Prompted by my Below the Line pal Dave’s Gribben’s recent blog post about 40 years of working I realised that I was fast approaching a smaller but no less significant milestone of my own – four years since I left my job to cofound a business – Below the Line.
What began as one idea, running Executive Leadership Retreats in the West of Ireland, has gone off in a variety of directions and seen us branch into a whole range of different areas related to leadership development, organisational behaviour, executive coaching, health and wellness coaching and team performance. We have developed and continue to work with amazing clients both here in Ireland and Internationally, and our main goal now is to do two things: 1. Keep going and 2. Keep growing!
When I reflect on what I have learned from this experience, there are a couple of things that immediately spring to my mind:
1. The Business you Start is Not the Business you End up Being In
A line uttered to me by my fellow Below the Line co-founder Ian Kingston has proven to be eerily prophetic as we have adapted what we do and our offerings to the marketplace and more importantly figured out why we do what we do and what we feel we bring to the table when we work with our clients. As explained above, what we thought we were going to do as a business and what we do now has morphed and developed in ways we never had quite anticipated and has shown me:
- The need to be agile and flexible in the face of challenges and setbacks
- The importance of not being overly attached to any one particular outcome
Needing things to work out in a specific way can very quickly cause much unnecessary stress as you struggle to get what you want to happen when it’s not meant to work out that way. It’s intended to work out the way it is working out now and learning to be at peace with that and to recognise when it is happening is a lesson I continue to learn.
2. Get into and Live more From Your Heart Space
Living and leading from your heart is such a simple idea but so hard to do at times. As people, we tend to rationalise everything in our heads when what is needed is to open our hearts and lead and live from that space. This idea has found expression in how we, as a team, come together and run our business. In Below the Line, we spend far more time talking with and about each other – what is going on in our lives, where do we currently find ourselves in the midst of everything that we have going on both personally and in business, what are we learning about our ourselves and the world around us and what can we take from all of this experience and translate into how we show up into our lives and work? Staying in the realm of the heart, emotion and feeling is what has helped our business grow and develop more than anything else. Our greatest challenge as a team is to keep trusting this approach and to let our heads overly interfere with the process!
3. Humanity is Irresistible
Another of our cornerstone ideas in Below the Line, as espoused by Gerry Hussey, that has made all the difference in how we come together and how we encourage our clients to work. Talking to a client this week, we reflected on what if any impact Below the Line had had on their team and business. It became apparent that one of the most impactful things we had done was to create and hold the space and time that this group needed to come together as human beings first. Helping them to uncover more of their own stories and allowing them to share, hear and experience the stories of their colleagues had enabled this team to come together more closely as people. This, in turn, had made it easier for them to collaborate, put their hands up for help, challenge each other and handle conflict in a much better way.
Starting a business from scratch will both test and teach you many lessons, some of them painful, in a very short space of time. Reminding yourself why you are doing this and of the bigger picture is key – yes business is about revenue and profit, but it’s more than that – it’s also about answering a call that often comes from somewhere very deep inside of us to take a chance and step into our own space and light. Keeping this front of mind is also another little lesson that I have learnt and one that I regularly return to, especially when I am faced with challenges or problems. It keeps me grounded and present with myself as I continue to navigate without a guide on my Below the Line journey!