The founders I coach run very different companies, but they have a few things in common. They’re all dealing with an at times overwhelming amount of change and transition. They’re being pushed, daily, to grow and expand into new skill sets and behaviors and let go of old ones that no longer work for them. As they go, they’re learning new ways to deal with change and the pressure of running their company.
Let’s be honest: as much as they may strive to do so, they’re not always going to show up as their highest, most inspired selves; when their attempts to move through their inner blocks don’t fully succeed.
Those are the days they get just a little too close to the edge of their tipping point. Suddenly it all feels like too much.
Maybe they didn’t get a good night’s sleep. Maybe a client complained or an employee quit. Maybe their child is sick, or the events of the world feel just too damned heavy in that moment.
The point is, despite our desire to consistently show up and be productive, creative, and in the zone, we’re human. And as such, there will be hard days. Days when our energy is low and our self-judgment is high.
Here is the advice I most often give when founders are having a hard day, or when they’re totally falling apart.
1. Stop beating yourself up, already.
If your energy is consumed by frustration and negative self-talk, then you’ll be less able to make positive change. Michael Singer, spiritual teacher and author of The Untethered Soul wrote, “No solution can possibly exist when you’re lost in the energy of a problem”. Instead of judging yourself and your situation, try relaxing and simply notice what’s happening to your thoughts and emotions. Then try to shift your focus to what you want to create. That can be easier said than done, but it’s the trying that counts. When you’re able to make the shift, you’ll lift your energy and make fresh progress more possible.
2. Stay curious.
As you work to remove your blocks and create the growth you desire, be open and test the conditions or routines that work best for you. Over time, you’ll learn which tasks you can delegate so they no longer consume your mindshare. You might find that there’s a time of day where you’re at your most creative. You’ll notice the mental chatter that limits you. You’ll discover what you need to create, and let go of, to make the change stick. Stay curious and experiment to find what works.
3. Focus on small gains.
Right now, focus on making progress toward your goal. Take the pressure off yourself about achieving the ultimate outcome. Celebrate the small gains you make today, like the productive hour you had before your day got hijacked. Or the crucial conversation with someone on your team that went better than last time. Or that you logged off in time for dinner with your family. If the overwhelm feels particularly acute, remember Robin Arzon’s (Peloton instructor and overall badass) advice: “Forward is a pace”.
4. Use your imagination.
One of the founders I work with spends five minutes each morning visualizing having already had a good day and the details that made it so. It’s a particularly powerful routine to keep his energy high during periods of prolonged intensity. The power of visualization has been well documented: imagining the outcome you desire conditions the brain to more readily turn it into reality.
5. Treat it like a practice.
The inner blocks that limit you today were created over a lifetime, so they’ll take time to unwind. Instead of expecting immediate results, continue to work the process until you start experiencing the level of energy, confidence, and inner alignment you desire. Like any practice that you dedicate time to, your results will fluctuate along the way, but it’s the long game that counts.