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.

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 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

Taking Risks

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.

Create a plan for your dreams

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It’s that time of year. Resolutions promised. Vision boards created. Business plans crafted. Performance and development goals set at work.

Do you want to make changes in 2018? Become a better version of yourself? Take a step (or leap!) towards achieving a dream? Instead of just thinking about change, make a plan to achieve it.

As most of you know, I am launching a business in coaching and facilitation while I write a book on getting the most out of development experiences at work. I am also writing a children’s book around mindfulness and emotional awareness – with ideas for more that I want to explore. I had general goals for my business and writing, but I knew that I needed to be much more specific so that it wouldn’t take years to get there – and so I would even know where “there” was! It is hard to hold yourself accountable to ambiguity.

In November I spent a few hours on the floor of my condo surrounded by index cards and Sharpies to make this happen. I followed a simple process to articulate my vision and then work backwards to goals and tasks that were easy to achieve. The only required materials are index cards and a pen – but feel free to add color and creativity as desired! Here you go!

Brainstorm your vision for 2018. Do you want to run a half marathon? Write a book? Start a side business? Write each idea on a separate note card.

If you are unsure of your vision, ask yourself:

  • What would a successful 2018 look like?
  • What could you change that would improve the quality of your life in 2018?
  • If you own a business, what targets will you achieve? What impact will you create for your clients?

Line up your goals. If you have more than 5, I recommend pairing them down. The fewer goals you have, the more likely you are to accomplish them. One goal complete is better than 10 goals left unfinished.

For each goal, ask yourself: What do I need to do by the end of June to accomplish this goal in 2018? Perhaps you run a 10K in preparation for the half marathon. Write 50,000 words of the novel you’re going to complete. Create a page on Etsy. Write each action on a notecard.

Now take it three months out – to the end of March 2018.

Repeat for the end of January 2018.

Finally, what do you need to do each week in January to reach your first set of milestones by the end of the month?

I had goals around writing my books, networking, building coaching clients and speaking engagements, and the logistics of running a business. I also included goal setting as a task to complete each weekend to make sure that I’m staying on track and adjusting my actions as needed throughout the year (or change my goals – that is also allowed!).

Finally, I got out masking tape and put them up on the wall – a visible reminder of my goals and what it will take to get there.

This process was a fantastic kick for me to get moving. It created structure, clarity, and process for goals that were too high-level and future focused to be attainable in the short-term. It motivated me to get moving TODAY. I hope it does the same for you! Cheers to achieving your dreams in 2018!

 

Heather Whelpley is a coach working with people that want to have a meaningful career and live up to their own potential, but feel stuck in their job. 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. 

A Letter To My Fear

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This past June was a month of uncertainty for me. I had internally decided to leave my job and become an entrepreneur, but I hadn’t actually pulled the trigger. About 90% of the time I was excited for the possibilities. The other 10% of the time I felt like someone had wrapped a corset around my lungs and pulled the strings tight. I questioned the sanity of my decision to leave my safe, steady job and pursue a path that could lead to failure. After all, I hadn’t actually quit my job. I could still change my mind.

But in my heart I knew that I couldn’t change my mind. I was already on this path. I was moving ahead and fear was just going to be part of the journey.

I remembered reading a letter that Elizabeth Gilbert had written to her fear in Big Magic and I decided to do the same. I had no intention of sharing this publicly, but a colleague suggested that it might help others to manage their fear.

It’s taken me five months to get the courage to share the letter. I feel vulnerable just typing this introduction. But I also believe that vulnerability is the key to growth, so here it is:

Heather – You are becoming the person that you want to be. Stepping fully into yourself. Expressing what you have to offer to the world. You are taking the time to design life on your own terms and release the expectations you have created for yourself or others have impressed upon you over many years. Heather, you are creativity, and when you reach into that creativity and act from your heart without ego, your light is unstoppable.

 And, Heather, you know that stepping into the light can be scary. Light exposes flaws, makes it harder to hide when things go poorly, all eyes on you. But remember when this fear washes over you and you feel vulnerable to the eyes of the world – a life in the light is also warm. It is open, illuminating, and free. It embraces your beauty and also your imperfections knowing that’s what makes you real. You’ve known for a long time that perfection is unattainable – it’s now time to act on that knowledge.

But the most important thing to remember, Heather, is that a life in the light isn’t about you at all. It is the light you give to others that matters. And only by stepping into the light and bathing yourself in its radiance do you have light to give to others. Overflowing radiance. What might be possible with overflowing radiance?

So when the fear creeps in and sucks the breath from your lungs and the energy from your heart, take a deep breath and turn towards the light, towards the possibilities, inward to your creativity and outward in overflowing radiance.

I’ve read this letter countless times since I wrote it in June. Whenever I feel the fear edge in, this letter gives me the pep talk I need to move forward with confidence. The fear doesn’t disappear entirely – and I wouldn’t want it to. A little fear gives me a sense of urgency and pushes me forward – into the light, into my creativity, and outward in overflowing radiance.

 

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.

Growth mindset and fixed mindset: Which do you choose?

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As I thought about the research for my book on maximizing learning during development experiences, I immediately knew that I wanted to include something on growth mindset. The term kept popping up in Ted Talks, webinars, and articles and it seemed like a key to ongoing learning and success.

What is growth mindset?

In her book, Mindset: The new psychology of success, Carol Dweck writes, “growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies, and help from others.” In other words, if you believe you can get better, smarter, faster AND you put effort into it – then you will.

Fixed mindset, on the other hand, is a belief that your intelligence, gifts, character, creative ability, etc are fixed and cannot be improved. We are born with a certain amount of innate talent and we cannot develop past that point.

Why does growth mindset matter? 

Carol Dweck’s research repeatedly links growth mindset and continued growth and success throughout life. She provides examples of people that we now view as experts in their field, like Michael Jordan, Albert Einstein, and Jackson Pollack, that didn’t show promise early in their careers. It was practice, effort, and experimentation that led to success.

This concept doesn’t just apply to world-renowned individuals. Dweck shares stories of kids that are taught the growth mindset and suddenly say “You mean I don’t have to be dumb?” After this realization, test scores improved rapidly. Belief in their abilities created a new reality.

My story

I’ve always been a learner. I enjoyed going to school, read with a flashlight under my bedcovers, and collected pond water to examine under the microscope I got for Christmas. I started this book assuming that I had a growth mindset. But as I read I realized that while I do have a growth mindset in my intellectual ability, there are other areas of my life where a fixed mindset is alive and well.

There’s one area where I shifted from a growth mindset as child to a fixed mindset in middle school and then again to a growth mindset as an adult – creativity.

I’m guessing many of you will identify with my story. As a child I painted and drew to my heart’s content. I never thought about whether my art was “good”. That changed in middle school when art class suddenly had rules and grades. It was immediately clear that I was not good. Art went from being fun and playful to something I avoided for years.

As I grew older my fixed mindset around art broadened to general creativity. Despite the fact that I wrote poems and loved taking photographs, I did not view myself as creative. My mindset told me that I wasn’t good at drawing and painting and therefore I wasn’t a creative person.

My entire attitude towards creativity changed with one conversation nine years ago. I was working on a global leadership development program and I had just pitched an idea to my manager. She looked at me and said, “Heather, you’re always saying that you want to be creative. You just conceptualized an entirely new module for our program. That IS creativity.”

For years I had equated creativity with my perceived failure in seventh grade art class. Suddenly I realized that the root of the word creativity is CREATE – and I did that all the time. That shift opened a whole new world for me. New ideas came to me with more frequency and ease. I looked at my photography as art. I didn’t just write curriculum for our programs at work – I created them.

I also took this growth mindset with me when I started to write a few years ago. Instead of thinking that I was either naturally “good” or “bad” at writing, I adopted an attitude of learning and enjoyment. I took classes, was open to feedback, and didn’t take myself too seriously. Not only has the quality of my writing improved, I’ve also written in styles that I never considered. I even have two silly poems that I’d like to turn into children’s books! I never would have written them in my fixed mindset state.

Your story

Where do you have a fixed mindset in your life? It might show up as a hidden saboteur, the little voice in your head telling you that you’ll never be good at public speaking or math or running. It may emerge as fear of taking on a big project at work or applying for a promotion. It could even appear as a limiting belief around dating, parenting, or belonging.

“We’ve found that whatever mindset people have in a particular area will guide them in that area.” Yes, we are born with certain abilities. But, as Dweck writes, it is curiosity, challenge, and effort that feed our abilities and cause us to learn, grow, and eventually succeed.

What might be possible for you with that mindset?

 

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.

The Leap to Entrepreneurship

Torres del Paine, Chile

This week marks the official start to a major change in my life – the move from full-time corporate employee to entrepreneur. I say official because I started the transition months ago when I began seriously considering striking out on my own. But now it is real. Thursday is my last day as a full-time employee. Friday I leave for a month in Europe. When I return I’ll work part-time until February when I’m really on my own.

If you had asked me a year ago if I would be starting my own business I would have shaken my head. Despite coming from a line of entrepreneurs on my mom’s side of the family, I never considered being a small business owner. It seemed too risky, too unstable.

Today what seems risky is leaving all the ideas bubbling inside of me undeveloped. Risky to keep my creativity constrained. Risky to never take the chance to know what my life might be.

What am I going to do? Write a book on getting the most out of development experiences and times of change and learning in our lives. Seek out contract work while writing the book and build a business running leadership development programs, coaching, and doing speaking engagements.

It sounds so clear when I put it down in words. The reality feels more like the photo at the top of the page. I can see the path right in front of me. The destination in the background is visible, but not exact. The path forward fades quickly, the twists and turns unknown.

In many ways I have no idea what I’m doing. But I’ve never felt more sure that I’m headed in the right direction. The path will become visible as I continue to walk.

There are days when I’m terrified. Moments when the fear of failure and embracing the unknown induces a mild panic attack (more on that in a future blog post!). But excitement about the possibilities overpowers the fear every time.

I will be documenting my journey from employee to entrepreneur through this blog – the joys and successes along with the frustration, fear, and setbacks. I’ll start with a post or two during my trip to Europe over the next month.

I recently re-read the children’s book A Wrinkle in Time. In it, Mrs. Whatsit compares our lives to a sonnet saying, “You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.” Yesterday, colleagues gave me a journal for my trip.  In it they had written, “Live your poetry.”

Here I go, ready to write the sonnet and live my poetry.

 

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.