Perspectives on Improvement

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The crying (or, rather, the screaming) is what I remember the most. Over and over and over, for hours every day. He’d just scream. Three hours ... four hours … five hours. I mean, who’s counting anymore at that point?

And it’s shocking still to me that someone so small could make such an ear-piercing sound. It was this high-pitched, sharp, schreaching dagger of a noise. In some odd, PTSD-type way, I can still feel the pain as my ear drums were pushed to the brink of shattering. There were days that—combined with the severe sleep deprivation that is only truly ever felt with your first child—I legitimately wondered if it was possible to be killed by a noise, if my son’s colic was going to actually kill me.

This is how I’m going to die.


But then, one day, magically, miraculously and completely out of nowhere: silence. It stopped. He stopped. Silence! I’m not sure where it came from or why, but it did. No more screaming. No more fears of death-by-noise.

I’m going to live!

This was all seven or so years (and three additional kids) ago, but clearly, it’s stuck with me pretty closely—as did the advice that helped me through it. In the midst of my son’s colic, someone told me that a key to parenting is to remember that “everything is a phase.” Honestly, I can’t even remember who told me that (I mentioned the severe sleep deprivation, right?), but that advice stuck with me. No matter how trying and harrowing a phase may be—or how great and wonderful it may be—it will end and another one will begin.

It’s not permanent. It will change. No matter how bleak or trying, it can get better. No matter how great or promising, there will be challenges ahead. I’ve carried this line of thinking into pretty much all aspects of my life now.

Everything is a phase.

As we reach the end of 2018 and a new year approaches, it’s an easy time to reflect on the phases we’re in, and what may be ahead for us. It’s one of the reasons that we chose to run our “How They Did It” feature this month, and that the theme is focused so overtly on improvement: Two shop operators turning around struggling businesses, both entering into new phases of their operational growth that seemed impossible to imagine just a couple, short years ago. We have a number of stories in this issue that follow that theme (heck, you could argue that’s the theme every month in the magazine), including Aaron Stokes’ column on goal-setting.

But, to close this out, I’m going to steal a thought from one of our online columnists, Brian Sump, who wrote a great piece this month on realizing potential and how to see past your current state. Among other examples (including the breakthrough of the sub-4-minute mile), he also mentions Dumbo and his “magical” feather that reminded him he could fly. Sometimes, we’re too caught up in our struggles, worries or fears to see the solution. In the moment, it’s impossible to imagine silence amongst all the screaming. But it’s there, once you push through.

Everything is a phase. Here’s to the next one.


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