Imagine my surprise.
I found the perfect career at age 25.
Only I didn’t know it.
Or I couldn’t embrace it.
Or I had some more things to learn first.
All of the above, really.
If my story had chapter titles, they would look like this:
(Feel free to click to the parts that speak to you)
** FOR THOSE WHO ONLY READ BOOKS HALF-WAY THROUGH BECAUSE YOU GET THE POINT QUICKLY, CLICK HERE FOR THE CLIFF NOTES VERSION **
Chapter 1: Prove you’re smart and give ‘em what they want
“Ninety-eight out of every hundred people working for wages
today are in the positions they hold because they lacked the
definiteness of decision to plan a definite position.”
– Napoleon Hill
I left my home state of Minnesota, chemical engineering degree in one hand, classic, Type-A, overachiever resume in the other. I had decided I was going to get a job at Procter & Gamble, and I got it.
But I decided in a much different way than Napoleon Hill suggests. I decided my employer in the same way I decided which degree to pursue. I asked, “which one is hardest to get?” and that is what I did.
I loved my job until I didn’t.
While I did spend some time doing “real engineering,” I quickly migrated into consumer research for new product development. I interviewed and shopped with consumers to understand what they most wanted/needed and worked with teams to develop the ideal products for them.
I followed my “winning formula” for succeeding – be smart, have the right answers, and give ‘em what they want.
I got promoted.
I looked around and decided I didn’t want my boss’s job, or any other job I saw.
Why? It was around the same time I was trained as a coach within my organization (a 1-2 hour/week responsibility). And I freaking loved it.
It stirred something in me that I couldn’t unstir. I saw visions of a world in which we each get to be who we really are in our work and life, not the role we thought we had to play. I saw coaching as the pathway.
It was a vision I never got over.
Chapter 2: The Great Flip-Flop
I excitedly researched life coaching on a pre-google Internet.
What if I could be the person I truly wanted to be? What if I could have the life I truly wanted to live? What if…
WAIT! WHOA! STOP!
“You’re a freakin’ chemical engineer, Darla, you can’t be a LIFE COACH! People will think you’re crazy.”
That’s what the dialogue in my head told me. It told me to stop.
So I did.
I did the great flip-flop and talked myself out of my dream.
The Truth is, I KNEW what I wanted to do, but my Truth… my dream… flew directly in the face of that subconscious programming I had picked up in childhood… the “winning formula” that had helped me be successful to date:
- Be smart to get love.
- Don’t open your mouth unless you’re sure you’re right.
- Prove your value – fix everything and give ‘em what they want
This combination of beliefs was GREAT for being successful as a corporate engineer – lots of data to back up my answers. But it was out of alignment for a passionate coach who wanted to change the world!
I left that job in search of alignment. I took two more “safe” careers – in teaching and marketing.
Each time I changed jobs, I got closer to my entrepreneurial dreams. I found and released business partners. I planned and scrapped curriculum. I researched locations and an array of ideas.
Each time something came up to get in my way. A marriage. A divorce. A career book that said I should be something else. A friend’s scrunched up forehead when I shared my idea.
I could overhear a conversation of complete strangers… people I did not know at all about how hard it is to be in business… and I’d quit.
Chapter 3: The Unconscious Competent
“Everything you’ve experienced until now
has been leading you exactly here.”
– Darla LeDoux
All that flip-flopping around was PAINFUL. Then something happened to change it all, and I launched… as what I would now call an Unconscious Competent.
Everything that happened led me exactly to this place of doing two things unknowingly well that launched my business. They are, I now believe, the two most important business tools we have.
And I used them with zero knowledge of their value.
They are: DECISION and MISSION
My Accidental Decision…
The thing that happened was this: In 2006 my stepdad was diagnosed with cancer and died 3 months later.
I was in my corporate cubical putting in time when he died – I’d run out of vacation days. At the time of his death, he was 6-months from earning his pension in a job he didn’t love, and had finally worked his way into a role he enjoyed.
Something in me shifted in that moment.
I didn’t know it, but I made the first real DECISION of my life.
It was real decision because I didn’t decide based on what other people thought or how I “should” be. I had nothing to prove.
I decided based on my own inner conviction that I would never again be sitting in a cubical when my heart was somewhere else. I would not stay in this job. I would be certified as a coach. I would not die with my dream inside of me.
From the moment of that internal decision to “risk everything” for my dream, the world began to change for me. I said “yes” to one opportunity after another. I said “yes” in spite of fear. I said “yes” when I thought I was crazy. I said “yes” with my whole heart.
Not because I had to, not because I should, but because I had made the DECISION to say “yes” to my life. Every time we make a real decision – from the future, based on what we truly want, next right action shows up. EVERY time. And our job is to say yes. I didn’t know this then, I just did it because I knew nothing else to do.
The growth of my Mission…
From the moment I sat in corporate coach training and saw people, one by one, let down their guard and begin to speak their Truth, I was hooked.
During the 10+ years I spent searching for a “safer” career than entrepreneur and coach, time and again I bumped up against my Truth.
My Mission grew within me in each role as I watched people operating as I had been – trying to prove themselves and make others happy – and losing sight of what was Truth for them. (I had a great view of this as a consumer researcher, and as a parent-teacher advisor!)
When I finally began saying “yes” to life rather than “let me see if I can figure it out,” I knew exactly WHY I was doing what I was doing. I was clear about my Mission.
Businesses don’t fail, people quit.
When you know your Mission, you don’t quit. I didn’t know that my years of struggle for purpose were an unconscious gold mine waiting to reveal itself. I didn’t set out with this in mind, my Mission chose me, and I finally listened.
Chapter 4: Aligning (for profit and peace)
“The people in our society who make the biggest difference
get paid the least. Why doesn’t someone change that?”
– David Neagle
I started my business with two unknown advantages (above), a fire inside, and a desire to “just make enough money to pay my bills.”
I knew nothing about running a small business, I’d not spent much time outside of a classroom or corporate cubical. I knew about multi-million dollar marketing budgets, not networking events or list-building.
I resisted the hell out of choosing my “niche.”
(Oh the irony in how easily I could research and design for target consumers in the corporate world yet still wanted to “help everybody” in business!)
So I was on track, and I wouldn’t quit, but I needed to get into alignment.
My alignment story:
- Refused to choose an ideal client – chose two instead.
- Branded and rebranded before I ever launched.
- Launched “Doux Coaching – Live Your Sweet Spot”
- Heart skipped several beats when I sent my first newsletter – “What will people think of me?”
- Saw coaching as completely separate from my past careers.
- Too afraid to add my business to my Linked In profile – wanted a back-up plan
- Doubled my business immediately when I did.
- Learned that I could make more than $3000/month and still make a difference.
- Hired a coach who was also a successful entrepreneur. Doubled my business.
- Learned to sell.
- Realized I could actually make MORE than I ever could in my J-O-B!
- Heart skipped several beats as I paid for my first client retreat with 3 credit cards.
- Kept the faith. Released the fear.
- Embraced my “tribe.” One Ideal Client.
- Aligned the coaching side of me with the marketer and product/curriculum developer.
- Began to actively market my unique combination of skills, not just coaching.
- Doubled my business again.
- Rebranded to Align.
- Had my best month in business in the month I MADE THE DECISION to rebrand (nothing had actually changed yet but my energy).
Here’s the deal with Alignment.
I had some amazing things going for me when I launched, and I had further east to go. Every time I make a DECISION to be more IN ALIGNMENT – my energy, my business design, and my action – my business grows… in quantum leaps.
I will continue to align and realign as I discover more of my Truth.
I am a work in progress. There is no finish line.
If anyone tells you they have the magic bullet, and you’ll FINALLY get to be that perfect entrepreneur, please don’t buy it. It’s a lie.
And if it weren’t, who wants it anyway? Alignment is exciting.
It’s an adventure.
There is always a new “lever to pull.” I love that.
As I continue to bring one more piece of Truth into my awareness and into alignment, the next level of my Genius, my Mission, and my Profit show up to meet it every time.
When I was paying for my retreat with three credit cards and praying for the greatest and highest good to unfold, yes, I was a little bit nervous, but I was also peaceful.
I was fulfilled in knowing I was taking action in alignment with my path, and that however it would unfold, the next lever of my alignment would be revealed to me through the action. There was no possible way to screw it up.
There IS no possible way to screw it up. After all, there is nothing to screw up.
Knowing that is freedom. Knowing that is fulfillment. Knowing that is peace.