In Onward Nation Episode 826, I spoke with Sue Hawkes. I was so impressed with her approach to guiding entrepreneurs through challenging times.
Sue is a bestselling author, award-winning leader, certified Entrepreneur Operating System (EOS) Implementer, certified business coach, and globally recognized seminar leader. She serves as CEO of Yess where she helps entrepreneurial leadership teams maximize people, purpose, and profits. She knows her stuff.
Things That Go Bump…
As entrepreneurs, we all know there will be bumps in the road. I’m sure you’ve had your share of challenging times, and then some. I know I have!
But Sue reminded me, as entrepreneurs, we are basically unemployable. For many of us as entrepreneurs, going back to being an employee of someone else would be an even bigger challenge than the ones we face in running our own businesses. As much as we may get nostalgic for more regular working hours, a more defined job description, and a paycheck that somebody just hands us when it comes down to it, we like the flexibility and being masters of our own destiny that the entrepreneur life affords us.
It’s crazy, but it’s the kind of crazy we signed up for!
With that entrepreneurial spirit, we have to learn how to face challenges so our employees and business partners will have confidence, and ultimately we will have the confidence to keep moving forward in our business.
Sue used the phrase, “you are either winning or learning.” And that makes so much sense to me. Often you are doing both, but even if you can’t really call something a win, it is only a loss if you don’t learn from it.
Leading Through Uncertainty
As business leaders, we have to be prepared for challenges. And it’s important to know that having all the answers ahead of time is not required. In fact, often it’s just not gonna happen.
How do we handle it when we don’t have the answers? We wonder if we’re making the right choices. We second guess ourselves. It’s not fun, that’s for sure.
It’s encouraging for us as entrepreneurs to know: self-doubt is part of the territory. But too often we don’t want to talk about it with anyone else. Sue recalls leading mastermind events – and this scene plays out over and over again – where someone finally lets their guard down enough to say, “Wow. There have been so many times when I just did not know what the heck I was doing.” And that opens the floodgates. Nearly everyone in the room can relate to that feeling.
In fact, I was surprised to hear that a full 80% of entrepreneurs deal with “imposter syndrome.”
“It’s that other 20% that I worry about,” Sue told me. And she has a point. If you are not self-aware enough to encounter any self-doubt, you might not be the leader you think you are.
So, fellow business leaders, know that you are not alone. Uncertainty is far from a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength. A sign that your head is not in the sand, which means you can get about the task of solving those challenges in a clear-eyed way.
The Bottleneck Starts at the Top of the Bottle
If we’re being honest, often we are the ones who create the stumbling blocks and challenges in our own business. You’ve got to get self-aware in order to get out of the way of your business.
How do you get out of your own way?
In her most recent book, Chasing Perfection – Shatter the Illusion; Minimize Self-Doubt & Maximize Success, Sue offers some rock-solid awesome actionable practices that will help you lead through uncertainty, and stop you from being the bottleneck in your organization.
She describes the book this way:
“It’s all about shattering the illusions around perfection so excellence is attainable. Because you need to define excellence for yourself. Define it as a leader as a human, as a business owner in your business and outside, and then being able to attain that so that you do truly stop chasing perfection. Perfection is like the horizon you’re never going to get to. It’s that horizon line. It’s always there, but I can’t ever seem to reach it. Pursuing excellence is attainable. It’s saying, I’m going to set some goals and get to the places that fill me up and align with what matters.”
Running a business is never going to be easy. There will be plenty of bumps in the road along the way. There will be bottlenecks that start with you.
Getting beyond the challenges and bottlenecks takes a lot of internal and external work. But you can definitely do it! We can win or we can learn – and hopefully do a lot of both.