She’s a success in the eyes of her staff, colleagues, school mums, business chicks, family and friends. You see, a few years ago, she took a leap of faith and left her well-paid corporate job to start her own business.
It meant she could work better hours, be more flexible, call her own shots and make more money. It simply made sense to take control of her destiny like that.
Michelle is one tough over-achiever. Failure is not an option for her, so of course she made it work.
Today, she is at the helm of a thriving business that is outperforming even her own wildest expectations, she has built up a good team of people and she’s out-earning her husband by a multiple of three.
And speaking of three, she now has three gorgeous children. Dropping them off at school, she’s the mum all the others assume must have been born with a superhero cape on. ‘How does she do it all?’ is what everyone wonders.
It’s true, on the outside she seems to have it all together.
In reality, she’s stretched too thin, tired, overloaded with responsibility and unable to quite see her way forward. And she can’t go on like this forever. This is not the life she imagined. For Michelle, it’s time to make massive change that will give her her life back.
Here’s what she would never tell you:
She wonders how she does it herself!
In fact, for Michelle, things didn’t turn out even close the way she planned. Sure, things look great, but the hours, flexibility and lifestyle she imagined could all be possible… It’s a washout! Perhaps even worse at times than if she still had that executive position, superannuation, sick leave, carers leave, maternity leave and PAYG.
Michelle is tired, stressed and starting to doubt her ability to hang in there and keep everything together. The business is important, family is important, health is important, retirement is important, investment is important… Every waking moment is spent dealing with important things and having time for herself is as ridiculous as sitting in the hair salon next to a unicorn.
She’s lonely too. In an isolated kind of way. While her husband is extremely supportive and interested in what she’s doing, she knows the family time while the kids are still up should be spent talking together, about their stuff, not hers. And where would she start anyway? After that, a few glasses of wine and some Netflix seems like the best way to take the edge off.
At work, Michelle is the leader. There’s no one there to talk to much either. Not about anything that might make people wonder if she’s not as together as they all think anyway. And that’s the stuff that keeps her awake…
Am I making the right strategic decisions?
Should I risk it on this deal?
Who can I rely on here if I can’t work?
How will we cope if I can’t work?
How can I get this business to the stage it doesn’t need me so much?
How can I get out of it?
The list goes on…
Michelle is not alone. In fact, there are thousands just like her in every city. Perhaps you can relate in some way…
You’re capable, you’re hard-working, you’re successful. But you don’t have an endless stream of energy and knowledge and one day it dawns on you that you’re in the fight of your life to get to the next level before you run out of steam or find a happy way to get out… all the while keeping on keeping on.
Business (and perhaps life) seems to grow in steps rather than neat, upward-trending lines. The knowledge and energy it takes to get to each level is significant. And depending on how successful you’ve been building your business, you may have experienced a few of these steps or plateaus in your time.
Eventually though, if you’re successful enough, your business will get to a place where the things that used to work just don’t any more. They keep things going but they’re not enough to smash through the next glass ceiling and take you up another level.
Sometimes it’s simply fatigue, sometimes it’s new knowledge, sometimes it’s new vision, sometimes it’s structural change or event leadership that’s holding you in place. Whatever it is, when the tank is running low or you’re stretched too thin, it can be difficult to see…