The past few days I have been reflecting on simplicity. Simplicity in my lifestyle; in my mothering; in my food; in the options I provide to my clients; in everything.
In today’s blog I wanted to share some of my reflections and thoughts about simplicity. My thoughts followed on from a discussion in my business mastermind group with other female entrepreneurs, and a discussion I continued with my own business coach earlier this week. However this conversation for me first started last year.
When you start out as an entrepreneur, you don’t always know what you want to offer. Typically the women that I coach KNOW what it is they want to achieve; they know they want to spend more time with their children or they know they want more flexibility. They might need some help with visualising the goal which in turn will help them to know what steps they need to take, and in which order, in order to achieve what they want. Very often clients start out with a business idea that changes on the journey.
For example a recent client came to me because she wanted to go back to paid work and set herself up as a virtual assistant. However as we dig deeper into her core values, her motivations, her passions, where she gets a buzz … she started to realise that, actually, being a virtual assistant was not going to satisfy her needs. It’s not what she’s passionate about – what she loves is being part of a team, being accountable and holding others accountable, problem-solving and the autonomy to make her own decisions. We still have more to explore. My point is that when you set out in business … you typically start by doing something you’re very good at. As time goes on, your business evolves until you find what you’re brilliant at and what you’re truly passionate about. And very often, as Lucy Whittington would say, it’s the Thing on the end of your nose. The difference between being in your Zone of Excellence and your Zone of Genius. Other business owners start off with a hobby – something they’re brilliant at, and it eventually evolves into a business.
This is how my own entrepreneur journey has been – I have been running my business for three years now. I started off not knowing what business I was going to have in 12 months, let alone three years’ time. I knew what I was good at and I knew what I enjoyed doing. So I did a variety of projects and started to find myself being pigeon-holed as the law firm service desk expert. I love the “expert” label but the service desk is not my passion. I love working with a business or an IT department to help them be more effective, to be incredibly professional, and to offer fantastic service because integrity and quality are very important to me. Doing that type of work is right up there in my Zone of Excellence … but it’s not where I am ‘in my flow’. It is not what I am truly passionate about which is working with women and helping them to make strong decisions with confidence. This work that I do now is AMAZING – for me and for my clients.
Yet strangely it has taken me a long time to ‘get’ that. I’ve worked with women for years as a breastfeeding counsellor. But even before that, I was the manager that the Head of HR would send women to go and see when they announced that they were pregnant. “Why don’t you pop along and have a chat with Sherry”. I worked in the office next door to the Head of HR, so not such a bizarre suggestion on the surface … except that I was Head of IT. However I had the relevant evidence-based knowledge and information to share with women on topics such as breastfeeding, nurturing your baby’s emotional development, home birth, VBAC etc.
At one point last year, my business streams became so complicated that I had to map out my business on a chart to know what connected where. All this ‘complication’ because I felt that I ‘should’ be working in the corporate world. Even though my heart was drawing me, repeatedly, towards supporting women, my head was focussing on something else. Last year I had started to recognise that there was something not quite right with my business but I just could not put my finger on it. I went on holiday and meditated every day. I expected to come home with the answer; the answer that I was looking for; the answer that I knew was out there. I was quite angry, in fact, that I hadn’t had this flash of inspiration while I was on holiday. Yet all along, I was already doing what I really wanted to do. I just hadn’t allowed myself the simplicity of focussing on the obvious; my Thing; what was on the end of my nose.
Then finally at the end of September, I realised. I realised the simplicity of doing what I loved; what I was passionate about. Yes of course, I continue to work with some corporate clients – for strategic reasons. However starting to focus on my flow zone or my zone of genius, gave me the confidence or permission to create The Confident Mother. And what an incredible life-changer that has turned out to be for many women. The feedback has often moved me to tears. The Confident Mother was all about simplicity – the simplicity in the message that “good enough really is good enough”. It’s something I have wanted to do for a long time, but I couldn’t figure out how to organise such an event without confusing my corporate clients. But now, it doesn’t matter.
Now that I have arrived at that level of simplicity in my business, now that I no longer need a flow chart or mindmap to remind myself of all the different pies, and kindled by the conversation in my mastermind group, I want to take the simplicity even further. I want to streamline my key offerings in my business. As well as sort out my website and blog (which the very lovely Helen Taranowski is helping with), I want to make it much easier for women to choose to work with me. I know from personal experience, that when you lack confidence or you are feeling overwhelmed, being offered too many choices is just too much. From now on, I want to focus on my mastermind groups: for mums running their own business and mums trying to rediscover their identity after a career break. Secondly, I want to focus on The Confident Mother series of interviews, and in June I will launch The Confident Father. And always I will continue to work with mums on a one-to-one basis.
Simplicity … it’s simple really. But sometimes it’s complicated to get there.
What about you? What aspects of your life or business would you like to simplify?
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