The Story of Us Part 3: Redefining Success
“Success is moving forward through life’s challenges, knowing that surviving these obstacles makes success so much sweeter. Combing this with helping others to blossom—that is magical!”
When my friend Wendy asked me how I define success, I was surprised how quickly that answer came. In seconds it was there in my mind, but there was a time when this would not have been my answer. Fifteen years ago, when Salon Red was barely more than a dream, my idea of success was being a millionaire. Having the kind of fame that came with your name in lights. The big house. All the best toys. So much has happened since those early days, and looking back I am overcome with emotion at how the highs and lows of the years have pushed me to grow and expand how I view success.
We’ve already touched on some of those moments. Building the business. The hard work, dedication and inner strength my team and I had to rely upon. There have been so many moments when my early dreams seemed almost impossible. The late nights spent working a second job as a server because my paychecks were all used just to keep the lights on at the salon. Rebuilding the company almost from the ground up when almost my entire staff, save a few loyal friends, walked out, not once, but twice. These are the moments when failure has felt near, but I’ve learned the only choice is to dig deeper, have faith in my team and myself, and carry on.
Building Salon Red has shaped who I am, not just as a business woman, but who I am in my personal life as well. I’ve come to realize that I am an all-or-nothing kind of person, and that’s forced me to make hard choices in my life. As the mother of four beautiful children, it’s been a struggle to find balance. To be the mother I want to be and follow the passion that I have found in my work.
A few weeks before Wendy asked me how I define success, I was asking myself that same question. It was the end of 2013, and I sat down to do my personal “annual review”. Every year I like to write down what my personal values are, and reconnect with my priorities for the year ahead. As I listed the parts of my life, of course my children were right at the top. But this year, seeing it written on that piece of paper, I had such an eye-opening experience. I realized that the list of priorities in my head wasn’t matching my actions in life. It was an immensely difficult realization.
Determined to change that, I took a hard look at myself. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would I rate myself as a mother? It broke my heart to know that, if I was being honest, I was a 4. What was the answer? I couldn’t completely restructure my life. My business was more than a passion. It’s what kept a roof over our heads, and there were other families, Salon Red families, that depended on me as well. I started small. What could I do to get to a 5?
I knew that right away, I couldn’t up the quantity of time that I spent with my children. Not without creating just as many problems in another area of my life. Instead I focused on quality. The first step was an easy one: no cellphone. Each night when I left work I turned my cellphone off. No calls. No texts. No checking work emails. Not until after everyone else was asleep.
Family dinners were a huge help. With four growing children, whose time is split between me and their fathers, dinner together doesn’t always happen. But at least twice a week we make the time. Everyone together sharing a meal. Talking. Telling stories of our day. I try not to worry about work, or anything other than the family right in front of me. I focus on being present in the moment.
Next came bigger changes. I made the sacrifice to spend one Saturday a month out of the Salon. Having an entire weekend with my children was a huge change. Saturday has become our movie night, and then Sunday we have a schedule for one-on-one time with each of my children. Each week I set aside two to three hours, and the child I’m spending that day with gets to pick what we do. Lucas and Layla love to go antiquing with me, and as of late they’ve discovered a love for any kind of horror film. From classics like Dawn of the Dead to more recent films, you name it and we’ve probably seen it. (The Conjuring is the current family favorite.) Rowan loves to spend our quality time doing crafts, or going hiking, and my two-year-old son River loves just spending time outside. We play in our yard and sometimes he “helps” me garden. No matter what we do, I focus all of my energy on them. Getting to know them, and creating memories.
I am so grateful for “my dads”. Everyone is there for all four children. We attend as much as we can together, helping each other out when we can. No matter how we may be feeling about each other, our focus in on the kids. Making these changes in my life hasn’t always been an easy task. When I am at work I am definitely busier. I’m two years into a five-year personal plan, and it’s definitely an intense place to be. But this is all part of planning for the future, and I know that things get crazier before they get calm.
I’ve also come to realize that balance as a sign of success is a myth. No matter how hard we try, life will always be skewed in one direction or another. Balance isn’t an ending point, so much as something we are always striving for. I’m embracing the obstacles that land in front of me. I’m learning to let go of this idealized view of the perfectly balanced life, and instead I’m enjoying the moments of peace when they do come. If you asked me how I was doing as a mother now, I’d give myself an 8.
2014 is a huge year of growth for me and my company. We’re growing, and learning, and I’m understanding more and more what my own definition of success is. I have still have a long way to go, but for today, in this moment, I can say that I’m not perfect, and it’s okay.