Part of my message at today’s Conscious Connections panel “Insight from Women of Influence, Impact + Profit” was “Success is an inside job.” This was/is a hard learned lesson and speaks to the need for personalized attention when growing as an entrepreneurial-minded leader. I/we need this kind of help. That’s why I fill the role of “creative partner” for others. And why I heavily invest in personal-professional development myself while involving advisors and team members (especially my “A-list“) for added perspective.
The interesting thing about being on a panel for me (any speaking gig, really) is that I spend so much time preparing and then I (have to) let it go. Especially if I don’t show up with notes in hand. It’s just going to be whatever comes out of my mouth. And hopefully that experience is just as good as the one I planned.
For this panel, the central questions about entrepreneurship were:
- What has been most surprising about being an entrepreneur and scaling your business?
- What has been most challenging?
- What are the 1-2 key things to which you attribute your success?
In preparing for speaking, I try to craft in writing what I would like to say. So I thought it would be fun to provide the answers I wanted to give today–the ones I had painstakingly crafted (with some inspiration from Jennifer Lawhead and a lot of coaching with communications angel/phenom, Jenn Kaye). I may have touched on these points or said them differently. I probably added a bunch not captured here. And hopefully I said the spirit of this–in so many words.
Here’s how I responded to the questions in writing:
What has been most surprising about being an entrepreneur and scaling your business?
Lots! No shortage of surprises.
Frankly, that the best path is my own. So often we’re bombarded with all these messages about what success looks like and the formulas for how to get there plus quite frankly our own expectations and assumptions. I call BS. I had to learn that I didn’t need to follow any of that–at all or to the letter.
The surprising thing has been I needed to accept that I had to find my way of doing things–and I had to know and understand my strengths and limitations to make decisions as a leader about how I was going to fill those gaps. Taking an approach that allows me and others to work in our unique genius zones has allowed me to hit a major revenue milestone (on top of the 2% Club requirement) last year–while working a lot less than most entrepreneurs I know and staying fulfilled in the work I do vs. burning out or being overwhelmed. It’s a personal journey and I’ve crafted my business as an extension of myself–not through a “program” but in a way that’s more respectful to myself and more in alignment with who I am. So doing that–gently, strategically–I’m better poised to succeed. And I’m not beating myself up or trying to fit myself into a round hole.
I’ve learned “Success is an inside job” which means: the path to success lies within, is defined by us alone, and unfolds when we ask for help. I know leading your business is an “inside job”—which is why we need others’ support, perspectives, expertise, and “tough truths.” And it’s the work I am uniquely qualified and intensely excited to do in the world as a “creative partner.”I’ve learned 'Success is an inside job' which means: the path to success lies within, is defined by us alone, and unfolds when we ask for help. Click To Tweet
What has been most challenging?
It stems from the aforementioned “Success is an inside job” lesson. I’m my most difficult project. I knew I couldn’t thrive in most business environments as an employee; I was the bottleneck to my own success. I needed then (and always need!) to increase my self-awareness and do the resulting work. All of that work–the stuff that’s unique to me–has been the biggest challenge as an entrepreneur. For example:
I’ve learned we suffer by comparison. When I look at what someone else is doing and the success they are having, instead of beating myself up, I have to remember that I’m comparing my insides to their outsides. And more often than not, things are not always as they appear–although with my core value of authenticity, I would like them to be!
It’s tweaking all of these moments and getting help outside myself that help me to overcome “the challenge of me.” This is why having communities around doing the work is so important. 2018 has been a tremendous personal growth year as I face the fact that the limit to my success is me. I am the limit and I am limitless. The more I focus on the latter, the more challenges fall away. (Thanks to Rachael Jayne Groover for the concept of “limitless.”)I am the limit and I am limitless. The more I focus on the latter, the more challenges fall away. Click To Tweet
What are the 1-2 key things to which you attribute your success?
- Invested in Client Success – They feel it, it’s palpable. I’m driven by the idea that people–clients, employees, vendors, partners–deserve to be seen, heard, understood, and cared for. As a creative partner, I want them to be successful–as they define it. (That’s part of “Success is an inside job.”) This extreme focus on relationships is why our clients are happy and why they refer us. All of that translates to success.
2. Shameless Trust/Delegating – I don’t fall into the trap of thinking I have to do it all myself or no one can do as good a job as I can–or any of the other thoughts that cause leaders to be ineffective. I surround myself with people who have complementary skills, a willingness to help, a deep commitment to service and relationships, are self-guided–and I share the responsibilities with them. Nothing is created alone is as much a leadership principle for me as it is a business truth. Asking for help in filling the gaps and sharing the load–sometimes to shameless degrees by external standards–is a key factor in my success.I surround myself with people who have complementary skills, a willingness to help, a commitment to service and relationships, are self-guided--and I share the responsibilities with them. Click To Tweet
I’d love to hear your comments and answer any questions.
If you were there in person, what stuck with you the most? How was what you heard different? In Q&A, the page I mentioned as an example about the concept of repelling clients to “stack the deck” in terms of setting boundaries can be found here. And you can get the gist of “branding-as-repellant” from Root+River here.
In closing, I’m incredibly grateful to moderator and conscious leader Kristi Hall and my fellow panelists today, Kate Seastone and Emily Soccorsy. I also appreciate Dr. Susan Wilder, who is also a member of 2% Club and could not be with us today.