Leading Through a Pandemic
Like many of you, I needed a reset. My priorities were off. My business had grown so quickly the year prior, we were taking on anyone as a client who was willing to pay and hiring people too quickly to fill roles to support those clients. You’ve heard me say it. The pandemic shut-down was the greatest, unwanted circumstance I would have never asked for, but needed so badly.
From the outside, we appeared to be wildly successful during that phase of growth.
On the inside, we were frantically trying to keep up and I was working between 80-100 hours per week. There was a nearly 20-week stretch where I traveled every week. Even if it was to LA and back in the same day. 3 am wakeup, 10:30 pm bedtime.
I was running ragged.
I was neglecting my family.
I kept thanking my husband profusely for helping raise our small son. Saying thank you felt like enough during the time. In hindsight, it was killing my relationship with my son and it was just unnecessary stress I caused for my family.
All because I was chasing “my dream”. And this was “my shot”.
Problem was, this was not God’s dream. And I wasn’t furthering His kingdom. I was furthering my own - at a lot of people’s expense, but mostly the people who loved me the most.
So that I could impress the professional network around me like I still had something to prove.
Seriously, what else did I have to prove? I have lived my life by crushing goals and winning awards. I want to do what others have done before me in half the time with twice the style points, or more importantly, do what they never thought possible.
I have always played with a chip on my shoulder with a goal to do better than anyone else ever has in any given area that I take on. Well, that strategy is fine, I guess when it was just me. But this time, I had a family. And I decided to play the game just as I had before, but I left them in the dust so that I could conquer the world.
I’m cringing as I write this because God has done so much healing and restoration for me with my family over the last few months and writing out these words make me realize, yet again, how badly I neglected them… and FOR WHAT?
Ok, listen to me. Having a goal is not a bad thing. Working hard to launch a business is not a bad thing. Making it the ONLY thing is a bad thing.
I am writing this blog today to give you the encouragement, you, the entrepreneur, encouragement to build your business while loving, honoring, and taking time for your family.
It doesn’t have to be one or the other.
We, as a society, have got to remove this idea that the only way to be successful is to pour everything into our career at all costs. Just stop it. It’s not worth it. Trust me, we grew from $0 - $1.55M and 0-10 employees in 2 years without any investors or taking on any debt - just straight grinding and growth.
I moved into a beautiful office space in Denver with a warehouse that we converted into a gorgeous training center. I reinvested the majority of our profit back into the business to keep growing, rather than taking a distribution and growing our personal income or savings. I was the second-lowest paid employee in the company and wore that as a badge of honor or something because I was excited to be investing in growth, but I was working twice as many hours as the next person and taking on all the risk… I had it backward. I had it all backward.
Who was this for? Me.
Who was this supposed to be for? God first. My family second.
God plants dreams within us and I believe he wanted me to build Sales BQ. But, I took it over from Him and started to run with it without asking Him for help, because “Mary can do anything”. Yes, I probably can, but nothing is worth it if God’s not in it.
Nothing is greater than God.
Having houses, cars, loved ones, careers, whatever… nothing in addition to having God is greater than God. He is the greatest. He is all we need. But I was stuffing Him down and pursuing growth in my business like my identity, worth and happiness depended on it.
PS - this wasn’t the best culture for my team either. Trust me. Some days my emotion and intensity would take over. That can’t be fun for anyone. I needed a reset. The business we built in 2019 was impressive, but it wasn’t built on a strong foundation. It was built on layers of quick decision making and rapid growth and bandaids.
All of this was exposed when the pandemic shut-down occurred. 60% revenue loss in 3 days. We lost clients. We lost a couple of employees.
But what was left was room to heal. God helped me tremendously. He took away all the outward appearance of glitz and glamour and perceived-success. He humbled me. He brought me to my knees. I was hysterically emotional about losing so much of my company so quickly. I had sacrificed everything for 2.5 years to grow that company. And then God brought it down in 3 days. Those 3 days felt like a month. The month of March felt like a year.
I surrendered to Him, fully. I gave it all to Him. I had nothing left to fight for except my family. I wasn’t sure if we were going to make it. 3 days of client-after-client withdrawing services and many stating they couldn’t pay us… my heart shattered.
But, we serve a loving and powerful God. He put my heart back together… with Him at the center, where I thought He had been, but He wasn’t. I had pushed Him out. And I didn’t know it.
After the initial state of grieving, I realized that I hadn’t lost everything. That what He left me with was a core team of passionate and wildly talented people who were still willing to fight for the business and fight for our clients… and fight for me. I was humbled and excited for what our future could be. And God gave me the chance to rewrite the future.
I was in constant conversation with Him. I prayed all day every day. I asked for this business to be rebuilt on His terms, not mine.
He gave me this scripture and I shared it with my team. In the time of devastation, we knew we had one thing to do.
DO REMARKABLE WORK.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9.
My team had focus. We were on a mission to create so much value for our clients that they could NEVER cut us or imagine their business without us. My team knew it was time to do the best work of their lives. And they did.
Not only did we help stabilize our clients’ revenue, but our clients grew revenue during the pandemic shut-down. Many of our clients now sit higher year over year and are positioned to surpass their goals.
And for my family? God gave me 2 months, at home, with very short workdays and a very full attention span for my son and husband. My son had gone from wanting his daddy ALL THE TIME, for all things, to starting to want me again. My relationship with him was so far gone that he never wanted to sit next to me, let me play with him, let me brush his teeth, give him a bath, or have me lay with him at bedtime. It crushed my heart. For months before the shut-down, I just chalked this up to a “phase”. Uhhhh, nice excuse. My son didn’t have a relationship with me. I hadn’t been home.
But God gave me back to my family. And my relationship with my son and my husband is better than it has EVER been. Our family has been restored, thank you, Jesus.
I am now on an amazing path with our company. We stopped focusing on our top-line revenue goal and now focus on our bottom-line profit. As far as revenue is concerned, the only revenue we focus on is our clients’ revenue goal… and how to soar above it, providing remarkable results for them. If we focus on serving them and ensuring our team is happy, healthy, and has a great quality of life… how can we fail?
I vow to love God first and honor Him as a CEO… ensuring that the business He lets me run furthers His kingdom. I vow to love my family and put them above the business. And I vow to serve my team and ensure my team is taken care of so they can do remarkable work for our clients and we will get remarkable results!