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So You’re Stressed? Good!

brenebrownYesterday I had brunch with an entrepreneur friend of mine.  A few weeks ago, he’d shared with me some of the new projects and initiatives he was taking on in his business.  After we’d ordered, he simply remarked to me, “Dave, man, all this stuff (with the business) has me really stressed out….”

I normally blog about retirement, but this was timely, stuck with me and I thought I’d share.  Don’t worry, if you clicked thru for retirement planning thoughts, I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled programming next week.

It stuck with me because, although I’m not an old man, I’ve been around long enough to experience some highs and lows; successes and failures…but also the easy content of stagnation.

“Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman.” – Maya Angelou

For the last year or so my friend’s business had been stagnating.  A business school professor a decade or two ago might have said he was “harvesting” his “cash cow” business.  It would bring little growth or ability for future growth but in the present was generating strong, predictable, easy cash flow.

As for his new project, this guy (my friend) isn’t being reckless or stupid.  He has some market insights.  He has a plan.  He has the resources to execute his plan.  Most importantly what he gets is the fact that he does need to evolve his business.

But what he also gets with change is everything else emotionally that comes with it: stress, fear, vulnerability, and all the other dirty words that come along with it.

I know in my life, professionally and personally, the only times I’ve ever really accomplished anything worthwhile it was when I “put myself out there” emotionally. I was stressed. I was anxious. I was vulnerable.

Brene Brown (www.brenebrown.com) is widely acclaimed for, among other topics, her work on vulnerability. Here are two TED Talks she did on vulnerability and shame that have been seen by nearly 20 million people.   The second one might be more on topic for business people, but she refers to the first one numerous times and it sets the stage for the second.

Vulnerability is a word in our culture that has a huge negative connotation, particularly for males.  Weakness is bad!

I got news for you: The only way to grow is to be uncomfortable; to be exposed; to be vulnerable.  Dr. Brown would agree with me. Rob Asghar had some strong thoughts on the topic recently in Forbes as well.

What I told my friend? “So you’re more stressed than back when you were coasting? That’s actually a good thing!  Embrace it!”

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