Stretch Marks aka Entrepreneurship 101
Entrepreneurship has taught me more about myself than any personal or professional development work I’ve done over the past three decades. If you’re an entrepreneur, chances are you know what I am referring to. If you don’t, and if you’re lucky enough to continue playing in the world of entrepreneurship, you will get an opportunity to experience what I’m referring to. Entrepreneurship has caused me to stretch and grow in so many areas of my life, and I’ll admit, it hasn’t all been a bed of roses.
My work as a speaker, trainer and coach allows me the wonderful opportunity take on soul searching as a daily practice. A part of that daily practice as I am confronted with setbacks and challenges, is to ask myself WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) – because I can forget. I imagine as an entrepreneur, a leader in your career, or as a person striving to be your highest and best self each day, you’ve had setbacks too. I don’t proclaim to be an expert in this entrepreneurship game – I assert that there aren’t any experts and that there is always room for learning and growing. What I do proclaim is that business ownership offers several valuable lessons that we all can benefit from when we are confronted with “How do I keep going?”. I offer you these few tips for you to consider when you feel like giving up. These tips will help you to embrace the personal and professional stretching side of entrepreneurship and to remind yourself of what’s in this for you.
1. Take a breath. Yes. Sounds simple right? It is and can help you clear your mind and hit the reset button. Lee Hiller London said “Between each breath is a moment to be reborn.” Sometimes when I am confronted with decisions to make or feeling overwhelmed by the business owner’s overflowing to do list, simply taking a walk and getting fresh air helps to clear my mind so I can think more clearly. I challenge you to take it on and to go even further by carving out time each day to hit reset by taking a quick break. Taking that breaks gives your mind a chance to rest and can open up new ideas and opportunities you hadn’t considered.
2. Don’t look to the left or right aka Stop comparing yourself to others. I’ve worked with several business owners and leaders who beat themselves up when they compare themselves to others. When you get discouraged with where you are in life take a look inside and see if you are comparing yourself with someone else. It usually looks like thoughts of “I wish I could…like…” or “I should have… like he did”. I love Kristine Roberts’ quote “To compare is to despair” because it reminds us that comparing yourself to others is a path to disappointment. Instead, consider looking at what’s underneath your comparing. Is it that you admire your colleague’s expertise, or where they are in their lives, or something that they have? Use that energy to create a plan of action towards having those things or attributes for yourself. Also surrounding yourself with people who are where you want to be or have the attributes you desire, can help inspire you to stay in action.
3. Ride the wave. Remind yourself that life can be a rollercoaster – one moment you’re up and the next your down. If you shift your mindset to one where you begin to expect the mountaintops and the valleys, the valleys will be less devastating and have less of a chance of knocking you completely out of the game. Plan for the valleys by putting structures in place to remind you that there’s a wondrous mountaintop around the bend. Also, let the valleys be an opportunity to learn something new about yourself or try out a different way to solve the problem or approach the issue. What would you create in your business if you viewed entrepreneurship as a rollercoaster of possibility?
4. Keep your eyes on the prize. I had a meeting with a prospective corporate client and it was tough. I felt as though I was being grilled. My first thought could have been to throw in the towel, say forget it and move on to another conversation that was easier, but I reminded myself of the end result I was after. This contract could yield a big financial return for our leadership development and training company and potentially open doors for additional work. So I got curious about what was in it for the prospective client and began to listen more intently. What I discovered is that she was overwhelmed and really needed support so I opened the conversation up to how our programs could specifically support her vision and lighten her workload. The conversation quickly shifted in a positive direction and resulted in an opportunity. Remind yourself of what you are after, recommit to your goal, and keep your eyes on the prize by not allowing distractions to derail you.
5. Remember your “What for”. When you get discouraged remember why you started. Oftentimes we get so removed from the reason that we started pursuing a goal, or became an entrepreneur, or started that new position, that discouragement can set in. Go back to the beginning and remind yourself of your “what for” – what was the reason you started down this path? I encourage my coaching clients to write down their “why” before starting a project so that they can revisit it weeks or months later and remember that they are in a marathon and not a sprint. Revisiting their “what for” helps them to be present with what is working well at the time instead of being overwhelmed by the setbacks they are experiencing.
6. Tally up those wins! As we work towards fulfilling on a goal and making our entrepreneurial dreams a reality, we can forget how far we’ve come and where we’ve succeeded. My corporate and individual clients find this practice very helpful when tackling a big goal or managing a big change. Consider taking an accounting of what has worked along the way and post a visual reminder of how you have been successful. What have you accomplished thus far? What worked well? When were you your most successful self and how did you feel? Remembering your wins along the way will make the joy of success down the road that much sweeter. Don’t give up. The stretch marks are worth it.
Wishing you much success,
Sophia Casey, PCC is an international award-winning inspirational speaker, corporate trainer and executive coach who supports leaders across the globe in creating their “I AM” with Inspiration, Action and Momentum. Learn more about Coach Casey and her work at Sophia Casey Enterprises, LLC and ReaLife-Leadership at www.CoachSophiaCasey.com | www.ReaLife-Leadership.com