Claire Angelle, an Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Accelerator participant in Atlanta, founded Angelle Consulting–a mission-driven PR and consulting company–in 2018. Angelle fuels positive change by elevating the voices of business leaders committed to do well by doing good. We are following Angelle, who recently joined EO’s business accelerator program, as she grows and scales her business. Here’s what she shared about learning life’s lessons during a recent spate of difficulties.
Successful entrepreneurs tend to be both dreamers and doers. We have the vision and know-how to execute said vision. Like many business leaders, I tend to surround myself with like-minded individuals who are typically go-getters with positive outlooks. But, what happens when life’s hardships challenge that optimism?
In the span of six months, I lost my father-in-law to Covid, as well as a colleague who passed in violent circumstances while on the job. We welcomed a family member suffering from mental health issues into our home and had to say goodbye to our beloved family dog. While I’m usually a glass-half-full type of person, I grew increasingly anxious about the repercussions this trying time would have on my business.
I know I’m not alone in dealing with hardship. We are still in the midst of a global pandemic with disastrous human and economic consequences. Employee burnout is at an all-time high, and entrepreneurs around the globe are struggling with mental and emotional fatigue.
However, I’m a strong believer that there are lessons to be learned in any circumstance. Here’s what I picked up from these last few months:
Authenticity goes a long way.
When life threw me curve balls, I was forced to cancel commitments and push deadlines. When I candidly explained the reasons why, I was astounded by the level of care, compassion, and understanding I received. As a result of remote work, our personal and professional lives are now more blended than ever. People understand that we are human before we are professionals. I expected varying levels of resistance to schedule changes, yet received none. If anything, I believe my clients respect me more for choosing to be there for my family. Through open communication, I found a community to lean on. I look forward to extending the same empathy and support in the future.
Necessity pushes processes.
While I was struggling, I had also just hired my first full-time employee. I originally imagined implementing a thorough onboarding process to ease Andie into her new role. As you can imagine, nothing happened as planned. Looking back, I realize that this forced us to establish processes and boundaries early on. I asked Andie where I was standing in the way of her progress. From her observations, we created parameters that allowed me to extract myself from the day-to-day more quickly than anticipated while allowing Andie to take full ownership of her work. I now have more time to dedicate to big-picture thinking, and Andie has a deeper sense of fulfillment in her position.
It also builds efficiencies.
These circumstances forced me to become the most efficient I’ve ever been. I’ve made a habit of batching activities to improve focus and productivity. I dedicate set times to respond to all my emails. Rather than short daily meetings, Andie and I consolidated our daily huddles into longer calls twice a week, which improved our communication and brainstorming. I also schedule calls with clients around the same time. Because of this, I’ve been more present in each moment and more effective in each task.
There’s no better time to reassess goals.
Hardship inspires reflection. There’s nothing like loss to make you realize how finite we all are. My circumstances allowed me to rethink priorities in both my life and business. Difficult times may lead some to make life-altering decisions, while others might make minor adjustments. Regardless of the outcome, taking time to reflect on goals, hopes, and dreams is one of the most important things we can do in the face of adversity. In today’s society, where being busy is often perceived as a virtue, it’s hard to rise above the noise and press pause. Taking time to step back, reflect, and pivot might be the best thing to happen to you as a person and business leader.
We all struggle at some point in our lives. Yes, deliverables and KPIs need to be met. But, more importantly, we must give ourselves the same compassion we extend to others when they face hard times. Many of us have been led to believe that vulnerability is a weakness instead of the strength it is. To be truly successful both in and out of the workplace, we need to acknowledge and celebrate our common humanity. The last few months have been humbling, to say the least. But, seeing mentalities change around what it means to be a leader–one who inspires and truly cares–has been a breath of fresh air.