Driving to school the last few mornings, I’ve heard this phrase thrown around a lot in my daughters’ conversations:
“Someone at school (fill in a friend’s name) made me do something.”
Nothing so terrible that it warrants a trip to the principal’s office, but it’s interesting how often they think they have no control in these situations.
They’re 9 & 11, and I know they’re at that age where navigating friendships, relationships, and boundaries is a huge construction project. During these crazy years, I’m trying to teach them about their own personal choices and understanding that they are, and will always be, the boss of their life.
Today, as I climbed on my soapbox ready to go, I looked in the rearview mirror and saw confusion, fear, and apprehension. Then they asked, “What does being the boss even look like? Will I get in trouble if I’m the boss? How do I actually be the boss?”
These are great questions, and ones I expect at this age because fitting in means everything. Ironically, the looks I saw in the rearview mirror this morning, are the same ones we see from women who are trying to tackle becoming their own boss in business and in life.
Not surprising. You see, we’re taught from a young age to stay with the herd, color inside the lines, and not rock the boat. Not only are we taught to do that, we’re rewarded for doing it. Those who do it best are given more money, more opportunities, better assignments, and promotions at a faster rate.
So, what happens when you decide to be a renegade and leave the herd?
I Jumped the Fence
Almost 17 years ago, I jumped the fence and left the herd to start my first consulting business. As I reflect on that day, I realize I had no clue what I was doing, who I was doing it for, or a solid plan beyond leaving corporate America. Note that at the time, my plan felt very solid to me. I’ll never forget the look of horror from my colleagues, friends and family as I enthusiastically rattled off my plans to leave this perceived safe haven for a chance to wear flip flops and work out of my house. I left that Friday afternoon in October as a well-respected sales training manager for a Fortune 100 company, a go-to gal, and ladder climber. But on Monday morning, I was a… hmm, CEO? President? Owner? I had no clue what I was.
I would love to tell you it was a quick and easy process to make that mental adjustment, but it wasn’t. It continued to be a struggle for me for many years. Every time I put President as my title on my taxes, I felt like the imposter talked about last week. Worried the IRS was going to call and say, “hey lady, stop lying on your taxes we’re on to you, you’re not a President.”
Ladies, here’s what I would tell you now, 17 years later. This transition from having an employee mindset to a boss mindset is minimized way too often, and it’s crucial to your success. We allow ourselves to become distracted in creating dazzling websites, logos and business cards, networking, and attending the local meet and greet, but until you truly believe you’re the boss, you’ll never actually act like one. From one Smart Girl to another, I can tell you with certainty that until you make this mental shift you and your business will suffer.
How to Have a Boss Mindset
Changing your mindset doesn’t happen overnight. Remember, you’ve spent years learning, following, and benefitting from the employee mindset you’re currently cozied up to, and it’s going to take time to move beyond that place. But when you decide to fully embrace and commit to being the boss, it can be done. You’re just one thought away from having that boss mindset.
I want to share 3 mindset changes that have completely changed the way I do business, and ones that helped us hit the ground running when we launched 2 Smart Girls. They’ll put you one step closer to thinking like a boss.
Mindset Change #1: You’re running a business
This one is so hard that I’ve put it front and center. Remember the lines and the herd? We’ve been taught to be a team player, play nice, and never rock the boat but being the boss means making the best decision for your business, even if it’s difficult and outside your comfort zone.
Part of running a business is knowing what you’re worth, charging for your services and your time, having difficult conversations with clients, and selling all the time! Look at your work history and you’ll see all of the places you’ve been trained to sell yourself short, were asked to give more than you were rewarded for, and to go above and beyond but were never recognized for it.
Smart Girl, those days are over and will be hard to get over. This may be something you don’t even see or are aware of because of your conditioning. This is where having a good mentor or coach who has your back will be invaluable to you. They’ll help you make those difficult business decisions, using your value not your emotions, which will help retrain your thinking. Which brings us to the next mindset change.
Mindset Change #2: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
It’s impossible for you to be an expert in everything that needs to happen in your business. Realize that the best CEOs in the world are able to perform at the top of their game because of the amazing team of people supporting them. Begin building your network with people you like, trust, and can learn from to fill the gaps. You and your business depend on them.
Advice: Determine what you can do, will do, and what’s a complete non-negotiable. My non-negotiable is anything that involves the IRS, so I’m more than happy to pay for those services.
Mindset Change #3: Take personal responsibility
You are it! You’re the boss, the big cheese, the CEO, president, or whatever you want to call yourself. And that means there’s no one else to blame. The buck stops with you.
When you jump into entrepreneurship, there are no lines, herds, or manuals to keep you moving in the right direction. It’s all up to you now! That’s exciting and liberating to some, terrifyingly overwhelming to others, and the choice is all yours.
Long Distance Race
Today I’ll share with you what I wish I had told myself 17 years ago, what I’ll continue to tell my daughters in the morning, and what you may need to hear at this moment:
“You have permission to be the boss of your life, your business, and of you. Color outside the lines, make your mark on the world, be different and stand out, and when you do, I’ll always have your back.”
Remember that this is a long distance race not a sprint. Be gentle with yourself; transformation isn’t easy and won’t come over night. Pick a few areas to work on and get going. We’ll be there cheering you on every step of the way.
Until next time Smart Girl, be present, be strong, be you!