There is only one success...to be able to spend your life in your own way, and not to give others absurd maddening claims upon it." - Christopher Darlington Morley
Welcome back to what I’m lovingly calling The Business Blunders Chronicles.
If you missed the news, over the next few weeks, I’m going to share some of my business blunders, my mistakes, and what I wish I had known when I started my business to help you avoid some of these pitfalls.
While there have been a TON of things I did right, I’ve learned the MOST as a result of what I did ‘wrong’.
I don’t want you to waste time making these mistakes, but I’m grateful for every one of these lessons. I wouldn’t do it over without them. While we're going through these each week, let's remember to be grateful for the opportunities our missteps give us to grow and move forward. Deal?!
Part One was all about trying to do it all.
Missed it? You can catch it here.
Today, we’re on to Part Two!
Part Two: Squeezing Into a Business Straight Jacket A.K.A. Someone Else's Version of Success
If you’ve been hanging out with me for a while, you probably already know I’m ALL about creating your own version of success. This is the idea that success isn’t a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all kinda thing, and that what success looks like for me might be very different than what success looks like for you.
This has always been a core belief of mine. I mean come on, it has to be with a dad who’s a race car driver, a mom who’s a professional quilter, a brother who’s a photographer, and a life that took me off to LA to pursue acting, but that doesn’t mean it’s always been easy to live by.
There’s a reason this is scrawled across the top of my website and at the closing of every email I send you. There’s a reason I preach this belief every chance I get.
That reason? It’s a great sounding idea (if I do say so myself), but it’s not always in practice, especially when you’re swimming in unknown seas...which is pretty much the whole territory of entrepreneurialism.
While I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum, when I started my business, I found myself getting insecure and starting to look elsewhere to define what I wanted success to look like.
For a short time, I lost sight of my values, my zone of genius, and my version of success.
My guess is that there are a lot of us who do this. Insecurity and fears can make us buy into the myth that there’s a secret formula for success out there. Let me just bust that one wide open right now: there’s not.
We’re wired to compare, and when we’re feeling a little wobbly and starting something new, not only can comparing make us feel like we aren’t good enough, it can also cause us to start looking outside ourselves for what success looks like and how to achieve it.
When we’re not fully sold on our value and belief that our business is going to work, comparisonitis can be extra dangerous.
What This Looked like: Last week I talked about trying to do it all. Where do you think some of those ideas came from?! They were born out of insecurity, and I craned my neck as far as it would go.
I temporarily bought into other people’s business models even when they went directly against what I really wanted.
All around me, I heard people talking about ‘freedom’ and automating their businesses, so they could be hands off. I thought that was the ‘right’ thing to do even though it wasn’t exactly what I wanted.
I saw people in my sphere traveling all the time and living the laptop, nomad lifestyle. So I thought, maybe I was supposed to want that as well. But the truth was, I really wanted to do my work because I love it.
I didn’t want to automate it all away and lose the human touch. I did want to travel from time to time, but I’m a homebody who likes having a home base. Besides, I intentionally started my life over in one of the best cities in the world. I wasn’t ready to leave it.
One day, when I was writing the sales page for a program that I already knew I didn’t really want to do (but thought I was supposed to), I was texting with a coach friend of mine. I asked if I could borrow her sales page layout. The same sales page I’d been staring at for over an hour.
It hit me: while I was putting my own stamp into everything I did, I was borrowing models and versions of everything outside myself.
The Result: I spent time and energy chasing things I didn’t even want. This meant, they didn’t get the best results because I wasn’t really invested in them and subconsciously didn’t want them.
It meant whatever results they did yield didn’t light me up because they weren't aligned. Ever work so hard to achieve something only to realize you don't even want it? That's what we're talking about here.
It meant I had a business model I didn’t love. It meant I was chasing a carrot I didn’t like because I thought that was the only way to be able to do what I really loved.
You know the question, ‘What do you love so much, you’d do it for free?’ There’s a lot of wisdom in it.
The stuff we’ll happily do for free is the same stuff that will get us paid because our heart is in it. Everything else, well, it can feel like Sisyphus pushing someone else’s version of success up a hill only to watch it roll back down.
This also looked like getting down on myself when I didn’t reach an arbitrary milestone that I secretly didn't care that much about.
solution: Spending some real CEO time getting clarity on my values and what I actually wanted and my version of success. It also meant doing some deep mindset work around the beliefs and stories that came up.
Wanna know what I uncovered?
My version of success includes working hands-on with people as their coach (Duh). One of my big values is connection (which is where my relationship-based approach to business comes from). Turns out, having that connection is really, really important for me on a personal AND business level.
But I had this story that I couldn’t make money, at least, not the kind I wanted this way. I believed a 1:1 coaching business model wasn’t scalable. Hence my scurrying around to do other things that weren’t a part of my zone of genius, didn’t light me up, and quite honestly didn’t give me the life I wanted.
Here’s what’s fascinating: the more I got clear on my business and personal values and used them as my guiding post, the easier everything got. Decisions? Oh my goodness, so much easier to make. Focus? Yup, easier. Work flow? Check, easier. Making money? You guessed it, easier!
Want to know what else is pretty cool? I ended up finding a coach who has the business model I want and has a brilliant way to scale it, which completely debunks my previous, limiting story. I’m not sure I would have been open to that had I not first gotten very clear on my values and version of success.
I know this ‘business blunder’ doesn’t sound catastrophic, but I’ll tell you, when we’re out of alignment with our values and version of success, not only does it not feel good, everything becomes 10X harder. Just like it becomes 10X easier on the flip side when we are clear and aligned.
I see this now with clients all the time. When their heart isn’t in it, when their passion is elsewhere, they can get all the strategy ‘right’, show up and take action, and miss getting the results to match.
Business success isn’t about plugging ourselves into a cut-and-paste pattern. Strategy isn’t a conveyer belt that pumps out dollar bills at the end. And the rare occasions that misalignment does yield big results, they end up giving us results we don’t want because they’re someone else’s version of success. This is how we find ourselves feeling more trapped by our business than we ever did in any 9-5.
While I don't want it for you, I’m incredibly grateful for this ‘business blunder’. Without it I might have spent a whole lot of time, energy, and resources building someone else’s dream.
As I sit here typing this blog, looking outside my Manhattan apartment, cat at my feet after a morning of coaching calls, I realize I’m living out my version of success. But it took having this misstep to get crystal clear on my values and be able to own and appreciate them.
My challenge for you is to carve out some CEO time this week to get clear on your personal and business values. Use this to get clear on your version of success.
Next week, I’ll be back with Part Three of my Business Blunders, which really and truly, have been my business gifts.
I'm sincerely wishing you your version of success!