As a business owner, it’s helpful to find ways of staying centered so that we can be focused and productive. In the course of business (or just life in general) there are things that threaten to knock us off our center. I’ve made a recent personal revelation about the dynamics surrounding coming back to center: I’ve noticed that when I’m exercising discernment, I’m able stay closer to center and return to center faster.
A while back I was on a networking coffee with a person who works in a related field. I’d been connected by a mutual acquaintance who thought we needed to know each other. I went into the coffee calm and thinking this person should be an asset for my business. Over coffee we conversed. It was a completely normal conversation: They shared what they do. I shared what I do. We discussed ways we could contribute to each other. I left feeling off my center, anxious, and confused. The conversation was not terrible, but it was also not good.
This experience reminded me of how important it is to be discerning with your business connections. While, from the outside, this connection should have been a slam dunk, in actuality it was anything but. Here’s what I’ve been using to find my center again:
Letting Go of the Expectation
I walked into the coffee meeting with expectations: this person was going to be a great connection for my business. While having a connection to someone in that profession would be good for my business, the reality is that there are a ton of people who work in that field. This person and me didn’t click, but there’s probably someone else out there I’ll click with if I keep looking. And more important than having a (insert profession here) in your back pocket, is having one you value, trust and who has your back as much as you have theirs in all the ways that matter to you. And that isn’t going to happen with the first person you meet. (Ok, maybe it will, but it’s not likely.) Being discerning about who you *choose* to foster connection with is powerful. (And you best be *choosing*!)
Be Discerning about Business “Shoulds” – There are Different Strokes for Different Folks
When two business owners get together it’s very easy to get into talking business. We can joyfully share things that are working really well for us. (And sometimes we fall into the trap of comparing our business to theirs.) Sometimes business sharing bridges into advice giving: “Oh, you just *have* to being doing (insert business activity here), it’s where I get 80% of my clients!”
Whether it’s passive comparisons, mild sharing, or pushy advice, any of that can knock us from our center. It’s important to keep in mind that there are a lot of ways to run a business. What works for that person might not work for you. And there’s no reason it has to. You went into business for yourself in order to do things your own way, so why in the world would you try to force yourself to do it the way that works for someone else, if it doesn’t work for you?
With business advice, like with any kind of feedback, you have the choice in what you do with it. Exercise your discernment and decide if it’s advice you want to take, or something you’d rather not. And then throw that good-but-not-good-for-you advice out with a polite “thanks, but no thanks!” (And it’s ok if that part only happens inside your head!)
In the networking coffee I referenced earlier, there was also a subtle misalignment that I think can be easy to overlook, but is an important distinction. The person I was talking with had a transactional approach to our interaction: What can I do for your business? (And implicitly: what can you do for my business?) I prefer to approach business interactions (and life in general) relationally: Who are you? What makes you tick? Can we have a relationship that serves as the uniting element for any assistance we provide each other?
You might not come across someone who misaligns on the transactional/relational front, but you probably will come across people who don’t share the same values as you. When building networking connections I find it super important to find people who share similar values. It helps us reinforce our centeredness. When you meet with someone who you don’t quite jive with, it could be that your values or world outlook don’t quite line up. And that’s ok, it just means it’s not a good connection. They can be a good person, provide a valuable service, and run a business, without you needing to be connected to any of that!
When you have an experience with someone who threatens your centeredness, take a moment and check in with your values. What kind of person do you want to be in the world? Why are you running your business? Then apply some discernment: Does this person feed those efforts or subtly take away from them? If they’re not feeding into your values and your purpose, then let them go!
Returning to Center
I hope this article can help you return to center quickly the next time your centeredness is threatened. Checking your expectations, throwing out unhelpful advice, and checking in with your values are only a few things that can help you return to center. What other things do you do to help yourself return to center?