What do discipline, resilience, and hope all have in common? To me, they’re attributes required to launch a small business and endure-slash-survive a pandemic. When I make this comparison, I don’t want to undermine the devastation the COVID-19 crisis has caused, including the more than 300,000 Americans who’ve died from it. Yet there’s a strong correlation between what it takes to start a business and what it takes to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Personal freedom need not apply here.
Discipline is required when you want to start a business: the hours are long, and they continue to be long once the operation is up and running. It’s tempting to slack a bit, maybe take a day off, skimp on employee training, or shy away from an uncomfortable discussion between a supplier, but in the end, you know that your business won’t survive long without discipline. During these 10 months of the pandemic, discipline seems to be missing from the conversation, especially from elected leaders. Discipline in wearing masks, socially distancing, and basically staying at home is what curbs this virus. It’s placing community and public health over the shortsighted whims or fancies. Sadly, our nation appears to be lacking in discipline as our death rates are much higher than other nations. Many of our schools are shuttered, which will leave a crushing effect on our children. And our elders are in precarious danger.
We’re fed this myth that personal freedom trumps anything else, but I believe, and history has taught me, that freedom comes from discipline. And if you dispute history, then at least touch base with my dad. He’ll gladly tell you a lot of stories about my childhood when I learned tough lessons about discipline and then earned back some freedom, especially when it came to driving a car.
Small business owners across America know a lot about resilience and this lesson was dealt in multiple blows this year. Businesses closed, and for some who operate on the Blackfeet Reservation, not even allowed to open. Many of us, especially in the food service and hospitality industries, continue to adapt to restrictions on capacity, doing our best to make it through a difficult year while also being responsible to the health and safety of our employees and customers. A big socially distanced high-five to those businesses in the Flathead Valley who’ve adapted to meet this challenge, and I know you’ll continue to do so.
With resilience we have hope. You don’t go through the arduous labor of launching your own company without hope. And now we have hope of beating the virus with the COVID-19 vaccine. I’m so thankful to our healthcare workers who’ve received their first shot and sincerely hope that they know how lucky we are to have them tirelessly caring for all of us.
Discipline, resilience, and hope might not win you talking points on some social media site, or sound cool, but they’re the foundation for excellence. During this holiday season, I’m recommitting myself to these tenets, for myself, my family, and my community.
Happy and healthy holidays!
Maggie Doherty is the owner of Kalispell Brewing Company on Main Street.
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