A Story to help Women Entrepreneurs who are lost and disillusioned. Before reading, I would like to invite you to listen from a particular place. A place where you can either see yourself and gain strength from it or a place where you think of someone who is struggling and will pass it along to support them. It’s a bit lengthy. So, take your time – you deserve it.
2 1/2 years ago I ran away from home. Just for the record, I am a grown woman – and I lived alone at the time. What could possibly have caused me to pack up and walk away from a wonderful life filled with great friends and family. Why would I run away from a prolific community of women that I created and adored. What could have been so confronting that I nearly abandoned the career that touched my soul and help me touch others? Maybe things weren’t as great at I thought…
I am a life-long entrepreneur. I started an auto body repair shop with my ex-husband at 21 years old. We borrowed $2000 to open it and years later when I left it was generating almost $1 million per year. I loved creating that business from scratch and honoring our dream. We achieved a level of success that was rare for kids our age. Following my divorce I became a Realtor. After years of struggling to build something worth while, I found myself in the top 6% of my company in the world. Who knew? I loved building my business to a success, making my own rules as I went along. I took incredible pride in creating 2 successful businesses while following my own path.
I was not romanced by the money these businesses produced as much as I was haunted by the need to do something that felt deeply purposeful to me. The intense pull to become a life coach had been in my consciousness for many years. Even before I knew there was a name for it. Somewhat jokingly, my sister says I had been a coach since I was 3. People of all ages would come to me for inspiration and wise words. Sometimes I thought ‘Why me’? But to be honest, I fully embraced my gift of soothing others. It fit like a glove.
I threw my hat over the proverbial wall
After years of staying in a less than rewarding real estate career, I semi-courageously threw my hat over the wall and dove head first into the unknown. I became a Coach. I named my company Thrive Any Way because similar to my own life lessons, I wanted to help others Thrive beyond their limiting situations and thoughts.
I was on cloud 9 if you could imagine. Here I was, doing what I had longed to do for so many years. I was getting paid to do what I passionately loved and was quite effective at. I was successful very quickly. I created women’s groups and I volunteered my time teaching self-esteem to domestic violence victims. I was so in my groove that I would cry from joy and content. Somehow I magnetically attracted all the clients I needed with minimal effort and I was on my way to a very comfortable lifestyle. I decided since I now had a mobile business that could live anywhere so I moved from my home of 36 years in South Florida and relocated to Stuart, Florida, where I knew no one (for a short time). I sunk my teeth into my new town and met so many incredible people. I redesigned my business to be more face to face so that I could work with local groups and individuals. I had this vision for a few years and it was finally manifested. I couldn’t be happier!
From Perfection to a disheartening realization
I chose to focus my coaching career on Women Entrepreneurs. After all, I was one, and had a load of experience to share. I began a weekly women’s group to teach entrepreneurship. I charged $5 to attend, but really, anyone could come. The group grew organically and flourished with the most amazingly talented women. I couldn’t have dreamed up something this big! I can’t tell you how much fun it was, and how I was in my element just sharing my failures and successes in order to shorten the path of others. I loved helping women get through the challenges that come with being in business. The fears, the emotional ride, the keeping it all together and of course, the balance. I also taught the standards like marketing, communication and how to structure a business that suited their desired lifestyle. It was such a pleasant and rewarding experience for all of us.
However, eventually the ‘business’ of helping women entrepreneurs thrive caught on and the industry became saturated with opportunity to have more. Books, programs and mega coaching became the trend. The days of personalized, private coaching became a secondary option to mass training.
I began to observe a pattern that became troubling for me. As I watched women enthusiastically jump into entrepreneurship, somewhere along the line they didn’t look satisfied. I observed these women running around (literally and figuratively) chasing success. Off they went to seminar after seminar, networking groups, masterminds, luncheons and purchasing product after product. All in hopes of ‘making it’. Now these are all good things in and of themselves and even quite fun to a point. I’ve purchased products and even created some of my own. But eventually it becomes overkill. These women were exhausting to watch and be around. They didn’t come across as successful, just needy. They spent more time distracted by something outside themselves then in their business. Suddenly, ‘there’ seemed better than ‘here’ and the conversations always lead to another ‘thing’ that was going to save them, make them, help them. I stood back and watched and was completely saddened. I knew only too well the vicious cycle they were on and am so grateful that when I got caught up in a similar circle, someone dear to me pointed it out and I have been mindful of what I choose to expose myself to ever since.
Disillusionment kills the spirit
I’m sure many people face the evolution of their chosen career and have to make a choice of whether to conform or not. I can change with the times like it’s nobody’s business, but I became disillusioned by what was happening to my beautiful industry. The very one that took my breath away just a few years earlier. I became so confused. Did I now hate coaching or did I hate what happened to it? It suddenly became a numbers game and who were the losers? Those that needed heartfelt partnership and got generalized support.
I tried to go with it. I tried to do it the new way. The more I did, the less joy I felt and the less I wanted to be here. I went through so many internal thoughts. ‘Maybe I’m not really a coach, maybe what I am is something else and I am in the wrong career’. ‘Have I become a dinosaur? Like the one I talk to my clients about; where I am not up to the times?’ These and many other thoughts began to kill my spirit and love for my work. All I wanted to do was help women pace themselves so that they could have a more balanced life. Women NEED a balanced life with family, friends, me-time and partner time. I wanted to help them do business like a woman. And for those who started a business late in life, I wanted to help them do age appropriate business and not like a 20 year old.
The Conscious Capitalist leaves home
I love to make lots of money. I love stuff. I was trained at a very young age to make lots of money. When I was 18 I worked in phone sales. I made $1000 per week in the late 70’s. That was about 5 times a normal income at the time. Sales training became part of my education throughout my life and I was very successful because of it. I don’t know if it’s my age talking or the line or work that I am in, but one day I realized I needed to throw all my sales training out the window and begin to connect with people on a different level. Breaking old patterns of sales techniques became one of the toughest things I have ever had to do. To this day even though I connect to my clients on a very deep level, I feel like my marketing comes across like a used car salesmen. (no offense, just a visual)
With my disillusionment about my career and my inability to convey myself effectively to those who would genuinely benefit from my gifts, I stepped away from my life and business. I didn’t know that at the time exactly, but in retrospect, I was.
An indefinite Good-Bye
There were a series of events leading up to my running away. I stopped magnetically drawing clients to me while in my state of unknowing. I didn’t quite understand what was happening but at some level I didn’t want to keep up a lie, pretending I belonged in this same space that I created. Ironically, the beautiful home I rented for 3 years was no longer available. I now look at that as a blessing since money became scarce. I felt like a woman without a purpose. I wasn’t unhappy, just lost in a passion without a home. Since it was the heart of the tourist season and difficult to find a home, I decided to go stay with a friend for a while who lived a few hours away. I didn’t know it would turn out to be a long while.
Before I left, my women’s group gave me an emotional sendoff. A party that still touches my heart with testimonials and loads of love. I walked away with such inner conflict. I loved them but I didn’t love who I was for them. I knew deep in my heart I had more to give. I resented the amount of hours I put into creating a group that didn’t light me up any more or speak to the new version of me that I had to offer. I didn’t know how to make that transition right there in front of them. So, leaving helped. But it also scared the daylights out of me. Was I ever going to come home? Would I reconnect with my group? What would my new version of life look like?
Opposition thwarts Growth
How many of us try to honor our path to healing or growth but others don’t support us in that? We take so much longer to get there while trying to dodge the opposition, right? There I was in Ocala, Florida, staying with a dear friend and his father. I thought it was going to be for a few weeks, a month at the most, before I went back home. I had no idea how lost I really was. I would sit in front of my computer day in and day out doing what I normally do. Working. Working. Learning. Creating. For what? I couldn’t tap into my groove. Did I lose it? All I know is that I kept my coaching business to a minimum with a few select clients while I immersed myself in meditation, self inquiry and a lot of rest to try to figure it all out.
For many years I felt a pull to spend time in a monastery to clear myself for a new beginning. I could never make that commitment because I have pets and didn’t want to leave them for a long period of time. I decided to look at this experience as a quasi monastery. I was in a beautiful home on a lake. I had very little distraction and I had a lot of time to rethink my life. This could really work.
Then the opposition began trickling in. I didn’t have to let it in, but I did. ‘What’s wrong?’ , ‘When are you coming home’? ‘What are you working on?’ ‘How could someone so smart be having such a tough time’, ‘What’s taking so long?’
I was in a very cushy environment. I could have just focused on what I was there to do and nothing else. But no! I allowed my own ‘make wrong’ thoughts and those of others to steer me towards putting out less than authentic versions of me. Who was I to have the luxury of not working, dammit. ‘Fran, put something out there so people know you are alive’. So I did. and it felt uncomfortable. It wasn’t necessarily the wrong material. It was the wrong timing. I was in healing and recreating mode. I needed to honor whatever time required. The problem was that I couldn’t soothe those who were concerned about me. I couldn’t convey that this was a ‘good’ time. I couldn’t convey it to myself either.
Part Two of my Journey – My Teacher appears
This story would be a book if I shared every detail of my experience. I will eventually share between the lines, but not today. After a year and a half in Ocala, where I felt I was complete with the experience of being there but still had no idea what that meant for my future, I got a phone call from friends of 30 years. They invited me to come stay with them in Raleigh, NC for a priceless exchange of energy. One of them being that I was going to be living with my most influential teacher ever. How perfect can things get?
Living with a teacher you absolutely adore is not always comfortable. I found out that I am not always coachable! Go figure! But after staying for a year, so much was absorbed and I hope retained. While I am still processing an enormous amount, I realize that the path I was on and bucking was not the issue but the resistance towards it was. I have resisted who I am for my community. I have resisted the magnitude of my gifts and the amount of women who truly need what I have to offer. I resisted that the pace and the way I want to do business does not make me a dinosaur and that I AM in fact a coach. Not only did all of this shift my life, but it makes me excited to share it with other women looking to find themselves in their life and business. While I still love to teach the facets of entrepreneurship, my passion is to clear the space for it to happen with ease and joy. That truly lights me up!
The Gentler Me Emerges
One of the areas of focus with my teacher was to develop the left side of my brain. I lived in a self-created bubble – as a Pollyanna. I was quite proud of the life where I avoided all negativity and adversity. But apparently great leaders don’t live in bubbles. They manage adversity. So I was intensely exposed to so much male energy that I thought I would die! I watched the news, politics, sci-fi and technology shows. I signed up for computer programming, math classes and purchased an electronics starter kit. I even went to a ham radio festival! Most importantly, I became a successful gamer who shoots and uses a sword (yes there were tears when I killed my first alien). With gaming I learned to buck up in challenging situations. I learned to defend myself instead of run away. I learned I am so much stronger than I allowed myself to be because I thought it would take away the gentle part of me that I loved and put forward.
At first I was so upset with the initial invasion of my male side. However, I was comforted from the very beginning that building my left brain would not create a more masculine Fran. So, while I plan to continue stimulating my left side, I am proud to say that I feel more gentle and loving than ever. I will now be bringing both sides of me to a situation and I feel more prepared to support a balanced life. I am eternally grateful to the man who brought me to tears because of my resistance to being WHOLE!
As I approach the end of this part of my journey I am not clear as to what’s next. Apparently I still have a few more miles to go. What I do know is that I will embrace the unknown much better and I will pass along what I know to those who see themselves in this experience.
My message for you today is this: You don’t have to run away to connect to your inner home.
OMG! I’m an Introvert! Read how a fun-loving social woman found out that she’d rather be alone
Fran Asaro is a Life and Business Coach helping Women Entrepreneurs create a Freedom-Based Lifestyle. Visit her Thrive Any Way site.
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