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“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

– Theodore Roosevelt


As a small business owner, you understand what it is to be in the arena. To get dirty and sometimes beat up, or simply exhausted, even if it’s work you love and causes you are passionate to be part of.  Regardless of your wins or losses, large or small, you know of times when you putter out for a bit and are spent, if not physically, then emotionally and mentally.


I am having just such a moment right now and I thought I’d write this article to honor and celebrate this experience within myself and with you as it is part of the makeup of each and every one of our lives and we should be proud of ourselves in these moments as much as for the ones where we shine the brightest; maybe even more so.  I find these times often happen when I am entering a new period of expansion and growth. There is the discomfort and the exhilaration of the transformation process and all it entails.


You may wonder, even momentarily like I do at times, if it’s ok to be both weak and strong, certain and unsure, creative or void of even one good idea, when all that is challenging rises up in you, sometimes seemingly with little or no cause, and you worry there is not enough time or money or skill, or something nameless, as you continue to wear multiple hats and do your best to serve with the full range of your gifts and talents.


The thing that works best for me is to keep it real.  I commit to paying attention to the ebbs and flows of energy and motivation within me and even though some moments are more challenging than others, I know the best I can and want to do, is remain present to myself without trying to fix or change or heal anything.  I remember my best sometimes looks very different, depending on the day.


The key for me is to lean into my feelings no matter what is happening, and to be aware of them without becoming over-identified with them, the happy or the bleak. I have learned that to be with what I feel is the best gift I can give myself, and the quickest way to recharge.  I listen closely so I take action from inspiration and not from fear. I remind myself I am never really alone. Bravo to you for being in the arena – with me.  It matters to me that you are there too!


Why People Hire Judy Ryan and LifeWork Systems

Business owners, community leaders, and educators hire Lifework Systems because they want the advantages of an extraordinary workplace and recognize a systems approach ensures consistency and sustainability in the transformation process. They know that conscientious employees grow your business and improve your reputation, giving you competitive advantages. We help organizations instill into every person a common language and toolset for how to participate in a responsibility-based Teal workplace. Visit our website at www.lifeworksystems.com, and click the link at the bottom to complete a culture assessment and schedule your first consult to review a report on your feedback, all at no cost.  You can also contact Judy Ryan at 314.239.4727 or at judy@lifeworksystems.com.

This article was published in St. Louis Small Business Monthly in Judy’s column The Extraordinary Workplace, March 2015.