Is Your Business Killing You?
“3 Indicators- It’s Time to Sell”
Note- I love to post positive & inspiring stories. This isn’t one of them. Today, I’m compelled to share my reality. My painful lesson of placing business success above all else….
Sometimes you’re so busy building a company, you don’t see it coming. Years of 14-hour days, packing and unpacking, rental cars, managing staff and the perpetual fires to put out. It’s taken a toll. But, you’re simply too busy to notice.
You love what you do and you’re really good at it. Your company is thriving and growing at an amazing pace. You hire more staff. You realize your business has a life of its own now. A unique personality and functions on its own.
You are in constant demand. You work even harder, travel more, win some awards. You have really made it. Hooray!
You finally work in that overdue trip to the doctor, the one you’ve cancelled four times. You dress quickly to make your 3:30 meeting. The doctor comes back in to say goodbye the same way she has for the past ten years. This time however, she sits down and leans forward.
And in that moment, everything changed.
I started my first business in 1989. I had the right idea at the right time. There were no experts so, I became one. By 2007, the company was one of the largest in the industry. We had Fortune 500 customers due to our certification through WBENC and others, we worked globally.
But, as a life-long overachiever, I thought one business wasn’t enough. I started another company in 1994. I could do it all. I couldn’t lose. Both businesses were flourishing, no problem. But, that still wasn’t enough.
10 Boards and several national committees, International Trade Missions. Non-stop travel, less and less time with friends and family and still, I felt inadequate…and constantly afraid. Afraid if I didn’t keep up, everything I had built would collapse.
One morning, I just didn’t want to go to work. I couldn’t get out of bed. With each subsequent day, it got harder and harder. I started dropping in late afternoons at my office, quickly returning email and sneaking out the back door. I felt ashamed, embarrassed and intensely irresponsible. Accountability, integrity and personal responsibility was the center-point of my life’s values. I would berate myself for hours, a barroom brawl, no-holes barred in my head.
As the doctor sat and leaned forward, I had rushed to put on my shoes and stood up to say farewell. My doc was also my good friend. I thought she had sat down in order to chat about business issues with her growing practice. She takes my hand. “Candi, I’m very sorry but there’s a problem we need to talk about.”
As I ran to my next meeting, I was numb, on auto-pilot. PANIC! I didn’t think about the medical problem...No, I didn’t think about THAT at all. My schedule was so tight I had every minute accounted for...for the next three-months.
I thought about our discussion…“Candi, I care about you and about your health.” “What I’m about to say is very important.” “I need you to listen carefully and hear what I’m saying.” “You are not responding to the treatment we are giving you.” “If you continue to live your life with the amount of stress you do, it will most likely kill you.” “It’s time to make a serious decision… NOW…not later.”
STUNNED– I hadn’t really noticed because it happened slowly over time. The big country home, the beautiful cars, trips and lifestyle. It was suddenly all so BIG and unmanageable. DIVORCE was costly. My life certainly downsized, in one paralyzing day. All I had left was the businesses. Home gone, possessions gone, beloved pets gone, an endless personal tornado…1 suitcase, hastily packed.
Two businesses to sell. Somehow, I did it.
One-week before my 50th birthday, I landed in Hawaii. Alone, one bag in hand, not knowing a soul.
Autoimmune disorders are sneaky and they multiply. If you have one, normally you have at least three. They creep up slowly like an invasive vine ignored too long. A few leaves turn brown but no one notices. Small branches begin to fall, you sweep them up. One day you hear a large cracking sound, half the tree is bent to the ground. The vine suddenly grew too strong, too fast to see it happen.
The tree is dead now but the vine remains, lurking unseen. Patiently waiting and wandering just below the surface, looking for its next victim.
Each year, eight-years in a row it claimed a victim. It killed the thyroid the first year, then traveled wherever it wanted, no area was spared. This year it really outdid itself…It killed the Pancreas. It’s now looking longingly at the liver. You can live without the Pancreas but not without the liver.
The human spirit however, is incredibly resilient. Every day can be a day filled with gratitude, acceptance, abundance and love.
As in business, we adapt, we learn, and we learn to accept. It’s a difficult process to mourn one piece of yourself at a time until you’re almost unrecognizable, even to yourself.
So, please, when you see me, don’t judge me. I’m no longer the strong, confident and vitally healthy woman you knew a few years ago. Please extend kindness. We’re all doing the very best we can. I still have a lot to offer and despite my physical shortcomings, I need to be in service to others.
My hope for you is to become 100% present. To pay close attention to what your mind and body is saying to you. I wish you peace and great love. To always be with those who fulfill & nurture you. Be kind, patient and generous to yourself first.
*3-Warning Signs- It’s time to move on:
#1 You dread going to work. Vacations, working less and delegating doesn’t help. Sleep is disturbed. Irritation becomes a constant state.
#2 People start telling you, “You look tired.” “You don’t laugh anymore.” You start eating more or eating less.
#3 You ache…everywhere/somewhere… A stress-related medical condition shows up.
I would love to hear from you. Please let me know what you think OK?
Mahalo Nui Loa
*This article is my opinion only. It does not represent any scientific/medical findings. Is for information only.