If you want something you’ve never had, you’ve got to be someone you’ve never been.
Your business is what it is today, because of who you are today.
That means that if your business isn’t yet the long-term sustainable, fun business you’d like it to be, I can assure you of one thing… You have to change.
Change is exciting, Change is Fun… and… Change is hard
Let me tell you a story about myself:
The story illustrates how challenging it can be for business owners to make the changes we have to make to achieve the success we seek.
Some years ago I came to the conclusion that my business (business coaching) wasn’t working and that I was stuck.
I did a lot of soul searching because of the deeply held belief I mentioned before, that your business is what it is because of who you are today.
And so I understood that there was something about who I was being, that was holding my business back.
It confused the hell out of me, because I felt so confident and clear, that what I was offering to business owners was a highly effective and valuable and I also felt comfortable that my fee structure was about right for what I offered.
I spent a lot of time working through this confusion and these questions on my own and with my coach at the time and one day (in bed, in the middle of the night) I suddenly understood that: “Vincent has got to go”… Vincent being Vincent van Gogh, the famous struggling Dutch artist.
True Art is not commercial
You see, I’d realised that I had developed a belief and a self-image that was holding me and therefore the business back. The belief was this: True Art, True Beauty is born from struggle. True Art and True Beauty can only be created by struggling artists, because the meaning of life is about struggle… and artists who are commercially successful only produce commercial rubbish… never truly meaningful Art (with a capital “A”).
I had really taken this belief on myself over the years and I considered myself a struggling artist, creating True Art in my work, but without commercial success. I realised that my self-belief and self-image shone through in all my interactions with prospective clients and in how I presented myself. My belief about “who I was being” sabotaged my efforts to turn my business coaching business into a success.
Vincent has to go
And when I realised this, I decided that Vincent had to go.
Easier said than done though… Vincent had been a part of me, probably from my early adolescence and now when about to turn 50, Vincent and I were not easily separated. Getting rid of Vincent felt like having to get rid of a part of myself.
I wrestled with how to go about removing Vincent from my life and finally realised that I couldn’t just dump him, instead I needed to build a new self-belief and above all a new self-image.
And I did
This is not the place to go into the detail of how I started creating my new image but I did. The image I settled on and started building was that of a riverboat captain. I take people on journeys after all and river journeys are a wonderful analogy for the work I do with my clients.
And slowly but surely I started to see myself as the captain… and slowly but surely Vincent receded in the background… and slowly but surely my business became successful.
The moral of the story…
As I said before, your business is what it is because of who you are.
That means that if you want your business to be something else… you need to be something else first.
You simply can’t develop and grow your business in isolation from yourself. Building a healthy sustainable fun business requires you to step outside your comfort zone… and stay there.
When you step outside your comfort zone is enter the void… and the void might sound like a bleak and scary place, but it is the Zone of Endless Possibility and the place where all change is created. (I will talk about the void in a future article)
Where is the comfort zone?
That begs one last question though… Where is that famous comfort zone and how do you step out of it into the void? Obviously it would be great if there was a line drawn on the floor with the words “comfort zone” on one side, and “void” on the other so you could simply step across the line… Let me know if you find one of those lines, it would make things so much easier.
In the absence of such a neat line, below are the 3 steps, I’ve found in many years of coaching, will not fail to drag you straight across into the void and keep you there:
- Set a big goal… a Goal that really stretches you and inspires you and scares the living day-lights out of you all at the same time.
- Decide and commit to a deadline for achievement of the Goal, within a visible timeframe (6 months to a year works well in my experience)
- Get someone else involved to hold you accountable to the achievement of the Goal and the deadline.
The process of committing to something outside of your comfort zone, with a hard deadline and getting someone else to hold you accountable, drives you out of your comfort zone relentlessly and will confront you with the changes you have to make.
As it happens, this is what I do. I am passionate about making it safe for business owners to step out of their comfort zone and stay there.
Because that is how we build successful sustainable fun businesses (And I think even Vincent would agree with that in hindsight)
Leadership, Change and the 7 Big Questions of Small Business
Business owners frequently ask 7 Big Questions about how to Build a Beautiful Business and Life.
The fifth of the 7 Questions is: How can I become a better leader?
To answer this question about leadership I like to explain people about the 3 pieces of good news about leadership and change. There are many articles on this site about this topic.