Can I share something that many CEOs won’t tell you? Starting my own business was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. And if I had waited until I was ready, until I no longer felt fear, it never would have happened. But launching my fair trade fashion brand, Noonday Collection, required me to learn how to walk through my fears. How to choose collaboration over competition. And how to embrace my story—mess and all—rather than trying to fit it into a neat little box.
I’ve changed so much in the past eight years, and I owe so much of that change to starting my own company. Through writing my book, Imperfect Courage, I was able to reflect on the little moves I made to create big changes in my business and home life.
Learning to Press Pause
I realized pretty early on in my business that I would have to find a way to balance my life as a businesswoman and as a mother, and still find a way to practice self-care. How? I had no idea.
But eventually, trying to keep all these plates in the air forced me to learn how to slow down, delegate, and practice wise pacing. One simple way I learned to do this is to set strict boundaries for myself regarding when to shut down technology. I actually give my kids my phone when I get home from work, and they’re allowed to hide it from me until they go to bed. Learning to set everything else aside and be present, even if only for a small portion of my day, is immensely valuable.
Although you’ll still catch me sprinting between meetings and stretching myself a bit too thin than perhaps I should, I’ve struck somewhat of a balance. Let me be clear: this is an ongoing challenge for me, and I don’t claim to be an expert. But owning my own business has forced me to improve. Freeing myself up allows me to focus on what’s most essential and give time and energy to others, too.
Moving From Guilty Mom to Good Enough Mom
I was raised to believe in a pretty set-in-stone concept of what it meant to be a Good Mom, so I was unsure whether it was possible to have a successful career while still being the mom I wanted to be for my three kids. But by allowing myself the freedom to follow a narrative outside of the one I was raised to follow, it afforded my children that same sense of freedom and license to be themselves without reserve.
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Additionally, my faith in my vision for the company steadily flowed over into my children’s lives. I realized my kids learn much more simply from watching me use my gifts to impact people in vulnerable communities than by anything I try intentionally to impress upon them (like keeping their rooms clean, for example).
Choosing Collaboration Over Competition
One of the unexpected benefits of transitioning from a stay-at-home mom life to being an overbooked professional woman, and then having to strike some sort of balance between the two, is that it forced me to learn how to fully step into collaboration with others.
If there’s one thing I believe, it’s that if we’re going to really flourish, we have to make a conscious choice not to define ourselves by what we lack in comparison to others. For example, running my business while parenting three kids taught me to focus on the qualities I do possess that make me a good parent, instead of comparing myself to the mythical Good Mom in my head in areas where I fall short.
Each of us is distinctly wired, and we each offer unique skills. Together, we can achieve things that we never could alone. To paste anyone’s journey on top of my own and assume that my path should look like hers is an ill-fated strategy for finding the life that I, alone, was made to live. The more you focus on your own unique attributes and what positive things you bring to the world and to your family, the less you’ll feel compelled to compare yourself to everyone around you. And the more you encourage other women and lean on them in turn, the better you’ll be as a mother and as a woman.
Embracing the Twists and Turns
If I’ve learned anything in the past eight years of growing a business, it’s that the twist, turns, and trials we begrudge in the moment serve a significant purpose in the end. Having to walk through the challenges of owning a business has made me into a better wife, mom, and friend. Whether or not you’re an entrepreneur or simply finding your way through another winding season of life, I believe growth is possible for all of us. But to get there, we have to stop pursuing a life that’s not meant for us, and step boldly into the life that is.
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