New Rules

Last week I was working with one of my small business clients, a bright and dynamic woman who’s passionate about positioning her artisan business for growth. We were talking about her financial picture and forecasting robust sales over the next three years.

As I coached her, she expressed excitement and eagerness to see her dreams turn into reality, yet somewhere, just below the surface, I sensed subtle resistance on her part to fully imagine the scenario we were painting.

I asked her about what she was feeling. After stopping for a moment to “feel into” my observation, she tentatively at first, then heartily agreed. Then she got very curious about her seemingly incongruous resistance to success.

“Sarah”, I asked, “What is your ‘rule’, about financial success? In other words, what belief do you carry (deep down) about money?” It didn’t take long for her to respond. “Well, she reported, if you’re financially successful, it means you have to give up on your values and your integrity”.

Wow! By uncovering that one rule, Sarah hit pay dirt. She was now free to clearly see that one disempowering rule she had been carrying her entire life.

Taking a look at the rules that drive your thinking is a very powerful activity to help you grow as a person, especially as a business owner. Another wise client of mine once said, “There’s no way to separate who we are from what we do”. You can have the most empowered business plans in the world and if your inner life and dialog is disempowered…forget it. It’s an up hill battle.

What are your ‘under-the surface rules’ that run your life and business? To explore, ask yourself: Where are you consistently stuck in your business? What are the things that always hang you up? What are the recurring thoughts or themes you could write the book about?

I invite your willingness to explore. You have only strength and success to gain.

Here are some examples of themes we all know too well:

I can’t quite breakthrough to financial success
I default to fear and lack
I always feel overwhelmed and exhausted and out of time
Procrastination is my middle name
I walk up to the edge of a challenge and then back away
I avoid

I would suggest that behind every common theme, you have a rule. For example, if you’re like Sarah and you can’t breakthrough to financial success, you might have a rule that says, “People that make money, sell out.” Or, if you are constantly procrastinating, you might have a rule that says, “If I succeed, I’ll wind up alone.” (Maybe you experienced a parent who worked a lot, and was unhappy and you concluded that success = unhappiness).

Explore where your rules came from by asking: When did the rule get created? What were the circumstances? Ask, if you were to change that rule, what would happen? Who would be upset? Who would get hurt or feel betrayed?

Take heart, you created your rules for a good reason. We all create meaning about life from our experiences and then create rules to keep us safe, secure and sane. The problem comes when we neglect to inquire or challenge the current validity of our rules.

You have the ability to move beyond your limited rules by becoming aware of them, disqualifying them, (if they don’t serve you), and then by making new rules based on your current reality. I challenge you to give it a try.

As for Sarah, she created a new rule that says she can be financially successful, maintain her values, fulfill her dream and express her passion in the world. What’s YOUR new rule?

It’s your life…live it completely!

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