A year ago I sat in my room, crying so hard I could hardly breathe. I felt like such a failure. I had gone to a local event where I was nominated for an award looking forward to the opportunity to win. I had worked so hard on my business development and I know I had done things that most business owners have never tired, created opportunities that most people would overlook, and step up my game to an uncomfortable level that made me stretch.
About 35 minutes into the program I realized I was not even one of the finalists. How could this be? Now this might seem petty, that I took this so hard, but that is where the learning opportunity came. Why would someone that always has it together, is strong and pulls people up to their greatness be falling apart because of a local award?
Why it Hurts
As Entrepreneurs we are often alone to do our work. When you are the CEO of your company you are responsible for all the outcomes, good and bad. We struggle to make everything work and often to have it perfect for the world, and our families, to judge us. Success is in how we are judged, or so it feels. But what I’ve learned is not about ignoring the judgement but instead ignoring the self-judgment. Someone recently said, “criticism only about two things – it is a reflection on the circumstance or a reflection of the person giving the criticism.”
I am the type of person that needs to feel ‘in control’ of my life. I need to be seen as competent and reliable. This is my personality type. These are great attributes, except when I am alone and struggling – when I don’t feel in control or competent. When I am not meeting my sales and I feel I have not been reliably doing my work.
The criticism was mine. It did not accurately reflect my skills or my circumstances; it was insight into my feeling of ‘lack’ and ‘failure’. I needed to view this event with different eyes, make a plan as to what needed to change and then implement so that I would not only be more successful but I would see myself differently. I needed less tears and more SMILES in my business and that is what I did.
S – M – I – L – E – S
S – Sales
My number one failing was that I was not meeting my sales numbers. Why was I not meeting this value? Because, I had only set a year-end goal and no real plan or milestones to meet throughout the year. I would make one sale and be so proud I would take the next week off of my sales job. This was easy because I would busy myself with the hundred other things that had to get done, including networking, which I love.
You cannot do this. Doing the sales is one of the keys to building a strong, growing business. Every day there must be some work on sales.
M – My commitment to change
I have three steps to making change:
- First you have to be aware that you need change. I was now keenly and painfully aware that I needed change. I could not go on in that state. No one wants to hire a Business Success Mentor that did not feel successful.
- Secondly, you need to identify what needs to be changed. I had to spend time evaluating what made me so unhappy first, and then I had to identify what part of my business was the cause of that failing.
- Third you have to make a plan to create the change. Just knowing what has to be changed and hoping it will change is not enough. You need to create the goal, tasks, and steps that will transition your current situation and habits into a more profitable process for your company. I had to hire someone to help me with this process and hold me accountable to implement the habit-changing actions. I need to always be thinking, ‘what am I doing today that will increase my bottom line’ and put that into my plans. Then I have to ask, ‘what am I doing next?’
I – Internal belief (you don’t need others to say so, you need to say so)
Many entrepreneurs are eager to jump in head-first and get started, even when they don’t have all the tools, resources, or time. Confidence that it can be done is rarely an issue. Confidence in one’s own value is. Like many entrepreneurs I needed to quiet my internal voice that said things like, “you don’t belong”, “who do you think you are”, and “you’re not good enough”. We all have this on some level, and my voice had become too loud. I had to stop listening.
I also sought help from someone that could see me for my greatness and still hold me for my frailties. They were able to identify what was holding me back and set me on a course that is likely unstoppable now. The confidence to be around amazing people and talk to them was never an issue, but now I have the confidence to feel like I belong there too.
L – Learn
I know first-hand what life is like when you decide you have learned enough and you refuse to do anything new. My father is a highly intelligent man, but when he was forced to retire, he never really took up anything new. Now, more than a decade later, he shrinks at the idea of doing anything new. His life has stopped moving forward and his vision for the future is very short term and shallow. It saddens me to see this amazing man act so scared and small.
As Sandra Yancey says, “it is harder to act small”. When we act small we run on fear, we can never afford that next step, we have a vision that is stunted by ‘lack’.
If you want to continue to grow you must continue to know: Know more about yourself, your business, your competitors, your market, and the changing economy. Never stop learning!
E – Engage
With our heads down and our shoulder to the wheel, we forge forward to create more growth and profit in our business. The challenge with this is, somehow we forget to engage in our lives as we go. Life is not for the time when we finally “make it”, it is not when we hit the $100,000 mark, it is not for when our kids are old enough, our website is perfect, or we finally have our 60-second infomercial perfected. Life is a one-time showing of the best movie you will ever watch and if you miss it – there is not another showing for you! The great thing is you can jump in at any time and you will still enjoy the rest of the movie.
So I found that I had forgotten about what I used to call fun: My hobbies, my laughter, my jokes, my friends. I was still seeing them, but I was not fully engaged in my life. Don’t forget to LIVE while you build – jump into your movie.
S – Support
Don’t do it alone. I could not have grown as much as I did over this past year if it were not for the incredible people I spend most of my time with. Find a mastermind group, network with positive, forward thinking people, hire a great coach, and keep your family updated so they can be your cheerleaders.
This year I was nominated again. I attended the event and I was one of the finalists. When the name of the winner was announced I could not have been happier, for the winner was one of my past clients and she is such an incredible business catalyst I was honoured to have been put in the same category as her. I have come a long way in one year and my sales are a good indicator of that change.