5 Life Lessons from Owning a CrossFit Affiliate

Our 1960 CrossFit soft-opening went from September through the end of December.  I had my grand-opening on January 1.  The last 6 months have been an incredible journey.  Below are the biggest lessons I”ve learned thus far:

1.  Be Patient.  “Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow – that is patience.” – unknown
A part of me thought opening the box would be easy.  I had the “if they build it, they will come” mentality.    I didn’t open the box thinking, “Wow, this is going to require a lot of hard work and some crazy hours.”  My thought process went more like, “Yay!  I get to help change lives for a living!  This is going to be awesome!!!!!”  It’s been quite the wake-up call for this little idealist.  I’m learning the art of patience.  There are times when the thought of another 14 hour day makes me want to run and hide, but then I teach a class and someone gets an awesome PR (personal record) or someone tells the group that finishing the workout was their high of the day.  It makes those 14 hour days so worth it.

2.  Lead with a Servant’s Heart.  “…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,” Matthew 20:26  
If your greatest desire in opening your own business is to make it rich, then you’re misguided.  The most important thing you can possibly do is improve the quality of the lives of those with whom you do business.  The best way to do that is to live life with a servant’s heart.  Think about everyone else’s needs first.  In order of importance I put my athlete’s/patients first, then my coaches/staff, and myself last.   Was I always this way?  No.  I used to be incredibly self-absorbed, focusing on becoming the next big singer/actress/dancer/fill in the blank.  There’s nothing like the death of a parent to put things in perspective.  My mom left a legacy of giving.  If it was good enough for her, I figured it was good enough for me.  My life is so much more full now that I put other people’s needs ahead of my own.  Don’t worry about the money.  Worry about your people.  Your financial needs will eventually be met.

3.  Be frugal.  “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”- Dave Ramsey
Trust me.  I wanted to open 1960 CrossFit  with 10 Concept2 Rowers, 10 GHD’s, and a huge Rogue infinity rig in a massive warehouse with multiple showers and a kid’s corral.  I also wanted to open my business without having to go into debt which is why I opened in my husband’s chiropractic clinic.  As membership grows, I buy equipment.  Eventually, I’d love for us to have so many athletes that we’re forced into that awesome warehouse.  In the meantime, I take comfort in the fact that my mind isn’t stressing over mounting debt; instead I can focus on my athletes, my programming, and bettering myself as a coach, a mentor, and a business owner.

4.  Stay True to Yourself. “This above all: to thine own self be true,/And it must follow, as the night the day,/Thou canst not then be false to any man.” – Shakespeare (Hamlet)
You can try, but you’ll never succeed at being all things to all people.  Eventually, someone will be disenchanted, let down, or just not that into you.  I recently had a moment where I came close to not being true to myself.  At the bottom of my 1960 CrossFit website I have a line of scripture.  I thought about how many people we may be turning off or pushing away with that little sentence.  I considered taking it off my website entirely.   Then I got a phone call from a woman who called specifically because of what she saw at the bottom of the website, saying she “felt encouraged.”  It was all the validation I needed.   At the end of the day, I am a Christian who wants 1960 CrossFit to be more than just another box.  I want it to be a community of like minded individuals focused on obtaining optimal physical, mental and spiritual fitness.

5.  Maintain Balance.  “Balance, peace, and joy are the fruit of a successful life. It starts with recognizing your talents and finding ways to serve others by using them.” – Thomas Kinkade
This is the hardest lesson of all.  Check out the wheel of balance to the left.  The 8 spokes represent the 8 areas in our lives:  job, exercise, community activities, family / relationships, friends & colleagues, religious/spiritual/philosophical concerns, hobbies/interests, future plans/projects.  One thing that happens when you open your own business is you become hyper-focused on the “job” spoke; usually at the expense of the other spokes in your wheel.  I’ve had an incredibly difficult time maintaining balance since opening my box.   I go through periods where my wheel is completely out of whack.  I become so hyper-focused on the operations of the chiropractic clinic and the gym that I forget to workout or my diet suffers or I forget to call my friends or I forget to …….  The list goes on and on.  They always say, “CrossFit exposes our weaknesses;”  at least I’m completely cognizant of the fact that maintaining balance is a huge weakness of mine.  It’s something that I must work on daily.

It’s funny because I know this is only the beginning.  I’m blessed with the opportunity to own my own business and am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned thus far:  patience, servitude, frugality, authenticity, and balance.  It’s only been six months, though.  I know there are so many lessons left to learn, and I’ll be smiling every step of the way.

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