By Founder and Head Mom Karissa Johnson
This year at our annual celebration banquet in the Twin Cities, I decided to do something different, and not write my talk out ahead of time. It was the perfect way to make sure that…well… that it would not be perfect! Which would contribute well to my topic and only reinforce what was on my mind to share.
As a lifelong perfectionist this wasn’t the least bit like me, but it was the “perfect” way to accomplish my goal and present everything I had been learning about this past year. And it was the only way to make sure I would look my customers in the eyes instead of relying on my notes.
But I love to write more than I love to speak. So this today is my opportunity for the could have/should have/would have.
A year ago, I stood in front of the crowd and talked about my struggle as a people pleaser. The level of stress I was under trying to make everyone else happy was having a profound negative impact on my life and I knew other women could relate. It was something I wouldn’t let go of until I had to though. Until I realized that people wanted opposite things from me and it became physically impossible to meet everyone else’s expectations. I talked about learning to find peace in just doing what’s best.
This past year, I came to the realization that my largest hurdle was my OWN expectations. It was myself who had the most impossible standards for what I could and should achieve. Being a classic type A overachiever, I never saw it as a negative thing to have big goals and reach high, until this year. I realized my agenda didn’t leave any room for failure.
I became stuck in an inability to make things how I wanted them to be. I felt like I was doing everything right but the results weren’t following. It’s been a big year of lessons in humility, and in the realization of a bigger reality: that life is NOT perfect. Life is messy.
I began to accept that things don’t always go as planned. No, in fact, they USUALLY do not. I learned that plan A is not the only way. That I have to fall in order to get back up again. That I have to regularly learn from my mistakes. Hadn’t I been taught that my whole life? Why did I think it didn’t apply to me? Why do I expect myself to do everything right the first time?
This year I realized that maybe it’s OK. Maybe it’s OK that things aren’t perfect. I don’t have the perfect family, and I don’t have the perfect job, and it’s OK! Just when things are starting to get better, there will most certainly be another challenge around the corner. It is the NEW expectation. That life will continue. That I can’t bank on my own ability to measure up because I never will, but that I can rely on my faith, and hope in a plan for my life that is much greater than what I could create for it.
So how does all this relate to Moms on the Run? We are growing, and it’s imperfect! It is messy sometimes (OK, a lot of times). But until this year I didn’t realize my fear of imperfection was holding us back.
I had the amazing opportunity this spring to work with a group of adult MBA students at a local college. They took my business under their wings and analyzed it to come up with new ideas and plans for growth and improvement. It was very educational, and of course humbling. They asked me a LOT of questions. Big questions that I had been avoiding asking myself, and that were very eye-opening and great for me to explore.
In answering their questions I realized I had a fear of growth. Sure the growth was happening, thanks to amazing customers and their loyalty and passion for the program. But it wasn’t something I was comfortable pursuing. I was quite content with the number of women we were serving and had started to put a ceiling on it in my mind.
The past few years have felt chaotic and at times out of control. And just when I think things are going to get easier or more manageable, there is something else that goes wrong.
I began to realize why I didn’t want to grow: because it wouldn’t be perfect. I felt like if there were emails left unanswered in my inbox or projects I was behind on that I had to somehow squelch this good thing happening… because something could go wrong.
And some things will undoubtedly go wrong. But there are more women to serve with this mission of Fitness, Fun & Friendship. I hear your amazing stories of victories in this program and I know that there are so many more out there that could use this in their lives.
This year I had to learn to dream bigger again. I had to find the bigger picture. I had to start imagining the positive possibilities that could come with growth. Not only more staffing support to reduce my personal stress level, but better services and technology for our customers, better resources for our franchisees, and a whole new higher level of giving to Feed My Starving Children and other causes that affect global change.
It all sounds wonderful, but I needed to acknowledge how much I was beginning to get in the way of that while wanting everything to go perfectly all the time. And I had to be willing to take a risk again. And I did!
I added three new (and well overdue) staff positions, knowing the current budget doesn’t support it but trusting in the growth process. With these key positions now in place, I feel much more ready to face the expansion. We are now in seven states, with the opening of Missouri and Michigan this fall. And I can finally say, at least I THINK I can say, that I’m excited about this.
I stand here today wondering how this ever happened, how we got here, how I came into this role of leading such an amazing organization that was made this way by each of you. Your passion and loyalty are the driving force behind this business.
It is humbling to be in front of a room of coaches that are better coaches than me, customers that are more enthusiastic than me and so many women leading by example better than I do. I thank you for the privilege of being your leader.
I promise today to stay the course. To keep plugging away at meeting the daily challenges. And to be OK with messing up, knowing it will lead to a stronger organization and more changed lives. Because being imperfect, is just perfect.