This is probably more of a self-pep-talk than anything else, but I’m entitled, right? I need to remind myself (and anyone who might be reading this) that we can achieve great things if we’re willing to move outside our comfort zone and take some risks.
My adventures as an entrepreneur have challenged me tremendously–which is great! But I can’t say it hasn’t been scary at times. OK, most of the time. Every day, it becomes clearer and clearer to me that working for myself (in an effort to work for my clients) is a never-ending lesson in, er, almost everything, and it isn’t always comfortable. It’s way easier to live with the illusion that I know everything!
And let’s not forget I’m still learning how to be a mom! (And wife, for that matter.) But I digress.
Before I set out on my own, I had the safety net of a full-time job. I had layers of management above me making sure I was on track, I had a steady pay check and benefits, and I basically knew exactly what to expect from day to day. I also didn’t have a miniature human being to take care of. That’s not to say I wasn’t challenged–I was!–but I didn’t feel like I was taking much risk. I wasn’t!
Now, I’m taking risks all over the place. Rather than taking the road most traveled, I’m winding down a new path, using a combination of my gut instincts, experience, and advice from others to guide me. Just about everything I’m doing at work and at home is new, different, exciting, or plain scary, requiring a trip beyond my comfort zone. Some examples that have led to real growth:
- tackling a unique writing assignment on a topic I know very little about
- tending to a tiny bruise on my daughter’s cheek she got from rolling really quickly across the bed into the corner of the nightstand while I was standing right there
- talking with a CPA about business structures and quarterly estimated taxes–did I mention I hate accounting?–and admitting I really need help understanding it all
- letting my baby sleep in bed with me because it breaks my heart to hear her cry, even though most people disagree with me
- learning how to sell (but I’m a marketing person! Not a sales person! Not anymore…)
- watching my little darling take bites out of remote controls and cell phones and pull chunks of fur off of cats
Growing pains are uncomfortable: one minute I have a scary, unseasy feeling in the pit of my stomach, and the next I might feel victorious. I feel like I’m on an emotional roller-coaster. But my confidence in myself is building, slowly but surely. When I deliver a piece of freelance work that gets good reviews or I get feedback on a proposal that requires a re-tooling of my estimates, I’m moving forward–even if I have to make lots of edits or recalculate. In networking with new people or conducting interviews for writing assignments, I’m hoping and praying that I’m coming across as genuine and likable. Rejection or disapproval is always possible, and that’s terrifying to me. So is my fear that I’m teaching my daughter that it’s normal to watch episodes of the Office over and over and over again. (I’m serious, this probably isn’t healthy!)
The good news is that just when I feel like I don’t know anything, I realize I actually know a lot; when I feel like I’m taking a shot in the dark, I’m finding myself landing on target (or close to it!). Does this mean I’m smart? Insightful? Lucky? Blessed? Sure, but I think it means I’ve done a decent job researching and mitigating risks in my efforts to grow–as both a business person and a parent.
I think this is how it is, though. For me, moving outside of my comfort zone has been a constant exercise in saying “I hope this works!” while leaning on my support system more than I ever have before. It has mean accepting that I don’t know it all, but I know enough to keep me going, and if I keep on this path, I’ll end up knowing a heck of a lot more than I did when I started. I think the trial-and-error, learn-as-I-go “lifestyle” of entrepreneurship (and parenthood) will actually make me pretty darn effective and successful if I stick to it. And that’s my intention.
I’m getting a little more comfortable outside of my comfort zone, but I might need to be reminded of this tomorrow–when I’m sure to face another scary step into the unknown!