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3 Ways My Son's Heart Surgery Helped Me Grow My Business After getting through my baby's health emergency, it hit me: It was time to stop playing small in my life and in my business.

By Caitlin Strempel Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

XiXinXing | Getty Images

In 2017, I took my son in for what I thought was going to be a routine check-up, but it turned out to be the most devastating day of my life. When my son, Wyatt, was 2 months old, we discovered he was born with a heart defect. We were told by the doctors to immediately go to the hospital for monitoring until he could get scheduled for heart surgery.

We were in and out of the hospital for weeks for monitoring, procedures and mitigating complications. My husband slept on the tile floor while I stayed glued to my son without seeing sunshine or feeling fresh air for days at a time.

Those days and weeks were blurry, but when we were home and settled back into our normal routines, I had a lot of time to reflect. One day as I was lying in the grass outside, it hit me: It was time to stop playing small in my life and in my business. I was no longer available to work 60-hour weeks with little sleep and pay. I was no longer available to be consumed with what other people thought of me. And I was definitely no longer available to waste time doing things that didn't bring me absolute joy. A few months after that realization, my business growth exploded and I went from making $40k a year to multiple six figures working way less than I ever had before.

Here are the top three reasons that this harrowing experience with my son led to that growth.

I made my goals even bigger

My son's heart procedure helped me understand that life is a gift — and that I was completely under-living my own life. It made me realize that the subtle feelings I had that I was meant for more were there — because I was indeed meant for more. I quickly stopped ignoring those signs and started taking chances on really big goals.

I started pitching bigger and more inspiring clients. I revamped my company processes and offerings so I could start charging three times what I was charging before. Instead of developing plans to help me hit six figures, I started developing plans to help me hit seven figures.

It's important to continually evaluate your goals and ask yourself, "How can I be better and do better?" When you ask yourself this and take action, it will be very hard to ever hit a plateau.

Related: How Big Goals Supercharge Entrepreneurial Motivation

I became aware of my fears

Although it's easier said than done, it's important to realize that most of our fears are trivial when compared to almost losing a loved one. A healthy mindset and perspective are crucial when making business decisions.

I always wanted to be in the spotlight for my accomplishments and business, but there was always the underlying fear of judgment from others. I've had a need to be loved by everyone ever since I was a little girl. It took a lot of introspection to realize that I had a fear of judgment that was keeping me invisible to the people who truly needed what I had to offer.

The best thing you can ever do in your life and business is to determine your shadows and fears. Is the fear of failure making you procrastinate? Is the fear of rejection keeping you from reaching out to a lead? Is the fear of judgment holding you back from showing up in a more impactful way? By just becoming aware of these deep-rooted, hidden fears, you are allowing yourself to move past them so you can become more successful.

Whenever I was faced with the nerves of speaking or writing my truth in an article, I could tell myself it was just the fear of judgment and that moving past that fear would make me successful.

Related: 11 Fears Every Entrepreneur Must Overcome

I developed steadfast boundaries

I knew that in order to live my best life, it was time to put strict boundaries in place. I was done working with people who were rude, working 60+ hours a week and putting work ahead of myself and my family. Deciding to protect my energy and time was the best thing I could have ever done for my business.

I started to only work with companies and people who inspired me with their passion and kindness. Instead of working overtime, I hired and grew my team to help me achieve more without working more. I prioritized my physical and mental health so I could show up in my business and my personal life fully and with more energy and acuity.

You are the foundation that your business is built upon. It's up to you and only you to make sure that the foundation is solid and stays solid. While a shaky business will crumble more easily, a well-grounded business will stand the test of time and ensure quick and efficient growth.

Related: Adopt These 12 Habits for a Better Work-Life Balance

You don't have to almost lose someone you love to reset your mind for business growth

Wyatt is almost 4 years old now and he is thriving. His favorite things are swimming, acting silly, and, of course, causing mischief just like most kids do. Although I never wanted to go through the experience of his heart surgery, I wouldn't trade it for the world. What I learned from it and how much more deeply I appreciate life and all that comes with it is invaluable.

You certainly do not have to go through what I did in order to shift your perspective. As you look to grow, know that you will only grow as much as your mind allows you, so keep your vision massive. As your business grows, your fears will grow — so make sure you are ready to go head-to-head with whatever comes your way.

Remember — life is a gift. Enjoy the journey and appreciate all of the lessons. It will be much harder to grow on shaky, uninspired ground, so keep your foundation strong and make sure you are having fun along the way.

Caitlin Strempel

CEO of Rising Ranks Digital

Caitlin Strempel helps businesses scale to million-dollar months more quickly and effortlessly through high-level marketing strategy and SEO management. She believes that if we champion for the success of others that our own success is inevitable. Learn more at

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