In the realm of retail, particularly when one is stewarding a physical store, the guiding principle is akin to captaining a vessel through treacherous waters. Each day presents formidable challenges, an unrelenting sea of potential pitfalls and disruptions. You become wholly reliant on both the human element - your dedicated team of workers and their labor - and the efficiency of machines. Amidst this turbulent voyage, certain core philosophies must serve as your North Star: communication, accountability, reliability, positivity, and more. Yet, the paramount endeavor of any owner is the cultivation of an authentic, virtuous culture within their establishment. However, the term "culture" seems inadequate to describe this profound undertaking. A more fitting concept is that your retail enterprise is the genesis of a community and society. The character of this society shall mirror your own; if you exude carelessness, it shall echo in your community. Self-awareness is the cornerstone; acknowledging your flaws forces you to constantly strive for excellence.
One day, a frail, elderly woman, her spine contorted and her form hunched, entered our establishment. She bore an air of destitution, her clothing soiled, and a cumbersome walker loaded with plastic bags. Her progress was slow, almost agonizingly so, and she inadvertently obstructed the store's entrance, prompting discomfort among the staff, fearing she might topple. Her presence demanded our attention, as team members had to assist her. She placed an order for soup, and perhaps a cookie or some other item, requiring two straws to consume her meal. Nearly half an hour later, she concluded her meal and departed.
Initially, this scenario filled me with frustration; she was an undeniable disruption. My instinctual response was to revert to my maritime mindset, perceiving her as a threat to the integrity of our enterprise, a danger to all onboard. Yet, a transformation occurred when I observed her closely one day. She remained hunched, her neck crooked, and when I approached her to address her disruption, she looked up at me with gratitude in her eyes. She appreciated our simple act of kindness, providing sustenance without charge to a fellow human being in need. I realized the immense effort it must take her to navigate her daily existence. Her presence in our establishment was an opportunity to test our compassion, and I had failed that test on three occasions. It was only when my mind awoke during a yoga headstand that I recognized her as a reflection of myself. We may appear distinct, but in essence, we are one.
In the pursuit of a truly holistic health and wellness business, rooted in compassion and dedicated to aiding all individuals, excluding certain members would be a grave folly. This realization struck me as my blind spots lifted. Mother Teresa or Jesus would have seen this truth readily, but my vision was clouded by selfishness and financial concerns. This woman, who momentarily obstructed my path and ignited my avarice and fear of financial insecurity, held up a mirror to my own failings. I have faltered, and I humbly implore the Universe for forgiveness. My ignorance led me astray, but now I vow to serve her as if she were the most significant investor, to treat her as I would Oprah Winfrey. This is my path to awakening my consciousness, a commitment to live in alignment with my professed values.