I REMEMBER THE MOMENT VIVIDLY . . .
As I sat in the conference room determined to fake it after a particularly brutal week 'at the office', the burning truth of my reality was tearing me up inside. My outward boldness was a complete cover for the sheer terror I was feeling inside. See, I wasn't fully present in that conference room. I was calculating the number days left of food for four people, when the mortgage had to be paid (or else), and there was less than a quarter tank of gas in the car. Adrian, came in with one of his colleagues, super distracted, and punching furiously into his phone. I suspected his day was just as jacked as mine. It's all relative. He looked up and said just said, 'What's happening?' After sharing with him, yet another idea to pivot Entre-SLAM to, he snapped:
Adrian interrupted: 'Christa what are you doing?'
Me: 'What? I'm trying to save this thing!'
Adrian: 'No. NO. What are YOU doing, really? WHY are you doing this? WHY are you torturing yourself with this?'
Me: 'Oh, I'll tell ya . . .'
Adrian: 'NO...don't answer right now because I can guarantee you, that you don't know the answer. This is what I want you to do. Go deep and think about what you're really doing and why anybody should give a shit about it.'
Adrian: 'GIVE yourself the space and time to think about it AND...don't come back to me until you've figured it out!'
He grabbed his cell phone and walked out.
I made it to the parking structure, got in the car, put the key in the ignition and just broke down in tears. I knew deep down that he was right. Not only could I not answer the question, I didn't know where to start to find the answers.
So I shut everything down and to do exactly that: find the answer to the big question, 'why'. During that time, I forced myself not to force the answer. Sure, there was Simon Sinek's take on discovering your brand's why. What I didn't know how to answer was my personal why. After all, I am the person/leader behind the brand. But, in that moment, my personal and business brand's why were miles apart. So, I continued on the lonely journey. To make money, I cleaned houses and worked at a temp agency to do transcription work. Both experiences taught me that while I was certainly capable of doing these types of jobs, why I existed in the world, my gift, was starting to sit up, quietly in the back of my heart.
After two months, I finally turned back to my business and asked the question, 'Why?'. I read Simon Sinek's book again and felt some comfort and direction. But it didn't address the bigger question, 'Why me?'
At that moment, I remembered. Looking back, I ended up being surprised that the answer was there all along. That 'aha' moment had nothing to do with the 'brand' and everything to do with why the brand existed.
During my time as an Army Recruit for the Military Intelligence division of the US Army National Guard, I remembered the moment when I had to literally drag another soldier across the field during a live ammunition evening exercise because she was afraid. It was in the summer of 1987 and I remember many squad members low crawling past her. I couldn't. I grabbed her by the collar and we low-crawled together to finish the course. The experience was powerful because it ended up defining why I'm dedicated to taking whatever I do to the finish line but more importantly, I'm doggedly determined then that if someone has the guts to 'get on the field' then no one gets left behind. I couldn't just leave her because I not only did I know that she was capable of being stronger than she felt at the time, I knew exactly what it felt like to be left behind. Doing what needs to be done even when we're afraid is tough but sometimes you need someone who can grab you by the proverbial collar and drag you across the field to the finish line. That moment defined the baseline story behind what I do and why, that energy, that promise, is what I bring to every conversation and experience when I sit across from a founder who has that fire to 'get it done' but has lost his/her way.
It's an honor to be a part of each of these journeys because at the end of the day, it's the story you don't tell that is probably the one that the world really wants to know about.