I’m Not Cinderella: The Split in the Soul of the Accidental Entrepreneur

Photo credit: Anton Gvozdikov from istockphoto.com

Yesterday millions of people across the country and around the world were galvanized by Obama’s inaugural address. I was one of them.
Today I awoke to the sniping of Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters.
Before I opened my eyes, Prunella hissed, “Go back to sleep, you pathetic procrastinator. You’re not going to do anything important today. Face it.”
Instantly Griselda bristled. “Don’t listen to her. Get a grip. Be positive. With thoughts like this, you’ll never live up to your potential.”
Well, I’m not Cinderella. My heart is not pure enough to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune with good cheer. I don’t care how many cheery little birds chirp encouragement, I don’t suffer my stepsisters gladly.
I’m just not that good a person.

The Split

Yesterday I wrote to a friend, “Obama has awakened hope, vision, and commitment in so many who have been either disenfranchised or disenchanted — or both. I am so grateful.”
Today I didn’t want to get out of bed.
Obama’s election lifted from me and many others the fog of cynicism and doubt that had dampened our enthusiasm and for a better collective future. But no election could lift the fog of self-doubt and self-criticism.
The split in the soul of the accidental entrepreneur stems from the belief that we are good, but not good enough to heal ourselves, and that the world needs healing at the expense of our personal ambitions. To do good, we must be prepared to sacrifice.
We Are the World And the World Is Us
Until I began writing this newsletter, I was not aware of the significance of this collective dimension of the accidental entrepreneur’s dilemma. Before today, I understood that healing ourselves was essential to thriving and serving. What I had not seen is the extent to which we must also heal our relationship with the world.
How do we do that? By reframing our struggle to make a living in terms of a collective good. We must come to see that picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves off, and beginning again the work of building our businesses is service, just as surely as volunteering at a food bank.
I don’t claim this is our only task. We have responsibility to the environment, our neighbors, and the world. But Accidental Entrepreneurs tend to take on these responsibilities as if they are opposed to personal ambition. We can either be successful or good.
This isn’t news to most of us. What is news, at least to me, is that the inner work I’m committed to has a collective dimension that is much richer and far more important than I had imagined. It’s not just about how we relate to the whole. Somehow, working in and on our businesses, needs to include what for lack of a better word I will call the world soul.
It’s Not About Being Good, It’s about Being Real
The world does not need more fear or anger. There is plenty of resentment to go around. And, paradoxically, when we repress or reject or avoid our own fear, anger, and resentment, the world suffers as much as we do ourselves.
The great work is not about overcoming darkness. Darkness and light will not be separated. Our great work in our businesses and personal lives is to tend to what lives in the darkness so that, when it comes to light, it comes as a sprout breaking through the earth where it will bear fruit.
In practical terms, this means bringing practices we’ve learned in our quests for wholeness to bear on our work in and on our businesses.
It’s not a question of whether to make a vision quest or a business plan: We must do both and integrate the two. It’s not a question of whether to serve others or create personal wealth: Our work is to undo the beliefs within and without that place these at odds.
The greatest work of all is to show up each day willing to not be “there” yet. So long as we believe we should be better than we are, we will be blind to our own light and resentful of the light of others.
Our greatest error is to interpret failure to be present as evidence that we are irredeemably flawed. There is no way back to ourselves and to each other that does not begin with compassionate awareness that we’ve once again lost our way.
When Obama was elected, I vowed to abandon cynicism. Today I see that I need help from you to do this. What’s more I finally get that that’s a good thing.


  1. Hiro Boga

    “The great work is not about overcoming darkness. Darkness and light will not be separated. Our great work in our businesses and personal lives is to tend to what lives in the darkness so that, when it comes to light, it comes as a sprout breaking through the earth where it will bear fruit.”
    Molly, my heart settled into a deep “Yes!” when I read these words in your post. Thank you for your wisdom.
    Love, Hiro

  2. Jana Jopson

    Clean up typos, misspellings, or artifacts of editing? There’s the horse pucky. LOL This blog post was brilliant, uplifting, transparently soul-full, and filled me with joy and goodwill toward myself and all planetary inhabitants. Must be the broken wrist. (just joking). You are a gem, Molly.

  3. Joann Loos

    Napoleon Hill talks about a “Definite Major Purpose”. After much thinking, I decided mine is to be an artist and a patron. I am including the patron part in my business. I kit designs for bead artists and sell them on the web. In addition, I will be helping them with promotion, building a web presence and getting them recognized. Oh, and paying them a royalty when each kit is sold. This came about organically because I want both myself and my artists to make money.
    I think it’s possible to include all parts of ourselves in our businesses. Or if not, maybe it’s time to rethink the business we’re in….

  4. Laurie Sonnenfeld

    I was pretty knocked over today too, after much joy yesterday. External sources of hope and inspiration can be addictive, don’t you think? I’d like to start all my mornings with a shot of “Yes, We Can!” from the leader of the free world.
    I gathered friends and neighbors at my home to watch the inauguration live. Thirty five of us whooped and laughed and dabbed our eyes. We had such a great turnout for this gathering. One neighbor said as I finally sat down with everyone, “you *really* didn’t want to watch this alone, did you?” We all laughed. And it’s true. I feel the work within my work right now is to build community. Isolation is so disempowering and it’s easy to change it with just a little effort.
    It’s fun to design creative ways to use my business’s marketing dollars to help people meet and get to know each other and develop shared visions and projects.
    I like what you wrote. It spoke to me. Thanks.
    p.s. what’s with the photo of the doll and the gate?? It gives me the creeps!

  5. Elizabeth

    Oh my Molly!
    Heal, healing, healed. Hmmmmm….
    If you have a minor cut, you bleed a bit while the clotting mechanisms go into overdrive. With a normal immune system, this a well-timed physiological process that allows natural cleansing of the laceration and progressive closure. If sealed over too quickly, the wound and its contents are incarcerated to form an infected abscess that can fester and expand for a very long time.
    Note: A major hemorrhage requires far different interventions.
    I wonder if some splits in the psyche or the soul have some merit. Something wants to escape the rent, to emerge…gently, quietly at first. But, if captured, constrained too long, those psychic contents will slowly ooze through a tiny opening for a very long time — or — erupt violently with very slight provocation. (similar to a major laceration or spontaneous hemorrhage) In either scenario, what remains, is a raw, gaping trough of a wound that often requires lengthy, if not multiple, treatment interventions.
    So here’s the deal for me…..in case of an emergency, find help, ask lots of questions and take those actions sufficient to the need.
    Simple, but not always easy, no?

  6. Christina Colombo

    Cynicism is most often broken hearted idealism. As we reclaim our ideals we still have to face our broken hearts.
    Seems to me that there’s always a split in the world. There’s a chasm between where we are and where we could be, between the nuts and bolts practical and the spiritual, right brain/left brain and a plethora of other schisms. To invest and engage both sides of the split is to embrace the dicotomy. In doing so, we close the gap with our own lives.
    Business is the perfect crucible for moment by moment experimenting with the best possible amalgam. Each iteration changes the reality, so the right space shifts constantly. Through that we craft and evolve a new reality that is either less divisive or shifts the difference to a blessing. It’s Rilke’s “live the questions” in process.

  7. adela

    I’d like to sacrifice cynicism, too.
    Yesterday I thought I’d have the luxury of doing so.
    This morning I read Obama’s Inaugural Address.
    “We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.”
    You betcha!

  8. Marie

    Hi Molly,
    Thankyou so much, I needed this today. Right now I work at being a mom, rather than at my business, as I did when you coached me. But boy, today I needed to hear this, as I’m being very REAL, but not much else. Hugs to you. Marie

  9. Pat

    Hi, Molly.
    Thanks for you message. I didn’t see any typos.
    You remind me of what I know, we are all connected. The Spirit that flows in me, flows in you and in every other living thing and person. Separation is a perceived condition, not a real fact, IMHO.
    So, yes, I believe that when I heal some agony in my memories, when I clean my desk and make its reality useful, when I overcome a fear, when I learn to look in the mirror and compliment and encourage the woman in that mirror, you profit.
    When I make my vibrations clearer, more real, more “honest to god” Me, then the vibrations of the world are a bit more clear, real and honest.
    Love and Light,

  10. Tammy Vitale

    Ah. Thank you so much for this. You have given voice to a problem I wrote of just this morning to my longest friend: how do I reconcile my passion for art with my need to earn? How do I reconcile that all my non-profit (doing good) work has left me with no ability to retire? You didn’t really give me an answer (I think Elisabeth actually touched on things I need to think long and hard about), but it is *so good* to know that I am not the only one struggling with these swings. again, *thank you!*

  11. organicsyes

    Thinking this morning of dualistic thinking. So often, as you stated, we go from one side to the other. Yet how to hold two opposing ideas together? We are both the light and the dark, we live in and around both…so noticing the circle is key.
    On this circle, we can see ahead and behind, old ideas and new and the cycle that brings everything together as one.
    Thanks for this post:)

  12. Yvonne

    Very thoughtful insights, Molly. Following a day of elation, and realizing that we still have a democracy, I was surprised by the return of malaise. Malaise and disconnect have become bad habits fostered not only by the last administration, but events in my life. Your article helped some ideas bubble to the surface regarding optimism and applying the attitudes I so admire in President Obama. Thanks for the good post.

  13. Rita Wright

    Excellent and very thought provoking! Your words resonate in my mind as if they were my own. I too have been struggling with how I can earn a living online while keeping true to myself. Though I am not as well versed as you and the others who commented, I have begun my online experience by attempting to honestly identify my own agenda, and from there find those who positively influence me. With this approach I feel I will find my own voice.
    Having been a volunteer all my life, I too find that nearing 60 I have no income and circumstances have changed. If I let desperation take hold-I might make decisions I would not want to live with.
    Having followed you for awhile now, I am pleased to see my instincts were right, and I now have even more good people from which to learn (in the comments).
    Thank you Molly!

  14. Molly

    Joann – “I think it’s possible to include all parts of ourselves in our businesses. Or if not, maybe it’s time to rethink the business we’re in….” Yes!
    Laurie, You’re right, the photo is pretty creepy. What was I thinking?
    Elizabeth: mwah!
    Adela, How great to meet you here, wise one.
    Pat: Well said. “Separation is a perceived condition, not a real fact, IMHO.” IMHO, also!
    Tammy – thanks for reading and commenting. You know me, I’m more likely to leave you with questions than answers. 😉
    Rita, welcome to this amazing community. Thanks for sharing your experience. Sounds like your voice is coming along just fine.

  15. Molly

    Lordy! I just found a heap of comments from good people (Hiro, Christine, Yvonne, Marie, Jana, Susan) that had gotten trapped in the junk comments folder.
    On the plus side, folks, I found you because I had to go there to retrieve my own comment.
    Hmmmm… I’m not going to look for the meta-message in that one.
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for showing up and chiming in.

  16. Molly

    I inadvertently deleted a comment from someone who stated that she was sorry I had aired my political views and had unsubscribed from my ezine. I apologize. There were over 800 comments in the junk folder, and all but a handful were, in fact, spam. I didn’t see that this was legitimate until comment I had pushed the delete button.

  17. Carrie

    Molly, I have been following you for about a year and always find your words to be rays of verbal sunshine and just what the doc ordered. Today was no exception. I have a framed Obama print hanging in my office to remind me that I can do hard things, even impossible things. Yes, I can. You have taken me one step further by reminding me that even I am working for the collective good whether I am at my desk toiling over a writing project or out building a Habitat Home. Thank you sharing that realization.

  18. Joanne

    Typo Alert:
    Over on the side bar describing the three instructions in your book there is a sentence that reads:
    “And then I realized that the tools and techniques didn’t help me until I began to (missing word) certain things.”
    You might want to add a verb such as “do”, “allow”, “embrace”, “follow”, “live”, “embody”, “play with”, “get it through my thick skull”, “welcome”, or “trust”.
    What I just learned from a typo.
    When I saw the typo, if it is one?, I resisted posting a comment, because in my mind a typo correction is petty and small compared to all the heartfelt comments that it would stand next to. I wanted to project a wiser, sharper picture of myself than who I was in the moment. Funny that. I admire that you, Mollie, are not pretending to be a perfect editor and asking for help. Yet for me, pointing out a typo is not good enough.
    Then, I allowed myself to be where I was this morning; in a fog fuzzed mind, listening keenly, as you suggested, to Griselda and Prunella. And, come to find out; I found light in the dark. Contemplating what a verb could be besides “do” gave rise to possibilities and questions.
    Which verb best describes how to integrate the three instructions into life? Maybe it’s all of them?
    My curiosity is piqued by what the book says about being yourself, keeping the channel open, and questioning stressful thoughts. (Actually, I’m guessing that questioning stressful thoughts is The Work of Byron Katie).
    Thanks Mollie for this blog, and thanks to all of you for your comments. See any typos in this comment back? Please let me know.

  19. Joanne Diepenheim

    I see I spelled your name incorrectly.

  20. Maribeth

    Molly – I read this entry yesterday and spent quite a bit of time thinking about it through the day. I am also one of those who struggle with earning a living and serving people. I’m so glad I’m not alone in this. I’m not sure I have an answer to it yet but just knowing that it’s something other people struggle with gives me a sense of calm that wasn’t there before. So thank you Molly and the rest of your visitors who discussed this.

  21. Marion

    Not only was your Newsletter on target for me, but so are many of the other comments posted here!
    I was first struck by your line:
    “The split in the soul…stems from the belief that we are good, but not good enough”
    I will be presenting a workshop (for the first time) at the Healthcare for the Homeless Conference in D.C. in June, and I am simultaneously excited and terrified.
    Despite the fact that the topic is something I am passionate about, the thought of standing before a roomful clinicians, with far more formal education than I have obtained, feeds into my “not good enough” voices.
    Therefore I was also helped tremendously by your thought: “It’s not about being good, it’s about being real”.
    This reminded me that the other presentation I proposed (with a PhD co-chair) was NOT accepted for the agenda, whereas the one accepted is the one I am presenting with another consumer who has also been homeless. The reality is that we are uniquely qualified to present in this forum.
    There was so much in this newsletter that caught my attention and gave me food for thought that I would have to quote the majority of it. Suffice it to say your newsletters always hit a cord in me somewhere. Thank you for being real.
    P.S. One of the other things I have done in the past is edit copy, and I must say I’ve found your newsletters, even recently, to have few, if any typos or misspellings. My maiden name is Webster, so I would notice if there were! As my friends are constantly telling me: “STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP – you’re doing fine”

  22. Marijo

    Excellent Excellent Article…Thanks for that…You’re in my head)))
    Keep painting with that word pallet of yours…a beautiful read!

  23. Cindy Petersiel

    “The greatest work of all is to show up each day willing to not be “there” yet.” And sometimes that is the most difficult work.
    Thank you for reminder and the inspiration. Beautiful post!

  24. sabrina mantle

    Your comment about improving ourselves helps the world really struck me. I know in my life when ever I get to meet, be around, or work with some one who has really worked hard (and is still working on) self improvement I really feel it. I get inspired, renewed and feel my own work is increased through them. When I really think about it this is very powerful, I just never noticed it in that context. Thanks!

  25. Cynthia Samuels

    I can’t believe this! I’ve had, and written about, similar feelings. This is a lovely and effective meditation. Thanks for it.


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