Sometimes it comes when we are looking for something new.
Sometimes it comes when we are not searching for it at all.
Sometimes it comes in a change in a particular phase of life.
You know, empty nest phase or the turning 50 phase?
Sometimes it comes because life has thrown us a curveball.
Sometimes we reject it because we are afraid of what others will think.
Sometimes we approach it shyly with disclaimers for fear of failure.
Or…sometimes we embrace it, we run towards it and we make things happen.
Now stop for a moment, before you read on, and reflect on what unexpected path has crossed your life in the past or even recently. Did you “jump right in?” Or, if you are more like me, did you overthink it, research it and still only “dip a toe in the water” for fear of failure or what others might think?
The past few weeks, I turned a really sharp corner. I am no longer at a crossroads, trying to find the courage to take this path less travelled, well at least less travelled by ME. I’m in a new home, I FINALLY turned 50 (after talking about it for 8 months) and my youngest is about to go back to college. I am not replacing any current path with a new one, but I am adding a lane, a BIG one, to my current highway of life.
I am taking an unexpected path…
As I wrote in last week’s post, “In My 50th Year Part II,” 51 really are my Chapter One in my respective book of life. In my first 50 years, the Introduction and Prologue were all about the development of characters, setting the scene and laying the groundwork for the real story. Setting the stage for my “what’s next.”
In January, I decided to dabble in an industry that was completely OUT of my comfort zone, on multiple levels. As a SVP of a bank, I spend most of my time in a male-dominated industry. And I certainly have no experience in the retail industry. Oh, and any idea of working in a Direct Sales model had never crossed my mind, although I was intrigued by the successes of several women around me via my Women In Business Program. My point is that I wasn’t looking for this unexpected path. No one asked me to join their team on this unexpected path. I was searching for something, – my “what’s next.” So, I went to my quiet place and listened.
One of my dearest friends, Michelle was in her first 6 months building a business with the India Hicks Company. I’d never heard of them, but after going to a couple of her get togethers, mostly just to be supportive of her new endeavor, I bought a few of the very quality, well-crafted products. It was cool…a brand of women’s accessories I would have bought for myself easily, but at Nordstrom or Neiman’s. Did I mention that I don’t like going to the mall?? Most importantly, I saw Michelle having fun, building a business, making new friends and spending time with friends that had “gotten lost in the shuffle,” not to mention making a little extra money. I did not even tell her that I was intrigued. I never let on that I was doing my research on the direct sales industry, on India Hicks the company, India Hicks the woman behind the brand and her executive team.
What I found in my research was a woman-founded company led by a fascinating woman, just a year younger than me, who, not unlike me, had a colorful life story, a few sharp turns in this road called life, a resume that was diverse, and was a working Mom who had a hunger for something more. I read every one of India’s blog entries and what I did NOT find was a “saleswoman.” What I did find was a woman who could laugh at herself, who was willing to try new things, who was surrounding herself with educated, talented and intelligent women and who was not afraid of failure. I had found another version of me…well, minus the long legs and the 5 kids.
So what did I do next?
I called Michelle, I got signed up and…I dabbled. Oh, my sales were good and the commission structure was incredible, but something was blocking me. Someone was blocking me. That someone was ME. I was in my head way too much. I was sure other people not familiar with the company were rolling their eyes. I was sure others around me doubted me as much as I doubted myself. But then I asked – what really is my end game to this new and unexpected path?
Then something changed – inside of me. I spent a little more time on the yoga mat, I spent a little more time with both the leaders of our company and with other women, just like me, from around the country and I came to this conclusion: my path is at the center of ME, not something external to me. So no matter which road I choose, my path is the very essence of ME: my character, my stamina, my truth, my joy, my relationships, my work ethic, my adventurous spirit, my happy place. The path is really not unexpected at all; it is the path inside of me that I choose to hold back, to be afraid of or to unleash with great passion.
Re-read that last paragraph. Isn’t that the core essence of every entrepreneur?
I have now been an India Hicks Independent Ambassador for 8 months, have promoted to the rank of Director in just 4 months, have hit consistent sales most months and am the leader of an extraordinary tribe of women that I have endearingly named the SHE Tribe. 18 women thus far, that span 20 years in age difference, most have another career, all well-educated, intelligent women tapping into their own path on an unexpected journey. Or as India would call it, an “uncommon opportunity” to be an entrepreneurial woman on my terms and my timeline. There is no magic and there are no promises of “getting rich quick.” But I love the new me that is unfolding and I love meeting so many new friends thru this new, young company.
This is Chapter One of my book. Not sure how the rest of the story plays out, but I know that I am bringing 100% of me to the table without hesitation or fear. I am thankful for the cleared vision and am so, so thankful for the new and old friends who are supportive in so many ways. Oh, and the product is absolutely gorgeous.
Let’s see where this path leads…
Note from the SHE Files: The unexpected path can be the most remarkable adventure. Whatever your unexpected journey might be, look inside and ask yourself, “What am I waiting for?”