Navigating Identity Challenges: Tips for Entrepreneurial Counterbalance

By Craig Goodliffe Craig Goodliffe has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on September 1, 2023

Every CEO has to wrestle with the dichotomy between the personal and the professional in their business. When one has built a business from the ground up, the meld of the personal and work life is, to some extent, unavoidable — your business is your life, and your life is your business.

However, there still exists a need for some separation and identification of the role one plays within their business. When does it become necessary to focus more on the personal in your business? Conversely, when does it become necessary to be all business?

Being a leader in a business can feel like an ongoing identity crisis at times. Navigating these identity challenges can be daunting unless one addresses them head-on and develops a set approach of working towards a semblance of counterbalance.

Personal vs. Professional 

When it comes to identifying how to navigate the identity challenges within their business, one should approach the personal and professional as one and the same — leaders are simply showing up in different ways at different times. The paid relationship with employees needs to remain a paid relationship within the confines of dealing with business-related situations. Still, that does not mean that a “play” relationship cannot happen as well. It’s all about the right place at the right time.

The way people behave in their personal life is typically the way they behave in their business relationships. If a person is typically very responsible and organized personally, their approach to business is typically the same. This is what is meant by approaching the personal and professional as one and the same. 

Authenticity in Approach 

My identity as a father greatly affects the way I approach my business — whether I am in professional or play mode with my employees. I am grateful for my identity as a father because it lends authenticity to my identity as a leader within my business and has allowed me to tap into my abilities as a leader. The elements of fatherhood, such as leadership, empathy, and compassion, are elements that I try to bring to my business in an authentic way every day. It is a further melding of the personal and professional. 

I am a person who is very vulnerable in my personal life, and that bleeds over into my interactions with employees and team members. For example, I have been going through a divorce, and I have been very open about that upheaval. I own my mistakes publicly and hope that it inspires my employees to do the same. 

When you own your own mistakes, other people feel comfortable making mistakes as well. Leaders need to feel comfortable being accountable for the good and the bad within their personal lives, as well as their businesses. 

Embracing Identities and Unique Strengths 

When attempting to counterbalance the personal and the professional, leaders must empower employees and team members to embrace their own unique identities and strengths within the workplace. Additionally, leaders must be willing to listen to what people are passionate about. Company-wide initiatives and masterminds can help people tap into their uniqueness. 

When employees see their leadership embracing the yin and yang of personal and professional, they feel further empowered to do the same. The benefits of embracing individual identities and unique strengths can range from increased productivity to better employee engagement and retention. 

The Myth of Balance 

When walking the tightrope between the personal and professional, there’s often talk of balance, but I offer that the concept of balance is a myth. Instead, I encourage our employees to seek counterbalance. 

Playing in extremes can help people maximize the benefits of both personal and professional within their careers. When people are on vacation, they should be fully present at that moment. Similarly, people can throw themselves fully into work, putting in twelve-hour days, seven days a week, to reach a work goal. 

This shifting between extreme personal rest and extreme attention to work is, in my experience, the rapid counterbalance that leads to the successful navigation of identity within our careers. 

Our work and personal identities define us as a whole. As entrepreneurs, we may often hear opinions that we need to seek a straight balance, that we must not put in long hours working, or that we cannot possibly succeed if we focus on rest. 

Entrepreneurs and those they hire and employ must work toward integrating the personal and professional into their careers, taking into account passions, unique abilities, and the needs in both their personal and professional lives that need to be fulfilled.

By Craig Goodliffe Craig Goodliffe has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Craig Goodliffe is a contributor to Grit Daily. He is the CEO and Founder of Cyberbacker, the leading provider of virtual assistance and administrative support services from anywhere in the world to anyone in the world. Goodliffe is an entrepreneur with deep expertise in business development, and he shares his insight as a MAPS coach who helps clients earn seven-figure incomes. Cyberbacker is changing the lives of small business owners and remote workers through its world-class business solutions.

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