I always believed I wasn’t built to work for myself. I had no desire to be my own boss. In fact, the idea petrified me! I needed to have the secure, regular income, with an obvious career success and goals. Being self-employed was what other, braver people did. I was the model employee, following a wonderful flexible career path within an organisation that filled me with purpose and joy.
Yet, after my girls arrived in the world and I went from being “Clara” to “Mum, then “Mum of two”, there seemed to an aspirational itch I couldn’t quite subdue. It wasn’t that I was unhappy where I was, I just felt like I wanted to do something different and that “something” couldn’t happen if I stayed where I was.
The idea for The Balance Collective materialised after I returned from maternity leave in 2013. I resumed my role in a supportive company with flexible working conditions, a great team and a job I loved, yet I still had confidence issues. How must others, with less support, feel? I wanted coaching, but from someone who understood what I was going through; I struggled to find the support I needed.
I couldn’t find what I wanted, so I decided to create it! I hadn’t ever considered self-employment before, it was something other, braver people did; I had the “cushion” of setting up the business alongside my day-job; working part-time in two jobs (plus my role as a Mum too!). I won funding from a social enterprise start-up fund to test my ideas and decided to back up my experience with a coaching qualification.
As an activist and natural go-getter, I think that it helped that I had to be steady with my progress to make sure that I didn’t burn out! All was going well, I was working towards my goals and balancing everything.
Then, a simple conversation spun me around. It made me look at what I do and how I was living my life. Over dinner one wintery afternoon, I was told my list of goals were simply steady actions that I needed to take to get the job done. That in itself isn’t any issue – but the fact none of them scared me actually was a problem!
At that moment it hit me. Until I am scared, until it feels challenging, my goals were nothing more than a “To Do” list. You know what, being told that hurt. I walked away that day, metaphorically licking my wounds and mending my dented pride.
But over time, it made me think. Looking back over my career the only time I would do something that really made me scared was when I was made to. My natural default is to say “yes” to things and proactively create opportunities: whilst it may scare other people, this would always stay on the right side of my, high performing, comfort zone.
During my time as an employee I had slipped into a place that gave me variety, but very little challenge (yes, things were stressful and I learnt so, so much) but it didn’t challenge me the way I WANTED and NEEDED to be challenged. I was following a check list of what other people expected and needed me to do, to be able to “do my job”.
I had become a little lost and needed to push through my comfort zone to that beautiful place us coaches call “stretch”. The first opportunity to test my new, braver, way of living came up not long after that fateful conversation. My work place was rolling out redundancies, and it was assumed by many I would take “redeployment” and move internally within the business. To stay secure with the confines of a salary, a pension and a permanent job. Yet, strangely, the idea of remaining in this “safe space” felt wrong; I suspected I would regret not trusting myself and taking the chance. So that is what I did. I took the leap to be the boss; bringing with me all of my experience, skills, passion and purpose and poured it into The Balance Collective.
I would say now on a weekly basis I come across situations and opportunities that scare me. Yet I leap at all – every time they build my skills, expand my experiences and enhance my life.
So I challenge you to consider this. Are you carrying around a “to do” list in your mind, or are you ready to start scaring yourself into success? Next time an opportunity arises that has you internally screaming “No”, how would it feel to say “Yes” and then make it happen? You will surprise yourself!
Join The Balance Collective with Clara Wilcox to share your scary goal.
Is starting your own business your scary goal ? Want to learn the three pillars of start-up success (Business Coaching, Marketing and Accountancy)? Join me and two amazing business leaders in “Be the Boss: how to build a sustainable business” on 16th September 2017