freedom.khrapovI hated those moments. Every time one of my team members passed me a ball my heart started to pound, my legs got weak and movements became awkward. Every single time I had the same feeling: a mixture of fear and confusion. In those moments the  only question occupying my mind was: “How to get rid of this ball? The quicker the better!”
 
I was 7 years old but I remember that struggle very vividly. One day, a year earlier, my father had just grabbed my hand and taken me to a football club. In the beginning it was fun running after the ball and doing some exercises but a year later when I had learned the rules and started to play with team the nightmare had begun. Soon I realized that all my team- mates depended on me when I was in possession of the ball and that if I lost it – the entire team had lost the ball.  That responsibility was obviously too much for me. As a result I did not play well, the fear of losing the ball paralyzed me and so most of the time this is exactly what happened. I was losing the ball over and over again. 
 
For some mysterious reason our trainer still believed in me and one day he approached my father and asked him to do one simple thing. He asked him to take a soccer ball and put it under my blanket every night when I was  in a bed and ready to sleep. So I had to sleep with a ball for a month. It did not matter where the ball was placed as long as it was in direct contact with my body. Well, that month changed everything. 
 
Soon I started to feel as though the ball and I were united, we were one entity. I felt relieved and relaxed when I got a pass and the ball was near me. I loved those moments! The quality of my play changed dramatically and 7 years later I was on the brink of pursuing a professional football career. It did not happen but for reasons not related to this article. 
 
Why am I telling you this childhood story? What’s the point? I would like to challenge one very popular idea which I come across over and over again: “Do what you love, pursue directions which you find very comfortable and  inspire you.”!  I almost hear readers of this article screaming: “Are you out of your mind? How can you challenge such an obviously correct statement?” 
      
First, let me explain what I mean when I say “challenge”. I am not saying it is wrong. I am saying it is not as simple and straightforward as it seems. The statement “Do what you love …” is misleading because it belongs to what I call it “black and white” thinking. It has an embedded presupposition that  there are just two options: do what you love or do what you do not love. 
 
Let me give you just a few examples:
 
–  When I was in school I had excellent marks with all subjects except two: Russian (writing and grammar) and English. I hated both.  Of course now I understand that what I really “hated” was the way they were taught but I did not know that back then.  What do I do now? I speak English 100% of the time both for business and at home. I am also writing articles in English and like doing it. I see and enjoy all the good things which come with it.
 
 –   I was raised to hate “capitalists” as they are greedy “blood suckers” (well in same rare cases this might be not far from the truth! In 1988 I changed my career from science to business. I have now been in business for 26 years and totally enjoy all aspects of entrepreneurship. 
 
I can give you many more examples but this article is already looking like an autobiography. I do not want to bore you with more of my personal stories. Let’s get back to the point.
 
I believe that our biggest opportunities and potential for growth are hidden/disguised behind walls and protected by fear and discomfort. And again, I hear readers arguing: “Are we supposed to do what we hate?” And my answer is the same as I gave to a previous “black and white” statement: Nope! 
 
I would formulate my position this way: we do need to pursue  a career or business direction  coinciding with our heart and passion but at the same time remember that along the way our biggest opportunities for growth will be zones which we “hate” or “dislike”.  
 
Should we spend our energy trying to become very good in those “weak” areas? Not necessarily. It all depends. I am not “super good” at written English and probably never will be. It does not matter. I use editing help with my articles as a native English-speaker  can easily do what would  take me years of study. But I do like it. I am free to do it or not. The walls that stopped me before have dissolved. When I hated it I was a prisoner of fear. I think we need to “test” zones of hate and if not to actually learning to enjoy them (which would be ideal) at least be ok with them in order to regain our freedom. When you do not do something by preference and your decision it is very different from being stopped by hate or fear. In the first case you have a freedom to choose but in the second you don’t.
 
From my experience I have learned that there are three sequential steps we need to take to break out of our “prison”:
 
1. Notice. “Nisce te ipsum” or Know Thyself – Analyze ourselves and discover our areas of strength as well as of dislike and hatred.
 
2. Touch. Find our unique way of “touching those walls” or stretching ourselves through our fears. This is the point where we approach the disturbing area and step into it.
 
3. Transform. Change hate or dislike into joy, love or at least positive neutrality. It can be done through practice and reframing. Discovering and focusing on all the positives which those activities can bring will make a huge difference over time. 
 
Because of the nature of my work as Master Trainer of Headway Coaching Business School I encounter career- change questions on a daily basis. Over the years I hear the same questions again and again: “Shall I pursue a path of solo entrepreneur? What are my chances of succeeding in business? How can I develop my own brand? What is the smoothest way to self-employment?” etc etc. All those questions indicate you are about to step into the unknown and “touch” your internal walls. Fortunately there are ways and an environment where you can get help and do it methodically and thoroughly. Again, it does not matter if you already at the beginning of your journey as an entrepreneur or still employed and just want to explore a new direction. 
 
Twice per year (September and January) I invite people to enrol in Headway Coaching Business School 12 month course. Here, during an entire year, we thoroughly investigate the strong and weak points of our students in order to ensure that they can successfully change their career, discover their personal brand and/or succeed in business if they  decide to take a leap to self-employment. This investigation and business building process requires time and consistency, but as I mentioned above, the good news is – you can start this process while still being employed as it takes a commitment of  no more than 1-2 hours per week. Working in small groups (4-6 people max) during an entire year, brick by brick we will build the foundation to your freedom. So I invite you to start your journey right now. Use the tool (it will take only 7-10 min to complete) which I  developed for our students. Use promocode: “createmykeyg” and you will learn what your challenges are if you decide to pursue the path of entrepreneur. Enjoy!
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