As an Entrepreneur, I Know the Myths That My Envious Friends Persist in Believing
“How cool, you get to be your own boss.” In truth, instead of having one boss, every client is my new boss for the day. “It must be great to be able to set your own schedule.” Really? Last time I checked, I work long, long hours, weekends, holidays, whatever it takes to fulfill my clients’ needs. “You get to work in your pajamas!” Ok, that one is true. What these friends don’t know is the other types of opportunities and choices I grapple with every day.
I spent about 20 years working in corporate America and I was miserable. I hated having to put on the fake persona, pandering to bad bosses with bad ideas and then being strapped into a cubicle for a prescribed number of hours regardless of the workflow. I resented the zero-sum system that assigned pay based on levels (not contributions) and then pitted co-workers against each other to scrabble for that coveted extra 1 percent raise. Most of all, I chafed at the inability to implement ideas that I knew would work because it “wasn’t my job” to make those decisions.
So, it was with glee and delight that I started my presentation coaching and design firm Laser Point in May 2013. At last, I could be myself while working from home at whatever time and pace I chose. Best of all? I would be paid based on my efforts and the outcome of my vision. I set out to create my “persona” and brand then started the work of building a solid reputation. I watched and learned as those I admired shared their successes, wrote about their accomplishments and posted their celebrations. Eagerly, I jumped into the fray and with a few adjustments along the way, have paddled my way to the center of the river and am now flowing with the current.
And then it struck me. After longing to be more authentic at my corporate jobs, now I was showing only those parts of me that I thought would “get me further”. Always answering the “how’s your business going” question with the most glowing terms. Only sharing my successes, never my concerns or struggles.
I Should Be On Cloud Nine!
Last week I had an “ah-ha” moment. I just got back from speaking at the Speaking Consulting Network (SCN) meeting in Orlando. After months of preparation, I was on the highest of highs because my presentation on how to deliver clarity was very well received. I had multiple people reaching out to inquire about hiring me and lots of great press on social media. Woohoo! And then IT hit. This tidal wave of the blues, the can’t focus, can’t get to work, can’t-seem-to-care blanket smothering me. I immediately started shaming myself, telling myself I should be grateful, I should be on cloud nine, I should be skyrocketing with energy. Look at everyone else, how happy they look on Facebook! What’s wrong with me? Get your act together and go be happy.
In the past, I would have muscled through this phase feeling completely alone and worried you might find out I am not perfect. But I am no longer willing to live with that mask or be so lonely. I took a deep breath and reached out to another speaker and said, “is this feeling normal?” She lovingly told me that not only is the post-speaking blues normal, but many people also struggle with the shame and secrecy around these feeling. After putting so much effort into any event (wedding, speaking, even a big vacation), it is normal to have an emotional crash regardless of the outcome. But we judge ourselves harshly for the crash when the event was successful instead of giving ourselves space to rest and rejuvenate.
Take Time for Yourself
I decided that I would take better care of a friend than I was of myself so I did the unheard of… I took the day off (even though I had a full plate of work to do) and I got a massage! I cooked my husband and me our favorite dinner. I actually sat on my sofa and pet my dogs for the afternoon. And the result? As I boarded my early morning flight the next day, I was better rested, more energetic, and ready to provide value to my clients I was going to work with.
The word intimacy can be understood best as “In To Me See”. As a speaker coach, I recommend people be vulnerable and make a human connection from the podium. I always open one of my own talks this way and I know it works. Now it is time for me to take that next step and bring my whole self to my whole business. I want to learn to ask for help, to reach out when I’m down and to share the genuine glow when a success lifts me up.
Won’t you join me in a more authentic expression of ourselves, the successful Dental Entrepreneurial Woman?