It’s sometimes in our moments of greatest weakness that we find out who we truly are, and what we’re made of.
I run the day-to-day of brüks bars, which I co-own with my fiancé. Three years ago, I wouldn’t have guessed in my wildest dreams that my life would look like this. I spend my days like an orchestral conductor, managing many moving parts, like all leaders in small businesses. Holding our growing business together at every seam, and continuing to learn and develop as a business owner, woman, and leader is a balancing act I practice daily. Some days I conquer the world; or at least the world I live in. Other days, I stumble.
A week ago today, I stumbled. I’m not talking about the type of stumble where you hit your toe on a bump in the sidewalk, catch yourself, and walk it off like nothing happened. I’m talking a skinned knee face plant.
I spoke to a room full of people I respect and admire, while performing a mock investor pitch, and completely unraveled. Unlike other moments when I’ve cruised confidently onto stage, worked the room and left feeling proud, this was a disaster. Mentally, I’d been a mess for the previous two days, as I tried to fit in time to even write the words that I’ve spoken hundreds of times before. The night before, I couldn’t sleep, filled with anxiety. And moments before, my heart raced, head started pounding, and to my horror my voice cracked. I was frozen in fear.
This isn’t normal for me, at all. I’m confident, competent and probably at my best in front of people. But that day was not my day.
Skinned knee and all, it was my ego that got bruised the worst. Of the friends and colleagues that sat in the audience that day, my reviews were tender and understanding. Something like, ‘Go get ‘em next time, champ!’ I’m lucky to have such graciousness from the people around me. But my expectations are higher for myself, as they’ve been all my life.
I believe that every great leader has likely had past moments of weakness that have carved out their drive to succeed just a little bit deeper. (Or, at least, that’s what I’m hoping!) There are people who might succumb to moments of weakness or regret with fear that stifles, or freezes them. This is not, I imagine, the path of leadership. It’s those who choose to pick out the gravel, wipe themselves clean and learn from the sting of a bruised ego, that will themselves go on to become great.
I want greatness. I want to grow into a leader I’m proud to be, the kind my mentors are to me.
It’s easy to start a business. The hard work starts afterwards. We may have woken up technically as businesses owners a couple years ago, but we’re still 20-something-year-olds, trying our best to become our best selves, and build the best company we can. Each and every day we inch toward the business we envisioned when we started. A business that’s strength is reflected both in our values as a company, but in the people who choose to join us on this journey. Not every day can be a perfect day, but every day we learn something new and choose how to use this knowledge to propel ourselves, and our business forward.
The people who are part of our tribe and who show up and cheer no matter what kind of morning we have, because they have seen the fire inside of us, and would follow us anywhere. That’s the kind of company we’re building. That’s the kind of tribe we want.
So thank you, to every single one of you who cheer us on each and every day. No one ever said running a business would be easy, and it’s all of you who keep us moving forward. There isn’t one day we would change our fate, and we are truly lucky to be able to do something we love, for people we care about every single day.
I hope that one day I’m honored to earn that role of CEO of our company. Until then, I’m being kind to myself, and taking it one very conscious step at a time.
Don’t ever give up on your dreams, no matter how far away they seem. Look at the steps in front of you, not the top of the mountain, and soon you’ll be halfway to the top without realizing it.
Until next time,