How resilient are you?
Resiliency is a term we often see associated with trauma and mental health. Simply defined, resiliency is the ability to get back up after a setback. The true definition is more complex, but for the purposes of this blog, this simpler definition will suffice. As a business owner, one of the most important traits we can develop is resiliency. In truth, as professionals, the most important trait we can develop is resiliency.
I have never been as terrified as the day I started my business. Walking into the Secretary of State Office, stating what I intended to do, and leaving with my LLC papers left me feeling weak-kneed, queasy, and questioning my sanity. I was honestly terrified. The what-ifs started circling in my head, the panic set in, looking at my child, I wondered, what have I done, can I take this back? For years, I had worked a normal 9 to 5 job, I showed her responsibility, I worked hard, and moved up. Yet, in one moment, I turned my back on all of this and decided to start a business. How stupid was I? How was I going to be able to care for her? What was I teaching her? To throw caution to the wind and run after your dreams? I had never been that person, I always had a plan, a backup plan, and a backup-backup plan. But here we were. As she eagerly asked me how I felt, her innocence shining through her eyes, the wonder of my move highlighting her face, I lied, I told her I was excited too. How could I let her down?
Struggling to reconcile my decision with my personality, I did what I knew I had to do. I put one foot in front of the other and kept moving forward. The first few months weren’t so bad. I had no overhead and worked on making contacts. Then I had the brilliant idea of renting an office, which meant insurance, and overhead. As I talked my way into the rental agreement and signed the papers, I worried the entire way home. How would I ever make enough money to pay my overhead, let alone make a living? The worry set in, and I was ready to resign.
Just when it looked the worst, just when I was ready to call my parents and tell them I had made the worst mistake of my life, I was reminded of a lesson I had learned in my nonprofit days. When you get knocked down, brush yourself off, and get back up. Keep moving forward, even if it is only one step at a time. Help cannot be given, differences cannot be made if you let defeat keep you down. If I could run a nonprofit organization, have the confidence to raise my entire budget annually, start new programs, dare to believe I could leave the world a better place, then I could run my business. I could be and would be successful.
Saying I would be successful, believing I would be successful, and being successful are all three very different things. The process to achieve each of these stages is different. Facing the challenges of each stage requires a different skillset, a new tenacity, and grit born from the knowledge of past successes. The biggest challenge is that as a new business owner you don’t have these past experiences to draw strength from, the strength must come from within, you must rely on your ingenuity. There were plenty of challenges that knocked the breath out of me, the client who claimed I overcharged her when in fact I reduced the price by over 75%, then gave me multiple bad reviews. Or the executive who realized they could not control me and then proceeded to threaten, beguile, and bully me. I never relented, and somehow withstood the storms.
Resiliency is knowing that the storm may be huge, and rattle you to your very core, but you know that it won’t keep you down. Learning to use victories, sales made, happy clients, to build hope, to believe in your abilities. Counting your blessings, learning gratitude, choosing to learn at every opportunity, are the elements of resiliency. Those are the very things that will make a business owner successful.
Start a journal of what you are grateful for, the lessons you learned, and the victories, no matter how small. Write in it religiously. If you are a believer, read devotional books written for business owners. Build a support system, invest in yourself, and remember we are stronger than we think we are. Resiliency is as easily destroyed as it is built. We must work to build our skills daily. The easiest way is to have hope and see victories. Start small. Write your daily workouts in your planner and mark them as completed. On days when nothing is going right and you cannot seem to accomplish anything, choose one task you know you will be successful at and accomplish, write in your planner, complete it, and cross it off. Those small victories, those accomplishments will give you the stamina to have the hope needed to face the bigger challenges.
Find a mentor, someone who will hold you accountable, cheer you on, and when needed, give you the push you need. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself or someone else is giving them a nice, hard push in the right direction. Babying yourself or someone else, allowing yourself to believe you don’t have what it takes, will kill your hope. The only proven way to continually build resiliency is to work your hope muscle daily. Similarly, the only way to get stronger is to lift heavier weights daily.
Choose to believe in yourself, your abilities, and your dreams. Never let anyone rob you of them, or tell you that you will never accomplish them. Find ways to have daily victories, write them down, and slowly your resiliency muscles will grow.