BE WILLING TO DO WHAT IT TAKES,
EVEN ON A POWDER DAY!
You cannot lead from someone else’s experience.
You can only lead from your own.
Then, around the second or third month, some insecurities start creeping up and deep soul searching that you had not expected arrives. How could this be? You were living the life and the dream. Somewhere along the way, you started to question your greatest strengths, which got you to where you are, and you began doubting your capabilities to make it happen or the perseverance to push through the dip. In The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) (2007), the author Seth Godin states, “At the beginning, when you first start something, it’s fun. Over the next few days and weeks, the rapid learning you experience keeps you going. Whatever your new thing is, it’s easy to stay engaged in it. And then the Dip happens. The Dip is the long slog between starting and mastery. A long slog that’s actually a shortcut, because it gets you where you want to go faster than any other path.” He also writes, “Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.” Sometimes, it is hard to know what “right” is.
In the beginning, things are a lot easier because of the excitement—everything is shiny and new. You may wonder at times what you are doing, especially when you make a small mistake, but you are still having fun. This accomplishment marks a new milestone in your life’s journey. One day you recognize that the hard work that got you to this new point wasn’t even that difficult compared to what you are encountering now; the challenges have grown exponentially. You need to determine what it will take for you to sustain the pace and keep things going.
One thing new entrepreneurs and leaders often don’t see coming is the tremendous amount of pressure and time that it takes to pursue their passion. Successful entrepreneurs and leaders are natural problems solvers; they are tenacious and have the GRIT to keep overcoming obstacles.
It is normal to encounter impediments while adjusting to new circumstances, and they will, at the time, be tiring and discouraging. Most people know that there will be a learning curve and that mistakes will happen as they settle into their new roles and ventures. However, there is a difference between knowing and experiencing, and when you are in the thick of it, sometimes you can’t help but wonder, “What the heck did I get myself into?” Self-doubt can creep in, as can feelings of being denied rewards, guilt for almost everything, as well as sense of isolation and loneliness.
Pushing through and forward toward your goals requires focusing on what matters most. Keeping your eye on the prize, and setting the intention of manifesting what you know in your heart and head to be true.
When you become a new leader or start a new enterprise, your work-life balance will shift. One of those things you will learn is if you are willing to give up a powder day. A powder day—for the nonskiers and boarders reading this—is a play-hooky day, when one skips life’s responsibilities to go skiing and take advantage of exceptionally light, fluffy, deep snow (or powder). The cold fact of the matter is that starting up a new business is not for the weary, and powder days will be missed!
The biggest challenge for most of my clients who are starting a new endeavor or beginning a new leadership position is the transition. There is a pivoting of priorities and a shift in mind-set and behaviors. There is a reexamination of what needs to be done from a new point of view. You go from “working in” whatever profession to “working on” growing, developing, and focusing on initiatives that implement results in the areas that matter most.
One of the most fun things I do is work with new and emerging leaders and start-up businesses. There is something exhilarating about being at the inception, or close to it, and helping new owners and managers of small businesses realize their vision, live their passion, and succeed.
I have a client who recently achieved their ideal job: she took on a new leadership position as a manager and was tasked to launch a new program. Those were two significant responsibilities for someone who had never been a manager and who had never before been given the trust of making a substantial contribution to how the company runs and how it grows business. She couldn’t wait to get the position. She sat on pins and needles waiting to hear back after working incredibly hard applying for a job she desired so much. (If she hadn’t gotten it, I wondered how that would have impact her and her sense of self-worth.) She jumped into her position right out of the gate with great success, but little did I see it coming that her desire to perform and succeed would quickly diminish as self-doubt and pressures weighed on her.
Her lifeline came in a form of a realization that life as she knew it had changed. In that awareness, she was able to rekindle the initial spark about this new position by asking for help and guidance, in coaching other employees so that they felt supported and rewarded for jobs well done, and by taking advantage of the brief times in-between to hit the slopes.
The steps before implementation make the implementing seamless. It’s the need for change, the recognition that perhaps something needs to change, and then simply being ready to allow that process to begin. I think once the mind and body have that fundamental shift in thinking and perception, allowing for new questions that need answering, the quest for those answers comes naturally in the implementation process. –Client AS
What she also realized was that her focus had shifted. After spending so many years with skiing as her primary focus, she was ready for more responsibility that would allow her to use and share her strengths and knowledge in different ways.
Taking on more responsibility is always going to be more demanding. However, I think that having spent so many years with skiing as my focus, accessing that part of my brain is just second nature. It’s easy for me to shift to thinking about speed and the feeling of exhilaration when I want to go there and just as easy to break away from that focus and put my energy into things that people can benefit from. –Client AS
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Understand your purpose, keep focus on what matters most, and have the patience to create meaningful change. The road to leadership is a marathon, not a sprint. Leadership requires implementing processes and procedures that provide structure for consistency in the midst of chaos, and it involves immersion into something new and different that comes with a host of unfamiliar and elevated responsibilities. It demands strong communication skills, along with integrity, attention to detail, the ability to compromise and let go of the need to control everything, and the skill to find, hire, and maintain highly qualified, trustworthy employees to help you on your mission—which is much, much harder than you could ever imagined.
Somedays days will be smooth sailing. Other days will present problems that feel like a climb up Mount Everest: the ascent is long and steep, so it is essential to love what you do! You must keep your vision firmly in mind, as your working hours will no longer be fixed from nine to five. Your hours will be constant unless you decide not to work, so it’s vital that you love what you do. Having a growth mind-set will allow you to reframe your perception of what work is. The human need for change, which can be difficult and uncomfortable, is a driver of change. It gives you permission to shift from years of stagnation and repetition and nurtures your willingness to use your strengths and skills in ways to keep life interesting.
Starting a new business or taking on a new leadership position is exciting! You have worked hard on creating a vision for yourself. Keep your eye on the big picture, take a moment (or two) to breathe and recenter, and be willing to do what it takes—even on a powder day!