La Vie en Orange turns 4 this month! It always seems fitting to do a little reflecting around birthdays (last year I named 10 truths about running your own business), and this year I realized that a lot of my truths about owning a business have also made my personal life a lot richer.
Here are 4 personal lessons I've learned in 4 years of peddling panties.
1 - "If it's not a 'hell yes,' it's a 'hell no.'" Or, follow your gut.
In business and in life you will be presented with so many opportunities. This shiny thing here, that whiz bang awesome there. Partnering with So and So or getting involved in XYZ Committee.
But everything you say yes to means you're saying no to something else: launching a kids' line, or exercise (don't tell!), or staying fluent in French. Or whatever.
And while not everything that's a "hell no" can be completely blown off (read: accounting. Or changing the kitty litter...), paying attention to opportunities that sound good but don't feel right can make for a much more fabulous path. Can you really give your all to something that's a drag, or that you feel resentful towards? Or, if you say yes to things that don't fill you up, can there be an expiration date so it's not an indefinite drain?
Mostly it just means I've just gotten better at thinking before I act. Considering the pros and cons of opportunities. And not giving answers right away. It's carried over into my personal life, and while it's somewhat contrary to the faster pace of everything, it fits, and it feels good, and it's made my life and my family's life a little bit richer, and I think it's made my business stronger.
Someday I'll hire someone who really really wants to make kids' undies. And then it will be a "Hell yes!"
(And thanks to Marie Forleo for the above quote.)
2 - Be patient times infinity.
This lesson works in all sorts of areas:
The hard work will pay off.
Very little is actually "urgent." You can wait. They can wait. It will be ok.
Almost everyone in the world is just doing their best at any given time, and our bests might be different from day to day, or moment to moment, depending on what's going on in our little micro-worlds.
3 - Very very very little is actually personal.
Very few people actually care about me enough, and are malicious enough to actually want to slight me. Or make me feel small. See above, "Almost everyone in the world is just doing their best at any given time, and our bests are different, depending on what's going on in our little micro-worlds."
So if something is going on, and I'm feeling small or slighted, it's probably my ego getting in the way. And who doesn't love a good ego check? :)
This business lesson has made being married (and really, all interpersonal relationships) so much easier. "Oh, you're just tired, and that's really all it is. How can I help support you to get the rest you need so that we're both happier?" ;)
4 - I'm not special.
Everyone hears these stories of the over night success and has dreams of being sustainably profitable in the first 3 months, and while I know I am a unique and tender snowflake, I have learned that I am not special. And it is so freeing.
Because if I am not special, I don't have to buck any trends, I don't have to compare myself to anyone inside or outside of my industry, and I don't have to "already be there." There's no pressure to perform at any level other than the level I'm performing at.
My journey is my journey and it is right because it is mine. And it might take 10 years for me to be an overnight success - Ellen Show, I've got my eyes on you... ;) But in the end, I'm not doing it for anyone else's praise or attention, I'm doing it because making sure that your undies help you face the day as your best self fills me up and lights my fire.
Outside of the undies world, life is easier because our decision to not have or have kids or paint a giant orange stripe around our living room don't need to be compared to what anyone else is doing. They just have to be right for us.
Bonus Banana Cheer lesson - Celebrate it all
Taking time, even when things are crazy, to reflect on, honor, and celebrate the goodness and opportunities for growth (read: yucky stuff) life gives you help you not look up and wonder where the time all went.
One of the best moments of my life was learning my business was going to be profitable for the first time. But not for the reason you might guess.
It's because right after we figured it out (I was at a craft show that went really well), I called my husband and we had a mutual love and adoration fest about how grateful we were for one another and how much it meant to each of us to be on this journey together. It still makes me teary-eyed to think back to it.
If I hadn't taken the time right then to call him, we might never have had that conversation.
And now, irrevocably, being profitable is tied, in my mind, to this warm, fuzzy, beautiful feeling. Which helps me work towards taking over the undies world.
And reinforces telling Husbie all the ways in which he helps make my life more wonderful.
I never knew starting my own business would help (read: force) me to face all this emotional baggage. I'm glad it has, but it hasn't been easy or without tears. Luckily, I have the amazing support of my family, community, and you, dear client, to help get me through it and make the best darn undies we can.
Have you learned any of these lessons or do they make you think of any truths you've discovered on your own? Please comment below.
And hang tight, because next week the birthday celebrations are going to hit a fever pitch: the biggest giveaway of the year is coming!
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