April 2015

Defining success Hats Off to the Entrepreneurs

Author: Linda S. Hopkins

Hats off to anyone who starts a business. If you have a niggling of desire and you go after that dream, you are a success in my book. Most people have no clue what it takes to own a business. I found out the hard way.

Approximately seven years ago, I got a tap on the shoulder (from God, I suppose) to do something new or make a different mark on the world. It was a nudge on my heart that sent me to Boulder, Colorado for general training as a life coach. I had no clue what I really wanted to do except that I specifically wanted to reach women. As a former chubby girl turned fitness fanatic, “What better entrée than through the area of weight loss and body image?” I thought. I went on to take three more trainings specific to weight loss coaching before hanging my shingle. (For the record, I have a husband who owns a business and pays the mortgage, so it wasn’t a huge risk for me to explore a new path.)

It was one of those situations where I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I learned, first of all, that I was bad at business but good at coaching. Right out of the gate, I was fortunate to connect with and work with some smart, savvy women who were ready and willing to do what it would take to turn their lives around. Through a combination of pertinent questions, unfailing belief and constant encouragement, I witnessed miracles. My excitement couldn’t be contained as I saw women shedding pounds, gaining confidence, learning to love themselves and engaging more fully in life. I worked hard at creating relationships with my clients and at serving them in a loving, compassionate way.

My good fortune continued when one of the nation’s premier weight loss spas came knocking at my door. I was hired as an independent contractor to coach their guests through an at-home after care program. The pay wasn’t great, but the payoff was huge, quickly quadrupling my reach and allowing me to gain a broad range of experience much faster than I ever could have on my own. But after two years of leaving most of the money in someone else’s pocket, I decided to strike out on my own again. I continued in business for two more years and am now in the process of phasing out.

What stopped me? Wearing all the hats. When you own a business, unless you can afford to hire out all the grunt work, guess what? You get to do it all. Suddenly, you are not only frying the bacon in the pan; you are wallowing in the pig pen. You are the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker… or to be more precise, the marketing director, the salesman and the bookkeeper.

While it would be easy to look at my business experience and assign myself a big “F” for Fail, I gained a new perspective on success. I learned that I don’t have to be in business to spread kindness, to encourage and uplift others or to make a difference. My success isn’t measured by the title on my business card or the size of my paycheck. To me, the bottom line is the sum total of what I contribute to the world. If I can help one person have a brighter outlook, I am a success today.

We all have to make a living, and your career choice will play an enormous role in shaping your life. Ideally, you can do work that you love and wear the hat or hats that suit you. Whether you are the street sweeper or a Wall Street executive, a small business owner or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, what matters is that you show up and do your best.

But what will ultimately define you will be less about your résumé and more about your eulogy. How will you be remembered? If you knew that you would die suddenly and soon, what would you change about the way you are currently living? Therein lies your legacy and your personal definition of success. 

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