I’m writing about entrepreneurship (in my case, solopreneurship) today, in all of its gory glory. I find that I’ve hesitated to share these thoughts publicly, because my story seems unfinished to me. I suppose that’s a good thing, because my story will continue after this! But it’s more than that. I’m not the poster child of a “successful entrepreneur” – at least not yet. “Struggling entrepreneur” or “surviving entrepreneur” seems to be a better fit right now. I don’t see myself as having “that success story of a six-figure work-from-anywhere winner” that will inspire people to quit their 9-to-5s. I do get to live an ignited life full of passion for what I do every day – and I’ll be the first to point out that that alone does not generate income.
Why share NOW, then, when my career change isn’t neatly wrapped up with a pretty bow?
One of my friends said it well – when we share (ok, sometimes more like admit) our challenges to each other, we humanize ourselves. And as I said to my coach this week, this is perhaps the best time to share. I can demonstrate to all of my entrepreneur clients that I get it. I hear them talk about things that seem insurmountable, and I get it because I have been there. By sharing, I get to appreciate the life I’m living in such a glorious and messy way. By sharing, I am demonstrating that no matter how “super” the superhuman you admire in your life, they still cast a shadow.
And so, I share this snapshot of this moment with you, via advice that I would give to my one-year ago self about switching entrepreneurial careers.
|Who thought there would be a climbing area OR this mini-mall made of shipping containers in Costa Rica?
Photo credit Ryan Alan Jones
1. It almost certainly will not go as you expect.
Some of the things you are afraid of will simply not happen. Plenty of things will happen that you didn’t plan for or anticipate. Resources within and without will pop up in the least likely of places and times. Roll with it and keep leveling yourself up. You will discover wisdoms and truisms at which you will think, “if I had known that when I started…!” – but you might not have believed it at the time, either. We get every lesson from the Universe at the divinely perfect time, and it may not be when we wish it was, but it will be at the time we can receive it.
2. Be Your Unicorn!
If nothing else, practice being with your own strengths. Everyone has their own specifications for failure and success, or even challenge. Identify what you have that is uniquely yours! I’m choosing to measure my life by my own standards – and that includes seeing, witnessing, sharing, and Being With all of my own greatness. It has been a hard-won lesson that adding my brilliance to the world simply begets more brilliance – nobody is objectively outshone or obscured. In fact, the best gift I can give the world – the way I can be of the most service – is to fully embody and lean into my Qualities. All of them. (Hint from the shadow work I’ve been doing (book linked in the resources): even “unattractive” qualities are still gifts, perhaps only with the volume turned up too loud. Find the gift and embrace it.) Comparison can be invigorating and debilitating in equal turns – be aware! Only you can bring your particular brand of sparkle & hair flip, or warmth & comfort, or brightness & badassery. Nobody else can do that job – it’s yours, forever! Plus, only by being your own unicorn can you attract your unicorn group (tribe? flock? herd?) – whether they will be customers/clients, colleagues, cheerleaders, or anything else.
|Tree pose, alias Vrksasana, with The Sacred Circus, featuring a Costa Rican beach sunset.
Photo credit Adeoye Mabogunje
3. Trust your gut / wisdom / spirit / intuition… and distinguish between that and the Gremlin that will keep you small and safe.
Listen to your body’s cues, and you will find what a wealth of wisdom you have access to. Not sure whether your innermost wisdom or your Gremlin is doing the talking? Do some journaling, meditating – get quiet, and pay attention. If you have a friend, colleague, or coach who will reliably reflect what they see to you, sure, seek out their opinion – but don’t disregard your own. Do you believe you have everything you need? Great – let that be sufficient…until it’s not, and you discover that you need something different, and then get that need met.
Imagine being inside of a seed that contains all of the information necessary to grow a mighty tree. It’s cozy, warm, and safe. But it’s also not the ultimate expression of what that seed is meant to be. It waits until conditions are just right, and then breaks out of the safety of the seed to Root into the Earth and Sprout into the Sky. And as it grows, it cannot know its own final expression. It will simply keep growing as long as the nutrients are present and the conditions are right, coming into harmony with all around it. There will be seasons of wealth and abundance, and also of drought and damage. And it, like the rest of us, will keep living the best life it can. After all, who’s to say that we don’t need the adversity as much as the ease? One of the human body’s natural responses to repeated stress is to strengthen and adjust. This is how muscles grow and bones form their torsion. (I learned almost everything I academically know about anatomy from Paul Grilley and David Kiel in my Yoga Teacher Training with Sacred Paths Yoga. Video links on their names, and further resources listed at the end.)
4. Let it be okay that it’s hard or unpretty sometimes.
Did I make declarations about growth milestones for my business? Yes! Did I meet them all? Of course not! Have I been broke during this process? Most certainly yes! Have my thwarted expectations caused challenge and or friction in my marriage? You bet! Are we still ok and figuring it out? Totally! Have I stayed in bed frozen in fear instead of going and being with my friends? Sure! And on and on. The thing is, none of it is bad or wrong. I’m learning to make friends with failure. I learn, grow, make mistakes, and move ahead. I like to think of choosing from practice, rather than performance or perfection. My academic youth was all the way lived in the land of the A+, to the point that I wept in fear at the first B on my report card. Each step I’ve taken farther away from performance or perfection has been such a relief – I get to learn from every experience I create, even and especially when things get weird and funky.
|About half of my crew from my training at Accomplishment Coaching got together for a mini-reunion last month.
These guys have supported me through some gigantic transformations and breakthroughs, let me tell YOU.
5. You don’t have to do it alone.
Solopreneurship doesn’t necessitate giving up on all of your support networks. In fact, it might be a way to facilitate leaning on them as much or more. Declare what you need, find what works for you, and discard what doesn’t. There are innumerable human resources out there that you already have access to – not to mention that in many cases, somebody has probably written a book about the thing you want to know (or recorded a podcast, or a web series, or a documentary, or, or…). This comes with a caution – don’t hide so completely behind the guise of training/experience/learning/reading/listening that you never actually DO the thing. Left to my own devices, I experience plenty of “analysis paralysis” (that’s a Jenny Blake-ism; her book is on the resource list below). You’re not alone, even when it seems like it – “you will be found.”
6. This moment is only this moment.
What a syllogism that is! Any snapshot of who you are and where you are at a particular moment is simply not indicative of where you’re headed. It may not even give it clear representation about where you’ve been. Make no mistake, we are the sum of our experiences, perhaps even from past lives. So be sure to acknowledge yourself and your progress as you go! Only you can really tell how far you’ve come and what you’ve learned on the way. Any moment, no matter how seemingly great (the trophy, A+, win, deed, title, promotion, achievement) or dismal (the loss, hurt, fear, paralysis, broke-ness, isolation, accident) is only the circumstance of this moment – and all things are passing. Alternatively artistically quoted, nothing gold can stay. To go back to the tree analogy, it seems laughably absurd that a tree with leaf buds at the end of its branches would disparage itself for not being in full bloom yet. Or that a sapling is somehow less wonderful than a tree bearing fruit. It’s simply where you are NOW, and it doesn’t need to mean anything more than that. Do you want to grow into a mighty tree? Then, onward! All things in time. I have been practicing meditating more regularly of late at the same time that I’m reading Stranger in a Strange Land, and so I take to heart that “Waiting is.”
Upon reflection, I could have written this blog post about any self-actualization process: learning and honing a new skill, coming of age, a personal or institutional revolution…
There is much more. There is always much more. And ain’t it great? I am the heroine of my own life, as you are the protagonist of yours, and we will access more wealth of experience than we could ever share with anyone else. Thank you, human, for sharing this with me, and allowing me the space to share with you. Excelsior!
*certainly not exhaustive; simply things I’m referencing lately, and things that I can identify that have guided some of my thinking thus far
- Who Is Your Gremlin? – Taming Your Gremlin, Rick Carson
- Shadow Work – The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, Debbie Ford
- Entrepreneurial Theory – The E-Myth Revisited, Michael E. Gerber
- Authentically Sourced Marketing and Methods –
- The Spirituality and Deep Humanity of Money –
- A Transition Method – Pivot, Jenny Blake