The Thing Happened. It's Meaningless
For many years (and probably most of my life) I wrapped myself up in stories. Stories that questioned, "How well am I liked?", "What will people think of me?", "Am I a good entrepreneur?", "Will I meet my parents' expectations?", "Am I worthy to be in this role?", "Am I attractive enough?", "Do my employees respect me?", "Can I be a strong leader?", "Will I make enough money?", "Will my wife leave me?", "Will I have a good relationship with my kids?", and on and on and on and on! Hundreds of times a day we experience things in the world and we create a story around it and very often, that story hinders our ability to live a full life. So how can we stop telling stories that cripple our potential and realize the possibilities of taking control of our intentions? Let me use an example of one of my stories to illustrate the point.
In 2009 I had sold a company I had founded to an East Coast healthcare operator. It was time to sell the business. The business was marginally profitable but the industry and economic headwinds were coming at us head on and while I was certainly tired, I knew that in order to survive we needed to be part of a bigger organization. It was clear. I remember the day in a board room where a board member asked, "So are you saying if we don't sell the company that you're leaving?" And my response that infuriated him was, "Yes". So we did the deal and I became the Chief Strategy Officer for the acquired company. That lasted about 4 months.
The Company did not need a Chief Strategy Officer. The Company needed to conserve its cash and execute an operating plan to manage profitably during a time of integrating our company and combating the industry challenges. I knew I had to go. When I told one of my largest shareholders that I would be leaving, he started yelling and told me to leave his office. I had never had that happen before. Three years later the Company that had acquired us closed its doors abruptly. Those are the facts. It just happened. That's all.
Now here is where the crazy comes in. My story for a long time went something kind of like this. I let down my investors and failed as an entrepreneur. I got kicked out of someone's office because I let them down and didn't act honorably in sticking around the acquiring Company. I am a poor leader that took the easy way out and left others holding the bag. Ouch, that sounds really rough, doesn't it? But that's just a story. A crappy story but a story all the same.
I don't know why I assumed that story. I'm sure that is many years of digging back into the deep recesses of my childhood and relationship with my parents but the point is that I was capable of making it my truth. That truth was super challenging to overcome and a lot of coaching and support helped me get clear that the story that I layered on the facts is just in my head. Here's another way to look at the story: I built a Company to $8 million in revenue that was profitable but we were low on cash. Regulatory changes and a souring economy spurred me to act in order to find a home so that our vision could continue with more ability to weather a tough environment. I proactively sought a buyer, structured a deal and provided my shareholders with a path to preserve their investment. Based on the information that I had at the time, this was the best option for the Company and I got the outcome.
So what's the truth? Does it matter? Why spend my energy judging something meaningless? When I disconnect from the story I am free. I don't have the fear. Rather than trying to tell a story, the real value of the incident and how I responded should be evaluated through the lens of my commitments to myself. So if my commitment to myself is high integrity and openness and honesty, and analytical approach, then I should view the facts through the lens of the commitments or standards that I hold myself to. So long as I'm living my commitment, there is no story to bother myself with.
WOW (see sparks flying out of my head)! That is so flippin' liberating and powerful and energizing and awesome. Events are meaningless. Stories are unnecessary. How we control ourselves in those moments through our commitments and standards are the measure we hold ourselves to. So that's the work for me and for many entrepreneurs.
So what's the story that you're telling yourself and what would it feel like if you dropped that story and just lived true to your intention? Do this work for yourself and you will uncover an entirely new side of your life and do more than you ever could have imagined.