Episode 44: Why Embracing My Inner Coward Helped Me Start My Business
Why Embracing My Inner Coward Helped Me Start My Business
(Very Obvious) News Flash: Starting your own business is scary as hell.
I spent 99% of the year before I started my business, trying to gear up the courage to start my business.
I want to be very honest about what being too scared to start my business was like for me. Because while overcoming your fears is great, sometimes you just can’t.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
The nitty, gritty of my fear to start my own business (it ain’t pretty)
Why I (begrudgingly) had to embrace my inner coward and why I think it made an immense difference in my journey
Warning: Adult Language
Today’s I’m talking about the time before I started my business. Before I was gutsy and excited. Before I was committed to starting my coaching business. I want to get down and dirty in the darkness. When I was completely confused professionally. When I was too scared to take my business ambitions seriously. When I was frankly, too chicken shit to do anything. I want to talk about this time today because I feel like I haven’t done enough justice to this season.
I did what many people do: Gloss over the ugly and cut straight to the triumph. It’s time to change that.
Before you can even show up to say yes to starting your own business, you also have to walk through the dark, scary time of fear and not much hope. It is as much a part of the journey as the joy of deciding to start. I am no exception to that. I don’t want to reduce my story to “Yeah, it was bad but I got through it and you can too.” While overcoming my fear is a part of it, it is not all of it.
There’s something much more complex and rich in what I want to talk about today. And that something is all about embracing cowardice.
Let me start by telling you about the time I chickened out of working with a leadership coach.
I want to give you a little glimpse of Danielle back in August 2017, a few months before I officially started Chantiluke.
I had been listening to an incredible podcast hosted by an incredible creative, leadership coach named Majo Molfino. Her podcast is called The Heroine podcast, and you should definitely listen to it if you’re not currently. I had been listening to her podcast for a while and I, like many people do, I went to Majo’s website to learn more about her. I saw that she had an application to work with her one-on-one and on a whim, I submitted the application to work with her. I absolutely loved the podcast, I loved Majo’s vibe and philosophy. The application was free. “Why not?” I thought.
At the time I got a response that Majo was fully booked and I was on her waitlist. Cool. I completely forgot I submitted an application until some weeks later in August 2017, when Majo reaches out to me. She had a few spots open and I had the option of doing a phone consultation with her.
“Yes!” I thought. Hell yes. After listening to Major’s podcast, I knew she would blow up my spot in a good way if I worked with her. I knew she would help me tap into what was inside of me that I was so desperately searching for outside of myself.
I did not realize just how confused and scared I was.
I actually found my responses to Majo’s intake form and this is some of what I wrote:
What is the biggest challenge you're facing right now?: My current job is guaranteed for another year. My initial thinking was, "I should start exploring what I want to do next because I may not have a job in a year." But really, I think I'm excited for a reason to pursue something else. I became a data analyst after leaving a PhD program and found that my job was a great place to land: it used data analytic skills and was focused on higher education (my research area in graduate school). Now, I kind of want to live a bit bigger in my life. I've been so inspired by so many of the women you've interviewed it and made me question if I could use that inspiration to fuel my next steps.
Now the second question she asked was:
What would you like to gain from private coaching with me?: I hope to gain better clarity about what it is that I want to do and what is holding me back. I am deeply crippled by indecision; indecision about what it is that I want to do, fear that I might make a mistake, and fear that I won't be able to remove the barriers to letting my true self thrive.
We set up a time to talk by phone. I get on the phone and Majo asks me something along the lines of how do you want to feel about your work. And I distinctly remember saying “I want to be like Oprah. I love how consciousness raising and confident Oprah is.” Of course, Majo was like “Girl, you ain’t Oprah and never will be.” (She said it much more sweetly but the sentiment was the same.) Oprah is Oprah, Danielle is Danielle. And that’s beautiful. Majo explained how we would work together and I remember feeling “Gosh, this sounds so good.”
And then she told me her price and what working together would look like. I knew, I knew I could make it work. I knew I could swing it. But I chickened the fuck out. And you want to know why? It was because I was too scared to not be scared anymore.
I wasn’t scared of spending the money. I was really scared of not being able to cling to my fear anymore. Ya’ll insert Majo for something else, someone else, whatever else. I knew, deep down, with my intuitive wisdom, what I needed to be unstuck. To be uncrippled by fear.
I knew that I placed a shackle on my ankle and I swallowed the key. I was panicked by the thought that I couldn’t stand on my fear anymore.
If I did not have my fear, then what would I stand on?
There’s this recurring theme in Buddhism of a basic, genetic fear engrained in every human being of
”groundlessness. Groundlessness the lack of certainty, permanence, and security that we think we have (and need). Buddhism states that we as human beings find incredibly creative ways to maintain the illusion of “groundedness” no matter what we need to do. In my case, I was standing on my fear. I was completely uncertain about the direction of my career. I was completely disturbed because I would have to make a decision and I could find myself in another job I didn’t love. And I was standing on the “secure” belief that if I was not afraid, all hell would break loose in my life. Everything would fall apart and it was my fear, and only my fear, that was keeping everything together.
So I held on it to like my life depended on it. Because I sincerely felt like it did. It did not matter that working with Majo probably would have allowed me to start my business sooner much sooner. It did not matter that the books I got from the library told me the same thing over and over and over again: feel your fear and move forward. It did not matter what my own damn inner wisdom was calling out to me all the while saying “Danielle you are alright even in the storm. Danielle you are all right even though you don’t have certainty in this. Danielle love you are alright, you are alright.”
It did not matter. Because I was scared.
Now the point of this story is not to make an idol out of our fears. That’s not what I want you to take away here. I also don’t want you to take a victor’s story here. That, yeah Danielle was scared, then she battled her fear and now she’s triumphant with her own business. Because that’s not completely true either.
Here’s what I see in my own story:
I see a ridiculously rich, immense journey in compassion and tenderness for the coward that I am and will always be.
We always want to be the victor, the conqueror, the hero in our lives. All the time. Under every circumstance. I love the feeling of being on the “right” side of my personal history. I love being able to say I am brave. I am victorious. No matter what is thrown at me.
I love it so damn much because there’s no weakness in being a victor. There’s nothing imperfect about being brave and courageous all the damn time. There’s nothing lumpy, goofy, shitty, messed up about being the victor, being the brave one, being the fearless one. I love being brave some much because it doesn’t feel painful or nasty.
And when I am just too scared to be brave, I hate myself. I forget that cowardice is an option too. I forget that I can, have, and will continue to show up like the coward in my life story just as often as I show up as the victor.
I can’t cherry pick which of my habits, which parts of my story is deserving of love and compassion if I truly want to live fully. I can’t decide that the only parts of me worthy of my light are the ones that are beautiful. I can’t do that if I truly want to live in the fullness of my own damn light.
I don't want to be the kind of person that has no room for the coward within me. I don't want to be the kind of person that blames or laments myself for being a punk ass bitch. I want to love that part of me too. Not to make it better or to make it go away. But because it's there.
Cowardice is here within me. Not just bravery all the time. Cowardice is here too.
There's as much room in my life for cowardice as there is for bravery. I could never know how to become brave without knowing what it is like to be a coward. I could never be supportive of you, listening to this podcast, or to the people who choose to get coached by me, if I cannot be supportive of myself.
I'm tired of hating myself for being human as fuck. For being lumpy, misshapen, un-perfect. I'm really fucking tired of pretending like I need to be perfect to be worthy of the space my own soul takes up. I'm just tired. I have very little to lean on but compassion right now.
If you're listening to this episode and you've spent one week, one month, a year completely beside yourself because you’re too afraid to start your business right now. If you’re tired of being pissed off at yourself for being a coward and not a victor, or disappointed in yourself, or annoyed, or whatever…
I just want you to hear my story and possibly consider that it is okay to be too scared to be brave right now.
It is okay to be too weak to be courageous. That’s a part of the human story too.
And maybe just with that love and with the compassion you give yourself, you can just learn to be with yourself a little bit more. Who knows what gets created from that? Maybe it’s the business or maybe it’s not. But it sure as hell will be something loving.
intro and outro music: danosongs.com
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