How do we as business owners recover from a setback? In this article I’m sharing my experiences and processes that have helped and empowered me to overcome the most difficult year of my life on this planet- and I know I’m not the only one who feels this year about 2020.
Setbacks are relative. Just because I’ve gone through something different to you, doesn’t mean you haven’t experienced hardship. We all have our stories and setbacks and it’s by sharing those stories that we connect as humans.
As entrepreneurs, the outside world tends to see our accomplishments and success when we’re doing well. What the world doesn’t see are the challenges and setbacks that we’ve faced along the way. They don’t see the low moments and struggles, and we tend not to share them. It’s raw, messy and vulnerable- just like writing this article.
Whether you have experienced a personal or professional loss, struggled with sales this year, had to let some of your team go, experienced burnout, or struggled with your health- I hope in that sharing my strategies and story, that I can help other entrepreneurs facing the challenges of being self-employed in a time of crisis.
As an executive coach that specializes in remote working, I educate and train founders and their teams to prevent burnout, create more sustainable life-work balances and grow high-growth organisations through people-first approaches.
But my concept of sustainability, work-life balance and productivity has once again evolved. As I sit here with a cast on my right wrist and bruised ribs after a serious car accident, the past 2 weeks have taught me more than I ever thought I could handle.
In the middle of this year, me and my partner David relocated to Vancouver, Canada for his work. Since moving, we’ve had both the best and worst times of our lives. If you read my ways forward and mindset article you’ll know that all of our possessions were robbed. And just when we thought the world had taught us enough life lessons, we were involved in a serious car accident that wasn’t our fault.
It was the scariest experience of my life- I really thought it was over in that split second but just as I did, my resilience kicked in and immediately I told myself ‘you got this.’ I find it fascinating that in even some of the most traumatic moments, our systems gravitate to survival and resilience.
After the initial shock had passed, I was overwhelmed with entrepreneurial guilt. Taking time off for me, required planning and organisation. September was the biggest month for me in business to date, and now, I couldn’t even wash my hair.
I had worked so hard to get to where I was the day before the accident and I was angry that out of the blue, that was what I initially thought jeopardized.
So, what did I do? What am I continuing to do? Read on…
Feel it. Accept where you are right now.
Whatever it is you’re going through you have to give time and space to feel whatever is happening. For me as an ambitious and driven entrepreneur that also experiences tremendous guilt when I take time away from work- this is something I have to permit myself to do. Honestly, it’s challenging and I need to surround myself with people who can remind me of what I’ve gone through and I need to remind myself.
We naturally want to move on, get back to normal and often brush it under the biggest carpet you can find. But that’s not truly living. Accept the present moment for what it is. Accept what has happened. Know that so too like the season’s change, the way you feel will also change.
We don’t have to feel it alone, feeling those emotions around support systems is something that’s worked for me. Whether that’s my family (who are the other side of the world), my friends or my other half. In my case, after a traumatic event, it made sense to also get professional help in the form of a therapist.
Give yourself the days to binge Netflix or sleep in longer or order the pizza. You’ve gone through something difficult- allow yourself to put down the shield of being a highly functioning professional, but put a realistic time frame on it. Only when you truly give yourself time to feel, do you start to heal.
Do the things that brought you joy when you were a kid. It sounds strange but something that’s helped me was going back to the basics of finding joy. I found my healing process in music, in writing poetry about my experiences and singing songs that reminded me of happy times- Dolores O’ Riordan from The Cranberries was on full blast. I learned that I hadn’t made time for these outlets that gave me pure joy- I was running and racing in life and this was a unique and crazy opportunity that gave me insight as to what was missing in my life.
I think it’s also important to note- that no matter what your setback is, it can be heightened right now, with everything else going on in the world, ask yourself how you can show up with even more compassion for yourself.
This quote is something that my amazing Mam shared with me and I think it’s something that we can all relate to in 2020:
Remember the small wins and bank them
When my body was healing from the accident, I noted the progress I was making physically and mentally over the weeks. Whether that was being able to go to the grocery store or get dressed by myself- I challenged myself to do one thing better each day.
It’s not linear but having some form of growth each day helped me see progress and remember that I won’t feel this way forever, I won’t struggle like this forever and that I too, shall rise, as I’ve done a million times before. Everything is temporary.
Throughout running a business, I wrote a list of wins that I had professionally in the back pages of my diary. I took some time to read and reflect on these wins I wrote over the years- some of them I had forgotten. To move forward, for me, it was looking back on my journey and remembering how far I’ve come. That even though I feel like I’m starting all over again, I’m not. I reality tested it with a logical mind to remember I’m much further along than I could ever have imagined.
Revisit your purpose
This for me helped me relight that internal passion for what I do and the impact I want to make at Operate Remote. I took some time to reflect on the mission and vision I live by in business and how I want to show up in this world to make positive impacts and changes.
I looked at the transformations that my clients have had in life and business through the coaching work that we’ve done together and I went back to the vision and immediately reconnected with myself.
I spoke to my clients and let them know of our schedule changes and gave them some insight into what had happened. They showed compassion and understanding reminded me of the importance of working with amazing clients that are a value fit for your business.
This, in turn, made me grateful. I know gratitude lists are spoken about so much, but for me, it changed my mindset from ‘victim’ to a renewed sense of motivation and drive.
What do you appreciate now that you didn’t consider before? For me, after a car accident, I appreciated that I could walk. That I could get out of bed by myself each day, that my body was healthy and strong enough to heal itself. That I had an amazing team member that could cover and reschedule my work. That I had compassionate clients that cared and understood. That I could breathe on my own.
Focus on the things you can control- your mindset, the people you surround yourself with, how you spend your time.
If you’ve lost clients this year and are down in revenue- you might focus to control how many outreaches or sales calls you do, and the opportunities to work with even better clients.
Decide how vulnerable you want to be about your experience to the external world and how you want to communicate that
As leaders, we often have many people to answer to- our clients and our teams. I work with leaders who struggle to balance vulnerability with showing up as a leader ‘who has their shit together’ but when they strike the right balance for them- they can truly transform their culture.
For example, I worked with a CEO recently who experienced burn-out and instead of hiding it from his team, he decided to share his story in a way that would prevent others from falling into the trap of over-working. He shared the preventive measures to take and that the organization will take to prevent burn-out, he shared his new schedule that ensures life-work balance and his new approach to sustainable work.
Not only did this inspire his team, but it also encouraged them to work smarter together and individually and set more realistic goals. The quality of everyone’s work has exceeded anyone’s expectations.
Just like I’m sharing my learning with you today.
What empowering beliefs have you created for yourself as a result of your setback?
This to me is resilience. Resilience isn’t ‘getting back on the horse’ as countless people said to me. Resilience is taking time to feel, accept, and reflect so that you can get back onto an even better horse- so that the next journey will be even more meaningful, with even more awareness and maturity.
At what point are you going to decide to take some learnings from your setback and at what point do you decide to move forward? Moving forward doesn’t necessarily mean forgetting what happened- that will never happen, but it is a case of choosing to step forward with a new perspective and to always remember- that you are stronger than you have ever imagined.
If you’re a CEO or founder that’s experienced setbacks this year and want to move forward in a more meaningful way through reframing and resilience, get in touch and let’s discuss how CEO executive coaching can help- firstname.lastname@example.org