The adventure of self-employment
Imagine you were at home and needed to pop out to the local shops for milk.
Presumably you know where the shop is and you have a reasonable belief that it has milk in stock. You take enough money and head out. Let’s say you’re walking; you know the route and how long it usually takes. Perhaps it would occur to you to take an umbrella or dress appropriately for the weather, but you'd probably set out with very little thought.
On the way perhaps you slip into habits - the route you take, the pace you walk at; maybe there are some places you’re interested in looking at. There might be some unexpected people to greet, traffic to watch out for, or distracting shop windows.
Let’s say this is a pretty average day and there aren’t any natural disasters or criminals on route, although of course, as usual, you are taking care of your possessions.
Now, let's compare that to being in a foreign and unfamiliar country where you don’t know the language. Although you think there’s a shop nearby, you’re not confident you know the way or that, when you get there, they will have what you need in stock. You have no idea how long it will take to walk there and, although you’re dressed for the weather when you head out, you’re not sure if that might change on route. You would probably do a lot of thinking through all the possibilities, and perhaps you’d even convince yourself that you didn’t need the milk after all!
If you did venture to the shop in unfamiliar territory, the main considerations on the way would be staying alert to spot potential hazards, perhaps asking for additional directions and observing life around you to better get to understand where you are.
It could be that both trips are the same length, with similar landmarks and weather, but our thinking in the different scenarios is very different.
If you haven’t guessed already, the local trip is like being in employment. Although life is never really predictable, we generally know what to expect and how to handle the day to day requirements.
The unfamiliar walk is like venturing into self-employment. You might have a similar role and your skills could be transferable, but it feels very different.
In the absence of real data, we imagine what could potentially happen as our business moves forward, and we play out all the grizzly and fantasy scenarios. At its least, this thinking is distracting. It might lead us to take preventative, defensive action that isn’t productive. At its worst, it stops us completely.
When it’s our own business, we tend to take feedback to heart. We can find it challenging to ask for appropriate payment and hesitate before taking our message to the world. We could be doing the same tasks as we had in employment but we feel different. It’s personal.
We know those around us are watching. Perhaps they have invested in our venture in some way, or maybe we feel they are waiting for us to fail. We now have something to prove.
The strong desire we have to make our business a thriving success is both a powerful motivator and a potential hindrance. When we believe business success is all about strategies and hard work, we can miss the huge part that our thinking plays.
It helps to remember that you are in new territory. It is, by nature, unfamiliar and uncertain. Fearful thinking just lets you know this. It doesn’t say anything about you, your abilities, or the potential of your business.
Just because the way is not clear, the challenges are not as you expected, success is taking longer than you thought, you imagine there may be hazards or you doubt whether the rewards will be there when you arrive. These are not reasons to give up!
They might be reasons to change approach or direction, to learn new skills, to try something new, to experiment more and of course to hire a coach.
Only when you step back from day to day actions can you see clearly and begin to define the true priorities. You can tap into your wisdom and see your business in the context of your personal evolution. You can recognise the contribution your unique venture makes to the world.
With the mindset of an explorer or an adventurer, fear can morph into excitement, and we can even begin to enjoy the journey.
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