The other day my friend Illana Burk (of Makeness Media, she’s amazing. I’ll link you at the bottom when you’re done reading) talked to me about business being an abusive relationship. As soon as she said it, I leapt to my businesses defense “It’s not abusive! My business has been the BEST relationship I’ve ever had, because it forces me to deal with my shit, keep showing up and choosing me, love and possibility instead of cowering in fear.” <– that’s a direct quote from my reaction to her.
That might sound mellow dramatic, or romantic, but I do believe that my business has been one of my greatest relationships to date.
It’s TOTALLY taught me to be a better person. With the exception of loosing a loved one, nothing else has made me look at all my stuff, and work it out in a long term emotionally healthy way. It’s taught me to be softer, more patient with myself. It’s taught me to hold the long view while not giving up on the day-to-day. It’s given me the ability to express myself and hone my voice. It’s helped me get to know parts of myself that I didn’t know were there, and to be really honest with myself and the world. I’ve made amazing friends through it, and aim to make many more. It’s also broken my heart a few times, but in a way that’s made me stronger, more connected to my convictions and passion about WHY I do this (because money MAKES A DIFFERENCE) and push myself in bigger ways.
Funnily enough, around this same time a good friend of mine called my entrepreneurship a coping mechanism for loosing my dad. I’d never really thought about it that way OR heard it phrased like that. Obviously he was wrong and didn’t really get “get it”. When I mentioned this to another seriously badass coaching friend of mine that has also lost her dad, scoffing at the idea, she was like “Oh no dude, it TOTALLY is.”
Turned out, they both have really good points. My dad died when I was 21. After the initial shock and familial responsibility ebbed a bit (like 4 years later) I went searching for myself. Adventure, romance, that feeling of possibility that had been torn away from me. I found it, and eventually, that all morphed into wanting to make my life incredible, impactful, and supportive to the global greater good. Working with entrepreneurs is a natural fit for me and I am so grateful for the opportunity. But running my own business can be a bit of a smokescreen for avoiding other parts of my life. It’s SO EASY to work though a Friday night instead of going out and mixing it up. It’s easy to obsess when your rent is on the line. But even that! Is kind of an excuse. Because the truth is there’s veerrrrry little I could do on a Friday night (instead of ANY OTHER TIME) that would actually impact my rent money. So you see.
I brought this back to said friend who’d pointed this out as a coping mechanism. I was like “Maaayyyybe you were more right than I thought.” And as I started explaining the abusive relationship metaphor and how it didn’t really land for me – he pointed out that it takes TWO to tango. And that perhaps I wasn’t in an abusive relationship with my business because I have the emotional fortitude to not let it take over. To have strong boundaries and to not let myself get into (or stay?) in an abusive relationship.
Which was SO INTERESTING to me, because how you do anything is how you do EVERYTHING*.
So, heart on the line here, what kind of a relationship are you and your business in? Because it IS a relationship, to be sure.
At this point, mine feels relatively balanced and strong, although it hasn’t always been that way. Sometimes I make too many excuses for it, or don’t pay enough attention to the smaller details, and then I let it overwhelm me. Historically I let it be more important than other parts of my life, developing a sense of martyrdom around those languishing parts. I think now I’ve taken back quite a bit of power and control and make it work quite well for me. It’s obviously a long term thing.
Also, what kind of relationship do you WANT it to be? Where do you see this going? What are you LOOKING for in your relationship with your business? You know, the usual DTR (define the relationship) questions.
If yours is not entirely healthy, what needs to change? What patterns need to be disrupted? Boundaries created?
Summertime can be a slump for business – which means it can be a GREAT time to do the inner work to make your relationship with your business amazing. Sometimes a slowing down of clients is a great opportunity to work on these deeper parts, which will expand your capacity for more clients in the future.
*I don’t always buy this phrase but it sure works here