Last week, my heart broke.
So did a valuable piece of raku pottery.
Moon Pie jumped up onto the sideboard, but — being a runt-of-the-litter kitty — couldn’t quite make it. In a desperate moment, she reached her arms out to anything that might give her leverage.
In this case, it was the raku vase given to me as a celebration gift by dear friends to say congratulations for my Uplevel LIVE event.
But wait. It gets worse.
They presented it to me as a replacement for the beautiful pottery plate that had been broken a month before…
…when Moon Pie did the exact. same. thing.
So, when it happened again, I swept up the broken pieces. And they sat on my kitchen counter in a pile of shame and embarrassment.
For some reason, I wouldn’t throw it out. I left it there all morning, just looking at it and making myself feel like shit whenever I saw it.
Then I remembered a powerful spotlight session I did with a client at my recent Platinum mastermind retreat.
When Employees Break Your Heart
Joan was devastated when a star employee moved to another state after her boyfriend got relocated. She did what many of us do in the same circumstance:
She held on.
She offered her star employee to continue working virtually. Joan came up with all kinds of complex solutions, involving her star employee doing X,Y, and Z – and a possible new person doing A, B, and C. The more she over-thought it, the more complex solutions she came up with.
Months later, it was taking its toll.
There’s too much in Joan’s business that requires on-site help. She hosts networking events, meets with clients in person, and her business is known for its high-touch service.
By the time she sat with me, she was “totally confused.” She couldn’t even begin to think of a solution.
Holding On and Letting Go
Joan has been in business for years and is now on a fast track toward the seven-figure mark. Things are going great.
So, my first order of business as her coach was to help her recognize that the energy of holding on was creating the real problem here.
When things aren’t moving forward, we’re always tempted to think there’s a tactical error: the placement of a classified ad, the wrong subject line, or the copy in an email. Sometimes, yes, that’s the problem. Fix it and everything works better.
But more often than not, the blockage is about our energy. At some level, we’re holding on, punishing ourselves, wishing the world to be other than it is.
Joan could see that her energy was clinging to the past.
And think about it. Joan’s business is successful because of her love of and connection to her clients, vendors, friends and yes, team. So of course she was attached! That comes with the territory of her superpower!
So first, she had to be willing to release.
Once that got cleared, we could step into strategy. We identified and clarified a new position – even better than before – based on the lessons her star employee taught her.
Would it take time to find another rock star? Maybe.
But it was time to stop trying to glue the shards back together, and instead find a solution that actually served her business, not her brokenness.
How We Make Our Own Brand of Confusion
Instead of truly sitting with a challenge that has shown up, and clearly observing how it has triggered us, we tend to “figure things out.”
In other words? We think.
Then we think some more.
To the extent that we are holding on to something, some trigger, some old and well-worn wound, we increase our confusion, as well as the complexity of our situation.
The List of the Many Things We Grasp and Clutch
So for starters, read over this list of things business owners cling to. If you are confused or struggling to find a solution for some seemingly impossible circumstance, you may discover upon digging that one of these items is the source of that confusion.
A bad hire
A client who doesn’t renew
A violation of a contract
A non-paying client
An investment that didn’t work out
Bad advice you shouldn’t have taken
A coach that was not a good match for your business
Not following your intuition when it shouted at you
Something stupid you said that lost the project bid
An interview that didn’t go well
A prospective hire who turned down your job offer
The fact that you woke up an hour later than you wanted this morning
A vendor who lied to you
A website designer who didn’t finish the job
(Feel free to add your own in the comments below.)
The Crucial Question that Clears the Block
Okay, back to my pile of pottery shards…
I let the broken raku pottery sit on the kitchen counter in a pile for a few hours. Every time I saw it, it brought on the usual barrage of self-effacing thoughts.
Until I remembered Joan.
Then I smiled.
I asked myself the crucial question:
What needs to happen so I can move on?
My first step was to throw out the unusable pottery. I took that step. A seemingly small one – but potentially connected to bigger patterns.
Which brings me to you, my friend…
If you discover that you’re holding on to anything from the list above, the question to ask yourself is this:
What exact steps do I need to take so that I can move forward now?
Take the time to map them out in exquisite detail. And then, go take one step. Holding on to what should or shouldn’t have happened has never and will never serve you or your success.