I was thinking about the relationship between having ambition, running a business and being a woman the other day and iit reminded me of the darkest parts of Rumpelstiltskin. Hang with me and I think you’ll see it, too.
For a quick refresher, here are the elements of the story:
Steep expectation to weave gold out of straw or die.
It felt impossible, so she made a horrible bargain with an imp to save her life. She thought she was free, but when it came time to pay her debt, she had to sacrifice her firstborn.
This woman had the ambition to be more than a poor maiden. Ambition (especially for women) is frequently made to mean you will have to make a major sacrifice.
Not explicitly though, no one says this out loud, but in my conversations with people, I’ve learned that especially as women, we believe that:
Being a successful woman in business means that you’ll have to forsake your family. You’ll sacrifice the wellbeing and care of your children, your business will take over your life and you might even be required to sacrifice your marriage.
You’ll have to sacrifice YOURSELF… your own health and wellbeing. It means, little sleep, lots of stress. You might even age faster because of the pressure.
And more subtly, you’ll have to sacrifice the best parts of you;: your quirks, preferences and ways of being that you actually LOVE about yourself and your life. You’ll have to become someone polished and poised (even at being “authentic,”… *eyeroll*
Have you had some of these same thoughts?
As a woman, a creative , and a freelance business owner, I’ve been anxious and afraid for this, too. Almost afraid of my own drive, my own fire and ambition. Instead of just the normal fear of failure (that it’ll be all for nothing), I also had fear of success (what if it DOES all work, but I lose what I love most about my life along the way?).
Cited as “proof” are women who DID make these bargains of sacrifice in: family relationships, wellbeing, health, friendships and even their own self. We look at them with dread. We think in secret, “what if that becomes me?”
Not only have I struggled with this, but in talking with other women business owners, I’ve noticed this is SUPER COMMON. It keeps them stuck, scared, defeated and “just *kind of* trying” (being more afraid of being SUCCESSFUL - —and what that could mean for them - than being a failure. Their fear is that they really do go for it and realize at the end, it was all for nothing and they sacrificed everything - (just like the woman in Rumpelstiltskin).
Here is my loving truth to you today:--- THIS IS A FALSE BARGAIN
Hear me when I say that when we believe in these sacrifices, we become afraid of our own ambition.
Living from this MYTH is the REAL cost.
If you are a female in business, this myth will keep you from powerfully declaring what you want, keep you from owning your focus and passion, and stop you from really GOING for what you want to create in the world.
I dive deep into this thinking with my clients, exploring concepts like:
· How to use steady power instead of force to make things happen.
· How to infuse the universal elements of flow with the flame of ambition so that rather than destructive pushing or burnout, you create a customized way of success that works for you.
· How to become a master at relationships with ---children, spouses, clients, friends and family. So NO human needs are sacrificed.
· How to integrate the best parts of YOU so that your work doesn’t mean becoming someone you never really wanted to be (a performing animal of sorts).
Now, make no mistake - —as a success coach of highly- dedicated creatives in business, —I totally understand that success means making some trade-offs.
Just make sure that the things you’re trading off are really no big deal - ---that you’re not making a human-life sacrifice with Rumpelstiltskin like our maiden did. I may even speak further to this true sacrifice in the future.
But for today, ask yourself:
Where in your life and life’s work are you making a false bargain?
If you are avoiding DOING the work or holding back due to fear of what it could require of you, ---what NEW rules could you create for yourself? What could be YOUR conditions for success?
Join me! Start turning down the voices that present fake rules as the real rules. Start turning up the voice in YOU that is trying to share what your own rules could be.
So, here’s to you and your success!