Trying to Control Your Life or Business - A Recipe for Stress
When you go out on your own as an entrepreneur it can feel freeing and overwhelming. Yet most of us have an indomitable spirit that no matter what we can take control, make it happen, and succeed. For some that takes the form of being overly controlling (can you say control freak?). It's understandable, right? After all part of why most of us go solo is to have more influence and control over our own success (or lack thereof). So it seems natural that we'd want to control things. This comes at a cost and can ultimately bring you down though.
Trying to suck it up and make it happen can result in being driven toward the wrong thing nd misplaced focus. Hammering away at all costs means exhaustion and burnout. Being afraid to lose control is a recipe for limited growth and self-implosion because you don't learn how to delegate or build a team. Then, when the inevitable happens -- something happens that is unforseen that you can't control, you freak out.
A few months ago I really enjoyed reading the article "Sick Days" in INC. magazine. In it, Meg Cadoux talks about the trials and tribulations of entrepreneurs trying to control the uncontrollable. As the wife of Gary Hirshberg, President and CEO of Stonyfield Yogurt she writes from the voice of someone who went from startup to large company. So some of what she writes about is far beyond the magnitude of challenges for solopreneurs of small business owners (for instance most of us don't have other manufacturers and farms to worry about). Yet at its essence it rings true for us all. Why? Because we're all human and because we are high achievers often trying to do the impossible. She shares in this artcle:
I recently read an online article in which company owners listed characteristics essential to success. Good health was right up there: Many described themselves as people who "refuse to get sick." Illness equates to weakness, which is antithetical to the entrepreneur's self-image. He starts off defiant, but the disease wears him down. The body gives the spirit only so much autonomy.
Illness is the rudest awakening to the dream of entrepreneurial control. All those mechanisms meant to balance family and the business collapse. Priorities are reshuffled when instinct (must care for self/loved one!) rams into expediency (must preserve paramount financial and psychological investment!). The fear of losing everything is compounded by the fear of losing everything.
I love that last line because fear turns in on itself and creates an even bigger fear which creates more stress, more fear, and on and on. Recently I wrote here on BlogHer about my own personal experience with managing my growing business during the illness and death of my mother. What i learned about how to manage your business during this time is really applicable to every day if you get right down to it. Because life is always happening and you can only do the best you can do at any point in time. If you're not here, in your body, right now, you're nowhere. Trying to control takes you out of that space and into a black hole.
What I've learned (and teach) is mastering the art of integrating the energy of "making it happen" with "allowing it to happen". This is at work in nature all the time (and what could be more brilliant than that?). When you plant a garden, you put in effort and time as you cultivate the soil, water, support the plants. You also have to allow...room, time, space for things to grow. It is only in this dance that anything is possible - in nature and in your business.
So the next time you find yourself gripping the steering wheel with all your might - Stop. Breathe. Take a look around and re-calibrate. Know that action is necessary but control is futile. Whether that is with getting a late night report done or navigating your business during a bout of serious personal crisis.
Do you love control? Are you stymied by it? I'd love to hear your stories...
Also - I would love this space to become one of discussion and experience sharing. So let me know here in the comments - or at email@example.com what some of your biggest questions are about career transition and starting and running a business. I want to bring you more of the topics you most want to see.
Paula Gregorowicz, The Intuitive Intelligence™ Coach
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