As some of you may know, I am also the owner of the retail stores, The Skinny Dip with locations on Nantucket, Charleston and Palm Beach. With that said, you may have seen recently that we permanently closed down our Charleston location on Friday, May 15th.
Why did I make the difficult decision to shut down our beloved Charleston store? For a multitude of reasons. As I’ve noted in past Motivational Monday posts, this COVID-19 new reality has forced me (and I’m sure a lot of you) to reassess my priorities, how I want to spend my time, how I want to contribute to society and what sort of human I want to be.
As I started to envision both these priorities, it became more and more clear that for financial, strategic and personal reasons, The Skinny Dip’s Charleston location needed to close its doors, so that both the business and myself could move forward into the next chapter.
With that said - and while I am confident now this was the right decision - it certainly brought up a lot of negative emotions around failure and fear of the unknown.
When I arrived the first day, I spent a few hours alone in the store trying to put together a game plan for the week ahead. For those of you who have been to this location, you can imagine how challenging this was. For those who have not, I can help paint a picture. The space is absolutely massive, 4000 square feet across two floors, 20ft ceilings, artwork and furniture everywhere. The upstairs has a full coffee + wine bar with an outdoor patio. It was truly a sight to see, spectacular and beautiful.
As I sat alone in the store, admiring what we had built. It felt impossible to not become overwhelmed with emotion and self doubt. “How could you close this beautiful space?” “You’re clearly no good at running businesses” “What will everyone say?” “You’re a failure, a quitter” and then finally “Maybe I should just call this all off and give it one more try? I could move to Charleston, maybe that would help?”
I’ve never been the type to give up, to quit. When something isn’t working, I dig my heels in even more. I pride myself on being able to outwork any problem, break through any barrier.
Persistence has always been my middle name and a key factor in my success. But there is a fine line between persisting to achieve a better life, the life you want - and persisting out of fear, to play it safe and stick with something because it’s comfortable.
I realized that underneath some of my persistence, was my attempt to not only outrun my fear of failure but also to play it safe because the familiar felt less frightening than the unknown.
If I failed, then I would always be a failure, right? Would I ever find success in business, relationships or life? And if I ventured off into the unknown, what if walk away from something that is actually amazing? What if I can’t handle it? What if it’s not what I expected? What if I’m not good at whatever next?
Does this inner dialogue sound familiar to you?
How many of you don’t chase your dreams, allow yourself to be vulnerable or leave bad relationships for fear of failure or the unknown of how life would change? Or better yet, how many of you have failed at something and then been too afraid to ever try again for fear of failing again? I would bet most of you reading, at some point in your life, have experienced this.
When we make decisions based in fear, they are rarely the right ones. It’s these safe decisions that keep us in situations and relationships that we know deep down are not right, but they are comfortable and easier - they have high levels of instant gratification, yet low levels of anything long term.
I knew I couldn’t make a decision based on fear, I’ve come too far for that. So what did I do?
For every fear thought, I combatted it with an alternative perspective. I looked at facts, not opinions I nor others made up. For every negative, I found a positive - I looked for the opportunity. What I found is that after a few positives, I started to calm down, to regain confidence in my decision and get excited for the journey ahead.
For every “You’re a failure,” I told myself “You’re damn right - look how much I’ve learned! What can I take away from this to improve my other businesses? What fresh new opportunities await me?!” For every “You’re a quitter,” I told myself, “Choosing the path that’s best for myself is not quitting, it’s finally putting myself first.”
How can you combat your fear with an alternative perspective?
One failure does not mean that you will never succeed. F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.”
True growth rises up out of the ashes of failure. It allows you to stop, reflect, and learn so that the next time around, you’re that much wiser and ready. Failure should be embraced, not feared.
The right decision is usually the hard one, filled with unknowns. But how do you grow if you don’t trek off into the unknown? And isn’t that what we are all put on this earth to do? To evolve, to find a deeper understanding of self, to become our own best versions?
And so I challenge you this week to take a hard look at your life and where you are making decisions based in fear. Where are you cheating yourself by choosing the safe road, instead of having the courage to tell yourself that you are better than this, that you deserve more or that you want something different for your life?
I ultimately closed our Charleston store - I am so grateful for the experience both of starting and running it and most importantly, I am grateful I had the courage to let it go. What I have learned cannot be measured or described so quickly or easily - but I know I will carry it with me in this new chapter of our business and my life.
Winston Churchill said, “Success is the ability to move from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm.” I’ve never been more excited about the future, it’s inevitable that I will fail again in some part of my life, but if I can combat the fear by looking for the good with enthusiasm - than I know I am succeeding.