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Lessons From An Accidental Entrepreneur
By Joan Friedlander

Describe how your life and career have shifted in the past month as a result of being coached:

"What is amazing to me is the total mind shift of having to work "8 hours" vs. doing what it takes to create more business. It has helped me to get rid of "busy" work and do only valuable tasks. It has taken a lot of guilt away with regard to working from home (being home)."

Susan, Solo-Entrepreneur (name changed to protect client confidentiality) Mortgage Broker

What a great discovery! Can't you imagine a new future for this woman, one where success is not synonymous with busy-ness and exhaustion?

When I started working with Susan a couple of months ago, we started with the Work Less, Make More (Registered) program (1). Via a raffle, she won a month of free coaching at a business expo. Not even realizing what she won until our first conversation, she nonetheless made full use of the program and all that coaching had to offer (an important ingredient in her success). We are just now completing her second month of coaching.

Susan is in business for herself, but did not set out to be an entrepreneur. She stumbled into entrepreneurship upon returning to work after a major health challenge, and finding herself essentially out of a job.

Having been born, raised and groomed in the work ethic of the last century, she was operating in her business as if she were not in charge of her time. Since beginning our work together, Susan has probably uncovered at least 10 beliefs and rules she has about what it takes to be successful in business, and "the way things are done." She brings another other important quality to this process. Every time she discovers a new belief, she quickly becomes the observer (getting just enough distance from the belief to observe it). While being under the influence of that deep-seated belief, she nonetheless recognizes it as just that, a belief. And like the explorer, she is then willing to go into uncharted territory and try new paths.

Most of us are soldiers in the army of business. Even when we do strike out on our own, deliberately seeking to set new rules and have greater control of our lives, our time and our work, we nonetheless find ourselves trapped by old paradigms and rules for success.

For example, when asked to create their vision of the ideal work week (see questions from last issue of Business Your Way), 80 percent of the people I have worked with say they would like to work 6 hours a day, 4 days a week. Then, when it comes to doing what it takes to change their working habits, most succumb to the rules, not even recognizing what's happening. And, if they do recognize what's driving our behavior, the task of challenging our assumptions is daunting.

Most people have old beliefs and notions about success that cripple any attempt to truly stop working when the work is done. We talk a lot about abundance. I think it might be useful to talk about enough. Enough says, to me, I've done what's really important and now I can stop. To quote Sarah and Paul Edwards, authors of The Practical Dreamer's Handbook (2)

Discovering what we need to do to fulfill our desires is more like going on a treasure hunt than taking a motor trip. But just how do we recognize our instincts, that inner sense of knowing, the ability to discern what is true and right and wrong for us?

This is perhaps the heart of wisdom: the ability to sort out the cacophony of voices in our heads so that we can listen to our inner truth. (That is the mission and the journey we undertake when we strive to live and work our way.)

Or, from Bryan Robinson, author of Overdoing It (3): "As we eliminate overdoing it from our lives, we learn to listen with our hearts instead of our heads because this is how the intuitive self speaks to us and guides us."

As Susan said, when she focused on doing what it takes (enough), it eliminated the "busy" work and now she does only the valuable tasks. It seems she is learning to trust herself and has decided she can also trust the results will follow. Can't you just sense the increased confidence with which she now chooses to spend her time? She is no longer justifying her existence. To further quote Susan, "it allows me to be relaxed and be me."

The drive behind the power of our beliefs and rules is, of course, our fears about our ability to succeed, our justification for our being, or any concern we have about what others may think of us. Let's be serious about this. What would you think of someone who only works 6 hours a day, 4 days a week? Not sure, then try this. What do you think of those adults you see out in the middle of the day hanging out in casual clothing, "doing nothing?" Whatever your thoughts about "these people" is ultimately what will keep you busy. Because as much as you might desire a lifestyle that would include this kind of leisure, you are even more concerned about what others might say about YOU.

Let's say you don't have negative thoughts about "those people." Then what's stopping you from this kind of schedule? What do you believe, or know, that tells you this isn't really possible - at least if you want to make the kind of money you want to make? Or, if your work is more realistically done in 8 hours a day, 4-and-a-half days a week, what's stopping your from that? The answer lies in your "yeah, buts..."


(1) "Work Less, Make More" by Jennifer White, Copyright 1998, 1999, John Wiley and Sons.

From Work Less, Make More, pages 108-109.

"Few of us graduate to a place in life where we truly make our own choices. Most of us are bound by what we've been told is the truth, the shoulds in our lives. What about your own truth? What I want you to do is to design your life around what you want to do. You have the luxury of designing your life exactly as you want it, now as your parents had it, not like others live theirs."

(2) "The Practical Dreamer's Handbook" by Paul and Sarah Edwards, Copyright 2000, Penguin Putnam, Inc.

(3) "Overdoing It" by Bryan E. Robinson, PhD., Copyright 1993, Health Communications. Out of Print (try your library)

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Joan Friedlander, Copyright June, 2009

Joan Friedlander is the Entrepreneur's Success Coach. Her coaching company, Lifework Business Partners, specializes in working with new and emerging solo-entrepreneurs, small business owners and independent professionals. She has developed a 7-point coaching program to empower people to achieve business success without sacrificing their other interests, commitments and priorities., or call, 714-558-1777

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