You know how you feel when you have to do something particularly difficult?
I’m talking about those things that are emotionally draining. When you know you need to part ways with an employee or customer, or when you’ve had to ask for forgiveness from someone. I’m sure you are no stranger to these “hard things”. I know I’m not. In fact, I had to do it twice yesterday. Ugh!
As studio owners, we have many opportunities to do these hard things—and I use the word opportunity here on purpose. While you may dread that call or conversation in front of you, it is also an opportunity to grow your business muscle by working your emotional intelligence. It’s an opportunity to do good work, even when that work requires an enormous amount of emotional strength.
It is an opportunity to develop some grit. And, to lead with love and grace.
Now, I understand that knowing this may not change the difficulty level of those hard things you have to do; it hasn’t changed for me even though I’ve been at it for over 20 years! But, what has changed is the lens through which I now view these difficult moments and the way I manage my emotions around those events. I’m choosing to look at these situations as opportunities—a bootcamp for resilience, if you will.
I want to encourage you to change your mindset too. I’m living proof that it can work. Things that used to wipe me out for WEEKS, are now things I can process in a matter or minutes or hours. There’s no question that it can still be uncomfortable to lead a difficult conversation or confront a difficult person, but you can learn to do so with love in your heart, truth in your words and grace in your tone because you have equipped yourself. Here’s how:
Accept that doing hard things will be part of your life as a studio owner. We can’t avoid these moments, but we can prepare for them. Here’s a tip, have clearly stated expectations for your employees to meet. Also try keeping written documentation of any extra coaching or disciplinary action you might need. Have key phrases prepared and practices, so you won’t be derailed by your emotions during a difficult situation. Take the time now, before you need it, to spot the places in your life where the hard things happen and take preemptive action. You are not trying to stop them, but to be prepared to handle them more gracefully and with more patience when they occur. The same thing applies to your clients.
Know there is a higher purpose
It is essential that I remind myself, God is at work when all I can see is a hot mess. I trust that He has a plan and purpose for my future, and believe that even the situations that feel crushing at the time can actually be used to build the muscle I need for the next step in my journey. And, here’s a key point for me: I believe that He would want me to act with truth in love even when I don’t want to (which is a lot more often than I would like to admit). Whatever spiritual beliefs you hold, there is a sense of peace that comes over you when you choose to treat others as you would want to be treated. For me, the hardest work isn’t actually the external challenge I am facing at the time, it’s the inner challenge.
Have a support network
Doing the hard things alone, without a shoulder to lean on, is nearly impossible. Whether it’s your family, your friends, your studio owner peers, a network like More Than Just Great Dancing® (or all of the above!), surround yourself with people who can offer comfort when you are down and encourage you to stay positive. Remember when I said I to had to face two difficult situations just yesterday? Well afterwards I called a trusted friend to help me get my perspective back because I felt pretty beat down. Temper your emotions by talking them out in a safe space. You’ll feel more clear-headed afterward, ready to tackle the challenge at hand.
Give yourself some grace too
Leading with love and grace isn’t an act only meant for others; it’s meant for you, too. You might not be able to get it from other people, but you can give it to yourself. Know that you won’t be perfect, but also that perfect isn’t the goal. Remind yourself that avoiding the hard things will only make them more difficult when you must eventually encounter them. Learning how to accept and turn them into opportunities will only serve to make you stronger and more empathetic. And remember, in the moments when things seem the hardest of all: this too shall pass. My sister once told me this, “No storm, no matter how bad, ever lasted forever.”
Doing the hard things will always be, well, hard. But preparing yourself for those moments, understanding your purpose, seeking support, and being kind to yourself will help you to grow through it, not just get the job done. You’ll begin to feel more comfortable taking the high road in any situation, and let’s be honest: the high road has the best view anyway. 🙂