Crushing It — From a spark to inferno
This is me, circa 1989, ready to eat shit behind a speed boat on the water of Lake Wabamun. If you told this version of me that in 28 years I would quit my secure job, attempt to move across the world, live in a 3rd world country for a while, get fired from another job, and end up ok, I wouldn’t have believed it. This version of me was scared to take risks. Hell, I was scared to stand up on this boogie board never mind risking my career on a whim!
Crushing it. Defined: the hustle, the grind, the effort that results in success, whatever that means to you.
This is me, crushing it; the fire that burns and drives me to do more.
Meet my Dad, Frank (and Archie, our therapy dog). My Dad has pretty much always been an entrepreneur, crushing it on the daily. Working for others isn’t really his jam. Growing up, he had few rules, but they were steadfast:
- Being on time means actually being 15 minutes early. Lateness is a sign of disrespect.
- Going to work means going to work. You show up, you do your job, and you do it better than anyone else there. And if you are not the best, you put in the effort to get better. If you don’t love what you are doing, do something else.
- Innovation is key. If you are the one coming up with, and executing the new ideas, you win.
- Knowledge is good, but being able to apply that knowledge is paramount to success.
- You never know how much time you will have on this earth, so make each moment count.
By following these rules, my sisters and I entered adulthood ready to hustle and grind. We are all “workaholics” and working gives us great satisfaction and joy. I have my Dad to thank for this.
My Mom, Cindy, has a lot to do with my success. From stay-at-home Mom to Educational Assistant, to working for a designer and eventually starting her career working in adult group homes, my Mom IS the definition of hustle. At 63, she recently created her own project, pitched it, and is now running her own program within her agency. Most at her age would be gearing up for retirement and my Mom continues to find ways to grow. And she recently started a side hustle giving women opportunities that were not available before. She fostered in us a growth mindset before it was cool or trendy. There was always this expectation in our house of “yes, and?”, creating an atmosphere of do more, usually in the service of others. I have my mother to credit for my passion in the non-profit sector and following my calling as an educator.
In June of 2016 I made the extremely difficult and risky (for me) decision to leave my long time teaching position. I had taught for 10 years in the same place. This work gave me everything — friends, professional development, and most importantly, experience. It also no longer served me. I resented going to work, I had lost my passion for teaching, and started grasping at whatever came my way that distracted me from this reality. It broke my heart to think that my happiness depended on leaving this job that I once loved. In a desperate attempt to “find myself” I went on my own version of Eat, Pray, Love that summer, and it became a catalyst for what would become the riskiest and most pivotal year of my adult life. This spark is what lead to my current success, and it all came from saying no to what was and being open to what could be.
In July of 2016 I booked a ticket and traveled to Bali, Indonesia. This is the furthest from home I have ever been and I went alone. In my desperation to find the new me, I arrived in Canggu ready to become a yoga teacher. To that spark, I added fuel gained from the confidence it took to go to Bali on my own, gain a new skill, and all of the connections within my yoga community. I came home with a better sense of who I wanted to be. Becoming a yoga instructor was just the beginning of a larger flame.
With this newfound confidence, I took a leap and got a job teaching in London, England. Swiftly, I packed up my life, got my visa, and set forth on the journey that would kick my ass and send me crashing back to earth. The burgeoning flame was quickly snuffed out by the loss of the London job. I had never been fired before in my life. I didn’t know what it meant to be told straight to my face “YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH”. It devastated me. I found myself in a full panic attack on the kitchen floor of my London house. Not knowing what to do, I called my older sister and she set me straight.
“April, what is the big deal? So you failed. Have your cry and then figure out what you need to do next. You essentially have two choices: stay or come home.”
So I came home. Fire extinguished and feeling very sorry for myself, I returned to Edmonton after an extremely short sojourn in England. When I went to visit my parents my Dad walked into the kitchen…
“So, it didn’t work out. What’s next?”
That was all I needed to hear. Failure is a place to come from, not set up camp. That loss was the tinder I needed to start my next fire. I realized that I needed to go to London to find my ignition, the match. It was from that failure, that kick in the ass, the putting out of that fire, that created the fuel for the new one.
From a forest fire comes a new, more vibrant growth.
Fast forward a few months and I am working in my new position, advancing my career into management. I am teaching yoga at my local rugby club for free, giving back to the community that has given me so much. I am continuing to develop my “brand” of trauma-informed mindfulness practices by digging in, feeding my new flame every chance I get. With presentation after presentation, and more professional development under my belt, my flame is now a full on fire set ablaze.
Then one day in April, 2017, I took a chance on a contest to pitch Gary Vaynerchuk. Apparently, my fire was not yet big enough, and I needed to fan the flames. The call was to pitch to Gary for 1 minute and you would get his undivided attention for another minute. What did I have to lose? So I made my pitch…
Well who would have thought…but I won! Myself and 29 other people got the chance to meet Gary at his VaynerMedia headquarters, sit across the table, and pitch.
I started a fucking inferno.
I had not planned on traveling this summer, choosing rather to stay at home, put my head down, and focus on developing my mindfulness and movement business at home.
I asked my good friend Chris, who is the definition of entrepreneur and one of my best friends, if I should go. He said I would be stupid not to.
New York, here I come!
I met Gary. And it was fucking awesome! He was genuine, authentic, and kind. And he listened to me. Like, really listened.
The fire burns. Since my meeting with Gary, I:
- was featured as his VIP video on his Hustler’s Digest
- was featured again on the full episode of all 30 elevator pitches to Gary
- came home and started a new flame — my own business teaching mindfulness through movement (details coming soon!)
- met with Chief Heart Officer of VaynerMedia, Claude Silver, and have added fuel to my fire through her mentorship
- started new partnerships and collaborations with others who follow Gary, both here at home and elsewhere in the world
- continued living a life focused on gratitude through my daily gratitude journal, published on my Instagram (@Apesy_Sophia) and helping others do the same through coaching and mentorship
So back to Crushing It…it’s putting in the work when no one else is. It is not giving up on your dreams, desires, or passions, when the end is nowhere in sight. It is believing in yourself and not giving a shit what others say about you. It is being kind — always. It is fueling your fire, keeping it burning, even when it seems impossible. And if your fire does go out, it is scraping together the tinder and flint needed to start anew.
We may not all have the best start. We do not all have parents who started us on a path to success. But what we do have is agency, and heart, and a willingness to succeed in any situation.
Success is not a destination. Success is an everlasting flame that burns bright long after you are gone. It is the work it takes to create a legacy. Like Gary says, success is evidenced at your funeral, by who shows up and the stories they tell.
So go out and crush it in whatever definition fits you.