Below is an answer to this question that I posted to Quora on July 14, 2015.
Do you have this feeling that you are destined for greatness? Do you feel like you have something unique and wonderful inside of you waiting to get out?
That may not be enough to make the big leap. It’s important to find out before you set out to start a 21usiness.
A drive to control your own destiny:
If you feel like you have something wonderful, unique inside of you that is bursting to get out into the world, you likely have a driving force to control your destiny. (I’m not going to touch on faith or religion here, just business.)
I understand what this feels like. I bought the URL for my this company when I was 21. I started my company when I was 41. That’s a long time to yearn to CREATE something. To build something.
Learn as much NOW about your skills, your innate abilities, your communication style, your shortcomings, your biases as you can… as fast as you can.
Starting a business is a journey of self-discovery. Everything wonderful about you will be set into action. Everything thorny, jagged, ratty about you as well.
I help people work through all of this what-should-I-do stuff for a living, and here’s what I’ve observed. Wanting control of your destiny is a driving force marker for every entrepreneur I have met. Some successful. Some not.
As a business owner, you have to believe in your ideas and your unique spin on the world MORE than anyone else around you. Wanting control of your own destiny bad enough will help you get through the land of haters. Haters are not all trolls. Some mean well.
People who love you will try to get you to give up on your dream. (They are just scared for you.) Thank them for caring about you, and help them to understand that you have to give this a try.
People who want to control their own destiny but don’t have the guts to do it will try to create problems for you. (They may not even realize it.) Wish them well and move on. Who knows, maybe you’ll inspire them to take the leap, too!
And you’ll stumble on those people who have taken the leap already. Some who want to warn you about the traumas you are about to experience. Some who want to be your cheerleader and help you succeed. Learn from both but don’t be deluded by either extreme.
There are so many other important factors to consider before taking the leap.
A drive for function: The other marker I have seen with entrepreneurs is a driving force for function. Combine a desire to get your idea into the world with a driving force to be useful, and you start to have the makings of a business owner.
What do I mean by function? Do you look around and see how you could streamline that process? Wish you could improve that product? Reduce costs? Want to help people solve a problem? In the past, have you taken action on those impulses? If not, start now. If yes, you just need to develop this side more.
A drive for function often goes with a drive to accumulate wealth – but not always. Just make sure you are not chasing money without having to provide value to customers. That would make you someone who wants to be paid to be themselves and that’s not necessarily entrepreneur territory. (Closer to Kardashians, perhaps.)
Determining success is a question that we all ask, and some think they know the answer. There are many factors in addition to what drives you that help predict your success as a business owner, but FIRST figure out what propels you to take action in your life. That is an important – no, vital – part of preparing to start a new venture.
Not taken the leap as an entrepreneur yet? Please let as much as you can about yourself in order to plan a business that will fit who you ARE and WHY you take action. Please. Please.
If you are not sure, call me and we can help you learn more in 10 minutes than you could observe in a year.
You turn the corner into an unexpected place and stumble into peace. Sweet, elusive calm.
You love the sound of the waves and salty breeze at a hidden seaside resort.
You recall the quiet beauty of an old Spanish courtyard filled with yellow blooms.
You lift a warm cappuccino to your lips at a local cafe surrounded by a symphony of rushing people and honking horns.
I don’t collect souvenirs. I collect my list of peace places. Locations where I feel my body relax and breathing slow slightly.
Places where the world’s expectations melt away, and I am free to find me again.
Today, I pack up and leave one of my peace places feeling my calm. Like a few of the more loosely stitched pieces are pulled tighter to join the whole.
I am grateful for this time. I am grateful for the renewal. I am grateful for you.
I’m at the airport witnessing the best of humanity. Or at least the funniest.
“Yes! Give it to him! That’s it! Yes!”
Not the screams I expected to hear in the bathroom. From a lady sitting by herself. Grunting. In the stall.
I can’t speak to this lady’s intelligence, but I can speak to my own. I’m pretty smart. College degree. 20 years in business. (Not that either of those guarantee intelligence.)
Many successes. Many skills. And I do dumb stuff.
You have to learn to laugh at yourself.
I recently met a talented, award-winning photographer at a photoshoot. He chose the most lovely, hidden place for this shoot.
“Action! Look up! Laugh! Smile!”
He yelled, but the subject was having trouble hearing his directions.
He turns to me and asks if I can help. Of course, I will.
“Laugh,” he says.
Instead of yelling at the model to laugh for the next shot, I threw my head back and let out a maniacal laugh that would make Dr. Evil wet his grey zoot suit.
Oh yes, I did.
He graciously kept shooting. Kindly leaving me to process this moment.
Why would I tell you this?
Smart people do dumb things. I will mess up. You will mess up.
I fight the urge to revisit the offense and analyze it. Too late to fix it, so I just churn.
That wastes time and energy.
Laugh. Learn from it. Let it pass.
Dear Mr. Famous Kind Photographer, I apologize and thank you for how sweetly you handled my synapse misfire.
And to you out there. Who have made a mistake.
You who said something awkward to a client about their toupee. Who hit reply instead of forward for your rant about that co-worker. Who got choked and spit your coffee all over the conference room table.
You’re going to be ok.
Have you ever asked yourself if someday you’ll meet someone who is a much better YOU than you are?
Even if you found your visual twin, they wouldn’t have your eclectic style. Your sarcastic humor. Your love of tiny, furry animals dressed as an Ewok.
No one else has your mix of experiences, your skills, your intelligence, your values, or your view of the world.
So if YOU are not going to be YOU in this world, who is?
You have something to share with the world that no one else can. If you don’t share it, no one else will.
YOU are the only you.
Get out there, you amazing creature.
Image originally posted to Instagram on July 15, 2015.
You might fail. They may not like you. What if you aren’t prepared. You could make a huge mistake.
Your fears are different from the worries that weigh down your mom or dad. Different from your sister’s fears. Different for your BFF, spouse and co-workers.
Fear is a deeply personal struggle. A lonely trek through headtrash minefields, especially on the days you visit that nasty, thorny fear you thought you had laid to rest.
Conquer one fear and the next one appears. (Thankfully, we don’t have to face our fears in virtual reality à la Divergent.)
I am told I have a strong presence, but fear is my constant companion. How did I leave a painful marriage and start over? How did I change careers three times (on purpose)? How did I quit a steady job and start a business in a world where most businesses fail?
I feel the fear and do it anyway.
Acknowledge that you are scared. Feel how powerful it is.
Then quickly ask yourself a few questions. Visit the fear, but don’t live there.
Is this a fear that you have encountered before? What happened last time?
Look for times that you walked through the fear and found a positive outcome on the other site. Remind the fear that you have a history of success in these situations.
Did you give in to the fear in the past? What great opportunities did you miss out on by giving into the fear?
Remind the fear that letting it rule your actions did not help you in the past.
Most of my fears are lies I have believed about myself. I call them lies from the devil.
My dad calls them headtrash. Maybe your fears are gremlins. (I rely on my faith to help me, so I call them lies from the devil to remind me who is really in charge. Jesus.)
Fears impact your business. My fears caused me to stay at a job that was physically and emotionally killing me. My fears caused me to take too long to ramp up my business. My fears caused me to ignore areas of my business I have neglected.
Fears may kill my business. They could kill your business.
If you are scared to take action but need to take action in order to meet your goal, you have to feel the fear and do the thing anyway.
It takes practice, but it has been working for me.
- Call that client that you forgot to follow-up with.
- Tweet that author to tell them how much their book impacted your life for the better.
- Submit the article that is collecting dust to a magazine.
It’s not revolutionary, but the powerful changes in life rarely are. It’s those small course corrections on a daily (sometimes hourly basis) that propel you and your business forward.
Try it and let me know how you pushed through fears to achieve a goal.
Let’s pause for a second. I am sharing insight into what has worked for me when dealing with nagging fears that we have to work through daily to meet our goals. I am talking about everyday realms of behavior that impact business and life. I am not a mental health professional. If you are paralyzed by fears, having trouble functioning in life or considering hurting yourself, PLEASE seek help. You are not alone. No matter what problems you are dealing with, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They will connect you to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.
When I was 16, I imagined turning 30 in a glamorous corner office in downtown Dallas as the CEO of my own company. Oh, the freedom I would have. Someday.
I would hop on a Concorde bound for Paris at a moment’s notice with Jake Ryan by my side.
Oh, the freedom I would have. Someday.
In the meantime, I did what any teenage girl would do. I joined the French club, became Flag Corps captain, and played a twin courtesan wearing silver spandex in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
I had my first love and first loss at the hands of a handsome boy who told me he didn’t love me anymore in a dingy school hallway.
I traveled to Paris on a school trip. It was my first trip to Europe and first glass of wine.
Those weren’t the only life-defining moments from the trip. The group left me behind at Montmartre and a stranger stalked me on the Metro in the middle of the night as I made my way back to the hotel. (That’s a doozy of a story, and Mom didn’t know about it until recently.)
Growing up is hard, but adulthood will be a breeze, right?
Attending The University of Texas at Austin was an amazing but emotional trial by fire. I lived away from home for the first time.
Joined a business fraternity. Met new friends and a handsome boyfriend from Germany. Tried not to watch the circles of dancing naked students by The Union. Relished exquisite meals of Ramen and Taco Bell burritos.
And nothing says “I’m a cog in a wheel” like a professor asking for my grandfather’s death certificate to miss class for a funeral.
Adulthood is not the sweet, light-hearted comedy promised on A Full House.
College morphed into internships and 90+ hour weeks. Into marketing and event planning. Then training to become a programmer. Over a decade of using tech and marketing skills to design web-based tools and manage tech projects.
Marriage and a painful divorce sent me into a shame spiral, and “Workaholic” became my title.
I excelled at work. Everything became second to my job. The doctor warned that the stress on my body had taken a toll.
The stress almost killed me.
When I turned 40, I knew I had to exit my self-imposed exile in the wilderness and follow the dream.
In 2013, I left corporate America. I moved out of my penthouse apartment in downtown Dallas into a friend’s extra bedroom. Most of what I own packed into a storage unit.
Then training, conferences, more training, and certifications to arrive here. Poised to help you in your journey.
I’m here to help you use the study of human behaviors, driving forces, soft skills and emotional intelligence to improve your business.
Hire better. Team better. Brand better.
So you meet your goals. You make more money. You help more people.
You can’t keep hiring yourself for every job.
You need help to keep the dream alive. Support in this crazy, exhilarating, tumultuous world of self-employment.
Let’s get real, let’s get to work and let’s take over the world.