I know this sounds a bit cheesy, but when I started RuffleButts, I had long prayed for a career change that would allow me to "do good". I had tossed around ideas to start a non-profit but didn't know how to direct my passions. I considered being a public speaker, but didn't really have much to say (and I dislike being the center of attention, which is likely not an asset in this career path!). I wanted to write a book, but writing is far from my strong suit. It was then that my answer came, crystal clear, RuffleButts was my calling.
To most, they would say that starting a children's clothing line, covering baby's booties in ruffles, is not saving the world. Well, you are totally right, but RuffleButts was my path to contributing something greater. It is on this path that we try to contribute daily. If it is just making a customer's day a little brighter with stellar customer service, or making a grandma smile at the sight of her 1st grand-baby in sweet ruffles, or being blessed to share our financial successes with others in need; it is these small victories that we feel are giving back to the world that is good to us.
So, I write these little lessons below in hopes that just one of them gives you some sort of little 'gift'. It may be a prayer that you prayed of your own, or maybe just a little lesson that you have yet to stumble upon in your own life. Maybe it saves you just one little heartbreak or hiccup. Maybe you're already here with me, but know of someone in their own valley. It is with this hope that I share some of my personal life lessons learned to date, often not the easy way.
1) People-pleasing ways rarely please anyone in the long-run.
For many years, I made decisions based mostly on what would please others. Although making others happy is still extremely important to me, it is not at the sacrifice of what I know to be true and best in my own heart. The best gift age has given me is the ability to care much less of what others think, and instead living for what I believe to be best and right. It brings an amazing clarity to life decisions.
2) Anything in life really worth having requires TREMENDOUS effort.
The cool thing, I have found, is most often it works out that the more effort it requires, the more worth having/rewarding it turns out to be. It is nice to remember this when something seems extraordinarily difficult...I can rest easy knowing that it will be one of the most rewarding, and almost always worth every ounce of effort I put in. My best examples here are marriage and children...at times a bit (ok, let's get real here....very) exhausting, but by far, the two (well, three really) most valuable things in my life.
3) As soon as you lose humbleness and gratitude you will be voted off.
This is my 'Survivor Theory', of which my employees are likely tired of hearing about. See, after 10+ years of watching Survivor, I have learned that 90% of the time, the moment the player begins telling the camera that they are the "puppet master" or the "master" of the game, the moment they are bashing others and feeling indestructible is the moment they are voted off. And even with the few exceptions when they actually stayed in the game for a few more episodes, rarely are they rewarded with the $1M prize. I think this theory translates from game to life...the moment you stop operating with gratitude is the moment you lose.
4) Do the right thing, you get the right results.
This applies to so much in life. It's as simple as doing your job right, working hard, and getting the results that you are working so hard to achieve. It may not be tomorrow (and sometimes feels like an eternity), but if you continue doing the right thing, working hard, not taking shortcuts or slacking off, the results will come. Same for life on a bigger scale...you treat people the right way, appreciate your customers, invest in your relationships, operate with ethics and gratitude...it all comes back around, pretty much guaranteed in one way or another.
5) Finding a career that is rewarding and even inspiring is truly possible.
I wanted so badly to believe this when I was in my early twenties, although I pretty much wanted to burn every "do what you love and the money will follow" book that I read! They made it sound so simple, "just follow your passion" they would taunt me. Problem was, I wasn't sure what exactly that meant! I wish someone would have just told me, "work harder than everyone else...at least make yourself proud at the end of everyday for giving it your best", "if you don't do it with heart and maximum efforts, then don't do it at all", "spend time figuring out what drives and excites you, then try to find a career that ignites those things in some way", and "God's timing is not always your timing".
6) Sometimes you have to go through the 'gunk' to get to the 'glory'.
This very much follows my comment about God's timing. I have learned to accept this over the years. Sometimes I need to follow a path that is not only unpleasant, but also unclear in order to prepare me for the glory on the other side. Even though I feel I am ready, and sometimes beyond ready, looking back, I understand much better why I had to take the 'not so pretty' path to prepare. I will use my children to explain my theory here...it was more than two years before Aubrey was conceived that I began 'trying' to get pregnant. It was with tears, joy, and ultimately patience that I received her into my life following years of question, and the miscarriage of another child. It was certainly not an easy path, but prepared my heart with patience and faith.
7) Suck it up!
Sounds a little harsh, right? Well, let me make this promise to you...there is someone out there who's got it worse. Life is tough sometimes, but it is your choice what to do with that. Is your glass half empty or just half full of opportunity to be filled? I look back at opportunities I had in my life when I chose a pity-party instead of a celebration. I watch this go down with people over and over again. Life goes by fast, you are never the only one struggling, it will NEVER fix your problems to bring down those around you, and it is never as bad looking back. The one who ultimately pays the price for your pity-party is you! It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
8) The last, but in my opinion, MOST IMPORTANT gift I have to give...when uncertain or lost, PRAY ABOUT IT.
I have learned, especially from my twenties to my thirties, that I do not have all of the answers, and neither does anyone else. The only place I can turn for guaranteed peace and direction is God. I, like many others, often forget this, but if I look back on the best decisions of my life, it is not with coincidence that I remember turning to God in search of the answer.
I certainly know that I have so much more to learn, but only wish I would have received these valuable lessons earlier in life. Then again, as stubborn as I am, I likely would have been determined to fall and learn them on my own! Anyhow, it is with a humble heart and hope that just one word of this touches your life in a positive way.