When we run a business, especially as a sole proprietor, there’s an equally daunting struggle to grow and emerge greater every year. I’ve fallen into the trap lately of focusing on my growth numbers and not focusing on experience. I noticed it Monday of this week. Someone asked me, “And, how’s it going?” I replied, “Go, Go, Go!” Because apparently in my head, “Go, Go, Go!” has become the synonym for success. Sure, I’m busy. I freeze sandwiches the night before so I can eat in my car between client meetings and to avoid the trap of stopping for coffee in the morning and lunch in the afternoon. I schedule check-in calls for times I know I’ll be stuck in traffic. If productivity was the prize, I am ever-grasping for a gold medal. However, I’m caught between the lines of reminding myself that being busy isn’t successful and life isn’t always about creating success- or the perception of success for that matter.
I sat across from my favorite client earlier in the week. She’s my favorite for many reasons, but none other than I’ve had the opportunity to watch her business dramatically change and grow. You should see the way this powerful woman walks into a room and owns her own presence and story. A year ago, I so wanted her to see her own talent. It took time and lots of planning but she is walking towards her future. At a small cross-roads, she was wondering what might be next. I spoke something aloud that I reflected on and came to the determination this morning that it was important.
“No matter what happens, nothing is the end. I know that if every client walks out the door tomorrow, I’d make a great waitress. And, I no longer fear a back-up plan. Either should you. There is no failure that’s great enough to destroy who we are.”
The risks we take define who we are. My risk was being newly separated from my spouse-to-be and deciding that I’d take at least 12 months to focus wholly on building my own business. I wanted to experience everything first-hand. I wanted to learn and fail and reflect on takeaways that would make me a stronger individual for the future. I needed to struggle with taxes and paying off medical bills while relying only on what I could create. 14 months later, I know that the late nights, early mornings and Saturdays spent finishing ghostwriting, or strategy were exactly what I needed to become who I am- an ever-evolving human being.
When I said those words, I needed to hear them reverberate so I could understand: Success is also ever-evolving. Success at that moment, speaking to my client was discussing the realization that when you lack fear, innovation takes over. Her brilliant brain will work with her talented fingers to get her through this moment and it will create a facet of growth that helps her shine brighter than before- that much I’m sure of. But why, is it so hard for us, (especially as women business owners,) to talk about the struggles?
I came home that evening to coffee and deep reflection. I realized that having defined my success as a kind of busy- I was missing out on the authenticity that comes with sharing a struggle. There are two truths to any business: You will be busy and you will always be scaling. Sometimes scaling is not linear, (it’s more like connecting the dots.) But if we’re only talking about one and not discussing the other, imagine the incredible conversations and the reality of what others are going through that we are missing?
No matter the struggle, you’ll get through it. We all will. One step at a time.