Think Feel Act

Coaching myself: Adventures in start-up land

It’s been an odd sort of a week getting my coaching business up and running – slippery and unpredictable. A bit like a runaway train. And me – well I’ve just been along for the ride – I think. But then again – I did start most of it in motion. But it’s almost the weekend and a good time to process the past week and think about what I’ve learned.

So much of starting a new business is about these unpredictable ups and downs. One hour seems full of promise and hope – there are deals waiting to happen and progress waiting to be made. Exciting? You bet.

The next hour brings with it a feeling of blockage, ‘stuckness’ and loneliness. How on earth can I, just one person, with my business idea ever get any traction in a world of competition and a crowded market place? How will I ever get to the point of making any money to pay myself back for the endless start-up costs?

And this lasts – until I drill down and find the core of hope within myself and the whole cycle starts again.

And underlying all of this is an enormous fear. Fear of failure as much as fear of success. Fear of fear.

But I’m determined to keep going. Despite the fear and uncertainty, I keep bumping into this reservoir of faith in myself. So I’ve been coaching myself to just keep on going so I can ride out the inevitable ups and downs during this start-up phase.

Here are some self-coaching strategies I’ve been practicing to keep more of an even keel though the bumpiness of life in start-up-land.

  • Hold on to the tension

My ex-coach drilled this one into me so much it’s become a mantra that I keep reminding myself to come back to through the periods of uncertainty and fear. Tension doesn’t feel comfortable but it’s where growth, change and exciting things happen. I have no idea why life requires pain for growth – but it really does seem to be the way it is. So I’ve been reminding myself that the mere act of feeling tension is a good thing and means I’m growing and means good things will happen. Like an olive in an olive press – I’m waiting to see how the pressure of life will result in an outpouring of pure olive oil. So yes – plenty of tension to hold on to and reframe as good.

  • Feeling the fear

I have been practicing a lot of ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) in the past few weeks and months. Not only is it necessary for anyone who wants to do ACT with their clients (like I do) but it is just such a good way of getting better at emotional regulation. In the midst of all this fear, the therapist I’m learning ACT with told me something wise – that the closer you are to something really important the higher fear levels seem to get. Why we try to stop ourselves when the going is good is also something I don’t know – but it is what we seem to do. So a nice reframe to think the act of feeling fear means I’m doing the right thing and on the right track. So I’ve been leaning into the fear more in my ACT meditations – and throughout the day as well. Telling myself the fear is exciting because I really am getting closer to where I want to be.

  • Revisiting my vision 

Another thing I’ve been doing is taking some time throughout the day to  tap into my vision. It’s been longingly important to remind myself of why I am doing this – why becoming a coach is so important to me and why I want to write my own story in life – as fear inducing as it is. It’s been critically important to keep on reminding myself why coaching is linked to my purpose and my values. And through all of that just listening to myself – really listening to my inner source of truth that is unaffected by all the external pressures. Finding and listening to that inner core of confidence (that is even deeper than the fear) helps me hold on to a faith in myself that not only is this what I really want – but that I can do it – and do it well. Without centering and coming back to my vision repeatedly it would be tempting to walk away – but my inner authority just won’t let me do that.

  • Connecting with others 

As important as it is to believe in myself – it’s been equally important to seek out and connect with people who believe in me and have confidence in me. Close family and friends, colleagues, mentors and broader support network are all vital for revealing my blindspots, injecting me with courage, giving me different perspectives to my challenges, helping me to build on my inner faith and giving me the strength to persist with my vision. Love and care that comes from connecting really does help. Included in my broader support network are a trusted legal team, creatively brilliant designer and other professionals whose advice is invaluable to plug my knowledge and skills deficits. It may feel lonely running your own business – but finding and using a wonderful team of people not only eases the loneliness – but assures me that I can achieve even more than I can possibly do alone.

So how do you coach yourself through the inevitable challenges of life? Interested to hear your thoughts.

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