The start of my business was entirely unplanned. I was actually six months pregnant with my first child when I went into private practice.
In June 2010, I was laid off from a job that I had been at for the past decade. I was scared, sad, confused, angry, and very pregnant. I started my mental health therapy practice on a whim…and for those that have ever wondered about why such as long business name, well that is what happens when things are unplanned.
This June marks eight years from that very desperate time. Like many surprises, my business has been a wonderful edition to my life. This month this sweet little business is 8 years old. As parents, we know that when we look at our child all grown up all the feelings it evokes. When I look at my eight year old business, I see reflections of who I was, who I am and also pieces that aren’t me but a reflection of the other people that have nurtured her. When I look at my baby, The Family Guidance & Therapy Center, as her eight-year-old self I marvel at all at her growth, her potential and her heart. I’m grateful to all those that have been part of these last eight years. Just like children, raising a business is never a go-it-alone situation.
This business of mine—She’s courageous, she perseveres through hard times, she’s forgiving, and she cultivated a sense of belonging in those that need it from her.
She holds 50+ employees and their clients. Although she was born in San Diego, she now finds herself in Orange County, Temecula, and Austin, Texas. I can hardly remember her when she was very little; just like children we begin to forget what they are like after time has passed. I do remember her first location; a tiny first shell of an office in Shelter Island with one treatment room. She embraced me and taught me what I didn't know about nurturing her. Her eight year old self loves gray, gratitude, and great conversations.
She has taught me so much.
These are eight lessons I've learned from FGTC:
- No achievement, goal met, or measurement of success is going to make you feel good enough. You are good enough, right now. You are good enough regardless of the size you are, whatever struggles you have had, and whatever pain you carry. I wanted so badly to feel good with a first, then contingency to work; “Once we reach this goal, then___.” But, my business has taught me that goals crushed don’t mean personal wellness. I now regularly work on myself and try to not make the measure of my worth contingent on anything other than being my best self.
- Comparison doesn’t work. You are you. You are you. You are you! My business has tried hard to show me this lesson over and over again. There were many nights when I would stay up late Googling what other “competitors” were doing. I might even try to replicate what others were doing. Yet, my business kept shouting load and clear, “Let me be myself!.” I’m finally hearing her. She was so right. When I let her be herself, we started doing some really cool things. One example of this was when we just tossed away written warnings that many companies seem to do. They didn’t fit with who we are, so we don’t do them any more. Now, when anyone in the organization needs to have a conversation we call a Courage Conversation. This works way better for us. We are finally letting FGTC be herself.
- Shame doesn’t change behaviors, rewards don’t either. I’ve tried both; most of the times when I see myself using shame within the walls of my business it appears that I was swirling in my own fears. These are moments that I’m still embarrassed when I review who I was with myself in my mind. As for rewards, boy do we want them to work! They simply don’t. They give us a false sense of control over a situation that we wanted to see immediate change in. It’s just an intervention that appears to allow our minds to relax. So, without shame and rewards, I had to find another way. This was harder than I want to admit, but I love my business and I’d do anything to see her happy and healthy, so I find new ways. Most of them involve me dealing with my own stuff so that I don’t get as emotionally hooked by situations.
- Money comes and goes, stress comes and goes. People matter. I can look around and see so many people that have been right by my side while FGTC has grown. These are the people that have helped me with my own children so that I could stay at FGTC. These are people that have graciously given me money, time, their ear as I complained about a seemingly endless amount of problems. These are the people that have made FGTC who she is, our team, our work family. This feeling that I get when I watch someone love FGTC is the same beautiful feeling I get when I know my sister loves my children with all her heart. Our team and clients have loved and nurtured FGTC. She has grown to be who she is because of them.
- I don’t know what I’m doing and that is okay. Just like parenting, it appears that everyone else has their sh*t together and you are the only one that is floundering, struggling, doesn’t know what they are doing. I don’t know what I’m doing, but I am doing the best that I can. Really, this is my best and I am proud to say that I show up to my business doing my best. Sometimes my best will not be good enough for someone and that is hard, but okay too. I don’t have to pretend anymore to know what I’m doing. I am an imperfect business owner and I can embrace myself as I am.
- There will be gloriously big disastrous failures and a ton of small falls and it will be just fine. I used to constantly think that one little mistake would make the business go down. I felt tremendous pressure to make it all appear like everything was going just great, while crying in my office about how I was about to let everyone down. Just like motherhood, raising a business can be so scary. It can feel like no one gets it. Just like momming, we do make really big mistakes. Some of these mistakes reverberate within us for years to come, but what I know now is that I can get back up. There will be new struggles but I know we are resilient.
- Rest and play are essential. I used to wear my work-horse nature as a badge of honor. I was embarrassed to say I needed a vacation. I needed to be the first one at work and the last one to leave. I thought that I needed to work myself into the ground, so that I could say I gave everything I had to the business. I was wrong. She showed me that she doesn’t do that great when I am not taking care of myself. My sweet FGTC showed me that it doesn’t serve anyone to be a work-martyr. She showed me that she was okay without me. She showed me that there are other people that nurture her and I need to trust them. She showed me that I show up better for her when I give myself time to rest, play, even adventure.
- Find time to reflect. I can be the type of person that is in continuous motion, taking risks and making changes. I can be a real do-er. I have been known to change a goal right before I meet it. I can also get so passionate about my newest discovery that I forget all my past discoveries. I’m cool with who I am but I also have learned the power of reflection. When I create space in my life to reflect, I can actually see that I’m exactly where I’m meant to be. I am the proud mommy of my first child, The Family Guidance & Therapy Center. I am so grateful for those who you have helped me become a great mom within these eight years.
Happy Birthday FGTC!
Note: I’d like to acknowledge that many of these life lessons come from The Rising Strong Program, The Daring Way Facilitators Training Program and all of what Brené Brown is creating within this world. It’s made such a difference in how I raise my business.