Ever had one of those moments where you realized you’d been living a lie?
There’s an emotional cocktail of shame, anger, and panic that courses through your veins. You’re not sure whether to run and hide, play pretend, or blurt out the messy truth on Facebook.
I had one of those moments a few weeks ago. It certainly wasn’t my first, and I know it won’t be my last.
After coming to grips with the truth, it’s time to confess where I haven’t been running my business in full alignment. I also want to tell you what I’m committed to changing starting right now.
Can you handle this bare-all?
It Began with a Talk
I was honored when Brooke Castillo, Master Coach and Founder of The Life Coach School, invited me to speak at her school’s annual event (at the Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara, no less!). She asked me to teach her coaches how to start and grow their online coaching businesses.
The more time I spent planning my talk and the more I rehearsed what I was going to say, the more uncomfortable I got. I couldn’t put my finger on why… yet.
Then It Hit Me
While in Santa Barbara, I had the pleasure of discussing business strategy with the three other amazing speakers. The more we spoke about our own business challenges, I slowly began to realize why planning my talk had made me so uncomfortable.
There was one specific area where I wasn’t fully practicing what I teach.
Whether you’ve worked with me, read my blog, or attended any of my free trainings, you know that I insist that your business begin with YOU.
To be successful in these heart-centered businesses we run, you must focus on doing the work you love, serving the clients you love, and being who you really are in every area of your business.
I realized that this was the area where I had been falling short. I hadn’t been fully embracing, coaching, and teaching as 100% Jenny Shih.
Once fully formed, this realization dropped my stomach 10 feet under. Countless fears started racing through my head.
With my upcoming Make It Work Online program ready to begin and some VIP clients lined up for the spring, I began to panic. There’s no bigger turnoff for me than an inauthentic business woman. It sends up a field of red flags.
I had to figure out what I going to do to bring everything into authentic alignment. To do that, I had to figure out how I got off track in the first place.
How I Got Here
Previous to owning my own business, I worked for 10 years at a high-tech Fortune 500 company. I was an engineer at a 24×7 manufacturing facility, a job that required me to collaborate with equipment operators and technicians on a daily basis.
Whenever I had a lengthy experiment to run, I would choose one of the exceptional operators or technicians to run my experiment overnight so I could get the results in the morning instead of spending my whole work day completing the experiment myself.
This fast-tracked my efforts, helping me get a ton of work done in a short period of time (very efficient of me!). The operators and technicians I worked with loved having experiments to run because it added variety to their workday and often led to better performance evaluations from their supervisors.
As I was mastering the art of getting work done without actually doing it myself, one of the senior technicians, Sarah Jane, took me aside for a chat.
She told me that although the operators and technicians liked me and enjoyed working with me, I was always focused on business. She told me that I needed to soften my approach, have more chit-chat time, and care about them as people before I asked for their help.
As a 22 year-old newbie, I figured that this corporate veteran knew better than I did, so I heeded her advice.
Over the next 10 years, I honed my chit-chatty, social, softer side. I inquired more about people’s personal lives, easing into work topics.
For the most part, this served me well, especially when I became a manager at age 26. After all, most employees like to know their bosses care about them as human beings not just worker bees!
At the same time, in making this shift, I lost part of myself and strayed from who I really am: A get shit done, no BS, no fluff kind of woman.
I actually prefer to get right down to business (if we’re talking business) and tackle problems head on.
When it comes to work, I have little patience for bullshit, excuses, or whining. I don’t like to coddle, and I certainly don’t like to let my clients (or my friends) just talk and talk and talk about ideas without ever taking action.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t care about your kids or your spouse or what you did over the weekend. I do care. I just prefer to talk personal when we talk personal and talk business when we talk business, separating chit chat from getting shit done.
What Got Me Here Won’t Get Me There
Sarah Jane’s advice was helpful in my previous career. It helped me get more done by working with the operators and technicians which helped me accomplish more in my job. I also become one of the favored engineers to work with and then a pretty good boss whom employees and colleagues respected.
Cultivating these skills also have helped make me a strong business owner and leader today.
The problem is that spending all this energy caring about everyone’s feelings also results in a lot of extra work and energy expenditure from me, something I don’t have excess of.
Spending time babying clients, putting up with excuses, and listening to whining strains me, and more importantly, it doesn’t serve my clients!
To help my clients get better results and to build a stronger team and a more successful business, I need to heed the advice I gave at my talk to Brooke’s coaches: I need to be more of myself.
To Get Where I Want to Go
To be clear, I don’t intend to do a 180, turn into a full-on bitch or become a heartless, driven-at-all-cost kind of coach. That’s not who I am either.
To continue to provide best-in-class results and coach in my uncompromising fashion, I have to stop supporting the behaviors that don’t create results. I have to stop putting up with clients who prefer to whine, complain, or make excuses for not taking action.
I need to be the honest truth-teller that got me in trouble as a child and the get-down-to-business woman I was told to tame while I was in corporate.
Of course, I will continue to care about my clients as people (duh!) and support them in the decisions they need to make for themselves (even if that’s choosing not to take action — it really is up to them).
Most importantly, to continue to grow my business, serve more clients, and make the impact I know I’m here to make, I must strip back the layers that I’ve piled on to get back to who I am and how I work best.
Why I’m Not Beating Myself Up About This
Now I could spend hours and days or longer beating myself up about not doing what I teach my clients, but I’m not, and here’s why.
First, I wasn’t knowingly not being myself. I’m actually quite real with my clients, on my blog, in my videos, and when I coach. I don’t “fake it” well, ever. It wasn’t until I taught “start with YOU” for the 37th time that I realized there was a disconnect in my own business.
Second, whatever you teach in your business is something you, yourself, will learn and will be required to practice year after year in your business. Tweet that!
Weight loss coaches, business coaches, life coaches, nutritionists, healers, teachers… whatever you area your business is an area where you’ve committed to learning and growing.
For me, I teach people to create businesses they love by not working so hard and always starting with what they love most. This means I’m always going to be revisiting these topics for myself in my own business.
Being, Coaching, and Teaching as I Am
As I’ve come to realize my internal/external discrepancy, I’m looking more closely at who I am and what my natural MO really is.
It’s not just about stripping back to my 22-year-old self. I’ve grown, learned, and matured quite a bit in the past 14 years.
My job now is to find the authentic balance between caring about people and LOVING to get down to business, tell the truth, and and get things done.
Will my shift be always graceful? No. (But truthfully, things aren’t always graceful anyway, even without a conscious transition.)
Will I get it right every time? Absolutely not.
Is this a problem? No way.
I’ll be doing what I always do in my business and with my clients: focusing on providing best-in-class results and established expertise with uncompromising standards.
Why We Don’t Like to Do This (a.k.a. The Consequences of Bring True to Ourselves)
Even though I’m ready to strip back closer to my essence and be more of the woman I really am, and even though I’ve committed publicly to doing this, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t bring up fears, worries, and mental garbage.
What if you don’t like me?
What if people think I’m a heartless bitch?
What if I upset others?
The truth is it might happen.
The excuse-makers, whiners, complainers, and people who really don’t want to make their business work will not like me. They will unsubscribe, say nasty things about me on Facebook, and continue to NOT be successful in their businesses.
And I’m okay with that. It’s their choice.
The flip side is that I will attract more driven, focused, committed women. I will attract the women (and men) who want to take action, get real results, and commit to their own success.
In the end, I will impact more lives in greater ways. I will attract more of MY TRIBE. And together, we will change the world.
Those that don’t want to really commit? They can hang out until they’re ready (or they can leave). In the mean time, I’ll be focusing on those who are ready to take action and make big things happen.
What This Means for You
You might be wondering if and how this change in how I approach business will impact you.
It’s pretty simple: you’ll continue to get the straight-up, no fluff advice I’m known for, so you can learn about business, marketing, productivity, and systems and move your business forward.
You’ll also get to watch me on my journey and see how you can learn from my mistakes and wins along the way.
Basically, you’ll keep getting great free business tips and trainings from me in my no-BS style that you already love.
Have You Been Telling the Truth?
Now that I’ve dished my truth, I’d love to hear from you.
I challenge you to tell the truth, whatever it is.
As you read my story, what comes up for you?
Are you wanting to unsubscribe and leave my tribe?
Or does it pull you closer?
What reflections do you have about yourself and your business?
Is there an area where you’ve been holding back part of yourself that you’re ready to reveal?
Let’s start some truth-telling and rabble-rousing, coaching, sharing, and supporting in the comments below. If you have questions for me about today’s post, please add those as well.
Feeling like this stirred something within you? Like you’re ready to dive in deeper, be who you are, and really change the world?
Please take a minute to spread the word about this mission I’m on. Please share this post with a friend, with a colleague, and in a Facebook group full of world-changers. We need more women showing up as themselves, building business, and taking charge of their lives.
Together, we can make big things happen.
To you being you and to you changing the world,