No matter how much good stuff I pile on my plate, every now and then I come across a lima bean. I hate lima beans.
At some point we all need to put the dessert spoon down though, and work on balancing our plate, I guess. Otherwise the shit piles up, and you find yourself with no room left for anything good.
So let’s eat some beans…
I lost an employee this week. It wasn’t a good break up. Frankly, this person was really bad at their job, and in the end this separation will most likely be for the best. But either way, this person left with hard feelings. Now every employer has had these kinds of days. But in my case, the things about me that make me good at my job also make this part of my job even harder for me to swallow. I’ve been stewing here in a big pot of self doubt and shame. Did I handle the situation okay? What could I have done differently? And why does it matter to me so much what this person thinks of me anyway? I hate that I do this to myself. I want to affect people. I want to create change. I want to leave my mark. I want to be a force in this world. But I can’t figure out how to share any part of me without feeling peeled and dangerously exposed.
I think there is a vulnerability that naturally comes with owning a small business. Only those that have done it can truly understand it. My personal life is on public display, and for every way that personal touch and accessibility strengthens my business, it equally exposes me as an easy target. My life is one long to do list saturated with the feeling that I’m not doing enough fast enough. Now I realize this is a self inflicted side effect of my own personality. I want More, and I want it yesterday! I can tell you that there is no better motivation than working under the public microscope for someone like me, though that motivation comes in the form of fear of failure. It drives me nonetheless. My brother once told me that our strengths are often our weaknesses. Such is the case with the overwhelming need that I feel to earn people’s approval. While it does push me to be better at my job, it comes with a heavy cost. At work I must be strong, employees need to believe in me, respect me and rest assured that following my lead is the best way. I owe it to my employees to protect their quality of living at work too. If any one person is disrupting the system, it’s my job to stop them. Not always a fun job but necessary. When others fall short, a leader always serves as a convenient source for their trouble. In order to serve my business to the best of my ability, I often have to accept their blame, regardless of whether it is unfair or undeserved. For someone like me who gives too much power to what others think, this is extremely difficult, but again, necessary to the success of our business as a whole. I don’t really know how to do this job without making it personal. I’m creating from personal taste and experience. My name is on the door, and my future is completely dependent on whether or not people like this experience that I am creating for them.
Oh, and did I mention, I’m a woman Whoa! A woman is supposed to be a submissive nurturer. Society is tripping all over itself in front of a room now filled with female leaders! Do we treat woman in charge just like men? I’m guilty of it myself, despite my own leadership role. While I do believe there is an inherent trust in the female form, I can also admit it may be hard to follow the crazy lady irrationally screaming at produce in the walk in! Let’s face it, once a month we’re bat shit crazy! But we are smart, passionate, creative and resilient beings. It is our need to teach, maybe born into us as a future tool for parenting. It’s not fair that a woman has to bark twice as loud to be heard and even more unfair that she is then labeled with the now all too tolerated word BITCH. I embrace it, the good and the bad. In order to serve my business I have to accept my role, labels and all. And I do believe that the female leader is a fair and compassionate leader. Where followers may fear to fail a man, I see productivity from a desire not to disappoint a woman. The mom guilt trip has found its way into the work place, and it works!
People forget that my professional life, however, is not all that I am, and it’s unfair that some people only choose to judge me based on that. Ok, so I need to remember that too. I’m good at my job. But I’m also a good person. Ick. I just gave myself a sugar rush on self help syrup!
I’m making headway on the search for that elusive balance between professional and personal success. One cannot exist without the other.
Dessert is good. But the guilt is way less if it follows a well balanced meal.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you. It is my true belief that we make the world a better place and our experience in it richer if we share our experience together. I do that through food at my restaurant, Smoking Mo’s in Shelton, Washington, and through my story telling here. I deeply thank you for joining me on this adventure, and for giving me the love and encouragement to keep moving forward.
2 comments on “Slippery Peels”
You tell it well, Mo. So much truth in being a female leader and the weight on our shoulders.
Thanks Caroline. It’s been nice to learn I’m not alone out there. I always knew I had strong female role models around me, but I’ve been blessed to realize I have strong female friends too. This has been a big year for me, and I’ve enjoyed documenting my progress.