I get asked every day for advices on how to start a business…I keep telling people “if you do it because you imagine a life of working whenever you like or a life of glossy exotic pictures on Instagram, please save yourself from a disaster.” If you want to be self-employed, start your own business, freelance and any variation of it please make sure you know deeply your level of comfort or discomfort around failure. Because, of one thing I am sure, at a certain point you will fail. It doesn't mean you will go bankrupt or lose all your possessions but I can guarantee you that some of your brilliant plans will fail.
I did fail. Oh yes, and it took me a long time to realise an important distinction between me and my business. Being the high-achiever I am I identified with what I do. I kept telling to everyone else around me that I had a reason for it. Not because I was stupid, of course not. It was because I had created a business out of my deepest desire, a very personal desire hence, I had all the rights to claim my identification with my business. Till, one day, on my daily walk I clearly heard a voice (my unconscious) saying “you are not your business”. A big heavy weight dropped off my shoulders. I eventually saw it…my business, even if very personal, totally aligned to my life’s purpose, it is not me and I am not it.
It shifted the whole perception and level of energy I had around it. Till that moment anything that wouldn't go as I planned or expected to, was a personal rejection. I am an introvert and the weight I was carrying around got so heavy I became even more introverted to the point of isolation. I was so tired to carry around guilt, shame, judgement that there were days I had no energy anymore to do what I love.
What did I learn from it? I learnt I was there to serve my business and be open and flexible to shift plans when necessary for the prosperity of my business. It is much easier to do so when we do not identify with the plan itself. I have also learnt a few more lessons on my self-limiting beliefs. As painful as it was to carry around such a burden (self-inflicted) it was nothing in comparison to the moment when I realised that most of what I believed to be true about myself and my work was false or, at least, deeply flawed in its logic. It is scary and painful to see or even imagine the bubble of illusion of who you are burst.
As I started taking some distance to build healthier boundaries I started to identify new possibilities to make my business succeed. New collaborations appeared on my path as well as a renewed clarity on my identity.
It did shake my life, I cannot deny that. For a moment I felt I had lost my sense of security and comfort. If you have been following my work or read my book of poetry The Whisper you know that one of my dearest value is integrity (being whole, complete). The integrity to heal our fragmentation and make us whole again needs us to be willing to question the fundamental assumptions upon which our life has been built on. I had in past years, and more recent days, ignored the tiny little voice of the Whisper because I was not willing to risk losing what I had built with decades of sacrifice. The cost of it? My deepest longing was not fulfilled. I almost fell in the same trap when I wasn't willing to question the reasons that led me to identify who I am with the business I have built.
Take some time to reflect on:
- How do you define failure?
- Do you feel a failure when something in your life doesn't go the way you planned?
- Do you base your self-worth upon your achievements?
So going back up a few paragraphs where I wrote "I did fail". That needs a correction. I did not fail. Some of my plans failed and required a correction not a self-punishment.
Next time you find yourself saying I did fail, please pause and ask yourself: "Did I fail as a person or my plans failed?" It’s a question you can ask yourself either you plan to start your own business or not.