The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day That Changed My BusinessNov 03, 2021
Not every day is a good day. That probably seems obvious at first glance, but in your business, those bad days can be brutal.
How do I know? I’ve been there. My worst day in my business nearly caused me to end Pilates in the Grove entirely. At the same time, this day is responsible for the bigger, better, more robust version of my business that exists today.
Sometimes, it takes a bad day to change everything for the better. In my case, this day was entirely the reason that my business took the leap from adolescence to maturity.
The day that changed everything
In retrospect, this Bad Day was a long time coming. Months before this fateful day, my business was growing, but the culture of my team was dissolving.
Every team has its friction but, as I came to find out, my team was breaking down. I knew the unhappiness was growing to a toxic level, but my approach to conflict was to avoid it. I figured if I kept my head down and kept trying to improve the business, the work culture would follow.
The pressure of my business was getting overwhelming, but I kept pushing forward. I tried to set up systems and do some internal development on the side. I even initiated an anonymous survey to my employees to get their brutally honest feedback (and boy, did they deliver).
Talk about a punch in the gut! While I tried to take this all in stride, this all boiled over when I finally summoned the courage to talk directly to an employee who seemed unhappy with me. She ripped into me in my studio, and finally shared some long-seeded grievances: that I was selfish, I was a horrible leader, a horrible person, and only in it for the money. And the two managers witnessing all of this? They agreed with her.
That was my breaking point. I went out to my car, shut the door, and sobbed. Months of stress came to a head all at once. I was burnt out and tried that all of my hard work was going unnoticed. In that moment, I decided I was done. I called my husband and my accountant, fully resolved to sell the company and put this horrible mess behind me for good.
The day AFTER the worst day ever: What I did
Obviously, I didn’t sell my business right away (even though I was actively trying to). Something had to change, but in the end, the only thing I could REALLY change was myself.
I started going to therapy (I talk a lot about my mental health journey here, so buckle up if that makes you uncomfortable). There, I got to talk a lot about those feelings of my work being unnoticed. After a while, I had to face the real problem: I had to realize that I am not my business.
I had a deep-seated fear of conflict, an obsession with being liked, and paralyzing perfectionism. I could either throw in the towel, or I could start doing the inner work to mature my business from adolescence to maturity.
So I got to work.
I started by going to that disgruntled employee and actually thanking her for her feedback. I didn’t end up firing her, and when she would later amicably resign much later, I was able to thank her again for the honesty that helped me grow.
My previous systems had depended on avoiding conflict, so I had to dismantle those entirely. My team needed the flexibility to rock the boat before it got to such a toxic place. In some parts of my business — especially the uncomfortable, personal-conflict situations — I had to get more involved; in other parts, I had to learn to let go.
What I learned
Growth is painful. That shouldn’t surprise us in the fitness and wellness industry. Think of growing your business as a knee replacement: those first few days hurt worse than your injured knee EVER did, but with the consistent hard work, soon you’ll be going distances you never imagined.
Breakthroughs come at the edges of your limits, but it doesn’t feel great at the moment. This is why your self-worth should not be tied to the business. I don’t advocate charging what you’re “worth”, because your worth is not what you charge! (I’m not “worth” $200, and neither are you!)
For me, I learned how to be less emotionally reactive. Instead of getting defensive, I learned how to sit back and actually analyze my emotions and get a new perspective. Now, I’m more resilient, and I got to rediscover my courage.
Getting past your worst day
I had to become a different person to bring my business from adolescence to maturity (something I learned about in one of my favorite business books, E-Myth Revisited. That meant learning to listen more than I spoke, and accepting that not everyone needed to like me. Christa 2.0 can take any feedback (however impolite) and get to the heart of it.
If you’re to the point in your business of crying in your pillow, you should know that this isn’t permanent, and it isn’t the end. Much like our patients, we are never NOT going to have pain again. But we get the tools and knowledge to handle that discomfort and push forward, and that can be life-changing in itself!
Do you need support? Always feel free to reach out to me — I even offer FREE 15-minute support calls, where I help you figure out which resources you need to help you reach that next step in your business. I’ll also help talk you off the “burn it all down” ledge I know we’ve all been on a few times. Know that you are not alone, and there is ALWAYS a morning after your worst day.