Tuesday, 25 December 2018

The ripple effect of change

Well this is my third attempt at writing this piece.

I started four weeks ago with two full blogs written and then subsequently discarded like a sweaty towel after a HIIT session. Whilst therapeutic for me, they served no “publishable” purpose. I wanted to write about change and my observation of the impact it has on others around us. However, I have come to realise that I have no right to make assumptions about how others react to change.

In reality, I can’t determine how and why people react in certain ways to change, because I am not privy to the story that leads to their reaction. I don’t fully understand or appreciate the series of events and implications that cause people to react in a certain way. I am not in control of anyone’s reactions or responses to things. The only thing I can control is MY reaction.

I think as humans we can sometimes assume WHY people are reacting or responding in a certain way, but we forget that change may have played a major role in that response. It is important to remember that this reaction is valid, because it is their reaction and we have no right to take this personally or make it about ourselves.

However, during a period of significant change and loss in my world, I completely lost sight of that belief that I have always held so firmly to.

So, as I sat on a long Delta flight from NYC to LAX, with another VERY long flight before I arrive home to my children in Brisbane, feeling very grateful for the time I have had away to reflect on 2018, I can finally think clearly about the words I have been trying to get down.

2018 started as a year full of hope for me and for my team. With a new business opening and our team growing, I felt confident that our business was going to have a year of conservative growth. By mid-year, our new business in Everton Hills was holding its own, however our original business in The Gap was starting to struggle with ever increasing rent. Despite our best efforts to negotiate, we were hit with an all-time high rent increase to $12,000 per month from September 2018 that would ultimately force us to close.

We had a choice to make. Either increase our membership prices by an additional 50% to cover the rising costs of rent, or find an emergency relocation option. With an unmoving desire to remain as a small, tight-knit community gym we couldn’t contemplate such an increase in membership prices because this wasn’t true to our vision and would make the space unbearable (side note: why am I so happy to talk about the cost of rent? Because our wider community in The Gap need to know the reality of commercial tenancy in our humble little suburb).

We have always made business decisions based on one thing: does this decision align with our vision to “connect”? By moving our business to a small, local family-owned location alongside another small, family-owned business we felt confident it did. Our second test was how it aligned to our values: Inspire, Measure, Results, Teamwork and Community. None of our values were compromised and with a slight reduction in expenses, it was an easy decision for us.

Within four weeks we had relocated our business with the help of our incredible community and team. I will never in my lifetime forget those 30 hours and the humans that contributed to that transition. It was by far the hardest week of my life as a business owner and I would never wish that process on anyone, and I hope to never have to do it again myself.

Moments after this photo was
taken, we closed the doors on
Waterworks Rd.

Leaving the site that we had built our dream on, built our team on and where Tyler and I met, was a decision that was not made lightly, and I will never forget the moment when Tyler and I closed the doors and walked away on that location. It was a moment tinged with sadness but also hope for our future. All we ever wanted was a business that provided an environment for our team to connect and help other humans. We believed, and still do, that we were moving to an environment that would continue to allow us to do that.

What we didn’t expect from our members was the negative reaction to this necessary move. The loss we have experienced has been far greater than we could have ever imagined. At this time of writing we are worse off than before the move, but there is always hope.

This bog isn’t about how others reacted to change, it’s about what I have learnt about myself during this transition. It’s taken me the better part of two months to realise this is very much about ME. And until I realised that, I couldn’t move forward and start the epic task of saving our business. Had I been less selfish earlier on, things may have been quite different.

I have learnt that I am very, very human, and that fatigue and stress can in fact knock me to my knees no matter how hard I fight to keep the environment right. What I have also learnt is that my reaction and behavior can have a ripple effect.
During the weeks leading up to my time away from my business I felt desperation creep in. I started to feel severe anxiety every time I opened my emails, because it was always filled with cancellations. I became defensive and overwhelmed.

What happens when the leader of a business succumbs to these kinds of emotions? Well, I can tell you now, it makes the situation far worse. People are not attracted to those emotions and I truly believe that my feelings during that time no doubt contributed to further loss. I became defensive when people questioned decisions we were making, which then caused me to question myself. I took on advice and opinions from others instead of backing myself and listening to my own intuition.

So, what is the solution to a situation like this? Simple. Walk away. Literally walk away from the business that you believe only you can save. Just walk the hell away for a period where you can sit and calm down, reflect, and rediscover your purpose.

Thankfully I had planned a holiday long before we made the decision to relocate. So, I was already committed to some time off, otherwise there’s a very good chance I wouldn’t have walked away – the business needed me, right? Wrong. The business needed me to walk away and clear my head, reconnect with my own personal vision and purpose and remind myself that everything’s going to be ok. Because it will be. As Dan, a Ritual HQ Coach and one of my very dear friends said to me in a text – “It is written – RHQ will succeed”. He is right, it will. We will.

I have gathered an incredible tribe of humans. By the technical term, they are my staff. But in reality, they are also my family and they have absolutely got my back. When one team of humans comes together and lives true to one very clear vision, we can ride out any storm.

What changed my perspective on how I was feeling about things? Connecting with a very dear friend and ex-client of ours while in NYC. After an epic comedy show and waaaaay too much pinot, this all-time favourite client and friend gave me the penny drop moment I needed. Sometimes a change in product doesn’t always suit the expectations of the consumer, no matter how tight the culture or the community. We didn’t believe the change of space was as big a deal as others found it to be. I just needed to hear that. Thanks, Bek, that brief time with you was both magical, memorable and incredibly valuable.

I have just returned from the holiday of a lifetime that I truly believed at the time of leaving, couldn’t have been more poorly timed. But isn’t it interesting how the universe delivers you EXACTLY what you need when you need it? We just have to take the time to unravel it.

I spent the first few days in Disneyland with my children and my mother. Could I afford this trip? Absolutely not. I borrowed every cent and I’m still not sure why the bank loaned me this money. I will never forget standing in the middle of Disneyland one night watching the fireworks and the fake snow falling around us, with a child on either side of me holding my hand, with tears running down my cheeks thinking how lucky I was to be able to live that moment with my children. I will never forget the pang of guilt and gratitude when my daughter turned to me mid-holiday and told me we “never hold hands this much”.

It was worth every cent to create those memories with them; I will never forget it. It was so special to travel with my mum who I don’t get to spend enough time with and see a completely different side of, and realise that my sense of adventure, generosity and genuine desire to have a crack at everything comes from her. We have so many stories to share from that trip and have created new rituals as a little family that didn’t exist before this trip (more hand holding and more dancing in our PJs).

After my children and mum went home, and I moved onto NYC with Tyler, there were some pivotal experiences there that needed to happen for me. One of those moments was the 9/11 memorial. What a fucking massive dose of perspective that is. When your business is crashing and you think your life is on the brink, go and spend a few hours in the 9/11 memorial. I cried more in that few hours than I have in a long time.

Another one for me was the Empire State Building. As cliché as it sounds, standing at the top of that incredible building you realise just how small and insignificant you are. And more importantly when you look at the speed at which they built that building, you become acutely aware of how quickly you can turn something around.

This trip was a life changer for me. Did I switch off? Sometimes, yes, but I love what I do and I love my team, so there is no resentment when I receive a message from them. Or from a client. I respond with love and it comes from a genuine place. I don’t have any desire to cut myself off. But to be able to step away, have a few sleep ins and create memories, that’s all I need.

Most importantly I was able to reinforce to myself that I have the right battle buddy by my side. Tyler and I slip beautifully into our strengths when we travel. It reinforced for me that this is something we can do better as business partners – identify and work to our strengths. So, 2019 for us is a regrowth cycle.
With the right battle buddy,
anything is possible. 

One week after starting this piece I sat with my bestie and talked business. We both have finance backgrounds in business. Her more so, and for a much longer period of time. Having experienced huge loss this year, she put it so practically for me. It’s time to get back in, roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty and ride out this growth cycle. It’s not a death cycle (even though it feels like it right now), it’s a growth cycle. Thankfully, both Tyler and I are quite comfortable with getting our hands dirty and working hard. Plus, when you have a team of people who work so hard and believe so deeply in their cause, you have no choice but to succeed.

2019 will be a beautiful year and upon reflection, we will know that 2018 was our greatest year of learning.


  1. Wow what a beautiful story I had
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