Entrepreneurs, You Are Your Own Two Person Team

One of the biggest challenges when you run your own business or even when you’re the leader of a larger team, is that very often you have two roles or ways of being. Each role is different and vital, but because they function so differently if you start to mix the two you’ll likely find yourself paralyzed with doubt and uncertainty. Here’s the make up of your two person team.

Role #1 – The leader or CEO

The job of the leader is to figure out a clear and compelling vision. The leader might generate the vision from themselves or source it from the team. How you get there doesn’t matter. What matters is that you see something that you want to create and it’s clear, compelling and meaningful to you (and your team if you have one).

Once the vision is set, the leader stands for that vision, plans for that vision, and enrolls others into that vision.

As time passes they need to notice what is and isn’t working, uncover the breakdowns, and shift the plan.

Role #2 – The doer or executer

Even if you’re fully a CEO, some of the work you do will be as a doer or executer

The job of the executor is to do the best job they can, based on their current understanding of the strategy and requirements that have been set forth by the vision.

If they run into problems they need to note and report them. They might come up with creative solutions, ideas for trying new things, and even lead their own efforts inside the context of doing.

They can still have the being of a leader and be standing for something, but their focus in this role is on executing based on what has been decided by the leader or the group.

Two Person Team: Final Thoughts

The problem SO many CEOs, start-up founders, freelancers, small business owners, and coaches face is that they try to do both of these at the same time.

They decide to try a strategy of reaching out to potential clients who might want big projects to boost revenues.

They do a few phone calls, ask for referrals, and they get a couple of no’s. Because it’s hard to hear No’s they start to doubt the strategy. They think well maybe I should just go after some smaller clients instead, so they switch to that, maybe they get a few jobs, but there’s not enough money and they realize that isn’t working. So they think about the bigger job clients again.

Pretty soon they feel discouraged, trapped, and uncertain.
But if they were two people or if they better understood the two roles (Leader and Do-er), this wouldn’t happen.

The salesperson might tell the CEO that they were getting some no’s and the CEO might ask about the number of calls or what kind of response they had gotten. They probably would tell the salesperson to keep going until they made 25 or 50 calls so they have enough information to see if the strategy was or wasn’t working.

The salesperson would keep going because they had the support of the CEO who was standing for the vision and focused on the information and feedback needed to make a good call.

The CEO may start to think of other strategies but would trust the salesperson to do the best job they could and learn as they went along, knowing that it takes time to test out any strategy.

The challenge is that we are NOT two people.

The doubts of the salesperson can become the doubts of the CEO and vice versa.
The critical eye of the writer can become paralyzing to the writer.
The fears of the coach can undermine the trust of the marketing manager.

This is why if you’ve got a job where you have to be in both roles, YOU’VE GOT TO LEARN TO SEPARATE THEM!!!

You can do this by trading off days.

On Monday I’m just a salesperson for my company. I’m going to get on the phone, or on my email and try to make it rain.
Then on Tuesday morning I’ll sit down with myself and do my best work.

You can do this by having different spaces.

I do my writing in my living room chair and I DO NOT EDIT.
I do my editing at my desk where I do my other admin tasks.

You can even try different outfits or hats (physical or energetic).

When I put on my dress pants I’m the CEO of my company and I’m setting the strategy.
The rest of the time I’m a worker on my team and I’m focused on getting the day-to-day done.

And YES I’m fully aware the two will bleed into each other in certain places.

That’s ok. The key here is to do your best to notice where your head is at and ask if it’s where it needs to be.

To do anything well you need both the vision and the courage to execute that vision.
But you have to remember that courage sometimes means staying the course even when it’s hard. And sometimes it means taking a hard look at the strategy even when you don’t want to admit it isn’t working.


What Would I Love, What Would I Limit

Mostly people create from limitation or from dreams. Both are powerful, but both ignore the possibility of the other side.

When we live in dreams we imagine more freedom means better, when we live from limitation we think more clear boundaries means better. But seeking safety in a world that’s never safe or absolute freedom in a world where we’re tied to physical bodies doesn’t honor the wholeness of life. Which is part freedom, part limitation.

Instead, we can create even more when we sit at the feet of each teacher. Figuring out what we dream about and then trying to bound up those dreams into a plan, as well as creating strict limits and then working to fill each little square with as much life as possible. Both can be places of beautiful art and brilliant innovation so long as we remember that it is both the endless possibility of life and the proud presence of our mortality that gives life its sweet seasoning.


Give Me a Break – NO! Dammit Not a KitKat Bar

Kit-Kat break by RiRi Trautmann, Give Me a Break – NO Dammit Not a Kit Kat Bar, taking a break, rest days, rest week, take a break, resting, relationship help, taking a break from your relationship, take a break from training, marathon training, take a day off work, the seventh dayYesterday I did something I haven’t done in months.
I took a day off.
Like a whole day.
I know crazy right ?!?

No email, no phone calls, no little projects. I spent the day watching movies, going on walks, cooking fancy breakfastses, and checking out cool events in Portland.

The Life of the Small Business Person
Ever since I started my own company, I’ve been working a lot. It’s so easy to say yes to doing more and there is always more to do.

When I had regular jobs, I was better at setting boundaries. Now my boundaries are set by my need to sleep, to eat, and to deal with natural consequences of eating.

But living this way has started to wear me out. So, when I didn’t have yoga school this weekend, I jumped on the chance to take a day off. It was wonderful. And it got me thinking, why don’t I take more breaks?

Taking a break is essential whether it’s from work, exercise, or even your relationship. Yet, we all neglect to do it.

So my goal with this post is to convince you and me (actually mostly me) that we should give ourselves a break every now and again.

The Day Break
(rest days are the key to success and sanity)

For Training:
As you train, you are breaking your body down. Your muscle fibers get micro tears; lactic acid builds up; and your system is put under pressure. And your body responds by rebuilding itself, (better than before.)

But if you don’t take a regular day off, you never give it a chance to catch up. A once a week break is essential for building muscle, preventing injury, and keeping you sane.

For Work:
It’s important to take a day or half day off work once a week. My dad often says, “God rested on the seventh day and I don’t think I can do it better.”

The mind is like a knife. If we use it all the time, it gets dull. Working seven days a week is a great way to make your knife dull.

When we relax our minds and enjoy silence or time with loved ones we sharpen our knives. And a sharp knife works better.

For Relationships*:
Taking a day off your relationship may sound bad, but it’s not about pretending you’re single. It’s about taking a chance to reconnect with your own needs and feelings.

Knowing our hearts is a great gift to whomever we are in partnership with. When we understand what we want and need we can communicate our feelings and needs more effectively.

Time alone helps us see the parts of ourselves that need the attention. It also helps us see where we need help and when we need to help ourselves.

The Week Break –
(take a vacation, staycation, or anything in between)

For Training:
Most training plans have a regular rest week where you ease off your training. This week is designed to let your body recover and rebuild. At the end of your rest week, your body will be stronger because you ran, swam, or biked less.

I don’t recommend you stop working out, because that can become a habit. It also leads to lost muscles. But it takes less effort to maintain your current fitness level than it takes to build it.

For Work:
For most people this takes the form of a vacation, but I often alternate between busier and easier weeks.

I’ll pack one week full of appointments and then leave the next week open. I do this because I know I need a week to catch up and process everything I learned. This pattern helps me stay focused without burning out.

Whether you take a week off work or just ease up, try to maintain good boundaries. When you work just work and when you play just play.

For Relationships*:
I’m not suggesting that you take a whole week off from your partner. If you have kids or live together, this might not be possible. But much like work or training, it’s nice to take a little extra time for yourself.

Relationships are often about compromise and that’s wonderful, but it’s also essential to honor the part of ourselves that doesn’t want to compromise. That doesn’t even want to think about compromising. Taking time to do our own thing honors that part of ourselves in a healthy non-brinksmanship way.

Not sure how to do this? Try one of these ideas

  • Go to the movies, but you each go see your own show.
  • Go to the bookstore and each of you picks out your own book and spends an hour reading next to each other.
  • Get a baby sitter and then each of you do something you really love separately.

The Break Moment
This applies to all three. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, you can take a break moment.

Put down what you are doing. And take 10 deep breaths. On the inhale say, “I deserve to take a break.” On the exhale say, “taking this break shows I love myself.”

Final Words
Taking a break isn’t about any technique or method. It’s about honoring the ebb and flow of your life. It’s about getting creative about your way of being in the world.

Whenever we let one part of ourselves (the work self, the fitness self, or the relationship self) take over our whole life, problems ensue. The practice of taking a break prevents this and helps us see more aspects of what makes us who we are.

(*Quick disclaimer: Asking for time to yourself can be tricky, check out these posts on communication skills for some tips.)

A Extra Weekly Run Saved My Relationship
Are You Making These 4 Simple Communication Mistakes?
Talking Your Way Through A Mindfield

Photo Credits


Why Nobody Likes You – 4 Steps to Deal with Their Opinions

What People Are Really Thinking About You - 5 Steps to Deal with Projections and Stories, stories, rejection, mistakes, dealing with others, drama, group dynamics, communication, requests, authenticity, integrity, roommates, roommate fightsI recently moved into a new place and I set about doing my best to become part of the community.

Except it seemed like I kept making mistakes. I was supposed to clean this in a certain way. I wasn’t supposed to pick that from the garden. I didn’t ask the right person about whether or not I could use this. The list goes on and on.

Mistakes Were Made
I was doing my best to be mindful, but when you’re new, you make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are met with understanding, sometimes they’re met with irritation.

It’s not so much a factor of how nice the people are or how clear the guidelines may be. The real key is the assumptions other people make about what’s going on in your mind.

You will make an error and someone will begin to say something. As they speak you realize they have already formed an opinion about who you are and why you are doing this.

Story Time
I have seen in the eyes of others dialogues about me being selfish. Stories about me being dirty and thoughtless. Stories of my malice, my rudeness, and my general disregard for others. It matters little whether their assessments are true. The mind seeks to rationalize others actions.

I do this just as much. There are times I make up stories about the stories they must be telling. I have projected many ideas onto other people.

But it’s always hard to know what to do about it. Arguing with others’ stories is useless unless there is trust. And very often, there isn’t.

So, what do your do when you confront others strong opinions about who you are?

1. Listen the Best You Can.
People want to be heard more than anything else. Even if they have a story about you, it’s best to just listen. Try to hear what they are saying without objecting internally or externally.

2. Reflect Without Ownership
Reflect their perspective using phrases like these: “So you imagined when I did …” and “From your perspective that meant…” Don’t take on blame or guilt, but reflect their perspective. Until we feel heard by someone else, it’s hard to be open to another way of seeing. Arguing with their stories really won’t help.

3. Don’t Own the Story Internally or Externally
I want to reiterate, DON’T OWN THE STORY. It’s their story, know that it isn’t true. One perspective is rarely true.

Only if the person is a trusted advisor should you hold their perspective with a lot of weight. We rarely see ourselves with clarity and are even less clear in seeing others. Because everything is filtered through our own lens.

4. Ask Them to Make a Specific Doable Request
Once you feel like you have heard their story or complaint ask them to make a specific doable request.

Unsure what that is? A specific doable request is something you could film on an iPhone before the battery dies. For example, you would be willing to take out the trash tomorrow or help with the dishes tonight.

Avoid vague requests such as, ‘Can you clean better?’ Or, ‘Can you communicate more?’

These are common requests but they have no back end and no way to know if you’re doing them. Without specific parameters, you will never know if you have completed the request.

The request also can’t be a demand or an ultimatum. If the request comes in the form of, do this or else, it’s a demand. The ‘or else’ may be implied or very blatant in either case it isn’t a good faith request.

If it’s a demand, there isn’t much you can do about it. You can try to change it into a request but it may not work. Usually demands stay demands, and in either case the next step is …

4. Are You Willing to Do it?
Are you are willing to meet their request from a place of authenticity and integrity? Submitting to someone else’s desires won’t work over the long haul. If you can honor the request in good faith, great!

Clarify what they are asking and let them know you’d be happy to do it. If you aren’t then say so or excuse your self from the situation and perhaps the relationship.

Relationships are built on trust and safety. If you don’t feel safe, then the relationship won’t work.

Be polite and firm. Offer negotiation if you are willing to negotiate, but life is too short to give up yourself to others.

No relationship is worth sacrificing who you are as a person. Harmony is just as important as respecting your own boundaries.

MindFitMove Practice
What is one area of your life where you struggle to create and maintain boundaries?
Come up with 2-3 strategies to start creating boundaries in that part of your life.
Practice saying No in a kind gentle way to things you only do out of obligation.
Practice saying Yes to your life, your values, and your own authentic self.