Recently one of my coaching clients spoke to me of her yearning to step more boldly into her business, but her family members oppose her, and she is scared of what it might cost her to upset them.
We often aren’t told that starting a business is more than just a financial risk; it can also threaten your personal relationships. The way the entrepreurial process changes you can feel like a threat to people you’re close to. They might not want you to live life differently than they did. Or have less time and attention to give them. Or shine that bright.
So how committed are you to unfolding, not just your business venture, but your SELF? How passionate are you about your vision? Do you believe you DESERVE to pursue it? A controlling mother-in-law is no small obstacle. Or an unsupportive husband. Or a scornful friend. Do YOU believe in what you have to offer in this world through bringing your business to birth?
Gina Din was recently quoted as saying, “Most of what we want to achieve is only available outside our comfort zone.” But that may be outside the comfort zone of the people in your life, too—so you may end up handling not only your own fears and challenges, but those of your loved ones as well.
With some people, you’ll have the opportunity to get creative about finding ways to enroll them in supporting you (usually by showing how it benefits them). But others—and you all know someone like this—just aren’t going to support you, ever. Instead, they give you the opportunity to decide how committed you are to your SELF.
Here’s what I said to my client. I told her, this is not a small concern. Rocking the boat can have a very unpleasant impact in your life; you’re right to be apprehensive.
But at the end of the day, you’re going to suffer either way. If you upset the people who are close to you, they may unleash some very unpleasant consequences into your life. But if you see your own potential and turn away in the name of keeping other people comfortable—that is a sort of death.
So, ladies, the question is, how will you choose to suffer?
You can keep the peace, and suffer by passing up your own possibility. Or you can bet on yourself, and suffer the disapproval of people around you. Either choice will cost you something you value. You have to choose which kind of suffering you are willing to live with…then go all-in with the choice you made.
Starting your own business is going to bring you face to face with your biggest fears. It’s not a smooth emotional path. But if your spirit is calling you to be someone bigger, someone more than you have been before—you can’t say no to that and thrive.
So take a good look at the way your relationships could be impacted. Do your best to enroll your loved ones in supporting you. And if they won’t, choose whether you’ll keep going anyway.
As one woman to another, my advice is: go all in. Commit to your potential. Let your life speak for itself, kick butt with your business, and become the biggest, boldest, best version of YOU.
Ten years ago, on April Fool’s Day, I eloped with a man I knew I didn’t belong with. We thought we were being so clever, getting married on April Fool’s Day. Two years later, we divorced…so I guess the joke was on us.
As it happens, when we agreed to split up, I had just come to spend two weeks volunteering in Kenya. He sent me an email asking for a divorce, which I read in a little cyber cafe in Kawangware, and I looked around me and said, “well, I guess I live in Kenya now.”
It wasn’t only that the future we’d planned together had just been canceled. It was also that here in Kenya I felt a vitality to my work that I’d spent my entire adulthood looking for, and I didn’t want to let that go. So I stayed.
I spent years figuring out how to monetize my passion work of helping women take agency over their lives. In the process, I learned many lessons about taking agency over my life. I didn’t have that agency ten years ago when I married a man I knew was not my life partner.
But I have it now.
One arm of my passion work is coaching female entrepreneurs. I help them differentiate between their career (where they earn their income) and their calling (the way they came into this world to be a contribution). Nearly all fempreneurs, nowadays, are trying to combine the two, myself included. Women are no longer content to work one job to support themselves while they fit in their passion work in volunteer stints on the side—now they want to support themselves with that passion work. Do you relate?
If you’re struggling to find the overlap between your career and your calling, don’t despair—it’s a journey with many different stages, and if you’re not yet where you want to be, it only means you need to keep going.
To help find clarity around your calling, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- when I was a kid, what did I love so much that I did it for hours?
- what do people often approach me to ask me for advice about?
- if I could volunteer in secret, what would I choose to be involved in?
- what do I love so much that I’d do it for free?
Some of the answers you have might not seem practical as means for making money. But look at what’s behind your answer. Is there a theme? Even if it seems like a stretch, stay open.
All my answers, for example, involve writing and women’s empowerment—and guess what, I’m a writer who creates educational products to empower female entrepreneurs. Seven years ago, when my marriage ended and I started my life over in Kenya, I was clear on my calling of empowering women, but it took years to turn that into a career. And those years were invaluable. Don’t worry if you can’t think how you’ll get to where you want to be—just get clear on where that is, and then take baby steps.
One thing I know: as women in business, we get to go just as far as we dare—so make April the month you explore new territory and take a step deeper into becoming the contribution you came here to be!