Start-up CEO – from overwhelm to peace of mind

(by Katrin)

My executive coaching clients inspire me deeply. Many face the same challenges that almost sink them, yet somehow they find a way against the odds to come out on top.

Here is Pete’s story, who is a serial entrepreneur . . . [I did change his name as coaching is confidential – and I did get his permission to share this story].

OVERWHELMED – Pete’s business was suddenly growing so fast he thought it was going to kill him. He regularly worked 80-hour weeks, rarely saw his wife and kids, and felt so overwhelmed that it was making him sick.

He knew he needed a change, but what should he do? Sell the business? Find a partner organization? Or somehow try to scale back his hours (which was the least likely option). The problem was, with all that was going on, he couldn’t think straight, to the point where he didn’t trust his own analysis of these options.

GETTING UNSTUCK – Pete and I began working together an hour a week. This gave him a chance to step back regularly, see the big picture, get out of his head, and bring his inner wisdom and “gut” to the table again. He had gotten stuck spinning in his head, using his highly developed “reason and logic”, but with no clear decisions. 

VISUALIZING OPTIONS – With guided visualizations, he explored each of the 3 options — Sell, Partner, Scale Back. He walked each of the paths, while I prompted him to consider things like “How does that feel?” and “Who is there with you?” and “What do you see?” After months of paralysis-by-analysis, within only 15 minutes he had sudden clarity on how to proceed. He wanted to “Sell” the business.

I coached him for a year, through the process of selling his business, with all the ups and downs this entails. It’s an intense phase in any entrepreneur’s life!

SOUNDING BOARD – He used me as his sounding board, ensuring his decisions were aligned with his values – and with what mattered to his board and investors. We role-played potential buyers and pitches, and reactions from staff. We explored set-backs from different angles, and most importantly, he started putting his health and family first again.

I’m always deeply inspired by my clients and how they roll with life and work. My most satisfying moments were when Pete reported that he slept better and had more fun with family again — and when his wife reached out to say “THANKS”.

If you’re an entrepreneur and overwhelmed, get yourself a coach!


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