I want to share with you a story. This is a story of triumph and accomplishment. It is a story of humility and servant leadership. It is a story of taking the next step toward the impossible.
Let me preface this story by sharing a very wise and aware statement that was made by our Teaching Partner in Romania, Daniela Nica, when she was speaking on stage at our Live Empowerment Mentoring Workshop last month.
Daniela was sharing a piece of her own story, and she said something incredibly profound, which was this: “The way you do the impossible is you take the first possible step in front of you.”
And this thought captures the essence of the story I’m about to share with you. This is a story about my dear friend, Alice Givens. Alice is a very active member of the Empowerment Mentoring community, and someone that I want to honor and celebrate for who she is and all that she brings to the table. I have had the privilege of working with Alice closely over the past couple years and watching her grow – she is an incredible woman.
When Alice was 27 years old, she started working for a company called Carlstedts, a large wholesale flower company, and Alice worked as a driver. Now, you might be picturing her delivering these beautiful flower arrangements to homes and hospitals and businesses. But no, we’re talking bulk flowers – boxes and boxes and boxes of flowers that had to be delivered to various floral outlets within a 90-mile radius of her home store. So, Alice had lots of windshield time. And as she drove, she started to dream. Just little dreams.
Alice was a high school dropout. She failed out of 10th grade. So with no highschool education, needing money, this job was her best option. But as she drove, that part of her that was seeking more, started to expand within her. And as energy expands, it also expresses itself. And so within 9 months, she got a promotion to the sales department.
The funny thing is, the only two flowers Alice knew the names of were “roses” and “baby’s breath.” Everything else was a foreign language, but she decided she would figure it out. The customer on the other end of the phone would tell her they wanted an order of “chrysanthemums” and she would write out on her paper, “krusansumums,” and give it to the fulfillment team. I bet they loved her!!!
But she figured it out, and in fact, she thrived in the role. She began to see that there was more for her than just living a life of struggle. But she still didn’t see herself moving beyond this point. She was comfortable, making a good living, and that was good for where she was at that time.
But again, that part of her, that spiritual essence of who she is, seeking fuller expression and fuller expansion, began to move within her once again. And an opportunity opened up for her to apply for a management position. So, she took that next step. And she got the job. And she thrived. Her store was one of the most successful stores in the entire company. At one point, she made the decision that it was going to be her goal that her store would have ZERO overtime in a given year. Every store seemed to have an overtime problem, and when you have to pay overtime, then store profitability goes down. Alice didn’t want her store to suffer, she didn’t want her people to suffer, and she also wanted to improve her bottom line. I think, above all, she wanted to do it just to show herself that she could do it.
She told me how she got the report from head office at year-end, when they fax all their stores their overtime reports, and sure enough, her report showed zero overtime. Because head office just couldn’t understand and believe that she could accomplish this, they actually bought and installed a $20,000 fingerprint machine for employees to check in and check out of shifts, only for her store. They thought she was having people work off the clock (and if you knew Alice, you would know how ridiculous this assumption is – Alice has got to be one of the most integrous people out there).
But fair and square, she was doing it. She was hitting her goal. When someone would call in sick, and over the busy holiday periods when they needed more help, instead of having her staff work overtime, she just had her people pull up their bootstraps and get the job done. And they all loved her and respected her for it. Alice is just one of those people you can’t help but love.
She was a successful manager, and she didn’t see herself moving beyond. But what happens when that spiritual part of you starts to stir within? The way Alice puts it is, it was like her spirit was saying to herself, “show me the direction of more.” During this time, Alice was also diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis… and she told me how she thought to herself, “how the heck am I gonna do this?” But she kept going.
And then the opportunity was presented to her to take over the ownership of this company. The company wasn’t doing well, and the owner was looking for a way out. And Alice was the owner’s best shot for retirement. But it required Alice to take on a massive financial commitment, and to step into a role in which she had no clue what she was doing. And might I also mention, leading up to this decision in her career, Alice walked the very difficult path of watching her husband decline and pass away from pancreatic cancer over the course of 13 months.
Yet, Alice’s spirit persisted. And when the opportunity came, she made the courageous decision to say yes. She loved her people. She loved the company. She loved flowers. And deep down, she wanted to show herself that she could do it.
The possible step that Alice could see her way through was to enter into ownership with a partner, and so that’s what she did. But her business partner was 17 years her senior, and he was resistant to the changing world of business, moving to e commerce and the world wide web. And Alice realized he was holding them back. At first, he wasn’t going to leave, but gradually, he came to acknowledge that it was time for him to pass the other rein to Alice. And so, before Alice was the decision of whether or not she would take full ownership of this company, including full financial responsibility. And she decided she would take this step, the next possible step before her.
There was a pivotal moment for Alice, the day before she was to sign all the papers to officially take over full ownership of the company. She was driving through the neighborhood with her new husband of 6 months, having just moved there from another city, and she was feeling bummed… and when Alice feels bummed, she doesn’t want to be around anyone. And her husband looked over at her and asked, “what’s wrong with you?” And she said she didn’t know, and they kept chatting. And then again, he said, “Alice, what’s wrong with you?”
All of a sudden, she burst out, “WHAT IF I’M NOT THE ONE???” And she was crying (in Alice’s own words, it wasn’t a pretty cry). And she said, “We’ve just bought a house, we’re only just married, we’ve just moved our family, and now all these people are depending on me…. What if I’m not the one?”
And her husband looked at her and he said, “If God didn’t want you right here right now, you wouldn’t be here.”
And immediately, in her mind, she took the next step, and she decided, “that’s the thought I’m going to go with.”
She could have focused on the fear. She could have focused on the unknown. She could have focused on her insecurities. But instead, she chose to focus on her truth, that she was right where she needed to be, and she was fully resourced and fully capable to do what she needed to do. With all the possible limiting beliefs circling around her head, she made her decision, she took the step, and she knew there was no turning back.
And just this month, less than two weeks ago now, Alice signed and submitted the final buyout payment, and she owns this company with no debt. To take full ownership, it has been a 7-year process. And now it is hers and she has earned every bit of it.
What I love about Alice’s story is that she didn’t know how to do any of it. She just did the next thing in front of her. And that led to the next thing. Which led to the next thing. She literally went from the bottom to the top. And she’s still growing. And the beautiful thing about growth is that once you step into it and acknowledge it in your life, you start looking for more of it. Alice has great big dreams now, much bigger than when she was behind that windshield all day long as a delivery driver. And what I know about Alice, is that as her dream expands, so does her ability to access the resources within herself to reach and surpass that dream. And so it is with you as well.
I really wanted to send this email to celebrate the women in our Empowerment Mentoring community. Alice’s story is just one of thousands in our EM community – stories of moms and wives and single women and widows who are really successful entrepreneurs and businesswomen, and who are making this world a better place every single day.
We are all a richer community because of the “Alices” within our tribe. It’s tough being an entrepreneur. I have been in business for a long time, and I know the challenges of the entrepreneurial path. And I also know I’ve certainly had some advantages because I am a man.
We have so many women entrepreneurs among us. Let’s celebrate them and celebrate each other here in the Empowerment Mentoring community.
Thank you, Alice, for all that you contribute. And I love what YOU say about communication: “Flowers really do say it all!! Words, I’m sorry… I love you, I want to build a relationship with you, my thoughts and prayers are with you… thank you, Words, for all the ways you help us …
But Flowers Really DO make a difference!!!”
I believe in you and I believe in your dream!!
Hold Your Image!!
We were born to BE, DO and HAVE more.