Humble Brag: I completed my 10th podcast interview this week!
I am so grateful to each of the guests for giving freely of their time and really opening up to share their authentic, transparent stories with me and with the listeners. It really does mean the world to me.
When I set out to launch the podcast, my goal was to build a community of business owners, executives, and leaders who were willing to share the lessons they've learned while fighting in the trenches of the business battlefield. In other words, I wanted to talk about mistakes that people have made in business so that others can learn from them.
Now that I'm ten episodes in, I've been really surprised to find that there has been an overwhelming common denominator among nearly all of the guests I've talked to so far - something I never expected going into this.
Nearly everyone I have talked with has shared a story about how their businesses fails have taken a serious toll on their personal lives and their even mental health at some point or another.
I read the books. I listen to the podcasts. I attend the seminars and conferences. Experts and influencers talk all the time about how hard business is and how you're going to screw up and how you just have to grind it out, pick yourself up, keep on hustling, (insert any other over used phrase here).
They aren't wrong.
But I think, for me at least, two things are lacking in many of these books, podcasts, and conferences - which is why I wanted to write this blog post:
1. What do those failures FEEL like and how can they impact your head space and even your personal life?
2. How can you pull yourself out of the mental ruts that can accompany a failure?
I know how much of my identity has been wrapped up in KFE for the past few years. On more than one occasion I have found myself drawing parallels between my success or failure as a person with the success or failure of the company.
That's a dangerous place to operate from but it's an easy trap to fall into and it can be really really hard to avoid.
For me, when KFE would hit a goal or a milestone or land a new client, I felt validated, confident, and smart. I felt like I belonged.
But when KFE had problems or made mistakes - even (in hindsight) relatively minor ones - I felt like a fraud, an imposter, a failure, and inadequate. I was embarrassed and ashamed even though I was typically the only one that knew anything wasn't glitter and gold!
This past spring, I found myself reeling from a series of missteps with my company. The short version of the story is that 1) I decided we'd offer an additional service which didn't fit into our business model from a margin perspective which meant I wasn't making the profits that I needed and 2) I had really REALLY poor boundaries with clients which resulted in me taking calls 7 days a week at all times of day.
(#2 is particularly interesting to me now because nothing KFE does is time sensitive - so why would I need to be available around the clock?)
The difficulty surrounding the situation was compounded by the fact that revenues from the new services were great. We were hitting all time revenue highs and that felt amazing!
How did this impact my head space?
I was overwhelmed.
I was resentful.
I was overworked.
I was stressed in an unhealthy way.
I didn't want to talk to our clients.
I didn't want to talk to my team.
I didn't want to talk about work with any of my friends or colleagues.
I didn't even want to come into the office.
My eating habits went to crap.
I drank more.
I wanted to just sleep a lot - which was weird because I couldn't sleep at night to save my life.
And the worst part: I didn't know how to fix it without firing 80% of our clients which basically meant we'd be starting over.
I knew that changes had to be made and I knew those changes would result in the company making significantly less money for a while. I knew that I would have to tell clients that we couldn't serve them the way they had hired us to. I knew that the model would have to change going forward in order for the company to grow but I had no idea how to do that or what it would look like.
As I write this, I find myself assuming that this might not sound like much to you. But holy shit it hit me really really hard.
I'm grateful that I was able to pull myself and the company out of that slump but know this: I could have NEVER done it alone. It's only because of the amazing people in my life like Carlos Ramirez that I was able to figure things out. Thank you.
I was amazed to find that probably 8 of my first 10 podcast interviewees had almost exactly the same story!
They had experienced some sort of downfall in their business - sales dropped, profits dropped, working hours went up with no end point in sight, a partner or team member quit, a product launch fell flat - and they found themselves in some dark place, usually alone. They took everything personally. Relationships and health suffered.
It made me sad to know that these people that I was getting to know on the podcast had been through those things crappy things I was all too familiar with - but it was also SO refreshing to know that I wasn't alone in the way that I felt and the lows that I had experienced.
You're not alone either.
So how do you pull yourself out of it?
Well, just like me, most of the people I interviewed attributed their successful rise from the ashes to having a strong support network.
When I asked them how they were able to overcome, they each had unique answers but all of them included one common ingredient: they had people in their lives that supported them, gave them advice, showed them grace, loved them well, or mentored them out of it.
It's SO important that we surround ourselves with great people. It's during the darkest hours of life that we need their light the most.
But in order for these people to help us, we have to be vulnerable and let them know that we need help!
So if any of this resonates with you:
* Know that you're not alone - not only in the failure, screw up, or misstep - but also in the impact that it might be having on your head and personal life.
* Reach out and share your struggles with someone. So many of us have been through similar situations and we're willing to help, guide, and give support when we can. You just have to ask!