove it.
I'm attached to anything is possible and visioning. I was chatting with a friend who told me about the Hamilton lottery app. I wasn't attached to this is how I'm going, but started playing the Hamilton lottery app, giving thanks, listening to the music, learning the raps. I love sharing that with my children. If that's something Mom can do, then anyone can do it. Put yourself in that vibration and the law of attraction and it's yours.
You can reach me at showno.com. I'm active on FaceBook, @shownotowels on Instagram. Please let me know if there's any way I can serve you. My mission is to spread inspiration and hope, please don't hesitate to reach out. I love all opportunities. If I can serve you in any way, please don't hesitate to reach out. I send blessings to all of you. I truly am humbled for this opportunity.
Lots of gratitude to all the behind-the-scenes volunteers that made this call happen!