I’m a little quirky. Okay, okay… I’m a LOT quirky. So it seems only fitting that a blog about my personal journey into, well, my personal journey be a little bit quirky too. As a creative writer, there are of course as many as 12 blog ideas circulating in my head at once, but the idea for this project came pretty naturally. This one seemed right. This one started as more of a mind shift than a blog idea. “Choose Polkadots” speaks to me, and I hope it will speak to you too.
When I first started my business I came into it with a lot of preconceived notions. I went very quickly from leaving a career in journalism, to a new path into marketing and then a wonderfully unexpected life as a small business owner (with a lot of sales to make). I didn’t have much experience in sales in the beginning, but I was – and am – passionate about my business. I love talking to people – my husband says I make a new friend wherever we go – so it was a nice fit. I had a lot to learn, and quickly.
Coming into it I had an image of who I should be: how I should act, what I should wear, what I should talk about. I would leave the house every morning – my gut in a twist – in dress pants, silk blouses, shined up shoes… out to represent my business in the right way: professional, polished and prepared. I made some sales, I gained some new friends and I dove head first into business networking.
But, with all my polishing and preparing I was feeling blocked. “I suck at sales,” I would tell my husband, who would promptly and kindly tell me that I was absolutely insane. I would mope around, beat myself up for every sale I didn’t make, obsess over every potential client I couldn’t quite book a meeting with and every night I’d worry about what challenges the next day would bring. It was rough, but now I see that it was a learning experience. Around this time I made a fantastic new friend. She’s the kind of gal who has a way of asking the right question, at the right time, to leave me absolutely speechless — don’t you just hate when friends do that? I affectionately refer to her as my ‘Spirit Guide’.
“When you’re out working on your business, do you feel like yourself?” she asked me over huevos rancheros one Saturday morning? “No,” I admitted, letting my posture crumple, “I feel like an imposter.” (Imposter Syndrome, anyone??). She smiled at me like she knew something I didn’t, and then she made a suggestion. A suggestion that almost immediately would change everything about how I was running my business sales day-to-day. “Perhaps you need to think about how you are measuring your success. Why don’t you flip it? Success for you is not measured by how many sales you make, but in how many days in the week you felt like yourself in your business.” Whoa. Baby. See why I call her my “Spirit Guide”?? She was totally right, I didn’t feel like myself and I was doing it to myself. I wasn’t dressing like myself, acting like myself or just letting me… be me. I was being what I thought a “sales lady” should be, and of course everyone saw right through me.
The next Monday morning, I headed into my closet to choose an outfit for the day. I grabbed at the silk blouses and held them to my chest… nope, not me at all. I grazed my hand over the old black dress pants that had become my Old Faithful… not Avery. From the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of one of my favourite shirts, a crazy black and white polka-dotted gem that I’d pushed to the back of my closet. Polka dots, after all, don’t say “polished, professional and prepared”, right?? Wrong. That was the shift. I thought to myself, “Avery, don’t be a dunce… choose polkadots!”. I left the house that day in that polkadot top with a silver studded wool zip up vest an a pair amazing mustard yellow slacks that totally screamed “me”! And, I never looked back. Since that day I’ve been choosing polkadots as much as possible and I’ve been using that decision as my mantra to remind myself that to be the best person I can be, and to do that I just need to be myself.
To be the best business owners we can be, we just need to be ourselves. Don’t try to mould yourself into the image of what you think you should be…. Choose Polkadots! Don’t hold back on that witty quip that just came to mind because you’re with a client…. Choose Polkadots! Bad day? Feeling down? Choose Polkadots! We can choose which version of ourselves we want to put out into the world. The biggest lesson I’ve learned? The more genuine, real and polka-dotted that person is, the better they’ll do.
Now, if I’m ever feeling down or being hard of myself my husband uses my own words to lift me up. “Remember,” he’ll say. “Choose Polkadots.” Isn’t he so adorable??
I like to sneak polkadots into the quilts I make for friends too. It’s a small way of sending them some positive vibes as they use the blankets. For now, 100% of the quilts I make go to babies, and the polkadots are my way of encouraging those precious, little monsters as they grow to head into the world exactly who they are and want to be, even if it’s unapologetically polka-dotted.
So there it is. Won’t you join me in choosing polkadots?
I would like to acknowledge upfront as a former journalist and self-proclaimed grammar nerd that I do recognize that polkadot in its correct form is “polka dot”, but when I see it in my head it’s only two words (and in all honesty, it was much easier to design a logo without the space in between). So, I’m sticking to my guns on this one. Just call me committed.