Business and life lessons from the roller rink

If you’ve been hanging out with me for a while, you’ll know I can pretty much tie any life experience to entrepreneurship. And this post is no different. 😂

This one was fun to write because it has ALL the elements of a messy human experience: ego, growth mindset, grit, and resilience.

The (literal) vehicle for this experience?  Roller skates!Roller Skate Emoji - What Emoji 🧐

It all started a couple of months ago when I COVID-purchased (aka impulse bought in an attempt to reduce stress and boredom) a pair of peach leather, purple glitter wheeled, roller skates.

Now, I used to roller skate a long time ago (hint, I was sporting a perm, frosted pink lipstick, a bat-wing sleeved sweater, and skin-tight jeans) and, in my memory, I was pretty good. Something like this:

But when those sweet rides arrived on my doorstep and I eagerly put them on, my look was less Beyoncé and more windmill arms and cries of “I can’t stop!!” My ego was bruised as much as my bum when it hit the asphalt!

So, like any growth-minded business coach worth her salt, I resolved to find someone who knew what they were doing and get them to teach me how to do the same.

Which is how I ended up at a roller rink in NJ bright and early on a Saturday morning with awkward-but-game adults like me, all the way to itty bitty kids (who I will neither confirm nor deny were better than me). I had SO much fun that I went back the next Saturday. And plan to keep doing so until my skills match my vision.

If you’re even the tiniest bit curious about how I’m going to tie roller skating to entrepreneurship here are the 10 totally-applicable-to-business lessons I’ve learned at the rink so far.

1. Embrace the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

Whenever we do something new – whether it’s a creative endeavor like writing, painting, or photography, or a business one such as public speaking, facilitating a group, or leading a team – chances are, we’re going to be pretty bad at first.  How could we not be? No one is born good at what they eventually gain mastery over. Because we all know this to be true, yet we need to be reminded every 5 minutes, this video from Ira Glass is a great reminder.

2. Struggle alone (and slow your roll) or get support and make progress

I used to take pride in figuring stuff out on my own and doing everything myself. Not anymore!  These days, I find someone who’s awesome at teaching or doing what I want to learn/do and pay them to help me.  I save money and time, get better results, and have more fun along the way.

Quick sidebar: Investing in support is a big deal and not always financially feasible.  What I’ve learned is investing in yourself is mostly mindset, and support comes with a wide range of price tags from free to very expensive (my group roller skating lessons are just $10!). Make the decision to get support, do your research, pick the option that’s right for right now (an excellent book on the topic is a great start) and up-level when you can. Never let anyone tell you that you need to put yourself in financial jeopardy to make your vision a reality, you don’t!

3. Sometimes an impulse is actually an intuitive nudge toward your future self

OK, this one’s a sneaky one. When I impulse bought the not-at-all-cheap roller skates, buyer’s remorse and my inner critic set in almost immediately: What was I thinking? Was I crazy? Shouldn’t I be spending that money on skates for my kids, not me? And then I remembered why I had bought them. Just the thought of roller skating again filled me with feelings of such freedom and joy, I would have been out of my mind not to have bought them.  If that inner critic (you know, the “who do you think you are?” voice) pipes up, question it. An impulse is not always the right thing, but sometimes it is. Only you know your heart and can determine the difference.

4. Leave your ego at the door

This point is tied to #1 and embracing the gap between where you are and where you want to be.  Your self-worth is not tied to your ability level. Remember, no matter how “bad” at something you are, you’re an extension of the universe that created you – you’re made of stardust for goodness sake! Leave your ego at the door, embrace a beginner’s mind, and soak up all you’ve got to learn.

5. Support other learners

One of the best ways to stop focusing on your shortcomings and feelings about them is to focus on supporting others. Turn your attention outwards and listen and watch for what they need. Do you have an experience or story you could share that might help them?  Maybe a kind word of encouragement or support. Could you reach out a hand and help them up when they fall?

6. When (not if) you fall, get back up

If you’re doing anything worthwhile, you will stumble, fall, fail, look like an idiot, say or do the wrong thing, etc., etc.  Avoiding the pitfalls isn’t an option, they’re part of the work.  There’s no way to avoid the pain and embarrassment, but I’ve found that finding the right guides, community, and resources keeps me moving through the hard parts.  Look for the folks who’ve been/are there, won’t hesitate to correct you, and will do so with compassion and non-judgment.

7. Instead of judging the folks around you, applaud them for showing up and doing their best

Speaking of compassion and non-judgment, have you noticed how easy it is to judge other people – especially when you know you have no idea what you’re doing?  I know I have.  Whether it’s business, parenting, or roller skating, falling into the “at least I’m doing better than him/her/them” trap is one to be avoided at all costs as it only serves to reinforce division and hierarchy. The best antidote I’ve personally found for my judgmental tendencies is to walk around silently applauding folks for doing hard things and doing the best they can. It helps!

8. You’re never too old and it’s never too late to learn something, pick something back up, or try something completely new

That’s all I have to say on this one!

9. Progress is sometimes painstakingly slow

One of the hardest things to manage is the feelings of impatience and urgency that accompany a desire to grow.  Perhaps you want to increase your income this red-hot minute. Maybe you’re itching to write that book or launch that program already.  Or, perhaps you’re feeling the call to switch careers or start your own business. The only way to make progress is to start and then create some habits and routines to support your staying in forward motion. Do these two things and you WILL make steady progress toward your vision or goal, I guarantee it!

10. Once you’ve made the leap, find and join other leapers

You’ve heard the term “misery loves company”, right?  Well, we don’t do that around here! We do “courage loves company” (or some version of that, I literally just made it up on the spot!).  Once you’ve decided to do something, find other people who are doing the same and join them.  Leave the moaning Minnie’s and Debbie downers to their own devices. They’ll be exactly where you left them should you decide to return!

I’d love to hear from you. What new endeavor or adventure have you taken up? It can be as big as deciding to move somewhere new or writing a book or something small like learning to skate. Share your story below, I’d love to read it!

4 thoughts on “Business and life lessons from the roller rink

    1. Thanks for sharing that! Isn’t it amazing how we’re so easy to give up the playfulness and joy? May we prioritize it from here on!

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