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WNC Business

Aligning personal and business growth

Jan 25, 2024 02:49PM ● By Randee Brown

It’s an illusion that a professional journey can exist without a personal one, according to Coach Meghan O’Malley. Many are taught that business and personal lives are separate, but they never are.

Sometimes people think if they just hit the next mile marker of success they will feel better about themselves, according to O’Malley, but their personal growth is still waiting for them. If they embark on their personal growth journey first, they can actually be holistically in a state of wellness and alignment, especially if their business is based on supporting others.

“People are taught your identity exists around your personal power and being seen,” O’Malley said. “If you are going to be successful and impact people, certainly for a solopreneur or entrepreneur, you must continually work on both journeys.”

With many people in business conditioned to a “hustle culture,” people have been taught doing things the hard way and overexerting themselves is the way to reach success. O’Malley said this is the philosophy that gets in the way of people thriving.

“It’s hard for people to step out of it because it has become people’s identity, and their personal value is associated with it,” O’Malley said. “My personal definition of success now is living on purpose, thriving, and doing it all with grace and ease. It’s a radical thing to stand for in the world and invite people into a new way.”

O’Malley said our culture is moving in a direction of businesses becoming more humanized. When people leave their inner truth and needs at the door in order to meet outer markers others tell them “should” be most important, it becomes more challenging to find sustainable success. 

Traditional business leadership is often about concrete metrics – dollar amounts, status, etc – instead of humanized metrics like aligning with one’s own unique gifts, skills, and well-being. O’Malley believes true leadership doesn’t ask others to abandon themselves, and true success means people aren’t betraying who they really are in an attempt to thrive.

“Doing things the old, familiar way can feel more comfortable because that’s what they’re used to, but that takes a LOT of energy. It’s true that doing things in this new way often feels weird or vulnerable, but continuing to do things that betray one’s humanity is just a different flavor of discomfort. We get to choose which flavor of uncomfortable we are going to lean into. We don’t have to choose a story that perpetuates harm just because it’s familiar,” O’Malley said. 

When people in business operate from a place of fear and stress, it’s evident not only in their leadership, but also in their messaging and content. People are becoming increasingly attuned to “what isn’t being said” these days. O’Malley said it’s easy to notice the energy of pushy, inauthentic, and forced messaging because of the way it feels to the recipient. Feeling aligned, empowered, and purposeful in business creates a natural magnetism, attracting the right clients, customers, and collaborators to help create success within your work.

“People have to get on the boat even though it feels weird or vulnerable to do so,” O’Malley said. “Fighting against the waves can feel more comfortable because that’s what they’re used to, but that takes a lot of energy. Success would come more easily if people come from a genuinely human and vulnerable place; that energy conveys well.”

Feelings of stress and anxiety are bound to come up for business leaders. When that happens, there are tools that can be used to recenter, and they don’t necessarily require hiring a coach or seeing a therapist. Putting one hand on your heart and the other on your belly and just breathing for five minutes can be calming. Tapping, breath work, acupuncture, reiki, and other somatic exercises can help regulate the nervous system.

A well-regulated nervous system and frequent personal check-ins can allow individuals to align with their own values, how they feel, and what they truly desire in their life, according to O’Malley. The body holds a lot of unfiltered truth and wisdom, and people have been taught not to trust that. 

People are often taught to ignore their emotional selves when stepping into professional roles, but emotions carry information that can help and guide them along their path. When feelings of fear and stress come up in business, those feelings are not only natural indicators that an individual is evolving, stretching, and expanding, but they can also be an invitation to embrace another layer of the personal growth process.

“Learning the skills of listening within, decoding the messages of the body, and checking in with ourselves about how we feel and what we need allows us to be most fully ourselves, which not only allows us to be more empowered in our own lives, but also expands our ability to have positive impacts on others. The ripples go much further than we realize,” O’Malley said. “Saying yes to this vulnerable, and at times uncomfortably human, process of growth creates empowered magic in life, and can create sustainable success in business, too.”

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