Before I became a restaurateur, I was an online health coach promoting healthy paleo eating. I was writing online programs, doing lots of online advertising, and things were going okay. I have put close to 3,000 people through my online-only programs.
But there was something missing. I was not interacting with humans, I was only interacting with my computer. All day long. I would wake up in the morning, write some content, do some SEO (search engine optimization), check on Facebook ads, check sales of my online materials, talk to my virtual assistant over email, and that was about it. I was in my comfort zone. I was passionate about my message, but I was hiding behind a screen.
For years, I had been dreaming about opening a unique restaurant that served only the kinds of foods that would make people extremely healthy. No grains or gluten, nothing processed, and only high quality, pastured and organic meats. All of the ingredients would be perfect. It would be the first restaurant of its kind.
But I had no credentials which qualified me to start a restaurant. I had never gone to a culinary school. I had zero knowledge of how to operate a restaurant and no cooking experience. I had made salads with breadsticks on the side once during a summer job at TGI Fridays. In fact, I was not a great cook at all. I remember once playing chef and putting turmeric and rosemary on Tilapia. It was absolutely disgusting. To keep me safe, the voice inside my head listed reason after reason why I couldn’t start a restaurant, and for years I listened to the voice.
After months of pondering, plotting, and reasoning, I got a message from my corporate employer letting everyone know that they would be downsizing the staff, and looking for those who would like to leave voluntarily. There was a cushy financial compensation ready for the taking if you left. The universe conspired to kick my tush off the cush and get me to leap forward, despite all my reasons.
"Are you a chef?" was the question everyone asked upon finding out my plotted future. “No,” I answered, and saw doubt in their face, covered up with, "Good-for-you-that's-awesome!!!."
I was officially in over my head. But what I didn't understand then is that's a great place to be.
When you take a leap into the unknown, you will absolutely be in over your head. You are doing something you have not done before. You are outside your comfort zone, and you are playing big.
My professor of business law once said, "You don't get sued unless you have money. If your business gets sued, it's a GOOD THING. It means you have made it." Just as with being served with legal papers, you won't be served with a bunch of judgment if you are staying within your comfort zone. You cannot avoid judgment, or that high-pitched-voice "good for you!" response, and you shouldn't try. When you are in the ring, playing full out, you will be judged. When you take leaps into the unknown, everyone around you will have something to say about it. If you aren't being judged, you aren't leading.
It is important to transform your relationship with other people's judgments. I invite you to practice the following: Every time you catch yourself being in someone's head and trying to manipulate their view of you, or every time you find yourself resisting other people's judgment,
Breathe in that discomfort, and get back into your business. Realize that what they think of you is their business, not yours. The more time you spend in the ring, playing full out and leaping out of your comfort zone, the more opinions about you there will be.
What you have control over is your authenticity and your integrity. What's inside someone else's head is none of your business.
In the end, would you rather know you did what you could to avoid negative opinions, or would you rather know you took the leap towards your goals and ambitions? I know for sure that you can’t have it both ways.
Put your energy towards your goals, especially the ones which require you to jump far beyond your comfort zone and dive right into the deep end. I’m very proud of what Blooming Beets Kitchen has become, and it would never have happened if I had listened to all the voices telling me I was in over my head.
To read more, here’s a link to my book on Amazon: Dust Off and Rise: Stumbling Toward Success https://www.amazon.com/Dust-Off-Rise-Restauranteurs-Leadership-ebook/dp/B07H9HK8MP/