When I moved to India four years ago, I came with a suitcase full of hopes, dreams and aspirations – in addition to the boxes and cartons that we transported to move home. Fifteen years in the corporate world had brought a sense of accomplishment that egged me on to take the next step and set up ‘my own thing‘ as I often found myself saying. I was brimming with ideas, color schemes of my own place, the people I would serve, the work I would do, the sense of fulfillment I would go to bed with…
My own thing… (wistful sigh)
I knew what the picture looked like, the visionary that I am, but when it got down to the basics, haha!! I was flummoxed with the what-to and how-to in a country that had so many nooks and crevices in terms of laws, legalities and schemes. And then there was the trust factor – but let’s leave that for another day because this post, honestly, is about the foremost and simplest task, but also the hardest one to break out from for most pre-entrepreneurs.
It is about asking.
Learning to identify my dominant working / leadership / entrepreneurship style meant I had to dig deep and look at what I did best, what made me feel good about myself and what drained me. I figured out through trial and error that I was good at big-picture space-holding, and generating impact and vision. So my business looked good on my creative and visionary canvas.
But as I mentioned earlier, I didn’t know what to do with the germ of an idea and how to go about it. I didn’t even know how to take the first step – because…
I didn’t even know what the next step was!
Honestly, it could have been fairly easy, if I allowed it to be, because I was surrounded by women entrepreneurs who were enjoying their experience (or so I perceived). I guess I just felt a bit small and shy to put myself in the novice’s place (and I say this with complete humility too). It was embarrassing for me to publicly acknowledge my lack of knowledge on the system – even though I blamed the system for having such confusing and hard-to-decipher channels of information.
I was living in my make-believe world of ‘what-if‘s & assumed mis-information. I assumed that the cost of setting up my business would be too high and I assumed that CAs and lawyers came too expensive. My list of assumptions were slowly turning into my reality.
I have no idea when I started taking on these assumptions as permission to avoid stepping into my power and instead choosing to succumb to the incapacitating bliss of ignorance.
It wasn’t long before the frustration of stagnation started to shake me up. It was something like a festering abscess – this inertia of sitting in ignorance when the only thing stopping me were all sorts of misplaced and unheard of fears.
So I did the best thing I could ever do for myself.
I took charge – and I asked for help.
It started with little things – but my heart and pride were fluttering about like I was about to be slaughtered with a massive ‘NO’. It started with asking for help in finding a venue. In five minutes, I had a 5-star business hotel as a lead! I went on to ask them for a special price – they were so impressed by the work I was doing, they offered to host all my future events!
I walked out of the meeting really wondering if things were actually supposed to be so easy? I was aware that this was not indicative of how much effort I would have to put into the work itself, but I was even more aware of another critical piece of the puzzle.
While my work would always be mine, I realized that I didn’t always have to do everything by myself. I had to learn to ask. I had to learn that asking for help and information was not a sign of weakness but more so a sign of self-awareness and strength. To recognize your forte and to acknowledge that you don’t have to be an expert at everything is a big thing. To recognize the expertise that other partners bring to the table is an even bigger act of collaborative power.
So there you have it – my nugget for today – ask… and you shall receive!
Luvena Rangel is the founder of The Curvy Yogi and a core team member of Vibha Women Empowerment for Entrepreneurship. She is a Holistic Health, Yoga, Ayurveda & Meditation educator and Co-Active Life Coach. She enjoys writing, reading and reaching out to women, helping them overcome crises and shine in life and business.