13 June 2011

Lesson #2 on Marrriage and Entrepreneurship: To Increase Your Sight Learn to Listen.

The most frightening words an Entrepreneurs' spouse can hear are: “I have an idea...Because it is not usually a statement. It is usually a proposal.

(And that's about the time I find myself wondering why I said yes the first time he proposed...)

Early in our marriage I was excited to hear those words. As children arrived and expenses grew, life got more complicated. Now, those words cause almost an immediate reaction of heightened stress levels and anxiety for me. I appreciated his creativity, but all I hear is, "This will cost money and take up my time." In fact, it didn't even matter what the idea is. I stop listening to what is being said, and I start thinking what it will mean for me.

Thankfully, our body has a built in response that prepares us to "fight" or "flee" from perceived attack, harm or threat to our survival. This explains why I have actual physical reactions regarding Entrepreneurial ventures. I am just trying to survive.  I'm not sure why I want to fight and flee from my Entrepreneur when he comes up with ideas, but that is probably something to bring up with my therapist.

So while this reactive response can help us in the short-term, over an extended period of time it can have a negative impact on our physical, psychological and social well-being...which includes our marriages and our Entrepreneur's self esteem.

Now I'm not asking you to start chanting serenity now, to take 10 deep breaths, or to start praying (although that never hurts), but I am asking you to take into consideration a few elements. First off, know that the brain cannot always distinguish between a real or potential threat. This means that even the idea of starting a business can trigger reactions beyond our control because we are moving into self preservation mode. Second, remember that all the biological, psychological, chemical and physiological changes brought about by the fight/flight response are designed to give us extra strength. 

So... instead of immediately fighting the idea or immediately fleeing the circumstance, I am suggesting that you pause and face it. Facing your Entrepreneurs' proposal means you are willing to "see" them and "listen" to them, {also referred to as tending and befriending}. Although it may mean shutting off the hope for stability, hope for insurance or hope for a paycheck mindset for a moment, you don't have to abandon that completely. It is a matter of harnessing and directing the passion, not discarding it. I'm not talking about being confrontational or forth right like you would when facing an enemy. I'm talking about being open and understanding like when you are facing a friend. There is a big difference. To face means we can stay true to ourselves when we are in challenging situations.

The gift of being able to listen is really that...a gift and although it is not always easy to give,  it is always gratefully received. Regarding your marriage and Entrepreneurship, the more you listen the more you will see.

*Facing does not mean:
That you agree with the idea. That you support any and all courses of action to pursue the idea. That you think the idea is smart/will make millions/can pay the mortgage.

**The above mentioned statement: "I have an idea..." may  also be disguised as the following:
"I was thinking..."
"What do you think about..."
"Last night I..."
Don't be fooled.