We think beating ourselves up motivates us to try harder and leads us to success. But what if the opposite is true? What if even greater success is possible when we love ourselves unconditionally?
Picture a seed. It needs soil, sunshine, and water in order to sprout.
When it has these things, it can grow into something beautiful – a flower, a bush, a tree.
Once it starts growing, it’s not like it never needs these things again. It needs consistent nurturing to thrive.
As business owners, we need nurturing too, and the best way to get it is to give it to ourselves.
Instead of soil, sun, and water, we need nurturing in the form of forgiveness, patience, and love.
Forgiveness for the mistakes we make. When we criticize our staff publicly. When we miss a deadline. When we fail to plan for contingencies like COVID and run out of money.
Patience for being a work in progress. For not knowing all the answers immediately. For making some mistakes more than once. For the leader we are becoming.
Love for the courage we demonstrate. When we do things other people are afraid to do. When we faceplant and start over. When we create something new despite the doubt.
A tree isn’t full-grown the moment it sprouts from the ground. But it’s lovable at each stage of its growth.
We don’t say, “Wow that sapling is a disaster – look how crooked that one branch grew! Can you believe it’s been a whole year and it’s not a tree yet? Look how those twigs are broken, it’s doomed.”
But as business owners, we talk this way to ourselves all the time.
“I screwed it up again. This will never work.”
“I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“It’s taking too long, what’s wrong with me?”
We feel frustrated and doubt starts to creep in, but we think the answer is more action. It’s to try harder and to go faster. While action is essential, how we feel when we’re taking the action is critical. Feeling inadequate is not the best energy to use as the fuel for our actions.
Loving ourselves is the way to create results.
Most of us scoff at the idea of loving ourselves when we make a mistake because we think it’s “soft” and we’re proud of how “tough” we are as entrepreneurs.
The truth is self-criticism slows us down because it creates doubt. Being Type A achievers, most of us power through this self-doubt with willpower and grit but we pay a price. It takes longer because when we feel inadequate we usually delay or second guess ourselves, and when we do finally get the results we’re exhausted.
Imagine if instead of soil, sunshine, and water, we provided our seed with depleted soil, a semi-dark room, and forgot to water it. Would it thrive? No. And neither will we.
And this matters, because we are leaders. Our team and even our customers look to us to set an example.
My entire life has been a process of learning to love myself and this means forgiving my mistakes, being patient as I grow, and loving myself unconditionally. I’ve come to believe it’s the same for all of us. What I discovered is that loving myself gives me energy and leads to better results.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What would you be willing to do in the world if you could count on yourself to forgive your mistakes, be patient with your progress, and love yourself regardless of your results?
- What conditions do you have for when it’s ok to feel love for yourself and your business? Love includes feelings of appreciation, connection, and compassion. Is it only when you’ve done something “right”, or business is going “well”?
- Picture the last time you felt inadequate as a business owner. Chances are right before the feeling you had a series of negative thoughts. What were they?
- Imagine how you would feel if you decided on purpose to ask yourself questions instead of beating yourself up, like “What did I learn?” Or, “How can I do this differently next time?” Or “What else can this mean?”
Owning a business gives us lots of opportunities to practice nurturing ourselves and our business. We can’t beat ourselves up and get the long-term results we want.
Results like a business that doesn’t require every minute of our time. Results like a life that feels exciting and a future that is compelling. Results like a business that’s so financially successful that it can take care of us for the rest of our lives.
Love has everything to do with the results we get.