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Overcoming fears to become an enterpreneur

Do you feel stuck at work?Déborah was my first client. She was the middle-aged owner of a local restaurant. The minute she heard I was a career coach, she signed up. I was startled to see the difference between her public and her private personae. Déborah felt totally lost: she was tired of the restaurant, no longer happy sharing her life with her companion, the restaurant chef, and terrified to do anything about it. Déborah hid her fears well. Under a veneer of magnetism and charm lurked a frightened child.

Déborah had divorced an Alpha male who had employed her as a secretary in his firm and repeatedly told her she was worthless – an opinion that was echoed by the distant relations with her grown children. In reality, Déborah was one of the strongest women I have ever met, as she proved through her personal and professional evolution.

It took Déborah fully four coaching sessions to even remember a personal achievement she was proud of. That one chink of light illuminated the rest of her coaching sessions. As self-confidence returned, Déborah was able to rapidly do things she had avoided for years. She started timidly taking the train alone to Paris, just as far as the station but still unable to walk around in the city. It was a big day when she invited her daughter to lunch in Paris, which obliged Déborah to cross the street. Finally, Déborah found the courage to drive her car into Paris alone, enabling her to see her children regularly.

Parallel to this step-by-step process aimed at overcoming her self-limiting fears over three months, we explored her professional dream: to continue to be an entrepreneur but do it alone and not with her companion. I introduced her to a local artisan doing something similar to what she wanted to do. She learned how to cull opportunities according to a new-to-her value system; she reinforced a positive image of herself; and she identified exactly what she wanted to do, making a solid step-by-step plan.

Within a year after coaching, Déborah had sold her restaurant, separating from her companion, and bought a specialty boutique in her targeted field of interest, in a larger town several hours away.

When I bumped into her on the train several years later, she told me that she had managed to sell her boutique for considerable profit just before the economic crisis and that she had totally repaired her relations with her children now that she had overcome her fears. She was mobile and self-confident with that proof of a major accomplishment. She laughed, telling me that she had even turned down her former companion’s marriage proposal. She was surprised but delighted to feel at ease being her own person and living alone as a financially independent woman.

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