A few weeks ago, I joined a small business mentoring group comprised of six women business owners and the leader of our group, Deb LaFlamme of For The Love of Your Biz. The eight-week long program is dedicated to helping each of us grow as a business owner. We have been meeting ‘virtually’ once a week for an hour and have been working on small, manageable homework assignments during the week to help us dial in our focus and get closer to achieving our goals.
I entered the program with no expectations, which is slightly embarrassing for me to admit. I feel like I’ve been floundering a bit as a business owner, and didn’t have many driving goals when it came to the business. I didn’t know what to anticipate with this program, and my thought process was ‘open mind, open heart.’ I figured that if I got something out of the program, great. If nothing else, hopefully I will have had the chance to connect with other women and potentially help others by sharing some of my experiences.
We’re just entering week three, and what I realized this morning is that one day in the future, I will look back at this time of my life and note that my life pivoted in a profound way because of the work I’m doing on a personal level in the name of growing on a professional level. The reason why is because I am learning how to embrace the discomfort.
Every person handles uncomfortable things in different ways. Some tackle it head-on, determined to crush it. Some pretend it doesn’t exist, and quietly tuck away the feelings in a dark room. Some are overwhelmed with the anxiety that is caused from worry and become paralyzed, unable to take action. Others over-compensate, and perform at the highest possible functioning levels only to later crash in the privacy of their home.
None of us can avoid feeling discomfort, regardless of whether it’s personal or professional. There will always be challenges and difficulties at work, at home, in life. What matters is how we handle these situations.
For years, I handled these situations by hiding them from those around me, my internal voice urging me to keep my chin up, my mouth shut, and to do whatever it took to keep moving forward. I have been through my share of discomfort, disappointment and regret, and have always preferred to keep these feelings closely guarded. I can tolerate the discomfort, but embracing it is something quite different.
Since I’m in the middle of training for the PMC, I can’t help but notice the irony of the term ’embracing the discomfort.’ While I am no athlete, I do like to do athletic things, especially if they involve endurance. Physically, I seek seemingly insurmountable challenges and relish the discomfort extreme exertion causes. Emotionally? Personally? Professionally? Not so much. I am bound by the shame of feeling inadequate and unsuccessful as defined by my unrelentingly judgmental inner voice.
What I have learned in these short two weeks is that I have missed so many opportunities to grow personally and professionally each time I judged myself and determined that I came up short. By pretending the discomfort didn’t exist, I removed the possibility to connect with others so that everyone could learn and grow. In so many ways, I feel like I have lived a shell of a life, protecting that which did not need to be protected.
No more. I’m done living this way. The walls are coming down and with it, all of the hidden feelings of self-loathing.
Here’s the question: will I have the guts to publish this post? What’s holding me back is the monkey on my back saying that this is a baking blog, and not the right place for ‘this’ kind of post. That I will be judged. That I will second-guess my decision to hit ‘publish’. That the feelings I feel today will dissipate over time, and I will remain living a safe version of ‘life’.
Perhaps the ‘real question’ is how much discomfort am I truly ready to embrace?