As I read the message from my client to the colleague who has been handling my real estate business in New York I felt as if I had been punched in the stomach.
Renée Fishman from Halstead used to represent us and we were told that you will now be replacing her.
After years of relationship, my clients reached out directly to the colleague who is handling the day-to-day of my real estate business in New York.
They didn’t even check in with me first.
The dialogue started spinning in my mind:
Am I really replaceable?
Doesn’t our relationship and history mean anything to them?
Was I fooling myself about the value I add and how unique I am as a voice in the industry?
I had a momentary pang of FOMO — what was I missing out on, or giving up?
And then I snapped out of it. I reminded myself:
This is what I wanted.
I have been working for years to implement a vision in which I could live anywhere in the world and focus on what I do best, while someone else handled the day-to-day aspects of my real estate business.
An essential part of this vision was to make myself replaceable — at least in certain parts of my work. I searched and tested until I found someone who could do most of what I do at least as well, if not better.
I am finally living that vision. Earlier this year, I spent six weeks in the remote village of Santa Catalina, Panama. I’ve been in California for three months.
I’m still involved in my real estate practice, focusing my attention on coaching and strategy with my clients. I have a great partner in New York who handles all the rest.
This is what I wanted.
I planned for this.
I spent a long time wrestling with the inner work around creating this vision.
The biggest was about control, and whether I could let go.
No matter how amazing someone is at their craft, each of us has different styles and approaches. I may hate admin work and attending to the details, but I’m also a very detail-oriented person.
If someone sends me a document to review, I will often reformat the document — changing font, fixing the paragraph spacing and alignment, formatting the margins, etc — before I start to read it.
Would I be able to let go of the reigns and allow someone else to control how to get things done?
Could I be ok with a listing agreement going out that didn’t have the signature lines lined up in a table format?
Could I even allow someone else to advise on strategy?
One of the consequences of success in letting go and ceding control is the discovery that you may not be as integral to the process as you imagine.
I also focused on how my clients would feel.
Would new clients get it? Would my existing clients think I was abandoning them? Would they accept my colleague as the main point-of-contact? Would they develop the same level of trust with my colleague that they had developed with me?
All of this was important and necessary inner work for me to explore.
But it was all focused on the fears around how my vision might fail.
What I Forgot to Plan For
I was so worried about how this plan might fail that I never really paused to consider what it would look like to succeed, and how I might feel if I found success.
What if my clients feel abandoned?
There’s another side to this:
What if they don’t?
What if they get it? What if they do trust my colleague the way they trust me? What if they accept him? What if they are totally fine with it and even supportive of the change and of my expansion in to new areas?
What does success look like? What does it feel like?
This is success.
I wasn’t quite prepared for it. Even though it was always right there, just beneath the surface.
What Keeps Solopreneurs Stuck
And yet those words still stung.
… we were told that you will be replacing her.
Nobody likes to believe they are replaceable.
What if you discover that things run just fine without you? What if you learn that you’re replaceable?
This is the piece that keeps most solopreneurs stuck in their jobs instead of creating a business.
Your ego doesn’t want you to believe that you are replaceable.
This seems to fly in the face of all that you hear about how special you are:
You have a unique voice and a special gift to contribute that nobody else can contribute, and nobody can do what you do in the way you do it.
This is true.
And, it’s also true that parts of what you do can be done just as well (if not better) by others.
The Secret to Success
Here’s something I’ve learned in this journey of entrepreneurship and life.
The secret to success — the success in which you make meaning and feel a sense of fulfillment in your work — lies in finding that place where you live both truths at once.
Recognize the place where your contribution is truly unique to you and focus your efforts there. In all other parts of your work, accept that you are replaceable.
This is what you want.