Leading through Life’s Lows
To say the past 6 months would be a challenge, would be a giant understatement. It started off with the beginning of a New Year, I thought this was SURELY going to be better than 2017. I started 2018 with hope and excitement that good things were to come and then they just…didn’t.
January resulted in my lowest direct sales check in years.
But it’s January, a J month and we all know if you have been in this industry for any January or June that you cannot judge a year based on a J month. As much mental strategy you want to employ to justify that people use and buy your product ALL year long, it’s still tough to find people ready to spend extra money in January. Or so it went for my team, shockingly I had a huge sale with my personal customers and one of my strongest months in personal sales!
February came and went and was slightly better, but my personal team members have been producing at a much lower rate than normal. March marched in and got worse again, and I could feel the panic setting in.
When you have made direct sales your life, and the income from it, your lifeline, dramatic swings and shifts in the business are not only challenging, they are life altering and terrifying.
This has nothing to do with my company or the products, it has more to do with personal burn out, family and life challenges, my budget, and when I built my leadership team. My leaders and my team are older than many that are currently growing and still building. And I love that! I love that I created relationships strong enough to survive over 6 years in a particularly TOUGH industry. Turnover in direct sales is a legit threat to your income and something we have to be cognizant of ALWAYS. Despite having my best SALES year in 2017, my personal recruiting struggled and that left my business feeling like it was built on sand instead of brick. The house of cards suddenly felt unstable and then it was.
April brought our Incentive Trip to the beautiful Punta Cana and while I made amazing memories and had fun with friends, I was silently grieving.
My Dad, after 4 years of fighting cancer was starting to get much sicker. My business was struggling. Leaders I loved, were walking away. And it was awful. The feelings of grief and loss threatened to overwhelm me and some days they did. I took a long walk one day on that trip, sat at the end of the beach alone and cried my eyes out. Not only was I pre-grieving my Dad’s death, that now felt closer than ever, but in a way, I was grieving my own success that I worked so hard for. I wish I could say that the trip was a turning point, I came home and rebuilt my business and lived happily ever after. But that’s far from the truth. I came home and got a job.
Our dreams do not have an expiration date but they also don’t cut a clear path from Point A to Point B and end up at the final destination of Success so easily.
2 weeks after I got home, I got a call from an old friend who I had sent my resume to. After 3 very lengthy interviews, a 3-week crash course in Real Estate principles and some very CREATIVE budgeting, I had my real estate license. I didn’t know what that meant for my established Direct Sales business, my family, Posh or my life. I just knew that I could not sit home all day and let my family struggle financially when I am willing, able and skilled enough to do something about it.
May brought all of these life changes full force and it was a whirlwind.
I started off with the same amount of energy and determination I brought to my Posh business 6 years ago and the momentum began to build. June brought busy birthdays and a pre-planned trip to Israel for my stepmom, leaving my cousin and me to hold down the fort with my Dad. All 6 of us headed to Texas for the weekend of Fathers Day to spend time with my Dad and give my cousin and little brother a break from caretaking duties. My stepmom would be gone 2 weeks and we had planned over a year and months in advance for how we would handle her time away with my Dad. We had no idea that God was orchestrating tiny details so far in advance.
After a rough weekend of exhaustion, confusion, low oxygen, fighting with doctors for antibiotics, on Fathers Day 2018, I had to rush my Dad to the Emergency Room.
There really is no feeling like praying your Dad doesn’t die in the car with you alone on a 10-minute drive down a Texas turnpike.
When your stubborn, smart, funny, rock solid Dad can’t respond to you and looks right through you glazed eyes when you tell him that you need to go to the hospital, you know something is seriously wrong. When it takes 3 adults to get him into the car safely, along with oxygen and a wheelchair and help from friends you barely know, your life starts to shift in ways you had not quite gotten around to processing in the 49 months since he was diagnosed.
2 and a half weeks later my Dad passed away.
The summer of 2018 will forever be burned into my memory as a blur. Yet I can vividly remember the smallest details. The last words he said to me. The sounds of ICU. The nurses who looked at me with knowing eyes when I started to comprehend where we really were before anyone else in my family seemed to get it. The way he rubbed his head. The weight of making decisions to manage pain. The enormous pressure I felt to be the strong one. The last time I laid my head on his chest and cried. The songs we played. The last breath I saw him take. The peace that was left in the room.
What started as a shitty year in business, turned into a shitty part of life.
Cancer is awful, tragic, painful and frustrating. Death can be peaceful, beautiful, awful and full of relief all at once. Leadership can change us, and challenge us and take a backseat to family. Business is just a way of making money, but a community can change that too.
It has not been an easy 6 months. But looking back I know that I did the best I could, with the tools I had along the way.
Things have changed, but sometimes that is for the best. My Dad was always one of my greatest fans and he was so tremendously proud of whatever I did. Whether it was selling soap or selling houses, having babies, managing a messy house or posting something funny on Facebook, I know he loved me beyond measure. I know I served HIM when he needed it most. I know people understand. And I know I am lucky enough to still have time to figure the rest out.
Here’s hoping the 2nd half of 2018 feels a little bit lighter.