One of my greatest fears about starting my own coaching program was the need to take on the identity of an "Entrepreneur." I'm so not an entrepreneur. I felt like I had grown up with an understanding that a steady business was an important part of life; that being financially stable was the primary goal in life; and that risk was just too ... well ... risky.
Through my own coaching relationship with an incredible peer, I discovered a fact that, frankly, I had been completely blocked from: I come from a family on entrepreneurs.
My father and mother arrived in the United States in 1974. They had no family here, no community and no connections. Yet, my father and mother started their medical practice. As a kid, I have fond memories of going to work with them, eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich somewhere in the back room (where my parents often told us to stay quiet so as not to bother their patients), and coloring with fancy letterhead paper. Throughout the years, my parents' business grew and, soon, we had distant memories of the struggles of starting a business.
When my mother was in her early 50s, I remember her traveling more. And, though I was away at college, I remember her taking classes to earn her travel agent license. But, all of this seems so distant now. All I see, now, is her success, her peer network, and vibrant way she lives her life.
And, still, I tell myself, "I can't ever be an entrepreneur."
The other day, I sat down with my mother and asked her to tell me about those early days -- those early days of struggle. She told me that, when they opened their medical practice, my mom went door to door to the offices of general practitioners to let them know they had opened a specialist business. She made phone calls. She went to hospitals. She took people out to lunch (this was, believe it or not, before "coffee shops"). She wrote letters.
My mom, who exudes confidence at the age of 72, told me that her "scariest moments were when she had to turn the doorknob of a doctor's office before she went inside." She was terrified. She didn't have anything to sell, really, except for the fact that they had this business. She worried that someone would ask "How many patients do you have?" and she would have to answer, "Well, none, YET." She was afraid.
Soon, a patient walked through the door. Then another. Then another. Then, they just didn't stop coming.
But, that's all I remember. I remember the good. I remember the success.
I never knew how much had gone in to getting there.
When my mom was in her mid-50s, she decided to open up her own travel agency. She worked with my dad in the office during the day and then went to school at a community college at night. She said she was terrified that, at times, that she was making the wrong - risky - decision. But, the more she learned, the more she loved this path. She knew she had found her calling, even after spending a decade or more in medical school. She had worked so hard to achieve something else; yet, she was truly alive when she was engaged in her travel business.
She went to trade shows. She gave herself "confidence talks" before socializing. And, she learned how to make small talk and have meaningful dialogue in a room of strangers.
But, because this was her calling, she never felt like it was work. She knew that her travel service was opening doors for so many people. She knew that she aligned her values of honesty, access to global travel, and the ability to see the world and oneself was how she could make this world better.
I have learned so much from my mother, but last night's conversation helped me to learn so much about myself. I learned that I can do this. I learned that I come from a long line of people who carved their way. I learned that, just like my parents, I could live in my passion.
I didn't just wake up like this, though. I am grateful for the many coaches who have taught me to live in my own truth. They have taught me to see the opportunities within myself and to share my gifts with others.
In my other blogs, I usually sign off with some sort of tag line. Usually it's "peace and love" or "peace and gratitude". But, in this Life and Leadership Coaching blog, my sign off is about what we can do together. It's about who we are when we are fully living our dream, our vision and our calling.
Stepping into brilliance,
LT Life and Leadership