In the middle of everything happening right now, I was hoping some incredibly wise words would just pour out and this would be the easiest article I’d ever written. Instead I’ve started it about 6 times. Each draft ends in a fear that you’d think how I could ever understand what you are going through because I no longer have my shop. And that’s where this begins, actually. Out of fear.
I keep thinking back to about a year ago when I was struggling to make the decision to stay open or close. My ideas and creativity with the exciting challenges it would bring pulled me to stay open while the exhaustion and overwhelming responsibilities which kept me from my family pulled me to close. I was a mess and to me, I felt it showed to everyone because I just didn’t know what to do or what would come next. And I lived amongst the fear of the unknown. Some of what I imagine you’re feeling about now. And three different thoughts come to mind.
Now if you didn’t know, #1) I’ve sat in my store many times saying “I’m done” and “I’m done” (no, not a typo). #2) I believe I can be FEARLESS or FEAR LESS (again, not a typo). And #3) I have a fierce love of angel wings and the ideas of angels walking among us giving sage advice and leading us to the right decisions. So what do these possibly have in common? They are my guiding principles in making a choice.
So, #1: Now you’ve already had to make the choice on temporarily closing or staying open. But the hardest part is yet to come. What to do from there. Well, first you have to make the decision to say “I’m done” or “I’m DONE”. While they might look the same, they are miles apart in meaning. Change the inflection as you read it, that will make all the difference in the world. As you choose, do you tell yourself “I’m done” with a quiet, meek, I’ve given up voice or are you more of “I’m DONE” in a resolute and powerful way to tell the world you have more in you than ever realized and you’re done letting it make the choices for you?
I’ve had those moments – ones in which I sat in my store and cried thinking I just can’t do it anymore; I want to quit and I want to just let it go. But during the crying, I usually had something in me telling me to wipe the tears, stop hiding under the counter (it was a great spot) and FIGURE IT OUT. I was afraid of any other decision because I didn’t want to just give up. I didn’t always know what the next step was going to be, but I knew that I had to fight through the unfamiliar to keep moving forward.
Principle #2: We all carry fear with us. The fear of the unknown, the fear of trying new things, the fear of letting others down, the fear of looking ridiculous…and especially right now dealing with the fear of what’s going to happen next. The next few weeks and months are going to dictate how your stores run and how you’ll have to plan for whatever else the future holds. So how do you do it? How do you even think about what to do next? It’s taking a play out of a playbook…FEARLESS of FEAR LESS. Again, they look the same, but completely different. Every situation I’ve been in, I’ve had to make a choice. I know the fear is there and I know which fears can stop me in my tracks and which ones just make me pause. But either way, I have to go through them.
When I become FEARLESS my choice to hit it straight on to power through. This means I sit down and write out my plans. It usually involves great big post-it notes with step-by-step check off lists and I prioritize them. Or, I have to decide to just FEAR LESS and walk with baby steps to navigate the right path. I may not know exactly what my plan is or how I’ll execute it, but I know one will evolve. FEARLESS is logical and methodical while FEAR LESS is more fluid and allows me to be more creative. Either way, again I’m still moving forward.
And finally, #3) Now this last one is a doozy. Angels. Some might like to use other names like friend, acquaintance, co-worker, or even random stranger. Whatever you choose, just think of them as guides. Last year as I was trying to make a decision on closing the store, I had an encounter with an older gentleman on a shuttle bus to the airport while I was in Alabama. It was a rainy morning and I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it home that day because of the weather here in Nebraska. As I was getting on the shuttle, another hotel employee suggested I sit in the front passenger seat instead of in the back because I was the only guest, so I jumped in and heard gospel music playing on the radio. When we pulled out of the hotel drive, I said “I hope I get home today”. He replied, “hope’s a prayer – faith is knowing that it’s going to happen.” Right there I knew I was in for an interesting jaunt. Once we hit the main road, he glanced at me and told me he believes God gives him messages to pass on to people and he had one for me… “Move forward. Don’t stay stuck.” I was still as he kept talking, “God puts you right where you belong. And even if you stray, you’ll be where you are supposed to be.”
I was frozen in disbelief as he said it, but then quickly grabbed my phone and wrote it down so I wouldn’t ever forget his exact words. Tears were rolling down my face as he continued to talk, not knowing the effect his message was having. He was telling me I had to choose because not making a decision was making the wrong one. In essence, to stop wasting my time and energy on being afraid and NOT making a choice and focus on what I truly needed to do. Shortly after that, I asked God to basically slam the door because I wasn’t good at any subtle hints He might be making. That’s when the landlord walked in to tell me my space was going to someone else. The store was closing, and I still had decisions to make, but these were easier because I knew going out with grace was important and I became FEARLESS in my exit plan. I was able to move forward once again.
Only you know what your strategy is during this fearful time. Knowledge is the enemy of fear and the more you learn right now, you’ll be steps ahead as you say, “I’m Done”. This is not the time to hide nor is it the time to stay stuck in the process, it’s the time to fight. Fight for what you truly know is best for your business and your life. Decide to be FEARLESS (or FEAR LESS) in your pursuit of the answers and listen closely for the guidance by fellow store owners and by the unexpected. Because here’s the deal: after this initial chaos has ended, your store (and your life) may just turn out even more AHmazing than you possibly imagined.