If you’ve ever driven a car with a bit of a pull or wobble you know you’ll get where you are going but it’s not necessarily going to be as easy as when the wheels are in alignment. You’ll be more stressed and tired as you continuously adjust for the pull while you wear out your tires at a faster rate. It’s the same when you and your business are out of alignment too.
I experienced this as I was reinventing myself after my incentive company, Marquee Incentives, took a hit in the aftermath of the 2008 recession. This is a business I started 13 years previously and, at the time, it provided a great lifestyle for me and my family, gave me the travel opportunities I love, matched my obsession about treating people well so everyone wins and enabled me to be awarded Entrepreneur of the Year in 2003. So, when our two best clients went bankrupt within a year of each other and my employees quit one by one, I was devastated.
It took me a while to get over my pity party and figure out a way to rebuild – to reinvent – and I thought I had figured it out a couple of times. My first attempt at driving my “new car” / business was as a digital marketer, which I’d chosen because of the business opportunity and because digital marketing can provide the ability to have a two-way conversation with customers and prospects while also enabling customized messaging as a result of segmentation. Both of these tied into the work we were doing in the field of customer loyalty and customer engagement.
After taking the new business model “the car” for a spin, I realized a business alignment was needed because the business model did not align with my vision of an ideal lifestyle — it’s not easy to travel the world, be location independent and run a business that could change overnight due to regulations or changes implemented by Facebook and Google.
So, back to the drawing board I went. This time I came up with a different angle and different business model. Digital marketing was still a part of it, as was my work with incentives, loyalty and recognition and my newly acquired “designations” of being a guerrilla marketing practioner and a joint venture broker. For sure I thought I had it! I’d be “the leverage specialist”. The problem was that no-one knew what the hell a leverage specialist does and I couldn’t explain it in a nutshell.
Once again, the concept was there but the alignment was out — this time it was with the message. I took time for another pity party as I was at my wits-end.
And then it happened. All of the things I had been doing had been taking me where I needed to go yet I hadn’t seen those things because my car with the wobbly wheels had “slid off the road and into the trees”.
I didn’t discover this alone — who ever does anything alone? — my “breakthrough” was as a result of a wonderful man, Dave Smith, who said to me “Carol, why don’t you see in yourself what we see in you?”
I do not think I’ll ever be able to thank him enough because I went to bed that night still not knowing but while I slept the answer came to me. What is it that I’m great at doing? What is it that people say about me all the time? What is it that people are asking me to help them with? And the answer to all three was “Reinvention”.
The story doesn’t end there though, in fact it’s the start of the business alignment in my own life as an entrepreneur. I made the decision to explore the platform as a business decision and to see if it was in alignment with my skills, my beliefs, my ideal lifestyle and my core values — whew, it was! I tested the market to see if the message would align — whew it did!
I decided to go forth and claim “reinvention” as my platform, which is something I teach all my students and clients to do — claim a platform, something that is synonymous with you and your work. Something that when people talk about “reinvention” for example, the next connection is my name Carol Wain, Queen of Reinvention.
I took a number of steps — from starting a web-show, to hosting a reinvention summit, to writing another book, to networking and creating strategic alliances — but then something weird and wacky happened.
I was at the World Domination Summit in Portland in July when my “wheel alignment” took place — and it was MASSIVE. I was sitting in the balcony while Andrew Warner, from Mixergy, took the audience through a meditation. I had started to explore spirituality, meditation, self-help, personal development and other “woo woo” stuff a couple of months earlier, so I was vaguely familiar with what we were to do.
Andrew told us to say an affirmation to ourselves 10 times — each time we said it we were to put a finger down on our thigh (starting with baby finger left hand, through to baby finger right hand). I had bags on my lap and by the time I was organized, we were on the middle finger of the right hand — uggh — I said an affirmation and went “nope” that’s not it, so I said “I’ve been chosen to help reinvent lives” and put down my ring finger on my thigh — yup that felt good. And then I said it again with more conviction — “I’ve been CHOSEN to reinvent lives” and I put down my baby finger.
As someone who lived completely in her head and didn’t believe anything those “woo woo” people talked about, what I experienced made me burst into tears. I had such a wave — like a tsunami — of invisible energy waves which hit me, I didn’t know what happened. Rather stunned, I went outside to try to make sense of it all. As an intellectual, there is “no sense”, there is simply a belief that something powerful just hit me and something shifted.
I went back inside and chose to sit up front, row 3, left side on the aisle. Tess Vigeland was talking about leaving her position at NPR without a safety net. She didn’t know why. Everyone (including Tess) thought she was crazy but she did it anyway. Things were not working for her anymore. Her life wasn’t in alignment to what she was supposed to do — although she had no clue what it was.
Tess, came off the stage and made a bee-line to me to ask me who I was and what I did. I said to her “I am Carol Wain, Queen of Reinvention and I help people just like you to reinvent your life”. Tess was floored, as was I!
Talk about the power of alignment — this was aligning what I believed to be a business decision with what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.
So, what does this all mean for you? If your business isn’t doing what you want it to do, if you’ve created a monster, if you’ve gone from stressed out employee to stressed out business owner or if you’ve gone from happy entrepreneur to stressed entrepreneur you may want to check your alignment.
The way to get back in alignment starts with the S.U.P.E.R. Reinvention Process.
Stop doing what isn’t working
Understand what you want, why you do what you do and why you need this reinvention
Plan your reinvention
Execute your plan
Readjust as necessary
What lessons do you take from this experience?
Share your thoughts below in the comments …