Entrepreneurs and Marital Success

Time stamped show notes from The Road Not Taken podcast, where Coach Kelly Clements talks about entrepreneurs and marital success. LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE.

1:20 KELLY’S INTRODUCTION – How Kelly coaches both the entrepreneurs AND spouses, who play a vital role in the business. Harmonizing marriage and business. Attention and focus on intersection of work and family. Specialty is helping BOTH people stepping into their extraordinary because she believes it takes two extraordinary people to create one extraordinary relationship, which involves the spouse in her coaching.

5:00 HOW SPOUSES OF ENTREPRENEURS FEEL: Spouses getting lost in their spouse’s entrepreneur journey. Coaching entrepreneurs and started working with their spouses. Story of how the spouses at a retreat went quiet because they didn’t know how to think about HER life, answer questions about HER life, didn’t feel like it even mattered, where is passion and purpose going to fit in this entrepreneur life?

6:30 COACHES AND RESOURCES ARE EVERYWHERE FOR ENTREPRENEURS, BUT NOT SPOUSES! Entrepreneur coaches everywhere… so many resources for entrepreneurs- masterminds, podcasts, books, blogs, seminars, retreats, so much support and resources for entrepreneurs… they are always learning and growing. Disconnect with spouses, who do not have the same support and resources to learn and grow. Spouse feels intimidated. In Kelly’s experience, the more advanced the spouse got, the better the balance and the intersection of everything that happens between work and home.

10:00 CHANGE AND TRANSITION: HOW USING A COACH CAN HELP. We love change (losing weight, losing weight, earning more money, building a new house) but there is fear wrapped around it. What we fear is the transition, not the change. We fear the small steps. Purpose of having a coach for this transition is to reduce some of the complexity and uncertainty that comes along with the transition to get two extraordinary people.

13:00 HOW SPOUSES OF ENTREPRENEURS FEEL (PART 2) Spouses might think “I know I shouldn’t feel like I have any problems. It doesn’t feel like I should have any reason to complain. I feel like I have to qualify any pain I might be experiencing because I do have a great life! I have a big life that others dream about so who am I to complain?” Fact is, we have a great life, and part of the creation of that great life is maybe having to sacrifice some of our own dreams, desires, ambitions, compacities, to support this life and any time there is a disconnect between what we are doing between our daily lives and what is really around somewhere in our heart and soul, even if you don’t know what that is, of course there is a pain, and a feeling of a void, and the mistake is we assign that feeling of something missing or that void to our partner.

14:00 SPOUSES SUPPORT THEIR ENTREPRENEUR BUT CAN PUT THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THEIR HAPPINESS ON THE ENTREPRENEUR. Spouses are more than happy to support their entrepreneur and help them with their business and be in the relationship but in exchange for making the spouse solely responsible for all of their happiness. Which is unfair to put on anyone.

14:30 SPOUSES MIGHT FEEL A VOID. When people feel a void within themselves, its easy to assign it to a relationship. The power comes from realizing that our romantic relationships are the most powerful and transparent mirror that we have in our life. When there is a feeling of a void or disconnect in a relationship, spouses need to get lined back up with their own desires.

15:15 THE COACHING PROCESS. How does Kelly help couples when she coaches? Most clients come from hearing Kelly speak. Generally, one spouse has heard Kelly speak. First there is an exploratory, discovery phone call. All of her coaching packages are quarterly. Kelly speaks weekly with partner 1 and partner 2 individually each week for three weeks. In those individual calls, they are working on their individual desires. Fourth week, one call a month is a couples call on what’s working, what’s not and what’s next. So much of work up front is who they are as individuals first. Monthly calls focus on the couple and what they want to co-create together.

17:45 THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COUPLES COACHING VS. COUPLES COUNSELING (Part 1) Marriage counseling has a lot of focus on wounds of the past and pain points. Coaching is great because it has a great modality to build a bigger future together. Kelly’s focus is to get couples to co-create a bigger future together. A lot of attention on desires and pleasure and what’s working. Its not as painful as counseling, they aren’t picking old wounds. Coaching offers a clean slate. Kelly has seen a lot of amazing marriages come back from some pretty treacherous scenarios, and when she holds that light for them and holds the positive expectancy in front of them that they can co-create whatever they want to out of their marriage, regardless of what they’ve been through, it’s really refreshing to a lot of her clients.

19:00 HOW DO YOU BRING COUPLES TOGETHER WHEN THEY HAVE DIFFERENT DESIRES? Whatever is taking up attention and space in their individual heads is what they focus on during their individual weekly calls. The monthly couples calls relates to where they are at in their relationship, how are we communicating together, where are our expectations aligned, how are we managing our schedules, is our time and resources being governed by other people’s expectations, are we living in a space of obligation and commitments, or are we living in a space of total co-creation and we are doing what we want and we are spending our time and  resources on us instead of obligation.

20:45 WHY PACE IS A BIG FACTOR IN RELATIONSHIPS. Pace is a big thing in relationships. How to make sure their time away from work is as rejuvenating as their time in work.

21:00 ATTENTION ON PLAY AND RECREATION IN RELATIONSHIPS. Our dating relationship and what got us to the alter was play! Total enjoyment and pleasure. Talking about a bigger future of things we would do some day together. All of those conversations were an alignment that got us to the alter. Then we add a house, a business, kids, a dog… and whatever else comes with that lifestyle, our free leisure time and sense of play gets squeezed out the window. Leisure time and play is where love grows. Without it, we get in a rut, there is no time for us as a couple, there is a sense of obligation all of the time.

22:00 PLAY AND RECREATION IS POWERFUL Play and recreation is a really powerful vehicle to sustain that sense of love and connection in our relationships. Kelly has her clients look at the function of their free leisure time to protect their relationship. Play together! Be in action together!  Do more than talk about the house and the kids.

23:00 KELLY’S COACHING PHILOSOPHY: BEGINNING WITH A CLEAN SLATE. Do you ever send couples to therapy counseling first? Kelly hasn’t yet. One of the reasons she thinks clients take the route of coaching over counseling is because of her philosophy of beginning with a clean slate, and hashing through it and what do we want to create out of this. Yes, of course we are going to talk about what lead to it, red flags, ignoring boundaries, all of those things on an individual level, but all of them have come out successfully, are rebuilding, have the phoenix from the ashes story.  Some clients have done therapy counseling parallel to coaching.

26:30 Coaching vs Therapy counseling (Part 2)– Coaching is people moving forward, not always digging up the past. Kelly is a huge advocate for therapy, especially if people think that’s the right path for them. That’s why it’s important to have that distinction between the two, if you feel like therapy is necessary for hashing out the past and opening old wounds, and there are deeper underlining things to explore, therapy is for you. Its important for Kelly to manage the expectations of her clients. If they feel like they want to look back, that’s not where they are going with her coaching.

27:30 KELLY EXPLORES THE ROLE OF SHAME WITH HER CLIENTS Sometimes people resist therapy because they don’t want to look at the past. If there is something there that you don’t want to look at there is a good chance that that’s where your shame is growing because shame thrives in isolation and if you are avoiding something from a place of shame, know that no matter what degree of coaching we do, we are only going to be able to get so far if you don’t address whatever is stirring for you in the background that you don’t want to talk about.

28:10 KELLY EXPLORES WITH CLIENTS IF THEY EDIT THEIR STORY (PART 1)? Do you have exercises that your clients do to process things from the past, especially repeat behaviors and limited beliefs because they have to come from somewhere? Where Kelly focuses the most with that is where do you find yourself editing your story? Are you steering a conversation away from the that one piece of information that you don’t want anyone to know about? Where are you spinning your story so that you don’t have to talk about that one thing? This doesn’t mean you have to let every skeleton out of the closet… but when we spend a lot of energy editing and managing our story or our perspective, that’s an indicator that there is some growth to do in that particular area. Whether its bringing more attention to it, maybe with therapy, or maybe its talking to the person in your life that it affects, but coming clean about it because keeping it in isolation becomes a greater and greater sense or source of shame which is always the thing that’s going to hold us back. When you are editing out of self-preservation and are spending so much energy and time managing that piece of information out, its better to use the energy just being honest with it.

30:45 CLIENTS EDIT THEIR STORY (PART 2) Are there things they’re editing out of my life story that are stopping growth or progress? Kelly gives the example of being a single mom and how she used to have shame around it. She didn’t relate to the story of being a single mom because to her the single moms are women who are struggling, no time for themselves, exhausted and totally depleted and she didn’t relate to that. So, in her mind she had a spin on it. Then she realized that she had shame around the term “single mom” not because she is a single mom but because she felt like, as a mom, sharing custody with her ex, she had shame like  “I’m not going to have my kids this weekend” and “what kind of mom is without her kids on the weekend?” She had this spin around it and for what? It’s great that her kids gets to spend so much time with their dad, they have 50/50 custody, it’s amazing that they have a dad that they get to spend so much time with , that Kelly has time to focus on herself and her business, and because her kids are athletes, she still gets to see them at their games every weekend when they aren’t with her. What that did, it took the burden off of her but it also made her stop overcompensating with her kids. “I’m a really great mom!” When she wasn’t coming from a place of shame, and feeling like she needed to overcompensate, it made her so much more present to them and Kelly realized, “I’m a really great mom!” So many of her coaching clients identified with this when she shared it with them. Women, our identities get wrapped up by being a mom. She realized she was punishing herself in other areas.

34:00 ANY TIME THERE IS JUDGMENT ON YOURSELF OR OTHERS, IT IS SOMEHOW CONNECTED TO SHAME. How did this “single mom shame” ah-ha moment come about? Any time there is judgment on yourself or others it is somehow connected to shame. This is another good indicator to trace it back to that source of shame.

34:30 HOW KELLY USES HER EXPERIENCE AND HER CLIENTS EXPERIENCES IN HER COACHING: After her “discovery” experience – all of her work is about desires, and co-creation, what we want- her flavor of coaching always tends to be very positive and towards the light. “We are going to talk about shame.” She could feel her clients squirming, that wasn’t her brand of coaching they were used to. If this is our set point, if we want to grown this far, we are humans and we have so much duality, we have to look back in the shadows as deep as we want to expand because we expand in relation to each other. We can stay here and we can keep the shadowbox here but we can only get so far in our progress if we aren’t willing to move both of these together, relative together. Look at it, look where you are editing, look where there are judgements, when you are ready to talk about it, we will go there. So, when she gives them that perspective and sets that expectation, they have a new context for how to talk about it.

36:00 MORE ABOUT ARE YOU EDITING YOUR STORY (PART 3) One of the important topics that needs to be figured out is what is we are editing? “Are you editing that?” She tells her personal story, several wives identified with that similar shame.

38:00 MOST SPOUSES KELLY WORKS WITH DON’T KNOW THEIR DESIRES: HOW DO THEY GET STARTED? Sometimes it’s hard to dream big, be ambitious or excited, because they’re in an emotional funk. They know what they should do, but just can’t muster up the enthusiasm. How do you address couples or individuals who are holding back on their desires because their desires sound so modest and small? Kelly meets them where they are at. A lot of times one of the people in the couple is “I don’t even know what I want. I know this isn’t it. What direction do I start facing?” Early on, they are just trying things on. Does this feel right? One of my gifts is I have a really strong intuition in that I can hear where there is potential. There is something I can hear in my clients where I can go deeper. I have a lot of focus on the words they are using. I can tell when I’m getting there because I always say if you can’t talk about your purpose or your desires without a lump in your throat or a tear in your eye, you’re not there yet. It’s a process of unraveling, it’s a safe space, there are no right or wrong answers, I use a lot of stories, whether from my own personal background or of my clients.

40:30 ME TOO MOVEMENT AND ALPHA WOMEN Kelly is really excited about everything that went down last year with the Me Too movement, feminine rising, dramatic shift with women, is really exciting to me because she has a forward perspective of it in that she sees the pendulum swinging in the way that the men might be trampled. Being able to work with entrepreneurial women and helping them with their relationships. Helping women understand the role of who we are as women, and how powerful it is and not misusing that power. Kelly thinks we have these magic powerful potent swords of creation and if we aren’t careful we use them as destruction instead of wands and when she talks about the power of a women and breathing life into their spouses, and coaching them on this.

44:00 WHO DOES KELLY COACH? Kelly coaches type A women, in groups. One-on-one couples coaching – mainly male entrepreneurs with entrepreneur wife or stay at home mom, working wife, maybe not career focused or purpose driven.

45:00 WHAT ARE THE COMMON LANDMINDS OR CHALLENGES YOU SEE BETWEEN THE ENTREPRENEUR AND THE SPOUSE? The universal one is things that make us successful in business can be really hard to live with at home. Driven, passionate, eye for excellence, committed,  a lot of connections and relationships, creative, chaotic, all of these qualities serve us really well in business and we might get a lot of recognition and appreciation or applause for those qualities in business but then we get home but our passion is now anger, creativity is chaos or mania, our eye for excellence is perfectionism or OCD, our connections and relationships take away from our family… so its working well for us in business but not contributing to a happy, healthy household at home so there tends to be a lot more criticism at home. Focus on compliment to criticism ratio at home.  Many entrepreneur men say the only vote of approval that they want is from their wife. The wife might think “I don’t want to make your head any bigger, the last thing you need is another compliment” Men are striving for their wife’s approval. Kelly starts with the compliment to criticism ratio. What we appreciate appreciates. Start to look for the good qualities in our partner and speaking into what’s working. Transitional habit of changing the dynamics. If there is a complaint worth lodging, great, say it, but also speak to what is working well.

48:00 HELPING THE ENTREPRENEUR SPOUSE – Help them with the feeling like they lost their sense of self.  Maybe feeling disengaged or depleted. Maybe she’s left her career, hasn’t been engaged professionally for some time. Kelly believes amazing qualities came factory installed in you. Look at yourself independent from your kids, from your spouse, his business, her social circle, who are you at your best with your emotions, intellectually, spiritually, your health and fitness, the things that are happening within you that are unique to you, lets get those back online. Take an inventory on everything they spend their time on. What do you love, enjoy, tolerate, dread? Create space for things that you do love and enjoy. If you don’t know what those are, that’s what our work is together. Space for more passion and purpose. Kelly believes our passion lives in us. When people start looking for purpose, they look outward. I believe it’s a spiritual pursuit to start to focus on those because she knows our desires get us to where we are supposed to be. The power of purpose is the third component in her book, The Power of Play, Praise and Purpose.

51:30 PLAY. The word has a mindset stigma or notion that somehow Play is frivolous. Something that children get to do but not grownups. How is pivotal that is to the relationship getting started. After couples have kids, kids are so consuming, the first thing that goes for couples is Play. Play is one of the three components in her book, The Power of Play, Praise and Purpose.

52:30 KELLY MAJORED IN RECREATION IN COLLEGE. Came to Strategic Coach via a headhunter. Kelly learned Strategic Coach is basically a university for entrepreneurs. Their tagline is “Work Less. Make More.” People would come in to understand work-life balance, a foundational concept in their program.

54:00 WORK-LIFE BALANCE – THE IMPORTANCE OF A FREE DAY As entrepreneurs, we get to experience Flow State, where we totally lose track of time, we produce great results with very little effort, we get a high, we get in the zone, we become workaholics… and so when we are at home and we have to be in taskmaster mode, of course we’d rather be at work. So, PLAY puts us in the same brain space as Flow. We lose track of time, we get great results with little effort, we have fun, we learn… that’s why children learn through play. There is no point in our life when our life where our learning capacity through play changes, its always still there. A study: it took 144 repetitions to learn something new in an academic setting vs. four repetitions in a play setting for someone to really learn it. And that continues through adulthood. Play is another way to get into a Flow State and keep the time away from work as enjoyable as our time at work. I read a book by Mathew Kelly and he talks about love growing the space of carefree timelessness. Kelly pays attention to the importance of it. Its how our kids connect to us through play. Its how our spouses connect with us.

58:30 PRAISE. In her relationship, her partner always told her that her appreciation and validation made him feel bullet-proof. She saw him come to life through her praise and recognition. One of the other pieces about praise is that it really is a foundational piece to our intimacy (“into me you see”) when we can speak into the good things and the divine things we can see in our partner; it increases a sense of intimacy of being seen and appreciated. Especially after a long relationship together, it can be easy to point out flaws, we know exactly what buttons to push, and I think we lose attention or the sense of significant of really being able to speak into what we see in our partners. Sometimes if Kelly is running a men’s retreat, they say, “I try to appreciate her and compliment her”, and then women that she works with, they don’t feel worthy, they have to qualify it, sometimes it not the way they want to be appreciated. Find out what your spouse what is the best compliment that they want to receive? What do I really want to be appreciated for? What’s the highest compliment someone can give to me? When we know what our partner really wants to be recognized for, it loops into the intimacy cycle.  The power of purpose is a second component of her book The Power of Play, Praise and Purpose.

1:02:00 COUPLES CAN CREATE WHATEVER THEY WANT, WHENEVER THEY WANT. That’s why Kelly loves working with the entrepreneurial demographic because they have the time and resource freedom that their counterparts who are employees probably don’t have. She wants to keep maximizing that freedom for them. Love is such a powerful, powerful elixir and its rocket fuel for our families and our business. That’s one thing she noticed working at Strategic Coach were the clients that would talk about their wives or husbands in a very affirmative way, those clients always had a different level of holistic success vs. the clients who were like “I can’t do this or that because my husband or wife is going to be mad, or won’t let me” had a marital grit. Really understanding that taking care of the marriage and people understand how to take care of each other better. Kelly wants to keep reminding powerful women that they can and should have a really powerful man by them and they can help bring that out regardless of where he is right now with the right mindset and the right tools. Kelly is excited about the whole notion of two extraordinary people, one extraordinary relationship. Somewhere along the way we agreed that there could only be one star and it has come at a cost to the partner of the entrepreneur. You can still be a star in your own right and helping your partner rediscover themselves-that is what I’m really excited about.

1:05:00 HOW TO GET STARTED? What is a good first step for people listening who want to get more onto that journey? There is no magic pill. Bring this home to your partner. Let the conversation come up. There is no right or wrong. Whatever is true for your partner is true for them. Let them be ok with that. Let there be space for that. Where can we do better? What do we want to do? Where do we start? It’s the fun part. You can to dabble until you figure it out. Talk about the compliment to criticism ratio. Talk about what you want to be seen for. It’s a great platform to have these questions.

1:07:45 ITS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO BE EFFECTIVE IN LIFE IF YOU DON’T HAVE GOOD THINGS GOING ON AT HOME and so it’s time for many people to spend more time focusing on that piece. People seem to get the best results in business as well are the ones who have a lot of things working well at home.

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE.

The Secret to Having a Successful Marriage to an Entrepreneur – Find Your Own Purpose!

While this book is geared towards the spouses of entrepreneurs, these strategies can help anyone looking to find their purpose. The following excerpt is from Kelly Clements’ book The Power of Play, Praise and Purpose.

The Power of Play, Praise and Purpose book by Kelly Clements
The Power of Play, Praise and Purpose book by Kelly Clements

The Power of Purpose

A solo purpose divides; a shared purpose unites.

Mark Twain said, “The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why ”. If you’ve found your purpose, you know how much truth this quote holds. Discovering our purpose answers many of life’s biggest questions: “What is the meaning of life?” “Why am I here?” “What is my genius?” And even, “Does my life matter?”

Colliding with purpose is one of the most exhilarating experiences we can have as a human being. Discovering our purpose not only changes the course of our lives, it also impacts the lives of everyone with whom we work. However, it can also come with a cost—particularly to a marriage. When we make the choice to turn our purpose into a profession, it can leave our spouse feeling like our work is more important than he or she is. If one spouse is purpose-driven and the other isn’t, it can be especially hard to understand this relentless pursuit. The commitment to developing a shared purpose as a couple will help bring harmony to these entrepreneurial relationships.

I believe our individual purpose comes “factory installed” in us. It’s an innate calling that, when tapped, becomes impossible to resist. As we pursue this purpose and the full expression of it, it can create a point of contention in our relationships. It can either leave our spouse feeling like our business gets the best of us while she gets the rest of us, or it can be a painful reminder that she has not connected with her own purpose yet. This chapter will serve as a guide for those couples experiencing the dark side of a purpose-driven life. We’ll discuss how discovering our individual and shared purpose introduces us to who we are as our best and highest self.

Purpose Envy

My client Julie said it best: “I hate watching Jim walk out the door each day because he goes out to change so many lives and make a difference—and it’s a daily reminder that I’m still searching.” Like Julie, many spouses can feel a certain degree of envy that their entrepreneurial spouse has a strong sense of calling and meaning—while they don’t. His sense of purpose, if not experienced by the spouse, can stir discontent or even resentment in a spouse. It can be difficult for a spouse to begin the pursuit of purpose in an entrepreneurial shadow.

It’s natural for an entrepreneur to equate purpose to a business opportunity, but for a spouse who’s not business-minded, that can be off-putting. The fact is, everyone has a purpose. It’s a bonus to be paid for your purpose, but definitely not a necessity. You may be a whiz in the kitchen, or maybe you’re made to be a parent or caretaker. Perhaps you’re the one all your friends call for fashion advice or investment strategies. Purpose doesn’t have to be translated into a business to make it valid. Purpose is anything that introduces us to our best selves. It’s what motivates us to become better and better at something. It’s what makes us stand up a little taller and hold our heads higher. It is the activity that helps us lose track of time and elicits that feeling of being delighted to be alive.

When Something is Missing, It’s Probably Buried

I wholeheartedly believe that your purpose is already in you; that we each came into this life with a unique mission to impact the lives of our fellow humans. I also believe that at a young age, we have a sense of what this purpose might be. As we begin to express this to our friends and family, we are often shut down. Out of protection (love), our family might attempt to inform us of all the tragedy that we’ll encounter if we journey into the pursuit of purpose. I sense this is changing as our human race evolves, but for Generation X and previous generations, there seems to be an experience of being told that we’ll never make it if we reach for the stars.

For me, this was quite literal. I vividly remember the day my fourth-grade teacher announced we’d be doing a report on what we wanted to be when we grew up. We had just returned from the playground where I had spent the entire recess being chased in flirtatious pursuit by my classmate, Brian. With my , thanks to this blossoming crush, I was quick to volunteer my answer. I eagerly raised my hand and confidently proclaimed, “Mrs. Egezio, I’m going to be an astronaut!!” Without missing a beat, my new crush—Brian—exclaimed “Kelly, you can’t be an astronaut; you have to be smart to be an astronaut!

The class erupted in laughter. And there it was. In that moment, I buried my dreams. In that moment, I chose to be the fun girl—the life of the party—so no one would laugh at my dreams again. As you’ll remember, I even went to college and got a degree in “play.” That provided me with even more fun as I landed jobs at Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, and Hilton Head Island. What a great life, right?

But something was still missing. As you now know, I was missing my calling. Thankfully, I eventually found it, and through discovering that purpose, I learned to recognize the lie that I had created to keep myself safe from the rejection I experienced that day in fourth grade. If you find that you are in purpose-seeking mode, I challenge you to find the moment you decided to keep yourself safe. When did you decide that it was unsafe to pursue your dream? Go back to that moment. Can you see the lie? It is only in discovering the lie that we can reveal the truth

When I realized I was basing my entire life around the faulty belief that my value as a person was to be fun, I was able to step more powerfully into my intelligence—and it changed everything.

Disparagement of our purpose is one of the harshest forms of criticism we can receive. In essence, we’re being told we’re not equipped to do what we are meant to do. Can you see how tempting it would be to shut down this pursuit altogether? The path of dogma can feel much safer than being told we’re wrong about our own dreams.

This is where the quiet desperation sets in and that feeling that something is missing begins to arise. The moment you accept this calling and start saying yes to it is the moment your purpose will begin to reveal itself.

Letting Your Purpose Find You

Generally, the people I work with fall into two categories: purpose-driven or purpose-seeking. The truth is, most purpose-driven people I know didn’t find their purpose; their purpose found them. And it happened by saying yes to something unexpected. This was true for me as well.

When I was twenty-five, I had just moved back to Chicago from Florida and I had no interest in finding my purpose because, quite frankly, I was still telling myself that I was supposed to be the fun one! I had big plans to get a job in special events because I figured that if I had to work, it might as well be at a party. So, I hired a headhunter to help me in my pursuit, and her first suggestion went over like a lead balloon. “I have a client called Strategic Coach. They set up workshops for entrepreneurs. I can get you an interview this week.”

My knee-jerk reaction was, “No, way!” I imagined myself assembling trade show booths in sterile convention halls. “That’s the last thing I want to do.” But I needed a practice interview, so I begrudgingly told the headhunter to go ahead and schedule it.

I did no research on this company prior to my interview. I had no idea that coaching was an industry, or that this type of work even existed. But when I showed up at the offices of Strategic Coach in Rosemont, Illinois, I was captivated. I call it my “mother ship” because the moment I walked in the door, I knew I wanted to be a part of this organization. The art on the wall, the books, and their mission (“Work Less. Make More.”) all spoke to me. I was home.

As my interview began, I learned more about the concept of coaching entrepreneurs. It was so intuitive to me that I found myself “talking the talk” right away. That was the day everything changed for me. It was the first time I wanted more for myself. The first time I saw a bigger future for myself. It was the first time I met my higher self.

At long last, I started taking myself more seriously. No longer was I interested in just going out on the weekends and drinking margaritas. I wanted more for myself; to be around more inspiring people. I had realized that I could make a difference in people’s lives, and that my own life— here—could actually matter. Before my interview, I hadn’t been concerned with finding my purpose; now, I couldn’t live without it. And it all started with an unexpected yes.

If you feel you are on the purpose-seeking end of the spectrum, congratulations! That tug is your indicator that you are on the brink. That void—or the feeling that there must be something more—is your calling to bigger things.

However, I find that spouses of entrepreneurs tend to dismiss this feeling more than any other group. I hear things like, “We have such a great life; who am I to ask for more?” And, “I feel bad about feeling unfulfilled; we have such an amazing life together. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

In my experience, I have found that spouses of entrepreneurs can get so caught up in the minutiae of everyone else’s dreams and goals, they neglect their own. In this state, they get carried so far away from their personal desires that they end up getting squeezed out of their own lives. They look around at all they have and still feel like something is missing. That “something” is often their sense of self.

Moving from purpose-seeking to purpose-driven starts with giving yourself permission to ask for more. Accept that it’s okay to seemingly have it all and still ask for more. That feeling only comes when there is more in store for you.

The Importance of a Shared Purpose

The power of purpose is more than an individual pursuit. It’s the defining quality that takes couples from ordinary to extraordinary. Couples can be at odds over many things, including finances and parenting, but when they have a shared sense of purpose, they establish longevity and unity that surpasses their unaligned counterparts. The reason is simple: Purpose is fuel. It’s the driving factor that allows us to plow through the obstacles to reach our goal.

One way to identify your purpose as a couple is to think about your life in five, ten, or fifty years. Whom have you helped? What is the difference you have made as a couple? With whom are you spending time each day? For what reasons are people seeking your company? Your answers to these questions will help set the course for your direction as a purpose-driven couple.

Both partners are working toward the same goal, whether that’s retiring on the beach, traveling 150 days a year, or starting a nonprofit. It can be to be totally focused on kids and grand kids, or to have the business carry on through future generations. The vision itself doesn’t matter; what matters is that both the entrepreneur and his spouse share a powerful vision of where they are going together.

If a spouse has not experienced a personal sense of purpose, and is living with a purpose-driven entrepreneur, the first step is not necessarily to find her own life’s
purpose right away. Instead, it is to get on board with a sense of shared purpose in her relationship with her spouse. Both members of the couple can ask, “Where are we going together?” This question clarifies their expectations of their roles within the marriage. For example, if they share a retirement goal, what is the spouse doing to preserve the wealth? If it’s a charity goal, which charity is it going to be and is the spouse contributing in other, non financial ways? The object is for the entrepreneur and spouse to have a shared purpose in the relationship. Establishing purpose in the relationship helps to bring greater harmony and fulfillment to both parties.

Owning Your Brilliance as the Gateway to Purpose

Jon Butcher, founder of Lifebook, and his wife, Missy, present a great example of how two extraordinary people can create that one extraordinary marriage through the power of purpose. After nearly thirty years together, they’re the most legendary couple I’ve met, and among entrepreneurs, they’re considered to be one of the most powerful couples in the community. It’s no secret how they came to possess the sultry romance that they have: they have created a shared purpose that requires both of them to consistently show up as their best self in twelve categories of life

Missy remembers how, when they first began dating, she held Jon in such high regard that she asked herself whom she had to be to become his partner. “I have to step up in every area of my life,” she concluded.

Similarly, Jon has spoken about Missy, saying, “My love for her transcends my love of all else—my businesses, my children, everything! If I have to choose between work or being with Missy, it will be Missy every time because she’s just such a magnificent creature.” Missy is captivating to Jon because she’s clear on her own purpose and has found the line between support and self-care.

Missy has owned her own brilliance. She felt that Jon was firing on all cylinders in so many areas of his life that she was inspired to elevate hers as well. She recognized that it takes two extraordinary people to create one extraordinary relationship. Looking at these two, they are an exact match (yet not a duplicate) in terms of how well they have elevated their respective games.

Entrepreneurs are wired to take extreme ownership over their lives. The spouse also needs to take ownership over her life, establish her own identity and activities, and pursue her own dreams and purpose. It is through this place of self-ownership and purpose that authentic growth will take the couple from ordinary to extraordinary.

Purpose in Action

Empowering the spouse to pursue her own goals and dreams, and to find a passion that revives her in her own unique way, renews the passion in a marriage. We focus on the spouse’s personal life or her unique traits and gifts. Because our purpose lives in us, we strip away all the external factors—career, money, kids, spouses, parents, and other people’s expectations. We focus on the six areas that make up her personal life and promote growth: energy, emotion, character, wellness and beauty, spirituality, and relationships. Understanding who she is at her best in these six categories is a powerful motivator for her to discover her greater purpose.

Energy

Energy. The most common objection I hear from spouses is there’s no time to explore new passions. That’s code for they are spending time (and energy) on all the wrong things. Before we can identify what we should start doing, we have to be clear on what to stop doing.

Everything in your life today served you at one point— that’s why you did it. But to step into higher purpose, we need to rid ourselves of everything that no longer serves us. When we honestly look at our habits and see how much time we’re spending on activities that add little value to our lives—like watching television or browsing social media—the results are shocking. There is especially enormous emotional baggage connected to social media; we see only the highlights of life, and that prompts us to compare ourselves to others. Managing or eliminating those habits creates more time and energy for bigger pursuits that are more aligned with where we want to go in life.

Creating Energy for More Fulfilling Pursuit

The exercise I referenced in Chapter 4, The Power of Play, is a powerful approach to creating energy for more fulfilling pursuits. In business, entrepreneurs often have a great deal of delegation power and are trained to focus on things at which they excel. In the household, a lot of the tasks entrepreneurs don’t like to do get delegated to the spouse—but we want the spouse to adopt the same empowered mind-set of doing what energizes her and to delegate or eliminate the rest.

Of course, there are obligations we have to fulfill in our daily lives, like handling finances and feeding our kids. Outsourcing activities that drain you and adopting strategies to better utilize time will open up the space and energy you need for the life you do want to have.

Thoughts & Emotion

Thoughts & Emotion. If we aren’t intentional about our purpose, we are at the mercy of external circumstances. Either we control our thoughts or our emotions control us. Work to identify and actively create the emotions you want to experience in your life. Start with what you’re currently feeling. If your baseline emotional state is filled with anxiety, depression, or apathy, look at what’s causing this stress and ascertain how you do want to feel. Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to create a space in which I am experiencing these positive emotions more often? With whom do I need to spend time? What places or activities will get me there? What thoughts and beliefs will create those emotions?”

Sometimes, it is only by becoming clear about your emotions that you can enact tangible change in your life. A client of mine, Gabrielle, had begun coaching while feeling unfulfilled, resentful, and uncertain. She often acted out in anger and was short-tempered and easily agitated. When issues arose in her life, she was apathetic and acted like they were everyone else’s problem. When I asked her how she wanted to feel, she answered, “Fulfilled, at ease, passionate, and happy.”

Through our sessions, we identified the source of her negativity: She believed everything in her life was falling short of her expectations. It was almost like she was hardwired to find fault; she lived in constant disappointment of her husband, her kids, her house, and her career. By simply choosing more empowering thoughts that reflected the way she DID want to feel, she was able to live in greater joy and abundance.

Character

Character. Who do you need to be to get everything you want? I used to think this was a manipulative question until I got to the core of what it really means: If you want a different result in your life, you have to start doing things differently. If you want to see direct, positive, and permanent changes in your life, you have to implement different daily habits on a cellular level, because that will change your character.

For example, I used to say that I wasn’t an organized person; I just claimed it wasn’t a part of my personality. Then I realized that if I wanted to grow a successful business, not being organized was holding me back. To get the result I wanted, I needed to retrain myself to maintain consistent records and keep my calendar in order; when I did this, organization became a part of who I am.

Finding Your Courage

One character trait a lot of my clients work on is courage. This could mean the courage to get a babysitter and spend more time away from our kids, the courage to develop deeper intimacy with our spouse, the courage to go out and pursue that dream job, or even the courage to distance ourselves from friendships that are bringing us down.

Too often, we neglect our own wants and needs due to guilt narratives. We need to have the courage to believe that caring for and honoring ourselves first will produce positive results in every other aspect of our life. For instance, it is not easy for most women to be stay-at-home moms; I think women who can do that underestimate how important their work is. Women like Gabrielle and me—who love being moms but who are also driven to pursue dreams aside from motherhood—need to find the courage to release that guilt. Having a healthy attitude toward balancing family life with work life allows us to become happier and more fulfilled.

Wellness and Beauty

Wellness and Beauty. Our health is our first wealth. It is also the first data-point others use to determine how we expect to be treated. If we don’t treat ourselves well, why should they?

When we look good, we feel good! Confidence is the electricity of life, so we must actively transform our outward appearances to reflect how we feel on the inside. It can be easy to “let yourself go” after marriage, but that lackluster external appearance will always translate to a dull inner light as well.

Through our appearances, we are also actively creating our own personal brands. For instance, when you choose clothing and accessories, do you have a style preference? Do you like to look sophisticated, or timeless, or original? What’s the personal brand that resonates with you, that’s always going to remind you to step into your best self in your work and with others?

Best Beauty Strategy

The best beauty strategy is taking a proactive approach to maintaining your health—not waiting until you’re sick to go to the doctor, but rather, preserving the state of well-being you already have. For me, that means chiropractic care, a balanced diet, massage, and enjoyable exercise. For you, it can include whichever healthcare and self-care rituals you maintain to preserve your well-being. It might involve practicing conscious eating—that is, slowing down to give your full attention to what and how much you’re consuming. You might also want to stay active with exercise that you look forward to, like yoga, rowing, hiking, or running.

It’s important to maintain our wellness and personal brand because this area touches every other area of our lives. When we start to neglect this area, it affects other areas of our lives, such as our self-esteem, our relationships, and even our finances. The maintenance of our health and appearance tends to be the last thing we let go of, and when we stop caring for ourselves, it’s a primary indicator that we’re near our rock bottom. It’s also the first area we should focus on as we resume our climb back upward. It’s THAT foundational.

Spirituality

Spirituality. We connect to spirituality when we ask the big questions like, “What is the meaning of life?” It’s independent from religion, although for some people, spirituality and religion are entwined. Spirituality is connecting to our higher power, so for some people, that’s God, or the Universe, or Source; others regard it as their own intuition. Spirituality is whatever life force guides you. It’s where we can be still and hear that small voice inside us that helps us tap into our inherent knowledge

To connect with your spirituality, the first thing to do is to clarify what this looks like for you. For some people, it means going to church, while for others, it’s spending time in nature, or being by the water, or reading, or meditating. The important thing is to identify the rituals that will bring you closest to love and remind you of how you are part of a bigger picture. Connecting with your personal spirituality should inspire you to commit more energy to your exterior life by providing you a time of rest and reprieve.

Spirituality is the underlying connection between the six areas of growth. It’s what gives us courage to go from being without purpose to purpose-seeking by saying yes to things we normally wouldn’t say yes to. It’s what helps us understand which negative activities and influences in life we can relinquish. So as we identify our sacred rituals, we also understand what we must say no to in order to prioritize the practices that will most fully serve our life.

Relationships

Relationships. It’s important to surround yourself with people who challenge you to improve and who support your goals and dreams. As motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Therefore, you want to have relationships with people who are working to better themselves. When the sky’s the limit, everyone elevates one another.

Our identities are often fed by the people with whom we spend the most time. If your social network is mostly made up of negative people, it will be much harder for you to keep up your motivation and grow. Often, when people begin the pursuit of purpose, the people around them begin to feel threatened. Their friends may think, Wait a minute; if she starts to grow, she may outgrow me. They may work to keep you in their comfort zone by projecting fear and negativity. They may be unsupportive or show signs of jealousy or that oh-so-supportive pretense of protection: urging you to “just be happy with what you’ve got.

The Art of Letting Go

The art of letting go is useful here. There is a common, emotionally charged perception that women have a fixed group of friends they are supposed to maintain relationships with throughout their lives. But the truth is that our social circles are always evolving. Our connections are transient. If you look at your current social circle, you’ll notice that it includes people from every phase of your life, from your work friends to your church friends to your old college friends to the friends you see at your kids’ sports games. You’re already connected with many different groups, and social circles change and evolve quickly these days. If you are spending a lot of time with old childhood friends and are looking for a more encouraging group, you can start to shift more of your attention to your friends from the gym, work, or school. Give yourself permission to move on and find a more positive social network; it might be easier than you think.

In Summary

Focusing on these six areas of personal development will empower you to see yourself in your highest light and break the chains of an unfulfilling life. Who are you as your highest self in each of these categories? More important, what becomes possible for you when you are clear and confident in each of these areas? All the things you desire in life—deeper relationships, wealth generation and preservation, having a legacy, making a difference, serving others, purchasing your dream home, maintaining solid business growth—are the result of the work you will do in these six crucial areas. Once you are clear on that, you can change the game for yourself and your family.

We hope you enjoyed this free excerpt from the The Power of Play, Praise and Purpose.
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