Today’s guest post is from my friend Jennifer Boykin, the “Midlife Midwife — Delivering Hot Flashes of MidLife Mojo.” Her site Life After Tampons is a mix of heartfelt, humorous inspiration for those of us women in, or on our way, to midlife.
This post, however, is for all of us.
I once was blind, but now I see … with help of course
You know how you can wreck your car if you aren’t aware of what’s going on in your blind spots? Well, I’ve found that the same is true about your business and your life.
If you don’t have a plan to “see” what’s going on in your own blind spots, it’s only a question of time. One day, you won’t see what’s coming, and you will crash.
I recently came to accept one of my own personal blind spots. I can’t accurately evaluate how I’m doing in my business and my life.
For as long as I can remember, this one particular question has hounded me:
How am I doing?
Since my personal evaluation meter is missing, I don’t know.
I’ve tried jury-rigging systems to give me this information. One of the least successful evaluation metrics I’ve tried is comparing myself to you.
Here’s why that fails every time:
All I can see about you is the version of you that you present to the world. That’s not an accusation, by the way. We all do this in some ways.
But, even though we all do it, I forget that. So, when I compare myself to you, I’m comparing what I intimately know about myself, to what I can only superficially see about you.
I’m comparing my insides to your outsides.
And I come up short . . .
. . . Or, I come up better.
Whichever way the false comparison falls, it can’t be accurate. It can’t be “right sized.”
So comparing yourself to anyone else is futile.
But now we have a problem. Because, as an early-stage entrepreneur, if you can’t see how you’re doing, you’re likely to make all kinds of mistakes.
A friend of mine recently wrote that this early stage of the creative process is typified as the innovator thrashes about, trying to land on her own unique message, offering, brand, business model — whatever. He suggests this uncomfortable stage is not only normal, but also necessary to the creative process.
Thrashing may be normal, but it is exacerbated by the self-doubt that is generated when you don’t become aware of and plan around your own personal blind spots. When you doubt yourself, the depth and spin of your thrash is intensified. And it hurts.
But, just as with your car, you can put mirrors in place to help you see what is currently blind to you.
As I mentioned, one of my blind spots is that I can’t correctly evaluate my own results. I’m either too hard on myself, or too soft on myself. I have no internal mechanism that allows me to see if, when it comes to my new business, I’m lazy or crazy.
So, I’ve put mirrors in place to help me “see” what’s going on in my blind spot.
Here are some of the mirrors I’ve put in place:
1. I have a mentor. My mentor is farther along on the journey of creating an online business that, as he says, allows him to “live well and give well.” My mentor not only gives me sound business advice, he also answers this vital question – “Is this normal?” Usually the answer is, “Um, yes, Jennifer, it is. And here’s what you do about it.”
2. I have a team of peers. Early on in my project, I found a team of peers to help me “see” how I’m doing. Each week, we write and send to the other member of our team, our progress report for the previous seven days. As I read their reports, I’m able to gain perspective and clarity about my own situation. Everybody has ideas that flower and a few that flop. Your peers help normalize your circumstances for you, and also provide the support and/or kick you occasionally need.
3. I have a strong self-care program. When you’re creating a new business, it can be difficult to pull yourself away from the keyboard. But, I’ve found I must. When I’m healthy – in mind, body, and spirit – I have a better perspective on my life, my business, and my bigger dream. When I work myself half to death, everything looks like a problem to be overcome. Soon enough, you’re overwhelmed, you can’t see the truth about anything at all, much less what is going on in your blind spots. You crash. Plan on it.
If you’re a person, there are things about yourself that you just can’t see. You might not need to see all of them, but some of them can trip you up. And some leave you so blind, you can crash and burn.
Your Big Dream is too important to risk that.
Denial may be part of the human condition, but you don’t have to suffer needlessly from the hazards it can lay in your path. If you just put a few simple mirrors in place, you’re more likely to see the crash before it happens. And put measures in place to protect yourself and your beautiful dream.