My friend died the other day. It was a surprise. It hurts.
She wasn’t someone I set out to settle into my life. She was the receptionist at my former job and it was her job to show me how to work the phones, she fixed the copier when no one else could, and she made sure I had enough candy for all my kids ministry events. We didn’t have to become friends, we could have simply existed in the same space. Somewhere between painting event sets, talking about where to buy the best seeds for gardens, and standing by each other in hard times, we stopped existing together and started living life together.
Death makes us remember. It makes time stop. It makes us think about the life we want to live since time is short and each day matters.
Here’s what I know, here’s what I learned, here’s what I want to remember.
Take time to share life – Friendships are created when you share who you are with someone. Not sharing office space or a polite hello, but by walking through life with others. No, you don’t need to get to know the delivery man, but it might make your life a little richer if you did. Yes, it does take time to send a quick text to a friend but that message might change their day. People become unique, special, and part of your heart when you share your journey.
Be real – Lisa was pretty much a what-you-see-is-what-you-get. You knew when she was happy, you knew when she was upset, and you never had to guess. With all our perfect Pinterest goals and filtered Instagram pictures, we are constantly striving to look perfect. What I’ve been discovering is that people would rather know the real you instead of your filtered, perfect self. Relationship develop when the real you connects with the real them.
Life is best when lived – My friend was very creative. She followed her passions of painting, pottery, gardening. For years she colored my hair in wild colors and loved seeing how blues and purples could mix and create something beautiful. She explored the country with her husband on his motorcycle. She spent time doing things that she loved and spending time with the people she loved. These things made her happy and I don’t think would trade those times for anything.
What does this have to do with small business? Perhaps nothing… perhaps everything.
Our lives are busy. We shop in big box stores because they are convenient, not because they make us happy. As small business owners, we have something to offer people – ourselves, our personality, the slowness to say hello. We own a small business because we see a need, want to share our passion, or crave human contact rather than cubical life. We don’t have the inventory or diversity that large stores do, but we do have something else. Personality, human touch, something special that we want to share with others.
The classic book, “The Little Prince” taught us this. The Little Prince had a rose on his planet whom he thought was special. When he came to Earth, he found there were tons of them and was sad that his was no longer special. But through his time with the fox, the Little Prince learned that things become unique when they are special to you. He spent time with his rose and knew her. That made her unique in all the world.
As a small business owner, I want to ask a favor of you. Let me share myself with you. I promise to be real, treat you as a unique person, and share the journey with whomever walks in the door.
In all that we do, whether it be in business or personal, let’s remember that everyone is special, the need to be real, and to slow down and live life.