I don’t usually get so personal in our blogs, but seeing as it is the festive season, I guess the festivities have made me somewhat sentimental. Usually as we come to the end of an old year and welcome in the New Year, I write about the future, such as Becoming Your Most Authentic Self, Personal Development and Growth and a Roadmap to Success. However, this year I’ve been inspired to reflect upon the past year with all the lessons I’ve learned. Hey! Last year wrote a book inspired by some of the fundamental f-ups I’ve made in a bid to help other Health Professionals avoid the same pitfalls. So I’m doing it again, this time for a wider audience; perhaps this piece may inspire you to avoid the same mistakes I’ve made – or even appreciate your own lessons.
Lesson #1 - Balance is KEY
Some time ago I wrote about the Fallacy of a Work Life Balance (it’s not as depressing a read as it sounds). The just of it, is that there are always going to be trade-offs in life. It’s a pretty simple equation – there are only 24 hours in a day. And no, there is no such thing as a pause button (however if you do invent such a thing please let me know!). Entrepreneurship can notoriously be a balancing act of executing various functions – whether or not you are a one man show, or you have a team to support you. It’s almost become admirable to be a workaholic (whether you work for someone or yourself).
There’s a phenomenal businessman I got know earlier this year who has his finger in so many pies. Just speaking to him was inspiring, as you listened in awe at all his plans, businesses and ideas. It was only until I saw, on Facebook, his wife publicly thank the restaurant staff where they were dining for their assistance after he had passed out. Okay fine, I thought, he passed out. Could have happened to anyone. However, a few weeks later, I saw him post a video on Facebook about still being at work at 8pm even though it was his birthday, and his wife was at home waiting for him. This was two of a series of posts that alluded to the fact that he actually took pride in the fact that he was working himself half to death.
This is not the life I signed up for.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve put in and still put in some crazy hours to ensure I meet deadlines. However, after an enlightening lunch with my amazing friend Zazel Sale (founder of Zunshine), we chatted about this very topic. After her intense experience this year, she too expressed how, for her, going into business was not supposed to mean having less of a life. Less happiness. Or less anything. Loads of my peers may cringe at what I am saying, but life is more about just working tirelessly to survive. Don’t get me wrong – entrepreneurship (at least in the beginning) requires more hours than employment does. But it shouldn’t (I think) consume you.
Money is a large motivator for most of us. Trust me, if you are ambitious, a hard worker, focused and love (at least like) what you do, you WILL make your targets and bring in an income without having to sacrifice your state of mind.
If you’re not, re-look at your business plan and model. Einstein once said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results. If it’s not working, evolve it, reinvent it or dump it.
Lesson #2 - Boundaries are imperative
Holistan was fortunate in landing some exciting new projects which were not only brand new offerings by us, but pretty unique offerings in South Africa. With any new pilot, however, there will always be teething problems – which forms the springboard for further success IF you learn from your mistakes and plug those gaps.
Oh how many lessons I learned from this project.
Without going into too much detail, I’ll keep it brief, but flesh out what I took away in “school fees” from the university of life. Very expensive school fees, mind you.
I see myself as someone who will always strive to give – it’s a value instilled in me because once upon a time I didn’t have very much; if we are blessed, I believe it’s imperative to pay it forward. Not only do I strive to offer my clients value, but to my friends, peers and family, I invest time, love and a whole lot of energy. Sure I’ve been pretty successful at drawing very firm boundaries with certain family members in my life. But perhaps in some weird way of over-compensating in my friendships, I have given too much.
This year I learned that there comes a point if a friend, peer or even a client becomes an emotional vampire who takes and takes - STOP. If that person pressures you to do things you don’t want to do - STOP. If that person wants you to be okay – not because they genuinely care but because it cramps their style. STOP. Draw a line.
Unfortunately I learned this lesson the hard way: boundaries are NOT selfish. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s also okay to say NO. People may come into your life for a reason, a season, or both. Learn from those broken alliances. And for the love of God, learn from those lessons!
Relating this back to business and you, ask yourself if you have a client who is notoriously late with paying you. Perhaps they are difficult to work with. Or they expect far more than is humanly possible. Walk away from those clients who don’t see your value. At the end of the day you teach people how to treat you by how much BS you’re willing to take.
Lesson #3 - Become a Pro-Planner
You may (or may not) know, but 2017 marked the year that I did something pretty… out there. I entered Mrs South Africa and was fortunate enough to be selected as a Semi-Finalist.
If you are familiar with the MBTI Assessment, I adopt the P (Perceiving) preference (over the J or Judging). Flexibility, trying new things, and striking while the iron is hot are some of the sayings I abide by.
Entering this Women Empowerment Project (no, it’s not just a beauty pageant) was a last minute decision – but one I do not regret. It was only once I entered did I realise what a massive opportunity this was; not only for exposure for my business, but a platform to share my own message.
I went into the competition having NO CLUE what was ahead, arrogantly thinking I stood a chance at getting somewhere.
Oh you silly, silly girl.
At the semi-finalist convention, I met the incredible Nicole Capper – the reigning Mrs South Africa 2017/8. She was in pristine shape, she had been in mentorship for months prior to the competition, and was dead-sure on exactly what her core message was. This girl had PLANNED. During the weeks of campaigning, I stupidly believed I could organically build up support on social media. I left finding sponsors to the absolute eleventh hour, and I attended one measly public event. Not surprisingly, my journey came to an abrupt end at the Finals held in April 2017.
Nicole taught me that there can be beauty in pain; her beautiful baby girl was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as an infant. Nicole was inspired to create a platform to educate others about this devastating illness, as well as starting a movement creating awareness around #dreadeddiseases. From a business perspective, she taught me how imperative planning is. No matter how cool it is to ‘wing’ that next presentation, or thumb suck a pitch. Putting in the time to plan and dedicating the hours to refine will yield a far greater return. Whether that’s starting a new business, studying toward a new qualification, or even entering Mrs South Africa!
Lesson #4 - Keep your cup empty
Okay… I learned lesson this over a decade ago by my friend and peer, Dr. Sherin Bickrum. However I sometimes forget the lesson and let my cup runneth over. Not in the good way. Sherin taught me that if my ‘cup’ or mind was full, there was never space for more knowledge, deeper insights and greater epiphanies. Learning does not have to be a formal transaction; I’ve learned some of my greatest lessons from people I meet daily. However, my deepest lessons are from the failures I’ve suffered, the money I’ve lost, and the mistakes I’ve made. Who knew losing a lot could mean gaining so much more?
Don’t ever stop learning – it’s what keeps our souls nourished and our minds open.
Lesson #5 – Embrace your individuality
I’ve met so many amazing, interesting characters this year. One of the major benefits of renting office space in a shared office work environment is networking with other businesses and likeminded entrepreneurs. Over a glass (or two) of wine one afternoon, I was chatting to the lovely Giulia Cantarin from SkillsGro. She mentioned that one of the things women try to do time and time again is they try to be a man in business. This statement sat with me, as I realised that I was guilty of such a thing. But what’s so poignant is if we are just ourselves, embracing being a women, we bring a complete unique flavour to the business context.
Whether you are a man or woman, the point I am trying to make here is embrace your uniqueness. Business (I believe) is really all down to cultivating relationships. Some will like you, some won’t – but to be authentically YOU is your greatest selling point.
All the best…
If you’re a regular to this blog, thank you so much for reading. And from the bottom of my heart, thank you to ever client, peer, friend, family and acquaintance I’ve had the pleasure of engaging in 2017. I look forward to a fantastic 2018 and wish you the very same!
#attitudeofgratitude #MrsSA #MrsSouthAfrica #blessed #lifelessons #schoolfees #whatIlearnedin2017 #5lessonsIlearnedin2017 #inspiration
Our contributors collectively boast a wealth of experience in assessments, HR, organisational development, change management and more!