Carol Hampshire is a designer helping entrepreneurs to create soul-aligned brands. She started her design business over 24 years ago, and combines her experience with intuition so her clients get a powerful online brand that combines their unique essence and personality. Carol joined me on The FastForwardAmy Show to talk about working through fears, creating a strong mindset, and of course how to create a soul-aligned brand that feels right.
From employee to boss
Some people just aren’t made to work in offices for a boss. Carol is one of those people. She worked in corporates and advertising agencies for a little while before leaving to start her own business when she realised she couldn’t take it anymore. “A lot of entrepreneurs experience this – they have a boss but they’re so unaligned to what they’re doing,” says Carol. “I know, because I remember crying and crying. I walked out to the beach saying ‘I can’t do this anymore’, and handed in my notice that day.” Carol didn’t have any clients at that point – just sheer determination.
So what was it that made Carol realise she couldn’t work for a boss? “It was the confines of not having the freedom to do what I want. I realised that that was one of my core values: being able to live my own life, have my own hours, and create my own creations, instead of being told what to do and how to do it.”
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You can’t pour from an empty cup
I’m a big proponent of freedom, and that’s something all my clients know about me – because freedom leads to happiness. But even when you know your core values, it’s not always easy prioritising them. Carol agrees. “What I’m discovering for myself is that leaving a corporate and starting your own business actually ends up at times being more of a prison,” she says. “That’s because I end up working extremely hard hours, I end up pushing myself more than I should, and I’m not a good boss to myself. The lines blur a lot between me being the CEO of my business and me being the designer in my business. The designer isn’t the CEO, she’s the one who just works and works and doesn’t know when to stop.”
It’s all about striking a balance, and knowing when to create space for yourself. Carol and I are both in Sabrina Phillips’ mastermind, which is also how we know each other, and it’s something that we discuss often. “Sabrina is so busy but she makes sure she has that space around her, so she can keep her energy levels high and be on top of her game,” says Carol. It’s something she has seen for herself, too: “the more space I create around my work projects, the more creative I’m getting, and the more excited I’m getting about my work!”
We know that creating space is important. But what are the signs that tell us we need to make space?
“I’ve always been extremely busy. I’m really good at manifesting amazing people to work with, but sometimes I’m not very good at saying ‘I need more time’”, says Carol. “I tend to try and please people because I love my clients so much. But that means I tried to do too much in a short space of time, leaving me feeling really burnt out.”
Carol says that feeling uninspired is a big sign you need to create some space for yourself in your business. It doesn’t have to be a hardcore burnout, but if you’re exhausted and not feeling excited by your work as much anymore, that’s a good sign that you look to protect your boundaries. “The more I nurture myself, the more I can support other people and create amazing work,” says Carol.
You probably know the popular expression ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’. I realised a little while ago that my cup was only a little bit full. I wanted the cup to be overflowing, but it was actually at risk of breaking. What helped for me – even over the past weeks – is distinguishing between the entrepreneur and coach halves of my job. The entrepreneur Amy has two businesses and maybe she wants to invest in a few. Then coach Amy wants to help everyone. I’ve had to make space for my entrepreneur recently – and maybe you need to do the same for yourself.
How to create space around you
It’s easy to get overwhelmed as an entrepreneur.
Whether you’re thinking about…
- Your team
- How to keep your clients happy
- Filing your taxes
- Marketing your business
- Perfecting your sales funnels
…there’s always something to do.
“It comes down to priorities,” says Carol. “I realised I needed to increase my prices. I got support in creating a beautiful product suite, so I could work with more people alongside the 1:1.”
The most important thing? “Realise that it’s okay to say no, and to take a weekend off.
It’s okay as an entrepreneur to not look at your email all weekend, or do client work.”
Even just a weekend without work can feel like a long vacation if you’ve been overworked for a long time. Carol experienced such rejuvenation after a weekend off that she made it a priority in her schedule. She’s also inspired to include modules on self care into all of her courses, something that wouldn’t necessarily have happened if she hadn’t experienced burnout symptoms.
Breaking through mental blocks
One of my biggest breakthroughs lately has been thinking about what I needed a few years back in my journey as an entrepreneur. That feels aligned to me, which is what Carol is all about.
Carol says that it’s easy for us to get caught up in trying to do too much, and we forget what our deeper soul purpose is.
“We change the whole time and it’s important to listen to our soul and listen to that evolution. We need to not get too stuck in what we’re doing, and being too comfortable. It’s about extending yourself and breaking our boundaries. Being a true leader is listening to your soul and taking that next step,” says Carol.
You might notice yourself falling into the trap of waiting for things to be perfect in your business.
“By October, my product suite needs to be set up.”
“I need my funnels to be perfect.”
“I’ll launch when I hit 10k followers.”
But actually, entrepreneurship is the journey.
It’s the most confronting journey you’ll ever go on, but it’s so worth it.
Carol says that it’s about giving ourselves permission.
“We tend to wait for someone to give us permission, or someone to say ‘now you’re ready, you can do it now,’” explains Carol. “But we can call ourselves leaders right now. We can choose our mindset right now. Not when you’ve got X Instagram followers or X in the bank or X people on our course. It’s so liberating.”
It comes down to having a strong mindset, and most of all, being able to recognise difficult feelings when they arise within us. We can’t be perfect all of the time, but remind yourself as much as possible that you really do have the power to change your mindset.
Some days, you’ll feel a little sh*tty. I asked Carol how she deals with these moments.
Carol suggests telling yourself “I know this isn’t me, I’ll get out of it in a couple of days, and it’s just a process.”
Recognise your growing pains
Being aware of negative feelings when they arise is already half of the battle. I’ve experienced this myself: at certain times in the past few years, I’ve been through growing pains in my business. My mindset is a lot stronger now, but these feelings still arise from time to time. Realising that “oh, these are just growing pains. This is what scaling a business means. It’s not all bad” really helped me by bringing back an element of control.
Carol says that we might feel bad in part because we’re not used to seeing our leaders share their pain. Once people have become a massive success, they’re happy to talk about mistakes and difficult times from their past, but people tend to be silent when they’re in the middle of those struggles. “We just assume that the people we look up to have got these perfect systems and everything goes smoothly in their lives, and when it doesn’t go perfectly for us, we ask where we’ve gone wrong,” says Carol. “The truth is, we’re not perfect. No matter where you are on the scale of business – we all have the same feelings.”
It’s true: even looking at my podcast statistics shows that some topics – fear of failure, imposter syndrome, and struggles – are the best performing episodes.
People tend to think that those feelings disappear when you become successful, but doubts will always creep in. Everyone thinks they suck from time to time – it’s just recognising it and what you do with it afterwards that matters.
“All our fears get elevated as much as we elevate,” says Carol. “They will always be a part of us.”
Most people will find that they have some sort of core wound that’s at the route of all other wounds.
For Carol, it’s not feeling good enough. For me, it’s about control.
In the past, my parents had a lot of financial difficulties and I was too little to do anything, which has made me focus on finances a lot. At the same time, I was sick for a few years as a kid so it makes sense that I feel that way. When I feel myself spiralling I recognise that it’s control. I want to be in control of how other people see me. Recently, I was feeling kinda icky, and I was asking myself why I felt that way. It always helps to look at the core thing that everything relates back to.
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Investing in self development will change your life
To work through our core wounds and be the best version of ourselves, investing in self development can be life changing. Carol’s approach to self development is a little on the unusual side:
“I go and swim in cold water! There’s no better therapist than swimming in water that’s below 10 degrees. Pretty cold! There’s no other way for me than to get centred and get clear on what’s important. The water is so cold that it burns you.
There’s no room for fear.
Therapeutically it’s one of the strongest things that helps me get over myself. My wish one day is to go into ice water, 5 degrees or lower. There’s a moment where you can choose to fight it and you feel the pain, or you can surrender and just let go. I know it’s corny! But in the water when you do that, there’s a beautiful warm tingly feeling that comes. You almost get euphoric. You just have to feel, because your mind is telling you it’s not right, but your body is saying it can do this. I’ve done a Wim Hof workshop and that has to be one of the most powerful things that anyone can do for themselves.”
So there you have it: do you want to invest in your self development? Jump in an ice pool. Or hire a business coach, whatever floats your boat…
Feel the fear and do it anyway
You might have seen the quotes all over Instagram about being fearless. Actually, I like to think that it’s not about being fearless, it’s about feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Courage isn’t necessarily the absence of fear!
It’s not always easy, for sure. Carol says that in South Africa, where she’s based, there aren’t many people in the online business world, which means she hasn’t really found anyone to model herself on within her community. “But that’s fine – maybe I can become that to other people!” says Carol.
At the end of the day, it’s good to remember this key fact: “your mind is the gatekeeper.” As Carol points out, “you’ll only go as far in life and in business as you think you can.”
You might also have seen that popular Instagram quote: whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right. Boom.
Instead of telling yourself you can’t do something, ask yourself what if?
What if you can do more?
What if you can earn 100k a month easily?
It’s not always going to be easy, but having a solid mindset sure helps you along the way.
Coaching can be a tough process. Sometimes, people won’t let you hold up a mirror. They’ll back off, or they won’t show up again. But it’s the beauty of looking at your own shadows and breaking through them.
Let me give you a personal example. I’m in the process of buying a house, and it’s a pretty big house, especially for someone who’s 27.
I’m feeling all the emotions: I’m happy, I’m proud, I’m a bit ashamed.
I looked at that house as the upper limit of all the money in the world, which I realise isn’t true. I’m experiencing survivor guilt. I feel like I’m not allowed to buy this house, or I can’t tell people about it. I keep downplaying. But I’m practising getting better at this already by talking about it now! You’ve got to push through the uncomfortable feelings.
People often ask me how I make progress so fast, and the answer is this: I’m open to not knowing everything. The moment you think you know everything is the beginning of the end.
Dealing with fear of success
Something that we don’t talk about much is fear of success. It’s something that both Carol and I have experience with.
“I feel ashamed sometimes at how successful I am,” explains Carol. “I don’t want to make others feel bad, but that’s another self sabotaging system at play. But these people who I don't even know – I’m worried about how they think of me.” Even though we know that other people’s success (or lack of it) has nothing to do with us, we can still feel so guilty about this.
This is something that people might not expect with me. I’ve been thinking about my fear of success, which is something I’ve been feeling recently, but hadn’t dealt with for a while.
Carol says that it’s in part because each time we level up, we’re faced with new challenges, and we almost take a little step back.
“As soon as you start hitting that next income bracket that you’ve been working towards for so long, you think ‘now what?’,” she explains. “People drop down a bit because we need a goal before we uplevel again. If you want to earn 5k, then you hit it and fall back again before you go for 10k.”
That makes sense! So how do we work around these feelings?
Carol suggests following leaders who are earning more, if you’re struggling with a related feeling of guilt. “Choose leaders or people who inspire you wisely,” recommends Carol. “There are women out there earning 100k a month and having healthy relationships and raising families and having time to go to the beach and gym and travel. It’s possible. The more I look at mentors like that, it helps me, and hopefully I can be that for people.”
When it comes to following other people, you might be surprised to hear that I hardly consume any external knowledge. I have read a lot in the past, and there are seasons in which I’ll consume a lot. I also always pay for masterminds and coaches – which is always a good idea! Dare to invest in yourself.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to spend all day on the Internet, and then not do anything with what you’ve learned. Sometimes I want to put my clients on a consumption diet. I know this first-hand: I used to read all the articles on productivity from the world’s wealthiest people. But that doesn’t actually make you more productive in real life, unless you take action. Please stop filling your head with other people’s accomplishments, and focus more on yours! Create unapologetic space for yourself.
Be okay with being just you
Carol has experienced struggles in her life, but they have helped shape her into the person she is today. A few years ago, Carol escaped from a big fire in her town in South Africa, along with her son and her animals. They had such a narrow escape that they could feel the heat as they left, and their whole house was burned down. How can there be a silver lining in such a traumatic, significant life experience?
Carol says that losing everything in the fire – literally leaving with a handful of items – taught her that the structure that we think our life has can end at any moment. If that happens, all we have left is us. The core of who we are.
“As I was driving away, and looking in the rearview mirror I saw the fires following us. It was a phenomenal gift,” says Carol. “I had to be okay with being me, with nothing.”
Playing around is the path to abundance and success
Even if you’ve experienced hardship and difficult times, new experiences can help to rebuild you. For Carol, it was a retreat in Mozambique that proved to be life-changing. “Swim with wild dolphins, and your life changes!” she says. “Being in the presence of these animals is awe inspiring. It’s like the stillness of meditation – sharing their space with you.”
You don’t necessarily have to go swimming with wild dolphins, but it is a good idea to find a way to get away and get out of yourself for a while. Find an escape from life, even if that’s sitting in your living room listening to music that reminds you of vacation.
“Playing around is the path to abundance and success,” says Carol. “Everyone has something that brings them so much joy and playfulness.”
Branding is a fluid extension of yourself
What’s the one thing that Carol wishes everyone knew about creating a soul-aligned brand?
“I’d love people to see branding as a fluid extension of themselves,” she says. “Don’t think you need to stick with it for the rest of your career. You might get sick of those colours in a year’s time, but that’s fine, just tweak it slightly. The whole thing about branding is just to keep it really light. The more you can align with who you are at the moment, the more it’s going to manifest the right situations. The more natural you are, the more likely you are to attract soul aligned clients.”
Wise words to live by.
Do you want to get clarity on your true essence and learn how you can share your purpose with your audience in an authentic way? Then download the free workbook that Carol has made for you in which she teaches you ‘How to Create a Soul-Aligned Brand’.
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NOTE: We will share your information with Carol Hampshire's team.
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