A Small Business Success Story

Two people toast success with beer bottles that are silhouetted against a sunset. Only the hands and bottles are visible

“Successful entrepreneurs find the balance between listening to their inner voice and staying persistent in driving for success because sometimes success is waiting right across from the transitional bump that’s disguised as failure. “

— Naveen Jain

An Entrepreneur Figures Out What Truly Matters

Murray and his family had recently removed to a West Coast island, seeking a simpler and richer way of living. For the time being, he digitally commuted to his IT job in a distant city.

Both he and his wife were excellent trumpeters, and quickly became part of the local music scene. Murray’s round, red-cheeked face almost always sported a pleasant smile. But, underneath, he was not happy.

When he signed up for a 5-week group coaching workshop, he told me hated his job, and hoped to create a new purpose-driven life and career.

One of the first things I asked workshop participants to do was draw up a list of ten things they wanted to create over the next five weeks to ten years. Then I asked them to pick one small, concrete result to create during the five weeks of the course, as a practice project.

What If You Don’t Know What You Really Want To Create?

At the second session, a week later, Murray’s smile was gone, and he confessed that he was frustrated.

After listening to others read their lists of 10 results, he didn’t want to read his. He realized he did not actually want the things on his list, nor the practice creation he’d chosen.

They were all, Murray sheepishly told us, things he thought would make his wife or his parents happy. But not himself.

I asked him to draw up a new list. But, when he returned for the third session, Murray once again reported that the results he’d listed were not things he truly wanted.

This time he’d made a list of ideals — things he thought a man his age with a family “should” want or was “supposed” to want if he were to appear mature, responsible, and successful.

Murray was deeply frustrated, and anxious about his failure to clarify what he wanted.

Digging Deeper To Discover What Really Matters

A good personal life coach works with what the client presents.

I asked Murray to imagine that anything he wanted to create was possible, and that money, skills, education, outside approval, and success could all be assumed.

I asked him to imagine what mattered most to him, under such optimum circumstances.

“Games!” he said.

“Games?” we all asked?

“Yes,” he said, again with a sheepish look on his face. “I’d make up games board games.”

“Great,” I said. “Is that something you’d truly like to do?”

“Yes,” he said, “but…¦.”

“But, what?” I asked.

He seemed tentative, a bit like a frightened child.

“Is it okay to want something like that?” he asked. “I mean, it’s kind of a kids’ thing, isn’t it? What would people think?”

“Okay with who?” I asked. “What people?

“The heart wants what the heart wants,” I told Murray and the group.

It’s important to acknowledge that. But, just because you want something doesn’t mean that you have to act on it; you always have a choice.

“Besides,” I added, “do you think the inventors of Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit care about what people think?” He grinned.

Murray practiced the skills and structure of creating by inventing a prototype board game that we all played it on the last night of the workshop.

Creating that results, and getting great feedback from the group, upped Murray’s confidence, and led to him creating more results.

Vision Emerging

As Murray worked on creating small and medium practice results, another “childish” whim surfaced—his long-time desire to brew high quality beer from scratch, using organic ingredients.

I encouraged him to map out the process of creating and, “Go for it!”

Two large glasses of beer with foamy head, held up by two hands in celebration. One blurry face is visible, but the background is blurred and the glasses and fingers holding them  are most prominent.

After the workshop, signed up for a Personal Coaching Program, in which he applied his newfound creating to larger results, which increased his competence, upped his confidence, and led him to envision and start a U-Brew business.

Over the next couple of years, Murray built the U-Brew into a solid business success. Many islanders came to him to brew their own wine and beer. Then, after a couple of years, sold it, and made a tiny profit.

He used what he’d learned in coaching to envision a new kind of local microbrewery.

He envisioned it as a “zero-emissions” operation; all wastes re-cycled or turned into marketable organic products like exotic mushrooms and pond-raised catfish.

Success — In Work and Life!

Although the brewery hadn’t quite reached zero emissions, the last time I talked with Murray, he told me that he had new partners who share his vision, and want to grow their own organic hops.

As well as becoming a local and regional success, much appreciated by locals and visitors alike, the brewery won numerous gold, silver and bronze medals at National Brewing contests.

Although starting both businesses was stressful, Murray is happy that he is focused on what truly matters to him. He is more energized since he discovered his path with heart, and followed that path toward a life and career he truly cares about.

“It isn’t always easy,” he told me, “but it is what I want to do. And that’s a lot better than trying to live up to other people’s expectations or “shoulding” on myself.”

Then he added, “Your coaching made the whole process a lot easier.”

Bruce Elkin

Life Design Coach. Personal Life Coach. 25 years experience. Clients on 6 continents. Author of 5 books and ebooks. Cares about the Earth and living in harmony with its natural systems.