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4 agreements for owning your own business

Y’all….owning a business ain’t for the weak!

Caring about your job/profession/career is super awesome AND it brings with it a special kind of stress.

Sometimes I think it would be nice to sell out...quit following my passions, go corporate or whatever “normal” folks do.

Without going into all the details…several things happened in a super close proximity to each other…totalling in about $10k lost in revenue…not money out of my bank account, but revenue I was convinced was happening, had even made it in a spreadsheet, and then in an a few hours…NOPE!

I had felt this anxiety of potential “what if’s” growing in intensity all week. A week full of the not-so-fun surprises and while no single event was enough to topple me, the culmination (and compounding) of the stressors took me out in the midst of a time when I “should” be productive, jazzed and ready to go.

Hello, old friends…

The Guest House - by Rumi

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

Recently, I’ve been meeting my guests with the teachings of Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements, both in my personal life and business.

A brief rundown, if you are unfamiliar, or review:

  1. Be Impeccable With Your Word.

  2. Don't Take Anything Personally.

  3. Don't Make Assumptions.

  4. Always Do Your Best.

Be impeccable with your word….do what you say you will do. AND be super clear in your words and forms of communication. This is a great example of intention versus impact: often my best intentions may not be received as I intend, and their impact may cause harm and/or confusion. Anytime that I’ve steered from my word/promises to myself and others, it’s inevitably led to disaster, or at least A LOT of extra time to clean up the messes. When I managed a Yoga studio I quickly learned the importance of taking extra time in the beginning to be extra clear, versus having to sort through any miscommunications later. Yoga teachers are real special to manage…a lot like herding cats.

Disclaimer: generalized, and condensed observations ahead.

I have witnessed A TON of ego, fragility, and selfishness in Yoga teachers over the years (yep, myself included at times too). Being direct and concise will/has cause(d) problems….contrasted with my former boss who “doesn’t have time for niceties in emails” - real quote!! What I gained in my 3 years in this position is a superpower of communication (note: this superpower is thwarted by the presence of family, and my moody inner teenager alter ego - or tantrum-ready child - often makes her appearance instead).

In a super convincing statistic I just made up - People are more 2x more likely to hear you when they are open, and 4x more likely to actually listen. :) A few extra sentences of kindness go a long way, and it shouldn't be a tactic to butter up to turn around and demand something, or worse, tear down. It’s a genuine moment of human to human connection where I pause to honor the pieces of you that are pure love, even when/if our conversation may ultimately be uncomfortable. Our brains are wired to remember the beginning and end (serial position effect) so I use these are opportunities to lead/leave with love. Regardless of if I’m setting a boundary, sharing important information, or offering a course correction; when I am coming from a place of love AND being impeccable/clear with my words - I stand a better chance at my intention matching my impact. (Note: this is still not 100% guaranteed because people are going to people.)

From a business standpoint, honoring my word has definitely cost me because I trend towards believing in the goodness of people, and have loose policies (boundaries) when it comes to payments and commitments.

Medicine: boundary up! While also knowing that I will always create exceptions for folks to keep my offerings accessible. :)

Don’t take anything personally….lololololol…lololololol!! <needs a small moment to catch breath because whew this one hits deep>

By nature, owning a small business is extremely personal, especially when you/I am the small business.

That YouTube thumbs down…ouch!

No shows for discovery calls for working together…oof!

Being ghosted on long email chains after multiple exchanges and written confirmations of interest and intentions…straight to my heart!

It’s partially not my fault…hello negativity bias (the ways that our nervous system puts more emphasis on the negative versus the positive - even when the positive: negative = 1000:1 - negative gets more encoded). This also shows up for me through the wonderful fun house that is social media, and the plethora of yoga teachers, studios, influencers that are doing some version of my dreams. It can be tempting to compare or judge or make what they are doing about me or to cuddle up to the scarcity monster that comes to tea today.

My solution (for when repeating “don’t take it personally” in my head isn’t enough): share some responsibility, collaborate, and ask for help. Collaboration over competition, every time. It can be fun to work with like-minded folks, just be mindful of your intentions when reaching out I’ve been carrying the weight of all aspects of my business, so I course when pieces fall off I directly feel their impact, even if the majority is still there. Redistributing the weight can look like paying people, work-trade, or any number of ways to support myself. Admittedly, I suck at delegating, and generally releasing control of situations….especially this modest little business of mine that was birthed of tears, passion, and joy…uh yeah, super personal!

There’s also fear…of failure, of being seen, of being criticized, of being a fraud…but what IF?

Making things so deeply personal feels like playing small. My heart-felt prayer for years has been “make me a vessel for unconditional love, so that I may get out of my narrow and limited view of the world, And open myself up to all magic that is possible.”.

I’m starting to understand how this requires letting go of my hold to what I’ve created…every step along the way has been divinely influenced, so was it ever truly mine to begin with? AND also give myself kudos for taking time to be in practice of listening, in nature, and choosing JOY in times of chaos.

And now, the next steps are into the unknown…because my stories tell me that I have to do everything myself…don’t take it personally…a constant permission slip to loosen my reigns on life, let others into my bubble, and see where it goes.

Don’t make assumptions….you know what they say when you assume? You make an ASS out yoU and ME!

One of my biggest regrets from managing a yoga studio is that I often let myself believe the things that others would tell me about other people.

Yeahhh…people would tell me A LOT of random things, and often stories about people. There are more-than-a-few people in the local yoga world that I have never met, and yet I happen to know wayyyy too much personal information about them, mixed with unsolicited outsiders’ opinions. I can easily see where these shares influenced me, and I created assumptions. Easier to trace how my assumptions created barriers where maybe there didn’t have to be.

In a 2021 training with Michelle Cassandra Johnson we had a set of community agreements, and one that has stuck with me is “Don’t freeze people in time.” I can look at my own time periods of rapid growth spurts with kindness and compassion…can I do the same for others? When I’ve taken my (or others’) stories about folks and held onto them for extended periods of time it freezes us all in that moment, and doesn’t allow any room for growth. When I can unfreeze, and allow warmth (love) back into the situation, we stand a better chance at evolving together. Disclaimer: this does NOT mean you have to let assholes back into your life; they can unthaw by themselves just fine. Assumptions in by business only leads to swear words. I can use my spreadsheets to predict some numbers and outcomes, but I definitely don’t SAVE until fully sure. And sure, there’s a fine line between believing in your trajectory and assuming. Belief leaves space - for miracles and wtffff’s. Assumptions are airtight - no room for magic. I don’t know about y’all but I’m all IN for more magic in my life. Back to my heart-felt prayer: "make me a vessel for unconditional love, so that I may get out of my narrow and limited view of the world, And open myself up to all magic that is possible.”

Assumptions are like clipping my wings before take-off, or refusing to turn-around to see the view outside preferring to see it as a reflection from the mirror in front of you. ProTip: turn around, your mirror is probably dusty and smeared. :)

Always do your best…insert other super inspiration quote by a myriad of random folks, both real and fictional, other the years. AND recognizing that “my best” is a moving target from day-to-day, and often even task-to-task. Sometimes, my best looks like knocking out tasks with fervor and flair, and others my best is turning off my computer and laying down.

There’s a false narrative (at least running wild in my head) that best equals productive…NOPE! Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed and that need to do-do-do is rather loud…I take a pause, and ask myself “who’s best am I trying to be?” That moment is usually enough for me to check myself, slow down, and see what it is I’m needing in the moment.

Practice: Pause, breathe, place your hand on your heart/belly and ask, “What do I need?” I also tend to get caught up in being judge-y of others and my perceptions of them. I truly, honestly, like to believe that folks are doing the best they can. AND then I read another account of a yoga teacher taking advantage of a student and suddenly my blood boils like a volcano and the f-bombs rain down like hot fire onto anyone willing to listen to me lose it over the injustice of these asshats who use healing as a platform for their b.s. <end rant> And so then I back up…don’t take it personally, don’t take it personally, don’t take it personally…and I remember that MY best has nothing to do with others.

In fact, my best would probably a whole lot better without any outside interference…hmm…

I’ve been taught: teach what you practice. For writing, I think my rule is more like: write what you are processing. I was a double science major who spent a lot of time in the restaurant world. I definitely have the hustle, and the framework…ahem business stuff…has been something I’ve had to figure out as I’ve been made to feel uncomfortable. Aka…I default to trusting folks and then some sh*t goes down and I have to adjust to protect myself in the future. Rather than dwelling in the negative stuff, even though my brain is hard-wired to do so, I’ve chosen to take steps for future Grace - my therapist says that’s progress, so YAY!

I for sure-for sure know that I can’t control the things that happen, and sometimes I’m able to control how/if I respond. Practice, for when I/you mess up: before you go to bed, remember your day. Remember the moment where I/you maybe weren’t impeccable with our words, took it personally, made assumptions, and/or didn’t try our best…and make a different choice in your mind. Spoiler: your nervous system doesn’t really know the difference between real and imagined so when you choose differently in your evening practice, you strengthen your resolve to remain in practice.

Stay in growth, even when it’s messy. I’m rooting for you!


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