In retrospect, I had many years of feeling lost, unloved, confused, and unhappy. During these times, I didn’t know what to do, or who to turn to for guidance. Nothing I did seemed to help. With each day, I only felt worse than the day before and my situation – although it should have been joyous – was miserable.
My journey involves, among other things, acceptance of self, others, and situations. Self-acceptance of where I’m at, and where I’m not. Accepting that where I’m at is a limitation, but more importantly, a point of departure or opportunity from which to grow.
Any personal journey, by definition, can be a struggle or a beautiful unfolding. Each person defines the meaning of their particular passage for themselves. That meaning brings a unique emotional quality. It’s not unlike taking a pulse. Unfortunately, that which we struggle against usually presents itself without our knowledge or foresight.
Acceptance & Transitions
I don’t seem to be able to cultivate significant life changes without accepting the reality of my situation. Unconditional acceptance transitions my struggle into a beautiful unfolding. I think this is the case because this new state of mind enables me to see the positive in any situation. If it seems too difficult to define a positive, perhaps I am able to learn a valuable lesson, or become aware of a silver lining. I find it far more valuable to define my situation this way, given the alternative I’ve already experienced.
As a Psychologist, I often deal with another person’s underlying struggle, encourage them to accept their journey for what it is, and ask them to consider what they might have control over. If they have a goal, I suggest that they find an action that might lead directly to that goal. We cannot eliminate the challenges of life, but we can strive to maintain a focus on what is going best and what is most important to us.
As in sports psychology, we benefit by creating a “memory bank” of positive outlooks and perspectives. Then all we need to do is to employ them for our own benefit. Unfortunately, too regularly, we allow ourselves to believe that “we simply must” focus on controlling situations that are often outside of our control or are secondary to our goals.
For me, due to a change in perspective, problems often change too, by becoming less essential or tertiary to a more valuable objective. At least that’s how it sometimes feels. New perspectives, attitudes or paradigms seem to bring new opportunities that I didn’t previously see. For a personal example read my previous post titled Continuum of Leadership Correlates. Am I lucky? Perhaps. As Tiger Woods has said, “the more I practice, the luckier I get.”
Opportunities can seem to multiply as I focus inward and become more honest and vulnerable with myself about myself and my life. One important aspect of my present reality is that my business is evolving, similar to being on a personal journey. I own the company so I can help to mold its identity. Refine what it’s all about, who it’s primary clients are, as well as it’s business values.
A business, remember, is a reflection of its owner’s reality, not a creator of their existence, which means, that at certain times, I must garner strength and confidence elsewhere to feed the business. At other times, the clinic will feed me. Meditation, music, and reflection. These are a few of my resources that mentor me down a trail to creating my masterpiece with my business. They inspire me. Hopefully, they will also stimulate the clinic’s evolution. Perhaps.
Whether this is true or not can be tested out. After considerable reflection and consulting my statistics, I can honestly say that my business has changed significantly in its first ten years. Where it’s clientele comes from and the concerns that they bring reflects a critical component of change.
Today, the clinic sees a higher number of private clients who hear of us online or through word-of-mouth — no more advertising budget. Client concerns continue to vary somewhat. However, everyone wants to feel and experience happiness. Currently, client concerns are more professional than in previous years, and clients themselves have more formal education and are more psychologically informed when they come in, as compared to our early years.
However, one thing feels clear and right. My business is successfully evolving. It is on its journey to be sure. My clinic is changing as I am. I feel more creative, confident, and better equipped to provide a highly customized therapeutic approach to my clients. Strategic goals include continuing to stretch myself beyond my comfort zone. I have additional skill sets now, relative to 10 years ago. Because I have grown and behaved differently, those around me reflect those changes back to me.
As a result, our clinic now has four conveniently located offices in and around our downtown core. Other Psychologists offer counseling services alongside me. Annual earnings remain steady. Projections indicate a 20-30% annual increase over previous years.
Most importantly, the quality of our focus has evolved more than anything else. Earnings will obviously come. Plus, new opportunities continue to present themselves. Where in the beginning, I alone provided supportive counseling, today several Psychologists also offer Executive and Leadership Coaching. I publish and speak regularly, with occasional training. There is a future that wants to come into existence and I and my clinic are an essential component.
Learn, Grow, Change, Evolve & Improve
Entrepreneurs might engage in the process of lifelong learning, and best practices. As a Psychologist, I must work my business as if I were a gardener. She works the soil. Cares for her plants with water and sunlight. But she cannot insist that her plants grow more or differently than they will. She must love them as they are and accept how they grow on their terms.
There is something quite magical about creatively loving life as it is, on its own terms. I think that a business requires, not only great technical and business acumen but also a commitment to forging greater connections with individual clients as well as to the business community and community at large. Activities that I understand how to do, but which are often outside of my comfort range – and so here, I stretch myself. I am an extreme introvert, which is excellent, as confidentiality is critical in a therapeutic setting, but limiting in terms of growing a business.
My professional journey (and that of my clinic), at least for the time being, seems to be about patience, acceptance, and stretching myself. Sometimes I think this is all life is about – accepting the things we cannot change, stretching beyond our comfort zones, and being patient for the life we long for. Acceptance, I should remember, reflects both a limitation and is a point or opportunity from which to grow.
“That’s it!” Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip once sung. We’ve got to engage in “a collection of things.” We’ve got to learn to love the life we have. Then it might change and become something more. Something not quite so “Tragic.”