When life interferes with business: 3 lessons learned


Relieve your burden: Decide.


Have you ever felt like you’ve been staggering along under a huge burden? You know, the kind of weight that leaves you feeling bereft of energy, creativity, and joy?

Been there, done that, got a whole bunch of T-shirts for it.

Very recently, as a matter of fact.

Here’s what I learned during the process of getting out from under that weight.

1. Even if you’re a solopreneur, you can’t afford to ignore the impact other people have on you.

Burdens can take many forms: cleaning up after a flood, like we did here in Cedar Rapids last year; firing a problem employee and reallocating their tasks; coping with illness, whether your own or a loved one’s.

Mine took the form of a marriage in which his energy had become bad for me, and mine had become bad for him.

It’s often said that you’re the average of the five people you hang with most. Since one of my most powerful energy boosters and role models lives out of town, two live out of state, and one lives out of the country, my hang time with them is primarily via phone or Zoom. I got to the point where this long-distance support wasn’t compensating for the in-person depletion I was facing at home.

When a life situation involving another person starts to negatively impact your emotional and mental health, your creativity, and your focus, you owe it to your business and yourself to take steps to address that situation.

2. Not walking your talk is a major energy sucker.

This situation of daily enervation would have been tough enough to deal with all by itself. However, it was made worse by the fact that a consistent theme in working with my clients is the need to be courageous and authentic; to do important, high-payoff activities no matter how uncomfortable they make you.

The problem was, I was talking a good game but wasn’t following it up with action.

Can you say “hypocrite”?


Taking action is ultimately less painful than burying your head in the sand.


The longer I chose not to address my personal situation, the more I felt out of integrity, the more disappointed I was in myself, and the harder it was to summon the energy to do good work for clients as well as myself. It was a perfect storm of self-sabotage.

Something needed to change.

3. You can almost never avoid discomfort, but you can always avoid being a wimp about dealing with it.

I finally acknowledged that, despite efforts on both our parts, staying together was not an option that would serve either one of us well.

Despite a commitment to remain amicable (which we did), the whole dissolution process was still tedious and uncomfortable. Yet it was clear to me that this discomfort was more acceptable than the discomfort of continuing as I had been.

While I don’t agree with those who say that everything happens for a reason, I do believe that we can find something of value in every painful situation, if we choose to look for and celebrate it.

I think Anaïs Nin wrote the following just for me: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”


How have you dealt with personal situations that negatively impacted your business? Has time proven your decision to be a good one? What do you plan to do differently the next time life interferes with work?

Any strategies you’re willing to share will undoubtedly be helpful to the rest of us. Because one thing is for sure: When it comes to learning lessons in the School of Life, there ain’t no such thing as summer vacation.

(By the way, thanks to Staffan Scherz for posting his image of the big bike burden on Flickr.)

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