People frequently describe a fledgling business venture like a new born baby. The delight and terror and uncharted territory all rolled into one sleepless thrill ride. For me it is the terror that rings most true.
I started my business in February of this year. Since then three days a week I have donned work attire, lipstick, heels and a brave face - and walked from my kitchen to my home office (about 5 or 6 steps). There is no tricky commute or bully boss - there is nothing stress inducing to speak of. And yet each time I reach the office door my heart squeezes against my rib-cage and the ringing in my ears reaches fever pitch. Every past, close or real call with failure swirls around me in a cacophony of 'you're not good enough', 'you're too young', 'too old', 'too sick', 'too stupid', 'YOU. WILL. FAIL'. A chorus so loud and so fervent it disorientates and exhausts me.
Ridiculous really. In the beginning no-one, bar a select few, even knew of my plans to launch gingerly into the entrepreneurial world. These defeatist feelings have nothing to do with others expectations - and everything to do with my own. Until I stepped out of my comfort zone, I had no idea they were even there.
As part of my degree I did this wonderful creative writing paper. In one of the modules the guest speaker and published author took us through the most commonly used story line in novels and movies - and it struck me the story line she spoke of drew strong parallels with life itself. She talked about the protagonist reaching out toward an ultimate goal, one we are all gunning for her to reach, but alas, between her and this goal are 'gatekeepers' to throw her off course. Why? well it makes for an excellent story, doesn't it? But in real life, it just sucks.
I've kept on with the lipstick and heels in the office thing for months. Working at a snails pace, focusing most of my energy on fighting off negative self talk, dodging gatekeeper bullets as I researched, played hide and seek with them as I found suppliers, then most satisfyingly I gave those gateway keepers 'the middle finger' when I finally secured start up cash.
It's funny what happens when you just keep turning up. Doing the hard thing. The uncomfortable thing. The stare all my weaknesses in the face everyday thing. It. Gets. Easier.
Then this week, I had a light bulb moment. Actually, not true. I reached down into my beat up old bag of light bulb moments and I pulled out an old one - dusted it off and took a good hard look at it. I realized that to do this, and not just do it, but enjoy it, I needed something that shouted louder than that negative cacophony - a vision bigger and more compelling. A vision not about me and my success or failure - but one about lives being changed. I want women here in New Zealand and Australia to feel beautiful and confident no matter what they face each day. And I want women in a tiny town in India to be able to to go to work today, be part of a team, use their hands to create something good and lasting and incredible - and play a part in putting a smile on the face of a woman in pain over here. There's something beautifully symbiotic about that vision. It's lasting. And more importantly it's loud.
I'm arming myself with that today - lipstick on, vision on. Let's do this.