Do you find it harder to concentrate at work when the weather turns to spring and summer? Do you get itchy to get outside and take a walk at lunch, or maybe take an extended afternoon coffee break? Do you look at your daily schedule full of meetings with a little more disdain than usual?
I get it.
When I left my corporate job to become an entrepreneur, I also left behind the standard 8-5 office environment, and could finally enjoy substantial flexibility in my schedule.
I work for no one but myself, and I have almost 100% control over how I spend my time. (I know, WOW, right?)
Because of those factors, my corporate clients often talk with longing about starting their own business.
Their vision of spending long days at the park with their kids...answering to no one but themselves...while still being able to contribute financially and do something they love...is all pretty intoxicating.
But is that what it looks like to be an entrepreneur?
If it really WERE that easy, wouldn’t EVERYONE be doing it?
The truth is, being an entrepreneur takes guts.
It takes hard work.
It takes focus.
And sometimes, the reason you’re enjoying that afternoon at the park with your kids in the first place is to balance the fact that you haven’t had any real time together in days.
Yes, there is plenty of flexibility, but there is also a ton of work to be done, and you’re the one who has to do it!
I’m not trying to scare anyone away from entrepreneurship - I actually think it can be an amazing and very lucrative career option, and a decent amount of my clients choose to take this path.
But I always want to be honest about what it’s really like, so you know what you’re getting yourself into.
Coaching an aspiring entrepreneur always makes me think of a trip I took with my husband a few years ago that involved a ropes course.
See that climber? That’s me. I KNOW….
Let’s back this up a bit. I am not and have never been particularly attracted to daring pursuits. I’m not into thrill rides or scary movies. I basically even avoid mundane risks like jaywalking and eating chicken that has been left out too long. I have a primal need for safety, security and a hot shower every morning.
And yet, I am married to a man who is drawn to adventure. This means I’m doing my level best to say yes to a few of these adrenaline-fueled activities. (And in this case, my episode of outdoor adventure was sandwiched between a night in a luxury hotel and a spa appointment, so we can all agree that the man has some selling skills!)
If you saw the video, you’d question the notion that I was scared at all. But despite how it looked in the end, I had been scared. In fact, I’d been paralyzed with fear.
As I moved through the course, ending with a zip line (did I mention that I am a really good wife?), the parallels to my entrepreneurial life were not lost on me.
Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart.
It made me wonder if a ropes course could reveal valuable lessons for an aspiring entrepreneur.
Here are a few lessons I gleaned from my day on the ropes:
1. They don’t call it a Leap of Faith for nothing. Taking a step with nothing visibly linking you to the other side is way scarier than walking on even the narrowest of connectors. Some of the obstacles sent me teetering across thin little wires, one foot at a time, but that was far easier than crossing an open expanse. There’s only one way to take a step when you’re not sure your foot will reach the other side, and that’s to leap. Entrepreneurs face these leaps routinely, often beginning with the decision to start the venture in the first place, leaving the security of a paycheck and the routines of an established company. Get used to it. But anytime you can find something familiar to connect you to where you’re headed, use it. It will make your mental journey so much easier.
2. A good guide is worth her weight in gold. Several times on the course, I wasn’t sure how best to approach an obstacle, but our guide made sure I knew the ideal way to tackle each one. Having someone invested in your success who can teach you a proven approach to solve the problem you’re facing is everything. Don’t waste time doing it the hard way. Find a coach or a mentor who can save you time and effort in your journey.
This is not the high dive. There are no bonus points for degree of difficulty.
3. “I can’t” is a paralyzing brain trick. The words running through my brain as I stood on that platform were a repeat chorus of I can’t, but in truth, I could. Train yourself to say “I can” and get your energy working with you instead of against you. It sounds like a little thing, but it’s not. The only thing stopping my legs was my brain. The power of our mental chatter is immense.
4. Get out of your own way by helping someone else. When you feel stuck, turn your attention to helping someone else – there is always someone you can encourage, teach, or support. Seek out those people and watch what happens to your own efforts. There is near-magical power in this – harness it.
5. Keep your focus on where you’re headed, not on what could go wrong. When I kept my eyes focused on the finish line of any obstacle on the course, I noticed how I was moving toward it. When I looked down, and thought about the possibility of falling, fear set in. As an entrepreneur, if you focus on what could go wrong, you’ll never get there. Stay focused on your goals and on your movement toward them.
6. Forget about who’s watching. Before we started the course, I was worried (a lot) about what I’d look like up there, strapped into the stupid harness and wobbling across the wires. I scanned the area for spectators and wondered what they’d think of my ropes debut. Once I climbed the 20 feet to the platform, I never thought about them again. Listen, this is your race. Get your head fully in the game and you’ll forget about how it looks to the people watching from the sidelines.
Worry less about what others will think if you do it than about how you’ll feel if you don’t.
7. Choose your partners carefully. You know who does matter? The people at your side. Having my husband close by made a world of difference on the course – just as it has in my entrepreneurial journey. He was my encourager-in-chief and he made me laugh when I wanted to cry. And let’s not forget that he was the one who got me up there in the first place.
I hope these lessons will help you as you consider entrepreneurship as a path. If you want to talk about your own entrepreneurial dream, you can book a call using the link below and we can see what’s attracting you to that path and help you decide if this is your time to make the leap.
It’s not for everyone, but it just may be perfect for you!
Whatever path you choose, may it be both balanced and brilliant.
This is based on a blog post originally published on August 6, 2015
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