Who are you?
Did you start your answer with, “I’m the owner of…”?
As business owners, we pour ourselves into our company, so it makes sense that it’s the first thing that comes to mind. But defining ourselves by what we do can lead to burnout, overmanaging, and slowed business growth.
Is Your Business at the Core of Your Identity?
When our business becomes the core of our identity, our brain feels like our survival is at stake. We’ll put everything into the business and have nothing left. After all, how can we make time for vacations, let alone self-care or relationships when it feels like everything is on the line?
I learned this the hard way. I tied my self-worth to the success of my business. When business was good, I was good – and when there were problems, something was wrong with me. So, of course, this meant everything had to be perfect.
This belief system creates a relentless need to control everything. The result is a business that can’t run without us. Then we blame the business for taking all our time and making us unhappy. You see the problem here.
Sure, it’s our business, but its successes, failures, and growth have nothing to do with our worth as a person. If we tie them to our worth, then our feelings about ourselves will swing wildly depending on how the business is doing at that moment. We’ll exhaust ourselves trying to control everything and over-managing everyone. Then our team will resent us for breathing down their necks and crushing their ingenuity.
Rethinking Our Relationship With Our Business
How can we free ourselves from this trap?
We must start by rethinking our relationship with our business. Recognize that we aren’t the company. We own the company. We can love both.
When we intentionally generate feelings of connection and appreciation for both ourselves and our company, we’ll stop running ourselves into the ground trying to prove we can do everything. We’ll recognize the business isn’t the sum total of who we are.
Next, decide on purpose how to interpret results. For example, choosing to believe that failure is just information about what to do next time is one of the most useful beliefs we can adopt. Practice this. Whenever something goes wrong, we can choose to make it mean we’re learning and getting better, not that there is something wrong with us or our business.
The Benefits of Untangling Our Worth From Our Business
When we see our worth as a person as independent of our business’s value, it becomes easier to hire and trust others to take over some of our responsibilities. We’ll no longer see their mistakes as a reflection of our value. This gives us room to focus on high-level issues and long-term success strategies.
Bonus points if you recognize that you don’t have to do anything to earn your worth. It’s inherent to your humanness.