If you’ve been in the world of conscious online business for very long, you’ve probably heard the perspective that growing your own business is akin to stepping onto a path of personal and spiritual development.
Woven into each new challenge that arises is the opportunity to release limiting beliefs, shed false identities, walk through old fears, and consciously choose to go beyond your comfortable borders into bold new territory that will surely call forth a truer and fuller expression of who you are, the you you’re meant to become.
Because you care so much about your great work, you’re willing to say yes to the growth hidden in each edgy encounter. You’re willing to do the work of turning the steady stream of challenges into an endless flow of life-enhancing gifts, some of which, I’ll admit, can feel like they come wrapped in dirty paper.
So consciously growing a soul-centered business can indeed be a path of personal and spiritual growth. What I’ve recently realized is that it can also be like an adventure sport!
An adventure sport is typically a voluntary activity that requires a certain level of cultivated skill to execute and that comes with a significant level of inherent risk.
Unlike more traditional sports, it takes place in a fairly unpredictable context, includes a relatively high number of uncontrollable variables, and is an overall uncertain endeavor. The stakes are relatively high, yet the rewards are fantastic.
And it’s incredibly fulfilling and a whole lot of fun. (Yep, that’s me over there!) Yet most folks think of adventures sports as crazy and way too risky. Sounds like entrepreneurship to me!
Choosing to start your own entrepreneurial business and forgo the illusion of security that many still believe a job provides, well, there are lots of folks out there who see this as a foolish and unwise choice.
The inherent risk that comes with creating a thriving livelihood on your own, seemingly out of thin air and without the safety-net of a steady paycheck, this is simply too much for many. In general, we’re not taught how to trust our own
capacity in this way.
Adventure sport also requires a high degree of multi-level focus, combined with passion, commitment, and constant surrender.
You need to know where you’re headed and commit passionately to it. You need to see the big picture of the constantly shifting terrain you’re moving through, with all its many influences beyond your control. And you need to be keenly aware of the immediately relevant details and how you are in moment-to-moment relation to them.
This dynamically shifting, multi-level focus is essential in business as well, yet too often I see entrepreneurs lock their gaze on one level – whether it’s the big picture devoid of relevant details, or a few free-floating details – and assume they’ve got things figured out.
When engaging in an adventure sport, it’s good to have a plan that gets you started (and that maybe you stick to), and even better if you’re willing to let go of the plan in an instant as you respond to what actually is present in each moment, as opposed to what you had thought, hoped, or planned for.
Too many entrepreneurs I encounter come up with a plan for something they want to do in their business and then they simply implement it step-by-step, without ever pausing to check if they’re still on track or heading toward a cliff. In business, it’s essential to be tracking what’s actually happening, be it moment-to-moment in an enrolling conversation or day-to-day in a program launch, and course-correcting as needed.
Another tip from adventure sports is that you learn quickly to keep your full attention on where you want to go and not give in to the impulse to fixate fearfully on (or even pay any attention to) where you don’t want to be, since that’s the fastest way to end up there. I discovered that after finding myself in some harrowing whitewater situations, all because I was looking at where I didn’t want to go instead of where I wanted to.
Yet as entrepreneurs, how easy is it to question whether a particular launch is going to be successful (while you’re trying to make it succeed), or whether anyone will really want what you have to offer (while you’re making your offer)? With your attention going to what you don’t want, guess what happens?
The key – in adventure sports and in entrepreneurship – is to be deeply committed to your endeavor, yet fluid and flexible as to how you’ll get there. And to let go of it having to look/be a certain way.
When you’re just getting started, begin small and relatively simple, with minimal complexity and a low level of risk that’s on par with your skill and understanding. Choose an easy river, not a gnarly class V one. Offer your new program one-on-one to people already in your circle of connections. Don’t start out with an involved online launch of a group program.
In both adventure sports and entrepreneurship, it’s also essential to continually grow your skill to the point of artistry, which means always be challenging yourself to go just beyond your current comfort zone. And don’t try to do it alone!
Oddly enough, I found my way to both entrepreneurship and to the adventure sport of whitewater rafting in a similar way. As a young woman I discovered I had a deep love of rivers, so learning to guide a boat down them and make that my livelihood seemed like a very natural and appealing thing.
Truth be told, I had no idea what I was getting myself into! I had almost drowned as a very young child, so I had a deeply engrained, pre-verbal terror of falling out of the boat and being pummeled to death by overpowering turbulence.
Yet the spirit of the river lodged itself in my soul and that pull became stronger than any survival fear leftover from childhood. The fear never fully went away, but it became my ally as I learned to walk through it day after day, on behalf of a longing I couldn’t deny.
The same was true for starting my own coaching business. At some point I discovered how much I loved facilitating deep, soul-unfolding transformation in individuals and small groups, so making that my livelihood seemed like a very natural and appealing thing. Again, I had no idea what I was getting myself into!
The big rapids I encountered on the river of entrepreneurship triggered a different, less tangible yet equally real experience of survival fears – until I learned how to navigate them, transform them into allies, and walk through them daily, pulled forward by a calling I couldn’t deny.
So both the river and my business have grown me in truly extraordinary ways. My years leading whitewater rafting trips on some really challenging rivers, making sure that people had fun and stayed safe and alive, while ensuring that the team of
guides worked together in a state of alert joyful flow – this is where I first discovered myself as a leader.
My years of growing my own business and finding my way as a conscious entrepreneur has also grown me in so many ways – as a visionary, as a thought leader, as a woman capable of germinating the seed of an innovative, paradigm-shifting idea and growing it into a blossoming business that supports me generously and is making a profound difference in the lives of other conscious entrepreneurs.
So there you have it – entrepreneurship as a thrilling adventure sport that’s not for the faint of heart, as an unfolding path of personal and spiritual growth for those committed to live into the fullest expression of their soul, and as a fabulous way to generously support yourself while making your greatest contribution to a world in need.
Adventure sports aren’t for everyone, nor is entrepreneurship. But I’m guessing that if you’re reading this, the adventure sport of entrepreneurship is for you – you with your unique and original gift to share with the world, you with your unusual level of courage and commitment, you with your willingness to forge new paths and venture into new territory on behalf of the great work you were born to do.
So I’m curious: What are 3 ways your business feels like an adventure sport? How has it grown you as a leader? Who are you now that you weren’t before you started it?