I have just celebrated my 35th birthday and soon my company’s public showcase 3 years anniversary next month. It’s been a roller-coaster ride, and thought this would be a great time to reflect, and to resonate with my people on various important a-ha moments in my entrepreneurial journey: that eventually I realized I needed to give myself space to think the opposite in order to crack it.
When you start out on your own, you are literally burning your own cash along with its accompanying anxieties. Your old clients no longer support your business ambitions, they didn’t believe that you could branch out and offer new services; back home it was not easy for me at all either at times. Then everything went towards a downward spiral with social unrest and Covid. On my own* and expanding into new arenas, there I was, without knowing how to listen, what the proper amount of feedback should be; how to give people space, and most of all, how to give myself some space. *(sure I did have a team to support me and still do today, but like any other human beings, all have different end goals and at various life stages.)
What I wish I knew 3 years ago was to give myself more self-care time. Let the decision sink in instead of rushing in to doing everything. That would have allowed me to alleviate restlessness by focusing on one task at a time, as opposed to being chained to the frenetic “clock is ticking, cash is burning” mind set. You lose perspective by being too goal oriented and too task focused. The hardest part was managing yourself. For me, I realized, slowing down is the quickest way to go. It was one of the most pivotal moments in my journey to figure out what would work for my company and what would not.
Running your own company and being your own boss is a never-ending self-discovery and self-management journey. I took the CliftonStrengths coaching course in Dec 2018. I had no idea how it would impact on me or how I would impact others. But it came, and one thing led to another. Today when I am coaching leaders from different industries they all said the similar thing - that the CliftonStrengths opens up their world and enhanced their communication with their teams. Same for me. The prescription I needed, turned out, was coaching training. Coaching essentially asks you to be fully present with your coachee, not giving any advice, recommendations or identifying solutions. You just need to facilitate the social reflective space your coachee needs. Now I practice what I call coaching beyond practice in my human relationships. Speak less, listen more.
Being on your own does not mean being alone, a concept I came to understand. I need a trustworthy person to be my sounding board. It took me a few years to really embrace my natural talents, and more importantly to be aware of my blind spots. Today, instead of worrying that I'm not meeting targets, what needs to be done, who's my next prospect, and how am I going to close a sale; I’ve developed the ability to be more patient, acquiring more tools and options for my toolbox, and how and when to use these tools.
This journey is a path not without stones, walls, or great obstacles. They are all there for a reason. I didn’t know there were signs for me to watch and connect the dots, all I needed was stay present and watch out for them.
How about you? What signs have you passed by and were you able to spot them? Doing the counterintuitive - slowing down, taking rests, doing nothing was actually what most of us need, especially for founders when you constantly need to adapt to the environment without the resources you will get in corporates.
I can't wait to continue with my journey, with well-learned lessons, and go forward in faith.