A change of pace today. Author and founder of Nationwide Networking Ben Angel shares a personal account of the challenges of running a business while dealing with the loss of a loved one.
Sometimes we forget that business owners are real people. What, that’s crazy?!
But business owners, just like the rest of the human race, face the same emotional turmoil as everyone else, except of course that a key factor is added into the picture. And that factor is isolation.
Sometimes the only person you have to talk to is a tropical fish that stares blankly at you through the plate glass whilst blowing bubbles in an attempt to say “Feed me!”
What do you do?
Go stir crazy? Or comfort yourself with Oprah and Dr Phil?
You do neither. You get on with the job. But what if the pressure of isolation and other challenges start piling up and you begin to encounter some of the following;
· Added financial pressure of sustaining a business through economic turmoil;
· A kid in the background who won’t ‘go and play in traffic’ and insists on wreaking havoc in your home office
· The emotional turmoil of a relationship that should have been put to bed years ago;
· Or the incomprehensible reality of losing a loved one?
You do the best you can with what you’ve got!
Four years ago almost to the day, my dad passed away at 51 from a brain tumour. I was devastated. I’d just set up a brand new business, was dealing with a relationship break-down and was attempting to deal with mounting financial pressure at the same time. I was 23 years old, and I was not coping at all.
Burying my father was a tipping point for me. I became depressed and suffered in silence while everyone else thought I was fine. Every time I had a client meeting, hosted a business event or schmoozed at a networking event, I put on my ‘perky’ persona and turned up the charm.
On the outside I was bright and sparkly and working hard to give the impression that I had everything together. On the inside, everything was falling apart.
How do you deal with your personal life when you’re trying to build your business?
You do the best you can with what you’ve got. Being a typical male and an Aries, I’m one of the most stubborn people you’ll ever meet. This is partly due to growing up on a farm where we were always taught to fix things ourselves. A fantastic skill to have, especially when it comes to fixing your own personal life.
How Stella got ‘His’ groove back…
One day when I’d had enough, I pulled out all of my personal development books and started to read. I read each night for at least one hour, and then again for 20 minutes each morning. This ended my day on a good note and began the next on an even better one.
I turned off all of the music that made me feel depressed and I ate healthy foods and avoided those that made me feel lethargic. I hit the gym six days a week and took regular classes to bust out of my rut and most importantly, I made a conscious decision moment-to-moment on how I ‘chose’ to feel.
Was it all an effort?
Absof*&^%kinglutely! Was it required? Even more so!
We don’t always get to choose the situations we’re faced with, but we can choose how we respond.
Working in isolation can be very damaging, especially if you’re unaware of your own self-sabotaging behaviours. By learning how you respond to specific situations, you can shift your reactions to responses and become productive once again. It unearths self-sabotaging patterns so you can deal with them. But sometimes, just sometimes, we need a wakeup call.
Excuse me Mr Angel, this is your wakeup call! You’re in denial!
One of my best friends woke me up to this. He told me I was in denial and that I was avoiding facing reality. It felt like a punch in the back of the head but boy oh boy, did it wake me up to make the changes I so desperately needed to make.
Are you in denial right now about your business and how you’re managing it? If you are, it’s time to snap out of it and do ‘whatever it takes’ to bring about balance. No matter how you feel you may be suffering right now, there are always worse things that could happen.
The thing about death and losing a loved one is that it wakes us up to life. It makes you a better business owner because you really do learn not to sweat the small stuff. The things that I thought were important weren’t important at all and wasted my time and energy.
This realisation allowed me to go back to basics and focus only on the things that really mattered. At the end of the day, what was important to me was my own happiness and enjoying the process of building an interesting and fulfilling life and business.
What do you need waking up to?
Are things really as hard as you make them out to be? If you’re self employed and work from home isolation can amplify things, but the question I want to ask you is: do you really need to lose someone important to find out that the small stuff really doesn’t matter?
I trust not. Change the script and start telling a different story. Trust me when I say it’s worth it, because it is ‘worth’ it more than you could ever believe and that I could ever express in the written word. Both you and your business will be better off for it.