Founder series: in the face of fear
A speech I gave a few years ago at lululemon...
I have been so nervous about being the first to speak, but I guess that's pretty ironic isn't it? My name is Katie, owner of Kadi Fit in Cornelius. I grew up right here in Charlotte (crazy I know). My entire family is here cheering me on :) Dance has always been a huge passion of mine. It was something I was born to do, but not necessarily born good at. I was put in dance classes at a later age than most kids, so I was never the best in the class, or close to it, but it really never stopped me. I danced every chance I got. My dream was to one day open a dance studio. I went to App State, took as many dance classes as possible, while majoring in Business with the intention of opening a studio.
Then, upon graduating college, fear stopped me in my tracks. I told myself I didn't have the skill and technique necessary to open a traditional dance school. I feared judgement from any parent putting their kid in my classes. So, I chose the path with the least amount of resistance. I got a desk job in HR. It was a great job. Respectable. I even actually enjoyed it. I told myself I could work in HR for the rest of my life and be totally happy.
But, I was wrong. I was lying to myself. That would not bring happiness. It would bring content. But the only thing in my life that would bring happiness truly would be to dance every day of my life.
It wasn't until after I found Zumba, and began teaching it, that I truly came to that realization. I also realized that dance could be done for the pure joy of it. No "perfect technique" or judgement of how it "should look." It was freeing and liberating. The way dance SHOULD be.
So for a few years I had my HR job and taught Zumba, then Kardio Dance, in the evenings. I then realized, that all of these people taking group exercise at the big gyms, were really only taking the classes. They didn't even use the machines. So why not have a studio just for classes? I began making plans. Time went by and excuse after excuse came as to why to put it off a little longer: I need to build my own client base, pay off debt, save more money, etc.
In the meantime, one of our best friends, Jeff Holt, quit his well-paying "desk job" to pursue photography. He had never taken a class... he simply picked it up, learned as much as he could, and studied under another great photographer. He put himself out there contacting the biggest names in the world commercial photography. People who were doing shoots for Nike, Reebok, Conde Nast, etc. Any "normal" person in his shoes would have said "I'm not qualified to train under these people yet..." And put it off, or never ask. They would have let fear take over. They would never have probably even quit their job. At least until they were "comfortable." But Holt, took a HUGE leap of faith. He may have slept on a few couches, scrounged for an extra dollar every now and then, but he was traveling the WORLD with the biggest names in photography, shooting gorgeous models and meeting amazing people.
One of his measly days visiting his friends in Huntersville, he said "Hey Katie, when are you going to open a studio?" I was pretty much silent. "What's the worst that could happen? You lose your car? Your house?... You'll be ok. You have people who love you. You would never be homeless, or starve." It was then that I realized the WORST that could happen would be to get to the end of my life and never have tried at all.
The outcome has been outstanding! The studio has become greater than I ever imagined. It's a community of amazingly supportive, uplifting people, passionate about life!
So, the first question I think you should ask yourself, is, at the end of your life is there anything you would regret NOT doing? Then recognize that the things you give up probably don't hold candle to that dream... Whether it's a bigger bank account, a car, a house... Let me tell you, I would eat ramen noodles and live in a cardboard box before I would give up the studio.
However, there's also the day to day small accomplishments we miss out on due to fear. Whether it's a box jump, dancing in a big group class, meeting some really extraordinary people... And here's what I've come to realize, by bigging deeper into myself, and also watching others...
I believe what we fear the most in life is judgement. We are scared to look foolish, or "fail". But this thought is absolutely backwards. Because what we do when we face our fears is INSPIRE others.
When I opened the studio I thought the purpose was to inspire the average person to dance and be fit. What I found is that the REAL reason people were coming (or came back) was because of my story. They saw someone who challenged the status quo, took a bold leap of faith, and was living her dreams. They hoped that by simply being surrounded by that, that maybe it would be the trigger to do the same in their own life.
So, backing up to fear stopping me from opening the studio out of college... What stopped me was a fear of judgement of others that I wasn't good enough. In reality I was the only one judging myself. But, when I figured that out, and let go of my own judgement, I found the most amazing life!
The last thing I'm going to leave you with is something I've been telling my members over and over recently: People tell me every day "I'm not a dancer, or I'm not coordinated." But once they realize that no one in the class is judging them but themself, and they find a way to let go of their own judgement, and let themselves be free in their movement and in the music, they become a dancer... because isn't that all that dance really is anyway?"
Think about it... the truly greatest moments of your life were probably things you once feared...