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10 Lessons I’ve Learned Over 10 Years

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Let me start by saying WOW. Did I read that correctly? Has it really been 10 years? I remember bringing my 6-month baby to the clinic so that we could repaint, install counters and a sink, and hoping it would be dried for our first patient the next day. I remember feeling like I had no idea what I was doing and hoping that one day I might magically know. I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing all the time, but what I do know is the invaluable lessons I have learned along the way. This blog is a celebration as well as a heartfelt endeavor to inspire and empower others. My hope is that my experiences can serve as a guiding light for fellow entrepreneurs, women in business, and anyone looking to transform their passion into a prosperous venture. 

Here is 10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years: 

1. Hire incredible people (aka people who are more skilled and talented than yourself), and then get out of their way 

This lesson has proven to be a game-changer for me. The heart of any successful business lies in its people. When I say, “incredible people,” I mean individuals who possess exceptional skills and talents, often surpassing my own capabilities. I’ve learned it is not just seeking out the best in the business, but finding people who, in their unique way, bring a touch of magic to our team. Getting out of their way means trusting their abilities, empowering them to make decisions, and providing the support and resources for them to succeed. It’s about fostering an environment where their brilliance is celebrated, and in doing so, we’ve built a family of individuals who not only support each other but also inspire and uplift one another every day. 

2. Get clear on your goals for what you want to create 

Over the years, I’ve learned that when you define your objectives and guiding principles, it becomes a powerful compass guiding every decision and action. It’s the difference between merely existing and purposefully building something incredible. Your goals serve as a roadmap that not only steers you through challenges but also keeps your passion alive. Define your values and ensure all your decisions are guided by them. 

3. Just help people. It can be that simple. 

When I began dreaming about opening my own Eye Care Clinic, to now 10 years later, this lesson has not changed. I have seen that the most fulfilling moments in my clinic come from the smiles on the faces of those we’ve helped. It’s a profound lesson that reminds us that business success isn’t measured by profit margins but more so by the positive impact we make on people’s lives. 

4. Believe that people are doing their best 

Approach every interaction with empathy and understanding, recognizing that each person, whether it’s a team member, patient, or partner, is giving their all within their unique circumstances. This belief in the inherent goodness and effort of others is the foundation for creating a space where everyone is treated with dignity. 

5. Find a mentor and be one 

I cannot stress the immeasurable value of mentorship enough. None of us have all the answers on our own. By finding a mentor, you open the doors to unique knowledge, inspiration and support, and by being a mentor, you become a catalyst for others’ success. These are beautiful, reciprocal relationship that I value immensely. 

6. Cheer others on 

Cheering others on isn’t just about being a bystander; it’s about actively participating in the success of those around you. Celebrate their victories. Recognize their achievements and efforts. Offer support during their challenges. As fun as it is to climb the “success” ladder, it is so much more fulfilling to hold the ladder steady for someone else to climb. 

7. Keep learning 

I’m not a perfect Optometrist, leader, business owner (who is!?) and I will be learning about how to be better, until the day I can’t. I’ve come to embrace the idea that the pursuit of excellence is a lifelong endeavor, and I’m committed to learning more each day to become better at what I do. The beauty of this journey is that it knows no bounds – we are on an endless quest for knowledge, improvement, and innovation. I firmly believe that if I have the capacity to learn, I have the potential to make a positive impact. 

8. Connect with others 

The phrase “we are all in this together” isn’t just a saying for me—it is a belief I have embraced wholeheartedly. Through a commitment to attending local events, actively engaging with community groups, and forging personal connections with our patients, I’ve not only deepened my understanding of genuine connection but also witnessed the transformative power of community engagement. 

9. Collaboration wins over competition 10/10 times 

Just as I’ve wholeheartedly embraced the belief that “we are all in this together,” I extend the same philosophy to my approach in business. Emphasizing collaboration over competition is a guiding principle that has proven itself consistently. Prioritizing partnerships with other local businesses, we’ve witnessed the strength that comes from working together. There’s ample room for all of us to thrive and I believe that within our industry, collaboration isn’t just beneficial—it’s the heartbeat of our shared success.  

10. Make Mistakes! 

As I sit here writing this, I can’t help but giggle at the realization that I forgot to include a 10th point in my list of lessons learned over the past 10 years. Ha! What a perfect final lesson while reflecting on the past 10 years, and one that I’m sure I will continue to learn for the next 10 years. Mistakes are how we learn, grow, and evolve. They’re the reasons we surround ourselves with those incredible individuals who pick us up when we stumble and encourage us to try again. So, here it is, lesson number 10, right on cue: don’t fret the slip-ups, because they’re the stepping stones to your greatest triumphs.  

Written by Dr. Heather Cowie

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