I began an entrepreneurial business after I had established a workaholic mentality - committing over 60 hours a week to my career, for I answered to nobody and was willing to fill my time with responsibilities. Soon I shifted careers, opting for the adventure of creating and designing my own coaching practice vs. teaching high school. No longer was I surrounded by others who were competing for the recognition I sought. Finally I could be sole decision-maker, in charge of my own time and driven by my interests vs. someone else's schedule. Little did I know it would spin me wildly off my path of best business sense.
As any business owner does, I needed someone to bounce ideas off, to encourage me during challenging times and to hold me accountable to what I determine to carry out. But what I committed to was safety, reflection and comfort zone activity. This means I acted based on what I knew about business (which wasn't much). I stayed safe. I didn't wish to call strangers and sell myself. I didn't like to speak about the fees involved in my services, and I had difficulty influencing people to take me on without a track record of success. Yet I still stayed in my comfort zone. This was one of the deepest ruts my business was in - all based on my lack of comfort with asking for help. In theory, I hibernated.
I had some good resources around me - people who could advise me on developing a business plan, creating a marketing strategy, testing out and/or selling my services, yet I didn't feel right asking for help. Would it cost me something? Actually, it cost me more to not ask. Time - that great equalizer, flew by without my getting any smarter. I hadn't asked for help. Content that I would just figure things out, I stayed "inside", dozing away my resources.
Not until I heard a keynote speaker relate her story of asking for help from a team of strategic business associates - others, who, like me, needed help - did I realize that it isn't a deficit on my part to not know things. Others commonly experience this! But it is a huge deficit to not ask for help. In life, I have repeatedly experienced that success comes from turning to others and saying,
"Could you give me some ideas?"This awakens my thinking, breathes new life into my decision-making and keeps me from "napping".
This realization finally led me to starting a Master Mind group of business owners who want to make changes and are willing to get vulnerable to accomplish it. After only a few short months we all saw the value - we were personally supported and challenged while our businesses began to grow into a larger dimension. We had begun applying steps after hearing other members' perspective about either marketing, personnel, strategy, business building, closing a sale or other related challenges. From these steps we saw ourselves choose either to avoid the challenge (and continue making mistakes), problem-solve through it or crash.
I have learned that business is all about gaining perspective - which to me means, starting from my own point of view and attaching others' to it. My business then moves from a cave to a clearing. I have learned to share my perspective, ask others there's, and then make smarter decisions by applying strategies that continue to use good resources.
When I'm at my best, I look about me, becoming present to who is there and how they think. When I'm at my worst, I hibernate.
It's that time of year that nature goes into hibernation mode - and I vow to avoid it! I prefer to stay strong, stay alive and enjoy the experience. But to do so, I have to connect. This intention will work if I remember who is around me and then purposefully connect with them - ask for their experiences with a similar challenge, for how they conquered certain difficulties or avoided a negative circumstance. Asking for help, and then valuing it enough to get clear about the details establishes goodwill.
Getting out of my cave is good not only for professional development. It's good for business.