Four things I’ve learned in business this week

By: Stella Orange

In our work this past week, there are a couple themes that have come up:

1)   Creating a good life is THE core driver. A lot of us went to work for ourselves because we wanted our lives to look a certain way, and we want to feel free. Freedom is the thing. We desire to be present parents to our kiddos; ample maternity leave; the ability to travel freely; buy our partners out of their horrible jobs; retire to Panama. The list goes on. At bottom, we want to be captains of our own ships. We know that money gives us choices, and choices give us power. 

2)   Money is not the most interesting thing.  Yes, money is a tool that helps us build our version of the good life. But at bottom, what matters to us most isn’t how much is in our bank account. What matters most is how we feel in our lives, the quality of our relationships, and that we’re making a contribution to this world. That said, we know that money is an essential part of that (self-funded) mission. Though some of us are building ‘million dollar businesses,’ that’s not the most interesting thing. The most interesting thing is the work itself.

3)   Widespread practices in the Coaching Industrial Complex have created a need for atonement.  Predatory sales tactics. Formulaic advising that does not take into account the path, personality, strengths, desires, or business model of the individual. Selling skill-based workshops with the misleadingly vague message that somehow, skills are all someone needs to ‘grow your business’. Chances are you’ve encountered some of these darker aspects of the coaching world (and if you’re like me – Stella — maybe you’ve even used them yourself). It’s time to take stock, find the lesson, and let it go. 

4)   The marketplace is changing – and so are we. Back in the day, the ‘guru model’ was hot. We hired people to tell us what to do. We positioned ourselves in the marketplace so that we’d tell our clients what to do. And then, the pendulum swung the other way. We didn’t need another guru. We started looking within ourselves for answers. It was all about trusting yourself and your intuition. While this self-trust is certainly a piece of the puzzle, we’re in the midst of another ‘turning of the wheel’. It now occurs to many of us that trusting only in ourselves cuts us off from wildly creative possibilities that solve our problems and carry us forward in elegant, exquisite, exponential ways. 

Expansion is a funny business. We look to the past for clues about how the future will likely go – the old ‘what’s past is prologue’ idea – but I’m beginning to suspect that for people like us, that isn’t actually true. Many of the people I’ve been talking to have shared how much of a slog it’s been to build their business – and a worry that it will be just as hard, or take just as long in the future. 

But if I were to say the quiet part out loud, I’d say this: 

What could you do differently to make your future path smoother than the one that got you here?

For me, the answer isn’t working alone. It’s learning to trust that the best really is yet to come, and I’ll only get there by trusting other people as much as I trust Life, and myself. 

Stella is cofounder and copywriter at Las Peregrinas, a creative and consulting agency. As our resident word nerd, she writes copy and points out the stories everyone is living and telling through their work. She is also fun at parties.

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