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The Conscious CEO & The Awakened Corporate: When you speak or live your truth, you’re bound to upset others
What often keeps us paralyzed from doing the things we really love, or from saying what we need to say is that we’re afraid of other’s reactions. Sometimes, when you are truthful, others can wrap you in a warm embrace and while they may not agree, they “hear” you. They are self-aware and accept your truth. But more often, your truth rocks a boat. So, let’s just be honest. When you speak your truth – when you use your voice & you’re clear and honest, it’s likely you’re going to upset someone else. And they’ll be mad. Or play a guilt trip. Or tell you how terrible you are being.
I caused a little ‘ol ruckus with one of my blog posts. It was many posts back where I mentioned in brief that my family (no specificity on anyone in particular) was not as supportive as I would have valued as I embarked on this endeavor.
That blog post was actually about all the challenges you may face as you get closer to manifesting your dream. It wasn’t a post about family, or bank loans or contractors or any of the number of challenges I mentioned. As with all my posts, they are intimate outlines of my experiences solely.
However, it rocked the boat. Big time.
Aunts & cousins on my moms side were upset, one Aunt wrote a weird Facebook post about how awful I was for mentioning it (despite her daughter being 10 min from the restaurant and her son, an hour away, of which neither have visited) & strange emails were exchanged in the aftermath.
My mother and I haven’t spoken since even before I opened Just BE Kitchen – she’s just not interested. Another Aunt was upset about the blog post, but still has yet to call, email, text with any interest of the restaurant endeavor, other than attempting to shame me for the blog post.
These situations don’t define me & they also don’t make those family members “wrong.” It’s simply two different perspectives.
But it is an example of when you finally open up about your own truth, even when operating with integrity, others are not always going to receive it well. You will be criticized. You will be called names. You’ll be told you’re awful, selfish & maybe even ridiculous. FB posts will be written about you. I get accused of being “too busy” – when the reality is that, the phone works both ways. I’m busy, but I’m not absent from life.
I’ve been told by a friend’s husband that I was insane for thinking I would ever get any funding for this venture when I intellectually challenged his perspective on the industry. He mocked and shamed me for thinking I could get F&F funding. I’ve been told by bankers that I’m not investable as I have no experience, I was even told by a landlord that I should apply to work for the restaurant I was trying to buy so they could “teach me how to run a business” <not in a helpful way, but in a condescending way>. I was told to go work for product companies and that brick & mortar ventures were horrid. I’ve been patted on the head & giggled at for idealism. I’ve had eye rolls that I’m too “woo woo” in my branding. And yes, of course, I’ve communicated to a guy I kinda liked that my feelings were hurt by some actions of his but that my heart was open. And I never heard from him again.
If you speak your truth, you’ll upset people. The boat will rock. Water will cover you.
I remember recently when my mother & I were at a funeral…My cousin asked me what was one of the reasons I owned my own business. I thought about how I would answer, as I knew I was in a room of blood relatives that were lovely and amazing but who are perhaps less idealistic as I am. But, instead I went for it – I said there were many reasons, but one was that I wanted to have an impact & maybe change the world. My mother looked at me, laughed & said: “Good luck with that, you’ll never change the world.”
I could have sobbed. I could have let it set me back. But I’m beyond that now. Truly. It’s taken me a LONG time. Very long.
Because now, I’m a little more comfortable that when I speak my own truth – if it’s shamed, or judged or mocked – even by those I care for, I recently have refused to put my worth on the table. Sometimes, in my head as the “rage” goes on from others, I simply repeat to myself: “I love you, trust your truth.”
I try to shorten my suffering and don’t play the story in my head that those words are personal. I no longer tear myself up with guilt, which is such as wasted emotion, because I haven’t made them happy by living my truth.
I am also grateful now when I get the opportunity to be tested – when I get the opportunity to make a conscious decision to NOT put my worth on the table when I’m abandoned, ridiculed or ignored. This shift is all so recent, so I assure you it’s taken a ton of time. And therapy. And red wine.
I will be tested again. By a family member. A guy. An industry expert. A team member. It doesn’t matter – I’ll be tested again & again to speak my truth. And I’ll be intimidated to do so. And when I do – it will rock boats. And they may be upset. Or they may not understand. Or I may be ridiculed.
But I’d rather be rocking the boat being me, then staying ashore because someone else doesn’t want me to sail. And frankly, screw sailing – I want to FLY.
So, I was going to release a separate blog post but the last couple weeks we have had some changes that feel relevant to write about. We had a team member whom, in my heart, I knew wasn’t working out. However, I saw a lot of this person in myself at a young age, I’m fiercely loyal & want to invest & believe in others & frankly, having never managed my own business before, I’ve been fearful of losing anyone generally. That last bit is kinda what is the crux of it all.
But sometimes you have to make the tough calls when you know things are just not right. And especially when you know that it may result in conflict, separation, or a host of other unsavory outcomes.
So, when I made a decision to remove a shift from a team member until we were able to speak face-to-face about acceptable behavior, I knew an outcome would be that they would quit, and likely without notice. And that’s exactly the outcome. I thought long & hard, after an outburst of sorts that occurred, & asked myself if my brand represented this kind of energy from a team member – despite the individual having some good skills…the answer, obviously, a “no,” I toyed with ignoring the incident (which I had uncourageously done before), have empathy (again, had done that previously) or to finally be firm & frank about how the choices they were making were unacceptable to me & the company.
I finally, with peace in my heart, chose the latter. It wasn’t easy. I was scared because I knew this individual would likely quit instead of seeing the bigger picture or taking responsibility for their actions, & that could leave us in a tricky spot. And they did quit. And it has been a little tricky.
But here’s the thing. I liberated the rest of the team. When I made the announcement, it was like a cloud had been cleared. There was no disappointment. There was only rallying to make the most of the bumpy few weeks ahead. They were desperate for the bad energy to be cleared & although no one said anything, I imagine they had felt let down by me for not seeing it faster. They all felt like this would be good for them, and the company.
I acknowledged I should have been better. I told them I should have listened to other good people who had left because of this individual or complained about them. I was too afraid to look the situation in the eye & deal with it.
I promised them that I would honor them as a membership club. That what we have is too special & anyone else coming into the club is only granted membership by way of vote. It may sound silly – but I needed them to know that no more unilateral decisions will be made on the energy that works with them.
My gut knew this bad energy was depleting other team members. I even lost a wonderful team member due to my inability to act sooner (but they are now working for us part-time again!) & I was able to preserve another team member but had to move them away from working directly with this individual.
It’s like having a great sales person, who makes a lot of money for the company, but is a jerk to the rest of the team members. You’re too scared to take a hit on the sales figures, so you keep the individual around.
I’m going to try not to be afraid when I face this in the future. And I’ll face it again. It will be ok. For the sanity of the rest of the team, you have to make the tough calls on specific individuals that may not have the greatest performance issues.
The team is motivated. The energy is clearer. And you even find things that illustrate that the one that left really wasn’t perfect in how they performed.
Get those individuals out that are not aligned to your values. It will be bumpy. But it will also be BEautiful.
It’s 100% false. Just like I’m sure giving birth isn’t a breeze, getting waxed isn’t comfortable (who the hell came up with that one?) & not all workouts are fun even if you love exercise, you will not like all things about pursuing your passion all the time. Period.
I had this silly view that I was meant to love every minute of pursuing my passion & also that if I was doing “what I was meant to do” that it would be unicorns & peonies and everything would go smoothly. So, I don’t mean to burst your bubble but whoever came up with that was the same poop head (I mean I’m sure they were perfectly well-meaning) who invented pantyhose & convinced us it made our legs look better 😉
It’s just not true.
I LOVE sooooo many aspects of what we’re doing at Just BE Kitchen. The list is long. And as much as I want time away from the space, I also go nuts sitting at home trying to do computer work thinking of all the people I could connect with or what I need to do at the site. I love being there. And so many other things.
But, there’s stuff I procrastinate doing. There are things I simply don’t enjoy. There are actual things I hate. And, gulp, stuff I’m not good at. At all. And I’ll tell you flat out – it’s NOT easy. It’s hard doing what you love.
And really – when did we determine that HARD equaled BAD? It doesn’t. But we have to accept that it is going to be hard. I had this misconception that when you were living your purpose, the sky would open, the Universe would deliver & it would be breezy. I was told that when you’re living your dream, it’s effortless & you wake up every day ecstatic. It’s. Not. True.
Also, I felt that if I didn’t LOVE every aspect – then I was unsure if this is truly what I wanted to do. So, many times, I started to get into my head & bat around what else I would do. I had left a Corporate job, I had zero desire to look for another corporate job & so there were days, seriously, that I did my passion because I had no idea what else to do. But it was some silly story in my head that was telling me that maybe I wasn’t really authentic in this passion because I didn’t enjoy all of it, all of the time.
My big Ah-Ha on this was when I was really deflated about a year ago, frustrated where the business was, feeling like I was getting nowhere – I had lost another potential space & detested cooking out of my home. I went to bed & signed up for a course by Brene Brown online. I watched at least 4 of the modules & she says in one of them that she absolutely hates writing! YES – Brene Brown hates writing. She lives for the research but struggles with the prose. But she explained, it was just one part of her overall job & generally, she feels blessed & loves what she does.
It was the most liberating moment for me. I finally allowed myself permission to acknowledge that I can still be pursuing a passion and yet, there are parts that I don’t like. Or I’m not good at. Or I simply want to avoid. And now I realize that there are people on my team who truly excel at things I don’t. Who enjoy the things I don’t. And yes, I STILL have to do things I detest. And it’s ok.
Your passion isn’t perfect. It isn’t utopia. It’s hard. It doesn’t come dressed with a bow of all the best things you enjoy – or are good at doing. And that doesn’t mean it’s not your passion. It doesn’t mean you’re inauthentic, or not committed or haven’t figured out what you want to do. It’s just like any intimate relationship – there are things you love, and there are things you wish weren’t there, but you love them anyway. It has its beautiful sides & it’s ugly sides.
BE friends with your passion. Love it. Nurture it. Fight with it. But, know it’s not perfect. It’s wonderfully, BEautifully flawed…& despite that, you can adore it anyway.
I thought writing a blog post about my team would be cliché. Like “oh, of course I have to mention them.” But for a couple weeks now I’ve been wanting to somehow incorporate the team into an article without it being some wonky write-up about how great the team is.
A few weeks ago I received a text from one of the guys on the “Conscious Cooking” team (that’s Just BE Kitchen code for the ‘back of house’ or kitchen staff). He said: “I’ve been meaning to thank you for all the hard work you’re doing.”
I never told him this, but frankly – I broke down crying. It was such a small, but yet such a big, text. My heart lept for how sweet it was.
See, being “at the top” really IS freaking lonely. (I’d like to use another F word but I’ll be good). Other owners know this – there’s no one to cheer you on, no one to complain to, no one to cry to. Sure, I guess if you have a “significant other” that may serve a purpose but even then I imagine that unless they are in it like you, they don’t really know.
But, the reason I say a “Team is Not Just a Team” is because this is the first time in my life I’ve realized just how much responsibility it is to have…a team. When I was in the Corporate world I took care of my team, I fought for raises and bonuses, I put team dinners on the company card to say thank you and I gave Friday afternoons off. But…this realistically wasn’t on “my own dime.” And, if the CEO I fought with on their bonus said no…then ultimately it was their decision and I just delivered the news.
Now…well…now these are people I have 100% responsibility for – I will NEVER forget my first payday. The feeling of being able to give money to these souls who CHOOSE to wake up and work for me. To deliver my vision. To wipe counters I paid for. To serve food I designed. To mop a floor I painted. To wash dishes I bought. To speak to vendors I selected. To show up on time.
The money they receive pays for food in their own homes, gas to work more, presents for their family, toothpaste, etc. I STILL can’t get over the immense responsibility…and “aweness” <if that’s a word> of it all.
This is why it’s not JUST a team. I like these people. Sure, we’ve had a few sour eggs and they are no longer with us, but I put a lot of effort personally into job adverts, interviewing & I think about these people late at night with the most random thoughts. How can I let XX know they are doing an amazing job without telling them that again? How do I keep xx focused without micro-managing? What would it take/where do I need to get to offer them healthcare? X is having some health issues – how can I best support them during this challenging period? The list goes on. Constantly thinking.
Because, I know, I couldn’t do this without them. I see their faces each day and in my head & heart I say a prayer of gratitude that they are there. I wish I could often do more for them. Pay them more. Give them gifts. Buy them the new car they need. Pay for gas. Buy their groceries with a gift card.
It’s a huge motivator. Yes, it would be great if I were getting paid too (I don’t draw a salary now). But to be able to help them meet their dreams and goals? That’s worth getting out of bed. That’s what pushes me to work till the wee hours finding ways to get sales through the door. To streamline this or that.
I have to serve them…and no doubt that will serve me.
It’s now end of July and we’ve been open 3 months. I can’t believe it – in so many ways. There were DEFINITELY times when I never thought we would open. I mean, just last July, my business was in the back of my car, driving from Farmer’s Market to Farmer’s Market trying to sell cookies. Seriously. I pulled the table and tent in and out of the car like a champ & poor Savi and Oreo would sit in a lawn chair at each market like the princesses they are. They drew more freaking attention then my cookies did.
I’d be up until the middle of the night on a Friday evening, with my kitchen looking like hell, baking, packaging and sorting the “Just BE Naughty” line of treats. Then, waking up early on Saturday to hit the market. I’m not gonna lie – it was depressing at times. I thought I was a fake business owner. “We’re looking for a location” I would say over and over and over and I just felt like a failure.
Then we got the location. And a new Season commenced. How do we fix this? When will funding be finalized? Where do I find an electrician? What is a salamander again? And all the details…But people FLOODED in to help me – what can i do, how can i be a part of this they would ask. I’m forever grateful tor all those friends in my life who cared.
Then we opened. And people literally walked through the door on the first day. I remember sitting there wondering if we were going to feed a single soul. We did and we actually fed a few. The new Season arrived.
And now we are in another Season three months on – how can we grow sales? How do we get the word out about us? Why are our labor costs all over the place – how can we streamline, x, y and z process to make it more seamless. How do we retain talent and grow them.
The point is – I somehow have come to realize that whatever I’m feeling at a point in time…it doesn’t last. It’s just the Season I’m in. And right when I think I’ve “nailed” the Season…I move into another one. So while that brings chaos and uncertainty and TEARS & a lot of use of the F-word (remember my last post?)…this week I realized I felt at peace with knowing what’s happened at our 3 month mark is just another Season that I’m in.
Sometimes…like those 2 years we looked for a location…the season is long and cold and like Winter. Sometimes, it feels like Spring – short and a quick ‘bloom’ of a flower as we had our opening week…and now Summer as we feel the “heat” of trying to maintain sales, manage costs, deal with managing our volumes and processes and the “guts” of the operations.
I don’t know what the next Season will bring. But at least I know that either way – a good Season or a bad one…it’s never permanent. So I need to be “on my game” when the Season is good and try to do what we believe will set us up for shorter, “bad” Seasons – or as I like to say, attempt to reduce the suffering period.
But what I know is this…every Season has its purpose. It’s all meant to change, expand or help me heal a part of myself I haven’t yet healed. I’m not sure I always learn the lesson in each one…but I’ve gotten better at identifying that I’m “just in a new Season” and this is exactly how it’s meant to be, right now.
I’m not perfect, I forget this and I need reminding. Remind someone else you see going through a Season too.
The key when you’re crazy and tired and feel all hope is gone – is to try to be as conscious as possible that the Season is temporary. Grace comes. Love arrives. Joy exists.
And most importantly, know it won’t last. And that, my sweet readers, gives peace to the process.