It was on a wet weekend in February 2013 when I bought myself, after some deliberation, a pair of pink Doctor Marten’s boots. When I saw them in the window of the outlet shop at Gunwharf Keys, I was struck by them and stopped to look.
“Go and try them on” said Phil, telling me about all the pairs he had in the past as work shoes, how comfortable they were and how hard-wearing.
“But I’ve got size 8 feet, they’ll look massive – they’re not for people like me”
People like me?
And there we had it, the realisation that in my 30 something years, I had never owned a pair of DMs – never even tried a paid on, somehow missing out on a teenage rite-of passage – because of something that someone had told me in my past, which I accepted as true and didn’t question.
Something that years later had become a part of who I was and the story I told myself.
Now, I know exactly where the problem arose. I was at secondary school in the 1980s-90s and at the time black DM shoes, were THE thing to have. All the cool girls had them, and many of the uncool ones too. My mum told me I couldn’t have them as it would make my size 8 feet look like clodhoppers. With hindsight, it was probably more that as a single parent, a pair £40+ school shoes was outside of her budget and it was an easier way to let me down. Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t on the poverty line by any stretch of the imagination, but the trendiest version of school uniform wasn’t high on the priority list. I’ll tell you the story about the Kays catalogue navy trousers with a perma-press seam down the front another day!
Anyway, my point is that despite having left home and been earning my own money for nearly 20 years, I hadn’t challenged this idea. Never even been into a Doctor Marten’s shop.
How many things do we allow to become part of who we are, without ever stopping to think about whether they are really true for us or not?
It may be something said (or implied) by a parent, teacher, friend or employer which at the time you accepted and even though time has moved on, you’ve grown and developed, you’ve not let go of a belief which is now holding you back.
This happens a lot in business.
If everyone you know has always had a JOB and worked for someone else, the idea that you might be an entrepreneur starting your own business may not be something that at first you would consider. You may struggle to find support from your family and friends if you choose to step outside of what is usual for your peer group. You may feel you need to work that little bit harder to prove yourself and in some ways it may make you more determined to succeed.
You may have always believed that some people have ‘more money than sense’ or that wealthy people are greedy / dishonest in some way. This may mean that you have an emotional block to overcome if you are to avoid self-sabotaging your success. It may be that you don’t see being wealthy as ‘normal’ for people like you, because that is not what you encounter every day.
Although class boundaries have become more blurred over the last 100 or so years, there is still a degree of what is usual within any social group. You may be the first person in your family to have a portfolio of rental properties, send your children to private school or retire at 50. But, if you ask your (grand)parents, I’m sure they will be able to tell you about the first person from the family to go to University, leave the town to work in London, marry a person from a different ethnic group – all things that in the year 2017 no one would bat an eyelid at, but that 30/40 years ago, was a massive deal.
First you need to redefine what normal is for you, who you are and what you believe.
Take a blank piece of paper and at the top write in big letters I AM.
Underneath, bullet point all the things you tell yourself to be true, keep going until you really run out of things to write, however silly they may seem at first thought. They can be physical things, things you are good at (or not), emotional characteristics or whatever – let them all spill out onto the page.
The next step is to go through your list and one by one read them out loud – I am creative, I am overweight, I am good at drawing. As you say the words, decide whether what you are saying is actually true, or just something that you accept. If it is true, are you happy about it – or is it something that you need to work on improving / changing?
Anything that is not true CROSS OUT.
Next, you need to start to surround yourself with the people who share your outlook and vision. If you want to be an Ironman champion or marathon runner – it would make sense to spend time with others who do too. Go to the gym or health club, socialise with other people who look after their health and lead an active lifestyle. Build yourself a support network of likeminded people so that it becomes ‘normal’ for you to lead that sort of lifestyle too. Hanging out with a group of largely overweight friends at a pub or fast-food restaurant is not likely to give you the motivation to keep moving towards your goal.
If you want to be a successful, wealthy business owner the same applies. Take the opportunity to network and met with other people who are successful within your industry or in business generally. You will gain much insight and support from people who have gone before you, and made mistakes that you can learn from. Having some sort of mentor or coach, can be supportive and uplifting, as well as getting you to further challenge why you do some of the things in business that you do.
Even if you’re not one for formal networking, find a way to meet socially with these people – even if that means chatting with them at church or the school playground. Invite them over for coffee, and ask about them, build a relationship and take it from there. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but if your goal is to be the best version of you that is possible, isn’t it worth a go?
Somebody has to be the first to do it a different way.
Who says a Financial Adviser needs to be a bloke in a suit?
And if you want to find out about the pink hair, maybe we should chat some more.