I am always amazed at how much can change in the course of a single year. So much changed for me in 2012, transforming my business and my well being. I thought I would take time to share my 2012 in review and highlight the 7 most important lessons I learned during that year.
#1: Take Good Care of Yourself.
August of 2012 was a pivotal month for me. I had some tension surrounding some of my business endeavors and I hit a wall. I realized to climb over that wall I needed to reflect inward and focus on my health, my well being and gain mental clarity. I spent all of August and part of September digging deep to figure out the direction I wanted to take. In the process I realized how incredibly important diet and exercise are. There are a million people out there who will tell you that diet and exercise are good for you, but until you have the revelation yourself it just goes in one ear and out the other. On August 22nd I set the goal to lose 25 lbs by the end of the year. I can happily report that I exceeded that goal! Not only do I feel better all around but I have such better mental clarity because exercising is an outlet that helps me think and problem solve.
#2: Failure is Okay.
I hit an obstacle I’m not overly familiar with – failure. In August 2010 I joined forces with a business partner and formed a company called Diversity Works. I spent 2 years fostering and nurturing that business. I started off 2012 believing the sky was the limit and there wasn’t anything in the world that was going to stop me from creating the best damn company around. Well……I failed. But I’ve learned that failure is okay. It’s a tough lesson to learn but everything in life does happen for a reason and I think the failure of this company was eye opening for me in many respects. The lessons I learned will only help me in future endeavors. I’m the eternal entrepreneur so there will always be another business opportunity waiting for me on the horizon.
#3: When you Lose your Passion it’s Time to Move on.
I learned that if you lose your passion for something it is time to move on. This was a particularly difficult lesson for me. I always trust my gut and I’m known for taking leaps of faith. I made the decision to resign from my post as Executive Director for the local LGBT chamber of commerce here in Connecticut. This was such a tough decision for me as building businesses and communities around LGBT equality is something I am so passionate about. In working with the chamber on some level for years I found that I lost the spark that ignited the passion I once had. It’s not to say that I still don’t love and feel a strong desire for success but the spark is just gone. For me nothing else matters once I’ve lost passion for something. I decided to move on to bigger and better endeavors in 2013.
#4: Get a Business Coach.
In August 2011 (I’m noticing a trend with the month of August as I write this!) I started working with a business coach. Business coaches are an absolute must have for any business owner or professional. Coaches are amazing regardless of their kind, whether it be for a sporting event or a personal trainer at the gym – why should your business be any different? 2012 was the first year I worked with my business coach for an entire year and it is amazing what a difference a year can make. Regardless of what problem I may have or what genius new plan I’ve come up with she’s always there to keep me on track and focused on what my greater mission is. If you aren’t working with someone yet I would say it’s certainly worth a conversation with one.
#5: Join a Mastermind Group.
Mastermind groups or peer advisory boards are critical for the success of any business. I feel so fortunate that I have a formal group of people that I meet with on a monthly basis that can help me with all of my business needs. I also have an informal group of people that I consider my mentors and my go-to people when I need some creative brainstorming or problem solving help.
#6: Know your Strengths
This lesson is probably the most important of all of my lessons. You have to know your strengths. When I first met my business coach the first thing she had me do was take a strengths assessment. It rates 24 different points on a scale that identifies where you are strongest and where you are weakest. Knowing what your strengths are helps you realize what is in your wheelhouse and how you can capitalize on your natural skills and abilities. Also knowing where you don’t excel shows you where you should consider outsourcing. I know that I have 8 top strengths (creativity, fairness, honesty, humor, curiosity, hope, perspective and zest) and need to play to their advantage. I honestly feel like my entire being is wrapped up in those 8 traits. Knowing this really helps me hone in on things that will utilize those strengths which ultimately effect my business decisions.
#7: Celebrating Differences.
So this last item on my list of lessons learned isn’t really a lesson learned but more of an awakening. I’ve found myself hyper aware of people around me and truly celebrating their differences. I’ve found myself more tolerant of view points that differ from my own. I am full of opinions and I like to debate with people on any topic really. But the last few months of this year I’ve found myself so incredibly aware of others, their views and truly validating and hearing their side to something. Perhaps it’s just an additional level of maturity but I really enjoy this new found awareness. I have specific views on politics and religion and in the past if something was on the TV or in an article that I didn’t agree with I would quickly move on. Now I’ve found myself reading further or watching further and really analyzing their view point. Being open-minded to all views and not just your own is an important lesson.