Weakness, the Moment Strength is Built

Danielle Putnam
Contributing Writer
President, The New Flat Rate

You must earn your ending. The eulogy, the bonus, the Pulitzer prize. The day your business sells, and you retire on an island. The day you graduate from install helper to lead installer, your move from helper to technician. Customer service help desk at Home Depot to entrepreneur, your pathway, your ending…must be earned.

A CANVAS OF CONDITIONS

As a young college kid and then later as a young adult, I jumped out of an airplane. Three times I jumped. The fourth time, I didn’t jump. I’ll never forget the first time I went skydiving. While in Bible school in a small town outside of Tyler, TX, my friends and I thought it would be cool to go skydiving. I surely don’t recall whose idea it was…but as a group follower, I wasn’t about to miss out. I remember calling home and telling my mom that I was going to go skydiving. Naturally, she thought it was a bad idea. Then the guilt set in. I felt guilty that I was about to spend the money…$150!!! It was a lot of money for a poor college kid, but I also felt guilty doing something against my mother’s wishes.

One of my buddies in the group, noticing my trepidation, called my mom back and asked if I could go. Shockingly, she said, “Well, Danielle does have the money so I guess if she wants to she can.” WHAT! I had the money? I’d been in a car wreck the year before…in my dad’s Cadillac Seville. To this day, if you were to ask him, he would say that that was his favorite car, the best he’d ever owned…until his daughter wrecked it. Kids.

The only reason I bring up the wreck…is to say there was a small ‘pain and suffering’ settlement of $4,500 that came with it…to me!!! Not sure how I got so lucky, but that was a lot of money and it was burning a hole in my account.

We drove to Kansas. I’m not sure why, looking back, there were probably skydive centers in Texas, but for some reason we drove to Kansas and found ourselves outside of a trailer house in the middle of a corn field. Two friendly marijuana smoking dive instructors walked out and greeted us, with head to toe tattoos and long scraggly hair.

Again, looking back, I’m shocked at the things I did as a kid. But in hindsight, aren’t we all? I know we all did those things, not just me.

Fast forward a few years, and I found myself at the skydive center of Atlanta, GA for my second and third jumps.

Last year, now that I’m happily married with two beautiful baby girls, when the call came to join friends for a skydive trip, oh that blessed fourth jump…I’d smartened up and quickly yelled, “ARE YOU CRAZY!” I’ll never jump a fourth time. Now that I am a mother, I can no longer afford the risk.

THE COST OF A RISK, CHANGES

Strength is built in moments of weakness, in the moments of weakness that we choose to take risks.

Consider the entrepreneur. In our world, whether she (she for the sake of my story, could be a she or he) was working for someone else as a lead service tech or grew up in her families service business, at one point, she decided the boss was a jerk and she could treat her customers better, price better, market better, and be a better…contractor.

She chose to get into business. And this part is key, it’s key to remember…she CHOSE to get into business.

Fast forward a few years, when she’s experiencing feast and famine, when she no longer gets to depend on the healthy steady paycheck from her old boss who was a jerk. What new issues and hardships is she facing, that bring about weakness? The wall that stares all of us entrepreneurs in the face, that wall we must push through to reach the next plateau, or even to reach the next customer.

Let’s say the wall staring her down is new competition. Big business. A big business franchise moved into her market and she now has the choice to become a victim or strengthen her weaknesses with risk.

How often does something new come into our market and threaten us? When threatened, and experiencing a moment of weak vulnerability, we have the choice to resist or compete. Complain about declining business or compete. And remember, competing is why she CHOSE to get into business to begin with! Then why does she think there is a point in her future when she no longer must compete? Blame customers or court them. Be the victim or be in control.

“But my competitors stole my customers!” False. I’m not the first to say it, success is rented and not owned…and the rent is due every day.

The danger zone appears when we think we’ve made it, when we stop loving our customers, when we stop looking for our weaknesses so we can strengthen them.

Fortunately, in contracting, it’s simple. When the numbers change, you change.

And let’s not forget, competitors are not some enormous sea monster that crawled out of the ocean. They’re just entrepreneurs that grew big, and often, faced their weaknesses faster than we did and with more risk.

We all have weaknesses, some of us more than others. I’m too nice. There, I’ve said it. While growing my team, I often offer my team too much too soon, before it’s been earned. That will kick me in the tail if I don’t change. The numbers prove that, over and over again. And when the numbers change, you change. You want to win, don’t resist, lean in.

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