Climbing out of the Valley of Despair
April 2, 2015
We all have the capacity for greatness, and we all have the capacity for great failure. Recently, we, Jon and I, have embarked on a journey to grow Dayhome Registry to a business of greatness. And this journey is testing me. Testing my faith, testing my resilience, testing my skills, and above all, testing my belief in myself.
When I was 12, I decided I wanted to be a teacher. That was going to be my life’s purpose, and for the next 25 years, I was true to that calling and it felt right. But in the last few years, things started to shift. First, Jon decided he wanted to forge out on his own as an entrepreneur, and I was more than happy to support him – but, thank you very much, someone had to be responsible, and so I was staying in the comfortable, safe bubble of the teacher’s chair. Benefits, regular pay, regular hours and a job that I knew, no matter what, would be there. Then, 3 years ago, we started Dayhome Registry with a mission to make the childcare search for parents much easier. However, until this year, I stayed tied to teaching, still always with that safety net keeping me from REALLY diving “All In”.
I blindly went into Entrepreneurialism with the belief of, “If you build it, They will come”. I mean really, how could anyone NOT see that this was a brilliant idea! All dayhomes, both accredited and private, registered in one easy place, so parents can find them and contact them. We figured a measly $20, and then $50 per year would be a drop in the bucket for people and they would OBVIOUSLY understand the brilliance of this idea and would sign up in droves.
Well, here we are, three years later, and the droves have yet to arrive. Its getting better, and we are growing, but it is still HARD DAMN WORK. And after 3 years of HARD DAMN WORK, and battling against the naysayers and against my own beliefs in myself and my ability to really make this a success, this week, I hit the Valley of Despair (see image above). Lots of tears, ranting and raving at poor Jon, worry and panic about what will we do if this just flops, and lots of questioning why on Gods Green Earth I EVER decided to become an entrepreneur.
The life of an entrepreneur is never static, never easy and never fluid. Even when things are going well, you are always thinking, planning, dreaming about what’s next, what could be the next thing that could take you over the edge, into Greatness. And, now, after nearly a year away from the teacher world of safeness and stability and “regularity”, I don’t think I could stand to go back. While there are days when I hate, and yes, I really do mean that, the uncertainty of entrepreneurship, and the worry about where the income will come from in the coming months, I’ve also come to love it. I’ve never before been driven to work at 5:30am and still be excited to do “just one more thing” at 10pm at night.
About a year ago, I read Arlene Dickinson’s book, All In. And a year ago, the book angered me. As I read it, I was thinking “What do you mean you put your business before your children?” “How dare you, as a mother, take your blackberry (or iPhone) on holidays with you and work while you are away?”
But now, a year later, and perhaps a year wiser, I think I understand better. Its not like a J.O.B., where you answer your emails while you are on holidays, or pause a conversation with your children to handle a phone call, because you are scared of your boss’s reaction if you don’t. You do those things because you WANT TO. Because when you are an entrepreneur who truly loves what they do (even when you hate it), your business, your family, your life, they are all intertwined, and that’s ok!
And I think this past week of despair, of tears and worry and the Lizard Brain SCREAMING at me, has been to teach me, or remind me, of this. This evening, I took some time to make granola bars, clean the kitchen, call my mom and get things in the house a little more settled for the coming weekend – swim meet weekends are always a bit hectic. But, at the same time, I chatted with a couple dayhome providers on Facebook. I checked in to make sure that I had answered any and all parent concerns, and I took time to think and reflect.
I have friends who are battling horrific depression and anxiety issues, and at the moment, they too are in their own Valley of Despair, and yet they, even in their darkest times, reached out to me to make sure I was ok. I know of many people, who are near and dear to me, who are battling horrible, horrible illnesses, and who likely will not win that battle, but they are strong and resilient and still able to see the brightness in the world. They did not choose these battles, the universe, for whatever reason, has seen fit to present them with these. And every day, they get up, and fight another day to win. To climb out of their own personal Valley of Despair and get to their own personal greatness. Some days that greatness will be making it through the day without crying, some days that will mean truly feeling like they are beating back their illness – be it mental or physical. The resilience and capacity that lives inside these people is truly inspirational.
I have had my own personal struggles with depression. I know the dark, dark and horrific places one’s brain can go when the chemical imbalances are off. And I truly feel I have won not only that battle, but the war. But again, that depression is not a choice, it is an illness.
This lifestyle is a choice, and I have the choice to either embrace it, and all the ups and downs, greatnesses and failures that go with it, or listen to the terrified Lizard Brain, run off defeated, and always be left wondering….. “What if……”
So today, I chose to see my glass as half full – its a big glass, and it is going to take a LOT of effort and perseverance on my part to fill it up the rest of the way. But, we have big dreams and big goals; for our business, our family, our lives, and the only way to achieve them is to start climbing out of the Valley and reach for the stars of greatness. Failure is not an option.