So, I’ve been an entrepreneur ever since before I even knew what the word meant (I still don’t know how to spell it, but at least I can define it now). I started working in business and community development while I was a teenager, and this work has wrapped weirdly around my life during the many phases of growing up. High School? Yup. College parties? Totally. Motherhood? You bet.
But even though being an entrepreneur has found it’s place in each of the stages of my life, I didn’t fully expect my stages to have such a dramatic impact on my business. Until my youngest child graduated out of diapers. (Yes!)
For anyone who has been around a small child long enough to know what potty-training represents, you’ll appreciate the level of independence, both literally and figuratively, which comes with this milestone. As my son started to take new ownership of his body, habits, and responsibilities in the world, I suddenly discovered something which had been missing for 7 years; autonomy. Well, slight autonomy. I’m still a mother…I mean, come on.
It’s funny, when you become a mom it’s like a light switch turns on and your whole world becomes swallowed up by something bigger than yourself. You see everything differently, almost like you start wearing mommy beer-goggles. What you think, want, and feel eventually warp themselves into disfigured blobs, completely unrecognizable compared to what they once were. Naturally, the way I ran my company was included in this outlook, even without me realizing it.
Honestly, it wasn’t until the day that the light switch turned off again that I noticed the change. As I became flooded by new senses, new motivations, and new triggers, it was as if I had woken up from a 7 year nap. All too quickly, I started questioning everything. “What am I doing in my business? Why am I fighting for this work anymore? What the hell was I thinking?!”
Part of this experience included giving myself permission to make sweeping changes, while I felt so compelled to find my center again. Another part was spent offering myself a little patience and compassion, since the journey which I was now disgusted by had been an instinctual response to becoming a mom. My mind, body, psyche, and entrepreneurial mindset clearly had a reason for the “blinders.” But what do you do when the blinders are gone and your business direction suddenly feels like it’s suffocating?
As I surveyed the landscape, there were many projects and programs which had been a big priority of mine for YEARS. Did I really want to kill things that I had cared about for YEARS?!
Well, yeah actually, I really did.
So I sat down and started taking a long, hard, honest look at what I had built and what I was now hoping to build. If there were things which no longer felt right, things that no longer served my new vision, then I grieved the loss and cut the extra weight. Some projects I saved, but more projects I flushed. Simply because I had to make room for the new version of me to emerge.
What I soon began to appreciate along this journey of “cleaning up shop” was that I wasn’t completely done evolving. Going from being a mother to infants to being a mother of children was a powerful transition, but I was also moving from being Mommy to being Emily again. I was becoming an adult, a woman, a friend, a sister, and a wife again!! I felt awake, and connected, and inspired, and powerful….all without a small person balanced on my hip consuming my every thought.
Needless to say, these bright-eyed traits were most obviously conveyed in my business. Suddenly, I wanted to be more innovative, ambitious, creative, and aggressive in my messaging. My work shook off the “safe and quiet” tone which dominated my baby-days, and emerged as “bold and responsive.” I was different. My work was different. My business needed to change.
The past year and half has been a challenging, but extremely exciting journey of discovery my new story. My new voice. My new passion. I’m still a mother, but now I get to be a mother with freedom and passion again. So watch out people, because I’m on the move and am never looking back!