Getting Out of Your Own Way:
An Interview with Betsy Nesbitt
“As an entrepreneur bootstrapping my business, I constantly have to manage myself to stay on track. I’ve learned that I have a tendency to hold myself back because taking risks is scary… Sometimes, I even find that I make obstacles and excuses for myself. In other words, sometimes I need to work on getting out of my own way,” stated Betsy Nesbitt, who founded Flyway Wellness in July 2016. With her company dedicated to helping businesses and individuals achieve wellness goals through yoga, it’s safe to say she’s spent some time contemplating both mental and physical health, as well as how they’re intertwined, in the pursuit of success.
The notion of “getting out of your own way” might raise an eyebrow for the headstrong entrepreneur, but as Betsy explained “the issues at play underneath” it made sense. One of the key issues is not getting hung up on achieving perfection right out of the gate. “I tend to want a perfect product or a wonderful outcome and service from the beginning,” she began. “I am not alone in having these tendencies. But, when you’re an entrepreneur you need to be able to recognize that perfect isn’t a realistic goal, especially during start up. The prototype, a second iteration, etcetera, they are all far from perfect. Although they have many flaws, there’s always something good in them too. Still, it’s challenging to say, This is good enough for now, it’s getting me on the way.” Being able to say it’s good enough for now is, in effect, getting out of your own way and moving forward.
It’s also about not being afraid to make mistakes as you refine what you’re doing. “People always talk about failure,” she said. “There’s a part of you that’s petrified to fail. You’re afraid to embarrass yourself. You’re afraid to make mistakes. It’s that part of you that says, No, no, no, this is too scary.” But again, “getting out of your own” involves setting such fears aside. “The other part of you just needs to say, You know what, this is part of the process.” She then added with rising emphasis, “That champion that believes in the concept from the start, that champion who gets you out of bed every morning, and gets you working on it needs to listen to your doubts, evaluate them so you don’t do any rash things, but that champion needs to keep moving you forward.” That champion is you of course.
Own Your Abilities
Owning your own abilities is another challenge because sometimes it can be too easy to make excuses when things don’t go your way. Taking ownership is something Betsy picked up from her dad, who moved fluidly between being a commercial banker, owning a local newspaper, and running a manufacturing shop. “The way he was able to move between industries and chart his own professional life, that was a great example to me,” she said, “and frankly I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing now if I hadn’t seen someone else do it.”
Having worked in both the corporate and consulting world – Keurig Green Mountain Inc. and Deloitte – Betsy also brings perspective to owning your abilities. She drew a great contrast between being an entrepreneur versus working for someone else:
“As an entrepreneur you have a vision of how the world might be, you have an idea of a service or tool to get to that outcome, but there are many things to do to make that a reality, and, at the end of the day, you are the one to make that happen. I contrast that with a corporate setting, where there are many other resources or tools to help make that product or service possible, and there are many other people to help you.
“What I experienced as an entrepreneur, and what is really unique about being an entrepreneur, is that if I make my own obstacles, I’m not going to succeed; whereas in any other setting you can often see how other agents or elements contribute. I am not succeeding because of this; or I didn’t get that raise because of this; this isn’t the right topic for me to be working on.”
Self-exploration + Self-work = Operating At Your Best
As we know, when you’re an entrepreneur, a founder, there’s no making excuses, no punting. You own it all. And for Betsy, that includes self-exploration and self-work to better understand strengths and weaknesses, and to improve upon yourself. Curious as to what self-exploration entails for her, we asked her to elaborate. “I think there’s a lot of self-exploration and self-work that needs to be done to operate at your best and realize your full potential,” Betsy answered. “It’s important to understand yourself and understand your different parts and manage yourself.
“Maturity and experiences also contribute. I think the maturity that comes from being in the working world for 15 years gives me perspective, gives me humility, and helps me know myself.” Nevertheless, she acknowledges that entrepreneurship “is scary”; therefore, she reminds herself, “The risk is all up to me, so I try not to let the propensity to overreact get to me. You’re in charge of how you feel; you’re in charge of how you react, so it’s up to you how you want to feel in the midst of the risk.” Again, it’s taking ownership.
It’s also about self-work: “There are several things that contribute to my well-being. These are not novel, but I think I’m fortunate to have made a routine around exercise, mostly running and yoga, and reflection. Staying committed to these habits is important, because I know that they are critical for my well-being. I know that if my body is physically healthy, my brain will be more capable.”
A few years ago, Betsy stopped yoga due to work disruptions and travel, so we asked her for some more specifics on her personal experiences and importance of yoga. “Yoga helps my thinking slow down and calm down. It’s not that I feel amped up, but it’s so easy to feel like things always need to be getting done and there are a million priorities. Yoga helps me put things into context, helps me realize the pace at which I work and do my best work is an acceptable pace. I don’t have to try to be meeting someone else’s expectations of how things should be. Yoga helps me calm down, feel centered and confident in my own approach to life.
“In yoga, there’s a emphasis on being in charge of your practice, your body, and your breathing. In other words, you are the boss! That’s a great principle for entrepreneurs, because it reminds me that success is up to me, as are the pace at which I work, how I let other people make me feel, my confidence, my conviction, my vision of the world and the services that we can create. The confidence comes from me, so, in a sense, going to yoga twice a week to train myself helps me be a better entrepreneur.”
The Five-Minute Journal App
Reflection, as well as cultivating a positive mental framework, now also includes journaling for Betsy. “I keep a journal called the Five Minute Journal, which is a simple concept that takes five minutes and encourages you to cultivate gratitude, set micro goals on a daily basis, and reflect on how things can be improved on a daily basis. Setting micro goals is highly relevant in the entrepreneurial world, because it can be such a daunting process, but if you measure success on a daily basis, it keeps things in perspective, and keeps you focused on immediate near-term, which helps prevent feeling overwhelmed.”
(We checked out the Five Minute Journal website, which is pretty cool in how it prompts you. For example, in the morning it asks you what you’re grateful for and what you’ll do to make the day great? And in the evening it’ll ask what good things happened and what could have made the day better. You can find out more on the at https://www.intelligentchange.com/pages/five-minute-journal-app)
Why Don’t We Do This Stuff?!
It’s pretty clear from our interviews, existing articles and scientific research that entrepreneurs should or could be embracing personal wellness habits to help themselves operate at a high or even higher level. Many know this. But still don’t do it. So, we asked Betsy if she were going to be a guest speaker at an entrepreneurship class, what would she say in stark terms, what would be her ironclad argument for why entrepreneurs should do things like yoga, exercise, or journal?
“We all need to find habits that work for us. It doesn’t matter if that’s cooking, going to church, yoga, or walking with a friend. What’s critical is finding the activities and tools that help you maximize productivity and maximize your emotional well-being,” she answered without missing a beat. “And I think failing to explore and discover those, and failing to say I could benefit from something like that is shortsighted. So, I’d simply encourage them to think, Hey, to be successful, all parts of your body need to be operating at their peak. So, if you don’t nurture and train all parts of your body, it’s not possible to be doing your best work.”
So again, why do many entrepreneurs shirk healthy habits that might improve their performance? Is it a matter of finding the time? Constant distraction derailing plans? Or, as Betsy wonders, prioritizing outcomes over costs? “Entrepreneurs know they need to take care of themselves to be successful,” she said in a contemplative tone. “But it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture when there is so much at stake in the near term.”