The overachieving women entrepreneurs I coach and mentor always want to know about the mistakes I’ve made, over the successes I've had.
Eventually, I figured out it's because our Facebook feeds are so filled with one-sided travel photos, engagement / baby announcements, and peak moments, that women have lost the permission to feel and be human. With worts and all, mistakes and failures.
Here are six major struggles women entrepreneurs face, but rarely speak about.
1. The Addiction to Struggle
So many women are addicted to struggle. We think that we’ll get a trophy for working longer, being busier and burning out harder.
My parents are immigrants. My entire life I heard stories of my grandparents fleeing communist China with nothing but their newborn in their arms. It pre-conditioned me to believe that: to belong to this family, you have to struggle like a horse to survive. If you deviate from the norm and try such absurd things as thriving or enjoying the moment, you are shunned!
My coach helped me break this addiction cycle of struggle = love and belonging.
She asked, "What’s your capacity for joy?"
I answered, “Oh! I can handle any pain you throw at me.”
She laughed, "I didn't ask about pain. I asked about your capacity for joy."
I ranted, "I can handle anything, injustice, heartbreak, violation, duty, filial piety, obligation — you name it, I can handle it."
She interrupted, “I didn't ask about struggle. I asked about joy?”
I went blank, "I don't know... I don't think I have any..."
A bad case of “comparison-itis” flared up when I didn't make it onto the “30 Under 30” list. At 21, I was so sure I'd be included on that list. I had smarts, I realized my potential, had everything it takes to be a global leader.
Now, in my early 30s, I feel like a MEGA failure for not having mad that list. Throw my favorite New York Times bestselling idols, and I've got an incurable case of comparison-itis. The voices in my head kept saying, “Oh, shit! I’m 11 NYT bestselling books behind!!”
I much, much, much, much later discovered that I didn't make that list because the Universe had other lessons for me:
- How to recover from disastrous heartbreak
- How to recover from two health burnouts
- How to love and care for myself first before I love and care for others
I could have made the "30 Under 30 List" and I might be divorced, diseased and bankrupt too.
3. Scarcity Inheritance
Many of us inherited a money-doesn’t-grow-on-trees, there’s-not-enough-to-go-around mentality from our parents and culture. I used to drive drive three hours round-trip to my P.O. Box in the U.S. to pick up shipments from Amazon.com, instead of ordering directly from Amazon.ca — just to save $40.
In this scarcity programmed state, I didn't factor in gas, nor the value of my time (~$250/hr). It seems completely ludicrous to me now. But that's how my dad operated, so that's how I operated... until I woke up. So let's all wake up, let's value our time as our most valuable possession. It's time! ;)
4. Un-monetize Talent
In all of my business roles, I’ve been hired by clients for my talent to monetize their products / services with integrity and foresight. I even saved a client $1.2 Million, but at a cost.
Because of this unrelenting need to achieve to get love, I used to always put tasks before people. Get the work done, even if it means not having any friends. I had this rug of hyper-achievement pulled from under me when a mentor said, “Your net worth is intimately related to your network.”
So I stopped trying to monetize my blog. I just wrote for the love of writing, of capturing my thoughts, and witnessing my own evolution. They say dance like no one’s watching, so I blogged like no one’s reading.
Even though it felt so uncomfortable to not monetize this talent, this daily practice of writing and doing what I love lead to even deeper relationships, even bigger networks, and eventually even more money. So counterintuitive and yet elegantly simple truth!
5. Impatience With the Universe
I once saw an energy healer who told me that through all my soul's many reincarnations, I've fulfilled all of my soul's purposes. I’ve paid my dues. So now, my soul gets to choose if it comes back into mortal form or not in my next life :O I mean, what do you say to that?!?
My first thought was, “Sweet! I’m done!” My second thought was, “If I’m done, like done done, then why aren't I a multi-billionaire?” After much huffing and puffing and thinking, I had no answer. I just observed the irony of not enjoy the present, because I'm fretting about what to do with my next life, come back or not come back? Lol!
6. Irritation With Prospects
When prospecs are interested, but just not sure if they want to go through with a coaching program, I get really irritated. I hold everyone, myself included, to a very high bar, to bravely leap forward to actualize their desires.
A woman once came along and said she wanted financial freedom. Then she went into debt for on a ski vacation. I couldn't believe it: she says one thing and behaves in the opposite way! Another woman told me she’d do anything to help her parents retire (they work six jobs) and a few days later she flakes on our Breakthrough session and I've never heard from her since.
It’s irritating to watch people throw away their their dreams and their freedom! Of course I know why they do it (I did too): low self-worth, chronic under-support growing up, no self-confidence, etc. I just wish we, as women, didn't wait until the pain of our situation is years past excruciating before we make a change.
Post-it Wall of Greatness
The bottom line is, we all have struggles. What can we do about it? I like to use the Post-It Wall exercise that has worked miracles for my clients:
- Take 100 post-it notes
- Put a check mark on each one
- Then on each, write something you’ve already achieved.
- Finally, invite your friends and family for a “gallery viewing” of your Post-It Wall of Greatness. (This part makes my clients sweat profusely. It’s hard for women to dissociate bragging from the simple truth of celebrating their already existing greatness.)
Celebrate how far you've already come and who you've become!