First Katie and Jean shared that as Entrepreneurs we are cliff dwellers, always at the edge of the cliff looking out into an unknown future and facing risk every day. As an entrepreneur, my experience of this is both exhilarating and terrifying.
What does this feel like? A daily roller coaster ride, high as a kite one minute excited about the development and evolution of the idea into a product, the next minute worried about competitors, not getting the response you expect from certain people, having too much to humanly accomplish. No two days are alike; every day is a new adventure.
Always standing at the edge of the cliff, bold, courageous and fearless, continuously moving through all obstacles, including the fear that sneaks up on you and takes hold of all of your being from time to time.
My greatest spiritual training has taught me how to let go and fall in love with my work (project) which then dissipates my fear. When I am fully engaged, I am able to clearly create the space that my project makes for women in the world.
The profound opportunity afforded to all of us as entrepreneurs, is that we are blessed to live in reality, not under any illusions of safety.
When I was working earning a salary at a job it felt safe. I knew intellectually that I could loose my job or could have a car hit me while crossing the street (actually happened to me) , but I operated in life with a false sense of safety and security; as if life would be the same tomorrow as it is today. Being an entrepreneur has you confront that there is no safety, that we must create our reality on a daily basis.
You realize that you are the author of your life, your actions or inactions create the reality of your venture. As an entrepreneur you have the opportunity to have your life’s purpose aligned with the expression of your Self; creating every day from that place of full Self expression is joyous, there is nothing else like this feeling. Your life is an expression of who you are, your essential Self.
A profound insight from an evening seminar!
Here are some other great suggestions from Jean and Katie for realizing success as an entrepreneur:
- Keep your promises
- Make sure you understand the scope of the issues you are addressing before making promises for team deliverables.
- Help people to find their fit in your start up is very important for start up teams
- It is easy to get disoriented as CEO. Everyone has needs and it is easy to forget the milestones. “What is the most important thing you want to get done”.
- As an entrepreneur you realize that you cannot get it all done. There is always too much to do and you will not be able to do it all.
- All entrepreneurs need an emotional support group; they need a network of mentors. Build a support network developing one relationship at a time.
- Find people that are ahead of you people that have already covered the ground that you are about to cover.
- As an Entrepreneur you have to be focused.
- You can fail if all you are doing is networking.
- Keep the board informed, do not surprise them. Stay in communication with the board. Build your relationship with the board.
- It works to talk to the board about what you are learning in addition to successes and failures. Founders are moving a million miles an hour and sometimes they do not build their relationship with the board.
I experienced this when I was the CEO of Women Entrepreneurs in Science & Technology (WEST). I ran with the vision of the organization, initially the board was behind the vision and I sprinted with it. I did not realize or understand why they wanted to limit the growth of the organization. The board’s vision and my vision for the organization were not aligned. The misalignment with the board became a decision to leave the organization, and also the opportunity to fully express my life’s work: developing and advancing women in their careers, closing the gender gap and spurring global economic impact. I have never regretted how I got here. I am aligned now with myself and excited about expressing my commitment to increase capacity among women to learn, mentor and collaborate – and discover more success. WomenLead is an ambitious project to set a stage to accomplish just this. As my days are filled with entrepreneurial ups and downs – predictable and not – more “chapters” will follow… from the diary of an entrepreneur.
image credit: futurity.org
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Ilene Fischer is CEO and Founder of WomenLEAD Inc, a global women’s leadership network. Focused on women’s issues for decades, she established one of the first U.S. women’s shelters; served as a chapter president of N.O.W; and was the first woman engineer hired through affirmative action for defense industry. Her early leadership development and innovation work with Peter Senge and Tom Peters influenced the design of WomenLEAD.