Let’s kick things off with a question, shall we? Would you consider yourself to be someone who likes to gamble? Who likes to take risks? Who is comfortable putting most if not all your eggs in one basket with the hope that the outcome will work in your favor? I can tell you with complete confidence that I am not! So much so that I’m the kind of person, who, if I do find myself in a casino to gamble (which is beyond rare) I’m most likely going to be found at the five-cent slot machine hoping for that million-dollar win!
The idea of taking a risk used to cause such a level of stress for me, that I took none. And when I say none, I meant none. Even when I could sense that the outcome of me doing something a little differently would result in a positive outcome – I still wouldn’t chance it, and in fact would double down on the act, action or behavior that I was convinced was the only avenue to take.
I’d love to say that this fear of stepping out of my comfort zone was something that was new, but if I take a moment to reflect on the way I have operated for a good portion of my life, I can say that taking minimal risk, sticking within status quo and not going too far out of my safety zone was a badge I wore with confidence – that is until I dove into the world of entrepreneurship.
Sidenote: Isn’t interesting how we can be so committed to a particular pattern or behavior in our life, but with one decision (whether planned or irrational) pivot in a whole other direction.
I can’t tell you the exact moment that I decided that I was going to become an entrepreneur, but I can pinpoint the very moment I decided that it was time for me to start betting on myself!
Let me give you a bit of context. For as long as I can remember I was a rule follower. Growing up in a West Indian household in Montreal, with two professional parents, the expectations were clear. Go to school, get good grades to afford you choice and opportunity in your professional life, stay out of trouble, and conduct yourself with self-respect and pride. My parents were not strict by any means, but their expectations for my brother and I were clear – we understood the assignment! And so, like a good and obedient daughter, I did what was expected of me. I went to school, graduated from university, moved to Toronto where I landed a secure job, bought a nice house, got married, had kids (3 to be exact), went back to school (whilst pregnant with my third, which is a whole other article topic) to get my master’s degree. By all accords I was what we here in North America would deem successful. While I wasn’t dancing in money, the life that my husband and I created was one of comfort and happiness.
Never one who lived on the edge in search of a ‘different life’ I would be lying if there wasn’t a point where I felt myself becoming complacent with what life had become. This by no means is to imply that I wasn’t happy – because I was – but what I meant was something felt off, felt stagnant. At the time of this feeling, I couldn’t quit pinpoint what it was until a job opportunity that I knew I was PERFECT for was about to be posted. That was it! That unsettled feeling that was causing a bit of an itch was because prior to this opportunity I had been in my position for nine years. While I enjoyed what I did, I was ready for more. And clearly because I had been doing the job (but at a lower level) for nine years, how could I not get it. Well guess what… I didn’t get the job. Now let me say this right now – not getting the job, though at the time, felt like the greatest injustice of life, I would come to realize that it would be the greatest gift to self and the birth of the world of entrepreneurship for me.
You see up until that moment, I operated in the mindset that my professional growth and success was contingent on other people seeing and deeming me “ready” for a particular job or position. That their opinion and recognition of my skills and qualifications held greater worth and value than my personal recognition of my greatness. The facts are, I am where I am today not because someone invited me to the table. I am where I am today (and please note there is more for me to learn and do) because I decided that the table, they were sitting at was too small for me…so I built my own.
I was once the woman who believed that my readiness for greatness was based on other people’s perception and confirmation as such. But you know what happened. Nothing. And you know why…because their maximum view of me was based on their limited belief about themselves. I placed their opinion at such a higher value that when I finally decided to emancipate myself from that mindset, I became certified as a change management practitioner, became a certified health coach, started my own business, became a leadership coach for the Canadian Olympic Committee and published my first book.
I share this not to gloat…but to affirm and remind you all that your passion, purpose and power is for you to tap into and release. What lies ahead for each one of us is only limited by the limitations we set – so don’t set any. Set goals and milestones.
As scary as it may feel to put full faith, time and commitment into yourself, remember that no one will ever be as invested in your success as you will be. This doesn’t mean that you move in isolation. Seek counsel, embrace feedback, receive constructive criticism, but then formulate your own conclusion and move accordingly. Because remember this – their assessment of your maximum capacity may be your baseline!
Believe in yourself. Stay committed to the process and always bet on yourself!