And how building a business comes with a lot of personal growth
Look back on your life right now; how many things now make total sense, but were pretty unpleasant or worse when you found yourself in the middle of it? Do you now see they really had to happen in order for you to become who you are? At the time you probably thought the world was falling apart, and you were terribly unhappy. And now? Everything is different, right? Although, no doubt you are again in a new situation that you want to change. It’s called life, it is normal, and most of us feel this way once or multiple times in our lives. Nothing is permanent, and we will constantly encounter obstacles on our journey. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t grow up.
Light cannot exist without darkness. We are here on earth to learn lessons. It’s a game, really; to get to the next level, we got to face various challenges, there are no short-cuts..
I lost my vintage furniture shop in a fire in 2016. My third ‘baby’, as I called it, and my first adventure as an entrepreneur. I had put my blood, sweat and tears into that creative project, and one early April morning, the whole store went up in flames. All that was left, was my name on the facade, as a sign that could not be touched. I felt numb, and while everyone around me showed their sympathy and support, I turned away from the pain, and pretended it ‘was just material’. I kept the facade up (ha! symbolism!), and moved on.
I could deal with this like I had dealt with everything else in life. I relied once again on my strength, and refused to feel vulnerable.
Looking back, this event carried so much meaning, and I didn’t see it at all at the time. Back then, I felt some grief but mainly exhaustion, and also an eagerness to quickly find something new, and not to dwell on the loss. I am an enneagram type 7, and if you are one too, you will recognise the characteristics of impatience and an unwillingness to sit with discomfort. That, and having an unlimited well of creativity. Just like other traumatic events in my life (two miscarriages and two complicated births), this was not one to brush under the carpet and just forget about. But I did.
Face your shadows and take responsibility
Looking back now, I understand entirely why I felt that way, but at the time I could not explain my strange avoiding behaviour, and it was like my tough alter ego had taken over to deal with the matter. Post traumatic stress? Perhaps. I had behaved similarly after the losses of my pregnancies and the awful births I had endured. And then another ‘baby’ died: my business. But it took some time before I saw the connection, and the lesson I had to learn to become who I am today.
I kept escaping and distracting myself in more creative projects, work, and social commitments, and thought I had got over them.
But big events and recurring issues in your life cannot be ignored. They will forever haunt you, until you are willing to face them, and bring them into the light. Trauma will reappear in different shapes and forms, until you finally get the message, and change. Whether they are painful events like mine, toxic relationships, or constant setbacks in your career, there really is no escape.
You cannot blame the outside world; you have to look at your own behaviour and mindset, and take full responsibility if you want something different for yourself. What you focus on will grow. What you give out in vibes, you attract.
Stuffing down the pain and keeping up appearances
If you don’t look inwards to find out why these things keep happening, you will prevent the bigger and beautiful things that are meant for you, from coming to fruition. This is exactly what happened to me. I thought I had everything sorted in life, and that I knew who I was, but I only knew half. I had to fall apart before seeing it.
After turning 40, having had two children, and just having accomplished an emigration to Spain as a family, it all started to crumble. Up to then, my strength and resilience had always been my badges of honour, and the things that pulled me through any hurdle in life. My confidence, strength, and pro-active personality, however, were just expressions of my outward, male energy. There was a huge part missing. It was time to go inward, and deal with the pain, sadness, setbacks, vulnerability, and grief that I had stuffed down safely into my body over the years. My feminine energy was calling me out.
I entered a time of seeking help from a psychologist, mindfulness coach, various yoga and meditation retreats, and I slowly started to see how much I wanted to be heard and listened to. I wanted to be carried, for once. Being a mother, a wife, and someone who tends to never ask for help, takes its toll.
I am not weak because I ask for help. I am not less capable because I show my vulnerability. I am not less smart, less of a business woman, or less likely to grow, because I sometimes feel insecure and a bit lost. But to admit this, is hard, and still my biggest lesson.
Stepping into a new chapter with joy
The pandemic in 2020 also brought a lot of inner struggles to the surface. Like it did for so many of us. When you come to a standstill, this is often a time for self reflection, and seeing things for what they are. I felt sad, stuck, lost, alone. My automatic pilot failed me. My creative brain was still working over-hours to keep the engine going, but it was beginning to stutter like a rusty old car. By the end of that year, my husband went off to walk the Camino de Santiago. It was the start of my own journey into coaching.
All of these things make so much sense now. They had to happen, and they happened at the right moment.
The coaching idea triggered a huge amount of inner work. To be a good coach, you’ve got to face your own demons. You’ve got to deal with your own shit first. So I invested in myself, both personally by working with a therapist and going on plant medicine retreats, and I started working with several business coaches. The growth and personal development have been astounding, and the return on investment is worth gold. The lessons, the insights, the revelations, but especially the shedding of the pain, and the acceptance of my hidden feminine, softer side, have been so healing, on many levels.
There was a point, not so long ago, when I felt stuck, and thought, what am I still going to do during the second half of my life? What is actually my life’s purpose?
I now see that I could not have dreamed it up, I simply had to trust in the process. The universe gave me exactly what I needed, and at the right time. I needed to go through the pain, let go of what no longer served me, and deal with my 40 years of baggage, before stepping into the next chapter of life with a renewed energy, joy and focus. I can see clearly now (the rain is gone!).
How does this all apply to you?
I have been lucky to work with many different clients since I started as a creative business coach, and all of them come to me because they are going through a big transition in their life. My super power is to see through their chaos, and pour it into very sharp summaries that suddenly switch on light bulbs.
This week, one of my clients, a singer and vocal coach, shared her struggle to nail a song she had written for the new album of her band. All other songs on the album were joined productions, and she only ever sang backing vocals. Now it was her time to shine. But she was so self-critical, and in the process of recording, she forgot to be in touch with her heart and focused too much on the technical aspects. She felt that people would judge her song as well as her voice and would say she wasn’t good enough.
I said:”But don’t you see that this song is a metaphor for all that we have been working on over the past five months? You are stepping out of the shadows, both as a coach and as a singer, and this song is your vessel to get to the other side .”
Owning your own business is huge. And it brings up a lot of issues: lack of confidence, fear of judgement, imposter syndrome, ego, doubt, but also impatience, procrastination, chaos, and overwhelm. We have to face them, and dig out the root cause.
Choosing joy and creativity in your life is huge. It is brave to jump into entrepreneurship, and it requires guts. But it also makes you feel vulnerable, and it triggers the biggest personal development you will have gone through in a very long time. My clients feel the calling to work with a coach, because they want a guide, a professional to help them step into their own next chapter in life with full confidence and joy.
Asking for help is not a weakness.
Love, Nina x