And there is no "off-season."
It’s been a doozie of a couple of months wrapping up our season on the road with CW Moto and MotoAmerica, with my own consultancy taking off. We're home now, and adjusting to the "off-season" which is honestly quite a strange adjustment.
We haven't stopped. We knew we needed time off after the season; our friends in the sport told us it's not optional. And we tried to take a couple of weeks off after the last race round but neither of us were able to given client and customer needs back at the ranch. And while it's the "off-season" for racing, October is sponsorship month – so it's my high season in CW Moto. It's a pretty wild thing to be making my own sponsorship decisions in the sport while I pitch potential sponsors for CW Moto and while the world and economy is still pandemic-affected.
I wish there were three of me right now: one to handle and grow my business; one to spend all my time sourcing and pitching race team sponsorship; and one to write it all down and share what I learn. I'm dividing one human body with 24 hours each day between those three things and rest and housework and meal prep and that's not to mention downtime or relaxing or self-care or relationship maintenance or quality time with Chris and the kids or – you know – things like making time to shower.
I'm doing a small amount of individual coaching these days (if you want more info about that, join the waitlist for individual or executive coaching to get early notice before I open time up to the general public). And every time I walk someone else through the
"You have one human body and 24 hours each day"
conversation I'm amused by supporting other people through that awareness while I continue to struggle with it myself. But thankfully, rather than my inner asshole saying "You're a fraud!" I remind myself that sometimes being a step ahead of clients while still proximate to experiencing similar challenges is a superpower. My empathy is high. And when we work hard to learn something, it makes us not take for granted how hard it is to put into practice.
What brainpower I have above and beyond client work and my "have to do's" is going to integration right now. I've done a huge volume of work in new and more inventive ways this year. Thanks to working independently and with a wide variety of clients, I work within a framework but I don't have to follow any rules these days. I enjoy being able to immerse, observe, and assess each client organization's assets and risks, and then figure out how to help them move forward. It's giving me a huge experimentation set, to think and rethink and question some of the best practices in my field.
It’s awesome — and — I forget a chapter's worth of relevant insights a day right now since I'm so fully IN the work instead of writing ABOUT the work, so I’m grateful to be finding my team (and support pros) to help me get things out of my brain and onto paper and into action.
I’m also super grateful for the role serendipity is playing in my world and work right now.
Working globally means I have to carefully watch my calendar: my assistant and I are learning together how to protect my energy and rest in a global time zone reality. But October has been bananas on that front -- so I have been managing some intermittent feelings of "overworking."
It's not something I've really wrestled with before without an end in sight -- I've had experience and learning with all sorts of work boundaries -- but overworking is a new one. The dynamic of two businesses is a new one for me, so while balance is always hard, balance right now is like three-dimensional chess. Instead of balancing or harmonizing work and life, if I'm not working on my consulting business I feel guilty for not working on our moto business. So the tendency I've fallen into has been to focus on one business, then the other, then eventually fall asleep for not long enough (and usually work in my sleep – not dreaming about my sleep, but actually, literally, working on my work's puzzles in my sleep) and then focus on one business, then the other. I've been focusing on work / work balance, without my LIFE factoring into the equation.
One over-threshold day, I took a break for a dog walk and searched my podcast app for "self employed women overwork" and found this:
If that iFrame doesn't work – it's an episode of the Lean Out Your Business podcast, featuring a guest named Jordan Eades.
I hit "play" and started walking and listening and it was like they'd made that episode literally for me. Jordan and the host, Crista Grasso, discuss some of the highs and lows of self-employment, conditions and realities that contribute to overwork and burnout, and some of the needs meeting that must happen to recover.
I hung on every word. I nodded with each insight. I felt a wonderful sense of "me too!" and familiarity listening to them talk. And within the first few minutes I felt a wave of relief of finding "my people" on the subject.
Being an entrepreneur and founder in a woman-body is an interesting thing to move through. Most conventional wisdom on business and the bestselling mass-market books don't fit me. Leading and working within the paradigm of our dominant business culture has never at any point been a fit for me. I've always run counter – I've always seen the world and its potential differently, and been impatient to achieve the improved future I see. That's been an asset as an employee in some places, and a liability in others. But even in the roles where it's been an asset, there have been rules and norms and sharp edges in the environment that don't fit me.
When you're wired to change the status quo, the status quo doesn't always welcome you with open arms. And how-to guides based on the status quo don't always help: sometimes reading conventional wisdom I glean something helpful, and sometimes I get inspired to see or do things differently. And sometimes, reading those things trigger my "what's wrong with me?" that I work so hard to tamp down and replace with "there's nothing wrong with me."
When I transitioned into self-employment, and started to look for other women in business to listen to and learn from I experienced another round of feeling like a square peg. There is so much Boss Babe and Girl Boss noise, and so much MLM-guru culture (see, e.g. the article linked from this Tweet thread that makes me wish we had different words for what I do as a professional coach and what these people do under the name of coaching ) that sometimes I look around and think
I don't want any part of that and I don't want to be perceived as anything like that
so rather than risk contributing to that noise, I feel a little paralyzed by figuring out how to share my signal at all.
Add in an unhealthy dose of – perfectionism? imposter syndrome? rejection-sensitive dysphoria? – and I backslide into just keeping my head down, doing my work, and not risking being noticed.
And that, my friends, is no good for the old business pipeline.
I'm super lucky that I have plenty of work, so I can observe all of that and be like
this is interesting, and I can figure out a way to put the puzzle pieces and my support team together to navigate this. I'm not in survival mode, so my brain is working well to see this all as a fascinating puzzle with lots of layers to the onion to pull apart and explore.
finding that podcast episode and listening to the absolute SIGNAL of it reinvigorated me to beat back my writers block and start moving my fingers on the keyboard again.
It also helped me identify and put words to another interesting layer to the being self-employed while woman-bodied thing. A lot of what we hear in the Boss Babe Girl Boss Personality-driven Guru MLM thing is from women who wanted to be personality-driven business leaders.
In contrast: if I could have found a way to be a happy and successful employee working within an organization, boy-howdy I'd have happily chosen that path. But after decades of trying, and getting intimate with the old Narcotics Anonymous line
“Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.”
I mobilized my internal and external resources and stepped into self-employment.
By the time I did it, it wasn't reluctantly – it was absolutely the best next step for me. The timing was right. I had the resources I needed to feel safe and excited to do so and a product-market fit I knew I could hold up my end of supporting our family with. But unlike people who always wanted to lead their own businesses with them at the center, I have always wanted to do excellent work with people I enjoy with others at the center AND change the world for the better.
So learning to love and live as a self-employed person is a bit different when I look around and see so much written and talked about and created by and for people who always wanted to lead their own businesses with them at the center when that's not me.
And when I find people and resources around leadership and self-employment that I listen to and feel OMG THAT'S ME or WOW THIS IS AMAZING I FEEL WELCOME AND AT HOME HERE it's really, really encouraging.
(If this resonates with you, two other places I'm finding that feeling among a community is among Sarah Moon's Community, and the Overlooked Ventures Slack community.)
So that podcast episode with Jordan is another example of needing and finding and recognizing belonging. And before it was even over, I searched for Jordan hoping she'd written a book (not yet) and added myself to her mailing list.
And the next day I got an email back from her with a warm welcome to her mailing list and an invitation for a virtual coffee, and the extra little note that Zach says hi and had mentioned me and my work to her a few months ago after seeing my launch announcement on Facebook.
And I was confused about who this Zach is and how they saw me on Facebook and then I looked at Jordan's name and then I couldn't help myself but to burst into laughter and incredulity.
Jordan's last name is Eades. That would mean, the Zach she mentioned might, presumably, be a Zach Eades.
And that, my friends, is the name of a neighbor boy who was one of my best little friends from very early in my childhood.
Turns out it's the same Zach, and when Jordan and I met for coffee this week Zach and I got to say a quick hello – and Jordan and I may have even met at a high school reunion, I just can't quite remember.
And the world is so beautifully small and serendipity-filled
and you are not alone. Ever. Your people are out there. Their signal may be weak and the noise may be strong, but one way or another, if you keep at it, you can find their signal.
P.S. a reminder from _the_open_space_ on Instagram
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