Posted: Thu 27th Dec 2018
If asked about ending body stigma and disordered eating a few years ago my answer would have been "it's impossible for me to have an impact". I'd have used words like "helpless" and said I'm not qualified or skilled enough to know where to start.
Yet the thought kept tapping the door, then ringing the doorbell, to the room in my brain that contained the first answers or if not the answers then more questions. Questions that require courage to begin to ask.
For me, courage came in the form of letting go of old worries of what people might think. We coach this in our groups now; how to recognise that judgement will only ever be an expression of where the judge is at.
The realisation might sound quite insignificant at first. But pause for a moment and think about the last time you felt judged. If it was a comment made by another person we can easily see through the initial feeling of judgement and wake up to it being about them.
Thought and memory are like a muscle, so it's something you have to practice. Over the next few days, see how many times you pick up that other people's comments really speak of themselves.
If the judgement is self-imposed - our inner critical voice - then we can choose to make use of 'just focus and do it', feel the fear and do it anyway, or fake it till we make it. I've made use of all of these strategies.
I've learned to thank my awareness for waking up. It was trying to keep me safe after all. Then the practice has been to reduce or let go of the critical voice with that gratitude and forgiveness.
A self-compassion practice is far more nurturing and productive than continuing to mentally beat ourselves up over the minutiae.
Problems and pain points
All entrepreneurs are trying to solve problems; find pain points and create solutions. So what better way than to use our own experience. To be our own customers.
For us, that was 30 years of yo-yo dieting. There are tons of problems and pain points in that process and 'solutions' sold by the pound! Endless consuming of fad fixes to our 'problems' - being sold that we are 'broken and need fixing'.
The wellness industry reached £500m in the UK last year. We're spending money to stand on scales at weekly clubs to come away feeling less and that's not less in weight either! These groups carry a high failure rate and we always take that very personally, the industry relies upon it.
Naturally, we are a social enterprise. Basically, a normal business that re-invests its profits to reach and help more people. Show me a business that doesn't re-invest to grow. For us, being beyond profit is foundational.
Nutriri runs five-week courses to coach people in a safe and nurturing space. We show you how to find food and body ease and be happy now. It's based on three years of research and tailored to the needs of each group.
It takes a village to build a unicorn
It's going to take to an ambitious social enterprise to disrupt diet land and we've recognised that it won't happen in isolation.
We're training and replicating to grow a UK-wide network. Recruiting future social franchisees from our customer base that has lived the experience.
Learning to reach out and ask for help has been a process. Building meaningful connections is not a set formula but it's always best to listen more than talk.
Get yourself a network if you want to have an impact! Becoming a member of Enterprise Nation has been really valuable. We've also been fortunate to become a fellow of the School for Social Entrepreneurs and currently have residency in the NatWest Bank Entrepreneur Accelerator in Bristol.
It's important to test, fail, pivot and test again. Validation for what we do has happened in increments. It helps to build and keep our resiliency if we are strongly connected to our mission.
But not so close that we're not open to being wrong. We don't expect the entrepreneurial journey to be a smooth trajectory.
Self-care. Stress is a choice!
July last year I reached full burn out. Losing the flow state and increasingly growing impatient of progress. 'Stress is a choice' is the last thing anyone in that state wishes to hear. But it's what I had to re-learn to get past this episode.
I spent half of August pretending to rest and the other half re-establishing a mindfulness practice to actually do nothing for a while. The payoff was clarity and an offer from NatWest to join their accelerator.
Nobody is perfect though and I still forget I know how to switch off. If you're not enjoying the majority of what you do, find different responses.
I hope this in a nutshell look at a social-entrepreneurial mindset has been helpful. Feel free to connect to continue the conversation via my Enterprise Nation profile.