On Being Middle Happy
By ColleenBlooms on October 04, 2011
I'm a wedding florist.
In case you didn't know this, the wedding industry is SUPER, SUPER competitive. Every vendor is always trying to be at the top of their game. Every vendor has their competitors, and every vendor knows who steals contracts from who. The wedding industry really encourages this kind of behavior. The industry likes to throw chic parties or bridal fairs where wedding vendors all get together and "network". Network meaning competing. It's like being in the African dessert. There's 30 lions and 10 antelope, and we all bare our teeth and race towards the prize.
"Are you having a January wedding? Can I talk to you for just a minute?"
When I first opened my florist, I played the game. I went to the events, emailed new contacts, and strived constantly for bigger and better things - bigger budgets, better brides, better network partners. For awhile it was fun. But then it became tedious, trying to keep up with all the magazines, the photo shoots, the new hip wedding blogs, the endless advertising opportunities. Then it became exhausting. I hated it - the social climbing, the worrying, the endless sizing up of my competitors.
Then something happened to change the way I did weddings: I did a wedding that was too large for me.
I took it on as a favor to someone. The centerpieces were high and complex. The budget was astronomical. Sure, I made a good amount for the weekend, but the worrying that accompanied it was NOT WORTH IT. I spent months dreading the event. And it was every bit as stressful as I had imagined it. Designing took about 12 hours from start to finish. My normal time for designing (including processing) is usually about 4 hours per wedding. It was a nightmare. The bride was very happy at the end of the day, but I was worn down, exhausted, discouraged and just...unhinged. I crashed. I cried in my car.
I felt like I was going mad, like I was drowning in this business, drowning in the constant need to impress and overcome. The worrying and the constant striving to be "THE BEST" was making me NOT be my best.
I cried. I mean, I really WAILED. I talked to Ryan for DAYS. I prayed. I thought a lot about where I wanted this business to go.
And suddenly I realized that I had a choice in this matter. I didn't have to play the game. I didn't have to be constantly worrying about every other florist, about every "Real Colorado" wedding, about each vendor and their connection to me. I didn't need to be in every wedding magazine, I didn't need to be stalking photographers and cooler networking partners. I could just...be happy. I could choose to be happy where I was - and you know what? I already was. I just thought I couldn't be. I thought couldn't be happy in the wedding industry unless I was at the TOP OF THE GAME. If you can't win the gold, why even try?
And I decided to say NO MORE. No more trying for the gold.
Well, it turns out you can be happy in the middle. Not just happy. Blissful. That's where I am now.
After that moment, I changed everything. I stopped advertising on a site that I hated and put my resources into one solid advertisement. I stopped taking every single wedding that came within sniffing range - I became more choosy about my brides and my budgets. I started limiting my weddings per month. I decided I could give a rip about "Denver's A-List".
Sure, I might not get the socialite brides, but you know who I get? Real women. Real, amazing women - nurses, teachers, accountants, middle-class working girls who DESERVE gorgeous flowers. Kind and generous women, marrying the man they love.
I love to be a part of their day. And I'm okay if I never have to make these...
EVER. I'm not even sure HOW to do upside down tulips.
I began appreciating my own arrangements and talents instead of looking enviously at other people's. I stopped watching David Tutera and his ridiculousness. I stopped trying to compete with other vendors, and began reaching out to them. One of the florists that I had a inferiority complex with, Plum Sage? Now I recommend her when I'm booked - and she does the same. And you know what? She's SO nice. It's a GREAT system. I know now that there are plenty of brides to go around, when I'm not so concerned about getting each and every one.
I use to view my business like a tiger, slowly stalking it's prey.
Now I'm a bird, slowly building a steady and strong nest.
And if I was a bird, I would surely be a Puffkin.
Life is better now. Business is better now.
I have booked more weddings this season that I ever have before. Business is practically BOOMING. I feel like my low-key attitude ("I would love you to book with me, but if you don't, that's okay") has affected my brides. My brides this season have been the most pleasant, the most laid back group of girls I've ever seen. I'm getting more word-of-mouth referrals than ever, which is always the BEST way to get business. The consultations are more fun. There is a lot more laughing and a lot less nail-biting. More often then not about halfway through the consult a bride (or her Mom) will just say "I'm booking you." It's like magic.
Once I stopped trying to get all the brides, I got all the brides.
The funny thing is, it's not really about me anyways. It's about the couple, pledging a lifetime commitment. That's big stuff. I'm small peas.
And I'm happier. My family is happier. My workers are happier. My bank account is happier. My wholesaler is happier. I have more time, more joy, less stress.
It turns out that the best way to the top of a mountain is by climbing slow and steady, rather than sprinting to the top (and vomiting profusely along the way.)
By learning to be content with the middle, I have finally learned how to truly fly high at the top of my game.
PS: I'm even MORE happy now that my blog readership just topped the 100,000 mark! Hooray!! Readers, you are AMAZING, and I am lucky and blessed that you think my words are worth reading. You make this nerdy girl's day EVERY day.
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