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Just because I can …
The “I must do it myself” mindset is the fastest route to burnout, regardless of whether you run your own business or you head up your own department.
Surrounding yourself with an effective team is the best way to reconnect with why you started doing what you do in the first place. And I’m not talking just any team—I’m talking about being brave enough to build a team of people who:
- See things differently than you do.
- Have strengths you don’t.
- Are willing and able to disagree with you.
- Are people you’re not necessarily comfortable with.
- Are passionate and skilled in their area of expertise.
- You’re willing to trust.
- Are able to find the gold nugget in missteps.
- Are constantly striving to learn and grow.
- Have no use for blaming or drama!
When I started my business, I had the “I must do it all myself” mindset. I grew up in a family business and watched my mom work in the business all day creating amazing flower arrangements. After a long day at work, she’d sit at the dining room table all evening doing accounts payable, accounts receivable, ordering supplies, and managing staffing, marketing, and payroll. Within my parents’ business philosophy, there was no room for paying someone to do what they could do themselves. My mom took classes or taught herself everything that needed to be done from an operations perspective, but her talent and passion was for bringing others joy and comfort through the beauty of fresh flowers.
Over the nearly 40 years in the business she loved, I watched my mom get truly worn down. She had several bouts of cancer, knee problems, swollen ankles, and some depression. I was born the year she and my dad started the business, but my mom never missed a school event, a horse show, making a holiday special, baking a birthday cake from scratch, or hand sewing a costume or a prom dress (Ugh—I wished I could have purchased one. Really, Mom!). She had dinner on the table at 5:00 p.m. each night (meat, potato, vegetable, slice of white bread, glass of milk, and dessert).
What she did miss out on was getting enough rest, spending time with friends, eating healthfully, exercising, and traveling—all things she yearned for.
Initially I too started to wear myself down with the “if I can do it myself, I will” attitude modeled by my mother, until I started watching others who modeled the “if someone else can do it better, I will invite them onto my team so I can do what I love” attitude.
This was one of my biggest learning experiences about how to grow my business while maintaining my passion for the work I do. I learned to get someone else to do what drains me so I can do more of what I love (which also happens to be what people want to pay me for). I accept and appreciate that taking time to rest and recharge (also afforded by passing what I don’t love or am not good at to others) allows me to create fresh new offerings for my clients—something else I love to do!
So who is on my team? I’ve joined a business networking group (my sales team). I’ve found a solid CPA firm, and my daughter is doing my bookkeeping (my finance team). I’ve got a kick*ss editor who isn’t afraid to question me. I’ve got a virtual assistant who works the social media side, and I just brought on a marketing/branding consultant who is pushing me to look at things in whole new ways!
This is the second iteration of my team. The first iteration served me well and got me to where I am today. There were a few misses, and I had to practice (and get some coaching) on saying, “Thanks, but goodbye.” Each person on the first iteration of my team, for their own reasons or for my reasons, has transitioned to their next phase. Because old patterns and habits resurface every time we level up, with each departure I started to go to the “I can just do it myself for now” thought process. I could almost hear my mom’s voice in my head urging me to do exactly what didn’t serve her all that well. But then (again with some coaching) I reflected on what specifically got me where I am today: an effective team where each member does their job better than I do their job.
The very first person I brought on to help me was referred to me by someone I knew and trusted. I had no idea what she could do to help me, but when we met up to get to know each other a bit, I noticed that her appointment book and notes were very neat and organized, and I had a “I want some of that skill” feeling in my gut. We decided to do a second meeting to brainstorm ideas of how we might work together. She came to my office, and as we went through the session I became a curious listener and allowed her to tell me where she felt she could add value. My budget was slim, and I was nervous, but the first thing we hit upon was that she could just come a few times a week and file the stacks of papers on my desk.
My first thought was, “Yeah, but I can do that myself. Why would I pay someone?” I really had to kick the tires on that thought because I hadn’t filed a piece of paper in six months. The minutes I spent each day digging through piles of papers to find what I needed added up quickly to hours per week I could be directly working with clients or networking for more business. That was lost time, never to be recouped.
As many of you know, that extraordinary filer—Natalie—became a crucial part of my team and a direct contributor to my success. The few hours a week that Natalie spent organizing and filing papers revealed more ways she could help move my business forward. She began to take on registration for trainings, sending out all the forms and information needed by attendees. She handled all logistics. As she got to know me over time, Natalie easily gave me feedback when asked (and sometimes when not asked), and I respected her counsel.
I wish my mom had invested in a Natalie, for her own health and wellness, but also because I believe it would have allowed her to do more of what she loved.
I do business development and leadership coaching with many people. When I ask them what they most desire they say:
- I want more time for family and fun.
- I want to be my own boss.
- I want to do what I love.
As they achieve success, however, my clients quickly get bogged down with all the stuff they don’t like or aren’t good at. This is where building a solid team comes into play.
If you are considering how to get back to your passion and doing what you love, whether you have your own business or manage within a company or nonprofit, let me help you get started. There are some great shortcuts and best practices when it comes to building a team with ease!
“I can do it all myself” may be true, but it is also the shortest route to dissatisfaction, resentment, and burnout. Let’s get you back to the reasons you started doing what you love in the first place!