You Are Not Your Business

You are a reflection of your business but you are not your business.

This is an essential, sanity-saving distinction to make.

It feels like another lifetime when I spent my days in front of the blackboard, carried along by the swelling tide of high school students rushing from one class to the next but teaching was my life.

Hi, I'm Jess, I'm a teacher.

It was part of my identity, as essential as my name.  It was something I had spent my entire life (having decided at age 8 I was going to teach) working towards.  Many of my teachers growing up were my heroes.  And I wanted to be a hero too.  I wanted to inspire the way I had been inspired.  I LOVED learning.  I LOVED kids.

Except, I landed at a school where the culture was toxic.  And I couldn't.  get.   out.  Too many teachers, not enough jobs.  The red tape & bureaucracy was ridiculous.  I often likened it to trying to teach while being gagged & with both hands tied behind my back.  Zero room for creativity.  Deliver the curriculum.  Teach to the test.  How could I ever inspire in an environment that felt so claustrophobic?  Not to mention the politics, they were downright Machiavellian.

After a few years I was faced with a question that should've been easy - keep teaching or save your sanity.  It seems obvious, right?  Who would ever sacrifice their mental & physical health for the sake of a job?

Except it wasn't.

Because teaching wasn't just a job.  It was who I was.  It was my identity.  If I wasn't a teacher, who was I?  What was my purpose?

And so I hit a quarter-life crisis - I know, so clichéd.

It took months for me to resign.  I spent hours in therapy working my way out of desperate depression.

Now, as I go about building my business almost a decade later I have some hard-earned perspective.

You are not your business.

You are reflected in your business - yes.  Abso-f*cking-lutely.  But your business is a separate entity.  It's not YOU.  This isn't being inauthentic.  It's not being disingenuous.  It's recognising that there's a physical, emotional & spiritual distance between what you do/what you create/how you serve AND WHO YOU ARE.

  • Because if something goes wrong with your business you figure out what's broken & you fix it.  It doesn't mean that you are broken.
  • Because if someone complains they didn't get any value from you then you a) look at other feedback to see if this was an anomaly b) find a way to make it up to them c) decide if something needs fixing.  But it doesn't mean that you are not valuable.
  • Because in the worst case scenario if your business fails, it doesn't mean that you are a failure.  And if you believe that you are your business & your business closes up shop, then I'm worried about you.  I'm worried you'll never trust yourself to try again.  I'm worried you won't take your next idea & act on it & test it because you'll see yourself as the failure, instead of the business.

If you tie your self-worth to your business so tightly that you say you ARE your business every bit of negative feedback becomes a personal attack.  It becomes so so so difficult to be objective about anything.

When we're building personal brands, your business should have your fingerprints all over it.  It should absolutely be a reflection of your personality & your beliefs & your values & your creativity & your ideas.

Pour your heart into your work.  But take it with you when you're done.

Because you are valuable, successful, gorgeous & will always have worth with or without your business.