SET IT AND FORGET IT
There was a movement over fifteen years ago. It was a rotisserie chicken movement. It was in my old life when my former husband bought something on an infomercial that was a contraption for roasting a chicken to perfection. The one liner that went along with the countertop roasting oven was “Set it and forget it!” And the promise was exactly what it sounded like. Put the chicken on the spicket and voila, this oven would make a perfect rotisserie chicken, no basting, no temperature checking, just put it in and take it out. I was a skeptic, but I must admit, this was a great purchase and we ate endless roasted chickens that were delicious.
As clever as Set it and Forget It was for engaging chicken rotisserie enthusiasts, Set it and Forget It does not apply to being a parent (if only) or running a business. Just like you can’t say something to your child one time and expect them to remember (Michael, take out the trash every Friday… imagine if as a parent you could say this once and miraculously it just happened every Friday without fail?), Set it and Forget It is also like this for a business.
Creating a systemic approach to running my company so that everyone who works for me knows the parameters of expectations is the Set It part. This is the seasoning part, the prep, the getting it in the oven before turning it on part. This is where lots of the work goes into and creating systems and teaching my team to follow them is 80% of success. There are times in my past sixteen years of leading a team of usually about twenty women that I have wanted to Set it and Forget it. There are times when I have been mentally or physically absent. When I have Set it and thought I could Forget it for a moment a month or a few months. I have seen the results of turning on the rotisserie and forgetting to set the timer as much as I have seen turning it on and ending up with a perfect result.
Just because I own my own business does not mean that when life has come at me, it has not affected the way I have been in my business and my own performance. I am human. I am woman and I have made mistakes. I have lost great people who have worked for me and I have weeded out dead weight of people who shouldn’t have worked for me in the first place. I hope that I always learn from my mistakes when someone leaves, and what I do know 100% of the time is that when someone does leave it is always a blessing in the long run with few exceptions. The great ones usually move on to something that continues their love of beauty and this always makes me happy because I know I have been a positive influence in this. Even if there have been negative elements, there are always divine lessons for both of us.
What I love most about running my company is that it is like a living breathing organism. It allows me to take breaks when I need to and it calls me back in when it needs me. For sixteen years, my business has never let me down and I always come back stronger and better from its unique lessons. I am convinced that it is because of my Set it mentality. Without the Set it, what do I have? If people who work for me don’t know what my expectations are then how can anyone of them succeed and how does my business succeed?
I have strong expectations and some people love this about working for me, some are energized by it and some grow tired of it. All of this is good in the long run. What I have realized, especially this past year with my caught it early for the second time breast cancer surgeries, is that my team continues to show up and has allowed me to Forget it so that I could recover. I lost some great employees right around my first surgery and it was hard to not take that personal when I reflected on the timing of their departures, but I have learned that business and employees are just that. No matter how much I think of them as family and close connections, first and foremost it is employee and employer. When I remember this, I am a better leader. Don’t get me wrong, sensitivity and empathy to my teams’ personal lives make for much better relationships. I care about them a lot. I care about their happiness and their work environment. I care about their lives, their children, their families, their livelihood, their animals, their weddings, showers, funerals, first homebuying, the list never ends. This day as I reflect on what was one of my most difficult years of owning my business, I am so grateful for my team of almost twenty shining stars who have rallied and risen to every occasion. I am blessed beyond words for their work ethic and their hearts as they come to work every day to help me fulfill my own business mission of taking stellar care of our clients so they want to come back often.
Recently one of my favorite employees decided she was getting a bit complacent and at 45 wanted to take a break and decide what she wanted to be when she grew up because she realized that she never really had defined this for herself. This was a big loss for me as I came to rely on her unique approach to my business and she offered honesty and solution based constructive criticism on an almost daily basis. She assured me that all would be fine, life would go on and someone else would take the helm. I knew as I always do that this is definitive truth. I know that grooming leadership is my strength more than even running my business, one of the most satisfying elements of being an entrepreneur is developing leaders. Her departure reminded me of this part of my ability that is intuitive to me me. I have always known what I wanted to be when I grew up because it is exactly what I am doing today. As sad as this loss was for my company and the women who have grown to rely on her own leadership skills, this opportunity for me to develop new energy is something I relish and it is a perfectly timed gift. Working with women and teaching them the skills that I know are invaluable to running a million dollar company also teaches them unique life skills they can bring to their personal worlds. These skills make them better women, not only in the workforce, but as mothers, wives, partners, and humans. It is my unique privilege to show up for them the way they show up for me. This is legacy and female small business owning in its finest hour.
I have the best team not because of luck as so many like to say when they speak to me about my team. I have the best team because they are willing to take a chance and step out of their comfort zones to trust my leadership. They are my nucleus, not the other way around. I just get to be the container of their strengths by keeping the cell healthy and growing. I am the lucky one every day because I get to own my own business, but because I get to work with twenty women who are the best in the business. We have learned to care and support one another. They have taken my Set It to heart and have given me permission to occasionally Forget It. They command my return when they know it is time for my leadership again. This is the well-seasoned machine of a team that I have the honor of being the line leader of. People leave. Great people leave and I miss the ones who were great, surely, but what I know in my deepest of cells is that the great ones stay too. I am so appreciative for the time they have given me before they left and I am most grateful for the time they are here present and part of this party I have the luxury of calling work. To all the chiefs in my kitchen who have come and gone, you know who you are and the Chieftresses who are still cooking up the feasts, Thank you. Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to be the line leader, the head chef and the student all in the same breath. Lucky indeed.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a Great Life.