The first year of entrepreneurship I. – Welcome to the new reality

“When you first recognize that you are afraid of changes, you have really become old.”  This sentence burnt into my mind. It was also there when in one day, being 40+ and female in a masculine industry, living in a foreign country, decided to turn around and leave my fancy, well-paid and spectacular job (with all its nice and not so nice particulars) behind. 

It was a long journey, but now I have the first year of entrepreneurship behind me. The fact that I am writing about it and use present tense, also implies that the story is far from the end… It is also true that this year behind me was necessary to still be here on the scene and to be determined to go on…

One year has passed since the registration of the company. Like all your birthdays since your 40th, you make some reflections and try to evaluate what has been achieved. Or at least done. Basically, you do it for your colleagues, as a part of their motivation scheme, but – if you are honest – you need it even more. For different reasons though. Your perfectionist self, inside, is just about to start to respond: “not so m….” – but you immediately silence it. You do, because – honestly – that would not sound really true…

It is not what you wanted … or …?

You may be right. It is not what you wanted, or not what you phrased for yourself as an objective. Too bad. It is your first thought, but then you realize that you are not feeling bad at all. What is it then? Did you lose your clarity, did you misjudge something? No, you did not. You are just about gaining it back and start seeing the world around you differently. Well. You wanted something different, did not you?

As was mentioned in ‘Change your life, otherwise someone else might change it …’, you started to see your corporate life as a series of clichés, and you felt like being trapped. Just the decision made, to quit this routine and leave that world behind, have made you happy and feel excited. And enthusiastic. As long as you have felt the difference.

Life is a very persistent organizer though, and does not give a damn to your visions, determinations and your beliefs. It does not respect your needs and desires, such as your circumstances and fears. It is still full of the old routines, clichés and you can easily find yourself in a hamster’s mill. Even if in a different one. So, is that it? You simply changed the old hamster’s mill to another one? Not exactly.

The essence of the change is in you. Ha, ha, ha … – that sounds a common place. Although, common places have emerged somehow, so they might have something essential behind them. So, it is in you. YOU, yourself. You found yourself in a new reality, which reminds you of the old one, but with a fundamental difference…

It is you in the middle

You. In the middle. Be honest: you are not used to it. What you are used to is to be one in a million of similar corporate persons, benchmarked to the average, and then, when seen as outstanding, to be marked as a simple outlier. To be a team-player, and then, when contributing, to be accused by not being one. Not to be irreplaceable, and when you are gone, to be replaced again and again by different people, who – of course are better than you, but – cannot deliver in line with the expectations. You learn how to deal with it, how to use it and how to avoid it. You invest a lot of energy to keep not only your personal integrity but also your internal motivation to continue. In a more difficult case, to keep your colleagues – who you are responsible for – motivated, as well.

Now, the whole is gone, and you are there as the one who is expected to be the source of everything. Financial resources, ideas, motivation, inspiration, culture, visions, and not to forget the knowledge base. Besides being the source, you are also the subject of everything. Responsibilities, risks, obligations, expectations and tasks. Furthermore, you are the target…

You are used to the fights, debates, arguments, and a lot more, so simply deliver regardless of the circumstances. The good old routines kicks in… And you are thinking over the nights about where has the so desired freedom gone… You feel deeper disappointments than ever, deeper fears than ever, deeper ambiguity than ever, etc. … You slowly start to recognize that yes, your freedom is there. Nobody tells you what is right and wrong. It first feels like loneliness, but it is the freedom itself. Freedom is good, but not easy to live with. Once you have achieved…

It is what you wanted, together with what you needed

You are just partly right. You achieved your freedom. Surely. But you also received the consequential complexity of it, what you have to be grateful for. It gave you the opportunity to structure your freedom instead of the whole resulting in a chaos … and then … regret…

You realize that, yes, it is really you where the change happened. Your mindset, your approach and your perception changed. All in parallel to your circumstances and in line with the new reality of yours. Moreover, a new dynamics appeared in the relationship with your circumstances: you make an impact thanks to your internal change, and you become open for adjustments required by your new reality.

However, it does not mean that everything is nice, simple and full of success. It just means that you seem to have all the skills and capabilities, or at least the ability to acquire and maintain them when necessary, to go on. To go on to follow your vision. Which have not changed. Because there has been no reason to change… You tend to forget that not only your disappointments, fears and ambiguity has become deeper, but also the feeling of success, appreciation and thankfulness from your customers…

This is an achievement itself. Does not match perfectly your secret key performance indicators and may not be rewarded as is used to be according to the old clichés of your old corporate life. But who cares? It is you, who does. As you are, or more accurately, you have to be the source, the subject and the target. You set the rules and it is your responsibility to do it right…

… and your responsibility of how your environment perceives it …

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