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When Moving Forward Means Letting Go
When you are scaling the rockface, it takes a lot of trust to let go and reach for the next hand or foot hold. And yet, the only choice is to keep climbing, or concede defeat and rappel back to the ground.
Last month my husband and I passed another significant milestone. Our firstborn child started her freshman year of college in another state. I won't lie. The teen years have worn on us, and we fantasize about our empty nest phase. So I was unprepared for how displaced I felt upon returning home.
My rational thought process was out of sync with my emotional self. During the move, I drove away sadness with mental pep talks like these.
"This is not about you, it is about her. This is a happy and exciting moment. Be in the moment with her and enjoy it!"
Upon returning home, however, I was confronted by my inner turmoil. I tried and discarded many labels -- Was I anxious about her happiness? Was I fearful about her health and safety? Was I missing her? After many days of contemplation, I realized that I was grieving. I let my daughter go out into the world to live a life independent of her father and me. And despite the fact that this was the natural progression and something that I rationally wanted, I was also grieving the end of a togetherness we would never again inhabit. For 18 years, we had occupied a space and definition of our lives that would never exist again. It is bittersweet.
While sitting in deep reflection, I began to see parallels between my personal experience and my professional work, which brings me to this new article series - #LETGO. I'm a visual person, and in my mind's eye, I see horizontal travel when I think about moving forward. However, through this experience I realized that a better visual in many instances is to think of a mountain climber. Using their hands and feet, mountain climbers learn to let go of the rock, ledge, or crevasse where they feel secure in search of the next hold that allows their progress to continue.
I have entered a new parenting stage that requires me to let go of where we have been and journey forward into the unfamiliar. This progress is essential and welcome, and yet it is also the ending of something more cherished because it is ending.
It's been my privilege to work with small business owners who have reached a similar phase. In the early years of growth and development, they were actively involved in every area of their business. They understood it more deeply than anyone else, and their success was attributable to their consistent hard work.
Eventually, the overwhelming success of their labor created a demand that exceeded their capacity. Like Atlas, they began to stagger under the weight of the world they had made. Exhaustion, worry, and self-doubt replaced the joy and confidence they had known for so long.
These business owners hired people to help them, and then struggled to entrust them with authority. Although the owners were incapable of juggling all the balls in the air, they felt equally incapable of ceding control and responsibility to others. They didn't know how to be the business owner if they weren't managing everything. And so they were stuck in the middle of their climb, unable to ascend higher. They needed to learn that the only way forward was letting go and reaching for the next handhold.
In these moments, the work is learning to become the next evolution of who we need to be while guiding employees to become what we have already mastered. It requires confidence in others and yourself. It also demands the building and testing of systems and processes that may not have existed before, just as climbers utilize carabiner clips.
When you are scaling the rockface, it takes a lot of trust to let go. And yet, the only choice is to keep climbing, or concede defeat and rappel back to the ground. Me, I love to see my child and my clients move forward; defeat is not in my vocabulary!
Around the nation, students are heading back into the classroom. For many of us, it is a return to at-home virtual learning, which puts a strain on parents and students. Exponential trends of COVID-19 cases are increasing restrictions in several areas. Elections, a core element of our democracy, are under fire. It can be a struggle not to get weighed down by negativity, fear, or frustration in our society's inability to have constructive dialogue. Complaining is a dead-end street, so where does that leave you?
Two things help me balance my perspective and find a positive way forward.
(1) The first world problem (FWP) test
(2) Reflecting on the many blessings of my life
Here are examples of how this conversation plays in my head
FWP - during the Syrian uprising, government schools disintegrated, and the government limited access to books.
Blessings - my child is receiving an education, we have internet and computers in my home, my child can handle online learning
Conclusion - although I prefer "normal" school, the truth is that my child and I can make this work, and we are lucky because, for many families, online school is a tremendous hardship.
FWP - our nation has the means to respond to this crisis, and people all over the world are adhering to the same public health guidelines. Many countries and their people must wait on nations like the US to find and share a cure, and thus will suffer higher risk and loss.
Blessings - I can afford to buy PPE, I am keeping my loved ones safe, I am staying healthy and able to work.
Conclusion - I care about my loved ones and believe in a shared responsibility to be good citizens. Any inconvenience I experience is temporary and aligns with my values mentioned above, so the small price I pay isn't worthy of complaint.
I have many blessings to count in 2020.
Our lives are disrupted, we are inconvenienced, and many of us have less than we had before COVID-19. We loosely use terms like sacrifice from the insular view of the prosperity we've earned and grown to expect. And yet, if we look beyond our normalcy, it is easy to see that our sacrifices pale in comparison to so many others within our nation and around the world.
Although there are hard limitations, I believe we can create the future we want, which is the promise of America that attracts immigrants. Achor states that happiness is a choice, and his research shows why it is worth making. A couple of results that struck me include reducing stress by 23% and increasing productivity by 31%. But more importantly, happiness is the fuel that allows you to achieve your goals.
Hope is an essential ingredient to happiness. If you are growing weary of the negative discourse surrounding you, I offer you my simple way of resetting my perspective. Perhaps it will bring you a much-needed respite and the ability to rediscover the happiness that has never left you.
It is healthy to pause and celebrate. This week, I’m inviting you to join my celebration as I appreciate the progress of my clients who’ve invested in bettering themselves and their businesses. Engaging with a business coach is an investment of your resources, especially your time. These clients are making the most of their investment and reaping the rewards.
I’ll start with my gals who are killing it on their coaching goals centered on their leadership and how they show up for their teams.
One is a seasoned veteran with years of knowledge and experience. After assessing her organization, she realized that she had best-practices and knowledge depth that was new for her team. Being the new leader, she knew that she couldn’t be a bull in a china shop. She wanted to show up as a supportive leader who could help her team raise their game by working smarter, not harder. Together we crafted strategies for asking questions and creating a dialogue that allowed others to walk alongside her and share her vision for what was possible. She’s putting her plans into action and finding her voice without drowning out others. Now she’s building meaningful partnerships and being received as a team-builder, not a bulldozer.
The second started her company and quickly realized that she needed to hire staff to continue to grow. As any service-based business owner can tell you, it feels risky to put your reputation in the hands of others. Within the last month, she added three people to the team and is investing time in building an organization that shares her vision and values for her brand, while providing the personal and professional growth her young staff needs. She’s learning to scale her business thoughtfully, and in ways that remain true to herself.
I am super excited about my two newest clients. They both are running hugely successful businesses that are heavily demanding of their time and attention. If you measured their businesses on revenue and customer demand, they are killing it. However, both recognize that the economic boom is not the only or truest measure of success. Both are investing in their internal operations, so the back of the house is as smooth and seamless as the customer experience, and in leadership development at every level.
Every conversation with my clients is energizing. Celebrating their victories, especially the decision to invest in themselves and their business, is momentous. Coaching is the only profession that I’ve known. I love what I do, and helping business owners like these is my genius. I am blessed.
It's time to wrap up this series. But first, let's start with a quick recap. In Rule #1, we learned that being successful does not prevent you from getting stuck. Instead, we learned that rapid success often contributes to the issue [learn more]. Rule #2 taught us that being stuck always costs us something, and that often includes financial loss [learn more]. This week we are flipping the lens and looking at the problem of being stuck from a different angle.
People choose to change for one of two reasons: avoid the pain they are experiencing (see Rules 1 and 2) or to attain something they find compelling. Today we are exploring our connection to the second reason we change. To begin, I invite you to contemplate these three questions.
What fantastic thing that thoroughly excites you would be possible if you got unstuck and moved forward?
Why is that important to you?
What is standing in your way?
Go ahead and pause here. Take a minute to think deeply about your answers and, more importantly, to write them down. Change resulting from our desire to manifest something requires a deep-rooted connection that resonates so strongly, we feel driven to act.
Your answers to the first two questions are uniquely personal to you, and therefore not open for coaching in this forum. I will only leave you with the advice that the richer the picture in your mind and the more emotionally connected you are to the why, the more powerful the result. So let's jump to the third question.
For 90% of you, the answer to, "What is standing in your way?" includes you, which leads us to Rule #3 of being stuck.
Our self-limiting beliefs are grounded in these three enemies
Staying comfortable is the common denominator for each of these, even though it causes unhappiness. Let's face it. The safety of doing nothing almost always wins out against taking actions that result in feeling uncomfortable. If we haven't mentally calculated that the reward is unquestioningly worth the effort, moving forward becomes an internal struggle. Conversely, when we are all-in to make something happen, we are unstoppable.
As a coach, it is a joy to work with clients who are claiming their ability to create a future they want. Their ROI is exponential because of the momentum they generate. A clear vision with a compelling why allows these clients to engage others who can support and assist them on their journey. But honestly, getting to this point usually requires work.
Most of us need help and support to face down our internal critics that fuel our fear and self-doubt. We need to practice navigating difficult conversations that are easier to avoid. We find it impossible to hold up the mirror for ourselves and face the truth about what is holding us back and stealing our fulfillment. Perhaps most importantly, we need the mental and physical boost that comes from proclaiming to another human being the possibility we want to manifest.
Are you where you want to be with your business? Are you experiencing the joy and fulfillment that you envisioned when you started your business? Or, are you experiencing a plateau that could easily slide into a decline? 2020 has thrown us many unexpected curveballs, and there are impacts on your business outside of your control. None of this, however, is reason enough to be stuck. Today's path may not look the same as it did at the start of this year, but you can move forward, starting with the decision to Get Unstuck. Let's talk! Click on my FREE Initial Coaching Session to get started.
Last week I launched a new series of short articles to explain how successful business owners and companies get stuck (1st article link). This week we will talk about my favorite stuck client, the business owner who is a victim of their success.
When you build your business from the ground up, you know everything and everyone intimately. You've figured out many things on the fly and pushed through "make it work" moments to emerge on the other side, completely overwhelmed by the success you've achieved. It seems impossible to step back and work on the big picture because you lack enough hours to attend to all the daily business demands. Thus, everyone is caught up in the doing, and no one at the helm guiding and directing.
If you are not investing in your business's future, then eventually, you hit the point of diminishing return, and voila, You Are STUCK.
And being stuck ALWAYS costs you something.
Sometimes the price is frustration or inconvenience. For example, a key employee leaves, and after three months of searching, you still haven't found the right person. Meanwhile, you and others have to take up the slack.
Or perhaps you are paying in lowered profits because you are too busy reinventing the wheel to gain the efficiencies of standardizing processes and systems.
I guarantee you pay through mental and physical exhaustion that may even be diminishing your passion for the business you've built.
So, why do we struggle with admitting
we are stuck and asking for help?
We don't always recognize when we are stuck on replay and no longer creating new hits.
Want to learn how you can invest in as few as FOUR Coaching Sessions and STOP paying the costs of Staying Stuck? Let's talk! Schedule your FREE Initial Coaching Session to get started. And check back next week for the final segment in this series.