An unexpected identity crisis

Mar 17, 2023

2010 was the year that I hired my first OBM Tiffany.

I had VA support already for a few years at that point, but this was my first time hiring management-level support.

Now Tiffany jumped right into the role with both feet and rocked it. She took over managing the team, all the projects and generally making sure everything was running smoothly in the business.

Awesome right? This is exactly what I was looking for (and as a side note – this is exactly what we teach our Certified OBMs to do).

So I was REALLY surprised a few months into our working relationship to find myself questioning whether or not we should continue to work together.

Say what Tina? Why the heck would you want to stop working with someone who was doing an amazing job?

I remember waking up one morning in a bit of a panic. I was feeling useless in my own business.

The team was no longer coming to me with questions and for guidance – they went to Tiffany instead.

I no longer had to check in on projects and make sure stuff was getting done – Tiffany was on top of it.

I wasn’t the one who had my finger on the pulse of every little thing going on anymore – you guessed it, Tiffany was taking care of it.

And I didn’t know what to do with myself.

The question that kept running through my mind was
“If I’m no longer needed for these things in my business – then what value am I bringing to the table? What is my role here?” Cue the identity crisis.

Thankfully I was working with a coach at the time and I reached out to him with that exact question.

He reminded me that my role was no longer about managing the business. “You are at the stage now Tina where your business needs you to lead – not to manage. Every level of success requires you to let go of something and you are at the point where it’s time to let go of managing. It’s time to be the CEO.”

We worked together to define what my role as CEO was. To identify all the things that I no longer had to take care of, and the things that I was now freed up to spend more time on (which for me was writing, teaching and coaching alongside the higher level leadership activities that my business needed from me.)

I remember so clearly being at a crossroads that day and seeing two paths laid out in front of me.

One direction was the old, worn path that I was used to. The path of being involved in every little nitty gritty detail of my business. Where I was the hub of everything going on with the team and projects. This was what I was used to doing (habit!) and it was something that I knew how to do well. I felt needed. I felt important. And even though it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing anymore, it was comfortable and the temptation to go down that path again was strong!

The other direction was about stepping into my leadership and becoming the CEO I knew I was meant to be. To let go of what I no longer needed to be doing and step into the (sometimes scary) things that my business was calling me to.

Thankfully I chose the second path – and although it’s been bumpy at times it truly has made all the difference in the world. If I had chosen the first path I know I would have sabotaged my working relationship with Tiffany. I would have stuck my nose back into things I didn’t need to be involved in. And we probably wouldn’t have worked together for very long after that as I would have gotten in the way. We ended up working together for 8 years before she left to start her agency. 🙂

It’s funny how sometimes we KNOW we need to make changes in what we are doing. We may even WANT to make those changes and bring more people onto the team to help.

But when we make those changes we find ourselves in uncharted territory. We may not know what to do with ourselves. If we are uncertain about what our new role is, then it’s really easy to slide back into our old one.

This is why the very first thing I do with every leadership client I work with is helping them redefine their CEO role – to create a new identity. To look at what they do best, what they want to do and what their business needs from them and to turn that into an inspiring and exciting role. Only then can we take a deeper look at their team and leadership, knowing that they won’t slide back into the ‘old habits’ of what their role used to be.


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