My hubby and I were out on the lake a week or so ago and snapped this picture of a cedar tree that has bent itself way off the shore to grow. It's probably been hit by lightning in the past, refused to die, and began growing in another direction, toward new light and water and freedom. It may be an unusual shape for a cedar tree, but it's fully alive, fully a part of the forest around it.
As we were drifting away from “seeking cedar” as we called it, I started thinking about how much we have to be willing to grow, in our own unique way, to create the fully alive life and work we crave. The work I do with others about their business often becomes about their personal life, too. Why? Because we can't develop into the entrepreneurs we want to be without changing those parts of ourselves that hold us to the normal, everyday life. As solo business owners we have to be adaptable, just like this “seeking cedar” tree. We have to reach for the nutrients we need even if it means growing away from the shore that has supported us, or looking a little different than others who work for themselves. In fact, the more we know ourselves, the more we know our uniqueness, which is, after all, what others buy from us. Just like this tree, we have to stand out to be noticed. If we insist on blending in, we make it much more difficult for people to find us and want our services.
Here's a quick exercise you can try that will help you understand how much you are willing to stretch to build your business. Get into a quiet spot for about 15 minutes with a pad and pencil (or your laptop if you consider that a thing of the past, LOL). Ask yourself:
- What two things stop me from being all I truly can be in my life and my work?
- Am I the one stopping myself from removing these two things, or is it someone else?
- Am I willing to stretch myself to change or remove these two things?
- What will I gain by stretching in this way?
- What's the worst thing that might happen? And what happens after the worst thing has happened?
- What's the best thing that might happen? And what comes after that?
You can use these questions whenever you are scared of an opportunity that presents itself in your business. They will help you to see what you should do, what actions or thoughts will serve you the most in building your business. Just don't be surprised when you realize that stretching to be the entrepreneur you can be also stretches your personal life. It's a hand-in-glove proposition – when you stretch one, you stretch the other. You can die in place when you've been pushed or shoved, or you can become a seeking cedar and stretch into a brand new space.