In November 2017, I put the brakes on my entrepreneurial dreams and stepped back. I knew I had to look at myself and evaluate what was working, and what I had to change. This was not about the world around me. It was about the things I had to change inside myself.
Coming to terms with the fact that I had experienced some failures, made some wrong turns and worked with some very difficult people was a journey that I needed to go on.
I am very much against the industry of persuading people they are not good enough; the people who say "I can make you richer" or "I can make you happier". They focus on the things we lack, and take us on an expensive path of trying to be a different person.
My period of reflection was to appreciate myself, understand my personality and evaluate what success, ambition and happiness meant for me personally. I met with many amazing experts in mental and emotional health, and worked with a psychologist.
I now provide insights and knowledge to help the community of small business owners I support on Facebook, and in my speaking and mentoring. In 2019 I also launch my new book Business is Personal.
The following are just four of the things I learned on my journey.
1. Not to let strengths become weaknesses
I had strengths - but when I misapplied them or overstretched them, they became my weaknesses. My personal strength was kindness, empathy and the desire to help others. When misapplied, it was seen as a weakness; when overdone, it meant people exploited me.
I know so many business owners who are exploited and 'give away' too much of their knowledge over a friendly coffee, or for an opportunity to speak for free.
I am now on a quest to get small business owners to value themselves far more highly. As a woman who pitched to many potential investors, I also know when my softer side is not appreciated.
2. 'Success' is personal
Being ambitious is seen as a critical value in business - however, we all have our own definition of what success really is. We are all in danger of being caught up in the way other people live their lives, and forgetting that what want to achieve and how much we are willing to sacrifice is entirely personal.
After 25 years raising children, I definitely know what success means for that period of my life. Now they are grown and independent, success can mean something different.
3. The dangers of social media
The loneliness that can catch us all is enormous. In a study I carried out, 83% of respondents said that they were lonely. The reality is that one of our five basic human needs (Maslow) is to be validated and have a sense of belonging.
Many of us get caught up in social media, thinking it is serving this need. The danger is that we see a carefully-presented version of the life everyone else is leading, and compare it with our 360° awareness of our own.
It makes us feel weak, it challenges whether we really do have such a great life, and it can affect our happiness. This in term impacts on our drive and motivation.
I spend my social media time where the energy is good, and where I feel safe to be myself.
4. To stay true to my values
Finally, I studied and deeply learned my personal values, and then reflected on all the relationships I had allowed to take control of my dreams, beliefs and decisions.
I decided to take the brave move of deciding which people I would work with in the future - whether clients, suppliers, investors or members of my business community. Those who are toxic and do not fit with my values would be kept at arm's length - and I would stay in control of the life I wanted to lead.
Considering these four areas of your life could help you to remember that your life and your business career is your personal choice.
Be strong, and believe in yourself. I haven't met a single business owner over the past 20 years that isn't brilliant in their own way. They only fall down when they try to be someone else.
Copyright © 2018 Penny Power OBE