Dare I say that many of us became entrepreneurs for the flexibility. So we could dictate our own professional lives and not have to answer to anyone.
Why, then, do we continue serving a boss that isn’t there?
It’s been my experience since I left my job with the Detroit Lions in 2014. I’ve struggled to let go to the “9-5 grind,” even though there is no one pressuring me to hold onto it.
Today my 3-year-old daughter had to stay home from school. My tendency when that has happened in the past is to continue with my day as though nothing is different, pushing my kids (I have three of them) toward the television while I pound out deliverables.
Envision me at my computer while my kids scream from the other room that they’re hungry or bored. I get up to attend to the request and then sit right back down to continue with work.
That isn’t happening today.
Today, I’ve embraced my daughter being home with me and have paid attention to her. We’ve played Candy Land, gone to the park, and ate lunch together. We spent an hour in our family’s upstairs playroom – her playing and dancing to music while I worked at our art table.
Now I’ve sat down to write this story while she is in the living room watching Disney Junior. Once I’m finished with my story, we have a date to play Mario Kart.
This is worlds apart from how I’ve behaved in the past and I’m glad to have a different perspective now.
How has my perspective changed?
I think we are raised in a culture that sees stress as a badge of honor. If we are too busy to do fun things, we must be doing something right. For early entrepreneurs or business owners — especially women — this can result in massive amounts of confusion.
Instead of working on our businesses (the fun stuff!), we spend all of our time focused on client businesses. This hurts our ability to grow.
We eat standing up or in front of the computer, searching for whatever we can find in the cupboards or refrigerator. The message in our minds? Get back to work!
We feel guilty not working while the rest of the world is. If others are in an office, we should be, too … right? Not necessarily. A benefit of being a business owner is that we get to make our own schedules and we need to own that.
It has taken me a long time to get to the mindset I’ve had today: enjoy the day with my 3-year old while I can, balancing work with play. Does that mean I’ve skirted my responsibilities as a business owner? Nope. My husband will be staying home with her tomorrow so I can focus on my work.
Today, however, it’s take-my-daughter-to-work day.
When I was in the 7th grade, I joined the track team.
I wasn’t given an event for our first meet until another girl dropped out. My coach asked if I wanted to take her place in the 1,600-meter relay and I agreed.
The gun sounded and I just ran. I had no idea what I was doing. I finished the lap, handed off the baton, and moved to the side. My coach was elated.
Apparently I had done well.
One day at practice, my coach suggested I run the 800 meters to improve my time in the 400. I don’t remember what my time was (on a gravel track, no less), but I do remember my coach going crazy with his stopwatch, telling me I had to run that race.
So I did.
For the remainder of my middle school career, the 800 meter run was my race. Schools ran boys and girls together and I would beat everyone, every single time. My best time was a 2:32 (yes, I still remember) and the feeling of being so good at something was an absolute high.
I had struggled with bullying throughout my middle school life, but once I became a “track star,” that changed. Others respected me. I had talent.
My high school track career didn’t start out as great as I wanted it to. Instead of running my two best races, the 400 meters and the 800 meters, I was given the mile, a race I wasn’t as good at. I still remember having to run in the top heat in an invitational and struggling not to finish last. I hated having to run that race and it wore on me.
The sport itself was fun, though. I made wonderful friendships. I learned how to play Euchre during the long invitational days, spending time with the upperclassmen I genuinely got along with. The girls’ team won our league that year, meaning we moved up a level our sophomore year. That separated us from the boys’ team and we began traveling separately.
We won our league meet when I was a freshman.
In addition to that change, I gained weight my sophomore year and my times suffered. Combined with not being able to spend time with my male friends and competing against more talented individuals, my love for the sport declined. Running had always been a painful endeavor. The 800-meter run is no joke. It’s nearly a sprint (at the highest level, it is a sprint) for a half mile. It hurts.
As soon as the overall experience stopped being fun and I wasn’t getting the payoff of winning, my motivation waned. I hated practice. Hated the meets. My anxiety level around running rose.
I made the decision to quit after my sophomore year. It was a difficult choice to make – it had become an identity for me. It was what I was good at. But the sacrifices outweighed the reward. My parents were crushed. They loved seeing their daughter excel at something and walking away early was a tough pill for them to swallow.
Now, almost 36 years old with three kids of my own, I look back on my decision to quit with mixed emotions. I know it was the best decision at the time, but I do wish circumstances had been different.
I wish that I had been able to find fun in those days and that my stress levels hadn’t resulted in weight gain that hurt my performance. I’m actually in better shape now, post-kids (I have a better diet and a regular yoga practice) than I was my sophomore year of high school, which creates regret that I didn’t keep myself in better shape to capitalize on my talent. Who knows? Maybe I could have run in college.
Ah, what could have been.
Looking back on this experience provides a valuable case study that pertains to business, however. There are three things I can pull from my track career that apply to my life as an entrepreneur:
1. Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
The yoga I practice is hot vinyasa, which challenges me every single session, pushing me out of my comfort zone. It is so easy to let my mind talk me out of staying in a pose while my body is on fire, especially since no one is forcing me to stay.
But the benefit of learning how to shut my mind voice off and find a way to be calm in an uncomfortable situation translates to all areas of my life.
Finding a way to be comfortable in the uncomfortable means I can push through projects I don’t want to do, engage respectfully with people who aren’t the friendliest, and continuing doing things for my business that don’t have an immediate payoff.
2. Find a Payoff
Speaking of an immediate payoff, it’s important to have at least one. As the things I loved about track fell off, one-by-one, enduring the pain of running became less and less tolerable.
This is true in business as well. So many entrepreneurs push way further than they should without allowing themselves something fun or gratifying from their businesses.
This results in burn-out.
Mike Michalowicz talks about this in his book, Profit First. He suggests putting a small percentage of earnings (as low as 1%) in a “profit account” each month and then spending it on yourself at the end of the quarter.
This improves morale because it means the business is working for the entrepreneur. It is critical to receive a payoff for all of our hard work, even if it’s a new outfit or a night at the movies.
3. Do What You’re Good At
Winning was an amazing feeling … even when it hurt like hell. Why? Because I was good at it!
Focusing on what we’re good at keeps us in flow. Even if it’s boring (or it hurts), doing what we’re good at has a special sort of payoff. In business, it pays with money and confidence.
So often we focus on bettering ourselves in areas we aren’t good at while avoiding what comes easy. In fact, for a long time, I felt guilty charging for what came easy to me.
The truth, however, is what comes easy for one person doesn’t come easy for most, which is why we should actually be charge more for what comes easy to us!
Left in the Past
I still run in the spring, summer, and fall months (you won’t find me running in the snow or freezing cold), pushing myself to get better.
I have found a “happy place” with running, averaging 3-to-5 miles at a time and listening to my favorite podcasts or audiobooks during my runs. I used to run with my kids in jogging strollers.
I time myself from time-to-time, getting “competitive” to prove to myself I still have talent. I do, but I haven’t run competitively since I hung up my cleats in high school. I’m afraid that I’ll push myself to the point of massive pain in an effort to win, and I’m not up for doing that just yet.
I remember getting the call. I was confused. My husband was supposed to be in the air with the Michigan Basketball team on the way to Washington D.C. for the Big Ten Tournament.
I picked up the phone.
The wind howled in the background. He was emotional. He told me their plane nearly crashed, stopped just short of a ravine. He and the team had to exit the plane through the emergency exits, but everyone was alright. He had to go, but he loved me so much.
Complete and total shock.
My husband came home for the night, leaving first thing in the morning on a new plane with new luggage (his was trapped under the plane with the rest of the team equipment). Families wouldn’t be taking the new flight, so all of us watched from home as the team took the floor in their practice jerseys.
I said to myself, they are either going to be one-and-done, or they’re going to win it all.
They played like they were going to win it all.
As soon as I saw that win, I knew we had to get to Washington D.C. I called around and learned there would be a bus departing with staff families who wanted to go. I made sure my family was on that bus.
We took a 13-hour, overnight bus trip to Washington D.C. My kids were 6, 4, and 2. The trip was amazing. We made memories as we caught cabs, went to museums, and watched the Wolverines win three more games. They won the tournament, becoming the lowest seed in tournament history to win it all.
Fast forward a year. The Big Ten Tournament was being held in New York City. Remembering the amazing run of a year before, I wanted to take my kids, but it wasn’t in the cards for our family. Instead, my husband and I decided that – if we made the championship – I would fly out on my own.
We made the championship and I woke up at 5 a.m. on Sunday morning to take the only flight available to New York City that would get me to the game in time. We won and I had the pleasure of being there to watch the team cut down the nets.
Next was the NCAA tournament.
I was on a yoga retreat for the first two rounds without a television in my room, so I watched the games on my iPad. I casually watched the first game and the majority of the second, readying myself to accept defeat as time wound down against Houston.
Then Jordan Poole hit that magical shot as the buzzer sounded, taking laps around the court. Michigan was in the Sweet 16.
I watched the next two games from home, my husband in LA with the team. The strong showing against Texas A&M in the Sweet 16 meant one game stood between Michigan and the Final Four.
I couldn’t believe it.
The 2013 Run
The last time the Wolverines were in the Final Four, it was a magical year. Future NBA draft picks Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway, Jr., Nick Stauskas, and Mitch McGary were all part of the team. My kids were 2 and 10 months old. I made the trip to Atlanta while my aunt stayed home with my kids.
Michigan dominated the first half, led by bench player Spike Albrecht, who scored 17. I thought we had it. Then Louisville stormed back in the second half and ended up taking the win.
The start of the 2013-14 season was actually tough for me. We raised the Final Four banner at Crisler Center and it brought back the disappointing ending of the previous year.
I have since talked many times about that night as being the most difficult sports loss I’d ever experienced. That’s why, after Michigan beat Florida State to earn its second Final Four appearance in six seasons, I was nervous.
“The one thing I don’t want,” I told people, “is to make it to the championship game and lose again.”
Another Fairy Tale
My family before the Michigan vs. Villanova NCAA Championship game.
I took all three of my kids to San Antonio for the Final Four. We swam in the hotel pool, went on a riverboat tour with the Michigan Basketball family, and visited Fanfest.
Winning the first game was amazing. My kids – now 7, 5, and 3 – were into it. It felt right. It felt different.
This was going to be it. I thought. We are going to win it all.
Michigan head coach John Beileindeserved this win, after all. Voted “the cleanest coach” in the NCAA, Coach Beilein is an amazing teacher, coach, and human being.
Special to me has been he and his wife, Kathleen’s, support of The ChadTough Foundation, an organization I work with. He helped us to a back-to-back $100,000 donations and invaluable awareness for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) and pediatric brain cancer research through the Infiniti Coaches Challenge.
This was going to be his moment. I knew it.
Then it wasn’t.
Michigan got off to a strong start, but Villanova took over midway through the first half and swiftly won. The loss hurt. I wanted to win so badly. For my husband, for Coach Beilein, and for the Michigan Basketball family.
I thought about how tough it must be for Coach to get so close – again – and not come away with the title.
Then I read this quote:
“Don’t worry about me,” he said. “I would love to win a national championship for those guys and for the University of Michigan. All those great students and all our alums and everyone. But for me, this is why I coach. To be in that locker room right now with these kids.
“And to have the opportunity to tell them: ‘This is life. You have highlights and then, all of a sudden, your season’s over and there’s sadness.’ But in the long run, there’s a lot of joy with what we just went through.”
I never imagined I would learn a critical life lesson following that loss, but – somehow – Coach Beilein drove it home. It’s not about the win or the loss, it’s about the journey.
That message can, and should, be translated into every single area of life. Coach is right – this is life. Whether it’s personal or business, the trials and tribulations are what refine and grow us.
I can talk to a client with confidence and knowledge I didn’t have two years ago because I’ve gone through those failures. I’ve seen what doesn’t work. I’ve relied on myself and doubted myself and learned that I can – and should – trust my gut.
Coach Beilein is an amazing coach because he sees beyond the game. He recognizes that preparing young people to weather life’s storms is a far bigger victory than personal accolades.
And because of that, these players had the opportunity to learn something during this NCAA tournament run that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.
I know I certainly will.
ABOUT CHRISSIE WYWROT
Chrissie Wywrot is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The queen of the naughty mat, the naughty corner, and the naughty chair.
As a parent, there is one source I go to when I need help.
That’s right, you guessed it.
It’s for a number of reasons, really. First, I can’t get enough of her accent. Second, I love the variations of the punishment spot each episode: the naughty corner, the naughty chair, the naughty mat, the naughty stool … you get the idea. I think one time there was a naughty pillow. Yes, I giggled.
Due to my love for Jo Frost, you won’t be surprised when my inspiration for our own “House Rules” came from Supernanny herself. Jo (Though is it actually producers that come up with this stuff? Is Jo really a child rearing expert? I should look that up …) suggests sitting down together as a family to come up with rules so that everyone feels a part of it.
Fantastic in theory.
When we sat down to actually do this, however, the process took on a life of its own.
Allow me to set the stage.
The Scene of the Rules
We are about to start our bedtime routine when I tell my kids “we all have to have a talk.” I’m saying this to my kids, but it is also the first time my husband is aware that “we all have to have a talk.” I avoid his gaze.
My daughter, 5, immediately thinks she is in trouble. My son, 3 1/2, is making some sort of vehicular noise and isn’t paying attention. My husband, 42, is staring off into space and also isn’t paying attention.
“Don’t worry,” I say to my daughter. “Just sit down.”
I have retrieved a marker and piece of construction paper. The marker has caught my son’s attention. He would now like to color. My daughter is growing increasingly paranoid.
“Is this because I had bad behavior yesterday?” she asks.
“Yes,” I say.
Well, it was.
The Speech Before the Rules
As parents, we all envision these grandiose speeches we will give to our children. In our minds, we envision them actually paying attention.
In reality, these speeches go something like this:
Me: “We are going to put together some house rules … Jack, look at me … because we need to understand what is expected … put that down. Does that make sense?”
Abby: “Mommy, can I write?”
Me: “Did you hear what I said?”
Abby: “Can I write it?”
Me: “Don’t worry about it, did you understand what I said?”
Abby in a painfully, whiny tone: “I want to write it!”
Me in a painfully, teenager-y tone: “Fine, whatever!”
I hand her the marker and paper.
The Drawing Up of the Rules
After I let Abby write “House Rules” at the top of the paper (which reminded me of “House Elves,” but I digress), I reclaim the writing utensil and we got to work.
No sooner had I opened the floor for suggestions had Jack punched himself in the forehead and proudly exclaimed, “Don’t do that … ow!”
You had to appreciate his enthusiasm.
In an effort to make his personal sacrifice useful, I confirmed, “No harming others,” and wrote it down.
Abby then began a long, drawn-out monologue that included the importance of not touching the TV, because, after all, the TV could fall and break or, worse, accrue even more fingerprints than it already has.
In the midst of her speech, Jack interrupted, to which Abby screamed as though someone had just hit her over the head with a hard, metal object.
“Hey!” she screamed at a shrill, ear-piercing tone. “Noooooo, Jack!”
“No whining,” I confirmed, and wrote it down. “Isn’t that an important one?”
Jack had already moved on. He was so excited to come up with additional rules, he began stuttering in an attempt to get the words out faster. He then ran over to the couch and hit it a few times before declaring, “No hitting the couch, right Daddy?”
Abby, enjoying the couch theme, took the opportunity to jump up and sit on the back of the couch in order to demonstrate what we should not do, because simply saying we shouldn’t sit on the back of the couch wouldn’t have sufficed.
The Actual Rules
This is what we came up with. The process took way too long and, if it were up to the kids, our final draft would have been 10 pages. Ah, the irony.
Our (very formal) house rules document.
No harming others. The first rule and a necessary one. Especially since Jack harmed himself during the inception of this rule.
No whining. This is the most important rule. It is also futile considering Abby speaks whine-glish – English with an emphasis on long, drawn-out words, often accompanied by falling on the floor.
No taking toys. I enjoy exercising this rule for myself when it doesn’t occur to my kids that they aren’t the only ones who own things. Yes, my phone is my toy. No, you can’t take it.
No spitting. I’m not sure which child came up with this one, but it’s not a problem we have. I wrote it down to keep from discouraging the kids. I’m sure Supernanny would be proud of my effort to keep the entire family involved.
No tackling. This is really a Jack problem.
No screaming. See Rule No. 2’s explanation.
Do what Mommy and Daddy say. An all-encompassing rule that created more of a grammar issue than anything. I wrote it out as though it were an all-inclusive process. Do what we say not do what each of us says. I should probably add an ’s’ to ‘say,’ but I just don’t have it in me. Technically it’s correct.
No breaking things. Fingers crossed.
Be kind to one another. It’s worth a shot.
No tattling. Come to think of it, we haven’t had a lot of tattling since these rules were drawn up. Jo Frost is a genius.
No interrupting. Go ahead and laugh.
Put away your toys. This may be the most attainable rule on our list, sadly.
We were proud of our 12 rules, especially since it took us about 40 minutes to come up with them. The session finally concluded with my husband declaring, “Okay, we can add more later!” as the kids were grasping at straws.
“But, but, but, but what about … no taking dinosaurs!”
The other day, my husband and I were getting our kids ready for school and my 5-year-old daughter suddenly yelled, “Jesus!”
I was mortified. Had she heard me saying the Lord’s name in vain? Had I violated the third commandment? I turned, relieved that she wasn’t, in fact, swearing, but instead had a Little People version of Noah. I exhaled as I recognized that she believed this little builder of the ark was actually Jesus.
It made me think, though. What do I convey with my daily actions and words? Am showing her the version of myself that will impact her in a positive way, or am I setting her up to be the paranoid, ball of stress I tend to be?
What I Am Changing For Her
Love of Plugging In
Here’s the thing about me: I am a true extrovert who loves to communicate. I love it. If it were up to me, I would engage someone all day, every day. This means I always have my phone within arm’s reach to send a text message, instant message, check Facebook, or read email.
It’s something I’ve been working to change recently because I want to focus on my children when I’m with them. They deserve my undivided attention for stretches of time each day instead being constantly interrupted by the ding of a phone. I suppose my husband deserves that, too.
Love of Working
I am a driven individual who will stop at nothing to get what I want. This is both a blessing and a curse. It has resulted in unrelenting energy toward building a career I love, but it has also resulted in me ignoring family time because I can’t peel myself away from my computer.
The thing is, I see this from two angles. While I know it is important to set aside special time for family, I also want my children to understand that we have to work hard so they can have the luxuries they are afforded. Sometimes they just have to let me get something done.
It is also important to me that my daughter sees my drive and passion toward a job I love. She is wired just like me (something extremely difficult to deal with as a parent – sorry, Mom and Dad), so I know she will stop at nothing to get what she wants in life.
I have to show her my passion, but also show her that it’s okay to take time away from it to focus on other things that matter.
What I Am Sharing With Her
Love of Coffee
I own a version of this Beyonce mug and it may or may not inspire me to get through the day.
Okay, so I’m not actually sharing coffee with her, but she sees that I love it. There is something special about her knowing that about me. When I hear my daughter say anything about, “Mommy’s coffee,” my heart melts a little bit.
Sometimes she will have her own “coffee,” which equates to a princess mug filled with milk or water. For me, coffee represents relaxation; sitting down to enjoy a mug while reading a book or magazine, watching a morning program, or digging in to work.
It also represents jolting myself awake after a restless night of getting up with the baby, but that’s neither here nor there.
Love of Puzzles
The Ravensburger 1000-piece puzzle organizer I use, which is perfect for when you can’t have a puzzle out on a table all the time.
I have recently gotten back into puzzles because they are the only way I can relax (if you haven’t figured out by now, relaxation isn’t exactly my strong suit). My kids see me with my puzzles (I use the storage container to the right), which I hope shows them the importance of mundane hobbies.
Being the mini-me that she is, my daughter sometimes struggles to spend time alone. When she and I are home together, she wants to engage all the time, poking and prodding until I give in or lose my mind. I’m not sure she cares which result she gets, since she gets attention either way.
What I Am Stressing to Her
Love of Family
Ask any freelancer and they will tell you that work-life balance is the most difficult part of the job. You are always at work since your home is your work, and it can be tough to disconnect. The start-up phase is particularly tough because you are working your butt off to get your business off the ground. The guilt I feel over setting it aside is overwhelming sometimes.
Thankfully, recent revelations (helped along by my husband and some divine intervention) have shown me that I have to make time for my family. I have to shut it down at the end of the day and focus on what matters most: the people in my life. Yes, I have to make a living for those people so they have a roof over their heads and food in their bellies, but I also need to cherish them as the incredible little people they are.
Love of Quality Time
You probably won’t believe me after all of my previous points, but I love quality time. What I have started to do with each of my kids (something I will write about down the road) is to spend “special time” at the end of the day before they go to bed.
They are one-on-one with me or my husband, reading a book or playing a game. This is significant for my daughter who would probably crawl into my clothes with me to spend the day (and night) if I let her.
It’s been a benefit for us as a family because they are more relaxed and I am more relaxed (in my case, I use the term “relaxed” loosely). My hope is that the time I’m investing will not only help them feel special, it will alleviate stress in our household.
I want to convey the right things to my daughter. I’m far from perfect, but I want to convey that, too. What I have come to learn as a parent is that nothing we do will be all right or all wrong. We can only do our best, so it’s best to just laugh when your kid nearly insults her Savior while playing with a Little People zoo.
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