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Clear the Path to Meaningful Work

My mom stood at the foot of the driveway alongside my younger sister, with her cheeks glistening waving goodbye as I drove away. I had just graduated from university, completed the required internship, and with all the wisdom that comes with being almost 21, felt ready to start my own business away from the support system and all the friends I knew.

I always had an intrinsic sense that I was following some sort of carved out path and if I just trusted the process everything would be just fine. I backed out of that driveway feeling happy and excited for what was in front of me.

It was 1991 and I’d already had a brief taste of living on my own. I’d had some form of work employment since I was 12, after school, evenings and in the summer months. I learned to value other people’s systems working retail, hospitality service, and in the role as an administrative assistant. I was excited to use what I had learned from others to make something of myself.

I didn’t know what a recession was, but in 1991 many people were talking about the current economic tides. I didn’t focus too much on that. If Facebook had existed back then, you would have seen photos of me smiling in front of my car, posts about my new job at the mall, and an overall look of enthusiasm about starting my career in a new, beautiful city. Like Facebook today, you likely wouldn’t have seen the growing trepidation I was feeling, but I kept trusting the path and moved forward anyways.

Since then, I’ve been told that business owners who use a lot of mental powers to make their next decision have less success transforming their ideas into a business than those who automatically just move forward and trust their feelings. Perhaps that was what ran in my favour. I’ve always felt that thinking too hard about something leads to more barriers than open doors.

Perhaps when a decision presents itself you have felt this way yourself?  You begin to think it through, and then your mind begins to cycle over all the possibilities of what could go wrong until you feel paralyzed to take another step. This is when a mindset shift is required and feelings before action are needed to make the next step feel possible.  The feeling ‘to try’ regardless of the outcome.  As Michael Jordan, NBA Hall of Famer expressed, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game’s winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that’s why I succeed.”

As we are learning, changing our mindset is the only way we can clear the path to the work we love.  Carol Dweck suggests that just learning more about the power of our mindset can cause major shifts in how view ourselves and our lives. Knowing the distinction between a growth (moving forward) and fixed (feeling paralyzed) mindset gives greater opportunity to build your business more successfully.

In the end, it is not what leaders think that fosters success – it is how leaders feel that will impact what they do next, and how others respond to them. Our entrepreneurial mindset, that do-gooder, get’er done attitude, is often what will get us through even the most difficult times and generate the energy we need to move forward on our path.

At the age of 21 and starting my business I knew only two things: I had a passion to support people through difficult life transitions, and that people needed help to do just that. My first accountant said the market would never buy in to a new ‘for profit’ healthcare option. Well, over 25 years later (and with a new accountant), I have learned that when you focus on things that are bigger than you more is possible…and if all else fails there is someone waiting for you at the foot of the driveway (thanks mom).

My goal is to help small business leaders like you feel good about what you are doing  so you can turn around and make an even greater impact in your community.  There is no one path – every journey that will make a difference will look different. In this monthly Good Work series we will go deeper into the stories and insights that fostered the growth of JB Music Therapy Inc.