Chapter 2: Overcome Debilitating Self Doubt (con’t)…The Bike Ride
The journey of the misfit entrepreneur can feel quite lonely at times. Not everyone gets your idea. Some of the people in your life might not be supportive. And sometimes, you just need the help of someone more knowledgable and experienced than you. The people you surround yourself with make a huge difference in your ability to face your fears successfully. Choosing who you associate with is completely in your control.
You Can’t Go it Alone
It is really important that you have a strong support network for your entrepreneurial journey. You need people, but in this case quality trumps quantity. You need people that know business. You need people that know people. You need people that love you unconditionally. You need people that can empathize with what you are experiencing. You need people that will listen. You need people that are sharing in similar experiences so you know you are not alone. You need people that have complimentary skills and strengths to your own. You need people that can be teachers and mentors, that can guide you so you are being true to yourself.
Not having people that could provide knowledgable support and understanding was one of the greatest points of tension for me in the beginning of my journey. I sought out support. But I ended up working with people that did not have my best interests in mind despite their good intentions. I let them misguide me; I allowed them to get me off my path because I so desperately wanted to not go it alone. You can’t go it alone but you can’t force it either.
So, how do you decide who to work with and who not to?
Energy Drains or Energy Gains
Some people are uplifting, I call them Energy Gains while others I call Energy Drains, or vampires. When you leave someone that is a vampire you feel zapped of all your energy and enthusiasm. It sucks because you are already constantly putting yourself out there, the last thing you need are people that drain you of your life force.
Cut the vampires out of your life. Or at least renegotiate the terms of your relationship. Ok, I know, most people do not actually have legal documents with terms of engagement. But, you might need to draw new boundaries.
I had a friend that always “picked my brain” but would never hire me….even though she said for years that she wanted to hire me and could afford to hire me. Every time I saw her I felt completely drained of my life force. It was demoralizing, I let it crush me way more than I should have. I finally had to tell her that business could no longer be a part of our relationship!
Long story short, you probably have some vampires and you have to deal with them. At the same time, you have to decide who to bring to your inner circle. With so many, well meaning people out there offering to help…who do you’d decide to bring into your inner circle?
Look for people that are, as Adam Grant says, Otherish Givers. You will likely need to hire people and their expertise at various points in your entrepreneurial journey. But when you are just starting out with very limited resources and a great big knowledge gap you may want to find a mentor.
An Otherish Giver is someone that has both your needs and their own in mind. They give but not selflessly, Otherish Givers consider their own interests when they decide how to give of their time, energy and resources. If you have read The Giving Tree, this is a pretty eye opening revelation – you don’t need to choose between being a selfless giver or a taker. You can be self-actualized and giving.
Early into my Awakening, I realized that I desperately needed a mentor. Because I am a misfit, it took over 2 years before I connected with someone I wanted to be mentored by. It was scary asking Bob to be my mentor. His response was perfect though, he asked, “what does having a mentor mean to you?”
Bob is an Otherish Giver, he gives with awareness of his own needs and interests. Meeting with him is rejuvenating and grounding. He listens, asks insightful questions and shares stories that expand my perspective. Bob is the perfect example of someone that is an Energy Gain, and both his professional and personal experiences have proven tremendously valuable to my efforts.
Finding and making an inner circle of people that are Energy Gains is a win-win-win for everyone. And it takes time…especially as a misfit, embarking on a journey into unchartered territory. There is a good chance you need people in your inner circle you have not even met yet!
Grant dispels the myth that successful people need to be takers by sharing years of research in his book, Give and Take. It turns out that the most successful people are what he calls Otherish Givers. They help others while meeting their own needs. He goes on to explain how to spot a Taker that acts like a Giver. And he points out that most people are in fact Matchers, which is when giving is a matter of reciprocity. Grant shares inspiring stories that help the selfless giver want to draw better boundaries and inspires readers to deepen their commitment to helping other’s succeed.
Who is part of your inner circle?
Which people in your life are Energy Gains and which people are Energy Drains (AKA Vampires)
Who, a specific person or skill set, is missing from your support team that would greatly help you get to the next level?