I wrote last week about saying goodbye to 2017, and all that it entailed: from the planned (an improved hospitality across our entire business) to the unplanned (um, two new cafes). I’ve felt for the seven years I’ve been owning and operating Summit that the most important thing we could do is build a foundation. A strong base for growth, expansion, development, evolution, greatness. None of that made sense, or would have been sustainable for more than a minute, without the right foundation. So while 2011 was about the foundation, and 2012, so too were 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 …
And here we are. January 2018. It’s time to let the foundation set and finally build upon it. Time to cash in on the opportunities we’ve developed, the energy and time and money we’ve spent. Time to start here and build from the company we are, no longer the company we’re evolving into. Which leads me to my word of the year:
As defined most literally, to flourish is to “grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.” As I define flourish, hold it in my hands and make something out of it, I think of it as an intention to restore things to their best form. Theologian Hugh Whelchel uses flourish as synonymous with words like:
As my wife, Tyler, put it, thrive feels like one flower blossoming to its fullest potential. Flourish, on the other hand, is when a field of flowers as far as you can see blossoms together, because of one another. Flourishing is a collective thing — I can’t do it on my own, in a vacuum. My path of growth and betterment should help you along yours, and ours together should help two more, and all of a sudden the employees of Summit Coffee are flourishing because of a company that is making it an intention to flourish. And our staff of 67 flourishing baristas (it’s the next 12 Days of Christmas) can impact our communities, because in the end each of us does have the power to make a difference.
I believe that in order to flourish, you have to be prepared. It’s not reckless, or sudden, or without a foundation. Flourishing happens with healthy habits, clear intentions and sincere preparedness. Summit is healthy, Summit’s vision is clear, and Summit is prepared.
This is aspirational, to be sure. It’s maybe even a little over-the-top, especially if you don’t know me or aren’t totally bought into what I’m scribing. But Summit has spent two decades building a great thing, and now we’re going to flourish. We’re going to do it with wholeness and integrity, we’re going to be just in our decisions and considerate of others.
On January 2nd, after a 17-hour day renovating the inside of our Basecamp location, I had to at the last minute rent a pickup truck and drive from Davidson-Cornelius-Huntersville approximately 36 times (I think) to haul things between cafes. I sat in traffic on NC 115, cursing my morning and lamenting how impossible it was to flourish under these circumstances. Maybe flourish is a 2019 thing, I thought more than once. What am I doing?
But to flourish, you also need to pay attention to the foundation. You cannot build a house after laying the foundation and never check to see how stable it is. Building a business is no different. Sure I want to do new things, and make greatness a more constant reality. I want to make a profit, for once, and I want to host remarkable interactions at our cafes. I want to make stunning coffee, and become a better employer than I was in 2017. But if the foundation slowly crumbles while nobody pays attention, the whole structure falls down.
So I reminded myself: flourishing isn’t a snap-of-the-finger exercise, it’s not a decision to act differently or an adjustment to the menu. It’s taken us seven years, or 20 in some regards, to set this table. It’s taken a lifetime or work to get here, and it’s going to take even more work to genuinely flourish. Pickup trucks be damned, we’re going to flourish in 2018 even if it means hauling refrigerators over state lines.
I hope my call to flourish leads me to better actions and better days, and thus leads to you having better days, too. Here’s to 2018, and all that may come of it.