In 2010, I was going through a tough divorce (aren’t they all) while my business was starting to really take off.
Despite the outward facing business success, I was also battling what I now know is pretty typical of the entrepreneurial experience: conflict, pain, stress, and perhaps burnout INSIDE my business.
It was the first time in my journey as an entrepreneur I thought maybe I’d rather work anywhere else.
And in so many ways I felt like my entire life was in full reboot mode. Or perhaps all my systems felt like they were crashing on me.
I can still recall sitting in my new little apartment, with sparse furniture (think an Ikea couch and bed), only Gatorade and cookie dough in the fridge, and feeling the empty longing of loneliness.
Not many people in my life at that time could come close to relating to what I was going through as a human combined with being an entrepreneur.
I was suffering in solitude.
And I was craving authentic relationships with like-minded people on a similar path who knew what living the entrepreneurial life — with its sometimes drastic ups and downs — meant and who were walking it every day, like me, and wanted to walk together with others too.
To be frank I wanted deep, committed friendships with people who just got me, who were willing to open up their otherwise much guarded lives to another human being, and to be myself with them, and to get support and encouragement.
I desperately wanted to share my life — the successes AND the struggles — with those who got the unique demands, responsibilities, pressures, stresses, worries and pains of entrepreneurship.
I wanted a bond. I wanted to take off my mask and be real, even if for a few moments or hours.
I wanted to know … I was not alone.
I also wanted to know my struggles weren’t any different than others. I wanted to hear their stories of struggle and triumph.
I wanted to use those stories to find my own truth in order to make my life better.
The next year, I found that in a group of entrepreneurs meeting in Oklahoma City, where I live.
(Six years later, I’m still with that group every month for three hours …. and in a couple of days we’ll be heading out on our annual retreat.)
They were water to my thirsty soul. And now, years later, I know how crucial they’ve been to my health and happiness as an entrepreneur, husband, and father … and just human being.
If you’re like me … you need that too. Right now.
It wasn’t just this one isolated season of time, either, that showed how desperate I was for this genuine companionship … it’s every day since that time I’ve realized how much I NEED it.
I naively thought I could just keep walking by myself (yeah, Superhero Syndrome still has remnants in me) … but the truth I realized fully was that:
I NEVER WANT to walk alone on this journey as an entrepreneur again.
It’s a people and a place to belong.
We talk about riding the roller coaster of entrepreneurship, yet don’t surround ourselves with the team of support people for when the tough times come. (These are the rush in, while others run out people.)
We also say “work on our business, not in it” but we don’t often take time to work on and invest in OURSELVES.
Through my experiences, I believe we were as humans and as entrepreneurs meant to live and breath in community.
Together is so much better.
And as I’ve traveled and talked openly about how these types of small groups of entrepreneurs have had such a profound effect on my life, one key question ALWAYS pops up:
How do I get into one of those groups?
And until now, I didn’t have a good answer or solution to offer, and I’ve been on a mission to find a good answer.
Now I do.
I’ve partnered with Sherry Walling, a Ph.D. experienced psychologist who works regularly with entrepreneurs to start a new entrepreneurial peer group called ZenTribes.
We’ve taken the best of what I’ve gotten from my entrepreneurial groups, along with Sherry’s wealth of experience helping others in her practice, as well as working with entrepreneurs, to offer something tangible and good and impactful.
We recorded an entire podcast episode to talk all about entrepreneur groups and their benefits here.