What is entrepreneurship really supposed to look like?
Last week, I took a little retreat trip to Toronto. I attended an amazing conference with speakers I had always dreamed of seeing. I had BIG expectations: I would soak up the inspiration, expand my community of change-makers, then go back to my hotel room where I’d work the night away on new plans, content, and ideas.
This is what entrepreneurship looks like, right? Cute wanderlust-inspired Instagrams on the train, rubbing elbows with big names, thinking big, and connecting with like-minds. Awesome.
But what I didn’t Instagram (because I wished it wasn’t true) is that this isn’t fully, truly my idea of a good time. I’m a homebody that likes deep conversations and coffee dates, not big fanfares.
But that’s the journey, right? I had seen people attending and raving about events like these online for years, and felt like this was part of my journey for stepping things up.
The event started off with a complete and beautiful bang. Music, lights, a full house of very cool people. Robin Sharma delivered one of the most moving and inspirational talks I had ever heard.
I was invigorated, ready to act. I could have walked out then and there with my money’s worth and done amazing things with that inspiration.
…I probably should have.
As the talks continued, and each one equally brilliant, my physical disposition started to go downhill fast. I felt burdened instead of inspired. I felt overwhelmed with all the people I wasn’t meeting because I needed every possible break to get outside and seek a bit of quiet to think and breathe.
I was failing at this conference thing, and I knew it.
Each new talk took a little bit more out of me; piling on more shame that the speaker’s brilliance was being lost on me. I had nothing left to give their motivating call to arms.
By the end I was completely detached from the magic of the event. I had pages of notes but hadn’t really retained any wisdom. I felt drained and out of place.
What was meant to uplift me and spark my inner entrepreneurial fire had in fact weakened it, temporarily.
It took me a couple full days (and an eye-opening conversation with my coach about being highly sensitive) to get it back.
But it’s back. With clarity.
I’ve learned that the traditional conference format just isn’t for me. I can grab the tiniest inspiration out of one short talk – I don’t need a message pounded into me.
And that’s okay.
I might never change the world by rallying a literal crowd of people, but I can definitely enrich the world with one intimate conversation at a time.
And that’s okay.
There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be able to dig back into my notes and find invaluable takeaways. The event was filled with unbelievable visionaries, and I can’t wait to find ways to connect with them after the fact, in my own way.
But I think my biggest takeaway from this experience has been a completely unexpected one: Don’t ever do something in business because you feel that “it’s what people do if they want to play big.”
Pay attention to how you play big in a way that feels good. And listen to your body! While the messages we hear so often are to push, hustle, and, um, crush it… whatever that means, your body has a more important message that you must honour. Trust its wisdom; it will always be able to tell you what will best serve you on your own journey to success.
Because your vision, your success, doesn’t look the same as anybody else’s.