Ten years ago when I started Me Spot, I was very clear about what I wanted to create. I thought I had the skills I needed and the rest I could learn along the way. It has been an eye-opening and educational journey and I have certainly learnt a great deal. Yet what I didn’t bargain for, is that the biggest and most profound lessons were not to do with the mechanics of sales, marketing, operations, or the other things I had expected, but rather, they were lessons in how to to manage myself.
As I look back on the last ten years, I am incredibly grateful for that unexpected bonus. I have been introduced to concepts that have changed the way I think, feel and respond. I have built my resilience and am more able to overcome challenges. As a result, I am happier and I feel in control of my destiny.
The ten year milestone is the perfect opportunity share some of those learnings:
Things are not what they seem.
In the early days, naturally I wanted people to like what we were doing. I hoped that when they attended a session, they would have an enjoyable experience and want to come back. I remember watching zumba classes and, almost without realising it, I would predict whether I thought someone was enjoying the class or not. This would usually be on the basis of their expression or general demeanour.
I quickly realised that my assumptions were very wide of the mark. Many of those I had thought would run out of the door as quickly as they were able to, became long standing regulars.
I learnt that: it is impossible to accurately predict what someone is thinking, or to guess the cause of their behaviour. It is too easy to allow what are effectively our own insecurities, to colour our judgement. This leads to flawed decision making not to mention the wasted emotion, which could so easily be avoided. Don’t assume, ask!
You can’t please everyone
Understanding your customers’ wants and needs is at the very heart of any successful business. Yet, even with the most targeted of customer profiles, some people will not stick around. There are many reasons for this, most of which are impossible to guess. They are usually nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. However, even if is that they are not keen on what you are offering, these days I see it as a positive because it means the fit is not right for either of us.
I learnt that: having the confidence to do things in the way that feels right and in accordance with your core values, is liberating. Who you are and how you are is to be celebrated and not watered down trying to fit a brief that is not your own. Some people will love what you do and others not. That’s ok.
Embrace the fear factor
The idea of Me Spot lay dormant for many years before I did something about it. When I finally did take action, it felt incredibly scary putting it out there. It would have been far easier not to bother and run for the cover that my corporate world had provided.
I learnt that: it is natural to be afraid but stepping towards your fear rather than running away from it, is the key to success. Don’t suppress your hopes or dismiss your dreams. Be honest with yourself about what they are. Bring them to life and find a way to make them a reality. What is the worst that can happen?
Comparison is a dangerous thing. It is easy to look at others and rate ourselves or our progress against theirs. I used to regularly torment myself with how my business compared which usually resulted in giving myself a hard time for no good reason.
This is a dangerous strategy on so many levels. Firstly, we usually make comparisons in areas of our life where we are feeling a little insecure. It is rare to choose to compare something we are proud of. As a result, the outcome will only ever be negative.
Secondly, comparisons are generally made on the basis of perception rather than truth, or on an unrepresentative snapshot of reality. This is why social media is so toxic.
Thirdly, this focus on the negative rather than the positive is likely to push you even further away from where you want to be.
I learnt that: comparison brings with it little or no benefit. It’s far better to spend your energy looking at what would make your life better and working out pro-actively how to get there. The message in this case is definitely don’t ‘go compare’!!
The past has gone, the future can be as you want it to be
Our experiences shape and define us but they can also restrict us. Our natural ‘negativity bias’ means that we tend to hold on to the memory of things that have not gone as we hoped to ensure we don’t make the same ‘mistake’ again. By contrast, we quickly forget about successes and triumphs (hence the reason why we need to spend more time acknowledging and celebrating them so the brain knows to deliver more of the same – see below).
I learnt that: it is also important to move forward rather than allowing perceived failure to clip our wings. ‘Rear view mirror’ syndrome is limiting and draining. It prevents us from seizing opportunities and accessing the limitless potential we all possess.
The power of the saboteur
When I started the business I thought I was running the show. How wrong I was! Probably my biggest ‘ah ha’ moment was when I learnt about the concept of the saboteur or inner voice. I have written about this is many blogs but so important is it, I had to give it a place here too.
The saboteur is our subconscious mind whose purpose it is to keep us safe by maintaining the status quo. An admirable objective but in reality, how it shows up translates into self-doubt, self-deprecation, and an erosion of confidence. Its language is both restrictive and destructive and will usually strike in the areas of our lives where we feel most vulnerable. So convincing is it, that we believe its version of events when in fact, it couldn’t be further than the truth.
I learnt that: if left unchecked, the inner voice can roar as loud as can be, but with the right techniques it is possible to quieten it and access the treasure beyond. Becoming aware of your individual saboteur, when and how it strikes, and developing techniques to manage it is, in my opinion, the single most important step in self-development.
Change your thoughts, and the outcome changes too
Where once it was thought that the adult brain was fixed, neuroscientists have found that the opposite is in fact true. The brain is changing all the time on the basis of how we think. This in turn directly affects outcomes. Neuroplasticity as it is known, is a relatively new discovery but the opportunities it offers us to take control of our lives and our destinies are huge and incredibly exciting.
I learnt that: by being more conscious of my thoughts and reframing my perceptions I can harness the power of the brain to deliver the results I want. Plus, my happiness skyrockets in the process
You are enough
Running a business brings with it a rollercoaster of emotions. The business is an extension of who you are and when things don’t go as you had hoped, it is easy to take it very personally.
I learn that: building self belief is critical. Relying on external validation is a very risky strategy and puts control of your wellbeing into the hands of others. Give the brain the messages it needs to hear. Take every opportunity to celebrate your wins and to tell yourself how awesome you are . It is not conceited, it is essential.
I am enough, You are enough. We are enough.
Here’s to the next ten years!