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Perseverance is a superpower

Updated: Aug 24, 2021

Recently, I attended a function at one of my old workplaces. I got chatting with a former colleague, a medical/health researcher who knew that I had started my business, The Centre of Serendipity, last year.

I asked, “what’s new?”, to which the reply was, “nothing much”, but where I’m concerned, that’s simply not so. There is something new in my life every day! But, this former colleague said to me “So, you’re not doing anything”. My response? “No, I’m self-employed!”.

I don’t think they would have said that to my father, who (like me now) was a sole trader for much of his life. They would have looked at his stately bearing and silvery-white hair, and thought he was a successful businessman.

Norah and Len Hanlon, on a dinner date in the 1960s.
Mum and Dad on a dinner date, before the white hair that I remember. They were a good looking couple! And treasures ...

But, what about me looks like I have nothing to do? Do I look like I’m cruising along?

Mary-Claire circa 2019
Me, this month. Alright, maybe I look like I've been sitting on the back deck in the sunshine!

Let me tell you, this little black duck’s legs are swimming feverishly beneath the surface – just like my Dad’s would have been all those years ago.

Duckling paddling in blue water by Joshua Fuller on Unsplash
Little Duck, by Joshua Fuller on Unsplash

I have much to be grateful for – it was my parents’ foresight that enabled me to learn book-keeping at the tender old age of 8 (yes, 8, because it was good discipline, a chance to practise maths, and I got paid); the business and Mum’s social justice work enabled me to learn secretarial skills during my teenage years as well.

I learned my “work ethic” from my parents, because as a sole trader, if Dad didn’t work, we didn’t eat. And thankfully, we had food for every meal and then some in between, because both my parents were good at money management. I know how to work hard, on my own and with others.

In my undergraduate and postgraduate years, I learned great time management skills. But I’d also learned these, as well as project and people management skills, during my working life. And make no mistake, I need all these skills to run a business (and run it successfully!).

On top of all those “skills”, I need perseverance and resilience to run a business. I need to be able to keep going on those days when leads don’t convert, and I need to be creative to find ways to convert (and have the wisdom to know when to employ those creative tactics).

Being self-employed does not mean sitting around in the sunshine on my back deck all day, twiddling my thumbs and enjoying “me-time”!

I invest a lot of time making connections, with mentors, partners, potential clients and previous clients. I invest a lot of effort in maintaining those connections in small ways that don’t feel like “converting a sale”, but instead feel like building relationships. Because really, that’s what we all need, whether we’re in business or otherwise. And it takes COURAGE!

The flipside to that conversation that I mentioned earlier, was another I had with one of my business mentors as well.

I was told that I’m innovative.

And really, I am. I know it. I listen to what people need and want, and see if I have anything in my toolkit that will not only suffice, but shine for them. Then I consider how other things in my toolkit will be of value to them, and make something just for those people. It’s not a case of doing what I feel like, or “hobbling together something out of nothing”: I take real resources and fashion them into something bespoke.

But there’s more, because I know you want more (I heard it in the advertising!)

My business and I would not get by if it weren’t for the special people in my life who support me any way they can. This month, I was privileged to have my book launch at Merewether Surfhouse on the eve of the June full moon, Sunday June 16th. It was a beautiful sparkling winter’s night with family and friends, and wonderfully photographed by the lovely Olga Bell. Without any pressure from me, I found myself surrounded by people who were eager to celebrate, eager to read my book, and super-enthusiastic to come to my workshops!

Mary-Claire smiling during book reading at launch
Me, doing a "reading" at the book launch, 16/6/19. Photo by Olga Bell. Copyright held jointly, Olga Bell and Mary-Claire Hanlon, 2019.

It’s really wonderful when, unsolicited, a reader says, “you write really well!”, and a sibling says, “I’m proud of you”. I’m humbled to report, it was the same beloved sister who said both. And my eyes well with tears thinking about those two special compliments. Those sentiments have been reiterated - without solicitation - by various people again and again, and I hope to share their comments with you one day!

It’s heart-warming when loved-ones travel all the way to Newcastle to be with me to celebrate my book, even though it’s a long drive. I am so thankful to be so blessed!

And it’s encouraging when new friends and business associates also come along. I think they know more than many, what it takes to start a business and keep it going, especially when the reserves of savings start dwindling. Those first few years can be torture, and we understand all too well how important partnerships are, but also, how important it is to have friends who are in business too. So, I’m grateful for my ever-increasing tribe of business buddies!

So why do we start our own businesses?

I think, for me, the answer is both complicated and simple. It’s complicated because there are so many rewards when you face challenges every day (rewards like patience, fortitude, creativity, courage and success). And, it’s simple, because I know I have something lovely to offer – to individuals (TnT), to businesses (Exemplar, and SCORE), and to conferences (Workplace Wellbeing, and Public Speaking).

Everything I do is with a little twist, and I love that participants enjoy the unexpected with me.

So, let the cosmos gently sparkle into your life and illuminate your soul.

Thank you, as always, for coming along on my adventure! It is so good to share this with such supportive and caring souls!


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