One of the themes that run through my teleclass, Believe! How to Work With Your Beliefs to Grow a Prosperous and Meaningful Business, is the tension between the creative power of thought and resource-depleting habits of wishful thinking. I offer the following 7 Reality Checks to help you reconcile your dreams with reality so that you can build your dream into a thriving business.
1. In spite of your best intentions you will make mistakes. To the best of your ability, which may sometimes be slim, welcome these occasions as an opportunity to let go of perfectionism. Pause to review your offer to your clients. Are you positioning yourself as a know-it-all or as a responsive partner and learner? Are you putting yourself on a pedestal? Reflect on the distinctions among honesty, reliability, and perfection. Meditate on the difference between apology and accountability. Muse on the difference between significance and integrity.
2. Things go “wrong.” I put “wrong” in quotes because stumbling blocks teach me things I need to know in order to serve and thrive. Hey, I’d rather learn without failing too, but however the lesson happens, there you are. Every time you look with humility and trust for your personal lesson, you are helping to create the possible dream. (Note: Sometimes the lesson is simply to let go of your idea of what should have happened. Lessons are not code for “There’s something wrong with you.”)
3. Not everyone wants or needs what you have. That’s good news because odds are that you can’t respond to every one anyway. Cultivate the courage, integrity, and clarity to listen deeply to prospective clients and decline to work with those whom you are not ideally suited to serve. Ask questions, especially scary ones (Can you afford this? Do you have any reservations? What will it take for this to be a good investment for you?). Ask first; sell later. Actually, when you do this, the selling takes care of itself. That’s the premise behind coach Kendall SummerHawk’s tape series, What to Say When You Hate to Sell.
4. Humbly welcome opportunities to profit. I did not have Kendall’s tapes in mind when I wrote the item above, but they are a perfect fit, so I was happy to include the link to her work (in the article version placed on my site.). Will I profit if you buy them? Yes,
5. Customers have bad days, too. Some times they’re going to take it out on you. That doesn’t mean you have to slink home licking your wounds, nor does it you get to strike back. It certainly doesn’t mean you have to accept abuse. When you feel unfairly used, take a few deep breaths, notice what you wish were different, and remember that we’re all human. Maybe it’s time to do some boundary maintenance. Are you pretending that you need to please everyone or that everyone needs to like you in order for you to thrive? Look to yourself, not because you are to blame, but because you are the only one whose behavior you can manage. (Customers are always right where they are.)
6. Sometimes whole systems go wrong or you find out too late that a new project was not quite ready for prime time. (Just ask me.) At times like this you get to practice being available and responsive to customer needs while also taking care of yourself. Sometimes you won’t (yet) know how to solve or resolve the problem and you may resent the time you’re using to reassure clients instead of getting things on track. BREATHE. Learn to say, “I don’t know and I do care and I will get back to you as soon as I can.” Practice saying it with dignity, conviction, and patience. Take some time to wonder what you would need to believe in order for all of this to feel right and true.
7. Owning a business can be isolating. Many entrepreneurs are natural soloists. That doesn’t mean we don’t need or want support, though we may be the last to realize it. Spend some time wondering why other people might want you to thrive. Let your imagination run free as you speculate on what kinds of collaboration could work for you. Turn your complaints about networking into dreams of your ideal support system. What would your business look and feel like if you knew you did not have to have it all together because there was lots of help at hand?
The secrets to creating the possible dream are all related to accepting what is, which includes accepting the support that is everywhere around you and accepting your own desire to build a business that adds real value in the world and allows you to thrive. Some days it will be easier than others to believe that reality and your dream can co-exist. But if you persist with humility, passion, and trust, your dream will teach you how it wants to be made real. I know because my own dream teaches me every day.