When I decided to step away from a lucrative, stable career at PricewaterhouseCoopers to strike out on my own in business, I took a huge risk.
I had a vision of running my own business and helping women increase their productivity without compromising their health; but I wasn’t sure of the path I needed to take to make this happen.
My business took many turns before I really understood the direction it was going to take. As a yoga teacher, I started doing one-on-one private yoga therapy sessions. As a writer, I wanted to move forward with a book I wrote about travelling around the world by myself on one-way tickets a few years prior. Each step I took helped me further discern the next step I needed to take.
When I realized that my half hearted plan for my business was not going to generate the income I needed to further nurture my practice and take care of myself, I had to adjust my agenda so I could meet my financial needs, while I still played with my business concept and execution. I took a consulting gig with a hedge fund for a whole year to support my business. (I write about all of this in my first blog post.)
In the meanwhile, my love of learning took the front seat of my life. I went back to school to train in health coaching and behavior change at Duke Integrative Medicine. Simultaneously my astrology mentor, Debra Silverman took me further under her wing to help me understand how to incorporate astrology in a therapeutic capacity like she does. (She’s a psychotherapist and esoteric astrologer, and has had a booming practice combining both skills sets for close to thirty years.) I worked, practiced and digested massive amounts of information and integrated them. I coached and counseled many clients for free as I honed my skill and craft, putting my programs through lots of beta testing. It was a ton of work – but work that I loved deeply. And fortunately enough, the universe conspired on my behalf so I had the money I needed to do everything without financial pressure. (Thanks to Abundance Partners for me bringing me into their hedge fund to consult, and my loving husband Doug, for believing in me even when all I wanted to do was run back to my corporate gig.)
I did all of this without a website, an online presence or any formal marketing as I worked day in and day out to build my business off-line.
Three years later, having developed a business I am deeply proud of, I am starting to see my hard work pay off. Recently I received some major kudos from brand guru, Kristen Domingue, on her blog. Kristen runs a boutique consultancy for women entrepreneurs focused on building a brand that is supremely authentic and completely on point with their unique purpose.
She’s a total rock star when it comes to understanding someone’s unique genius and creating an entrepreneurial pursuit that matches it. (She helped me immensely.) Not only does she have an impeccable ear and listening capacity; she’s also got an amazing eye for style. When she told me she was going to write about me in her blog on well-branded women, I was absolutely flattered. (An ah-mazing compliment.) You can check out her post here: http://kristendomingue.com/well-branded/.
So, having gone from the bold leap of ditching a high-paying, solid, stable corporate gig to voluntarily stepping out on my own (in the middle of a recession) to creating a business around a very vulnerable personal story, to combining two very radically different yet extremely important sides of myself (my hardcore science-loving, evidence-based research geekiness + my devout dedication to the art of astrology) in one business, here’s what I learned:
In the words of leadership expert, Warren Bennis, “Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It’s precisely that simple, and it’s also that difficult.”
I learned that more than anything, having the courage to be all of me in my business challenged me to accept who I absolutely am. And in doing so, I had to surrender the faulty notion that I had to do this alone. This was something I never in 45 million years could conceive of doing in my previous life. As a matter of fact, I boasted my independence as one of my greatest attributes. Having moved thousands of miles from home at a very young age I had an entire identity around being independent that needed to come down. My journey in creating my business taught me that success is not about independence at all; it has everything to do with interdependence. This was a massive shift and a major a-ha moment for me. I learned leadership is based on relationships and independence is nothing more than a defense against dependency. My independent self was incapable of receiving. In order for me to step up to the next level of success in my life I had to let this go. I learned that at its core, my need to be “independent” was actually part of my shadow looking for separation and superiority, and these were things I chose to surrender. I learned that my quest for independence was actually a fast track ticket to exile, and exile was a definite dead end.
Another teacher of mine, Robert Holden says it amazingly well. “You don’t have to learn to receive; you just have to learn to give up independence.” This was a total shocker for me, and simultaneously something that opened me tremendously to the very support that guided me to where I am today.
I also learned that being in a hurry with my business happened when I lost a sense of clarity regarding where I was heading. And it usually involved a bad case of FOMS (Fear of Missing Something). FOMS created unnecessary stress in my body and frantic momentum that usually pushed me backwards instead of forward. I realized that permanent busyness and hurrying was entirely reactive and not at all creative.
Having remained faithful to my entrepreneurial pursuit for several years as I brought my dream to fruition, I’ve developed a short list of takeaways for creating a professional life you love and amplifying your success:
- Become all of you. Authenticity is key. Success is knowing who you are. To be even more successful, is to be even more of you. Feelings of inadequacy result from an inability to see, feel, and honor your truth.
- Redefine your relationship with independence. Your next level of success will likely come as a result of the relationships you build. The quest for total independence may be a sign that you are scared that needing something from someone else will lead to disappointment. Check in and see if your quest for independence is actually coming from a shadow motivation to protect yourself like mine was.
- The whole reason you may be in a hurry to get where you are going is because you lack clarity on where it is you are actually heading. Develop a solid vision for where you are going and work towards this goal on a daily basis. (Make sure this vision aligns with your most authentic values.) Move away from adrenaline as a driving force in your life and invite in more grace. Once you have a clear vision of where you are heading, you can relax into the process of creating your vision. Operating from adrenaline is living life in the “race.” Inviting in more grace is a key component to finding and living your RHYTHM.
When I initially started out in my business I didn’t have a ton of money, a line of clients waiting to hire me or a well fleshed out plan for whom I would serve. I didn’t even know what I’d offer them when they did show up. What I did have was just enough faith that I could make something happen, and fortunately some patience to go along with it. When I fell short of these resources on my own, I learned to borrow others’, opening myself up to collaboration and community in a way I previously been shut to. For me, success was anything but a race. It took time – lots of it – and consistent dedicated effort, day in and day out, to build a practice that authentically represented me.
Here’s to our collective success, and to getting support along the way! Authentic success is all about developing relationship and building community. I look forward to building ours, and getting to know you better.