It’s always a bit strange to write about myself on this business blog. After all, you aren’t here to read about my life…at least I hope you aren’t. I hope you are here to learn, be encouraged and find support in your professional life. In the case of this post, I am going to use my personal and professional experiences to share the lessons I’ve learned over the past decade. Perhaps they will be lessons you can relate to; maybe you need a push to learn the same lessons; or maybe you just need to read about someone else’s journey to know that whatever you are in the midst of, it’s going to be ok.
As a part of our Focus 2020 series, I want to look back on my last decade. It’s been a doozy. There have been lots of risks, changes, growth, failures and big wins. Ultimately, I am proud of the journey I’ve taken. While every choice I’ve made may not have been perfect, or even close to right, I have absolutely learned and grown every step of the way. With these lessons, I have become a better version of myself and I take these with me as I focus on what the next 10 years is going to shape up to be!
10 lessons I’ve learned in the past 10 years
- Listen to the whispers and nudges! For me, I call this the Holy Spirit. It’s God’s way of encouraging me to ask questions. It’s the simple shoulder taps that make me pause and wonder. In 2010, I was a brand-new mom and really digging deep into what this meant to my personal identity. I was working in the corporate world and feeling the nudge to entrepreneurship. As time has gone on, I’ve learned that the whispers and nudges, no matter how good or bad their timing, are worth acknowledging. Sometimes it’s important to just name them and set them aside. Other times, it has been the impetus for some big changes. In both cases, I’m grateful for those voices that keep things fresh and open my mind to new ideas.
- Find your people. In the early days of Greys Anatomy, Meredith and Christina coined the phrase “you’re my person.” My favorite Christina quote from this era is “If I murdered someone, she’s the person I’d call to drag the corpse across the living room floor.” I’d be remiss to not pull a pop culture reference into a decade-of-learnings-post! For our family, when we moved into our new home in Savage in 2011, we were most excited about having a sidewalk on our side of the street. That meant traffic would go directly in front of our house and give us so much opportunity to meet and connect with people. In this exact way, we built our community of people. We learned to reach out, say hi, introduce ourselves and use the names of our neighbors. We fought through awkwardness and lack of time to build authentic connections and find ways to care for one another. In this instance, the community is personal, but I’ve learned the same lessons in my professional life. Having a community of support is so powerful.
- Say Yes! I go through cycles in life. On one end of the cycle, I have to learn to say no to things. On the other, I have to remind myself to say yes. On both ends of the spectrum, the lesson is the same – balance. When we have clear priorities and goals, it’s easier to know what to say yes or no to. In my case, in 2012, it was time to say a big fat YES! As I was building my businesses, The Conversations That Matter, I had consistently taken on smaller projects. I was building my base and feeling strong. In 2012, I had an opportunity to take on a whale of a project. I am proud of how I took this risk and said YES! It was a catalyst for growth – not just in business but in how I saw myself as a businesswoman!
- Be Authentic. While this last decade was one of becoming more secure and comfortable in my own skin, 2013 was a year of owning it. In my past corporate career, I had worked to develop amazing resources for Wiley Partners. I loved my work I did there and, in 2013 I became a Wiley Partner. It was a tough decision. I wondered if I was going backward in my professional journey. However, what I discovered was that this opportunity was pulling me forward in a big way. Through Wiley Partners’ training and support, I learned the value of ‘showing up and being me’ as I build my own business and grew in my ability to help clients become better teams and leaders. Every time I used this new practice, I grew in confidence as a leader, facilitator, and person. I brought my whole self into client work and my personal life. Bringing my whole self didn’t mean that I had it all figured out. In fact, it meant the opposite. I meant that when I brought my good and my bad; my beautiful and my messy; my systems and my guesses, the opportunity for real connection and learning skyrocketed. We all need more genuine authenticity around us in the form of people who are willing to bring their whole selves, make mistakes, learn together, share wisdom and learn from one another.
- Plateaus are good. Think back to a time in life that was full of crazy growth and energy. I love those times. Even when they are born out of struggle or failures. There is such a rush in making giant leaps forward. But it isn’t sustainable. We can’t always be going and growing. We need the plateaus so that all of the circumstances surrounding the ‘crazy’ can calm down. 2014 provided this time of balance for me. I had shot straight up in 2013 and I needed the plateau of stability to really settle into the things I had learned. I’m a big proponent of choosing a ‘word of the year’ to build and grow with. In 2013, my word was ‘contemplation,’ and boy did I embrace it. I needed this time to settle into what I’d learned and regained my strength for the next growth spurt.
- Learn from others. Our experiences, in every single area of life, aren’t unique. Mark Twain said, “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely, but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.” As a leader in a professional industry, I have always found it incredibly important to find and learn from those who have paved the way before me.
- I’m not a superhero and neither are you. This is a lesson I have to learn over and over again. I blame society. There are messages every day of leaders who have it all. But the reality is that those glimpses we see of their lives aren’t the whole story. They are the Superman moments of goodness that we all have. But, the whole story tells one of the mountains and valleys, just like the rest of us. In 2015, I hired my first employee. It felt like a huge risk and I didn’t take it lightly. I am so grateful for this experience that showed me how much better I am when I don’t try to be Wonder Woman and invite help along the way.
- Winning is fun! Oh man, the rush of winning is something that drives me. The moments of glory are the destination we all want. Sometimes winning looks like watching my husband or daughters succeed. Other times it is landing a big client or cleaning the house just in time for the company to come. In 2017, winning was receiving the Diamond Award from Wiley. This award, specifically, was a moment of victory for me that affirmed the path that I was on. I had built my business with Everything DiSC and Wiley products as a key tool in my kit. This recognition of my hard work and success with clients was a blast that continues to drive me!
- Growth is never NOT hard. In 2018, I made some mistakes and had some falls…literally. In fact, at a family wedding, while dancing the polka, I fell and tore my ACL. I also learned, not for the first time in life, that we grow the most on the hard days. We gain the most wisdom when failure is something we’ve experienced, not just understood in theory. A friend and mentor reminded me, “fail fast, learn faster.” Of course, in retrospect, it’s easier to appreciate the growth and experience. At the moment, it was hard. As a mother, these are the experiences I want my girls to have, but also hate to see them going through.
- Find something/someone to trust. Certainly, there are lots of people in my life that I absolutely trust, but what I’m referring to here is bigger than that. I mentioned my faith before, and I want to talk about this again. After a year of big-ole-bummers in 2018, I had to rely on my faith and trust in God to turn it around in 2019. With my new word of the year, ‘TRUST,’ in my back pocket, I set out to build on all of the lessons of the past years. I put this trust to good use and joined an incredible leadership training program, Velocity. It took courage and trust, but through this network, I built a bigger and more impactful business than I ever imagined.
It has been so fun to relive this past decade with you and remind myself of the lessons I learned along the way. I hope that you gained some nuggets of truth and inspiration for your own journey.
Tammy Krings, CEO