It wasn’t until I was actually surrounded by professional coaches and trainers eight hours a day, five days a week did it all make sense. For at least one and a half decades, I grappled with those deeply wedged, whispery, yet meddlesome voices that constantly asked:

“WTF happened?”

“How come it seems like my life is wrought with rash decision-making and costly wrong turns?”

“How come I keep doing this to myself?”

“Why am I starting over…again?”

The answers started surfacing as I spent more time with brilliant stewards of transformational work, witnessing their intense dedication to helping others powerfully recover from, and hopefully avoid pricey pitfalls, much like the ones I’d slushed around in. During my African American Women on Tour days, I’d been in that space but was so busy “doing busy,” that I didn’t garner that insight then. I’m talking the biggies here – failed marriages, failed businesses, failed investments and all of the emotional, psychological and financial messiness that comes with these failures.

It took getting immersed, waist high, in others’ genius to get reacquainted with my own.

I had to save my soul. It took grooving in a circle of people intensely committed to and vested in getting out of their own way, to grasp what my journey had been fraught with. I heard testimonial after testimonial and all of the corresponding lessons learned, and finally it seeped in how invaluable it was to not only surround myself with mentors, but to engage trainers and coaches. I learned the value of being part of a community that actively masterminded, held one another accountable, collaborated strategically and celebrated successes vigorously, with high octane doses of self-awareness, transparency, integrity, wisdom, creativity and financial achievement. Thank God, I caught the life preserver.
Looking back, while I’d considered myself a “life-long learner,” some of my lessons didn’t stick. I’ve ignored flashing caution lights, stayed on obviously dead-end paths or arbitrarily tweaked game plans, convincing myself that it made sense to do something a different way, with no facts or financials to back the change.
Today the message is clear. While I’ve flown with the wind of grace at my back, I didn’t operate my jetliner with a solid flight plan – often I had no business plan, life plan or mentors to hold me responsible and accountable, to help guide me to the next milestone or to support my successful crossing of a finish line. Essentially, without a solid foundation and someone wiser than me to support my journey, it was too easy to veer off course, invariably chasing someone else’s dream or running from someone else’s fears…as well as my own.

The bottom line is we ALL need mentors, coaches and trainers.

It’s easy to get comfortable in our discomfort, especially when our foolery is endorsed by other people’s accolades – purely based upon feelings and fantasy without looking at the facts and finances.

We ALL need sage-quality tender loving care. Outwardly, your business, company culture, teams or operations may appear to be running smoothly and successfully. However, there is always room and opportunity for transformation.
Do you know what’s not working?

Do you know where things are breaking down?

Do you know where you are not operating at capacity or efficiency?

How are your people getting along?

Where is there opportunity to empower, grow and increase cash flow and profitability?

What are your customers asking for that is not being delivered?

When we don’t know what we don’t know, other sets of eyes and minds will help guide, advise and coach.

In my case, I didn’t know that taking on “solopreneurship” was not the wisest of choices. Getting caught up in the busyness of busyness, critical things slip through the cracks and we potentially end up with a heap of epic fails. Had I engaged sagely support, I could have had a viable business to sell rather than shells of businesses that I ultimately walked away from, feeling totally burned out and defeated. That’s where I landed in 2003 and again in 2013.

Here are just a few of my key lessons learned:

1. Understand and institute the very best practices for controlling expenses, appropriately scaling, increasing profit margins and mapping out a transition plan.

2. Make sounder business decisions based upon facts and financial statements, rather than “gut feelings,” as we’re often wrong. Get feedback and insight from experts.

3. Soul-search and actively assess your blind sides and weaknesses as well as your extraordinary talents and core competencies. Get a complete, objective handle on what you’re exceptional in, and what you suck at; what you’re absolutely passionate about and what completely annoys you; what electrifies you and what paralyzes you. Include people, places and things on this list.

4. Diligently and methodically surround yourself with people who are more experienced, wiser and who are trusted sources of knowledge, insight and leverage.

5. Allow yourself to be supported, challenged, encouraged and empowered. Graciously accept help. Move ego out of the way.

6. And, be unabashedly thankful for the entirety of your experiences…in all of their glory.

7. Kiss the Lone Ranger goodbye.