In the summer of 2016, I felt stuck in my career. Up to that point I had spent my entire career in sales but something was missing. Outside of work, I began to experiment with alternative business ideas. I tried idea after idea but nothing was sticking.
First I started this blog, which for the first six months gained few followers and no money. Then I tried to launch a local tour guide service in Boston. I got two requests in three months and had to shut it down. I even tried to launch an app that helped coffee shop patrons meet and mingle with likeminded people. I couldn’t get financing and the idea crumbled.
A year into my side hustle experiments, I was burnt out and disheartened. Maybe I wasn’t made for entrepreneurship. I didn’t have what it took.
After all, who was I to believe in this dream? Up to that point in my life, I had never met a true entrepreneur. My parents, friends, and colleagues all had spent their careers working for corporations.
Perhaps I was no different from them.
The Chalk Circle Story
It wasn’t until the fall of 2016 that my entrepreneurial dreams caught a flicker of hope. I met a woman named Christina who had started her own successful business. She was a coach, consultant, and speaker.
Inspired by her story, I began to think that maybe my dreams weren’t impossible after all. Over time, she became an important mentor for me and today she’s my coach.
Back then, when my vision was still blurry, she encouraged me to keep pushing forward.
One time when I was doubting my path, she sent me the below story. Years later, I still think of this story when I feel my own limiting beliefs creep in.
Here’s that story:
In the film Meetings with Remarkable Men, a young man named George Gurdjieff comes upon a Russian country village where some children are playing a cruel trick on one of their peers.
George finds a young schoolboy trapped inside a chalk circle drawn by the other children. Under the superstitious belief that anyone caught inside such a circle is trapped by the devil’s power, the boy cannot escape, and he is terrified.
With compassion, George rubs out a portion of the circle, and the boy flees.
Beyond The Chalk Circle
Christina’s story helped me see that I had created my own chalk circle.
I wrongly believed that I could not become an entrepreneur because no one in my life had. I thought that I had to stay inside my chalk circle for the rest of my life.
Luckily, back then, Christina rubbed out a portion of my chalk circle and helped me grow beyond my imprisoning perceptions. Today, a year into my business, I am always looking for new chalk circles and how to break out of them.
Many of the beliefs that hold you hostage are no more real than the chalk circle.
To identify your own chalk circle, ask yourself “what limiting belief am I holding right now that may not be based on reality?” Make a list of these items and then ask your mentor, manager or coach to identify the chalk.
Once you push beyond your perceived limits you’ll see that they were just as imaginary as the one in the boy’s story.
Your true potential waits on the other side of the chalk circle.
All you have to do is step beyond the chalk.