I try, whenever I write, to be of value in some way. Whether my words can inspire you, give you a sense of ‘huh-that’s-exactly-what-I-needed-to-hear’, spur you into action or give you just the one thing you need to move forward in your business, then I feel like I’ve done a good job. What’s interesting to me though, is that this process, of writing on a weekly basis, brings about a huge amount of value my way too. Haha, so I guess you could say it’s a win-win.
But sometimes, things change. And the way I used to think about things is no longer the way I think about them now. Or the way I approach a situation differs because I’ve gained a little more experience or confidence. And then sometimes, I read something I wrote a while back, and feel like a complete fraud.
Or at least, that’s what happened this week. Let me explain.
Over the last few years, I’ve written a lot about being in the now. About leaning into the present and being in flow. I’ve talked about it at length, and to be honest, I thought I was really getting the hang of it. I committed to a regular meditation practice, I prioritised spending time in the ocean (which didn’t feel that hard haha) and I did my best to show up 100% for everything that I did.
And so, last week, when a book that a bestie recommended showed up (all about presence), I felt like it was perfect timing. The funny thing is, that when she first told me about the book, she was overflowing with how rad it was… and then when I told her, halfway through a skype catch up that I’d ordered it, she smiled and said ‘yikes… this is going to be tough’.
I felt like I’d been duped into something. I had imagined it would be this uplifting, inspiring book that would leave me feeling stoked, but suddenly I was getting the impression that this would perhaps be one of those journeys that only feel positive in hindsight. When I started delving into the book I recognised something pretty massive within just the first chapter.
Of course, I’m good at being in the now when I’m in the freaking surf. Or watching a sunset. Or SUP’ing solo around the coast. It’s e-a-s-y to be in the now when life is good. To breathe in those rad moments, to lean into what’s happening and not let anything distract you. But it’s being present when life is ugly that actually takes some work.
And despite all my blog articles & IG posts telling you to live in the now, I actually suck at being in the now when things aren’t great. So much so, that I’ll do whatever it takes to not be in the now. I resist the ugly now like a freaking pro.
But the first step is recognising the problem though right ?! Haha I hope so. I was delving into some pretty serious life stuff the other day with my coach, and we talked about the concept of honouring the space you’re in. Immediately, my little resistance gremlin rocked up, and was like ‘um, nice idea… but we don’t want to actually stay here Linz… it’s ugly down here’. And therein lies my problem. Wanting to be the poster-girl of presence when life is good, but running as far away from it when everything looks a little sucky.
So this week, my new mantra has been ‘be in the ugly’.
And it got me thinking about how this plays out in entrepreneurship. When we’re building a business, we can spend a lot of time in resistance. Resisting how long it takes to grow. Resisting the fact that we’re not making the money we assumed we’d be making by now. Resisting the amount of work it takes to become an expert at something.
And not just in the early days either. …. If we’re not careful, we can continue our BFF relationship with resistance. Resisting growth when it feels like it’s you’re not ready. Resisting putting your prices up. Resisting the need to build a team.
Ahhhhh. So. Much. Freaking. Resistance.
So much avoiding, escaping, racing… away from the now. Which ultimately, does us more harm than good. And so, I figured it might be useful (for me, as well as you !) to map out a few reasons why actually, being in the ugly makes the most sense :
There are diamonds in the dirt — I know that you know this. And I also know that we can only connect the dots looking backwards, so when you’re in it, it feels impossible to see anything positive. But just knowing that something positive will come out of the experience … a gem of wisdom, a lesson, a clearer vision, stronger boundaries, a more effective team (even though you have no idea which of these it will be it at the time) can help steady your nerves and allow you lean into the ugliness. Repeat after me: Something good will come from this.
Being in it means moving through it more effectively — Note, I didn’t say moving through it ‘quicker’, because quicker doesn’t mean better. But being fully present to the issue at hand means you’re actually acknowledging what’s going on rather than trying to race past it. If it’s a legitimate business problem, it deserves your full attention, and pushing it to one side will only make it worse. know it sounds a little crazy, but breathe the moment in, accept it, surrender to it… give it the space it needs.
Being in the ugly helps you get clarity on what you really want — There’s nothing better than a super sucky situation to remind you of what you truly value. And knowing what you truly value helps you define what it is that you really want. So when a client has avoided an invoice like the plague, or a project is racing towards it’s deadline like a runaway train…. take a moment to sit with what’s actually happening and connect to the underlying value that is being stomped on (Late paying clients ? Lack of respect…Panic-filled projects ? Lack of organisation).
Remembering that this moment matters — That everything is unfolding exactly as it should. Remember that smart cookie Einstein? He said that the most important decision we make in life is whether we believe in a friendly universe or a hostile one. And if you believe it’s a friendly one (please say you do), then the sucky moments are when we need to be reminded of this most. Perhaps the reason why your business isn’t growing is because you actually need some time to get your systems in place, and if you suddenly had a zillion sales, the whole thing would fall apart. Or maybe this overflow of work is leading you to narrow your niche & raise your prices. The point is, this moment is valid. It’s important. Even if it sucks.
Recognise that everyone goes through this — I mean everyone. It’s all too easy to look at the shiny highlight reels on social media and assume everyone else is stoked 24/7, but trust me, they’re not. Everyone has shit going on. Different issues, different times in their life and different ways of dealing with it, but one thing is certain …. even though the space where ugly lives feels totally isolated, you are most definitely not alone.
So if you’re feeling up to it, I invite you, next time the universe throws a curve ball your way, to sit with it, to be in the moment with it, and to practise being present in the ugly stuff.
I’m not promising it will be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.