BUT FIRST, MY JOURNEY…
My first real thought about what it means to own a business happened when my adoptive father came home and told my stepmother they had bought a resort (together) called Cedar Cove close to Cobourg, Ontario. At the time, I was only thirteen.
This new venture included building a new restaurant and renovating the cottages (21) and the marina (with a general store). HUGE undertaking. There is so much about that crazy equation that blows my mind now, but at the time, I didn’t know all I do now (nor the complete backstory). As a mom and wife, it floors me beyond belief to imagine my husband or any partner doing such a thing. How could one person decide to uproot everyone’s life like that? But that’s another story on marriage and partnerships. Let’s leave that one for now.
I could tell early on that my family was in over their heads; lucky I wasn’t living this day in and out. That was my stepbrother’s burden to carry. I would come every summer and slowly watch everyone progressively fall apart year by year until I was eighteen.
My stepmother was strong, and my adoptive father was the dreamer. Then he was the depressed one; then he was the one going to rehab and back after quitting that. In the end, they broke up and declared bankruptcy. My dad died in his early sixties without money, love or life to call his own.
Connections and Bonds
As you can imagine, I always needed to do the practical. Following one’s dreams was for crazy people. In time though, I decided that I was bored and lacking variety in my life; I, too, decided to start a business. My reason for this was that I wanted to create something of my own and care for my two young children simultaneously. Not mindful all the time, but we made it work.
I had a decision to follow my values and live with uncertainty. My choices have been much different than my adoptive father, but they were far from perfect.
One thing I wanted very much was to help people succeed where my family struggled. That became my mission because the anger I was carrying regarding my father’s actions wasn’t serving me. It was hurting me. It has helped me heal in many profound ways, and I feel that I am less judgemental now than I was when I started my own journey.
Fourteen years later, I can say this was far from easy but worth it. I gained a whole new set of skills based on self-discovery and resiliency.
I have made some incredible friends too. The crazy part was reconnecting with my “resort” best friend, Nicole Hrinco. She and I bonded over cleaning cottage experiences and our sense of humour. We lost touch when the resort business crumbled but found each other again at an entrepreneurial conference twenty-five years later. We had both become entrepreneurs and picked up where we left off. She is among my best friends today and our crew of wonderful women we share – Jill Valentine (far left) and Carol Schulte (Far right). This bond is now unbreakable since going on a trip together through Jill and Nicole’s business – Ugo Impact. This experience allowed me to take on a new fear. I volunteered in the rainforests of Costa Rica to help a women’s collective with Jill, Nicole and Carol. Travelling together and sharing values can make life long friendships and bonds.
Setbacks and Success Don’t Define You
I have owned a business through a global pandemic and raised my son to where I am sending him off to Concordia Unversity, Montreal, in the Fall. I can tell you, just like my dad, I have made many mistakes but have also learned and grown so much because of my experiences. I hope these lessons will help you.
HOW TO BE A MINDFUL BUSINESS OWNER AND LEADER:
Being a mindful business owner and leader involves cultivating a conscious and intentional approach to running your business. It entails focusing on the present moment, being aware of your thoughts and actions, and making decisions that align with your values and the well-being of all stakeholders involved. Here are some tips and key principles and practices to help you become a more mindful business owner:
- Define Your Purpose and Values: Clearly articulate your business’s purpose beyond profit and establish core values that guide your decisions and actions. Consider how your business can positively impact your community and align with ethical and sustainable practices.
- Practice Self-Awareness: Regularly check in with yourself and cultivate self-awareness. Understand your strengths, weaknesses, triggers, and biases. Mindfulness practices such as meditation, journaling, or mindfulness exercises can help you develop self-awareness and enhance your ability to make conscious choices.
- Foster a Positive Work Environment: Create a workplace culture that promotes well-being, open communication, and respect for all employees. Encourage collaboration, provide opportunities for growth and development, and foster a healthy work-life balance. Prioritize the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of your team.
- Engage in Active Listening: Be fully present and attentive when interacting with employees, customers, and other stakeholders. Practice active listening by giving your full attention, seeking to understand their perspectives, and responding empathetically. This fosters meaningful connections, builds trust, and enhances the quality of your relationships.
- Cultivate Ethical Business Practices: Conduct your business with integrity and transparency. Make ethical decisions considering the impact on various stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, and the environment. Strive for fairness, honesty, and accountability in all business operations.
- Embrace Sustainable Practices: Integrate sustainable practices intoyour business operations. Reduce waste, conserve resources, and explore environmentally friendly alternatives. Consider the environmental impact of your supply chain and seek sustainable partnerships.
- Prioritize Your Wellbeing with Compassion: Recognize the importance of caring for yourself and your employees. Encourage time for rest, relaxation, and personal growth. Avoid overworking or expecting excessive productivity at the cost of well-being. Not all priorities and goals are equal. As much as possible, use what I learned from the book The One Thing – The Surprisingly Extraordinary Results by Garry Keller.
Regarding self-compassion, please check out Good Morning, I love You – Mindfulness + Self Compassion Practices to Rewire Your Brain for Calm, Clarity + Joy by Shauna Shapiro PHD. this was a life changer for me.
- Continuously Learn and Evolve: Stay open to new ideas, feedback, and personal growth opportunities. Embrace a growth mindset that allows you to adapt to changing circumstances and challenges. Seek out educational resources, attend relevant workshops or conferences, and engage with other business owners to expand your knowledge and perspectives.
Remember, being a mindful business owner and leader is an ongoing journey and not easy. It requires consistent effort, self-reflection, and a genuine commitment to creating a business that positively impacts yourself and your world. Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes or setbacks; take compassionate and small steps with actions that add up over time. Remember to make decisions from a real place of knowing and not from your ego. Remember, you can create success on your terms. As my hero and author, Glennon Doyle, says, “You can do hard things.”
I believe in you.