Does Entrepreneurship Have to Be Hard?

Birthing Your Business



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September 7, 2017

Does entrepreneurship have to be hard?

We hear advice like “Well, it doesn’t have to be hard if you just follow steps A, B and C!” or “Well, if you are more tuned into it your intuition then it doesn’t have to be hard!” To me, that kind of statement can come across as a judgment. It makes you think you’re just not doing the right things and that’s why it’s hard. At the risk of sounding wishy-washy though, entrepreneurship can be hard or it can be easy. Sometimes that can be a result of what we’re doing or not doing. Other times it just is what it is!

Let me get on with the main part of my analogy: any kind of creative endeavor (including building a business) is a birthing. Not only is it an analogy but it really is second chakra work. Second chakra work is all about your cauldron of creation. Whether you’re creating a human in that womb space or using it as the creative flame for what you’re trying to create in the world, it leads to a birthing.

Going with the birth analogy for a minute. let’s talk about the work of labor and birth. There’s a lot of hype out there about what labor and birth look like in popular culture. Especially what they *should* look like or *could* look like based on what you do or don’t do. There can be a lot of judgment about the way that your labor and birth happen and a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking (to mix metaphors completely) by apparent  “experts” who may or may not have experienced childbirth for themselves.

When you’re in labor to give birth, it’s hard work. There are a very few women out on the tail end of the curve who have “ecstatic births.” They are able to basically have an orgasm in the middle of birthing their child. The entire experience is total pleasure and they don’t even feel pain. But then there are women on the other side of the curve who try everything: entering a Zen space and using any number of other relaxation techniques, but birth is just absolutely painful. For them, birth is nigh on impossible and they might require intervention. Of course, they’re also on the tail of the curve. They’re not the norm either.

Personally, I’m a student of natural birth. I gave birth with midwives outside of a hospital and with no drugs. Three times! So I kind of get what the natural process is supposed to look like (did I mention three times?) and that within that natural process of birthing is a range of normal. You do your best. You study up on all of the techniques that you can use. You know, things like how you should stay upright and not lay down in the bed. You move your hips around. You do the breathing techniques. You dance! You think about opening and not closing. You visualize your cervix opening to let that baby come on out.

Even though I was in those empowered places of opening and getting it done without intervention or without pharmaceuticals, it hurts. It’s hard. People often ask me about the pain, like “didn’t that hurt?” This is probably because natural birth, especially here in the United States but I think in most places in the Western world, is still pretty rare. People go for the drugs a lot. Even people who have opted for drugs have asked me “Wasn’t it hard? Didn’t it hurt?” and I respond “Well, it hurt in the sense that it’s really really really hard work. It’s like you’re running a marathon and when you’re running a marathon, it hurts.”

And again there are very few people out on the tail end of the curve for whom marathon running never hurts. It’s just smooth sailing the whole time. They don’t get shin splints. They don’t feel like they’re sucking wind. They just don’t hurt the whole time. But for most people there’s an element of discomfort. There’s an element of pain. There’s an element of real hardness about running a marathon. It’s the same way with natural birthing. That’s the analogy I like to draw for people who ask about birth.

Think about having a really really hard workout in the gym or running a marathon or climbing a mountain; any kind of really strenuous physical activity. There’s a part of it that hurts but it’s a whole different kind of hurt than your leg being broken or something being really wrong with your body. It’s a healthy hurt. It’s the way your body is supposed to work. It’s the pain of hard labor. It’s the pain of working really hard. With birth, when you finally push that baby out, the pain stops for the most part. The effort stops. The work stops. You get flooded in this amazing onslaught of endorphins for the accomplishment that just happened and your body is oh-so relieved.

So where’s the analogy? Entrepreneurship is labor. You are birthing something into the world. It’s going to be hard work. Sometimes that hard work is going to be of the painful kind. Does it have to be? Maybe not. There are things you can do to ease that pain and to mitigate it or to avoid it in the first place. Sure, there are going to be parts that are hard. There are going to be parts that are hard to the point of being painful when you’re birthing something new like a business or a book or a piece of art or anything that’s created from you. It’s all coming from that energy center; that second chakra of creation. It’s the same as your physical reproduction. It is hard labor.

There are things you can do to mitigate the labor. But if you don’t have a totally pain-free experience, it doesn’t mean that you’re doing something wrong. Unless of course it’s the kind of pain that feels like you’re breaking a leg or you’re hemorrhaging an organ. That kind of pain in physical childbirth and in creative endeavors is a red flag. It is a signal that something is wrong and you need help. That’s why it’s beautiful that we have options like cesarean sections and other medical interventions. We have drugs! Those are amazing for helping with those times when the pain is the wrong kind of pain; the bad kind of pain. That pain is the indication that something is wrong.

That’s the real trick, isn’t it? The real trick is just is to say “Okay. I’m here in the throes of hard labor trying to birth this creative endeavor, this business, into the world. Is this the healthy, hard work kind of pain? Do I need to stick with it because I know I’m going to come through it be better for it knowing I’ve done the work? Or is this the ‘something-is-wrong’ red flag kind of pain? Is it the ‘my-body-is-being-torn-apart-at-the-seams’ kind of pain?” In the middle of it it can be hard to tell. So you do your best with it and use the tools available to you.

I’m saying this as an affirmation: just because you’re in a hard place doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. You’re in the throes of labor. It’s going to be hard to a certain extent. There’s hard work but there will also be periods of rest where it’s not hard. That’s the beauty of natural labors. You get breaks between the contractions. Your body works and then it rests and then it works and then it rests. Natural labor is a natural cycle with periods of work and periods of rest. This is how it’s supposed to work.

There are some business coaches out there who call themselves “midwives”  — “business midwives,” “creative midwives,” “creative doulas,” or “soul doulas,” etc. who try and help you birth your new thing into the world. It’s an apt metaphor because part of the function of a coach is to help see those natural methods and techniques that you can implement to make the work easier.

I’m actually going to help one of my great friends give birth (to a baby) and act as her doula in October. It feels like my one chance to see a baby born that’s not my own, so I’m super excited! I will help her, offering alternatives. I will say “Why don’t you stand up? Why don’t you walk around the room? Let’s go walk the stairs together. Lean on me. I can hold your hand. Let me rub your back. There are things we can do to make the work shorter and bring down the intensity of it. We can make it easier. I can be here with you through it and hold your hand while you’re going through it.” But at the end of the day the work has to be done. 

When you’re giving birth, your cervix has to go from closed to ten centimeters. It will happen slowly or it will happen fast. Your muscles have to pull it open. The same thing applies here in your business. You have to do the work to go from metaphorical closed to ten centimeters. We’ve got to get there somehow!

Everyone will experience a different gradation of hardness and it doesn’t mean they’ve done something right or wrong. We use the tools in our toolbox to make it as easy as possible and to shorten the duration and to take down the intensity. But at the end of the day, each creator’s experience will be a little bit different.

We do what we can to focus in on that second chakra and support your second chakra because all of this is coming from there.This is a labor. You’re giving birth. It’s coming from that creative center. Let me know what I can do to help doula your creative work into existence.

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Feeling overwhelmed by the scope of your product ideas? Trying not to create in a vacuum but feeling sucked in anyway? Plan your product development cycles to build in flexibility and play while making moolah along the way with the Spiral Product Design Roadmap.

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