This is really hard for me to admit in such a public and open way, but the past 2-3 months I have been in an incredibly dark and dismal place. I have felt pathetic, useless, really lonely and absolutely petrified. These feelings aren't new to me, throughout my life I have had my ups and downs, my highs and lows. Sometimes I have these feelings briefly every day, other times I feel them for extended periods of time.
In the past 13 months I have had these feelings thick and fast, you try giving up security and starting your own business. Making decisions which in your gut you know are right but everyone you have ever known is questioning it, cautioning you against it and in some circumstances telling you, you are wrong, you are making a mistake, you will fail. Now tell me that you would't get those feelings.
The difference has been that I saw Nigel Botterill talk on Wednesday 13th October 2010, the day after I handed my notice in. I joined the Entrepreneurs Circle on the spot, £4.95 for 60 days - no brainer. I had absolutely no intention of staying on after the 60 days, I was going to rape and pillage the EC for everything I could get and then cancel my membership before I had to start paying.
I did this successfully for the following 3 weeks, I was laid up ill with a horrendous viral infection and so I watched every webinar, I read every back issue, of the monthly circular, I watched every NBTV etc etc.
I listened to what Nigel said and decided I needed a Virtual Assistant and a telephone answering service (“hello!! I don’t even have any clients yet, in fact I’m still not in business!”). Anway I called a few VA's Nigel featured in the circular and one of the first amazing people I met at the EC was Lisa Chaffey from In A Pickle, she has since been an amazing inspiration and support mechanism that I will never be able to thank her enough.
I also joined twitter, and believe me when I tell you I hated it, I absolutely hated it for the first few weeks, those of you who know me will laugh at this because it is safe to say I am now addicted to the bloody thing. And through twitter not only did I strengthen my relationship with Lisa I also met other EC members including Annette Heywood from Kingswood Cleaning.
Next I went to the national event in Rugby in November 2010, there I met more amazing people including my fellow BGA Steve Bentley AND Peter Goodman from Pentacor. Now that might not mean much to you, but he is super successful in my eyes and had been featured in the Successful Websites webinar and I took much inspiration from him and his website.
So within 6 weeks I had built this amazing support group and when I was going through the trials and tribulations, I had this amazing group of people who believed in me, they wanted me to succeed and they were there to pep me up when I needed it. So when those lows, and believe me I had thousands of them,appeared they soon dissipated and I knew I could achieve anything.
Fast forward a few months and I had a surprisingly successful business for a new start up and life is going good. I then look into expanding my business and realise I would make a loss if I employed someone - WHOAH! I'm not as successful as I thought, so I took the decision to lose all my clients, now most people would think I am mad, but I knew it was the right thing to do and I knew I would be ok, because I had these successful, giving, amazing people who believed in me.
My business is now much more aligned with where I want it to be and I do have less clients, but they are the most amazing clients and I am now building the foundations to have a business which can expand, grow and become Super Successful.
9 months ago I was one of the few who were specially chosen by Nigel Botterill to be one of his coveted Business Growth Advisors. I will tell you now I applied for the role, because I knew I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn't, but I did not believe for a second I would even be considered. But when I have been the most successful in previous roles in my life is when I have gone for things that no one around me believes I should, when no one thinks I'm good enough and when everyone thinks who the hell does she think she is going for that, so I took a deep breath and I applied.
Now the cynics among you will think Nigel chose me just because he wanted my money (believe me my Mum does) and that's fine. That is how you feel and what you want to believe. I feel very different and I believe Nigel saw something in me and that makes me feel like a million dollars.
Becoming a BGA is one of the most amazing experiences I have had in my life. I have met and bonded with my fellow BGA's, go speak to any of the BGA's Nigel has chosen and you will realise quite quickly that they are all amazing and very special people who you just want to be with. And here was mere little me being treated as an equal with these inspirational and successful people (“holy sh*t I'm a fake, I've been in business 4 months what am I doing here???”), but not only was Nigel treating me as they're equal, they were treating me as their equals - WOW!
I got back after my training and I was a different person, I held my head taller, I felt more confident, I knew I was amazing and I was made of teflon - nothing would stick. I had several people tell me I was a fraud, that they couldn't believe I was masquerading as a BGA when I knew nothing, but I didn't care. They can think what they like, I had enough people who believed in me and I had the most amazing group of members which was growing and full of people I looked up to. They knew I was new at business, but they knew I was just there as a conduit of Nigel's and that I really really cared and I want them to do well. I may not of known as much as them, I may not have had as much experience as them, but I was me, I had been chosen by Nigel and they we're happy to go with it and allow me to grow and develop.
So back to the beginning of this blog, I'm not sure what happened a couple of months ago but somehow I managed to misinterpret my role as a BGA and decided I needed to be perfect, I had to be super successful, I had to be the model EC member who implements everything and mustn't fail. That is when it all begin to unravel, every month Nigel gives away 100's of nuggets if I was going to implement them all, I would need to have 6 arms, never sleep and never never work for my clients - not a good idea - DUH!
I also felt I couldn't ask for support or help, suddenly I blocked my support network, I thought that as BGA I needed to be the face of N5 I had to be a mini Nigel and never show any chinks in my Armour.
Luckily I'm not so stupid as to think I need no help so I asked a few people for help and support, unfortunately I was asking the wrong people, they didn't understand, they weren't able to relate and they thought they were helping but I still felt lost and scared and alone. The more I asked for help and didn't get the help I needed, the more frustrated I got and then the more overwhelmed I got and finally I started to just give up. Now people who have known me a while will know that's unlike me, while I may ebb and flow with stuff I generally give everything my all and do a good job. So now not only was I feeling lost, alone and scared. I was also failing myself and my values. “Holy cr*p! I'm useless, I'm pathetic, I'm a failure, I'm a disappointment, I'm a waste of space and time”.
These are all real dialogues that were going on with myself not just daily, but hourly and sometimes every minute. Amazingly at this time I was still getting fab clients for Iguana and getting members for EC, but I still felt I wasn't good enough.
This weekend I have been on Terry Gormley's Success Blue Prints training course with 30 other entrepreneurs from the EC. I knew I had to get rid of my head trash but I didn't want to go deep. The only reason I was there, was because at the Bolton Festival of Marketing event in September, Terry reached out to me, he spotted I wasn't myself (and he didn't know me well) he knew I was faking something. He took the time to listen, he wanted me to open up, I didn't and that was fine but what he did do was make me know that he is there for me when I do want to open up, when I do want to accept his offer to help.
Yesterday I wouldn't open up. I know these people, I'm a BGA (I was not the only BGA there, but still felt I had to perfect), some of these people think I'm successful, think I have confidence, and that I’m like Nigel. I'm a BGA, I'm supposed to be in control and perfect, how can I release to these people that I'm a failure and I'm crap???
Those of you who follow me on twitter will know I like a glass or two of wine and last night I got to sit and talk to some amazing people, with a glass of wine in my hand. I relaxed and I was honest, really really honest. Scarily honest! – Why did I feel so comfortable to be so open and honest and frank? Because they were too and they made me feel safe – I will never be able to thank them enough for being so open and honest and amazing.
So today in front of the rest of the group I opened up, today I let myself experience the day. I then realised that I was re-experiencing what is the most amazing thing about the EC - everyone cares! Everyone wants you to succeed, everyone believes in you, even when I'm lying there bare, naked and ugly (before you start wondering what this weekend was about, I'm talking metaphorically not literally), they want to help me, they love me and they think I'm Fab!
When I'm down I don't like taking compliments, I deflect them, I also actively go out of my way to get flippant, but downgrading comments. So today was squeamish and yurgh and really uncomfortable, but I also felt amazed. There were several people in the room I knew well and I knew in the bottom of my stomach they believed in me and they wanted to help me, even if I refused to acknowledge it. However after I opened up and admitted stuff (and believe me I still kept tons back because I'm not ready to deal with that sh*t yet) at breaks I had people I look up to but don't know particularly well, asking me how I was, could they help me, wanting me to succeed, telling me I'm amazing, just generally caring about little ol' me and still liking me despite my failings or maybe even because of them.
Now I know that this weekend was different to our normal national events, but it was the epitome of the ethos of the EC and what makes it great. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! You are not doing this on your own, everyone is going through it with you, everyone is willing to share their successes and way more importantly their failures. They want you to succeed and sometimes they will be bluntly honest, crucifyingly honest with you, but it's not because they want to stick the knife in, it is because they want you to succeed. They could pay you lip service, they could just agree with you, they could say yeah, yeah, yeah you're right, that's amazing, it really works all to save your feelings. Whose asked a friend or family member to look through their website or flyer etc for feedback? If you are really lucky they may point a few small things but they won't be completely honest in case they hurt your feelings.
At the EC everyone has the same worry of hurting your feelings too, but they also know how important it is to know the truth, to be able to change things for the better, because that will make you succeed, and they always always always offer suggestions and solutions to make it better, they also then offer follow up support, guidance, and help. They care and they want to see you succeed.
And this is what makes being a member of the EC priceless to me, I'm sure if you asked every member of the EC what they get out of it, it would be different, but I know I’m not alone and I know for a high percentage of us, it's not Nigel's nuggets (which are unbelievably valuable) but it is the support and camaraderie of all the other members, that makes the EC priceless.
If what Jim Rohn says “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” I must be the most successful, giving, amazing person in the world! Ok I know that sounds a bit clichéd and dumb and I also know I’m not there (yet!) but it is true (even if it’s true for the future). I don’t feel invincible, I know I will have wobbles but I DO know I will succeed, I know I will be OK. With all these people supporting me, there is no way I could fail!
I apologise (sorry Terry it will be a work in progress) for such a long post, but I feel amazing right now and I wanted to share this with you before the doubt sets in. Not for selfless reasons but for purely selfish reasons, if I publish this I will be forced to continue to acknowledge these amazing, fabulous feelings and my renewed sense of confidence.
I do know many people will have scoffed at me and closed the page eons ago, I also know several of you will have made it to here and still be mocking me, but you know what I don't care! I have enough people out there who believe in me and love me and whether they agree with this post or not, they will still love me, they will still want me to succeed and they still care and know that this was important to me. So I am happy for you to have your feelings and I respect them, but I'm not going to let them affect me.
However there will be some of you who will be thinking, ok I may not be as open as Lucy, but I would like to know more about this, maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe in 6 months, maybe in 2 years and that's fine. If and when you're ready, I'm here to talk….