This weekend I met a friend for lunch at the Berkeley marina. Besides just catching up, we spoke for six-hours about our various business “babies”.

I have 4 babies. She has 2. Some are thriving, some are in the early stages, and some are coming to market this year.

At any stage of growth, we sound like most human mothers. We talk about our hopes and dreams, our worries, our pride, and our deepest intentions for where we want them to go.

The thing about mothers and business owners is that we have clear visions of what we want to happen. Our dreams are tangible and easily entwined in our Self.

And then life happens. We try to find a web designer to capture our vision. We hire our first team member. We have well-intentioned friends stepping out to help. (In her case, there are some amazing, heavy-hitters excited to play a role.)

Before we know it, our vision has been poked, prodded, advised, re-configured, and re-defined. Our ego, while happy with the momentum and help, takes a real bruising as we see our baby grow up and become a life of its own.

Sometimes we have to step in and flex our muscles.  Firing is part of the business dance.

And because the pace and almost constant feeling of raw, exposed, and vulnerable Self can be so overwhelming, we have to find ways to ground our vision and energy.

I’ve been around this block a few times. I’ve launched companies. Failed. Succeeded. Gone solo. Partnered. Been screwed over by partners. Walked away. Held on.

Over the years, I’ve learned a few lessons.

And, this weekend, I saw a piece of the old me in my friend. She loves her business baby so much that the thought of any aspect of her dream being taken over and re-designed by someone else made her ready to fight. Mama Bear protection is no joke.

And so I started asking questions.

Some questions were tactical and operational. This is where my business experience, MBA, and natural project manager comes out.

But, because I know that any business either of us would create is not focused on market dominance via tactics and application, I started asking her things I wish others had asked me. The soft skills. The inner work.

Amid the questions, one slipped out which made her perk up and really pause:

What are you willing to release in order to grow?

The thing is, Mama’s don’t release easily. The lesson is forced upon us. And, in time, we understand the value of releasing. But it’s not an innate gift.

And business requires a lot of release. Especially if you have any desire for free time, growth, and a team.

You might hire an SEO expert that brings a list of things you should do to make your site more visible.

Or a branding expert that promptly challenges your intended logo and site feel.

Or a business coach that rattles off a list of best practices that are now industry standards.

Or a pool of volunteers interested in your non-profit, all of whom bring really seasoned business training which, while immensely valuable, immediately tests your definition of “free reign” and “help wanted”.

They all mean well. After all, you hired or allowed them to help you.

Yet, while you appreciate their value, your entire mind, body and spirit are in total revolt.

Release to grow. Release to grow.

The Reality: Releasing actually becomes your top growth strategy. The more you outsource, the more you can focus on your genius work.

The Catch: The Art of Release requires you to become really intimate with your “Stuff”. Your triggers. Your boundaries. Your standards.

The Art of Release takes time and help. It’s been my path for the last 10+ years.

Your release tolerance is a muscle. You take it for granted until you need it. Only then do you realize how weak, sensitive, and important it really is.

I haven’t let my own inner work stop me from launching new ideas and asking for help. But it has made me acutely aware of doing my pre-work to know what I’m willing to release, and what I will fight to the death.

So, to my friend at the marina and my friends here at Inspired Grit, I ask you to take time to explore your release muscle.

  • What are you holding on to that not longer serves you? (Your daily calendar of busy-ness is a good place to start.  Release, baby, release.)
  • What are you willing to hold on to a bit longer while you test its importance to you? (Your bucket list is a good place to start.)
  • What are you not willing to release? (Core Values & Beliefs are a good place to start.  Integrity and respect are high on my list.)

Release brings growth.  Promise.

PS – I told a bit of one of my release stories in The Day I Gave Up.