All across the world, lights burn bright into the night illuminating solitary windows. Office block, apartment building or suburban sprawl – it doesn’t matter. Every night, where ever people live and work, entrepreneurs burn the midnight oil.
While the civilians rest their weary heads, business owners pour coffee and sigh over piles of post-its, stuffed inboxes and more. Even as the tangible to-dos stack up, the intangible to-thinks tower ever higher. The entrepreneur’s mind keeps racing.
Is it perfect? Will next month’s revenue be on target? Will that key account close? Will people buy your stuff?
If you’ve experienced nights like these, you know it’s lonely being an entrepreneur.
Loneliness is the entrepreneur’s curse. Your role as the decision maker, bread winner and overall renegade definitely makes you a winner, but you have to pay the price. Making those decisions, winning that bread and living that outlaw lifestyle is mainly going to happen in a party of one.
When you’re alone on the entrepreneurial road there is one problem that stubbornly resurfaces, again and again.
Lack of perspective
Being a lonely entrepreneur is uncomfortably similar to being a fish in a bowl. No matter how many times you swim the circumference, it’s still really really hard to see anything outside.
You’re trying to solve big problems and, scarily, life and business all start to feel a bit repetitive. You know you’ve fallen prey to some kind of mental script or psychological pattern but there isn’t any mirror in the fishbowl to examine yourself in!
That’s the big advantage of a companion – perspective from outside the fishbowl. The point of view that looks in from the outside.
As an entrepreneur, you’re probably headstrong and independent – to an extent. When things are going well, it feels good to be in that “you vs the world” position… because you’re winning!
Entrepreneurs don’t notice the absence of support and perspective until the dark moments. It’s when things appear to be falling apart that the confusion, spinning wheels and fear kick in. Sometimes, these demons strike so hard and fast you end up so completely lost that you don’t realize you’ve simply lost perspective.
Perspective is the solution. So how do we get it?
My call to action today might actually surprise you. I want us (you and I, dear reader) to tackle this problem the other way around. Here’s what I mean…
Entrepreneurs need the perspective of other entrepreneurs. They need friends, mentors and coaches who get it. Specifically, they need people who hold space for them – creating the environment where vulnerability and uncertainty is welcome.
We need to have meltdowns. They’re natural and cyclical in nature – losing the plot completely is part of being human and definitely part of being in business.
When someone “holds space” for us, they’re given us a venue to go on that emotional journey. It might be a physical environment (a safe space) or it could just be an ear over the phone, or an open inbox.
Who is holding space for you?
You need someone to turn to in those dark moments. You need someone who can instantly offer a perspective from outside the fish bowl.
Overall, most entrepreneurs I meet don’t have nearly enough of this form of support.
Who are you holding space for?
Let’s tackle this problem counter-intuitively.
I’d like for you to make an effort to hold space for someone else. Do you know other entrepreneurs? If not, just introduce yourself to one in the comment section of this site – there’s thousands of people reading this, so none of you have an excuse!
If you’d value having a friend, mentor or colleague who’s there to give you a fresh perspective when you need it most… then be that person for someone else.
Call it karma. Call it problem solving. Call it whatever you want. By becoming a master at “holding space” you become a little bit of a mentor, coach and entrepreneurial shrink. You’ll be doing meaningful work and if the entrepreneur you’re helping is on a mission to change the world… then, in a small way, you’re contributing too!
No business owner who’s ever had a taste of effective coaching or mentoring will ever go back to a life without it. This is because they get it. They have a very real experience of the value of space held and perspective given.
Personally, I count five people in my list of unofficial coaches – the ultra close support people whom I have permission to be totally vulnerable in front of. My network includes some remarkable people, which is why I count a doctor of clinical psychology as one. However, not a day goes by that I’m not grateful for the perspectives given by my old high school buddy… who is more or less a starving artist. Perspective is fresh – regardless of who is giving it.
Not one of those people include my “significant other” and this is (more or less) why. Don’t get me wrong – spousal support is crucial, but I’m talking about something else entirely here.
I know too many entrepreneurs who don’t have anyone or worse, think they have someone holding space for them who isn’t.
I can guarantee that if you make the effort to be this kind of friend to another entrepreneur in your life, you won’t have to look far when you need a perspective. This is a no brainer, isn’t it?
So, if this concept sits well with you, go out and hold space for someone else… starting today. Here’s a quick fire guide on how to do it:
- Create an environment where the other person is totally safe.
- Actively listen. Holding Space is about giving someone room to express themselves and their emotions entirely – so quit thinking of what to say next and hear them.
- Don’t offer solutions – allow your friend to arrive at their own conclusions.
- Ask questions, but never questions that lead.
Great questions for holding space
- “What do you need?”
- “Where are you now?”
- “Where do you want to be?”
- “What has to happen for you to get there?”
- “What can you take responsibility for?”
- “What have you learned?”
I hold space for a job. My whole business is built around creating the best space and perspectives – the kind that support and nourish entrepreneurs to do extraordinary work. The world needs more successful entrepreneurs, which means that entrepreneurs need more support.
I wrote this post hoping you’ll join me in some way. My consulting isn’t scalable – it’s boutique and premium (although you can get a free test-drive) and there’s still a big need for entrepreneurial perspective out there. That’s a perspective you’ve already got and I know it’s worth sharing, with one other person minimum.
If you’ve got questions or want to know more about Holding Space, let’s chat it out in the comment section under this post. I’d also love to hear from you about your experiences holding space for others and/or being the beneficiary of valuable perspective.