One of the cornerstones of my coaching approach has always been to follow the energy and only to do or act on things we feel pulled to do. After all, if we feel pulled to do/act, there is an ease and momentum even if we are putting in a lot of effort vs. if we push ourselves to do/act which can feel heavy, exhausting, or even overwhelming. Yet, so much of the rhetoric out there in regards to building and sustaining one’s business, speaks to this need to push yourself, to “hustle,” to do whatever it takes to succeed.
Having been in business for almost 22 years and having the immense pleasure of coaching and mentoring hundreds of people one on one, I can wholeheartedly disagree with this approach. When we push ourselves to do things, this means we are overriding ourselves instead of getting curious about what’s going on.
Sometimes our saboteurs may show up and need our attention in order to shift from a push to a pull. After all, our saboteurs love to show up when we stretch outside of our comfort zone and are up to big things. But if we override ourselves and push to make things happen, I can pretty much guarantee we are not going to get what we hope to get. In fact it usually just gives you more evidence to put in the basket of, “I’m working so damn hard and still nothing is working!”
With that said, when we run your own businesses, we will get countless opportunities to put this to the test. Countless opportunities to honor or override ourselves. The choice will always be ours and there is always great learning in the path we choose.
I am certainly not immune to this myself, regardless of my lengthy experience in growing and sustaining a successful business. To err is human, after all. As human beings, even if we are further down the path of consciousness, we will continue to falter and fail, that is a given. It’s part of our path of growth. How we handle these is what matters and whether we will grow and expand from the experience.
Sometimes We have to Slow Down in Order to Grow
The last 9 months I was confronted with a slew of unforeseen challenges in my personal life that had a big impact on my capacity with my work and forced me to slow down which is not my normal M.O. My husband, in fact, has always described me to others as “high speed, low drag.” Yet I needed to downshift as I was carrying a heavy load in my trunk.
My father quickly spiraled downward and passed away in October, leaving my mother with Advanced Alzheimer’s without her steadfast companion of 60 years. My son, Connor, had a very rough transition to Kindergarten that required us to pull him from aftercare and focus even more energy on his wellbeing. And then COVID exposures limited him to 8 days of school in November, 10 in December and 10 in January (when we all got light cases of COVID ourselves). Any of these situations alone would have been taxing, but having all three of them happening at once took up a tremendous amount of time, energy and space.
I immediately made some shifts in my business due to my shrunken capacity, such as not replacing clients that had completed and pulling back on my business development efforts (like blogging, you may have noticed ), so I could concentrate my efforts on what was most important – on supporting my clients well. Yet, I found myself being stressed about all the things I “should” be doing, and even chose to override myself a few times because it felt so foreign to me to stop my business development engine even though I didn’t have the capacity to take on new clients. As an example, I usually have 5-7 speaking gigs for the next year arranged by September of each year. Most of these folks contact me (referrals, organizations asking me to come back to speak, etc). This year, only one organization contacted me about speaking in 2022. Huh…Coincidence?
Even though I didn’t want to bring on any new clients in the foreseeable future, I felt like this was “a problem I needed to fix” and I “should hustle” to get speaking events on the calendar for 2022. So, I did what I have done in the past 20 years with great success when I wanted to book more speaking events — I reached out to organizations where I had spoken already with glowing results. In the past, a few simple inquiries usually resulted in resounding “yes, please, we would love to have you back!” But this year I sent out 6 requests and never even got a response. So what was that about?
The reality is that my energy was misaligned. Energetically, I was closed for business, regardless of what my inquiries said. Although I don’t really know what happened per se, what I do know is that when I come from push energy, I don’t get what I say I want. As an old Chinese proverb says “To know, and not to do, is not to know”. So even though I knew this already, I clearly had to re-learn this valuable lesson for myself. When this happened, it opened up this big “ah ha” for me that the Universe is always generous and it was actually giving me exactly what I needed which was space. Space to focus on my existing clients with ease, space to grieve and heal, and space so I could show up present and strong for Connor as he navigated his challenges. In fact, I look back over the last several months and was so grateful I didn’t have a slew of speaking events on my calendar. It was imperfectly perfect.
Honoring Myself was Transformational
Karen Drucker has this amazing song I love called “Gentle with Myself,” which is such a beautiful song to lean into when you are grieving or facing difficult times. One lyric says, “I will only go as fast as the slowest part of me,” and it is such a powerful reminder on how to honor ourselves when we hit rough spots in our lives and businesses. And so I spent many months only going as fast as the slowest part of me and it has been truly transformational.
Being on the other side of it now, I feel like I’ve peeled off layers that have revealed new depths to the work I feel called to be doing as a business coach and mentor going forward. I’m excited about what’s ahead. I feel renewed and lighthearted. When I reopened the doors energetically, within three weeks I had three new referrals, several new inquiries to work with me, and an invitation for a speaking event, all without doing any business development efforts for months. Huh….Coincidence?
So often, our fears keep us from honoring ourselves in our businesses, yet time and time again I witness in myself and my clients that when we truly honor ourselves, it serves us, and ultimately our businesses, to do so. When our energy is aligned with our actions, we get what we truly want and need.
What do you need to align your energy with your actions? What do you notice what happens to your flow in your business when you honor yourself vs. override yourself? I’d love to hear!
Tara Butler Floch
P.S.I now have space to offer free Business Breakthrough Sessions again, so check out how you can sign up for one here