Archive for September, 2014
Perseverance. It’s a word that both inspires and terrifies me. I understand its value—one must have it in order to succeed in most things. It’s a truth that the things we truly want and need, the things that have great worth and meaning to us on all levels, usually require more than just a modicum of perseverance. It’s inspiring to contemplate that my effort and hard work can result in successfully achieving whatever it is that I’ve set out to do. It’s terrifying to think I may be spending so much effort and time working on the wrong thing. I know I could spend an inordinate amount of time spinning around that one … so, instead, I think it’s prudent to regularly revisit what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I take the time to look deeply at what I want in my life—and what I don’t—and ask myself if I’m on the path to achieving my goal. I then honestly assess what I’m doing to get there and determine what I still need to do to bring my goal to fruition. This process usually requires me to look at perseverance—how I define it, how I cultivate it, and how I use it.
If you’ve been following my blog or newsletter, you know I launched my business, Wellness Scribe, full-time one year ago. This first year has been fun, incredibly hard work, overwhelming, exhilarating, and one learning experience after another all requiring constant planning, reassessing, strategizing, implementing, and constantly stepping outside my comfort zone … in other words, I’m living the life of an entrepreneur. Given that my goal is to be a successful business owner (of one or more businesses when all is said and done), I can say I AM on the right path toward achieving my goal.
When Patience Wears Thin
But now I’m one year in and my natural impatience is starting to war with the small bit of perseverance I’ve managed to cultivate … and it’s creating some very uncomfortable sensations. There’s nothing quite like being the adult wanting to throw a temper tantrum. I want success NOW. I want a steady stream of clients NOW. I want the steady stream of income that comes from having a steady stream of clients NOW. But apparently, stomping one’s feet and demanding it doesn’t actually assist in manifesting anything. *insert dramatic sigh here*
I’m WORKING HARD and some days things flow and it seems easy, but then there are other days when I think I’m in over my head. I am smart enough to have retained some of my hard-won lessons, so on those difficult days, I know to stop, acknowledge what’s happening, take a breath (or 20), and then reach out to my support system and get the needed boost. And that boost helps, make no mistake. But at the end of the day, I’m realizing that what really makes a difference comes from me and only me.
I talk a lot about self-care and compassion on this blog because it’s a recurring theme and lesson in my own life. It’s become very clear to me that when I allow myself to swim in the overwhelm, or indulge in the stressful spinning that my mind so easily does, I start to struggle mightily, and so does my business. I AM my business, but 15 years of corporate habit has me too often wearing stress like one wears a favorite pair of jeans—way too often. In these moments, I must remember that perseverance applies to all parts of being an entrepreneur … and a human. I must not only be consistent in my actions around my business, but I also must be persistent in taking care of ME. The reality is, the more I take care of myself, the easier it is to persevere in the face of the challenges I encounter in my life and in running my business. Everything of import requires some nurturance and it starts with me.
I find it so interesting that the act of launching and running a business—something most of us probably never equate to a spiritual act—is the very thing that is reconnecting me to my close circle of friends and family and to my own Higher Self. It requires me to explore and define my purpose in life. And I learn daily that I’m NOT an island; I am constantly shown how connected we all are and how we really do hold our Universe and perceptions of it in our own hands. I’m finding that the more I align my actions and thoughts (business and personal) with my core values and authentic expressions of Self, everything just gets easier.
Of course, at this point you may be asking, “just what the heck does she mean and what does that look like?” Basically, finding the perseverance to work toward and achieve your goals is found in the small, daily actions and choices that exponentially add up and carry you where you want to go. In my case, it’s remembering to make yoga and meditation a priority—it gives me the mental and emotional space, as well as the physical well-being I need to keep going. It’s remembering to tuck into an hour-long bubble bath with a good book once in a while. It’s remembering to walk in the woods, connect to Mama Earth, and breathe deep with every step. It’s remembering that I have a support system to turn to when I can’t get out of my own way. And it’s remembering that I need to consistently and persistently revisit WHY I’m doing what I’m doing. I’ll be honest and say, “YES!” I want to make a great living from my business and enjoy some of the physical fruits of my labor, but I’ll also say that money isn’t my main motivator. What keeps me going, what I need to pull out, polish, and keep front and center when I feel my motivation flagging is the fact I want to cultivate a life in which compassion and helping others, while living healthy and well myself, happens every day. I want to live in a world that is healthier, kinder, and more compassionate. Surrounded by a sick system, I want to support the people who are actively advocating and empowering others to take responsibility for their health. I want to help the helpers. The knowledge that my own talents and skill can make a difference in both my life and the lives of others is the fuel of my perseverance.
What do you do to help you keep going? From what well do you draw perseverance?
As we slide into September, I find myself riding a wave of glorious growth and personal development. This isn’t a wave with which I’m completely unfamiliar, mind you. I consider myself a pretty darn spiritual being that’s always questing and seeking to peel away extraneous layers so I can get closer to my true, authentic self and my purpose for walking this earth. However, the thing one discovers when choosing to live this way is that NO ONE IS EVER DONE. Not ever. There’s always more to learn, there’s always another layer to peel away, and there’s always more ways to step more fully into one’s authentic life.
Although I feel I’ve done some impressive work on parts of my life, like many, there are wounds and beliefs that I’ve let fester for fear of looking at them too closely. I’m quite human in this. Sadly, fear is one of the largest driving forces of our human race and I am not immune. BUT, at least at this point in the game, I am aware of when I’m avoiding. This past year has required me to look at a few places I haven’t visited in a long, long time—all to the betterment of myself and my business.
My business coach, who’s also a Ph.D. in Psychology smart chick that she is, has often said that, “Launching a business is some of the best personal development work you’ll ever do.” And darned if I have a counter argument! Leaving the safety of my corporate job with its cushy salary, 4-weeks vacation, and incredible health benefits was a colossal leap of faith for me. I wanted change years before I believed enough in myself to instigate it because this change required me to face my fears and release a lot of really old, untrue beliefs; beliefs that were directly impacting my ideas of my self-worth.
I’m proud and happy to say that I have steadily managed to peel away and discard a lot of these untrue beliefs. One of the most recent breakthroughs is around money. My parents did many things right, but they themselves were never taught how to have a positive and healthy relationship with money, so how could they teach me? I watched my Dad work three jobs so Mom could be home with the kids. This taught me both the value of hard work and commitment, but it also taught me that making a living and having nice things was freaking hard work all the time. As a child, I never saw ease around making money. And when we had it, it seemed to disappear quickly due to some unplanned event, be it a car repair or the real estate market crashing … there was always something. Thankfully, my folks learned a few things along the way and have managed just fine BUT the lessons of my youth stuck.
I grew up into an adult who perpetuated struggle around money. I never had enough and after my divorce (in my early 20s) I accrued a very large amount of debt while making very little money. (Seriously, NEVER EVER live on your credit cards—it’s a really bad idea!) What amazes me is that it wasn’t the secure job that changed my relationship with money; it was the colossal leap of faith which finally allowed me to release my old beliefs around money and get out of debt. Starting my business, investing in myself by hiring a business coach and needing to decide on pricing for my services demanded that I put a value on what I do.
A CEO Emerges
As September is technically the one year anniversary of launching Wellness Scribe full-time, I needed to assess the past year and begin planning for the next. I needed to decide what was working, what needed improvement, and what needs to go. I couldn’t be emotionally charged over these decisions—I’m the CEO and CFO and numbers are numbers. And the numbers painted a very clear portrait—I’ve been undervaluing myself all over the place and it had to stop.
Now, I will totally allow that everyone learns some variation of this lesson in their first year of business. But for the first time, I honestly looked at the festering wound of my self-worth and relationship with money and saw how it was impacting my business decisions and also how easily it could be healed. Fear and old beliefs were the only things holding me back from recognizing and acknowledging that I offer a tremendous service and value to my clients. It was time to release fear and fully step into my role as business owner—I’m not just an employee anymore. The truth is, the things I find easy and fun to do are NOT so easy or fun for many others; and there are a number of things I’m not particularly skilled at that take up a lot of my time and effort. As quickly as I can, I’m delegating those things out so I can spend more time serving my clients by doing what I’m really good at—helping them with their messaging and marketing communications. The fact that I truly do want to see my clients thrive and grow and know abundant success in their businesses just makes it more fun for me.
It’s All Energy
So the lesson I’ve finally absorbed on a visceral level and that I’d like to share with you is that money is simply another form of energy exchange. I perform a service and am given energy in the form of money as payment, or I hire someone to do a service and I pay them. It’s all energy exchange. I value what others do for me and am quite willing to offer fair market value for it. Why shouldn’t I expect the same? This lesson will take some nurturing as I do have a number of folks in my larger acquaintance that sometimes seem to loudly have issues with people who have money (often on public platforms like Facebook.) Consciously or unconsciously they’re making big assumptions and judging. I’m not about to argue that there aren’t many incredibly wealthy people doing some incredibly wrong things. But there are also other incredibly wealthy, moderately wealthy, and average income earners doing some wonderful things. The bottom line is, money isn’t “bad” and having money doesn’t make one a bad person. Just like everything else in our lives, its energy and what we choose to do with it is the bigger and more important question. As for myself, I’m going to apply another tidbit from my business coach: “The more successful you are, and the more money you earn, the more good you can do in the world.”
Here’s to doing a whole lot of good in the world!
What are your thoughts on money and success? Have you struggled around these issues?
All my life I’ve vacillated between restraining my natural exuberance in order to “fit in” or allowing my creative self full expression … which I was sure would mean rejection. As a child, my Grandmother often told me to, “quiet down” or “there’s no need for such excitement/drama” or “don’t make a spectacle of yourself.” These words informed my choices for a very long time. In truth, I was a shy geek of a girl who loved reading books, but inside there was a stage performer eager to express herself. But without a role model as creatively dramatic as I wanted to be, fitting in became more important to my adolescent self than taking a risk and walking onto a stage. So I forced myself to be outgoing in a “socially acceptable way” and wave pompoms on the cheerleading squad. I’m not belittling cheerleaders (it’s a lot of work!), but if I had to do it all over again? I’d choose differently.
I’m now 45 and to be honest, it wasn’t until I was hitting my 40s that I began to realize that (good manners and common courtesy aside) it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of me. But it’s incredibly important that I have a good opinion of myself because without it, I can’t move forward. If I waste energy worrying about somebody else’s negative opinion, or judging myself so harshly that I make choices that keep me from stepping out onto whatever stage I want and living my whole dynamic self, life becomes stagnant. Fun, excitement, and fulfilling experiences and relationships are sacrificed. And frankly, my dear, that’s just not how I want to live.
This theme was top of mind after spending a full day at the beach with my family, specifically my nieces and nephews (5, 7, and two 8-years old twins.) I watched these adorable, curious, funny children and couldn’t help but contemplate on the effort it takes to raise them so they are kind, considerate, generous, thoughtful, resourceful, and independent human beings while also nurturing their individual, quirky expressions of creativity and personality. My nieces and nephews, without effort, personify creative expression; kids that age often do. Every discovery was the most amazing thing EVER. Impromptu performances were given to their captive audience of adults and gourmet delights were cooked up from sand and plastic buckets (they were delectably delicious!) Each of these children has his or her own approach to the world, and as of yet, they have no inhibitions around expressing it. I hope that continues to be the case as they grow older.
The fact that I’m not their parent, or anyone’s parent for that matter is irrelevant: I AM a role model. This wasn’t something I consciously thought much about before, but recently Mike’s sister sent me a note in which she thanked me for being ‘a strong, beautiful woman’ and said she loves the fact her girls can look to me as a role model ‘for being true to who you are and living a fulfilling, wonderful life.’ Her statements stunned, awed, and humbled me. Not being responsible for raising a child, I’d never really thought about the positive impact that I can have on others simply by living authentically. Mike’s nieces are all in their teens, but they still need positive female role models—we all do! And when I think on the concept of being a role model, it fills me with so much determination to be the best person I can be—for the first time, I’m actually afraid of being less.
If I live my life small, if I make choices that diminish me just so I “fit in” to some social circle, or allow myself to feel less than some other professional so therefore not deserving of the same success, what am I teaching our nieces and nephews? Nothing good.
We all take our motivation and inspiration from different places. And we need those things to keep us going when fear pops up and we encounter resistance to stepping into our full, dynamic selves. If the knowledge that I’m a role model helps me authentically express myself, live as creatively and fully as I can, and make conscious choices to achieve my goals, I’m happy with that. And I hope I can help others realize the same. The world desperately needs us all to step up and be who we truly are. Playing at anything else isn’t what we’re meant to do. So, go ahead, express yourself. Madonna and the Universe approve.