Earlier this month, I talked about the Bears (and how to keep them from eating your business).

That post sort of explains the comeback to small biz ownership I made last year. But it’s not the whole story. Nope.

See, this is the anniversary of something pretty darn huge for me. Something that — on it’s surface — might seem a little underwhelming to most of you.

It was one year ago today that I started a personal blog. Just as a way to get back in touch with my long-lost passion: writing.

Funny how things unfold. Once I stepped back into the role of writer (a role I had relinquished during my senior year of college), I found…my voice!

And it wasn’t long before I realized (duh!) that I wanted (no, needed) to focus on writing in my work. It only took me about two months after that, to figure it all out. (I launched this site on May 17, 2011.)

Inspiration for the Word Chef — as a brand and a business — came to me in the shower. (I often do my best thinking there!)

Before I could say “Have some cioppino,” I was writing entire blog posts in my head as I whipped up dinner. (And yes, the cooking metaphors do seem to be endless. For that, I apologize in advance.)

And then? I picked up a copy of Seth Godin’s Linchpin. It was a book I’d been meaning to read, but had put off because my heart was busy falling for Mr. Perfect.

Yes, sometimes you have better things to do than read a Seth Godin book. But not often!

Anyway. In this beautiful little book was a phrase that seemed to jump right off the page at me:  The future belongs to chefsnot to cooks or bottle washers. 

And after reading the manifesto that summarizes Mr. Godin’s thoughts on the Linchpin opinions, I decided I needed a manifesto of my own.

Something that would help me crystallize my ideas and values for this new business I was birthing. Something that would act as my touchstone, inspiration and branding message all in one.

The Lesson: Embrace Your Whole (Human) Self

Writing the manifesto was a process. I didn’t just sit down and create it as is.

There were (are) refinements.

Yes, I captured the bulk of it in one sitting. But then I had to let it sit on the back burner of my brain and “stew” awhile.

I had to play with it like a bread maker kneads her dough — punching it down and letting it rise back up in a warm spot on the hearth.

I feel like I’ve pretty much captured the entirety of what I needed to say. But who knows? There may yet be more to discover.

The big lesson for me was an unexpected side benefit from the writing process. The self-reflection required that I look at what was different from my last attempt at self-employment.

I’d been in business before — so why did I think I could do it better this time around?

I looked back to 2006 and the mission I’d put in place then: Social Good Marketing helps its clients create waves of positive change.

I would be a shining example of how business could change the world.

And for awhile it seemed to work really well. Until it didn’t. (Which is another story altogether — written about at length for A Year With Myself.)

If you put your ideals on a pedestal, you’re sure to trip over them on the way down. In short, I couldn’t live up to my own values.

But I only just realized that last year.

Up until that time, I thought it was my clients who couldn’t live up to them.

Um. NO. It was me. And guess what? Once I got that, I felt like I could breathe again. I knew — then and there — that at least part of what I needed to do this time around, was allow for the gray areas of being human. To not draw a line in the sand so deep that it would come back to bite me in the as$.

To be comfortable with imperfection in all its glorious forms and lessons. And to keep writing!