We often retreat after something has apparently failed in our business, beating ourselves up over something that didn’t go as well as we’d hoped it would, like a launch, or a promotional period. We hoped it would lead to increased sales during / at the end and it seems like it hasn’t so we’ve failed.
I want to look more closely at what’s specifically happening so we can understand how gentleness helps your ability to be resilient in your business, to be present for your audience and to launch again with better results or even despite the results themselves.
But why do we beat ourselves up so much if something didn’t go our way?
First because we wanted to make more money. Simple as that. We hoped we would through the increased activity, by showing up and being out there more. We possibly got vulnerable and said things we felt we hadn’t said before and we spent more time showing up too. This took effort, and whilst it was enjoyable, we hoped it would reap rewards and they appear to not have come (yet). Our bottom line isn’t where we wanted it to be with the increased activity.
Second, we wanted to increase our impact -support either more people or exactly the right people we’ve realised we can now help – perhaps some people have bought from you but not quite the right people, and not a huge number. That’s sad because we know we have great outcomes and can support these people very well.
Third, in that increased activity, we’ve admitted we wanted something – the money, the exposure, the success, and that’s hard to admit at times but having gotten there it is then galling to think it hasn’t paid off (yet).
Fourth, it’s embarrassing. We’ve been present, talking about the service/ product we’re selling and we’d like to report great results – even if not publicly, privately to our partner and friends so we can feel proud and they of us too.
Yet, in the business where we’re more gentle with ourselves a few things happen here instead.
By the way, in many scenarios, ‘gentle’ can be substituted or replaced with a number of other words that will do the job just as well, hence why I refer to a few concepts along the line of ‘gentle business’ and not just always the word or phrase itself.
If we become kinder to ourselves in the scenario I’ve described, some of the outcomes change.
First, we likely still want to make that money – indeed, being more kind and gentle to ourselves often helps us realise we can access more money with ease rather than more money with stress. In this case too, we reflect on that money target more calmly, with more objectivity and without making the lack of hitting the target all about focusing on our apparent failure to reach it. We can de-personalise the experience and look at it more rationally, because we are in a state (body and mind) that’s allowing us to do so with different energy. A more confident energy, even, despite not having hit the target.
Here we might argue though that someone who is desperate, or is just so damn fed up of not reaching their monetary targets, has no reason to see how being kinder and more gentle to themselves will help them. I’d even argue the phrase feels patronising and annoying at this point, because it’s not just going to magic up the money they really want and might very much need for important reasons (by the way – these are all subjective too – no-one can tell what anothers’ important reason should be, nor how to define ‘desperate’).
But, it might be that gentle business is not an appropriate goal for this person at this precise moment. Indeed I would feel wrong suggesting everyone should want it and should want their mind to be turned towards it. A gentle business is appropriate for some for some times in their business life, not for everyone all the time. We need a different approach to achieving a gentle business when people are in different states and needs.
Yet for anyone open to it, in being able to reflect on the money achieved, and the apparently missed target, with calm and rational thinking we often end up seeing different things: how much money we did make in different ways e.g. the enquiries that appeared later down the line because of the presence we had for a different launch. The referrals we got from connections because they saw us, and didn’t want to buy what we were selling but wanted support in another way (which we still offer, just at a different time or price point). The additional connections which led to other offers that led to an event speaking gig that lead to 4 1-2-1 clients in one afternoon 3 months later, as opposed to directly from the launch. Equally, then, this means we’re in a receiving mode – enabling a re-working of the money expectation within the target timeframe and expanding it to fit the reality of the equally positive monetary outcomes that occurred – just differently to how we thought (which perhaps also raises the point about how we need be able to be flexible as an entrepreneur and open to change – but that’s for another, equally gentle business related post).
Second – how can we expect to make an impact if we can’t reach many people? Here we send ourselves into a spiral about what our purpose really IS if it’s not this. We were so clear, so sure, this would work but it’s not worked so we’ve got to figure out something different. And we have to lose sight of the powerful impact we wanted and knew we could have with helping more people or help the right people now. Yet, being more gentle on our sense of worth – we can see the bigger picture. We can view this as an obstacle, an event, a specific moment. None of these make up the overall impact we’re going to have in the end, it’s just a moment in time where we can’t yet reached it. Plus we now see how we are making an impact – the messages of support and love that are reaching people, the clients we are seeing, the people reporting outcomes now and years down the line, the referrals yet to come our way that we realise were coming, just later.
Third, in reference to the fact that we’ve admitted we want something, spent time going for it and didn’t get an outcome we hoped for, without self compassion we can be in an endless loop of beating ourselves up; how crap we are, and how we obviously shouldn’t be trying to lead in this work if we can’t even have the results as a leader, and how we’ve been doing this too long for this to fail now. Yet with self-compassion, this becomes something we are able to see others feel and go through too. Since one of the components of self compassion is to understand that we’re not alone in the world and difficult things are experienced by others at all times. To be clear, this isn’t an invitation for negative comparison, where we might be tempted to think of someone worse off than us and say ‘well it’s not as bad as them’. More so, this is about sharing common humanity; an understanding that we are all in the world together. Sometimes this feels or can take wild thinking, since there is clearly not equality in the world, communities and groups. But the concept, and the meditation of it ie the belief and feeling, that we are more than one than separate, can bring comfort to us when we feel strung out and stressed and like we’ve ‘failed’. This, in turn, can lead us to very positive, resilient thinking; I can do this again just differently next time; I’m still a leader without this outcome, and so on.
Fourth, in reference to the fact that it’s embarrassing; we can take gentleness here to mean ease – noticing an acceptance with the dis-ease of embarrassment; being able to hold it and judge it less, and judge ourselves less with it. Asking ourselves how to build up resilience to deal with embarrassment, before jumping to a conclusion about what ‘everyone’ has seen and thinks. Easing up on ourselves here provides space for rational thought and reflection and then action, which in turn often allows review of the ACTUAL facts, and the ability to learn and move forwards swiftly, rather than being caught in a cycle of self-fulfilling doom about how bad we are at our business (and life, and relationship and, and, and…).
In this scenario – an apparently failed launch – we learn so much about the experience when we bring a gentleness to it – to ourselves, to the facts, to the feelings, to the planning, to the re-boot for next time and so forth.
So how do you get more kind, gentle, compassionate in a business world that requires hard edges and structure and deadlines?
The point really is that it’s not black or white. You can still have the hard edges, the deadlines, the structure, but WITH more kindness and compassion.
You can still have strict routines, that mean you get shit done, but with the sense of ease that it’s not pushing you to stress and overwhelm (a fine dance of a balance though, no doubt).
Also – achieving gentleness isn’t an end goal. It’s not actually something to be achieved. It’s just a constant practice of noticing, awareness, adjustment, testing, repeating.
So if you find yourself beating yourself up over a failed something – a launch, a sales post, a reach out, a missed target or opportunity you really wanted use this cycle approach to ease into it – it’s OK to want the money, it’s OK to want to grow, it’s OK to admit you’re embarrassed, it’s OK to want more again and still.
AND being kinder and more compassionate in how you approach yourself with those feelings, how you plan for the next promotion, how you ask for the sale, how you receive feedback, will mean you’re resilient to not just withstand and setbacks, but resilient and set up for wildly successful, profitable growth too.
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