There are many things I am learning on this entrepreneurial journey and one of my greatest lessons in recent times is this: no one really cares as much about your business as you do.
I say this not to discourage, but rather to help you channel your energy towards building your dream without relying on others. This also isn’t to disregard the wonderful people you may meet along the way who do support and invest in you, but rather, to help ensure that your vision isn’t compromised by the lack of commitment of others.
This lesson has been affirmed by recent failed meetings I had scheduled with potential partners and industry networks. Having had promising phone conversations with people and receiving interest in what I’ve been working on these last 12 months, I locked down meetings (ie. ‘coffee catch-ups’) with former acquaintances with the hope of receiving support in some way or another — or more specifically, how I could perhaps support them through my business.
Alas, waiting at cafes and restaurants for people of whom I am no priority, has become all too familiar. I’ve been stood up more times this way than I have out on the dating scene.
Only at the 15 minutes late mark do I begin to send courtesy texts and make courtesy calls to ensure my contact is on their way, but am often left hanging to dry. And so, I decide to treat myself to coffee or lunch anyway and do some work from my current location (a perk of self-employment that I value greatly).
At the 30–40 minutes late mark is when I usually receive a rushed, overly-apologetic call or text message from the person who finally confirms they cannot make the meeting. What follows is a myriad of excuses; logistical issues, personal problems, so on and so forth. A few times, people even admitted to me that they simply ‘forgot’.
Empathy is a virtue that I do my best to live by so I’ve learned to be very understanding in such situations. You never know what people are going through on any given day and I myself have had to cancel commitments at the last minute.
However I always make sure to politely inform and prepare the person who is expecting me, ahead of the meeting time.
Many people are not equipped to manage their time and stress, perhaps due to their working environment, external pressures or lack of opportunities or willingness to develop these skills. I get it, I’ve been there. I just try my best to not go back.
Given my focus on empathy in this new season in my life, I’m not going to dwell on the unreliability of others and pass blame in judgemental fashion as I acknowledge that I too, am not perfect.
Instead, the lesson I take from these experiences is that my priorities in life and business are not (and can never be) exactly the same as others. We all make choices as to which people, tasks, projects, goals and endeavours are important to us every week, every day, every hour and minute.
Hence in my quest to grow my business, I lead with the understanding that only I will ever be this passionate about what I’m doing and that it is a waste of time waiting on someone else to feel the same. It is this passion that I must harness to drive my vision forward, taking full control as opposed to placing my dream in another’s hands, only to have them drop and break it as they reach to grab the thing that is more important to them.
As I take the final sip of my coffee following another failed meeting, I reflect on all the times people have let me down and make a promise to myself to never do the same to others.
I vow to keep striving to show empathy and lead with my passion, even if it often feels I’m alone on this journey.
I acknowledge and am grateful for those who are supportive and encouraging but I don’t hold the same expectations for them as I do myself, with regards to my entrepreneurial vision.
To be the only one who truly knows, feels and aspires to live this dream, that in fact, is the most empowering thing.