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The Ride Less Taken

The Ride Less Taken

by Angie Ash, EVP

Lately, it feels like we live in a world of increasingly opposing views. Politically, this is quite obvious. But this polarization is frankly everywhere, and it can be exhausting.

Take work as just one example. On the one hand, we’re told to work harder. Get your hustle on! On the other hand, we’re told to relax, dial in on our meditation apps. And. Chill. Out.

Who do you listen to? Who is right?

And I’ve realized that the older I get, the more I have come to understand my answer to these two questions on many conflicting views whether political, social, or cultural is, “It depends.” 

Formulas are great for Excel spreadsheets and calculus problems, but they don’t work when it comes to real life. We all work at different speeds and have our own talents and capabilities that we bring to the table. These are our individual gifts that we can either choose to cultivate or let die on the vine. But we all have a time and a season to run hard and a time and a season to just breathe and rest.

That aside, you will not find me celebrating the pervasive and popular relativism message today that mediocrity is okay. That it’s okay to do less than what you know you’re capable of and just shrug that off instead of striving, and wanting, to do better. To be better. You will not find me bowing to whatever is easy and convenient in any aspect of life instead of what is best, and not just for me, by the way.

The truth of the matter is an acceptance of mediocrity is not good for you, it’s not good for me, and it’s not good for your business. This is not the American way.

Instead, you will find me celebrating the process of learning along the way, of not giving up, of growing as a person. I want to wrestle with the hard things and know that progress and improvement are not easy. They never have been. They require effort

The runner who has put months of time and sweat into training for a marathon is not going to slow down on race day at the finish line when there’s someone at their heels trying to beat them. They’re not going to throw it all away and give up after all of their work and personal sacrifice. They will push themselves to stay ahead instead. 

Stagnation, homogenization, and a bar that isn’t raised have never worked for a business that wants to thrive. We’ve had to learn the hard way as a society that giving awards to people for just showing up was someone’s horrifyingly bad idea. We’re now all paying the hefty price of that mistake. 

You know deep down that some retailer’s great tagline isn’t going to be the one that works best for you. Because you want and need to be different or you risk being stuck in the sameness of everyone else who decided to copy it too. How boring!

Innovation and growth don’t come without risk. Like a kid on a bike, the training wheels have to come off. You’re cheered on by that parent who lets go and cheers you on. You learn with anxiously gritted teeth to find your balance. You fail…and fall, sometimes hard. That hurts! Sometimes, it even makes you angry. 

You thought you had it all figured out.

And sooner or later, you know you have to make a choice. You either give up and don’t ride the bike again because you’re too afraid to “maybe” crash again. Or you get back up on that bike saddle with the will to try to get a little better each time — despite that “maybe” crash. You get a little more confident with each try, you chip away at progress, and when it clicks, you finally feel the rush of doing something well, the accomplishment

Look at you go!

The JCK show is coming up in a few short weeks. I’m looking forward to seeing all of the vendors and retailers who know what it’s like to put in the hard work. They’ve rolled up their sleeves when the going got tough and they’ve enjoyed the good times in equal measure. 

They’ve ridden out their stories on winding trails, and you know what? I’ll always advocate for that kind of bike route. Because the dips and climbs are what make the ride amazing, certainly not coasting on the flat road.

Tired of biking on the flat road when it comes to your business goals? Contact to get in a more adventurous ride line.

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