What I hope my yoga studio learns from drybar

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About eight years ago, one of my best friends was carrying promotional materials around in her pocket for her new business. Everywhere she went, she handed out coasters advertising a new spot in Brentwood where you could get your hair blown out but not cut or colored. The coasters were literally scattered around the dance floor the morning after our other friend’s wedding. Not one to care much about the appearance of my hair, the business itself didn’t excite me. Truth be told, I’ve only gone a handful of times, and I still don’t get that excited about how my hair looks after. But, what does excite me is the culture they’ve created, the brand they’ve fortified, and the life they’ve built around a true family business.

Similarly, I don’t expect everyone to be excited about a yoga studio. You may have no interest in the practice, be more of a Crossfitter yourself, or even love yoga but not particularly love what we have on offer. In any case, I hope you can get excited about part of what we’re doing. I hope it excites you that we’re excited about this. I hope you recognize we’re trying to build something lasting, to make a true difference in the lives of our students, and to be true to who we are.

But, today, I’m not going to talk about any of that. Today, I’m going to talk about drybar’s mission to “always be growing.” And man, since that first run-in with coasters on the dance floor, I have continued to see them everywhere! They’ve never stopped to get comfortable before taking the next big leap. I may not be excited about hair, but I’m excited about that. 

I once interviewed the CEO of the fastest-growing insurance brokerage over the past fifty years. This particular firm grew from three people to the largest privately-owned insurance brokerage in the world with over a billion dollars in revenue. In fifty years.

I asked him about that growth, and he broke it down into the simplest story ever told. He said this: the number one way to grow your business is to retain your customers. The number one way to retain customers is to retain team members. The number one way to retain team members is to grow. ( … and to grow you have to retain customers, and it starts all over again.)

It’s that simple. Always be growing. 

I made this part of our mission as a studio. We are always growing, not just as a studio but also as teachers and as people. Most of us want to grow and change, but we rarely want the discomfort that comes with it. But, if I know anything, it’s that growth comes through difficulty. I can’t think of a single time in my life where I grew and learned and broadened my horizons while totally comfortable and at ease.

I’ll give you an example. Five years ago, I was what I refer to as a “pop yoga teacher.” I led fun classes with fun music, and people generally liked them, and I felt pretty good about myself. I had no unique voice. I shared mostly what I’d heard from someone else. I relied on going to other people’s classes to steal something in order to bring anything new into my own.

Then I got sick. Like, really sick, with a chronic illness that required five years of treatment, radiation, and now a permanent maintenance medication. I went to classes and felt completely disconnected. Nothing the teachers said inspired me. Their voices were no longer my voice. So, I went out and made my own.

It was ugly. I look back on some of the things I wrote – or remember many of the things I did – and cringe. I tested the boundaries of all my relationships, questioned my faith, debated my choices, and got jealous, angry, passive-aggressive, downright aggressive, and all the other things. As uncomfortable as it was for me, it was equally as uncomfortable for those who loved me.

I came out the other side with a powerful voice, a strong sense of self, a truly fulfilling marriage, and a clear feeling of purpose. I don’t rely on the messages of others anymore. Sure, I’m inspired by other people. I still have teachers; I need teachers. But, when my voice comes through, I know it is something unique and necessary.

This is my growth. Since then, I’ve been in the business of making myself uncomfortable as often as possible. I like to make other people uncomfortable, too. I want you to be a little overwhelmed when we are engaged in a conversation, a yoga class, or a day on the sofa. My husband hates it. But man does he love me for it.

Get out there and be growing!