“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given, than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” – Mohamed Ali
The above quote came out in a Sports Illustrated trifold poster sometime between 2003 – 2004, I don’t remember the exact time period because it was a time in my life when I moved quite a bit and memory is a blur. Those words still bring tears of potential to my eyes when I read them.
When I first saw the poster I was working my first Spa Director position and I felt like the odds were against me. I started that job with such high hopes, but I found out that we didn’t have front desk staff, and the “manager” at the time was EXTREMELY overwhelmed. She decided to not give me and my methods a shot to help her out and quit two days later. It would’ve been easy to throw in the towel and say that I couldn’t do it, but as was recently reaffirmed to me earlier this month Drewry (my mother’s family name) women don’t give up — we work hard and tirelessly to make things happen.
You see, my Aunt Fran passed away in late June. Fran was the one constant in my life who believed in me, especially when I didn’t know how to believe in myself. She taught me the philosophies I use as the foundation of my business: hard work and perseverance will pay off, keep your eye on the prize, switch gears when necessary, and believe anyway. She encouraged me to embrace my life, get an education, travel, don’t be afraid, and never let anything or anyone hold you back. Fran taught me about myself in ways I will probably still be unraveling when I’m 85. She was stubborn, smart, and strong. At her funeral, some of the last words said about her was she was a hard worker, but she was so much more than that. She lived her life on her terms and no one else’s and she taught me to do the same. Fran taught me I had the knowhow and the drive to accomplish anything.
So, in that first spa, I worked 12-14 hour days, conducted front desk interviews for staff, while working on the front desk because there was no one else but me to do it. I managed treatment staff, booked appointments, conducted interviews for even more staff, and trained treatment staff in the services they needed to be able to perform, all while working full time at that front desk. I learned a lot about myself in that first directing job, there were days where I felt like all I did was walk back and forth from the human resources department to pick up my next interviewee — I put a lot of steps in before anyone was ever counting them. I built a world class spa out of that property, I hired and trained over 20 people while I was there, I redeveloped the service menu, chose and nurtured fresh product lines, amplified and the expectations, increased the bottom line, and radically changed how my boss thought the spa was (just an amenity to the guests) by turning it in to its own destination. I added a café to serve food because my guests wanted to stay longer and the restaurant delivered gourmet it to the spa. I redecorated it with the company interior designer which gave it a unique look and feel from the rest of the resort. Ah, it was the worst of times and it was the best of times. There were days so hard I didn’t know if I wanted to go back, but I couldn’t bring myself to quit until I felt that I had succeeded in doing all I could and I had nothing left to give.
Last year, I visited the spa for the first time in over a decade. I was astounded and delighted to find at least three of the treatment staff I hired and trained are still there (I just checked, it’s been 17 years). Not much had changed, until the following week when they were to begin breaking ground on building a fresh, new spa, updating it to this century, no small task I assure you. I can’t wait to see what they do!
Why do I bring this up you ask? Because if I truly believed I couldn’t do the impossible, I wouldn’t be sitting in front of you today writing this blog. I went on to become known (and recognized by Conde-Nast – ed.), The Spa Fixer (cue ominous music – your humble editor). Every spa I directed from then on needed some kind of triage help. They were bleeding, damaged, and needed to be staunched. Each task required yet another level of increasing stick-to-itiveness to get the job done, not only to succeed, but to always exceed the expectations of what the spas were capable of doing in the right hands.
If I had believed these tasks and contracts were impossible I wouldn’t be sitting at my own desk, in my own business (10 years and counting), writing this blog, mentoring the next wave of therapists, training my own front desk staff, teaching massage school, and being a boss. There are days just as hard as when I first started as a director, but now I call my own shots, work as much or as little as necessary to get the job done without someone else’s judgment, change things that aren’t working, and embrace all the things that do.
I am the owner, director, daily operations manager, massage therapist, and lead shot caller of That’s the Rub, The Therapeutic Day Spa and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Impossible is NOTHING! I have the power to change my world and I own it! Thank you Aunt Fran for showing me the way, I will be forever grateful.
That’s the Rub,