Awhile back, a friend I’ll call Bonnie* and I attended one of those award ceremonies where people vote to recognize the top business women with over one million dollars in revenue.
After the ceremony, Bonnie and I went down to the bar to chat. Inspired by all the achievements that were shared, I asked her, “If you could do, be or have anything in the world right now, what would you want?”
“I’d want to be on that stage. I’d want to be a million dollar business owner” Bonnie replied.
Her answer surprised me because although I didn’t know the details of Bonnie’s balance sheet, I knew her to be a very competent business woman. She was sharp, articulate, and running a business that if marketed and promoted correctly, would have no trouble exceeding the million dollar mark.
So I said, “Well, why aren’t you? “
And she said, “Because it’s too hard.”
Now, when I owned my IT consulting company we generated almost 2 million dollars a year in revenue. And while the business occasionally felt challenging, it didn’t feel “hard”. Plus, I knew that Bonnie loved her work, so I said “making good money doing what you love isn’t THAT hard. Are you sure that’s the REAL reason?”
Bonnie stared off into the distance and said wistfully, “you know, not only was I the first woman in my family to go to college but then I went on to get my MBA. Everyone thought I was “getting too big for my britches”. I think if I became a million dollar business woman, my family would just disown me. “
And there it is…the hidden story. The one that keeps us from extraordinary.
We all have them, those embedded stories running in the background, holding us back and keeping us from playing in the biggest way possible.
For Bonnie, at the core, it was a deep fear that if she went for the gold, the brass ring, she would be disowned…“kicked out of the tribe”. So in essence, in order to survive, she needed to stay small.
These stories create an unconscious “ceiling of achievement” where we only feel comfortable and safe earning a certain amount of money or having certain amount prosperity. Especially if we grew up with stories like:
Money doesn’t grow on trees…
People who have money are greedy…
Making money is hard…
Money won’t buy happiness…
You don’t have what it takes to be successful…
These stories stay embedded in our unconscious, influencing our behaviors and running the show until one day we long for a different outcome; a different experience. That’s when we butt up against the tried and true belief we’ve carried our whole life.
For Bonnie, the defining moment was at the awards ceremony when she could really feel her desire to be a million dollar business owner. Once she recognized that it wasn’t her skills and talents that were keeping that from happening but rather an old family story, she had a choice about what to do next. She could continue to hold that story as her truth OR she work to create a new story that would support her desires rather than sabotaging them.
It’s not always easy to create a new story because sometimes in order to do that, we have to create a new us as well. We have to say no to the negative influences we’ve allowed in the past and sometimes we have to say no to the people who want us to stay where they are rather than go where we want to go. None of which feels particularly comfortable and usually turns up the volume of those inner voices screaming “who do you think you are?!?!?”.
All the skills and talents in the world won’t get you where you want to go as long as the old stories you’re tell are holding you back.
Yet, once we decide; once we are ready to powerfully step into what lights us up, supports our dreams and makes us feel good inside, others will either line up with our visions or they will drop away on their own accord. But even more exciting is that new people will suddenly begin to show up who DO support our dreams and want to help make them real.
So, take some time to get in touch with those old family stories you’ve been living with and ask yourself, “do these stories support my dreams and desires or do they keep me stuck in a holding pattern of overwhelm and frustration?”
By recognizing the ones that don’t support you, you then have a choice to continue telling them…or not.
I spoke with Bonnie the other day and she told me that every day she getting closer and closer to closing the gap between her and that award. When the time comes, she’s definitely got my vote!
*not her real name