#82 Three little words that’ll set you free
If you ever find yourself caught up in putting forth only the most polished side of yourself, this episode is for you. In this weekly wrap up I’m sharing with our entrepreneur crowd a bit of wisdom and a tip to help you stay real and true to yourself while building your business. But wait! If you don’t consider yourself an entrepreneur, no worries. I believe anyone who moves abroad embodies some elements of entrepreneurship – a lower degree of risk aversion and an adventuresome spirit to name a few – and I know there’s something for you too – if you’re open to hearing!
I’m seeing that there’s a real challenge to being an entrepreneur in Shanghai – it’s this nasty, unspoken pressure to appear put together before our time.
I don’t know.
I don’t know a lot of things, across a lot of categories… I don’t know where I see my family, my career or my business in five years–in fact, even my one-year plans are feeling a bit nebulous these days. I don’t know how to craft the perfect pitch that wows and sells every time. I don’t know how to be the fearless leader who inspires change and action in others. Heck, I don’t even know what’s for dinner tonight.
I just don’t know.
I was inspired this week by my LimitlessLaowai.com Podcast interview with writer/mom Abbie Pumarejo. She talked at length on why Shanghai is the perfect city to spark self-reinvention and she couldn’t be more right. Entrepreneurship seems to be in the soil, air and water! She and I unanimously agree that one critical element of a successful reinvention experience is hurdling our biggest obstacles – ourselves.
As I continue to dig into the intricacies of building my own business, and meet scores of people trying to do the same thing, I’m seeing that there’s a real challenge to being an entrepreneur in Shanghai – it’s this nasty, unspoken pressure to appear put together before our time.
Have you ever been chatting with a new connection and been asked a tough question about your business, something you were unsure of, say, concrete plans for the future, sales projections, partnership prospects, or forecasted investment? Let’s say you were out to make an impression. In that moment, what happened?
Don’t be a train wreck
I had many a conversation in the beginning where I found myself caught off-guard, insecure, fumbling for words, totally aware of myself as a train wreck in motion, praying my counterpart couldn’t see through my delusional deception, hoping he wouldn’t notice as I went down in flames before his very eyes.
Not fooling anyone
After a while of this insanity, I came to the realization that each pair of eyes was, in fact, fully conscious of my faults, my reservation, anxiety and insecurity. In fact, for many entrepreneurs in the early stages of start-up, I imagine it was a bit like looking in the mirror.
Imprisonment and freedom
You see, what had happened was, while interacting with seemingly successful entrepreneurs, the movers and shakers of Shanghai, I had built for myself a miserable prison. The need to fabricate intent for a secure future or aspects of my business that I simply could not predict ruled my every interaction.
Freedom came once I chose to embrace authentic transparency as an unequivocal stake in the ground for doing business, for representing the Limitless Brand and, heck, while just being myself.
I am good enough just how I am. And so are you, so let’s stop pretending we’ve got all of our ducks in a row. In China, I’m pretty sure ducks will never sit nice and still in a row for us entrepreneurs anyhow!
The truth is, when it comes to the future, none of us know much about it. Even our best-laid plans may not come to pass. And that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s rather freeing to admit it. In terms of business, I’ve embraced and am now well versed in the following phrases. I suggest you give them a go:
I don’t know, but I am open to pursuing opportunities.
I don’t know, but I’d like to explore that further with you.
I don’t know, but great question. Let me find out.
I don’t know. Things aren’t going as planned. We need time to redirect.
I don’t know. I’m struggling with that at the moment. Do you have any suggestions?
I don’t know. I’ve not thought about that, but give me some time to think it over.
I’m reminded of this short and sweet lesson on integrity: let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’, and your ‘no’ be ‘no’. Be brutally honest with yourself and others. Guard your righteousness at all costs and find freedom in these three powerful, little words:
I don’t know.