How I found myself in a most unlikely position…

I suppose some of you might be like this.

You set a goal.
You make a plan.
You implement the plan.
You reach the goal.
You set another goal.

 Nice and steady. Straight ahead. Unwavering. Always on target.

Yeah. Not me.

I set a goal.
I make a plan.
I implement the plan.
I hit a few curves in the road.
I find a new goal I like even better.
I make a new plan.
I stumble into a stop sign.
I take a detour.
I may or may not make it back to my plan.
I may or may not make a new plan.
I reach my goal.
Or change it to another goal entirely.

I keep moving forward.

It’s messy – and for some of you, this may sound completely crazy.

But it works.

On the Q&A call with my Small Business Success Circle this month, one of my clients talked about this.

“You’re proud of the way your career has evolved over time. You just exude that – and it’s so nice and light! I’ve always felt like I had to do things one way and keep doing them that way no matter what…”

So we talked about fear, and how so many women allow fear to hold us back in the way we run our lives, or our businesses. Fear of breaking some invisible, unspoken rule. Fear of disappointing others and whatever they expect of us. Fear of losing (too much) money. Fear of making a mistake or not getting something just right.

But “life is what happens while you’re making other plans,” as it says in an old John Lennon song.

And when we are willing to follow the curves and detours that come our way, we can find ourselves in some of the most unlikely – and interesting – places.

Sometimes, the discoveries we make are life-changing.

For instance, I never, ever, in a million years, expected to own a business. I used to feel so sorry for my business-major friends back when I was in college.

Marketing? Ugh.
Sales? Yuck.
Profit and loss? Ick.
Corporate structure? Shoot me now.

So after college, armed with degrees in psychology and social work, fascinated with the human condition and ready to contribute to the world, I built a career in helping people. I worked in agencies and hospitals. I moved quickly into management and sharpened my clinical skills, doing good work that was challenging, important and fulfilling.

I loved what I did. (Still do.)

Then, we brought home an 18 month old brown-eyed bundle of love, and I suddenly wanted to be home a lot more. I looked for a clinical job that would allow me to work part time, but there was nothing to be found.

So I took a detour.

And found myself in a most unlikely position. :)

More from desperation (or determination) than anything else, I started a private practice. It was my first experiment at running a business.

I did my research, of course, then I hung out a shingle, and waited. I started awkwardly asking for referrals. I learned, stumbled, learned some more. But according to everything I read, I was entirely the wrong kind of person to be doing this.

I was not terribly disciplined, or organized, or outgoing, or a self starter. I was an introvert who was quite happy to stay holed up in her office all day. I hated going to networking events. And I didn’t care about numbers at all. I didn’t even want to talk about money.

But some amazing things happened
on my way to becoming an entrepreneur. :)

  • I was “at cause” in my work.  If I made it, it was up to me. If I didn’t, that was up to me too. No matter what, in the end, the whole thing was my responsibility. Totally to my surprise, I discovered that I liked that.
  • I loved my clients. Turned out that those I didn’t love, didn’t love me either. :) That meant that eventually, I had entire days of working only with people I genuinely enjoyed, and knew I could help. I liked that.
  • My time was my own. If I wanted to take a day off for a field trip, I could. If I wanted to work on a holiday, I could do that too. I didn’t need anyone’s permission to change my hours or take a day off. I liked that. A lot.
  • I could try anything I wanted to try. When I wanted to try a support group for adolescent girls, I could. When I wanted to try a column for the paper, I could. When I wanted to start a networking luncheon for colleagues, I could. When something worked, I kept it up. When it didn’t, I tried something else. I liked that.
  • My income was up to me. My ability to earn an income – great or small, efficiently or inefficiently – was also up to me. Though I didn’t always feel like it, the truth was that the only income ceiling I had was limited by my imagination, creativity, persistence and willingness to try new ideas. I liked that too. :)

Over time, that practice evolved into the premier counseling service in my community, with a staff of ten, top-notch clinicians providing outstanding service to a wide range of folks on a whole host of issues. I’m proud of that.

And along the way, I grew too, as an individual, and as an entrepreneur. I’m proud of that, too.  

Christine Kane says that the best thing about being a business owner is not running a business itself, but about who you become as that process unfolds.

I agree.

Because I’ve become not only a business owner, but someone who loves running a business, and being a business owner.

How about you? Who do you want to become, as your own life, and business, unfolds?

Photo Credits: Horia Varlan, Theory of Sherry E., Flickr


50% Complete