Children live life with open hearts, passion, freedom and a deep sense of trust in life. They live in a way we slowly forget as we grow up, until one day we want to remember all that good and important stuff we lost.
For me, this is never more true than when I think about the business my best friend and I started when we were 8. Way back then, we made hand crafted gifts (cards, jewelry, knitted bags) and sold them door to door. We had no sense then that what we were doing was brave and revolutionary. We had no idea we would grow up to be people that would simultaneously fear and crave that same sense of freedom, responsibility and leadership. We were truly masters of our own destiny, but this was nothing to be thought about. It was the only thing we knew.
Sharing your own personal creations with the world can be terrifying. If you have tried to or are following your passion to its fullest extent, you understand how much it surprises me that this was so easy for me as a kid. There was no fear then. Only love and possibility.
I have begun lately to reach back to those feelings that were full of love and excitement. Our business felt like a fun adventure, and that is why it was so easy for us to succeed (we sold a lot of stuff!). Below are the top four things my inner child taught me about living my business dreams and life in general:
1.) YES is just a door knock away
If you think people bought things from us just because we were kids you'd be somewhat right. People did buy things from us, stuff I realized later they would never need nor did they really want. They did it because they wanted to support us - there is so much loving support in this world.
However, for every person that wanted to cheer us on, there was one who was annoyed. Lots of people don't like to have their doorbells rung by strangers (even adorable young ones). They don't like to be bothered by earnest kids selling their homemade wares. They don't want to wonder what you really want, because when people come to your door, there's always that moment of suspicion. So they told us to go away. A lot.
This, far from being discouraging, meant we were just at the wrong door. When someone slammed a door in our faces we didn't linger, wondering what had gone wrong. We ran with excitement to the next house. We didn't pause for one second to ask why they didn't like us and what we were offering. Why would we? Yes was just a door knock away. All we had to do was move on. So we did. As soon as we stepped away, we forgot the "no" and we talked about school, friends, life, and let each new door be that - a new door.
2.) You Get to Choose How You Feel About Everything
You know those people I mentioned that told us to go away? Well one actually paid us money to go away and never come back.
If someone paid me, as the person I am now, to stop what I'm doing I would be seriously shaken. I don't care how much money they gave me. I would feel deeply wounded, embarrassed and unsure of myself.
Me as a kid though? Yeah that was totally awesome. If something had a shred of good in it, that was all I saw. I was not embarrassed by what had happened. I was THRILLED. I told EVERYONE. Why? Because he gave us TWO WHOLE DOLLARS.
The average price point for our stuff was ten cents. The high end, this-took-a-long-time-to-make stuff cost a whole quarter. Paper money never touched our hands, only those precious coins. So when this person handed us dollar bills our eyes nearly bugged out of our heads.
As soon as the man closed the door we turned to each other and laughed with delight. We were pumped because we would've had to have sold a lot of stuff to get that much money. And he just gave it to us! We never questioned if this meant we weren't worthy, if our products weren't worthy, if we should stop knocking on doors, or if we should feel bad we hadn't actually earned the money.
All we saw was that something good had happened. That was all we needed to know. When we put those dollars in our jar full of nickels, dimes and quarters we were damn excited. It was not some signal people didn't want we had - it was a signal amazing things happen all the time.
3.) It Only Hurts If You Let It
Something that has been so hard for me to relearn as an adult, with this business and my writing, is to take nothing personal. When someone leaves a mean comment, let it go. When someone doesn't understand my approach, let it go.
As a kid, I never took people's reactions and rejections personal. Sometimes I even laughed. There was a time when we went to the house of a much older gentleman. He opened the door and saw we wanted to peddle our goods to him. Before we could even speak he began shouting at us. Now this man, being advanced in his years, had very loose skin around his neck. As he yelled and worked himself up, shaking his head in all his old man fury, this neck skin flapped back and forth.
If this was me, and someone yelled at me like that, I would cower away. I would shrink and feel ashamed for trying to do what I do. As a kid? I stood in awe, watching the spiddle fly, and as soon as he closed the door... I laughed. We both did. All we saw was that neck flap. We laughed for hours, saying how his neck made him look like a turkey.
Now, I want to be clear, I don't believe laughing at people is a good thing. I don't encourage making fun of others as a coping mechanism. What I mean to share here is that laughter in the face of adversity was our natural reaction. We did not laugh at that man because we felt joy and superiority in making fun of him. We laughed because the situation was funny to us. We chose what we wanted to take in from that moment. We had no interest in clinging to his angry yelling. All we wanted to remember, and all we did remember, was that he was the turkey man and he was funny.
There will be many turkey people in your journey. Don't ever hold onto their angry ramblings. Don't ever put their opinion above your own. Just know that you can choose to be hurt and dejected by what they say, or you can choose to walk away, laugh and know that YES is just a door knock away.
4.) There Will ALWAYS Be People Who Want You To Do What You Do
As adults, we tend to get focused on all the no's. We obsess over the people who gave us two dollars to go away and never come back. We put all of our value and meaning in the turkey people who yell at us and want to make us feel wrong and bad.
The most valuable thing I learned from my childhood business is that there are always people who are so glad you do what you do. They thank God that you showed up on their doorstep to brighten their day with your unique gifts. No matter how many people were annoyed with our door to door business, there was always someone who was so glad we showed up.
I know because I could see it in their eyes. I could see it in the way they looked at each thing in our cardboard box, treasuring the time they had with us. I could tell in the way they talked about how special our cards and yarn bags were. These were the people we lived for. We didn't have to remind ourselves of it. It was just obvious - these people matter.
These were generally the people who were home all day, mostly older people. But it wasn't only lonely retirees who loved us. There were younger people dressed sharp, who perhaps worked from home or who had gone home on a break. They were sometimes the most excited, perhaps because we reminded them of their own entrepreneurial spirit. Or perhaps it was simply because they were having a bad day and we distracted them from it for a moment. The why doesn't matter. All that matters is we showed up.
There will always be people who are annoyed with you and what you do. But you can't live for them. Because there are also always going to be people who are so full of joy and gratitude for you that you won't even be able to understand it. There will be people who's doorbell you ring at just the right moment, and you put a smile on their face, and they are so glad you are you, out doing what you do.
Don't miss out on being a gift for someone who is looking for you. You might doubt those people are out there, and perhaps that's because you're too focused on being something for everybody. No one can do that - and no one is meant to, because we are meant to work together, each sharing our own unique piece of the pie.