It’s been almost a month since my last post—not something most people like to admit, but it’s true.
You see, the last night of my silent retreat, as I was walking to the meditation hall, I twisted my ankle and fell down hard. Wondered if I might pass out from the intensity of the pain. Sprained it so badly that the bruises crept up my leg and over my entire foot. And I didn’t make a sound because it also took my breath away.
I sat on a step on the pathway and wondered if I’d be able to get up; if my ankle was broken; how I’d ever get to the hall for the final session… And never once thought of getting help. (Crazy, I know, but shock can do that!)
I hobbled over to the last session (nobody noticed me walking slowly, they just assumed I was doing walking meditation) sat through the teaching, struggled down the hill and put myself to bed. Lying there, ankle throbbing, I realized that I might not be able to do my chores the next day, so I staggered up, limped down to the main lodge and posted a note for the operations manager, Jeremy.
I also remembered that there was a first aid kit where I found a compression bandage, which I used to wrap my ankle up, then crawled back to bed.
The next morning Jeremy caught up to me after meditation. His compassion and concern for my well-being showed me that my injury and need for assistance were real. That sometimes I truly can’t do my work. That others are willing to lend a hand, to share the load.
My hesitation, frankly my inability to seek help immediately, is bewildering in retrospect, particularly when I remember the immense relief I felt when I knew I wouldn’t have to manage alone.
Although my example is extreme, I know that as small business people, we often trudge along by ourselves for years. Tough it out alone. Tell ourselves we don’t really need to reach out. And make our lives and work so much harder, not to mention less profitable.
There are three kinds of support that every small business owner needs:
We’ve made a major decision. Perhaps it’s time to leave full-time employment and work for ourselves. Maybe our business has grown faster than we bargained for. Perhaps some of the joy has gone out of our work and we wonder what we need to adjust. Maybe we want to rebrand, work with a new client group, or figure out what success really means to us.
It’s hard to do that in isolation. It’s even tough to do it with peers, although they can be supportive and encouraging. Sometimes we need someone with more expertise and experience to advise us, so we can get the clarity we need to move forward with a plan we can actually implement.
We’ve received a request for a proposal from an ideal client, but just can’t seem to get started on it. Our minds go blank and we dither in confusion. Spend hours trying to get something down on paper, but it just can’t seem to figure it out. Wonder what’s wrong with us, try harder and still miss the deadline. Yes, there will be other opportunities, but not this one. And we feel badly about not following through. Worry about letting the client down. And miss the boat financially too.
Rather than staying stuck, we can take the risk to be vulnerable and ask a friend, trusted colleague, or partner for help. Someone who understands that fear and resistance are real. Who freely offers encouragement and empathy. It’s amazing what we can generate with a friendly supporter by our side.
It’s tax time and we’re panicking. If only we’d kept up with the bookkeeping on a monthly basis, the way we promised ourselves we’d do at the beginning of the year. Without any idea of our income, expenses, where we stand financially, we can be facing a surprising large tax bill, money wasted on products we aren’t using and services that don’t truly support us, or unpaid invoices that we’ve overlooked.
When I hired my first bookkeeper, I freed up time to do what I was good at –building relationships, coaching, facilitating, and writing. I earned more money than it cost to pay her and got back the happiness I’d lost when wrestling with the numbers work that I don’t do well.
And what about those technical issues that have us pulling out our hair? Rather than spending half a day (or more) fighting with them, why not have a great virtual assistant who just loves the technical stuff.
So, remember to seek out appropriate help and make life a little, no a lot easier for yourself.