When the boat rocks, our first instinct is to identify the cause of the turmoil. We look to correct it, assuming the instability is negative, is looming. That we will land ass over tea kettle soon enough. Assuming that we should right it instead of determining if we should leave it alone to self-correct. If the boat will straighten, if the water is merely reacting to a larger ship roaring by.
We look for the calm in business. We look for the guaranteed. We lower our voices in respect of it, believing what has been ingrained…that the water should remain still. A pane of glass strong enough to hold our weight, smooth enough to assure rapid passage.
We want the check in our bank accounts, the dream clients, ESP instinct to remove tire kickers, confidence to discuss the thorny bits with a happy ending assured.
But working for yourself isn’t like that.
It is an evolution of who-knows-what-the-hell opportunity will crop up next.
Of oh, look, the person I have been speaking to casually, suddenly has a job that’s perfect for me.
Of, I got what I wanted and now I am drowning in work.
The greatest moments in running your own operations come from snapshot minutes (or days) of insecurity. When your true grit peeks out. When you recognize your long-buried inner mettle. When you get back to where you wanted to be, with the people you wanted to work with when you first envisioned pulling the rip-cord on this whole production.
We forget that.
We forget that there are many, many shining moments in this life we’ve formed from figments flying around in our head, from a cup of midnight worries, dabs and dollops of inspiration, and the sucker punch of revelation, that wherever we are wandering isn’t the right lane.
I am just like you, 21st century business peeps.
The ecstasy, so good, almost better than sex, yes? The lows, so humbling, so soul-grinding as we hit our knees in despair.
The despairing moments are why I write today.
We get used to shambling along.
We get used to short-term solutions that feel permanent and we forget that the road we selected will always be rife with potholes that must be dodged lest we shatter an ankle.
In the moments where one, or two, or three(!) doors have slammed shut, I have wandered into the light. I have been pierced by the illumination of “next.” I have beheld what is revealed. More legs, more sections of the walk, suddenly lit up and beckoning.
Were it not for the dark moments, we would not have discovery. We would not have the experience needed to speak with authenticity and empathy. We would not have the insight needed to communicate that we understand the futile-to-try-and-entomb PURPOSE.
Chaos has brought me my biggest clients.
Chaos has caused some of my most profitable projects.
Most importantly, chaos has validated I am in the right place, advancing the right objectives.
Chaos has allowed me to learn…if I am so modest as to listen.
In these moments where the foundation is rattled, return to you. Return to little joys and faith.
Do not stop working, networking or connecting, but as you do…remember the niceties of your life.
Coffee in your own kitchen, a yoga class at noon that can actually go over 45 minutes without spanking you at the time clock. Staying up late to complete work, so you can sleep in, the ability to work with the most soul-stirring people on the planet. Connections to missions and the spreading ripples of YOU. Out into the world.
Look for the signs, just as Mr. Roger’s mother taught us to “look for the helpers.” Tune into your gut and answer that idea or calling pulling at your shirt hem.
Remember your impact. Remember there are billions of people in the world. Different minds, imaginations. Remember your self-care as you seek to disseminate messages, pleas, and intentions.
Ask yourself if you would choose this life, including the unsure moments?
Would you pluck this life out of the slush pile and relive every victory?
Or would you rather barter on expectation over inspiration?
I bet you won’t be surprised at your answer.
Photo credit: Getty Images