I started my company six years ago with the mission of helping political business owners scale their companies to run more efficiently. I immediately set about creating financial forecast models and brand strategies and staffing plans for my clients, training them to use all the frameworks I had learned in business school.
It quickly became evident, however, that it didn’t matter how clearly all the spreadsheets and strategic analysis pointed to a specific plan of action if the business owner was too afraid to pull the trigger. That’s why I became an executive coach.
I’ve spent these years diving deeper and deeper into mindset coaching, to the point of becoming a Master Practitioner and now a Certified Trainer of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Hypnosis. I still create business growth strategies with and for my clients, I just also guide them to shift their thoughts and behaviors at the unconscious level to be able to execute on those strategies to create the businesses and lives of their dreams.
As an entrepreneur who coaches entrepreneurs, I have long been fascinated by the kind of crazy people who decide to forego all financial security and bet the house, often literally, on their own ability to create something new. What I didn’t realize until the past few years was that most of our entrepreneurial success is built on top of emotional baggage.
When most of us hear the word “trauma” we think of extremely horrific occurrences — the types of things that mostly happen to other people. But the truth is, we all have trauma. None of us make it to adulthood without experiencing significant emotional events that shape our worldview. Our unconscious mind reacts to these events by creating rules and stories in an attempt to keep us safe. It imposes limits. It creates baggage that colors the lens on how we see the world around us. It tells us how to feel, how to act, what to be.
For entrepreneurs, that baggage often expresses as having something to prove to ourselves or to others. We want so badly to be seen as extraordinary that we will risk our financial security, our relationships, and even our physical health to succeed. We re-traumatize ourselves over and over. Then, after years of striving, we finally make it to the top of the multi-millionaire mountain, only to find ourselves completely alone and gasping for air.
By the time we realize that what we’ve been doing all along isn’t healthy, it’s too late. We have a full staff of people who depend on us for their paychecks. We have a partner and kids at home who need us to pay the mortgage and write tuition checks. We’re getting invited to be guests on podcasts. We have younger people approaching us at conferences to tell us we’re their hero. We have a really kickass profile on LinkedIn featuring a headshot that we paid a lot of money for. We feel stuck in a prison of our own creation.
Friends, there’s a different way to do this. You can experience life in full alignment, realizing your ultimate potential, experiencing joy every single day. You just have to be willing to run toward all the things you’ve spent your whole life running away from.
Michelle Coyle is president of BGSD Strategies, where she provides strategic advice for political business owners. She also writes The Business Advice Column for C&E.