Separating Your Personal and Professional Identities

As our businesses grow over time, it’s common to get overly attached to them, especially if we are the founders. Our companies, jobs, and work can easily become a part of our identity, and then the company’s fortunes eventually become intertwined with our own.

We nurture our companies from the beginning. We structure everything in the best way possible, and we hire the team that aligns with its mission and will love it as much as we do. We try every day to make it better and to do better. With time, we can find ourselves getting more and more interconnected with our companies when our personal lives and professional lives are two separate entities with different missions and futures.

[Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash]

[Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash]

Early on, I realized that Celaque, my company, had become my baby. I noticed that when things went well, I would feel great, like when we’d have a strong month in sales. When the opposite would happen, and things did not go as planned, I would take it to heart and sometimes become upset. I tried not to, but it was inevitable.

I knew I needed to find a way to separate myself from what was happening in the company – otherwise, it would very slowly start to make me miserable. So, little by little, I learned to detach myself.

Detaching

My detachment from my company has been gradual. Little by little, the things that used to bother me no longer seemed to be as important.

A practice that has helped is taking the long view of things. Every day I remind myself of the big picture of the company, which helps me look past little details that would have bothered me in the past. In the end, our job is to make sure that the company is moving in the direction we have set for it – there are a million ways to get there, and mistakes will inevitably happen along the way.

Something else that has helped is that as the company grows, I cannot be aware of everything that happens, and I feel it is better that way. I focus on the places where I can have the most significant impact, and I work on those. I deliberately empower others to manage their teams and avoid getting involved in the specifics because I trust them.

Dedicating my time to other projects, like this blog and my books, has been another way to expand my identity. I spend a lot of my extra energy in thinking about these areas. Now that there are more than a few projects, my sense of how well things are going is no longer tied to just one venture.

I also find that all these new projects enrich the company. For example, I took some marketing courses to promote my books better and revamped the company’s marketing department due to those learnings.

Ultimately, I have reached a point where I am ready to be at peace and not let things bother me. My practices of meditation, journaling, and walking in nature have supported me in remaining peaceful despite the inevitable ups and downs. I am not perfect, but as I continue to practice separating my identity from my company’s fortunes, it has become more manageable.

It’s Worth It

I see a few benefits from this new sense of independence.

I can see things more clearly. I am no longer making decisions based on emotions; I am thinking about things from various perspectives. I can take my time to make sure I am acting in the best way possible.

It has also made me a better leader. Instead of reacting, I can teach and train, something I love to do, to ensure our teams are better prepared and empowered for the future.

[Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash]

[Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash]

Finally, I am enjoying my work more. I no longer cringe when I sense that something has gone wrong – I instead go with it. I am turning to the things I love the most: working on innovative projects and spending time helping people develop their careers.

I wish this transition had happened sooner, but I am glad it did happen. I am excited to see how this continues to unfold, and I hope I can continue to do my job better as a result.

Pamela Ayuso - About the Author

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pamela Ayuso is an author and the co-founder and CEO of Celaque. She is a real estate entrepreneur and developer who has executive leadership experience in two of the most successful real estate developers in Honduras — managing operations at Alianza and leading Celaque. Celaque develops office and residential buildings and manages a broad portfolio of properties. Pamela’s focus is on growing Celaque into a model for the 21st-century company.

In addition to her role as CEO at Celaque, Pamela is the author of Amazon best-selling book, Heptagram: The 7-Pillar Business Design System for the 21st Century. She offers practical business and personal development insights for other entrepreneurs and business leaders on her blog and LinkedIn. Her husband and her three wonderful daughters inspired the story of her first children’s book, Alicia and Bunnie Paint a Mural.       

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