Entrepreneurs are praised for their triumphs, but what about their struggles and the journeys that brought them to success? In their new book, “Survive to Thrive: 27 Practices of Resilient Entrepreneurs, Innovators, And Leaders,” Faisal Hoque and Lydia Dishman let us look behind the curtain, sharing stories of now-thriving, prominent figures of business, like Julie Wainwright and Andy Sack.
Finish reading Hilary Beard’s amazing story, as told in a four-part series of blog posts, in which she struggles to claim her own vocation, not as a lawyer, but as a New York Times best-selling author and writing coach. To read more stories that redefine success and empower your own career, visit http://survivetothrive.pub/.
I Have the Power to Be Fearless, Part IV
Hilary Beard’s rise from soulless working stiff into full flower as a successful entrepreneur took years of personal work. Beard was constantly striving to improve herself, whether it was through taking classes, exercising, getting counseling and hypnosis, or going on what she calls her “faith walks.” All these have combined and helped her bounce back after grieving for her parents’ passing. It has given her the courage to keep going, even when she has not clearly seen the path to achieve her dreams.
I have to commit to give my all. As a former athlete who played tennis and volleyball, Beard took a page from the basic playbook. In any sport, she says, athletes are trained to always be in the “ready” position. “You keep your body low so you can be agile and flexible and keep your feet moving,” she explains. As Beard grew her own business, she tried to stay nimble and keep herself centered to be ready to move at a moment’s notice. In volleyball, taking a shot required crouching to spring up. “You strike the ball with a specific intention,” she explains, “You have to transfer your weight and follow through.” Likewise, when she attempted to shed her corporate persona and start her own business, she had to commit completely. Pulling the plug on a steady paycheck is a daunting prospect, not many can do it as easily as ripping off a bandage.
That is why Beard put together a long-term plan to work towards leaving why she was still in her day job. The work of promoting soda went completely against her ethics and her dreams, yet taking concrete steps towards quitting, including defining the end date, gave her a positive trajectory. “What determines where the ball is going to go is your follow through,” she says, just the way it does for work. NBA basketball star LeBron James relies on a similar dedication to achieve in all parts of his life. James, who grew up in poverty with a single mother to become one of the league’s highest paid players, puts it this way: “Commitment is a big part of what I am and what I believe. How committed are you to winning? How committed are you to being a good friend? To being trustworthy? To being successful? How committed are you to being a good father, a good teammate, a good role model? There’s that moment every morning when you look in the mirror: Are you committed, or are you not?”
I have to get rid of negative influences. Working with a group of people who leaned heavily on extracurricular pursuits that weren’t always healthy (see: drinking, taking sleep aids, etc.) to cope with the demands of their corporate responsibility was difficult for Beard. Those crutches led to a somewhat toxic environment during the day. Her way to cope with this, as she made her transition to pursuing a career in writing, was a far different escape route. Beard would leave her home in central New Jersey to spend nights among Philadelphia’s creative community of poets and visual artists. “I would race to feed my soul,” she recalls. Those times, which were spent with the freer spirits who gave her positive feedback, helped Beard gain strength. At the same time, when she would articulate her dream of leaving her job to friends who were still embedded in the world of cubicles and spreadsheets, they would often ask: “Who is going to pay your health insurance and your pension?” Beard found herself pulling away. “I was creating a cocoon,” she says, “Surrounding myself with people who have dreams.”
This separation allowed Beard to lay another building block for resilience. As Edith Grotberg points out, autonomy begins around age two when children learn to say “no!” Grotberg says it is a time when children make many mistakes and the way adults — especially parents — react to those mistakes determines how autonomous and independent the child will become. “If you were not allowed to make mistakes or were criticized harshly for the ones you made,” she writes, “you would have been tempted to give up on becoming autonomous. You may have felt ashamed and began to doubt your abilities.” Beard was able to separate herself from the naysayers because she had taken a big step in renouncing her father’s questioning. Her ability to rise to meet the challenge of starting her own business began with the recognition that she needed support to reach her goals.
I have faith in myself and my spiritual center. Beard says she undertook a spiritual development program as she made her transition from corporate life. Pushing the boundaries to discover what was real and what was rhetoric made her realize there was a whole other way of being and knowing beyond intellect. “I had been indoctrinated to develop intellect at the expense of creative, artistic and intuitive intellect,” she says. Staying stuck in the old way of being, she says, wasn’t a happy place, but one where she knew the rules. Until it failed her. “I was in unfamiliar territory with my faith walk,” she admits. But there were plenty of signs to guide her, like the failed job interviews during her periods of self-doubt.
Once she started to tap into the intuitive side of her mind, her internal GPS led her to so-called miracles, like making connections with people who would remember and recommend her when they needed a writer for their book concept. So it happened, when an editor she met years before called her up and offered her the chance to help Lisa Price, founder of the multi-million dollar cosmetics firm Carol’s Daughter, write her memoir. The collaboration would turn out to be another lesson in believing in herself. “Lisa Price started teaching me what it looked like to listen to your intuition and how that could be a real thing for someone like me,” Beard says. From then on, Beard says, “I stopped planning, I dropped the paradigm and practiced being present.” She summed up her faith walk on her website in this way: “In my experience of working with people who are at the top of their crafts, I’ve discovered that each of us has our own unique gifts and our spirit can open a path that will lead us to joy, purposeful work and a meaningful life. I now know, because I’ve lived it, that when we work from our spiritual center, we step into the lane through the Universe that has our name — and only our name — on it. We become subject to the laws of God, not the laws of man, the labor market, or the economy. Life becomes more joyful and less laborious, even when you’re working hard, as I often am.”
Conquering fear is about self-awareness, wisdom, and understanding your strengths — often in the face of adversity. As we see in this story, we can practice and cultivate a series of personality traits that makes it easier over time.
To read more inspirational stories like Hilary’s, check out “Survive to Thrive: 27 Practices of Resilient Entrepreneurs, Innovators, And Leaders” by Faisal Hoque and Lydia Dishman. To enjoy Hilary’s story from the beginning, click here.
Reprinted with permission of the authors from “Survive to Thrive: 27 Practices of Resilient Entrepreneurs, Innovators, and Leaders” (Motivational Press, 2015) by Faisal Hoque and Lydia Dishman. Copyright (c) 2015 by Faisal Hoque and Lydia Dishman. All rights reserved.