For some time now I have been speaking and writing about the impact of trauma on entrepreneurship and small businesses. Previously blog I outlined the differences between “little t” and “big T” traumas you can read more here, now let’s look at how trauma can surface in our businesses. It is kind of a thing of mine to talk about these topics in detail — and often.
I understand that the idea of trauma alone can be confusing and when connecting it with the way someone builds their business, it can become even more mind-blowing. Because of this, I will always share more details — yes, even my own — to shine a light on this topic.
I want to make it very clear and real so that you can also see how childhood adversity may be impacting your own business.
A note about triggers. If you have trauma in your background, reading stories about other people’s trauma can be triggering. I have written it in a way that will minimize the triggers, but they can still happen. So, please take personal responsibility and stop reading or practicing whatever self-care skills you have to manage your own trauma.
Let me introduce you to one of my trauma triggers.
Please Meet — Doing Things The Right Way. It has been with me for as long as I can remember and has journeyed with me through life — and has even set up shop in my business
When I was a kid, I had a pretty hard time doing things THE RIGHT WAY. You see I had a learning disability — ADD — and I was just a very different kid. As you can imagine, I spent most of my time doing things THE WRONG WAY according to the authority figures around me.
I THOUGHT the wrong way, I ATE the wrong way, I LEARNED the wrong way, I APPROACHED CHALLENGES the wrong way, the way I approached TIME was the wrong way, the QUESTIONS I asked were the wrong ones… you get my point here, right? I was taught that I needed to do things THE RIGHT WAY because my dear unique self was not valued for the ways that I approached the world.
I worked very hard at trying to learn to do things the RIGHT WAY. I suffered emotional, physical, and psychological abuse at the same time I was trying to conform. No matter how much I tried, I was rarely able to do things THE RIGHT WAY.
What I was doing was developing outside-of-the-box thinking, problem-solving, and resilience to find A WAY to get things done. I was pretty successful at getting the outcome that I needed, even while doing things a different way. Even though I was usually a failure at doing things THE RIGHT WAY, I still wanted to. It was not until I was 45 years old that I finally understood that MY WAY was the RIGHT WAY for me — and that I could let that old story go.
So, how does this trigger the need to do things THE RIGHT WAY impact my business?
- I doubted my abilities and spent way too much money on experts to show me THE RIGHT WAY TO DO THINGS. No matter how hard they tried, it did not stick and I still did it the way that worked for me. Imagine the time and money I would have saved if I had honored that I don’t need to do things THE RIGHT WAY.
- I sat on articles, forms, programs, marketing, and other resources that would take my business further and faster because I was waiting to learn to do it THE RIGHT WAY. I did not trust that THE RIGHT WAY FOR ME is how I needed it to be done, and preferably RIGHT NOW — not a year from now.
- My website languished for years needing updates because I felt paralyzed by needing to do it THE RIGHT WAY, so instead, I just did nothing.
- I allowed my confidence to be eroded and my expertise questioned because I was not promoting my services and expertise THE RIGHT WAY!
This RIGHT WAY trigger has cost me time, money, and confidence. Even though I’ve spent my life doing things MY WAY because it was the only way that made sense to me, I still missed this blind spot in my business until very recently.
Let me clear one thing up right away: I am not saying that there are not “best practices” to adhere to and that there are some BEST WAYS to reach goals based on research and studies. What I missed is that those ways were studied and researched with a bias towards people who learn, process, and hear things in a certain way — and that ain’t me, folks.
It was not until I reminded myself that when I get triggered by the need to do things the perceived RIGHT WAY, that I shut down.
For me, forward motion is best gained by the mantra Done Is Better Than Perfect and Get It Out There and Adjust as Needed.
True Fact. When I JUST DO IT! my business thrives. I have more creativity, I am standing more fully in my expertise, my marketing and writing are more authentic and fluid, and they ACTUALLY get done!
The truth is that I am on the front lines of working with trauma and business in a NEW WAY. There really is no RIGHT WAY to do this. I was told to not use the word TRAUMA in my messaging. Guess what? When I stopped listening and started using the dreaded T-word, my body of work grew and my expert status exploded.
I recognize this trigger of mine. We have had a lifetime together. Instead of spending energy trying to get rid of it, I have spent my time getting to know it and how it shows up for me so that I can move past it and step around it. I am grateful for the knowledge of this trigger and that I have embraced the brilliance that was created by doing things My Way.
Are you curious about how trauma may be impacting your own business? Download the Trauma & Entrepreneurship Assessment here.