Last Friday, my kid and I bundled up (okay, so it wasn’t THAT cold, but it makes for a better story) and went on a bit of a mini annual pilgrimage. It was the 12th anniversary of the yoga studio I founded, Sonic Yoga, in Hell’s Kitchen, NY.
After 7 amazing years and a pretty rough start (I signed the lease for a floor in a building in NYC the day before 9-11), the venture had blossomed into a vibrant global community and thriving business. All of which I take no credit for. I had an amazing faculty, partner, manager and tribe. Their beautiful energy and work even found the studio named the #1 yoga center in NYC by Citisearch for a number of years.
After 7 years, though, I found myself increasingly pulled toward other ventures and adventures. I was more or less checked out, and a community like that really needs a devoted, involved steward. So I sold the company at the end of 2008. Truth was, I probably should’ve sold the venture a few years earlier. #EntrepreneurialADD.
I also taught right up until the end. Nobody knew the business had already been sold when I walked in to teach my last class. There were people in the room who’d been students for the entire run. I saw them brave everything from cancer to childbirth and career-reinvention to catastrophe. So much love and life and suffering and triumph. And did I mention love?
As I brought those 90-minutes to a close, I sat on my mat in the middle of the room. Everyone eased from final Savasana (relaxation) into a sitting position with their eyes closed, waiting for a final thought or intention or wish or idea, as I’d often share. But, this time, instead, my eyes began to well. And I said goodbye.
It’s been five years now. I pretty much walked out and handed over the keys. That’s just the way it had to be for me. But I still go back once a year.
So the kiddo and I swung by for the big 12th anniversary bash (and a hunk of Amy’s “instant sugar-butter-coma” pink cake).
At one point, I stepped away and just stood, looking around. It continues to be not only a thriving business, but a flourishing beautiful community. And I said to myself…
How AWESOME, something I STARTED and then left five years ago continues to be so vibrant long after I’ve left.
Then, I looked around a few more moments and a second thought spun through my head…
WTF, the business and community I built is STILL so vibrant and alive, maybe more so AFTER I’ve left?! Some of these people don’t even know who I am!
Damned ego. Apparently the needy New Yorker in me who wants credit is still alive and well. lol.
It didn’t last long, though. Because I know deep down, that is exactly the way it should be. That’s the beauty of bringing cool things to life. They don’t have to define or possess you. You can create them, and then when the time is right, IF the time is right, let them go. Or not. But if you choose to, you can not only be okay with it, you can revel in it.
Increasingly, I believe the more you “do creation right,” the less it’s all about you.
You create the spark. The ethic. The culture. The idea and ideal. But then you’ve got to relinquish it all to those you’ve brought into your tribe. To trust them to not only carry on, but build something that’s potentially exponentially better than you ever could’ve.
Hire great people, aligned with the essence of your vision. Teach them how to embody it. Give them your “why,” along with the safety and space to not only question it, but improve upon it.
Then, if you’re inclined, step aside. And watch them fly.
Because, in the end, it was really never about you.
Jonathan Fields is a serial-entrepreneur, business strategist, speaker and author. His latest book is Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel For Brilliance. Fields writes about performance-mindset, innovation, leading and entrepreneurship at JonathanFields.com