Poking the bear

 May 2021, Swindon, Dent Zoom Call

I’m on a zoom call with fifty-odd other entrepreneurs enjoying a business accelerator.

It’s an excellent experience, but something isn’t sitting right.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my entrepreneurial journey to date but when rubbing shoulders with all these passionate business owners I’m feeling something is missing.

I’m starting to feel, increasingly louder, that it doesn’t feel authentic.

Two quotes struck me at the time:

“What is the work you cannot do” ~ Scott Dinsmore and

“If i was starting completely fresh, in a world where anything is possible, what would I love to be doing” ~ Glen Carlson

Take a moment. Pause.

What springs to mind when you read those two statements above? Make a note of it, run with it, no matter how daft it might seem. Talk to people about it. In my experience there are no Aha! Thunderbolt moments, they are subtle little whispers. Listen for them and take action.

Anyway, back to the accelerator… By chance, a guy called Dan Stanley, a performance coach, was asking a question during the accelerator.

So, Dan is in the zoom hot seat and all the entrepreneurs on the accelerator get to learn a little bit about him. Long story short, I’m signing up to be one of Dan’s clients.

The performance coaching experience

I have worked with different coaches and consultants over the years of owning a business, and sought counselling after the break up of my first marriage. But this is entirely different. It’s not tactical, it’s looking at you as a whole and helping you get out of your own way.

Dan encouraged me to carve out the space to actually think. This is transformational. Even if you are not going through a midlife awakening as I was, I’d recommend this for everyone. I can smell the coffee, see the horizon, actually think. I’m living rather than just existing. In practice this meant splitting my working week into two, and only “working” and being available for half the week.

Because of this quiet time, I’m able to get beyond just what your brain thinks and actually listen to your intuition, your heart, your gut, whatever you want to call it. With a business to run and a young family, it’s easy to slip into a business whack-a-mole where you just get on with whatever is in front of you and numb out anything else.

As I write this, I’m now six months into the process. It’s a form of sabbatical. After much reading, study and conversation I’ve developed real clarity on my next chapter. I’ve never felt so aligned, directionally correct. I’ve come up with a new business that I wish to develop. A new journey that I want to embark on. I purposely didn’t set a deadline for developing something and have been enjoying the process, but by coincidence things seem to have really fallen into place after six months.

I wish to pursue helping people find their true calling. More importantly, to act on it and make that transition. Whether they’re in schools, just leaving college, whether they’re mid-career or facing some sort of crisis – I want to help people. I’m going to use everything I’ve learned to date to build it into a business. I’ve got experience building businesses from scratch, building teams, technology and a passion for psychology and entrepreneurship – I’m going to chuck it all into the cauldron, mix it up a bit and see what I can come up with.

Working with Dan has allowed me to lift my head above the parapet, look at what is actually going on and choose the right direction. It’s brought much clarity and peace – So a heartfelt thank you to Dan.

Poking the bear
Why poke the bear?

Why poke the bear?

Part of my coaching experience with Dan was to dig into buried ideas, preconceptions, society expectations, assumptions and fears. This is not an easy exercise, but a thoroughly liberating and life changing one.

  • Why poke the bear when you have an established career and steady income?
  • Would it not be easier to stay in your rut?
  • What about playing golf or something?

Well, because the vacuum you feel won’t go away.

Your brain is wired this way, it likes to stay within the lines, within existing habits, within your comfort zone, it’s the most efficient use of its energy. Conventional wisdom says just keep plodding along towards your pension and numb out any other feelings with overwork, with drink, with eating too much, with buying crap you don’t need to fill the void, keeping up the jones or whatever your poison might be.

Why poke the bear? Because I’d rather, as the late publisher Felix Dennis wrote, perform “handstands on the rim of hell” than to settle. Because fortune favours the brave, because I’d rather look my kids in the eyes and say I gave it a shot rather than say I dared not leave my fur lined rut.

Let your brain be your heart’s soldier

To help articulate the vision of what I’d like to create with this new business, nobody says it better than Po Bronson In ‘What should I do with my life?’:

“What do people really want?” They want to find work they’re passionate about. Offering benefits and incentives are mere compromises. Educating people is important but not enough. We need to encourage people to find their sweet spot. Productivity explodes when people love what they do. We’re sitting on a huge potential boom in productivity, which we could tap into if we got all the square pegs in the square holes and the round pegs in the round holes. It’s not something we can measure with statistics, but it’s a huge economic issue. It’s a great natural resource that we’re ignoring.

“Society needs more people lit by passion, and fewer simply able to do what they’re told. Society needs an educational system that properly equips people with the tools they need to pursue what they believe in.”

“The traditional search for a career begins with the question “What am I good at?” But that’s often not the right starting point for finding a calling. You can get good at what you need to serve what you believe in. You can learn Spanish, you can learn budgets, you can learn to listen. The true search is for what you believe in. When your heart’s engaged, the inevitable headaches and daily annoyances become tolerable and don’t derail your commitment. Let your brain be your heart’s soldier.”

Let your brain be your heart’s soldier, amen to that. The adventure starts here. Thanks for reading.

Image Credit – Marneejill

2 comments on “Poking the bear

Martin, thank you. Excellent and excellently written.

Your coherence, conciseness shines through as testimony to your yards walked so far. Enjoyed the pearls of clarity, sparsed with hope.

Presently re calibrating back in England but hopefully catch you on another Men & Mountains.

[…] part of my midlife awakening described in previous posts – I started a Masters Degree in occupational psychology in September 2022, something I’m […]

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