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Renee Ballard

How to tell you’re enmeshed

When your personal values are aligned with your business values, you get a great synergy between you and your business. In the big business world, these guys did it well: Richard Branson – Virgin, Anita Roddick – The Body Shop, Steve Jobs – Apple.

When your personal values have overstepped into your brand values and it’s not working, it looks like this: enmeshment. It’s when your business starts to get strangled by your deeper need for something else.

I met a web designer recently whose website promises that ‘by the end of the project, we’ll be besties’. Argh! And as if? Anyone who has ever embarked on any project worth its salt knows that becoming besties with your contractor is the last thing on your mind. I have a hunch one of her personal values might be friendship and she’s misplaced onto her business’ shoulders.

To keep the harmony between your personal values and your business values, you need to make sure your business can deliver what you’re asking. Humans are as complicated as businesses are simple, so they can only deliver so much in return.

Here’s a couple of surefire ways to tell if your values are strangling your business and your expectations have become enmeshed with your business’ success:

  1. Money-ick

If you feel icky charging money for what you sell, then somewhere along the line, you’ve blurred the lines between what you stand for and what your business stands for. If charity is one of your personal values and you’ve morphed into a business value too, then it’s going to make charging money for what you sell feel a little off.

  1. Dichotomy

I’ve seen this happen a lot in the corporate sector. Big bosses decide they want the brand to become a ‘disrupter’ or an ‘industry thought leader’, but when it comes to crunch, any opportunity to be disruptive and thought-provoking quickly gets shut down. This is a classic case of CEOs with personal values like conservative, tradition and/or caution, overriding the surface desire to be a business maverick.

  1. Unrealistic

There are things your business can do for you and things it can’t. When we put unrealistic intentions on our business and we get upset when it doesn’t deliver, enmeshment has crept in. If one of your personal values is to feel cherished, I don’t know if any client can ever provide you with that level of care?!

If you’re noticing you feel funny about charging for what you do, that your business doesn’t sound like you thought it would, or it’s letting you down, it’s time to take a step back. Make two lists, one with your personal values and one with your brand values, then line by line, pinpoint where the ick is creeping in and get it out!



  1. Wendy Hammond on November 24, 2017 at 9:24 am

    Such a good blog. As a therapist it’s really hard not to blur the boundaries. This is an excellent reminder that the service I provide is disrupted, rather than enhanced, when I do so. Personal values are different than business values… make two lists. Smart.

    • Renée Ballard on November 27, 2017 at 7:50 am

      Hi Wendy! So glad you enjoyed my post. Totally agree about the blurred lines, it creeps up on us and it’s easy to overlook when it happens.

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