The Secret To A Thriving Business That Will Shock You

Driving to my first meeting today I can feel the soft leather of my steering wheel under my fingers. My Audi leans into the next turn effortlessly and with precision, and I notice a sense of deep gratitude for the German engineering under my bum. Tom Petty is blasting: “I got a room on top of the world today…” on the radio and as the city skyline rises ahead of me I think:  “Wow, I’ve come a long way from that basement apartment with the mustard-color shag where I cooked beans from the local food bank.”

Have you ever had a moment like this? Where you’re suddenly so aware of your present surrondings while simultaneously watching your past life flash in front of you like a highlight reel, and you realize just how incredible your journey has been? Each part serving you in a very unique and incremental way? The moment I had in the car was the physical manifestation of how much I had evolved over twenty years. My life completely reinvented.

We often think of reinvention as something completely different and instantaneously new. But I’m not unrecognizable. I didn’t wake up today and see a new face staring back at me in the mirror. Nope, same old– well, maybe with a few more wrinkles as the recent “ten-year challenge photo contest” revealed. I’m still Yvonne. And yet, I wonder: would the people I knew back then still recognize me?

re·in·ven·tion: the action or process through which something is changed so much that it appears to be entirely new.

Well, that’s the thing about my reinvention. It’s been an internal process, rather than an external repurposing. It’s been this incredible ride of peeling back the layers of who I thought I ought to be and feeling vulnerable about who I really am. It has been a journey to my essential self that makes me appear as entirely new person.

I had my first taste of reinvention when I was eleven. We had just escaped former communist Germany and settled into a quaint Bavarian town near Nurnberg. The uprooting from my home and family left deep impressions of not fitting in in a very candor, new world around me. When I finally reestablished my social bearings, we moved again– this time it was a bolder, continental kind of shift :). Being a complete teenager in the midst of a very foreign Canadian culture, with a new language and environment, I quickly learned to keep my distance as the pain of losing my friends and home once again felt like more than I could handle.

Not knowing how to navigate this new landscape, literally, I turned to isolation and numbing out to make it all work. In the years that followed, I learned new skills to get past old beliefs and mindsets and so reinvented my life several more times. I’ve dedicated the better part of the last ten years to healing and finding the essential part of me that existed before the world told me who I needed to be.

Some of you met me at the beginning of that journey, some in the middle and you, you are getting to know who I am today. And tomorrow I will be ever-so-slightly reinventing my life again as my quest for joy and fulfillment continues. Reinventing your life isn’t about becoming a brand new, unrecognizable self. It’s an essential journey to align the core of who you were born to be.  

One of the most important things about reinvention is that it’s never a one-time deal. We will break open and reinvent our lives to match our desires and circumstances. With every cycle of the creative process  (desire, discovery and design) we expose our truth, gain clarity, and find inner peace. As I continue to support women entrepreneurs, I’ve noticed that we place the same unrealistic expectations on our businesses as we do on ourselves. First, we make the mistake of seeing our businesses as separate from ourselves, and then we expect to invent or reinvent them overnight. With enough effort and investment, we think, we can skip all the scary parts in between.

“Success” doesn’t happen overnight and I really resent the notion that it’s quick and easy to grow a booming business. There are many programs available that promise to show you how to grow your profits, attract more clients and build your lists virtually overnight, and I’ve too fallen into that trap of insta-fame and money. However, just like I learned twenty years ago at my last MLM meeting, there is no such thing as a get-rich-quick secret. We’re all aiming to be the 2% of success stories, when even they didn’t become famously successful overnight; it just felt that way because they suddenly had a breakthrough after years! of working at it. But... I digress.

I’ve watched far too many entrepreneurs shut their doors and throw away the key because they didn’t see the sudden reinvention they desired. That’s not because their idea was bad or they didn’t do their market research! It’s because they forgot somewhere along the corner of Hustle and Profit, why they were traveling down that path in the first place.

While technically true that money can buy you anything (including a business and clients), you’ll quickly discover it’s never enough and it will leave you unfulfilled, with your energy spent and your health in the gutter. The core of a thriving, sustainable business model isn’t profit! It’s a genuine desire to contribute to the common good with your gifts and talents. How’s that for unlearning five years of my hard earned business degree?

I often ask my clients when they first come to me: “Why do you want to be an entrepreneur?” If the answer is some combination of money, I tell them to go and get a job. It’s far less stressful and faster to get a pay cheque and then use your ‘free’ time to do what you love. In the LEEP, I teach women how to create thriving economies– which, for one, can’t begin with thousands of customers. Instead, a thriving, sustainable economy needs to grow organically and at the rate as our capacity to serve them.

When we make it about money, we put a lot of pressure on the “business” or what I like to call the creative process. The creative process is flexible, expandable, sustainable, and most of all organic. It can’t be forced. Think about the conception and birth of a child. It has its own rhythm. It has its own time and cycles (although modern medicine tries to control even that). There is little a mother-to-be can do but tend to her body and grow the seed inside of her one day at a time. The baby will come when it’s naturally ready.

The same creation process that brings us into this world, guides our journey through it, cycling through desire, discovery and design— reinventing our life. The most inhibiting notion you can have is that you’ll wake up tomorrow and be, do, or have everything you mapped out the day before. Just because a man and a woman want to bring a child into this world, doesn’t mean that it’ll happen immediately. Reinvention is a process, and it can be a wonderful, joyful, clarifying process if we let it! For some right now, that process is twenty years, for others maybe nine months. But we never stop reinventing our lives, and the sooner you let go of the idea that “once this happens, then that will happen” the sooner you can begin creating what you truly long for.

So take a pause from your hard work of reinventing your life and let this moment shower you with gratitude for how far you’ve come on your personal journey to your essential self. Savor the taste of sweet triumph and victory and embrace the quiet reflection: Why are you doing what you’re doing?  Most of all, please release your beautiful soul of any unrealistic and false expectations.