It’s great to reflect. Reflection gives us the opportunity to look at where we’ve come from, where we’ve been, and understand why we are where we are now. Why we are the person we have become today, both for the good and the bad. On Monday 9th December The Garden will have been trading for 5 years. It’s our 5th birthday!!! Over the years I have been asked so many questions about our business and about my journey. As we approach this huge milestone I have taken some time out to reflect on my own life. In this post I consider the defining moments in my life that looking back, were actually the building blocks for good business acumen and the moments that I believe gave me the entrepreneurial qualities needed to run a business. So, what qualities do you need to be an entrepreneur?
As a child I loved babies. I would always want to hold them, play with them, feed them, help out with them. One day my Dad turned to me and said “You will own your own nursery one day”. These 8 words stuck with me. At first in a subconscious sense and later in a way that helped me understand why I’ve got a business idea running through my mind at all times. The way my dad framed his language when talking to me as a child meant that I grew up with an instilled belief that I would one day own my own business. I am extremely blessed to have the most incredibly supportive parents who never lose faith in me and my potential – no matter where my journey takes me. Fast forward to 2014 and on the cusp of handing in my notice within a respectful career as a school teacher to embark on the unknown and open The Garden. What I can only describe as a universal pull, an overwhelming urge and belief that this is what I needed to do and an unwavering faith that it was going to succeed. Having unshakable belief in myself, in the idea and in the universal powers that would help bring it to fruition.
In 2010 I worked for my Dad in his telecommunications business for 10 months. I hated every minute. I had no idea what the product was or how I was supposed to market it and with it being such a small team no one had any time to train me up or show me how it worked. The office was in an area of Manchester with a high crime rate and there were bars at the windows. I was in prison. It was a 10 month sentence of stress, guilt and unfulfillment. I felt trapped and carried so much guilt about being paid to pretty much do nothing. I didn’t see a way out until one day my Dad stopped everything and came and sat with me. He turned to me and said “you hate this don’t you?” a sighed a massive relieved YES and Dad grabbed a pen and paper. “Tell me 3 things you love most in the world” he said. I thought for a few moments and decided on children, animals, health and fitness. He wrote the 3 things down on the paper and circled each. Together we created a mindmap of career ideas centered around my three biggest passions. This was such a huge turning point for me. My dad made me realise that I could actually choose what I wanted to do. I had a choice. And I could literally do anything I wanted! Just because I studied Marketing didn’t mean I had to have a career in the same discipline. He made me realise I was in control of my own destiny. Life is not happening to me, life is responding to me. This is also when I realised true passion paves the way to success. I left working for Dad immediately and contacted a bunch of local schools to start my work experience laying the foundations for my career as a primary school teacher.
Once again I turn to my parents. This time looking at them both in equal measure. Watching my dad start up and grow his telecommunications business meant that entrepreneurship was always my normal. He worked all hours of the day and it just came so naturally to him – no complaints, no obvious stress – he took it all in his stride. As well as being a full time mum to myself and my 3 sisters, my mum continued her career as an exceptional medical secretary. I never saw her sit down, relax and watch TV. She would always be busying herself with jobs around the house, cooking us dinner, sitting with all of us to do our homework, showing us what it meant to take pride in our work: instilling quality and perfectionism. On top of that encouraging us to take up hobbies and after school clubs and most of all giving us the most amount of love and nurturing I have ever seen a mother give. The saying goes “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” what absolute BULLSHIT. Find a job you love and you will work harder and longer hours than you have ever worked in your life before. BUT it is so much easier to work hard when you love what you do.
This is something I believe I have cultivated and refined since opening The Garden with Amy. I am SUCH a different person compared to the soft, ever trusting, people pleasing primary school teacher I once was. Learning to work with my best friend, interacting with the general public and managing a team of staff has thrown so many curveballs and tested my personality and resilience beyond measure. I have grown more in the last 5 years than ever before and learned that resilience is essential for getting up that eighth time. Failure is part of the process. If you speak to a software engineer they will tell you that failure is imperative to refine the end product. We are often taught that failure is not an option. For me it is the only option. You will make so many mistakes. You will fuck up in more ways than you can imagine but as long as you don’t dwell on it or beat yourself up about it for too long and instead pick yourself and your team up and get back on track, each time this happens you take one step back and ten steps forward. Coming up to two years ago I gave birth to twins, little did I know (even though I was told many times) something was about to shift in me and change my life forever. I was about to discover something(s) uncomparably more important than my business. My husband Chris went back to work after 1 week of paternity and I was literally catapulted into motherhood. At this time I couldn’t have cared less about The Garden. In fact I think I went in about 3 times in 8 months. Becoming a mother to twins has taught me I have the patience of a saint (most of the time) and I am pretty good at bouncing back from a challenge. I am gradually learning to only ever stop to look back in order to acknowledge how far I and we have come and to celebrate, extend gratitude and give myself and my team a hefty pat on the back.
In 2011 I started learning more about Buddhism and felt really connected to it as a way of life. I was introduced to ‘The Secret’ by a friend of mine and my mind was absolutely blown. All these lessons I had been learning through general life experience were all written down here for me in one book. It reaffirmed the idea I had been discovering that I was in control of my future and the direction my life took. From there on I began to understand what personal development was and I made a commitment to it. As Tony Robbins says Progress = Happiness and this is something I uncovered time and time again through my relationship with yoga and discovering what truly lit me up. I am a constant work in progress. I am ready to admit when I’m wrong and I am always looking to improve. If there was one thing that trumps all of the skills I have considered in this post it would be a commitment to bettering my self. You have to be able to understand what you’re good at and where you need to improve in your life to uplevel in all areas. I rediscovered this passion for learning earlier this year when I enrolled on a business mastermind program with the amazing Caroline Britton: an intuitive business and life coach based here in Hale (in fact this blog post was homework she gave me!). This has been pivotal for me and has literally rocket launched me into a journey of rediscovery, of myself, my passions, my purpose and how I can serve. She really has helped me understand how much I have to offer and to just go for it – live my best possible life in all areas!
I am not the full package – I never will be. But what am I working on right now? Authenticity. Across the board. In particular having those difficult, uncomfortable conversations. Stepping into uncertainty. By holding back you are doing yourself and others absolutely no favours. I don’t mean speak up and be a dick. I mean honour your feelings, honour your unique qualities as a human being – what do you offer? How can you serve? Consider what drives you and do not let anybody make you feel like you shouldn’t do something, whether that’s starting the business you feel drawn to start or whether that’s as simple as speaking up when something doesn’t sit right with you. Recognising where you fall short and admitting when you’re wrong and above all unapologetically enforcing your standards and expectations. This is what I mean by authenticity.
WHAT ADVICE CAN I OFFER?
Sure I’ve fallen off the wagon, skied off piste, stepped out of alignment. Plenty of times. But it’s about how quickly you can find your way back. Jump back on the happiness train and live your true authentic life. The more it happens the more you get to practice it. The more you learn to stay on for longer next time and not fall off so spectacularly. The more you can learn to become an observer of your life, the more you notice when you feel off kilter. When things just aren’t adding up for you... when you have taken your finger off the self care pulse. Self care or (self love) is a word that gets thrown around a lot. For me this is where it begins and where it ends. The moment you stop looking after yourself, your health, your wellbeing, that is the moment you decide that you are not going to be your best self for others, for your business, for your family. Your self care matters. You matter. You cannot pour from an empty cup. If you want to show up everyday as the best husband/wife, mother/father, leader, entrepreneur, sister/brother, daughter/son, friend you need to fill up your own cup in some way everyday doing something YOU LOVE. Whether that be connecting with others, yoga, meditation, running, boxing, mindfulness, reading, self development, learning, resting, journaling. Fill yourself up and everything else will follow.