On this week’s episode of the SUCCESS Line, I talk to Ethan, a young entrepreneur who is feeling torn between two worlds: the business he built that has given him the success he has now, and a newfound passion for thought leadership and coaching that he is eager to explore.
He wants to know, “How do I pursue this new passion without abandoning my old business entirely?”
This dilemma is one that almost every entrepreneur will face. We hit a ceiling in our current role and we lose passion for the work. So how do we move forward? Read on for my advice.
1. Don’t take your hands off the steering wheel too fast.
When you feel ready to pursue a new passion, you will likely want to reduce your involvement in your business’s day-to-day responsibilities. However, you need to be strategic; you cannot leave your employees high and dry without a leader to turn to.
The death rattle for the entrepreneur is when they try to get out the day-to-day too quickly. Ethan learned this the hard way. His business was doing well, so he took his hands off the steering wheel. And for a little while, the car kept going straight. He was able to travel the world and begin pursuing his passion projects. But then, things began to go off the rails and the car went into a ditch. Ethan had stepped back too far and too quickly for his business to thrive without him.
No matter how successful you get, you will never be able to get rid of your responsibilities entirely. It is vital to the health of your company that you check in with your team on a regular basis.
So when the time comes for you to step back, don’t rush—begin to replace some of your responsibilities in slow, progressive steps and make sure the company is running smoothly before you book that flight for a month abroad.
2. Reject the “either/or” mentality.
That being said, just because you can’t immediately wrench yourself out of your business doesn’t mean you can’t chase after your passion, too.
Consider how you can integrate the work you do for your current business with your passion projects. For Ethan, this means hiring and training new employees to take over some of his current responsibilities. In the process, he can test out his ideas around thought leadership within his own company through free employee workshops and training. He can even start documenting the system he uses with his employees so that he can eventually take it on the road to impact others. In the process, he will not only strengthen his passion project, but he will also become a better leader, provide value to his employees and strengthen the company as a whole.
Don’t make your current business go backwards just because you want to move forward. Find a path that leaves room for your business and your future dreams to walk in side by side.
3. Turn your obstacle into an advantage.
No obstacle is immovable and permanent. With a shift in perspective, any obstacle you see in your path can become an advantage.
In order for Ethan to begin his new journey, he needs to be able to step back from his client-facing roles and replace himself with new hires. However, it is incredibly difficult to find and retain employees right now. So what should he do? Twiddle his thumbs and wait around for that to change?
Of course not.
I recently learned that the No. 1 most important factor in the younger generation’s job search is the opportunity for leadership development and growth. So as Ethan goes into his next chapter of thought leadership, he can use the ideas he is crafting to attract the kind of people who are looking for mission-based work. He can use the skills he is already cultivating to create the kind of company that people will be eager to work for because they want to be a part of the growth-minded environment he is creating.
Furthermore, he can talk about his obstacles on social media to connect with other entrepreneurs who might be struggling with the same things. He can tell his story online and begin to create a community of like-minded individuals based around their shared experiences and frustrations.
You don’t have to wait until you’ve “figured it all out” to bring people into your journey. People don’t want a perfectly polished version of you—they want authenticity and connection. Instead of trying to hide the obstacles you face, let people into your journey and bring them along for the ride.
Any obstacle can become an advantage if you’re willing to embrace it. And if you can do that, you will become unstoppable.