The Road Least Traveled
“It’s easy till you own it.”
The best advice I have ever gotten was, “Protect the CA no matter what. That community is special and that is its super power. People will come and go but you are at the heart of it. You are what brought them all here. Protect it.”
I very recently stood at the top of a hill, on tired legs, coppery taste in my mouth, and a bright blue sky in front of me. It was a crisp day out near Bennington, Vermont, the fall harvest surrounding me on all sides. As I looked out at the scenery, cool air kissing the sweat of my skin, tears were streaming down my face. Everything hurt and the sleepless nights and emotional roller coast I have recently been on had me shot to hell.
I’m happy to see September of 2015 disappear into the fucking far off distance, much like all the miles I put in just running in the countryside. Not knowing where I parked my truck or how to get back to it. I just wanted to run. So I did. Owning your own business is a glorious pursuit of suffering. I meet people and they think it’s all daisies and rainbows and freaking unicorns because I have the middle of the day “off” or I get to “set my hours” or it must be “fun, like teaching recess.” But it’s not. It’s about as far from that as you can get.
This may sound like a rant, and maybe it is, but it’s also something more. This business is personal. You spend your time playing movement specialist, strength coach, mentor, therapist, food guru, educator, relationship developer, weekend/evening janitor, cheerleader, and then at the end of it ask people to pay you for all of that. It’s always too “expensive” and you get to carry that guilt around with you all day/week/month/year. Sometimes it doesn’t work out and you have to part ways. You lose them to the next big fad or their “friend started doing X great thing and I think… I’m gonna go do that. Thanks though!”
The days roll together, you get up when its dark, you leave when it’s dark, you program classes and sessions until you hear your alarm go off telling you to go back to the CA. You adjust for clients’ injuries or they go MIA and set your meticulously developed plan back 4 months. Your lack of “time” drives your friends away, or they give up on you, your relationships implode (or explode), and sometimes you take a flame thrower to your life (I mean who really needs clean laundry or food anyway?)
Because it’s PERSONAL and you want to HELP people, you show compassion. You discount memberships, let them float to keep clients making progress during tough times, and you dig into your own pocket to keep the lights on. All while watching your bank account cross into the red. Then you swallow what’s left of your pride and do your best not to brutalize somebody the next time you see them with that golden glow. You know the one, the one you have after getting home from that vacation they took. That vacation you just saw being posted on Facebook. The one with the amazing sunsets at the beach, while drinking a fruity cocktail with their feet in the sand (mmmm sunsets, I’m pretty sure if I saw the sun I would catch fire at this point).
As the owner you get to hear about that great race they had this past weekend or the places that they are going to next month. Or that fat piece of cake they just shoveled into their face that fucked up their macros. You know the one from Cheesecake Factory that they are going to complain about when they didn’t lose any weight this week and how it’s your fault. The workouts apparently aren’t hard enough or the weights are too heavy, etc.
“That community is your super power and you must protect it at all costs.”
Those fucking words lead all your decisions. “No, I can’t go out to dinner. I have no money because I had to buy another medicine ball.” “No, I can’t do that wicked awesome race with you. I haven’t really slept in 4 days and I can sleep in till 6:30am tomorrow. Oh and I’m broke because I just put my last $20 in my gas tank to get me to work.” “No, I don’t want to go stand at another race like a freaking asshat and watch people pass by me like I don’t exist.”
As I stood at the top of that hill crying about all of that loss, and feeling sorry for myself for the first and last time in 3 years, I made some hard decisions about the future of the CA. And with that, I felt the ease and warmth of unburden wash over me. I felt better, lighter. The sky looked bluer and I could see the apples on the trees from the farm below, which looked fantastically tasty. I thought “I’m going to go down there and eat one of those damned apples and sit on my ass for 5 minutes.”
With all of that said, the CA has a new CFO, and I can now get back to doing what I do best, what we here in the CA do best. Making stronger, faster, grinders. Billing, marketing, and sales are all up to somebody else. Somebody better equipped to deal with them.
“Protect the CA no matter what. That community is special and that is its super power. People will come and go but you are at the heart of it. You are what brought them all here. Protect it.”