Being a founder, entrepreneur, or a business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship?
In this series from Authority Magazine, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experiences. I had the pleasure of interviewing Catherine Lenard.
Catherine is an author and the founder of the Your Divine Riches: Life Empowerment Fast Tracks for Life Change™ personal development program. With an award-winning background serving Fortune 500 through individual clientele on an entrepreneurial basis, she has first-hand knowledge of the importance of mental and emotional health and well-being and the mindset secrets needed to have a successful business as an entrepreneur.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
From an early age I wanted to change the circumstances of my life. I was also interested in drawing and writing. That began what would eventually become a lifelong adventure into personal development and learning how to communicate ideas.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Having the experience of several entrepreneurial endeavors, the biggest wipe out of my life led to that pivotal “aha” moment. That time period included excruciating losses, disability and deaths in my immediate family, death of a career as a result of the world financial crises, losing my center and temporarily skidding off the runway.
Then, while gradually emerging from that trauma and vulnerability, having a chance encounter with someone I’d never met who was brutally determined to emphasize her superiority at the expense of those around her during what was supposed to be a casual, friendly dinner.
It provided the tipping point to start moving ahead with an idea for a personal growth program I’d been thinking about.
In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
Not a natural born entrepreneur — more accurately defined as having a natural born desire for more personal freedom.
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
My mom has been my informal “Board” for years over morning phone calls with coffee and toast. Her support has been invaluable and appreciated beyond measure.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Once a daisy realizes it’s not a bumble bee and stops trying to be something it’s not, it can focus on the business of being itself and giving to the world what comes naturally — which it’s inherently wired to do anyway.
My company helps people empower themselves to create a better life. It presents, in a simple and creative way, how to effectively work with mindset, which directly impacts one’s life.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
You may have seen the commercial on U.S. network television for life insurance featuring spokesperson Jonathon. He talks about the cornerstone of their business marketing, their 3P’s, which incidentally are all the same — price, price, price.
My 3P’s are Perseverance, Perseverance, Perseverance! The second and third traits are Creativity and Flexibility.
The restaurant start up story of entrepreneur Rocky Aoki, the creator of Benihana restaurants, left an impression because he slept on the floor of his restaurant bathroom for six months. Who knew that years later, at a critical time, I’d be temporarily living out of a shoulder bag while Airbnb-ing my residence to help fund expenses.
Things change all the time. Perseverance, Creativity and Flexibility are must-haves to keep yourself going.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
I keep on top of marketing trends. Biggest mistake? Devoting too much time listening to “marketing gurus” about what’s currently hot and what’s not.
While keeping generally informed is important, I once read that the secret to marketing is there are no secrets. Experiment and find what works for you — perseverance, perseverance, perseverance!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?
It really depends on the person in charge. How evolved is their consciousness or self-awareness?
When I began my career, I worked for toxic bosses in three different companies for about a year each before going out on my own. They would not have been able to see beyond themselves because they were shrouded over in their own emotional “stuff”.
If people can recognize they have issues and begin to work on themselves with a healthy dose of self-love and compassion, it all trickles down, including to the productivity of the company.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Blind focus that can lead to not acting in integrity or mistreating others. Increasing self-awareness is fundamental to being able to see more clearly.
Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur.
The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it.
Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?
Let’s start with obvious basics.
As an entrepreneur, particularly when starting out, unless you’re independently wealthy or have good financial backing in some way, the lack of a regular paycheck can be a huge stressor. Bills come in like clockwork. Sales and paychecks, if you’re fortunate enough to draw one, do not.
It takes certain personality traits to be able to handle that uncertainty.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
I approached a company after reading a story about them in a well-known national magazine while sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room.
It resulted in an invitation and flight to meet with the president of the company. This resulted in being given a generous budget to create an uplifting retail products program utilizing my original work that they would consider developing.
Having the joy of a massive emotional high during its heart and soul creation, I then presented my beautifully executed concept to the president and company staff. It drew rave reviews and resounding applause. I flew home in major head-spinning-feet-off-the-ground triumph.
What followed was crickets. Nothing.
In frustration at the lack of response despite several strategically spaced follow-up phone calls, I finally Fed Ex’ed one of those pull-it-and-it-rolls-up window shades with a request to hear back from them painted in large block letters.
An underling replied with the most illogical, pathetic, and disrespectful non-explanation of a no-go.
Crash. Burn. Flattened.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
It can feel so low it seems at times like you can’t go another step because you may have everything on every level invested. The ego’s sense of self-worth, self-esteem, and self-respect can all go onto the self-firing line because of allowing other people’s actions or non-actions, market conditions, commercial acceptance or not to affect your mental and emotional health and well-being.
Vincent Van Gogh sold one painting out of nine hundred. He took his own life, financial difficulties contributing. The general public celebrated his genius much later. Same for Nikola Tesla, and no, I’m not talking about Elon Musk.
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
Talk. Rant. Talk. Cry. Talk. Chocolate. Talk. Walk. Talk. Watch stupid TV shows. Talk. Reflect. Talk. Walk. Talk. Adjust mindset. Repeat as needed.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”?
1. Know that your path to success, however you define it, isn’t a straight line.
In fact, it can seem at times like you’re tangled up in a humiliating mess.
Knowing success isn’t linear or being reminded of it as you move forward will help you take things in stride. While a big dream is in process, there may be times that can feel like a reversal to the point of having to walk away. This allows you to come back with new perspective. Maybe it’s continuing from where you were. Maybe it’s tweaking what was, maybe it’s totally reconfiguring based on prior experience.
I was talking to a friend about some business frustrations. He reminded me that the experience you’ve gained is never lost and may be repurposed in another way.
He’d developed an innovative product to help rebuild ocean beaches that worked in harmony with nature. Because of global environmental change, the product became less effective. He explained that his background prepared him for the different yet related high profile work he’s currently doing.
2. Have or find someone you can trust that you can talk with.
The son of a friend said, “Dad, you’re stewing in your own juices.” While this comment was geared toward lack of exercise, it also applies to your mental and emotional health and well-being.
Recently, I was struggling with a difficult family situation that was affecting my day-to-day life. Enough time had passed with a lot of reflection and processing so I no longer carried charge on the situation, but still wasn’t sure how to proceed toward restoring harmony.
The situation organically evolved into a private conversation with another family member who wanted to know what was going on. We had a calm discussion that helped both of us understand the behavior of a sibling.
While things weren’t resolved at that moment, being able to talk about what was going on relieved pressure so I was no longer mentally and emotionally “stewing in my own juices”. This resulted in being able to reclaim my focus.
3. Develop your self-care Go To list for handling your lows.
Having been through the mud of the lows many times, I wrote down what worked for me over the years and developed it as a self-discovery course. When those lows get low, I know which tool to use and at what time.
Having your Go To list at hand helps you know that whatever happens, you have the self-awareness and tools to “get your boots on” and do what you need to do to help empower yourself to get yourself back up more quickly.
4. Continue to improve your self-mastery.
Going to start by saying that I’m not suggesting to get into zombie mode or never do the Happy Dance. However — there’s a lot to be said for discovering how to take a more Zen approach to stuff that happens in your work and personal life from perceived great to not-so-much.
Self-mastery includes operating from response rather than react.
It’s a more freeing way to be because the more centered you can become within yourself, the less you’re affected by inevitable ups and downs, not only those related to being an entrepreneur, but also life in general.
5. Believe in something bigger than yourself.
It took a long time for me to understand what ego meant. Non-clinical clues included personality, the viewpoint from how you experience life, obvious and hidden beliefs, personal choices and desires, likes and dislikes, getting your own way, free will.
While that’s all well and good, it ain’t gonna get you out of a jam or advance you much because you’re limited to your own viewpoint. Or to borrow from point number two, “stewing in your own juices”.
To move forward in a meaningful way, a larger perspective is needed. A way to bypass the limitations of ego, get out of your own way so you can move towards fulfillment.
Personally speaking, it’s being able to step out of myself to gain a realization, no matter how fleeting, of the higher universal Intelligence that underlies everything. The “That” that’s within you and for you and loves you — no matter what.
We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience?
Simply stated: 1) Fall down. 2) Have your version of a good boo hoo. 3) Get up.
What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
A mindset of continuously developing inner strength and resourcefulness that’s increasingly deepened through overcoming adversity. And no, that’s not AI, that’s experience speaking.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
This isn’t “my sweetie done left me and my dog done died” shattering from an adult or global perspective, but since you’ve asked for a growing up experience, which is resiliency in itself for us all, this is one that did leave a sting.
I went to three different high schools. Having to start over at such a vulnerable age wasn’t fun. Compounding matters, I’d worked really hard to overcome a lot of insecurity to make the cheerleading squad for my senior year that from my teenage perspective represented a deep-down need for love, acceptance, and belonging. Despite winning team trophies at a related summer camp in preparation for the upcoming school year, I unexpectedly found out that it was all up in smoke.
It was the second time this same high school dream evaporated because of family moves that also caused family meltdowns. Pain-in-the-gut sadness and disappointment stayed for a long time.
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations?
Not always immediately, but eventually I’ll get there. Because, let’s face it, it’s really uncomfortable to stay in the mental and emotional mindset mess of a difficult situation. And again, it’s not a straight line, it’s a process.
What helps you to do so?
Walking off upset in a natural setting. Reading or listening to inspirational stuff with an underlying commitment to get on the high road in dealing with the situation when a big chunk of the ego may, at the moment, prefer otherwise.
Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.
I’ll approach this from the other way around.
Earlier I mentioned working for toxic bosses. One of them, while gifted in his creativity, had the emotional self-control of a TerribleTwosToddler. The least bit of stress and he was all up in his employee’s faces, literally screaming and stomping around. It was so bad that a co-worker would start her day vomiting in the restroom before going to her desk.
In another example, I had a husband/wife business partnership as a short-term client. It eventually became evident that verbal abuse went on between the two during project meetings. The interaction was so shocking I second-guessed myself, “Did I really just hear that?” I can only imagine what went on in private.
These examples involved entrepreneurs. You can easily guess the effect this kind of behavior had on the atmosphere and productivity of principals, employees, and contractors, and the lost potentials that are the benefits of thriving in a harmonious environment.
Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness?
It changes depending on what’s going on. Country music singer Winona Judd recently said as she accepted the People’s Choice Country Champion Award, “The highs are high, the lows are low, but baby, don’t ever let ‘them’ tell you who you are.”
Her words caught my attention because of the title of this interview. I think the part about authenticity is spot on whether you’re an entrepreneur or not — easier said than done. Those who have earned their chops in life “get it” in contrast to those who may want to quash your individuality.
Ironically, it’s paying the personal price to express that same individuality that may eventually become highly rewarded. Staying in the music lane, Lady Gaga is an example.
Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?
Despite the increased freedom in some ways of being an entrepreneur, many times I tried to fit into a mold that I thought would help gain the acceptance of my products and services.
My brother’s heart and talent was in landscape architecture, but he wasn’t able to get into that specific university program. While contrary to his nature, people at college told him that he’d always have a paycheck if he went into engineering.
Two decades later he was struggling with a decision about whether or not to take yet another job in a profession he didn’t want to be in, in a state he didn’t want to be in, when he suddenly died of a heart attack.
While commercial success has its rewards, there’s great fulfillment in the real work of discovering you’re increasingly coming home to yourself. The effect on your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health and well-being is priceless.
What happens beyond that is a bonus.
How can our readers further follow you online?
Follow at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/catherinelenard
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!
You’re welcome! Thank you for the opportunity to work with you and Authority Magazine.
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