One disadvantage of getting to know people through Web pages or an e-zine is that folks can get the wrong impression. For instance, some people think marketing comes naturally to me.
Nothing could be further from the truth. While administering projects and advocating for the success of other people and causes has always been easy for me, learning to thrive in my own business has been a long journey.
My first business was a wearable art studio, Mollycoddles. (Isn’t that a great name? I still love it.) I designed, fabricated, and marketed high-end knit clothing, the kind of thing you might see in an upscale boutique or craft gallery.
I started out with a bias against making money, which made it difficult to earn any significant amount of it. I tended to distrust people who had money, which made it difficult to respect and serve folks who could afford my work. I had a short attention span, so as soon as I figured out how to do one thing fairly efficiently, I would decide to make something else, so I never achieved any sort of economy of scale.
On the bright side, thanks to my experience with PR on behalf of other folks (see “Seven Secrets for Free Publicity” below), I was nationally recognized for my work. I just never figured out how to make any money at it, and I suffered intensely because what I loved to do was making me miserable. (Of course, I was making myself miserable, and I sort of knew that, which “made me” feel worse.)
During the eight years that I owned Mollycoddles, I learned a lot about creating success doing work you love, but it took closing the studio and starting my career as a coach to reveal those lessons in forms I could understand and apply to build a successful business. It took an additional five years for me to see that my own pain and struggle around business was the heart of what I had to offer others.
I used to feel inauthentic and phony when I imagined, let alone planned for, business success. Yet something in me knew that learning to succeed in business was part of my personal hero’s journey, and that it was up to me to heal the rift between material success and my most fundamental values.
Bit by bit, as I embraced my difficulties, I discovered that being in business is an invitation to speak the truth, to be responsible for my well being, and to create a space of prosperity that serves my clients and customers as well as myself.
It’s easy to write that now, but it took me years of self-examination, failure, and reflection to stop struggling and start prospering. I believe that the lessons I learned over such a long period can be learned much faster, with much less drama and wasted energy, and that the more good folks learn about doing good business the better off we’ll all be.
Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
1. Good luck and good fortune are about choice, not about control. When we are clear that we are choosing our lives, and when we understand that making choices is not the same as managing the outcome, luck and fortune find us every time.
2. It’s hard to make a living when we don’t ask for what we want. It’s hard to ask for what we want if we don’t admit to ourselves that we want it. It’s much easier to admit we want it if we are willing to hear “no” as an answer. It’s a mystery!
3. When we look directly at our resentments against the business world we always come face to face with some part of ourselves that we do not want to acknowledge or accept.
4. When we acknowledge and accept even the parts of ourselves that we fear or dislike, we become free to act in accordance with our highest standards. I like to say, “I’m sometimes fearful, and when I’m afraid I lie, but that is not what I’m up to today.” we can always play a bigger game.
5. Mistakes really are the compost of our future successes. The more openly we embrace and acknowledge our errors the more they have to teach us, and the more friends we make along the way. Amazing.
6. Money is energy. It’s not so much about the quantity of money as it is about being free of energy leaks and energy blocks. If we think money is evil we’re going to have a very hard time taking care of ourselves in the world, and it will be impossible to serve others with grace.
7. We are both the gardeners and the garden. We are responsible for co-creating the conditions under which we thrive and we are responsible for reaping the harvest.
8. We are responsible for being an offer to the people who will most benefit from working with us. We do not need to be authorities on all things.
9. We will always receive the guidance we need just for today. We are only lost when we insist on seeing around corners.
10. We are always writing the stories of our lives. It’s up to us to discover how to live and work each day with dignity, grace, and passion. When we act as if we are doing just that we discover that we can do all sorts of things we didn’t think we could do. (Like build a thriving coaching practice, have a great Web site, or write an e-zine with over 11,000 readers. I mean, who knew?)
That’s some of what I’ve learned, and I’m still learning. Every day I face some things that are scary and some things that used to be scary but that are now a pleasure. I’ve written that mistakes are the compost of future success, and I find I welcome the lessons of my errors these days. That’s a huge shift, and one I would wish for all of you.
Well, that’s a part of my story. I’m sharing it with you because I think you have a right to know where I’m coming from, and because some of you have been kind enough to ask. I hope it helps you to understand the principles and experiences behind my coaching and my courses. Also, it is good for my soul to reconnect with the inspiration, challenges, and mistakes that led me here.
What inspiration, challenges, and mistakes have brought you to this point?
Photo by Gert Andreas Barring via Flickr