My name’s Mel and I believe I’m a big fat failure.
If you’re female and an entrepreneur I think you could probably insert your name for mine and it would ring true for you. Which is why I’m coming clean with this predilection of mine to believe I’m a walking disaster.
What I need to make clear is this is not a sympathy grab. Yes I know the facts. I have co-founded three businesses, written two books and one workbook, won awards, write for esteemed publications including Fairfax (SMH, The Age, etc), Latte, CEO Magazine, Gloss and have even been asked to speak on TV as an expert. But the truth is some days I ignore all of that and focus deeply and earnestly on the crap at the bottom of the jar. And I have to confess those ‘some days’ are regular and have a recurring theme – which is that I’m a fraud, a failure and it’s only a matter of time before I’m found out.
Of course, I’m not going to tell anyone any of this because I have trust issues which means I keep all of it boxed up tightly to myself. Only my poor husband gets to hear the meltdowns which he becomes increasingly frustrated by.
So last year I decided I was sick of the cycle and decided to do something about it. Because I believe adamantly that often the person holding back female entrepreneurs are ourselves. That’s because it’s not other people telling me I’m hopeless – in fact often they’re saying quite the opposite – but I can’t hear them because of the noise in my own head. And because I so desperately want them to believe what they’re saying about me, even if I don’t, it means I can’t tell them when business and life is tough because I don’t want them to think less of me. Which means I feel like even more of a fraud.
Can you see the problem here?
Now I appreciate I sound like a crazy person but the truth is I’m not. I also don’t think I’m alone. Perhaps it starts early with women when we’re taught by magazines and society to obsess about our size, our weight and being good girls. Or perhaps it’s because we have an innate need to be thought well of. Whatever the reason, I think too many of us are thinking we’re big fat failures when in fact we’re not. And it’s holding us back as business women.
The truth for me is I’m not where I want to be yet. I have bigger plans for my accounting firm and they’re taking longer to realise which is frustrating but not abnormal. I have a preschool which has taken longer to fill than expected because of where it is and the different approach we’re taking and we’re struggling to find the great next site and are unwilling to compromise on our vision. I have a new financial planning business which we’ve been unable to officially launch because we left a large licensee as it wasn’t right for us. And an online site that I’ve been slow on promoting because it’s not perfect in my eyes. None of which makes me a failure, just a frustrated entrepreneur.
What I know from having worked with a coach for the last six months is that as a perfectionist I’m all about the extremes – the all or nothing. It’s all crap or it’s all great. There’s nothing in between. And because it’s so hard for me to believe that it’s all great then invariably I find the glass half empty. Add in a healthy dose of introversion, an inability to trust other people and an uncomfortableness with being judged and it’s not a great recipe for wellbeing.
Which is something I’m determined to change.
That’s why I’m coming clean today about feeling like a big, fat failure. Because if I’m honest about wanting to champion business owners and particularly women then I believe you need to be honest about your own experiences. Which is something I’m not great at because I’d rather show you my glossy professional side and hide the personal side. Because the glossy stuff is shiny, shellacked and tidy while the personal can be hard and downright icky. But that’s life, right? It’s a glorious mess and you can hide that and cover it with brittle, teeth-gritted resilience or you can start to embrace it and become an entrepreneur that might be a little messy but has incredible wellbeing.
So, if like me you had a moment this week where you found yourself crying in the shower because you suck and it’s all going to go to pot then know you’re not alone. If, like me you found yourself doing box breathing like a crazy woman to get yourself back on track and repeating mantras that you don’t believe but you’re hoping will find their way into your crazy head, then know you’re not alone. And if like me you woke up today having shaken off some of the darkness and are fiercely determined to make the most of the next quarter to set yourself up for a great new financial year, know you’re not alone.
My name’s Mel and I’m a determined, dogged, sometimes-crazy, introverted, creative serial entrepreneur. It’s not always pretty. In fact often in private, as much as I try to fight it, it’s downright messy. But this year I mean to strip the nagging failure-monkey off my back. Because I firmly believe the glass ceiling over my head that is holding back my success is of my own making and I’m kind of tired of looking at it.
Who’s with me?
Tags: business, business confidence, business owners, entrepreneurs, failure, female business owners, self-confidence