Conquering Misbeliefs: If I Build it They Will Come

moving past our misbeliefs--photo credit iosphere of fdp.netYou don’t have to be familiar with the 1989 movie, Field of Dreams, to have heard the popular, yet misleading phrase, “if you build it, they will come.” This ethereal phrase is what initiated Ray Kinsella, portrayed by Kevin Costner, to build a baseball field in his corn field. It’s also the motivation for many starry-eyed entrepreneurs to pursue their own vision of dreams. For many, however, our misbeliefs slither their way into our personal failure files.

Are you one of the hopeful business people lured by the “if you build it” mantra? I was. Like many entrepreneurs, I had an idea and a lofty goal. I fell for the overnight success stories and believed all I had to do was build it. Unfortunately, the trouble with the “if you build it” theory is twofold:

  • It conveys the message that all one has to do is to present a life-changing idea to the world and then sit back and wait for everyone to fall at my feet.
  • Most hopeful entrepreneurs (including me) lack a true understanding of what is necessary to build and grow a business.

The Genesis of Misbeliefs

Mine started in 1996. I was almost 5 years into an unsuccessful job search. Rather than continue the useless pursuit and destroy the fragments of my confidence, I decided to build a business that incorporated my experience and education.

My first steps involved creating a business and marketing plan based on advice from traditional business resources. As I happily wrote the documents that outlined my beautiful business, I was elevated by the “if you build it” mantra. I fully believed all I had to do was make my business look good on paper, toss an ad in the local classified section of the newspaper, and make a few appearances at the local Chamber of Commerce.

My early efforts gained the attention of a postage meter company and sympathetic business community members who suggested I sponsor events or dedicate my expertise to a thinly associated activity related to their business. For free. I was promised that exposure would be my reward. I swallowed their hooks.

The Results of Misbeliefs

Naiveté. Clouded by “if you build it” and the promise of exposure intensified my lack of knowledge. I filled many an organizations’ need for speakers but never earned the money, the opportunities, or the testimonials that was promised. I stubbornly maintained the belief that this was the way.

Taken advantage of. People come out of the shadows seeking naïve entrepreneurs and I was their biggest catch. I was eager to build awareness and a following; they were eager to suck me dry.

Time lost. Clinging too long to this belief resulted in lost opportunity in the form of legitimate clients and revenue.

Lessons Learned

It’s a slow, cringe-worthy process, but over time, those moments led to lessons learned and growth.

  • My naivete eventually revealed how these beliefs misguided me. This discovery led to asking for help.
  • Learn from others. Network. Connect. Share expertise. Talking and listening to others helped me move past shame and embarrassment.
  • Abandon the comfort zone. Once I recognized that building a business is a lot harder than it appears, my comfort zone was no longer comfy. That became my moment to pursue or pivot, then take the proper action.
  • Be stringent with your time and money. Volunteerism is admirable, but when it creeps into a full-time job, then it’s no longer advantageous.
  • Put in the work. Learn about business, not just your industry and niche. You don’t need an MBA, but attend workshops, read, and learn from others.

There is magic in business ownership, and the best magic occurs when you identify your misbeliefs and reframe your knowledge base. As we’re taught to embrace our failures, I felt it most helpful to do so by sharing mine. Read my failure files on good girl, self-sacrifice, and negative mindset then reach out if you need more guidance!

Kristen

Is the Fear of Asking for Help Keeping You Stagnant?

“No man is an island entire of itself;” –John Donne, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, 1624

is the fear of asking for help holding you back?Perhaps it’s my love for literature that makes this quote from John Donne one of my favorites. In reality, however, it’s a gentle reminder that I cannot do everything myself despite the desire to prove that I CAN! While I’m acutely aware of my weaknesses, when it comes to asking for help, I feel as if I’m suddenly putting them on display. Unfortunately, when we hesitate to ask for help, the result is a loss of time, energy, and money. When it continues for longer than it should, it then becomes an entry into our personal failure files. This is the fourth installment on my failures which helps me understand their origins, but to also help you diminish your mistakes.

Part 1: Where does it begin?

In school. While we’re all taught to work well with others and that team work is best, confidence suffers when an idea or request for help is ridiculed by our peers. This happened a lot to me, as it did for many of us.

Result: the good girl in me didn’t stand up for herself. I learned it was safer to remain quiet and do things myself, which included asking for help.

Part 2: Good question vs bad question

Did you hesitate to raise your hand in front of classmates? It’s terrifying, isn’t it? Even so, it wasn’t until the 1990s or so that the phrase, “there is no such thing as a bad question” or “there are others who have the same question” became the IN thing. Where was that phrase while I was growing up? Also, where were the others who had the same question as I did? I would have happily let them take the ‘great question’ credit.

Result: my resistance to put myself out there is deeply ingrained, which amplified my reluctance to ask for help.

Part 3: Business balks

Now I’m older. And wiser. Regardless, when it comes to business, my childhood fears and memories are now adult sized. Life is finite and there is no time to appear weak, especially if we’re recovering from a layoff, unplanned retirement, divorce, debt, or other setback. Asking for help intensifies an unwanted reality. I’m guilty of this, especially following the events of 2009.

Result: growth is SLOW! In my determination to avoid shame and vulnerability, I’ve put the brakes on opportunity. Happiness is delayed.

Lessons Learned

  • What we imagine is far worse than reality. Shame and vulnerability is a by-product of our own making. Once I realized how this mindset damaged my present and my future, I discovered asking for help was far less damaging than the reality I was already living.
  • Referring back to John Donne, human beings do not thrive when isolated from others. I’d like to add we do not grow when isolated from others. Growth occurs when we seek answers, solutions, and simplicity. The way to make that happen is to ask for help.
  • Build a network! These are people who have answers or may know someone who does. The bigger your network, the bigger your pool of experts.
  • Return the favor. It’s funny how eager we are to help others, yet resistant to ask for help ourselves. Why deny someone else of that pleasure?
  • Make it easy. Why do things the hard way when the solution is one question mark away? There are plenty of free resources available, but if it comes down to money, do you hesitate to pay? I’m guilty of floundering around, while hoping to stumble upon the answer in order to save a dollar or two. When I found myself A YEAR LATER no closer to a solution or income, I was furious. If you find yourself still floundering or procrastinating, ask yourself how much income opportunity has been lost by NOT asking for help and NOT willing to pay. You won’t be pleased with the answer. I certainly wasn’t.

In business, as in life, a little failure is inevitable. However, the fear of asking for help shouldn’t be among them. Learn from my mistakes, collect those business questions, then get out there and ask. If you need a little more encouragement, I’m here for you.

Who will you ask for help TODAY?

Kristen

The Failure Files: The Power of A Negative Mindset

a negative mindset will prevent growth--image from freedigitalimages.netBad things happen. We lose a job. A loved one dies. We divorce. We suffer a health issue. A natural disaster occurs. When disaster surrounds us, how is your mindset? Do you cuss and cry and wallow in pity, or do you regroup and step forward with determination? If you slip into a negative mindset, it can quickly lead to other or contribute to existing failures.

2009 was the year disaster came my way. It started by quitting my job to be salvage a marriage of 19 years. By midyear I divorced, left the state, and had half the assets my husband and I stringently built, never expecting to divorce. My grandfather died in July. I suffered a health issue Thanksgiving Day. My father suffered an injury that left him severely brain damaged. Let’s not forget the economic turmoil and I was 45 years old, unemployed, and in a new state (geographical as well as mental mindset).

It was tough to bounce back after the last half of 2009. While I did everything right on the outside to deal with the loss, inside was where the storm raged.

For 3 years.

During those years, I battled what I thought was the biggest obstacle to my success: introversion. I attended up to 5 networking events per week, within a 150 mile radius to build awareness for my business.

Growth occurred externally, but internally, I continued to grieve all I lost in 2009. While I blamed myself for much of the sorrow, I was also guilty of waiting for things to improve on their own.

It wasn’t until my mother, still grieving the loss of her husband (who was in a semi-vegetative state) said, “Nothing every goes right for our little family.”

“That’s not true!” I insisted. When she asked me to prove it, however, I couldn’t. We had been so locked in our negative mindset that growth and peace continued to evade us. The dark clouds still hovered and I was appalled by my negativity. I could have done something to end the storm.

Blowing the Clouds AwayRebuilding begins with a smile--from KRE archives

It started with a smile. A soul-deep smile that radiated throughout the body. A smile that would attract people rather than keep them at a distance. (I won a contest based on this picture.)

Next, I sought positivity in the past tragedies and applied it to the growth and opportunity in the present. With these tools, smiling became easier and I didn’t feel so mentally weighed down.

Glimpses of Light

The Universe observed my activity. It wasn’t going to immediately give me a thumbs-up and lay out a shiny red carpet in front of me. Nope. It tested me. A new lead backed out at the last minute. A client wasn’t pleased with my services. I got bronchitis. Twice. My laptop died. I was tempted to slip back into the storm, but moved forward instead.

Then tiny things happened. I slept better. Clients sent referrals. Migraines diminished. My blog took on new life as I focused on entrepreneurship and life after 50.

My rebrand progressed until Dad died November 2015. There were a few related setbacks but they didn’t hold me for long.

Until June 2017. I lost my two largest clients due to budget cuts and suddenly had no money coming in. This was a huge trial for me, but I kept going.

The Results of a Positive Mindset

  • The gloom faded quickly.
  • The storm didn’t infect other aspects of life.
  • Opportunities were easier to identify.
  • Additionally, I could dedicate myself fully to my rebrand without other projects competing for my time and attention.

Armed with these super powers, I got back to business with fire and determination. In under 2 months I got published in 6 online publications and was ASKED to become associate editor for Boomalally magazine.

Lessons learned:

  • Blow the clouds away.
  • Believe in yourself.
  • Trust yourself.
  • Test your limits and push past them.
  • Take risks.
  • Ignore the naysayers
  • Abandon the self-pity. It only gives others the opportunity to race past you.
  • Don’t waste another minute. Too much has already been wasted.
  • Make every moment count.
  • Furthermore, SMILE!

Recently, my mother sent a text message saying she’s having a burst of happiness. When I encouraged her to have more, she said, “I’m not normally a positive person, so I’m sure you have something to do with it.”

That certainly made me smile.

Are you ready to smile again? You’ll quickly discover that a positive mindset is contagious.

Kristen

The Failure Files: When Self-Sacrifice Goes Too Far

Too much self-sacrifice ends in burnout from freedigitalphotos.net

Digging deep into our failures is an exercise in discomfort. As mentioned in my first entry for The Failure Files, to learn from our failures requires us to deeply examine them in order to learn from them. The more I dig, the more uncomfortable I become. This week I explore self-sacrifice.

I recently found a note from 1997 in which I outline several steps to become a better person. Perhaps it was Benjamin Franklin’s Thirteen Virtues, written in 1726, that inspired me to write my own version. Twenty years later, however, my revision demanded excessive self-sacrifice and limitations. None of which would be healthy for anyone.

In my youth, I liked being the one people looked to for help and solutions when life was in turmoil. I could feel others’ stress and wanted to avoid it. As a result, I helped however, whenever I could. When I didn’t, for whatever reason, those offended by my decline to help called me selfish. Avoiding that label became a weakness. The result: I was taken advantage of. Repeatedly.

Too Much Self-Sacrifice

Failure #1: Spreading myself too thin/too much volunteering. For a long stretch of time, I was volunteering for 9 causes. Only one was fun, the rest were guilt-induced by other people or entities. Every time a request came my way, I responded. Because of my good girl status and discomfort around negative vibes, I didn’t want to rock the boat. Unfortunately, the cost benefit analysis was too high. My time, energy, and well-being suffered.

Recovery: Limit volunteering. Avoid guilt or peer pressure.

I very rarely volunteer and when I do, it is only after serious self-examination and availability. I never give a response right away and let myself and the person requesting my time a day or two to thoroughly examine the situation. Just because I was asked on the spot doesn’t mean I’m the ideal person for the task. It also does not require an immediate response. If there was pressure to provide an immediate answer, my answer would be no. It became very similar to dealing with annoying telemarketers.

Lessons Learned

  • Examine the task in question.
  • Ask yourself if this is something you truly believe in.
  • Ask yourself if this will enrich your life or stress you out.
  • Stand up for yourself.
  • Let go of guilt.
  • Ignore peer pressure. You are no longer in high school.

You are entering a phase in life where you have freedom to create the life you want. Use this opportunity to make everything you do valuable and meaningful to who you are and your pursuits. Any activity you pursue must enrich YOUR life, not drain or guilt you.

Keep in mind, not everything will advance you as a person or a professional. When it comes to professional activities, be cautious that it doesn’t drain your energy budget as well as your financial budget.

What failure makes you cringe? What growth has occurred from those experiences?

Kristen

The Failure Files: Good Girl and Entrepreneurship Don’t Mix

Too much weight on shoulders leads to failure--image from pixabayFailure. We all experience failure and are taught to be ashamed of it. Only recently phrases like ‘fail fast’ and ‘embrace your failures’ have become popular, allowing us to see failure as an opportunity to learn. To learn from our failures, however, requires us to drag them out of the dark recesses of our past. We need to take a hard look at them, to study them, and harder still, accept them.

I’ve experienced several failures in my first 50 years. My problem: I kept them too close to the surface, unknowingly giving them permission to rule my life. Now, I recognize when they negatively influence my actions and can reframe my thoughts. It still isn’t easy which is why I’m starting The Failure Files, freely giving you the opportunity to learn from my failures. Are you ready?

Failure: too much good girl

This is probably the crux of all my failures. I was a good girl. I don’t even have a memory of causing undue strain on my parents. My younger brothers did plenty of that. School reports that embarrassed my parents. Police visits. Neighbor complaints. Drugs. Abuse. Alcohol. I saw the effects and avoided it all. While my brothers got arrested, I acquired my bachelor’s degree. While my brothers married and divorced twice apiece, I obtained my master’s degree and married.

Because I didn’t want to stir the pot, I tumbled into the obedient world of sheeple. I followed the herd, trusting and believing in a world that was getting ready to kick us all in the teeth. I graduated from high school in the top 10%, I immediately obtained a bachelor’s degree and got a job soon after, filling the non-work time by doing administrative work at my father’s or boyfriend’s place of business.

Failure #1: My good-girl status didn’t save me from unexpectedly losing my first REAL job 10 months later. It didn’t save me from spending a year in the unemployment line. It didn’t help me find a job in my chosen profession.

Recovery action: Go back to school. I obtained my master’s degree a few years later while working for the university to pay my education. During this time, I married and had my first child.

Failure #2: It took 10 years to find a job in my profession. I jumped on it, consequently accepting a salary that was 64 cents above minimum wage. Following 8 years of dedicated employment, my salary peeked at $9.08/hour.

Recovery action: I quit my job, without a follow up plan. I tentatively began my new business. In 2008.

Failure #3: Viewing divorce as failure. Playing all the society rules for life, marriage, career, contribution, and sacrifice didn’t save me from the sorrows of divorce. Even worse, I caved in to the embarrassment my parents expressed (We’re terrible parents. How did we go wrong?) and the emotional intimidation my husband heaped on me (my job will suffer, my credit score will suffer, it will take you too long to find another job—just like before). As a result, I wore my (I mean their) shame and disappeared with little to cling to. Hope, confidence, and stability shattered.

Recovery action: I recognized that my long-standing goodie-goodie status got me NOWHERE! Reality hit hard and I realized life gave no favors. I was overdue to be me without the constraints of what everyone expected me to be.

When I began my business, however, I struggled to fully release the good girl mentality.

Failure #4: Taken advantage of, under paid, and pushed aside. The business world does not tolerate goodie-goodies. It interacts with people who are willing to take risks, stand up for themselves, and don’t falter.

Recovery action: Take risks and chances without concern for what others think. Especially relevant: I had to be willing to upset the status quo.

It took a while to learn this and depleted my time, energy, and finances.

Lesson to Share

This isn’t a woe-is-me story, but a story I share because of the lessons learned. I had been over-manipulated by a youth where I saw the negative side of breaking the rules then inaccurately transferred that to all aspects of life and career. I learned that playing by the rules doesn’t guarantee anything other than being stomped upon. Breaking a few rules, as in doing something out of the ordinary, gets you noticed. The world likes those that shake up the world in a positive way.

My challenge to you: Let go, refuse to be haunted by your failures and surge forward to become happier, freer, and more confident.

How will you positively shake up the world?

Kristen Edens