Do You Feel Like A Real Entrepreneur?

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“Oh, it’s just something I do on the side.”

“I’m a good coach (photographer, writer, artist, etc), but I’m not really an entrepreneur.”

“Sure, I sell my stuff, but I’m not a REAL business person.”

Any of these sound familiar?

I hear statements like this from women a lot. We’re good at the thing we do, but we’re not really a business person.

I see two main reasons this pops up for women.

First, we see ourselves as “bad” at the business side. We aren’t good at sales, taxes, marketing, balancing our accounts, keeping up with QuickBooks (seriously, nothing makes me feel more incompetent than trying to balance everything in QuickBooks). And because we’re “bad” at these things, then we can’t be real business women.

But there’s a second side to this as well.

Owning our status as business women makes it REAL.

Because if it’s a side hustle, then it doesn’t really matter if you make any money.

If you’re only in it halfway, then the potential for failure isn’t as scary.

If you’re not really an entrepreneur, then who can blame you if it doesn’t work out?

I get it. It is scary to own this title of business woman or entrepreneur. It sounds big. It sounds like we should know what we’re doing. Like we should have a formal business plan, perfect marketing scheme, be super profitable, and know exactly where we’re going. And if we don’t have these things, then who are we to possibly call ourselves entrepreneurs?

It’s imposter syndrome, hitting us hard and fast – and we often don’t even realize it.

But here’s the thing – ownership creates commitment. The more we say OUT LOUD “I’m an entrepreneur. I’m a business woman” the more it becomes part of our identity. And we act on our identity. We make decisions based on our identity. So if we start calling ourselves business women, we start acting like it.

Start saying the words, even if you don’t believe them at first. Start to introduce yourself as an entrepreneur. Include your side hustle as part what you say when you meet people — without saying it’s a side hustle.

Because the truth is if you’ve made even one dollar from something you’ve sold, then you’re an entrepreneur.

It’s time to start saying it.

Are you ready to squash doubt and imposter syndrome and build your dream business? Click HERE for the Five Secrets To Getting Out of Your Own Way – And Running a Successful Business. You’ll be on your way!

Why Our Brains Are Dumb

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We put a lot of stock in our brains. It’s held up as THE mastermind of our entire being. It’s the smart organ, the place where all our facts, learning, and knowledge are stored.

But there are some MAJOR gaps in our brain – particularly related to fear.

Take my experience of becoming an entrepreneur….

There were times when I was thinking about quitting my job to launch a business that I felt like the air was being sucked out of me. Like someone had tied a corset around my lungs and pulled the strings tight. My heart would beat fast, I’d get a pit in my stomach, and sometimes I’d even get nauseous.

My brain screamed, “STOP! I don’t know anything about this entrepreneurship thing. Don’t even think about going there!”

My brain interpreted this new venture as a threat. Like the possibility of running my own business was trying to kill me.

BUT NOTHING WAS ACTUALLY WRONG. I was completely safe.

And this is why our brains are dumb.

Our brains are designed to have a reaction to anything new and different. Because, in our brain wiring, the unknown isn’t safe. It’s uncharted territory that could kill us (literally).

This worked great when we were living outside being chased by animals. And it still works great when our actual, physical safety is at risk.

But most of the time our brain’s reaction to fear only serves to keep us small. To keep us safely planted in the circle of everything that is familiar and comfortable.

The problem is there’s a long list of amazing experiences that only exist outside the circle of familiarity. Starting a business. Going to a different country for the first time. Saying I love you. Sharing your writing. Singing in public. Doing anything on a stage. Getting a new job.

Pretty much anything that involves growing, learning, risk, and following our dreams is outside of the circle that our brains fervently try to keep us locked inside.

The good news is that once we do the scary thing our brains start to realize that we DIDN’T DIE – and maybe it would be okay to do it again. So our fight or flight reaction cools down a bit the next time around. It gets a little easier to take action.

One thing that has helped me overcome my brain is to simply ask myself,”Am I safe right now?”

99% of the time the answer is yes. Sure, I might be afraid of making a mistake or embarrassing myself, but that’s not going to kill me. So my brain can just back off.

Try it the next time your heart beats faster and your palms start to sweat. Stop, take a breath, and ask yourself, “Am I safe right now?” If the answer is yes, choose to override your brain, take another deep breath, and start moving forward.

 

Learning To Fail When You’ve Always Been Successful

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I’ll admit. In my career, I’ve generally been successful the first time I’ve tried something. Sometimes that success has come naturally. Other times I’ve had to work like crazy. But I was nearly always able to get it mostly right the first time around.

Not anymore.

Entrepreneurship feels like a daily wake-up call, a continuous journey outside my comfort zone. In the most humbling, amazing, frustrating, growing way possible.

There are moments when I’m riding high, overflowing with gratitude for the work I get to do.

And there are times when I feel like nothing works and I have no idea why. When I believe I’m putting something high-value into the universe and no one responds. Or they like it – but won’t actually pay for it.

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This has been the last few weeks for me. This fall I piloted a group coaching program for women to get control of doubt and imposter syndrome and own their strengths so they can move forward in their career with confidence. It was AWESOME. I loved every second of working on it and the people in the program loved it as well.

This is it! I thought. I’ve found my signature program. I even had another person sign up for the next round of the program just as I was finishing the first.

It turns out I was wrong. After launching multiple marketing strategies, I’ve realized that this particular program isn’t connecting with people.

In short, I’ve failed.

It’s not fun.

But I’m realizing it’s fine. Healthy. Maybe even a good thing.

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Ten years ago I sat in the Mexico City airport with a participant from one of the leadership development programs I coordinated at Cargill. While we waited for our flight back to Minneapolis, she shared that another participant had asked her, “How do you know how far you can go if you’ve never failed?”

I realized in that moment that I had never failed either (at least professionally!). And in the ensuing ten years I spent in corporate after that conversation, I never really failed. I wasn’t perfect, but my good was always good enough.

So I’ve never really known how far I can go.

Now is my opportunity. To embrace the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows and learn from them both. To LISTEN. To create my business from a combination of what comes from that listening as well as my personal knowledge, values, and purpose. To dream bigger than I ever have before. And to EXPECT failure along the way.

It won’t be easy. It will be often be uncomfortable. There will be tears. And also joy.

And it will be worth it.

Are you hiding in busy work?

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I make a to-do list everyday. Until a few months ago it was just one long list of everything I needed to get done that day, whether it was as simple as a quick email or as complex as creating a marketing plan.

I got most of the things done everyday and I felt pretty good about it.

And then I realized the 1 or 2 things that weren’t getting done each day were the things that would really propel my business forward. 

There are so many reasons to skip the big work – it often takes more time to do the bigger work, it needs more energy and headspace, demands higher creativity.

But there’s another reason. 

The big work was totally outside my comfort zone.

The big work involved putting myself out there, asking for what I want, and potentially facing rejection. It also brought up all sorts of inner critic imposter thoughts like “You’re being too salesy”. 

I was hiding in my little work. The busy work that makes me feel productive, but doesn’t actually move me in the direction of my big dreams and goals. 

And I didn’t even realize I was hiding. 

Now I make two to-do lists each day – one for big work and one for little work. This tiny shift has made a huge difference. When the big work is laid out so clearly it is impossible to hide. 

I want you to take an honest assessment. Are you hiding from your big work? Are you making yourself busy so that you can feel productive while safely tucked away in your comfort zone? 

Commit to doing your big work in 2019. Categorize your to-do list like I did or write down just one thing each day that will move your forward towards your big goals. 

Stop hiding from your dreams. 


P.S. If you want to stop hiding and start moving in the direction of your dreams, register for my live webinar this Friday, January 18 at noon central: The Five Steps To Master Doubt and Reclaim Your Confidence. Click here to register on Zoom. Just enter your name and email and you’ll get a confirmation with the link.

Is it time to leap?

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I ALWAYS wanted to be a redhead. I completely idolized Anne of Green Gables. And I think I fantasized about wandering out on the moor in Ireland, freckles catching the light and hair blazing in the sun.

When my hair went gray ridiculously early and I decided to dye it, I slowly started to ask the stylist to “add more warmth” – AKA, please make it redder without actually taking the leap and making it REALLY RED.

After a few years of baby steps, one day I decided to take bold action. I bought a bottle of Garnier’s Medium Golden Brown Mahogany and 45 minutes later I was a REAL REDHEAD. This was no halfway – I had finally taken the leap that I knew was inside of me for years.

And it was PERFECT.

More than perfect. It was authentic. Like what I saw on the outside was finally aligned with who I was on the inside.

I felt like more of myself than I ever did as a brunette.

Sometimes taking incremental steps in the answer.

But sometimes you need to leap into the person you really are.

To finally listen to your true inner voice that has been whispering at you for years.

To make the decision and just GO FOR IT.

What leap do you need to take?

 

Heather Whelpley is a speaker and coach that works with women to master doubt, own their brilliance, and step into the career and life they desire. Click here to learn more. 

Stop “Should-ing” All Over Yourself

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Last spring I was invited to take a day of no obligation.

A day when I followed exactly what my heart and body told me to do.

A day to unhook from all the “shoulds” in my life and just BE.

It was kind of amazing.

And also completely eye-opening to see how much I followed the “should”.

One situation in particular still sticks with me. I completed a hiking loop in a park and immediately thought, “I have time, I should do another loop.”

But then I caught myself. Did I actually WANT to do another loop?

The answer was a clear NO.

I had enjoyed my hour of hiking and it was time to be done.

I realized that I have a big “should” around exercise – mainly that more is always better. That belief has led me in the past to exercise when I was sick or exhausted and to punish myself for overeating by trying to burn all the calories that I had consumed.

I thought I had put these beliefs behind me. That I exercised for my health and because it felt good.

And yet – this SHOULD to do another hiking loop just to get more exercise was my automatic thought.

It was only because I had taken this purposeful day of no obligation that I paused to question my thoughts.

What “shoulds” are you holding onto?

Do you stop yourself from rocking the boat because you SHOULD be the nice girl?

Are you staying in a job because you SHOULD like it?

Do you say yes every time someone asks for your help because you feel like you SHOULD, even if you’re already completely overloaded?

Instead of following your “shoulds” start asking yourself what you really want.

Do you want to speak your mind even if it means rocking the boat?

Is your job actually rewarding and fulfilling?

Do you want to say no without an excuse or apology?

A life of should is not happy. It is overwhelming, stressful, and misaligned to our values.

Following what we actually want is engaging and fun. It can also be hard – but in a good way! The way that makes us learn and grow. And it’s always satisfying. Because it’s authentic and real. Because it’s us showing up exactly as we are.

So start asking what you really want. And stop shoulding all over yourself.

 

Heather Whelpley is a speaker and coach that works with women to master doubt, own their brilliance, and step into the career and life they desire. Click here to learn more. 

How to say no to things you really want to do

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There are articles and blog posts all the time about saying no to the things you don’t actually want to do.

That’s never been a big issue for me.

My problem is saying no to the things that I really, legitimately WANT to do. Because I want to do everything! I want to be involved. I love to learn. I enjoy being out in the world doing things. I’m always the first one to say to a new adventure.

But I can’t do it all.

So I have to say no – even to things I really want to do.

This realization came to me a few years ago when I said yes to a fantastic project – leading mentoring for the Cargill Global Scholars Program. I was tasked with creating the structure and support for over 50 university students from across the globe that would be paired with Cargill employees as mentors. Amazing, right? I thought so too.

So I said yes without even pausing to think.

I said yes in the same month that I returned from my expat assignment in Australia and started a new job at Cargill that would require a huge amount of learning. I said yes when I was in the midst of moving back into my condo. I said yes when I was rebuilding friendships that I had been absent from for a year and a half.

I spent at least four hours a week on this project for the next year. Parts of it were amazing. It was completely aligned to my values. I loved seeing the connections made between students and their mentors. I felt awesome when the students came from Brazil, China, Russia, India, and the US to Minnesota for a leadership seminar and I got to meet them and hear what they were learning from the program.

But I still should have said no.

What I realized in the midst of all this is that when you say yes to something, you’re always saying no to something else.

The challenge is that the choices aren’t usually stacked next to each, so it doesn’t look like you’re choosing between things. But you are.

When I said yes to this amazing project, I said no to leaving the office at a reasonable hour each day. I said no evenings and weekends free from work. I said no to really enjoying all my social activities because, even though I went out with my friends, my energy wasn’t always there to fully engage.

In short, I was overwhelmed, overworked, and exhausted.

So I started to pause before I said yes to new offers. I told people that I needed to think about it and would get back to them instead of responding with a yes or no in the moment. I asked myself “What am I saying no to if I say yes to this?”

I’ll admit, I still want to be involved in everything. I consistently have to remind myself that I can’t do it all – that I have to say no even when I want to say yes. It’s a practice.

But it’s a practice with massive rewards. I have more time and energy for my true yeses. I can dig in deep with them and contribute more of myself. I also get more sleep and feel less stress and overwhelm.

What do you want to say no to this week?

 

Heather Whelpley is a speaker and coach that works with women to master doubt, own their brilliance, and step into the career and life they desire. Click here to learn more. 

Weeding Our Beliefs

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What do you believe?

It’s a big question.

We hold beliefs about everything – the job we’re supposed to be in, how attractive we are, whether we’re good at painting, running, math, or being a leader. Our beliefs affect how we work, learn, love, and live.

I inadvertently began a deep dive into my own beliefs in January during a discussion on spirituality with Andy, a friend (and fellow coach!) I had recently met. I referenced my past Christian upbringing when describing the connection I felt in the world by saying, “I guess that’s what some people would call the Holy Spirit.”

Andy’s response?

“You can call it whatever you want.”

It wasn’t exactly a spiritual awakening – more like a spiritual startling. I had to pause for moment to let it sink in.

He was right. This was my belief. I could call it whatever I wanted.

I continued examining my beliefs in preparation for a panel discussion on generations and faith at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in February, the church where I grew up and worked for many years. During a meeting ahead of the panel, someone mentioned they didn’t understand what it meant to be spiritual and not religious. So I decided to share my perspective during the event.

In front of 200 people.

In the same room where I had been confirmed 23 years earlier.

The irony and impact of the moment hit me about an hour before I went on stage. A million thoughts went through my head. Would people be disappointed in me? Would they look at me like I was crazy when I described spirituality as being in the flow and feeling like I was stepping into the river of the universe?

Maybe. But I did it anyway.

It was a true adult moment. I stood on a stage with a microphone and put a stake in the ground on my beliefs. And I called them what I wanted; what I chose.

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Last Thursday I attended a workshop on creating happiness. The facilitators told us that we are constantly cultivating our beliefs – and it’s our job to weed out the beliefs that no longer serve us.

Think for a moment….

Are you in a job today because of a belief you held at nineteen that no longer applies?

Do you avoid art classes or public speaking or asking someone out on a date because somewhere along the line you believed you weren’t good enough?

How many of your beliefs were given to you by your parents? Your teachers? A former boyfriend, coach, or manager?

Do those beliefs still serve you?

Or is it time to do some weeding?

 

Heather Whelpley is a writer, photographer, and coach that works with clients to create meaningful careers and fulfill their own potential. See her home page to learn more. She is also the host of Destination Soul Shine, a community dedicated to nourishing your soul and making your spirit shine. Like Destination Soul Shine on Facebook or follow us on Instagram @destinationsoulshine for resources to inspire you to live a meaningful, creative life. 

Taking Risks

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This morning at The Business Women’s Circle I facilitate we discussed women, confidence, and all the weird and unexpected ways that lower confidence shows up, like perfectionism and feeling like an imposter. One of the biggest outcomes is not taking risks.

We tend to think of all the potential downsides to taking a risk. Every single little thing that could go possibly go wrong. But what about the risk of doing nothing at all?

Pause for a second. Think about your life. If you’re still in the same place five years from will you be happy?

If the answer is yes – awesome! Keep going forward, growing and evolving!

If the answer is no – then ask yourself again – what is the real risk of doing nothing?

The real risk is (not) having a job you really love, (not) contributing your awesomeness to the world, (not) creating from your heart – (not) being the full and amazing person that you are. Those are the real risks. What do you choose?

 

Heather Whelpley is a writer, photographer, and coach that works with clients to create meaningful careers and fulfill their own potential. See her home page to learn more. She is also the host of Destination Soul Shine, a community dedicated to nourishing your soul and making your spirit shine. Like Destination Soul Shine on Facebook or follow us on Instagram@destinationsoulshine for resources to inspire you to live a meaningful, healthy, creative life. 

Changing Your Path

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Last week I decided to give up something I really wanted to do – lead a group coaching program. The design was nearly complete and I was excited to get started. The problem? I couldn’t find 3 people for the pilot that were both interested in a group program and available at the same time each week for 12 weeks in a row. It was even hard for my schedule and I was the one leading it!

So I let it go.

I was disappointed. And instantly relieved. The stress I had been feeling melted away.

The same day I decided to stop the group program I confirmed two new clients. I had three more referrals and a request to write a proposal for a women’s coaching and development program by the end of the week.

It was like the universe knew I had space and energy and it rushed in to fill it up with amazing possibilities.

We hear a lot of messages about persistence and determination when we are growing up. Stick to the path! Keep on keeping on! Perseverance is the key to success! And there is a time to hold onto your dreams with both hands and scrape your way forward.

But there’s also a time to pause, honestly ask ourselves what isn’t working, and choose a better way.

This is especially true when it comes to our careers. I hear clients say:

I’ve been on this path for 10 years and the future is laid out in front of me. But I’m not sure I want to be on this path anymore.

My managers have always told me I have potential and will be a great leader. What if I want to use my potential in a different way?

I want to try something else, but I’m afraid I’ll disappoint everyone.

Choosing a different path is not failure. It is an opportunity to create the possibility for something great.

Take the first step towards a future that you really want. Start exploring the options. Talk to new people. Reflect on what’s most important to you.

And if you want help on the journey, I work with clients that are feeling stuck in their career. We’ll work together to figure out what you really want and build a plan to create a meaningful career.

The path isn’t laid out in front of you – you create the path as you walk forward. It’s your move.

 

Heather Whelpley is a speaker and coach that works with women to combat self-doubt, own their brilliance, and step into the career and life they desire. Click here to learn more.