We often conflate the idea of freedom with not having to follow a process or a schedule, but freedom is not possible without structure.
Without structure, freedom is chaos.
Once you’ve made the decision to stop being the bottleneck in your business, then you have to create an action plan to get out of your own way.
Creating Structure to Set You Free
That means identifying and implementing the structure or infrastructure that your business needs so that you can step back from controlling the daily minutiae – and start creating and holding space for growth.
Creating that structure looks like:
⇨ Clarifying your vision
⇨ Establishing your A team
⇨ Creating clear channels of communication
⇨ Implementing systems and workflows
⇨ Standardizing operating procedures
Putting these pieces in place ensures that everyone is on the same page and working together towards a common goal. These are the nuts and bolts of the structure that empower possibility and freedom in your business. Without these practices, protocols, and systems in place, your business can’t grow beyond Viability.
Taking your perspective to the next level
While creating structure to support your business is essential to reaching the level of Growth, as a business owner you must also do the internal work of rewiring your internal operating system to expand your brain and your perspective of what is possible.
Your internal operating system is responsible for interpreting how the world works, for keeping you safe and alive. The biological imperative to survive is encoded in our DNA, inherited from our ancestors over millennia, underwriting the foundation of our internal operating system. Then we spend the first seven years of childhood absorbing the beliefs and values of the people we spend the most time with, internalizing what they believe to be true of the world from the time we’re born.
As we grow out of childhood, we internalize our experiences and emotional responses, codifying them unconsciously, guiding the development of our personal operating system and living out those beliefs in our lives through our choices, the opportunities we seize, and the chances we take.
The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is the part of our brain that is responsible for our internal operating system. It filters our unconscious beliefs and experiences to create a narrative of who we are, what we are supposed to do, how we’re supposed to do it, what is safe and allowed, what is dangerous or impossible, not only for ourselves, but for our businesses, and the world around us.
Rewiring Your Internal Operating System
A client of mine and I talked recently about how her mom used to always tell her that you get what you deserve, and it always carried a very negative connotation. Now, as an adult, this client owns an incredibly successful business. In the past few months, the most amazing things have been happening in her life and her business. But in her head, she’s still hearing that negative voice telling her that she’ll get what she deserves, as if she is unworthy of success.
So, I asked her, “what if you do get what you deserve – and you deserve all the good things?”
It completely shifted the way she interpreted the dialogue of her internal operating system.
This is what I mean when I talk about expanding your brain and shifting your operating system; I’m really speaking to the fundamental ways that your body, your brain, and your nervous system are programmed to interpret and respond to the world around you.
Creating a New Narrative
If you want to shift your internal operating system, you need to practice being aware of yourself and your reactions, so that you can clearly identify when you’re stuck. The thing is, that the RAS is programmed to seek out evidence that reinforces our unconscious narrative, and it tends to ignore all evidence to the contrary as a rare anomaly. Which means that in order to shift those beliefs, we need to provide an abundance of evidence that something else is possible.
For my client whose mother told her she would get what she deserved like it was a bad thing, that meant making a point of noticing when she actually got what she deserves – the good stuff.
Everytime something good happened over the course of her day, she made a conscious note of “this awesome thing happened and I deserve it.”
Then, at the end of the day, she told her husband about every good thing that had happened in her day. To adopt this practice for yourself, feel free to share your daily good news with your roommate, or text a friend. The important steps are to make a point of noticing evidence of your new belief as it happens for you, and sharing those instances out loud, or in writing, with someone that you’re close to. These actions reinforce the evidence for your new way of thinking, prompting your RAS to start looking for more evidence, gradually shifting your unconscious beliefs.
Interrogating the Truth
Another great practice to help rewire your internal operating system is to question your own assumptions. If you find yourself thinking “Of course, you get what you deserve,” or “Obviously, you need to make a lot of personal sacrifices if you want to be successful,” stop for a second and ask yourself, is this really true?
Is this a universal truth with a capital T?
Truth was a capital T is true for every single person on the planet. If it was true with a capital T that you had to endure great sacrifice before you could achieve wealth and success, then no one would ever be born into a life of abundance and comfort – but many people are.
If you hold this particular belief about personal sacrifice, please just know that it’s just true for you, but that doesn’t mean that it is true for everybody. It isn’t a universal truth like gravity. It isn’t written in stone, it’s malleable – you can change that narrative.
Interrogating what is true and seeking evidence for what else is possible are simple personal practices that will help you shift your internal operating system, expand your perspective, and increase your capacity for what is possible for you and your business.
The last piece of actually getting from stuck to freedom is creating accountability. You need somebody else in your corner, acting as a sounding board, reflecting new possibilities when your internal operating system hinders your view, and holding you accountable for the work that needs to be done.
Not because you can’t do it all on your own, but because working through the practical steps of implementing systems and structure to support your business while also embracing the personal work of rewiring your internal operating system is a path full of challenges that will slow your progress. Hiring a coach or business consultant who will walk beside you and facilitate the process empowers your growth with expert guidance and personal support that will enable you to build momentum instead of tripping over every obstacle along the way.
The Next Level of Business: Growth
Unlocking freedom in your business and breaking through the bottleneck to the next level of business brings you to the third level of business, or the Growth phase. At this level, your team, operating procedures, systems, and workflows offer the supportive structure you need to sustain growth without straining capacity. That doesn’t mean that you never work, it means that you no longer waste time or energy on tasks that fall outside of your zone of genius.
Removed from the daily minutiae, you are the leader of your business, holding space for the big picture and directing the show. In day-to-day life that means that you can be home for dinner, take weekends off, or go on vacation and know that your business will continue to run like a well-oiled machine. Unless your business is on fire, your team doesn’t need to reach out to you because they are set for success, every contingency is covered, even in your absence. You’re still the one holding the container of your business, so they’ll call you before it actually goes up in flames, but barring an emergency, you have the freedom to enjoy your life outside of your business.
It’s a journey of personal and professional growth to get there, but you get to define what that path looks like for you and your business and, ultimately, what freedom you find there.
To recap The Secrets to Finding Freedom in Your Business…
⇨ Overnight success and the “Freedom Lifestyle” are a myth (and a disservice to entrepreneurs everywhere).
⇨ You get to define what finding freedom in your business looks like for yourself. Identifying your Core Values will help clarify your personal definition of business freedom.
⇨ Unlocking freedom as a business owner means doing the work to grow through the initial stages of business:
⇨ To unlock freedom in your business, you need to:
- Build your company into a Viable business
- Define what business freedom means to you
- Acknowledge that you are the bottleneck to growth in your business
- Identify and implement the structure your business needs to expand capacity
- Create an action plan that standardizes operations and empowers your team to do their best work
- Rewire your internal operating system to expand your personal capacity to hold the container of your business as it grows
- Hire a coach or consultant to create accountability and support to guide your growth path and hold space for what is possible for you and your business