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.

Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to master doubt and imposter syndrome and own their brilliance. Learn more about her coaching services here.

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.

Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to master doubt and imposter syndrome and own their brilliance. Learn more about her coaching services here.

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.

Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to master doubt and imposter syndrome and own their brilliance. Learn more about her coaching services here.

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. 


Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to master doubt and imposter syndrome and own their brilliance. Learn more about her coaching services here.

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 coach and speaker that works with women to master doubt and imposter syndrome and own their brilliance. Learn more about her coaching services here.

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 coach and speaker that works with women to master doubt and imposter syndrome and own their brilliance. Learn more about her coaching services here.

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. 

My #1 Priority in Business (and Life)

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My number one priority as an entrepreneur? Rest.

Yes, rest.

But aren’t new entrepreneurs supposed to be all about the hustle?

I don’t think so. In fact, I hate the word hustle. Hustling feels rushed and jittery. Like I’m running from one thing to the next without time to pause and figure out if what I’m doing actually makes sense.

That’s not the way I want to build my business. It’s not the way I want to live my life.

I want to do what is meaningful and will have the biggest impact for my clients. Sustain the important relationships in my life. Take risks and create new things to bring into the world.

That work takes focus.

Focus requires energy.

Energy demands rest.

How do I renew? Sleep is the most critical. I need at least eight hours a night. Sometimes nine. Most days I take a short nap or meditate for 15 minutes in the afternoon. And there are evenings when I collapse on the couch and watch four episodes of Mozart in the Jungle or a bad Hallmark movie and that fills my tank as well.

I’m not perfect. There are weeks when I go to bed too late or push through back-to-back days without taking a breath.

And then I pay for it.

I pay for it with my creativity and productivity. With my ability to listen deeply. With my focus and motivation to tackle the important work.

Avoid the hustle. Rest, renew, and get the good work done.

 

Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to master doubt and imposter syndrome and own their brilliance. Learn more about her coaching services here.

Walk Boldly Into This Season

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Last week I received an email from my cousin Kelsey with the message, “I think you’ll be blessed for your boldness in the season you’re walking into.” Now that is a set of beautiful words! Blessed. Boldness. Season. Walking into. I’ve shared this sentence with multiple people and each person has derived their own meaning from it, just as I imagine you are now thinking about what it means for you in this season of your life. Here are my thoughts.

Blessed

I equate blessed with gratitude. Living blessed is shifting from a mindset of scarcity to abundance. Choosing to focus on what I have in my life instead of what is missing. Looking for evidence of beauty, belonging, and love. Taking the moments to savor joy, sink into the feeling, and imprint it in my mind. Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast said “It’s not joy that makes us grateful, but gratitude that makes us joyful.” Create the space for gratitude and you will be blessed.

Boldness

One of my favorite quotes and a life motto is “If you ask me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” (Emile Zola). This is my definition of boldness – life out loud. Boldness is not a lack of fear. It is walking forward with the fear. Bringing forth the courage held deep in our hearts to follow what we are called to do.

Season

Green grass and flowers are a long way off in Minnesota, but we have turned the corner on winter. The days are getting longer. There are no subzero temperatures in the extended forecast. As the Earth transitions, so do we. There are seasons of rest and renewal and seasons of flurry and change. I am in a season of learning and growth, which is, inevitably, also a season of vulnerability. Every day I become aware of something I don’t know and skills I need to build. I am constantly reflecting on how I want to show up in the world, the relationships I want to create, and how I will generate impact with my life.

Walking Into

Dr. Michael Bernard Beckworth said on a recent SuperSoul Conversations podcast with Oprah, “Pain pushes until the vision pulls.” Pain can get us started on a new path. Sometimes it drags us kicking and screaming. And then, one day, we see the vision ahead and suddenly we are walking into the vision instead of running away from the pain. We actively move ourselves forward, taking steps into the life we desire.

Lay down your path of gratitude and walk boldly into this season, my friends.

 

Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to master doubt and imposter syndrome and own their brilliance. Learn more about her coaching services here.

 

Aligning Your Human Being and Human Doing

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When I graduated from college I had no intention of entering the traditional workforce. I taught environmental education, guided camping trips with teenagers, and led semesters abroad with gap year students. I filled any downtime in employment with substitute teaching. A desire for roots and community brought me back to Minnesota for grad school. I applied for a summer internship at Cargill and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I decided to stay. (And they decided to keep me!)

I look back at the last 10 years of my career with incredible gratitude. I still can’t believe some of the experiences I’ve had. My colleagues taught – and continue to teach – me lessons about courage, creativity, leadership development, coaching, and authenticity. I discovered that curiosity and listening are the keys to engaging and building trust with anyone, from a union leader in the middle of Ohio to an executive in Ecuador. I learned how to be vulnerable to give others the permission to learn and grow. I am here today because of these lessons.

Even through these amazing experiences, I always wondered if a full-time role in corporate America was the best place for me. Many of you have been reading my blog and know that I started to listen to that voice and seriously entertain the idea of entrepreneurship about a year ago. After much exploration and reflection, I put in my notice at work in July, went part-time in October, and my last day is Thursday.

Although I never felt like my life was particularly out of alignment, I have become increasingly aware over the past several months that I am now living in alignment. I am energized and inspired. I have never experienced this level of creativity. Amazing people are entering my life. The changing structure of my days fits my personality. The actual work I am doing and developing is aligned to my values, my skills, and the impact that I want to have. I am serving with my whole self. Life feels full of possibilities. It’s not easy, but it’s right.

My former leader at Cargill recently started a project called Significance Matters. On the website she and her husband have two different bios – their human doing bios and human being bios. Alignment is a collision between the human being and human doing. Instead of my being and doing existing separately or bumping into each other only occasionally, they are becoming one. This is the difference I feel.

 

What about you?

Most of the time we aren’t in vast misalignment. We tend to notice when our integrity is crossed or values blatantly violated. Subtle misalignment is harder to recognize and easy to ignore. It’s the boiled frog metaphor – if you drop a frog in boiling water it will leap out. But if you place a frog in cool water and slowly raise the temperature, it will boil to death without ever leaving the pot.

Are you in a pot with the temperature rising so slowly you don’t notice?

Are you like me? Generally happy with your life, but feeling like something is just a little off?

Pay attention to those sensations that tell you something is awry. Lean into the feeling. Get curious about it. Ask yourself where it is coming from. Do your best to withhold expectations or judgment from the response.

Once you recognize where you are out of alignment, you can make adjustments. Sometimes a big change is needed. Often more exploration. But just a tweak here and there will also help bring your human being and human doing closer together.

 

Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to master doubt and imposter syndrome and own their brilliance. Learn more about her coaching services here.