A Letter to My Business Mentor: From Fear to Confidence

I recently had a great e-mail exchange with my long-time mentor, who is the CEO of an engineering company in the US Midwest.

He asked me how things are going.

Here was my response:


Hi [Mentor],

It’s so nice to hear from you. I finally started blogging more frequently, starting with a gratitude post about Naturopathic Doctors. Now 5 weeks later, it’s being shared by naturopathic practitioners and supporters across the country!

naturopathic doctors, naturopathy, physician practice, alternative medicine, healthcare, healthcare philosophy, healthcare management

I’ve also been learning a lot about the importance of consistency. The past year has brought a lot of success, but quite a few failures too. Several things that were supposed to work out ended up failing spectacularly. Despite my initial disappointment, it was actually a great chance to review lessons learned.

I spent some time evaluating what went wrong and adjusting both my expectations and my to-do list.

I asked myself:

  • On which activities am I spending the most time, money, & energy right now?
  • Do those activities directly impact my strategic outcomes?
  • How can I adjust my schedule to make those few essential activities a priority?

The biggest surprise since our last mentoring chat is how painful and scary it feels to let go of perfection and “fail forward.” I’ve been holding ideas and nearly-completed blog posts hostage for 3 long years. It’s so tempting to ruminate endlessly, but doing so keeps the gift of positive change from those who need it most.

Recently I’ve been reading What the Dog Saw, a collection of stories by author and TED Talk speaker Malcolm Gladwell that were originally published in The New Yorker. (The title “What the Dog Saw” is a reference to Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer.)

What the Dog Saw, Malcolm Gladwell, Tipping Point, author, book, Cesar Millan
What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell is also the author of OutliersBlink, and The Tipping Point.

In the chapter “Late Bloomers: Why Do We Equate Genius With Precocity, he describes why some artists are successful while still young, and others aren’t recognized until much later. Their talent must percolate and simmer until one day, it majestically emerge from the chrysalis.

Some entrepreneurs seem to be like Mozart: young, celebrated, and popularized. We may spend years experiencing trials and disappointments…
crushing losses and small victories…
and long periods where nothing seems to be happening.

Each new lesson gets quietly added to the smelting crucible of life.

Smelting, smelter, crucible, gold smelting, gold, refining, gold flakes, pure gold, impurities
A smelting crucible burns away impurities from the pure gold


With the passing of time, we can allow once-important but no longer needed transition elements to burn away. All that remains is a pure confidence and self-assurance, which cannot be bought or artificially created.

Facing the fears, disappointments, and failures directly makes us stronger. Those long years of quiet reflection and plodding forward when the world looks dark is a refining process.

Once we endure it, we can finally appreciate what was happening all along: A profound internal process of fully understanding who you are, what you’re here to do, and why the wait was necessary.

That period of reflection happened to me over the past 3 years. I finally took the plunge by sharing some very personal thoughts with the world in Why #MeToo Inspired Me to Be Transparent and Share My Failures.

metoo, me too, inspiration, transparent, transparency, failures, business failures, entrepreneur, business ownership, trauma, abuse

And in the next few weeks I’m planning to talk about other topics that have been percolating for years.

Topics like:

  • Why I burned out as a manager and how minimalist tactics helped me feel in control again
  • How to make sense of workplace intimidation
  • The benefits of conducting a Year In Review, rather than focusing only on future planning
  • Why I love using a Feng Shui framework in strategic planning
  • Steps to developing a business niche (which very few companies do well)
  • How I learned to identify Ideal Customers (a huge mystery for most business owners)
  • Why gates are important in your sales cycle (a lot of money and energy is lost in the hand-offs, rather than at the point of sale)
  • Using a Vision Board as a strategic planning tool
  • How essential oils have impacted my planning process

Several of these topics are going to be difficult to share. But I know that others can benefit from my experiences, and that’s what really matters.

So to sum up, I have learned that effective growth happens because of

  1. consistent communication,
  2. honest self-evaluation, and
  3. an appreciation for the slow-burn rather than assuming that nothing is happening.

I appreciate you keeping me accountable, [Mentor]. Thanks for checking in on me.



Are you facing overwhelming challenges as a business owner? If you feel stuck and want to move forward, find out more here.


Grace LaConte is a business consultant, writer, workplace equity strategist, and the founder of LaConte Consulting. Her risk management tools are used around the globe, and she has successfully reversed toxic work environments for clients in the healthcare and non-profit fields. Grace specializes in lactation law compliance & policy development, reducing staff turnover after maternity leave, and creating a participatory work culture.

Find more at laconteconsulting.com, or connect with her on Instagram and Twitter @lacontestrategy.

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