I’m coming up on my one year anniversary of being a business owner and I’ve been reflecting on how I’ve personally changed over the past year and what’s led me to this place.
Before being laid off last February I worked for six years in the International Sales and Marketing department of a poultry genetics company headquartered in West Des Moines. I arrived there by way of a short stint with the Greater Des Moines Partnership after living for two years in Germany.
My time living by myself in Germany taught me what I needed to survive on many levels – financially, socially, personally. It also taught me that I can do anything – I found myself in many uncomfortable situations – close to being deported on several occasions, language barrier at times, no family there for support. But I got through it. (A little back story…During the first year, I was part of an exchange program between the US and German governments for Young Professionals who had graduated college. I studied for 2 months at a language institute, one semester at University and then interned at Bayer. A small sub-group from Bayer offered me a job when they decided to start their own business. I accepted. I moved back to the States for 2 months after the exchange program ended and returned when I was told the start-up would be in business…well, they weren’t. I was stranded with only my 3-month American tourist visa which I had to keep getting renewed with the start-up’s intent to hire me. They ended up rescinding on their verbal offer of employment after I had lived there for one year. I had two weeks to leave the country before my visa expired and I was to have been deported.)
When I moved back to the States in 2001, taking a job was EASY compared to what I had just gone through. Get up, go to work, come home…I felt safe. That feeling of comfort and ease carried through to February 2009. I had been comfortable for 8 years and I realized that my skills were stagnant and I hadn’t been challenged in a long time…Unemployment was definitely my new challenge.
While networking to find a job, I felt completely out of my element and uncomfortable all the time in the beginning. I realized that the only way to improve yourself is to be uncomfortable sometimes; challenge yourself. My biggest hurdle is public speaking, so what do I do? Accept every opportunity to speak in front of networking groups. Organize a series of workshops on social media for small businesses.
This past year has helped me become comfortable being uncomfortable again. Though my time in Germany was challenging, I grew as a person and I learned a lot about myself through the process. I don’t fight being uncomfortable anymore, or try to get out of situations I know will make me feel uncomfortable. I now accept it as part of the process of self-improvement…
When do you feel the most uncomfortable? What is it that you are most afraid of doing?