For most entrepreneurs (myself included), the gap between who we are and what we do can be so blurred that we no longer see where one ends and the other begins – and that’s OK – as long as we’re enjoying the process.
It’s not so much about the gap blurring, as much as it’s about the gap narrowing and widening.
If you haven’t heard of the term ‘mind the gap’ it originates from the London underground train system. If you’ve ever been there, you will likely have heard a very polite, but slightly annoying, voice telling you to ‘mind the gap’ before getting on the train. That gap would be between the platform and the train door – and they don’t want you to fall through it – makes sense.
I’m using this term, not to keep you safe next time you hop on the train, but as a way to describe that gap in relation to you and your business. I hear some of you saying at this point: “but I AM my business” – and that is great – but I would argue that it’s only great up to a point.
When we start a business, there is a lot of excitement (and, of course, anxiety) because we’ve finally found what it is that we want to do – our path to freedom and independence – our way to create something and finally make a difference – right?
But whether you’ve been at this gig for more years than you’d like to remember – or you’ve only been at it a few months – keeping a healthy space between you being you and your business being, well, your business can become quite challenging.
If none of this is resonating and you have a healthy relationship between you and your business – I hope the earlier train tip was of some help to you.
For the rest of us, who can relate, what does all of this mean?
Here are a few suggestions:
- It means taking care of yourself before you take care of your business. Easier said than done, but just for a moment I want you to go back to a time when you were actually taking care of you – it might have been a full-blown vacation, but it might also have been taking one day off from your business and doing something completely different – a photography course, a painting class, a day at the spa, a road trip to a concert – whatever. How did you feel when you came back to your business? What new ideas were created during this time away? What changed?
- It means taking a step back from your business – widening the gap – so you can take a broader look at what’s going on. Perhaps you’ve been ‘in the weeds’ too long and you’re starting to lose sight of why the heck you started this in the first place – and now you’re not quite sure you want to get where you’re going. Taking a 30,000-foot view helps you to see the bigger picture of what is going on – you get a much better view from up there.
- It means taking a closer look at your business – narrowing the gap – to see in more detail what areas of your business are no longer serving you. I don’t just mean fumbling your way through the weeds and getting lost again. I mean going in with the weed wacker and clearing up the messiness so you can see what is worth keeping and what you want to keep working on, versus what needs throwing out or perhaps even hired out. I think the technical term is ‘systemize’ or ‘systematize’ – put simply, have a good clear out!
Why bother to do all of this?
Let’s go back again to that time when you chose to start your own business. You were standing at the (metaphorical) platform that is your life and you were about to hop on the (metaphorical) train that is your business. This was the start of your journey – to becoming an entrepreneur. At that point you could see the gap clearly – a healthy space between you and your business.
Sometimes it’s always good to go back into our past – not to figure out our problems – but rather to look for those times when we were at our most resourceful. When we knew what we wanted, we knew how to get it, and we had a pretty good idea where we wanted to go.
Go on, close your eyes, see yourself standing at the edge – looking down at the gap – knowing why it was put there.
The gap was put there to:
- Keep a healthy space between you and your business; and
- Remind you that you are not just your business – that you are so much more than that.
Wherever you are on your entrepreneurial journey, remember why it is important to occasionally stop, look down, and – mind the gap.