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TGIF: It Pays to Be Honest

We all face challenges at work. Some weeks manage to sail by rather smoothly, while others involve stormy skies and massive waves… like my last Catamaran Trip in Mexico (which didn’t actually involve a catamaran at all).

When my husband and I booked the day trip on the water with a group of friends, we envisioned a beautiful day on the ocean, snorkelling with exotic fish and sipping on a glass of rum punch beneath the glowing rays of the sun.

Of course, I wouldn’t be writing this if that was what the day actually entailed.

After arriving at our destination, we got off the bus in the pouring rain and found ourselves standing in front of a large fishing boat. I knew in that precise moment — as I stared up at the gloomy skies and breathed in the odours of fresh fish (which were stored in buckets of water beneath our seats) — this day was not going to end well for me.

But I couldn’t turn back now.

So I popped a Gravol (it was already too late at this point) and faced the 10-metre-waves, only to find myself hanging off the side of the boat for a good portion of the trip.

Note: it’s pretty much impossible to “keep your eyes on the horizon” when the horizon is actually one solid wall of grey.

Let’s just say my husband and I have decided to do our snorkelling within swimming distance of the beach from now on. (I told you we have interesting luck with travel).

But in business, it doesn’t work that way.

Every new working endeavour we take on requires a certain level of risk, and usually this also involves a certain level of failure. In fact, I believe failure is inevitable. If you don’t fail, it’s because you aren’t pushing yourself far enough beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone.

You can’t just avoid the waves. Most of the time, you have to brace yourself and trudge on through, learning what you can along the way so you’ll be better prepared the next time around… because there will be a next time.

I could have tried to hide my seasickness that day. I noticed a few people disappear into the washroom below deck, which, I’ve been told, is the worst thing you can do when you’re seasick. Don’t get me wrong, puking in public isn’t on my list of favourite activities. It’s embarrassing. It’s gross. And it’s just not a good time in general. But it was better than staring into the eye of a toilet from the tiny box below deck, feeling even worse as every second passed by.

At least I had some fresh air and other people there to support me. They gave me more Gravol (the first pill was probably sinking to the bottom of the ocean at this point) along with their best advice, and in time, the sick feeling in my stomach started to subside.

It’s not easy to show weakness. Often, we convince ourselves that we’ve got to pretend we have all of the answers. But the only people we’re fooling are ourselves.

We’re humans. We make mistakes (some of which are just out of our control). It’s normal. It’s life.

Own it.

When you’re transparent and honest, people relate to you. They trust you. They understand what you’re going through. And through this trust and understanding, you discover solutions you never would have stumbled across if you spent your time hiding in silence.

This is just something I’ve been pondering about this past week… Now let’s get to those Friday reflections.

Highlights This Week

What I’m Writing:

I know being a solopreneur and running your own business isn’t for everyone. But I do believe we should be finding a way to do the work we love. This is easier said than done for most; there’s no Magic 8 Ball telling you what you’re meant to do with your life. Usually, finding an answer requires a lot more work than that. My best advice? Just get started. Take it one step at a time. This week on The Reply I share a few tips to help you along the way.

What I’m Reading:

My favourite line I read this week came from a speech by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Americanah, which is currently being made into a film starring Lupita Nyong’o. She said it in her speech to the graduating class of Wellesley College – a women’s liberal arts college in Massachusetts.

We can not always bend the world into the shapes we want but we can try, we can make a concerted and real and true effort… Always just try. Because you never know.

Read more from her speech (and watch the full video) here.

What I’ve Learned:

As you can probably guess by this week’s post, I learned a lesson on the value of honesty this week. After being completely up front about a challenge I was facing, I found an ideal solution. It was uncomfortable at the time, but it all worked out for the best. At the end of the day, just be yourself. Don’t feel like you have to hide who that person is.

What I’ve experimented with:

I’ve started a new health routine lately, and I am loving it. I’ve been inspired by some fellow solopreneurs I have gotten to know from a local networking group. If you read my monthly check in for May, you may have noticed I had been slacking on some of my personal goals recently. Well, I’m working to turn this around. Not only am I running again and prepping healthy meals, I’ve also been inspired to make smoothies every morning and I’m going to be joining a bootcamp starting next week. I’ll be sure to share updates along the way.

Have you faced any particular challenges this week? What are you currently experimenting with? How are your monthly goals coming along? Let me know in the comments below!


Charlotte Ottaway

Charlotte is the founder of Web of Words. She helps solopreneurs and small business owners create real human connections online through blogging and social media. Her work has been published in Maclean's, Canadian Business, Zoomer, The Globe and Mail, The Huffington Post Canada and other Canadian publications. Better known by family and friends as Carly, she currently resides in Newmarket with her husband and fur-babe. To learn more, check out her portfolio at charlotteottaway.com and follow her on Twitter @charlottaway.