Optimism feels like resilience.

I’ve gone back and forth between two feelings over the last 7 weeks:

  • Nothing prepares you for being a business owner during a pandemic
  • Everything prepares you for being a business owner during a pandemic

I remember reading somewhere that a business owner makes 90x as many decisions a day as an “employee.” I don’t know if this is true, if this is a lot, or if it’s adding 90x as many decisions to the regular-adult-decisions we already deal with but I can assure you that our brains are working hard. All the time.

Over the last 7 years as The Wonder Jam’s co-owner, I’ve experienced:

  • Deep grief in my personal life while maintaining somewhat of a presence in the business
  • Letting employees go
  • Watching teammates move away or move on
  • Watching teammates cease to thrive while under my employment
  • Wondering if running a business with my life partner would ruin our marriage 
  • Extreme dry spells in regards to new projects or sales
  • Wondering, “How the hell are we going to pay our bills?”
  • Skipping payroll for ourselves to pay our team members 
  • Breaking up with a client, professionally 
  • Extreme stress
  • And, of course, lots and lots of wins

As this pandemic has changed shape and evolved, I’ve faced a lot of those same challenges at warp speed. And so have a lot of you. I’ve found myself thinking, “I can do this. I’ve done this before. It’s different, but it’s vaguely familiar.” 

When Adam and I decided to start a business together, we never planned for the worst. And when a pandemic actually happens, you start to think back to years past. “What were we planning for, anyways?” 

We were planning for the best possible solution. A type of optimism. 

What I’ve found is that optimism has stayed with us even during the most stressful weeks of our lives. To me, optimism feels like resilience. It’s elastic. And the way that you bounce back might not be what was on your 5 or 10 or 20-year plan. Maybe it means you’ll close up for good. Maybe it means you’ll stick it out. Maybe your business is changing shape. Maybe you’re pivoting. 

Your business might bend, it might stretch, and it might break. But don’t forget: what we do isn’t who we are. 

May 6, 2020
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