I just fired myself. And it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Not long ago, I was on the phone with the business coach I’d been working with for several months. At one point during our coaching call, she asked me a few questions about my work in Uganda. After I answered them, she said, “You know, when you’re talking about Uganda, you sound like a completely different person than when you’re talking about your business. You sound more confident, more focused, more enthusiastic. I think you should put ‘Uganda Betty’ in charge of your company.”

She wanted to make sure I didn’t take offense at that, or take it the wrong way, so she started to explain what she meant. But I stopped her, because I understood exactly what she meant. And I completely agreed with her.

My educational and professional backgrounds are in the creative arts rather than the corporate world. Jobs in my past – meaning before I had kids and retired from regular paychecks and commuting to work – have involved writing, photography, and providing support, rather than running a business or leading a team. So it’s the “running the business” part of the work I do now that I’ve always been the most uncomfortable with, and in which I’ve tended to be hesitant and insecure.

And that’s not the person I want running my company.

As for Uganda, it still surprises me that I’m as focused, confident, and determined as I am with regard to the work I do there. After all, my educational and professional backgrounds don’t have anything to do with Uganda, either.

I think the explanation can be found in the period of my life that came in between the regular, full-time jobs I held long ago and the coaching, writing, and speaking I do now. It’s the years I spent as a mom raising my children. That’s when I really learned about courage and confidence. About motivation and determination. About focus and foresight. It’s when I learned how much power there is in faith, in forgiveness, in compassion. And it’s when I learned about trusting my instincts – knowing when to be cautious and when to be bold, and what to do when it turns out that I’m wrong. Or when I actually have no idea of what to do.

These are the values, traits, characteristics, and strengths that I learned or developed as a mom. They are also the ones that serve me well when I am working in – or talking about – Uganda. And I can see now that they are the skills I should be using in running my company. After all, I help people to empower their lives and change their world, and that’s the work I should be doing on my business as well.

So the old Business Betty – the hesitant and indecisive one – is gone, and Uganda Betty is now in charge. I’m sure my business coach will be pleased. And I can’t wait to see where I go from here.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on September 25, 2014.
©Betty Liedtke, 2014

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