It's been three years.
We've been through a lot. We're a little less starry-eyed, a little more seasoned, and a lot more resilient. We've seen the best in people, sometimes the worst, usually the painfully relatable; the "I don't know what I'm really doing" stuff, right along with the "I can't believe I actually made it" celebratory stuff.
The OWN is impossible to quantify. Yes it's space to work from, yes we have people that can help with your admin needs, yes we help you market your small business. All those things are important, take time, and are necessary. But the big stuff, the intangible stuff, is why I do it.
To totally go against our last blog, here's a list of the 5 intangible reasons I love The OWN today more than ever.
1) Permission. Permission. Permission.
In a hyper connected yet distant world, it's easier than ever to see all the "should's". You should work a certain way, love a certain way, parent a certain way, eat a certain way, and dress a certain way. I love The OWN the most because it totally breaks down my "should" illusions and shows me what is real. Everyone has a different dream, and everyone has a different life that is just right for them. The ideas flow freely, but so does the understanding that "this might not work for you". Our OWNers and Members are acutely aware that there's no formula for life, and they don't treat others as though there is. This creates a space where it's sacred to just do what works for you. No more. No less.
2) Resilience inspiration is baked right in.
Yes, I have wanted to quit The OWN. Shut it down, move to Onida, and raise chickens. Yes, I have wanted to have a pause button, where I could just take a nice long rest, particularly when I was struggling with PPD. I didn't, and a huge part of why is one I've heard from other OWNers as well: I kept going because I saw other women not quit. It's always been particularly hard to do your own thing when you didn't know that thing even existed (see item 1). It's even harder to keep going once you've discovered it when the going gets rough. But seeing other women continue, carry on, and dig their heels in day after day for their businesses has kept me strong too. Surrounding yourself with good, strong people is a perk of The OWN that is just a part of the territory.
3) I've been challenged to become better every day.
Not in a body building, ego-centric, bravado type way, but in the small, organic, steady, and meaningful kind of way. OWNers and Members provide me with the inspiration to change for the better, to become a better mom, a better wife, a better friend. To forgive. To move on. To dream bigger. To get help. To say no, and to say yes, and to be okay with both. I've watched seasoned business women join purely to help younger business women, I've watched new business OWNers take enormous leaps of faith and pursue the life of their dreams, I've watched some end their businesses to pursue new and different lives. I am in the presence of immense courage all the time, and it's constantly challenging me to strive for better, to think harder, to be more honest with myself and my loved ones, to do the hard work of self growth.
4) It's made me more aware of the problems we face, the complexity of those problems, and to be brave enough to try to make a difference anyways.
OWNers and members are from all walks of life. They are men and women, left and right, newbies and pros. They have diverse religious beliefs and political views. They are animal lovers, child advocates, women's rights front liners, environmentally conscious. They fight hate with love, kindness, and hard work. They stand up for what they believe in, and they tell the rest of us why we should donate to their favorite charity (and most of them sit on those boards while doing it). They show us in no uncertain terms the problems our growing world faces, but they also offer glimmers of hope. Ways to help. How to take action and do more good than bad. They've taught me that each of us has a cause written in our hearts, and we should each do our part to help that goodness succeed.
5) I've become more prone to asking for help.
Seeing people do what they do because they love it means if you might need their service, it's exciting to ask for help instead of a sign of weakness. I've texted our midwife questions about what foods I can eat while pregnant. I've emailed our legal members with questions that might be stupid. I've asked people in our community to listen to my new ideas and give me critical feedback. Ive asked people to help me create new answers to old problems. I've asked hundreds of questions to mom's with older kids than mine how they possibly survived [insert new stage struggle here]. But more than the answers I've gotten, I've learned that it's important to ask. People that love what they do don't mind questions about what they do. They invite those questions. They come alive when they answer. They get all excited, and end up energizing you AND answering your question. The OWN has taught me to be more of a student of life than anything I've ever done or been a part of, and that has made a world of difference to nearly every facet of my life.
The OWN is a group of people that are passionate about creating lives of meaning and substance. The OWN is a group of people that want a better way to do things; in life and business. We want deeper connection. We want to lead lives of purpose. We believe in sharing, in goodness, in help and generosity. The OWN, after 3 years of business, has become more than I ever dreamed, and yet still has so far to go.
We are actively planning our next decade of business. We want solutions to questions that are unanswered. We want an even better way to do things. We want to give a voice to those who are marginalized. We want better, more wholistic lives for ourselves and our friends. We want more progress, not measured by someone else's yardstick. The OWN began as a soft voice whispering of a better, more connected way for women to work. From the last three years of business, we've developed nothing short of a battle cry for more. More tolerance. More education. More conversations. More solutions. More awareness. More togetherness. More contentedness. In the next few years, The OWN aims to be leading the charge for a stronger voice for the things that really matter, the good and important things in life.
Thank you to everyone who committed to helping The OWN succeed over the last three years. Thank you to our OWNers and members who make up this unique and incredible community of people.
Thank you for what is behind us, and thank you even more for what is ahead of us.