I have had a full, enjoyable and varied career. Have I succeeded? If so, why? The answers would depend upon whom I would ask. There would be as many different answers to this question as persons asked.
SUCCESS VS. GOALS
I am the only human who truly knows if I have succeeded, and I might even get it wrong. Success and how you achieve it is very personal and is not to be measured by how others view it.
There are scores of books out there telling you how to be successful. I have read many and I have tried many of their “tips to success.” Some helped me, while others did not. At one time I was collecting definitions of success and they all made sense and were good. I had them posted all over the place. As I sit here composing my thoughts there is only one that comes to mind: “Success is the continual pursuit of a worthy ideal.” Earl Nightingale said that.
Notice what Earl does not say. He doesn’t mention money. He doesn’t mention fame. He doesn’t mention a Fortune 500 company. That doesn’t mean these issues aren’t worth striving for, but they are not the main ingredients to achieving success.
What Earl did say is “continual pursuit.” Think about that. It means you never get to the end! You are never finished with what you have to do while you are here on this Earth. Only when you leave is the final door closed. Success is a minute-by-minute pursuit of what you hope to achieve, accomplish or attain. It is an ever-evolving process of setting goals, achieving them or not, and setting some more.
Take “continual pursuit” a bit further and you get to the very core of success. It means you keep on pursuing no matter how many mistakes you might make or how many times you get knocked down! The successful person views and treats mistakes as learning opportunities, i.e. learn what you can from a mistake and then let it go. Successful people may fail many times, but they never let failure stop them from moving on to the next mountain.
Next Earl says he is striving for a “worthy ideal.” What is your worthy ideal? Is it your goal of increasing your net profit or closing more sales? Or is it taking care of your needs and those of your family and perhaps those less fortunate? Isn’t success about doing the best you can with what you have and leaving this world better than you found it? That sounds worthy to me.
Your goals may or may not be achieved and they may change from one day to the next, but that is OK. They are just measuring sticks. You may succeed in accomplishing your goals, but true success is not achieving goals. It is that you made the effort in the first place and that you can rejoice that you have made progress. Progress can be that you know how not to do something.
Success is doing your best and helping others to do their best and to succeed along the way. And you do this because it’s the right thing to do. Knowing this difference will help you shed the mistakes, pick yourself up from a fall, and keep putting one foot in front of the other always trying to do better.
WHO OWNS YOUR BUSINESS?
OK, so you know what success is, but how do you know you have the determination and perseverance to keep striving to achieve goals? How do you know if you are even going in the right direction? And if you come to a fork in the road, how do you know which road to take?
How often do you have a feeling about a certain situation and you dismiss it only to regret it later? How often do you explore every possible resolution to a problem and become even more confused? How often are you absolutely sure about what you are doing? You own your own business. Aren’t you supposed to be able to make the right decisions? How often do you wish you didn’t have to make the decisions? I’ve been guilty of thinking, “Why can’t I just sit in the corner and sew and be left alone?”
Who made you the boss? Who saw to it that you had the ability and pleasure in sewing? Who made sure your customers told their friends how happy they were with your work? Who made sure that a new homeowner found you in the yellow pages instead of your competition with the larger ad? Who gave you the creativity to provide resolutions to your customer’s problems and beautify their homes?
God gave you your talents and your joy in doing your work. I believe He has given us so much and has stepped in more times than we know to keep us on the right track. Where do you think those gut feelings came from?
So many times, I have felt overwhelmed with decisions to be made or more work to get done than I envisioned possible. When I remember that it is not my business but God’s, and He knows better than anyone what needs to be done, the fear and stress drain away.
The longer I live, the more I understand the value of passion. My definition of passion is an inexhaustible but joyous thirst, divinely created, making one drink until satisfied.
Passion is what motivates us to accomplish that for which we were created. Passion erases doubts and gives us certainty that we will accomplish that for which we crave. Passion will ignite our creativity as well as the power of the universe to see its completion. The pursuit of a passion will create delicious enjoyment. Conversely, the lack of passion where it once was indicates that thirst is now quenched and it is time to move on.
You must have passion if you are to pursue this industry toward personal reward and financial success. When I started in this industry there was very little information available and not that much was needed to become accomplished in window coverings. The irony is that today, we have endless amounts of information available, but at the same time, it may not be enough to successfully treat all windows.
In my area, the typical new construction home has two-story, multiple windows in foyers and sometimes elsewhere in the home as well. Here are only a few of the questions that this one wall of windows gives birth to:
• What treatment will work on such a grand scale?
• How do you measure to even quote the job and then measure for accuracy for the workroom?
• Can you handle such large treatments in your workroom?
• What hardware will hold such heavy interlined panels?
• What fabric will remain stable and not grow from gravity or humidity?
Such issues were not there 10 or 15 years ago. How do you find the answers to such questions? There is not one book or set of books or one educational program that will answer all the questions window treatment people are faced with today or will be faced with tomorrow. The answers are there, but you must have the tenacity to dig deeper. Your passion will push you on, assuring you that there are answers and that you will find them. Your passion will relish the process of the search and bask in the beauty of what you have brought to creation. And then it will lead you on to the next conquest.
The challenges of our industry have grown dramatically. Owning a window coverings business is not for the skeptic. It takes all of one’s natural and learned abilities as well as universal wisdom and support to grow a financially solvent and thriving business. Are you successful? Are you loving what you do? Are you digging your heels in and saying, “I’m going to do this or else!”? Do you have a feeling that this is what you are supposed to be doing? I would listen to that passion speaking if I were you!
Kitty Stein, CWP, WCAA past board member, is a 29-year veteran of the drapery workroom industry. She has owned both retail and wholesale drapery workrooms as one person and as a company of nine, and she is the founder and past owner of Workroom Concepts, a consulting firm offering educational resources to the industry. Her experience includes professional speaking and writing for two industry trade magazines. She currently owns Kitty Stein & Co., which supplies industry vendors with the industry-specific products she has authored including Order in the Workroom.