Start-Up Positive Psychology Business Blog Series – Part 1: A Start-Up Business Mindset through a Values-Driven PP lens (Jackie Wade)

Meaning & Purpose / Positive Psychology / Positive Psychology in Practice / Professional Practice / Wellbeing

This guest entry is from Jackie Wade, a Positive Psychologist, Leadership Coach, Transition Coach, Business Start-up mentor and coach, Midlife Catalyst Curator, author, and speaker. Jackie is a member of the Positive Psychology Guild (PPG) and is passionate about people and their journeys.

My Start-Up Story:

It has been interesting to consider my start-up journey through a Positive Psychology lens, as an introduction to myself and our forthcoming webinar on starting your own business.

My decision to start my own business twenty-five years ago was indeed hearing and answering “The Call” (Campbell 1949, The Hero’s Journey). Not any grandiose business or vocational call but a call away from a corporate life which no longer served me, towards greater autonomy and balance. I was mid-thirties and mum of one, with two more to follow (twins!)

I reacted to a series of events which made me realise, as long as I continued to pursue an international corporate career as a mum, I would never be in control of my own destiny and be able to be the kind of mum I wanted to be (a bit dramatic but how I felt at the time!). And so, I had a choice – continue with the high salary, glamorous life I had become accustomed to involving first-class flights across the globe or step back and decide “who am I” and “how do I want to show up”. My thoughts were not that philosophical at the time (pre-MAPP days) but within me was a deep sense, that this corporate life was no longer right for me, and I needed to pursue a different path. I recognise now that what I was doing was understanding my deep-rooted values and strengths and listening to what they were saying to me, and so I followed my heart. On reflection, I also think looking at this through a PP-Lens, in choosing to go on my own Hero’s Journey (Campbell, 1949), I was avoiding the trap described by Murdock (1990) in her Heroine’s Journey “of separating from feminine and identifying with masculine”, in order to fit into the alpha world that was dominant at the time. I believe the ultimate prize (boon) in running your own business is the ability to find balance by integrating the feminine and masculine sides of our being. You can choose to live by your values, every step of the way.

Fast forward 25 years, did I make tons of money, create an empire, hire loads of staff? – No! I deliberately kept by business “small-ish”, whilst making enough money to serve my short and long terms goals. I am however proud that I contributed significantly to our family finances and had a “lifestyle career” (argh!!!) which I adored. I helped a lot of clients along the way, saw businesses grow and flourish, forged beautiful relationships with clients and their teams, whilst most importantly being a good role model to my kids and hopefully taking a very active part in their lives.

My business plan when I set up was two pages (back and front A4) and half of that was my mission and values. I was very clear about the clients I would “choose” to work with and more importantly the one’s I wouldn’t work with, where our values didn’t sync. I was clear how much time I was willing to commit to my business. I always wanted kids holidays off as we had no support network to help mind them and I didn’t want them going to creche’s and clubs every holiday. This piece of paper accompanied and anchored me for over 20 years with the occasional update and amend as my circumstance changed and I grew and experienced new things. I’ve only occasionally veered off my values path, blinded by a big contract and promise of quick financial reward and that has never gone well! I found myself back in the “power” struggle I’d left behind with corporate life and surrounded by values with which I couldn’t align.

Could I have been as flexible and free if I’d had a bigger business, I don’t know and it doesn’t matter; the point is, I did what was true to my values and I had a very happy and, in my view, successful coaching, training and consultancy business which allowed me impact on others positively in terms of their growth, their success, their lives and wellbeing. I think I saw myself as the enabler rather than the main act, and this served me well. In the early days one of my first clients, the managing partner of a large firm, told me I wasn’t really an entrepreneur because I ran a lifestyle business and wasn’t taking the risks he was taking, or creating employment the way he was, or impacting on the local area the way he was… This scarred me greatly at the time and I probably carried this voice or “inner critic” around with me for many years. In fact, this view was perpetuated so often by networks around me who valued scale about all else. Yes, large businesses may contribute to the wealth of the local economy but so do solo-entrepreneurs and in my view, they don’t always get the respect they deserve. In my view, every business and business owner matters, regardless of size! We are all on our own “hero’s journey”! I have sadly seen thriving and happy solo-entrepreneurs being pushed in directions they didn’t want to go to suit the local funding agenda and other’s KPI’s, or to reflect the ego of a kindly business mentor who wanted to relive their lives through a younger, more inexperienced person. Remember please: NOT ALL WELL-INTENTIONED ADVICE AS A START-UP IS GOOD ADVICE – TRUST YOURSELF FIRST AND FOREMOST. TUNE INTO YOUR GUT!

Through my recent PP lens, I have healed and recognised I was and indeed am a successful and valuable entrepreneur, whose intangible reach is wide. Whilst I may not tick all the formal boxes of entrepreneurship judges, I contribute in a valuable way to my family, my clients, society and myself and that’s all that matters. In fact, the topic of mattering has become my passion and area of specialism through the second year of my MAPP journey, and I will be writing my dissertation on this topic and hopefully developing an intervention to support business leaders in this area. My business journey has morphed and will now change direction away from a masculine and agentic brand “Winning Sales” towards a brand that reflects who I have now become and my passion going forward – Flourissimo – may we be at our most flourishing.

To follow:

Your journey (Blog Two)

Practical Tips and Tools for the journey ahead (Blog Three)

Jackie Wade is passionate about people and their journeys. How can we live our best possible life, especially the second act!?!

Positive Psychologist, Leadership Coach, Transition Coach, Business Start-up mentor and coach, Midlife Catalyst Curator, author, and speaker. Curious to explore and impact on how we can follow our hearts, pursue our dreams and impact positively on those we love, our communities, our world.

Subjects of interest: Entrepreneurship, Positive Psychology, Purpose, Meaning and Mattering, living authentically based on values and strengths alignment, courage, choice and mid-life transition, living our one best life.

Currently living between France & UK.

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