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A business journey is also a personal journey: Five things I’ve learned along the way.

What a fantastic journey we embarked on a little over a year ago, and we are enjoying every mile marker along the way. Without a doubt, the best decision we’ve made in our quest to follow our purpose and achieve new heights in search of our “north star.” Sure, we’ve had a few bumps on the road, an occasional detour sign, and perhaps several unexpected stops to fuel our tank. Still, I’m convinced the course we’ve chartered for ourselves and our business is taking us to the right destination.

While hesitation, fear, and doubt often want to make a grand entrance right when you are about to take the first step of the race, my partner and I have found ways to gently push each other to keep a steady pace. Like a relay race, we each carry our batons with the expectation and confidence to go the distance. Of course, as it is the case for most new ventures, there are times when we have not each covered an equal distance to bring one project to the finish line. Emotional depletion, feeling overworked, balancing a healthy tension between the demands of your professional career and your household’s expectations can take a toll on your ability to lead with confidence. But here lies the beauty of partnership. To borrow from my business partner’s playbook, “we continue to push forward, we have each taken a slice of the pie,” and we can’t wait to see what remains ahead.

In a relatively short time, our consulting firm has proven that we are long-distance runners through our perseverance, determination, grit, and an acute sense of responsibility for the message we want to convey to our clients and how we want to inspire and support one another. It is no secret that successful collaborations require trust. Still, they also need the strength of character, forgiveness, and a willingness to live by the code of “peer to peer support,” where one’s power is part of the collective strength of all. It’s simple. Our roadmap is filled with points of interest, each providing a glimpse at opportunities yet to be explored and how grateful we are for the second set of footprints on the ground.

Five things I’ve learned working with my business partner:

  1. Unrealistic expectations are unnecessary burdens. For years, my friend and my business partner have always said, “this is a judgment-free zone.” Those words have had such an incredible impact on my ability to forgive myself when I’ve fallen short of expectations. It allows me to move forward without regret or shame, knowing that my failures don’t define me.

  2. It’s normal to be afraid of success. I’ve admired those who are fearless in the face of adversity, change, and pain throughout my personal life. Knowing that courage could overcome a sense of fear, I never thought much about the idea that one could be afraid of achieving success. In this journey, I’ve realized that with success comes great responsibility, exposure, the potential for disruption, and the expectations of having to level-up every time success is achieved. It’s normal to momentarily feel afraid of the unknown; what’s not normal is to remain paralyzed by the notion that with success comes obligations. Pushing through the fear of failure has opened my eyes to the promise of the future.

  3. “Ah-ha” moments are not distractions. Big ideas are always percolating somewhere in the corner of our brains. Solving things, finding meaning, exploring other routes, realizing how to do it better, more efficiently, faster, more significant, holistically, organically, and innovative allows us to dream with breaths of “ah-ha” in ways I never thought possible. The electricity that sparks each time we arrive at a new idea is simply addicting. I thought of these moments as distractions pushing us further away from the finish line for a moment in our initial stages of business planning and implementation. Perhaps more things to add to our “to-do list” or new tasks that will be buried within a google folder to be discovered years later during a casual search for “coaching fees.” Fast forward one year later, and the list of “ah-ha” moments is like a business journal that encapsulates our collective dreams and aspirations. Reminders of what is possible and doable when you have “wind beneath your wings.”

  4. Remaining focused is challenging but not impossible. I have always struggled with this. Yet, for others, like my business partner, it comes naturally. I’ve learned that to be focused; you need to have the right mindset, surround yourself with a positive attitude, and be willing to reset priorities. My ability to focus is so interconnected with my emotions. For years, I’ve equated multi-tasking with having a superpower, a badge of honor to proudly display on your dashboard while you go 75 miles an hour on a road covered by spikes! But I’ve learned in recent months that I need to be comfortable in my stillness and that to be a confident and conscious leader, I need to remain focused and that it is ok to digress as long as my focus is within reach.

  5. Limiting factors should not form part of our long-term journey. My husband, who by nature of his relationship with me is also an honorary partner in this journey (and who has known my business partner for two decades now), once shared with me that his father had preached a sermon about this idea of wrestling against F.U.D. (which stands for fear, uncertainty, and doubt). I never thought about it much until our business began to pick up momentum. Suddenly, you are at constant odds with who you are, who you know you can be, who you want to be, and what others expect you to be. I’ve learned that my internal peace comes from consistency and the confidence that comes when others believe in you even more than you believe in yourself.

As my partner and I enter the second lap of the race towards excellence, and it’s my turn to hold firmly to the baton, I’m intently focused on three things: managing distractions, handling the pressure, and monitoring my heartbeat, knowing that along the way the lessons learned will carry me to the finish line.

Want to learn more about business partnerships and entrepreneurship? Check out these quick reads.

Maritza I. Raimundi-Petroski, MPA, Founding Partner @ MAPA Collaborative, LLC

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