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My Business IS Personal: Emotional Involvement and Success

A woman with her arms in the air feeding seagullsNew business ventures are extremely personal. It doesn’t really matter what your business is, because in the beginning it is all you. The success or failure of any enterprise is dependent on what you do.

When we start something, be it a big project, a company, a new division or a partnership, it is very exciting. In part what makes it so exhilarating is that it is so close to us. People joke about the term “brain child” but this could not be closer to the truth.

Once you decide to let your venture take form and become more than thoughts and ideas, it becomes susceptible to the critiques, opinions and influences of the outside world. As it takes form you clarify your vision; you begin to define it and refine it. But the refining process has to happen out in the open. You have to begin working on it before you are able to truly see all the steps and developments that are needed. This means that your growing pains are happening in public view.

For some the next scary step is taking this brain baby that is still fresh and not fully developed to a financier and essentially asking, do you find me worthy? If they do then they give you the money necessary to grow your venture into something with real potential. Or at least that is how we feel about it. We internalize such things as financial investment as a judgment on the worthiness of ourselves and our ideas.

The first investment in your business is an emotional one. The first successes raise you up –  your work is validated and you feel the elation of being on the right path. But criticisms can send you down to a new level of feeling bad. You question what you are doing. Question how and why you are doing it.  This whole process is an emotional roller coaster where the highs are amazing and the lows are devastating.

The emotional involvement we have in our ventures is what gives us the drive to work crazy hours and commit 200% to make something work. However,  that same emotional enngagement can also hold us back.  What feeds our drive and passion gives us doubt and insecurity on the flip side.

At the beginning our emotional attachments are central to our drive, but at some point they can become detrimental.  Once you truly make the commitment, though, there is no point in questioning the decision. Honestly, it is more than just saying, “I’m doing this!” It’s saying, “I’m doing this, and signing this, and certifying this.” Essentially you are in it. Embrace it.

The challenge is to use this energy to drive you forward, but recognize that at the beginning you have no emotional separation between yourself and your venture. Every reaction, judgment, success and pitfall gets internalized as a comment on you and your ability to achieve your goals. To be successful we need our emotional drive, but we also have to be able to separate ourselves when the time is right.  This is your business, not an economic-based effigy of yourself. Ultimately, your self worth is not contingent on the success of your ventures.

For me, understanding this makes creating that separation easier.