How to Start Something That Matters?
Updated: Aug 1
I just finished reading, or I should say finished listening (love audibles) the book “Start Something That Matters” by Blake Mycoskie, Chief Shoe Giver and founder of TOMS shoes where he tells the story of how it all began.
To relax, Blake took a holiday in Argentina. The poverty was starling, and that woke him up. He saw how they walked barefoot and got cuts on their feet. He wanted to help, and so, he created a business that provided the kids with a constant flow of shoes. He called the company TOMS with the catch-phrase ‘Shoes for a Better Tomorrow’ or ‘Tomorrow’s Shoes.’
He starts the book with a quote about success. Success:
To laugh often and love much. To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children. To earn the appreciation of honest critics, endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty. To find the best in others. To leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition. To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. ~ Elizabeth — Anne Anderson Stanley My career for the past 30 + years has been in the spa, wellness, leisure, and hospitality industries. My goal was to work in an environment that was about health and wellness and helping people live a healthier lifestyle. I couldn’t see myself in a cubicle stuck all day indoors. Over the years I’ve had various positions from Corporate Sales and Marketing Director for an urban spa in Boston, Assistant Spa Director for luxury resort spa, Membership Director for private golf clubs and founder of Arizona Babies, a botanical bath and body line for children. We created Arizona Babies because we realized that most children’s bath and body products like Johnson & Johnson had harmful ingredients. So we decided to make a product line that was clean with safe ingredients for our babies and for our customer’s babies. My partner and I were passionate about AZ Babies, and we developed different lines within the brand; Tranquil Time body wash & pillow spray made from Roman chamomile was created to calm my son and other children struggling with ADHD and had difficulty falling asleep; Nopales body wash and lotion made with prickly pear cactus extract that gently hydrates the skin, and Desert Decongestant made with essential oils that replaced Vics VaporRub which is made with petroleum (yuk). We went on to have some remarkable success such as winning “Best New Product” at the Extracts Show in New York City, we started to receive orders from high-end spas and resorts across the country, and the press loved our story because we started something that mattered. Parents now had a choice when buying bath and body products for their children and they didn’t have to worry about toxic ingredients. I was proud of what we did with AZ Babies, and we had many raving fans, but we had our challenges. Too many to list but I also felt we were ahead of the time. The market just wasn't ready. A couple of years later Johnson and Johnson came out with a children’s bath line called Bedtime that looked exactly like ours. We figured out they were at the Extracts Show and replicated our idea. But not really. It was packaged the same in the dark blue bottles and had a similar name, but the ingredients in the products are loaded down with harsh chemicals, toxins, and carcinogens. That’s a story for another day. After AZ Babies, I started another company as an independent sales rep for a number of different product lines that were sold in spas and resorts. It was the perfect gig when the kids were little. It allowed me to be home when they got home from school, help them with their homework, and be there for them. I was doing something that mattered. Before I knew it, my children were grown and independent. Driving cars and having part-time jobs. I had more career choices but not 100% sure what it was that I wanted to do. I immediately got hired at a local resort spa as the membership spa sales manager. Still unsure what I wanted to do but this would do until I did. Not my dream job but it was an opportunity to work at a beautiful resort with like-minded people and help clients live a healthy lifestyle. My favorite part of my job was when I was organizing and participating in the 3 night/4-day meditation retreats. The first time I experienced the power of mindfulness and meditation, it was life-changing. It’s hard to explain, but it opened a whole new way of thinking and being. I start to question my life, career, and my life’s purpose. I hadn’t thought about this in a long time, if ever. I witness the guests having life-changing transformations. It was incredibly powerful. We were really helping people, and we were doing something that mattered. Lives were being changed. This experience prompted me to take a more in-depth look at my life. What was I doing that mattered in this world? How can I do more? What’s my purpose? My calling? I had this nagging ache in my stomach that I should be doing something more. Making a difference. I need to do it now. Life is short. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover”. - Mark Twain During this time, I lost my middle sister. She was 59 years old. Too young to die. When a sibling passes away before their time you start to think about your own mortality and what did I want to do before I die. What was going to be my legacy? I knew I wanted to make an impact and help people that were struggling but I couldn’t figure out the “it” was. I hired a life coach that helped me get clear on what I wanted and just as important, what I didn’t want. She asked me powerful questions that I really had to pause before answering because no one had ever asked this before. She gave me space and listen to all my excuses and rationale why I couldn’t do something but challenged me by asking, “is it true?” I wasn’t familiar with Byron Katie at that time, but she teaches a method of self-inquiry known as "The Work of Byron Katie" or simply as "The Work" Great stuff. One day I was cursing the internet googling “find your calling” and “find your purpose” and Grand Canyon University came up. They’re a private Christian University in Phoenix, and their tagline is “Find Your Purpose.” Very smart….
I started looking at their different programs, and the Master’s in Psychology with a Life Coaching emphasis popped up. I was intrigued and started to fill out the online form when they asked for my undergrad transcripts. I began to laugh out loud, “I graduated from college in 1987”. I shut my laptop thinking this was stupid. It wasn’t 5 seconds later, and my phone rang. It was GCU admissions department calling to see if they could help answer any questions. Holy Cow! How did they do that so fast? Yes, I filled in my phone number on the form, but that was super-fast. They must have people sitting around ready to pounce once they get a lead. I digress….I was impressed, and the program sounded great. I decided then and there to not over-analyze it and took it as a sign from the universe to start something that matters. That was 2 years ago, and I’ve received my graduate certificate in Life coaching in August of 2017 and should graduate Spring of 2019 (fingers crossed). I have since left the resort and coaching full-time. I work with clients one-on-one, offer workshops, and retreats. I have had the opportunity to work with some amazing clients that have transformed their lives and have all started something that matters from creating art, helping people live a life without pain, to gain the confidence they didn’t know they had, to taking care of their family and supporting their communities…. I’m so proud of them. The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. – Mahatma Gandhi My purpose is to help others discover their purpose, unleash their confidence, find meaningful careers, build a heart-center conscious business so they can Start Something That Matters and make a difference, and to make the world a better place.
I’d love to hear what you’re doing, or you want to start that matters.
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Barbara Murphy-Shannon is a Breakthrough Business Coach for Women Entrepreneurs. She puts out a weekly blog, offers workshops, and retreats. Barbara@barbaramurphyshannon.com