3 as in “Three Years.”
For most of you, it was just another day, and for my employees, it was a much busier than average week. But for me, it was a huge milestone, one that has evoked memories that date back much further than these three short years. From where I sit this morning, I think back to the many years that bread&cup only existed in my mind, and to no one else. I recall the countless number of nights out here, under the flicker from my trio of catholic icon candles, the distinct aroma of a little whispy nag champa smoke in the air, and an occasional moon crossing the southern sky. Yes, this is the place it was nurtured into being, and I return to it after an amazing week of seeing people enjoy the fulfillment of the vision.
There are some paths we walk with others, and there are some we must trod alone. As with Karen’s cancer, I can’t tell you how many folks have offered generous support in the form of victorious stories, showed kindness by mowing, cleaning gutters, brought flowers and food, and reminded me that we are not the first and only ones to experience this kind of circumstance. But at the same time, it still remains my unique experience, regardless if someone else has it worse than me or not. Despite the presence of supportive community, I am eventually left to account for my blessings and sorrows in those quiet moments as I stare at the ceiling, head on my pillow, determining if I will hold a negative or positive balance within.
Thursday and Friday of last week, I had penned into my schedule a two day leadership conference, for which I had registered a couple of months ago, and was high in anticipation of being in an environment of others who are engaged in their own leadership conversation. But given the fact that disruption is par for the course of a small business owner, my two day conference turned into only about an hour or so of direct involvement in that discussion, but as Providence would have it, that’s pretty much all I needed to hear.
The opening speaker basically put the last five years of my life in the outline of his talk. It was not a speech that I would say I learned anything new, but instead received a tremendous sense of affirmation that I made the right decision in 2005 to drastically change my career direction into a field I had no professional experience with which to validate a long-standing dream.
To economize the story, what this truncated two-day seminar helped me conclude was this; my life is my own and what I choose to do with it is also mine. I cannot change circumstances, but I can change my responses to those circumstances.
Deciding to open a restaurant was a conscious idea. It didn’t happen on its own, nor did it happen overnight. It did not happen without delays, setbacks, conflict, or disappointment. It was not an easy road to get here. And now throw cancer into the mix and it feels a little like an episode of Chopped. Let’s see what you can do with beef tenderloin, a Kool-Aid packet and durian fruit. No chef in the world would choose on his or her own to make a shopping list of such unrelated ingredients, but sometimes that’s what you get handed and you make your decisions as best you know how and hope it turns out in your favor.
Your vision of the preferred future requires leadership. Setting out from where you are now, and getting to where you want to be is not going to happen without learning how to take the helm.
And believe me, it’s a scary reach.
But consider the alternative, and that is to stay stuck in the same old place, nurturing recurrent excuses, justifying them as reasons. When the taste of that place becomes like the smell of durian fruit, that’s the point we can say in the words of one of my favorite pop sources of philosophy, Blue Man Group…
“It’s time to start.”