When you’re building something new — whether a new phase of business, or a phase of self —you don’t just throw new upon old.
You must deconstruct.
Parse through the old and see what (really) must go, and what of the precious old will stay. Because nothing new is built without the “old,” the former, the once-was, the beautiful (or perhaps hard-earned) foundation that created the possibility of this new space.
A new anything requires both old and new.
I’ve been percolating on this a lot recently as I see and hear business owners making broad, sweeping changes…. most of them within themselves.
I got a call from a business owner last week who was wrestling with strange, new, and overpowering emotions around her business. Namely: she didn’t like working with her clients anymore. It was confounding and worrisome, considering her particular flavor of (genuine) care for her clients had been the centerpiece of her business success. Had she barked up the wrong tree? Was this the wrong business altogether? No, we uncovered, her frustration was not with her clients — it was with any client. She had outgrown the client-facing responsibilities she once cherished, and her desire to serve had (quite suddenly) shifted… to her team.
We deconstructed, and she decided: (both) keep the care, the “special sauce” that has consistently set the business apart and served her clients so well; (and) put on the role of leader and trainer as she teaches her team how to do it.
And that is how this goes. The business will always follow our lead.
To grow a business, we must go first.
And in this case, we become new first.
There’s something to the ancient adage, “don’t put new wine in old wine skins.” Simply because (firstly), it evidently doesn’t work. Wine ferments and changes as it ages — it’s entire constitution becomes something different (and let’s note: something delicious). The old ancient container has already expanded; it can only go so far. And as people who grow and expand too, we are no different. At some point (if we’re growing) our business is going to feel tight… restrictive… too limiting and small to contain the new person we have become.
Which means our business has to change too.
It has to fit. Whether in its constitution (i.e., a total makeover), or its composition (e.g., you hand your old role over to someone else).
Wait… Let me rephrase that:
Your business can change. The business can mold. Because the change will happen in you first. And this is your show— you get to choose whether you remodel it, tweak it, or shut it down forever. (Yes, that is an option.) This is your gig.
It may feel strange, wrong, rebellious or sad. It might hurt, to peel this wonderful beginning way off of us, or seem disrespectful to say goodbye to a (good) container that has carried us this far. But there is no betrayal here, it evaporates the warming moment we take stock of what we’ve got and ask, “What of this will I [need to] take with me? What needs to be let go, if I’m to keep my sanity, and grow?”
The time comes to either stay where we are, or go forward. And if we decide to move ahead, we must allow ourselves to dress anew.
I love what a client says of my friend and a gifted personal stylist, Beverly: “She doesn’t just know what looks good on you now, she sees who you are becoming and then dresses you for that.”
New wine skins.
A rather uncouth business topic, I understand. But it is SO GOOD when we let ourselves go there for a minute.
Growing a business is going to call us to a higher level of thinking, being, and acting.
And it will feel less chaotic when we give ourselves a context to wrap our brains around: “I’m changing,” or “I’m dancing between the old and the new,” or “I’m re-packing for this next leg of the journey.”
Take the good of the past with you. Then build on that.