"It took us 18 years to become an overnight success."

Image courtesy of Churchmouse Yarns and Teas

Image courtesy of Churchmouse Yarns and Teas

So joked John Koval, one of the owners of our local knitting shop, Churchmouse Yarns and Teas, on Bainbridge Island. Recently, I had the pleasure of taking a behind-the-scenes tour and talking strategy with John and this comment continued to tap on my brain more than a week after. 

As Churchmouse approaches its 18-year anniversary, the business is a firmly established local icon, with an enormous and loyal following online. Regardless of where I stood, strolling the back offices with John, shopping online, or popping into the shop with a question, their endeavor felt seamless and effortless. 

John's comment, however, told another important story. As we race to maintain or establish ourselves in a loud and crowded marketplace, we should be neither overly impressed nor discouraged by the many rock stars among us. 

In his humble, humorous and delightfully wise way, John spoke an essential and pretty inspiring truth. Overnight success is a myth

A few days later I took a class, taught by his wife and co-owner Kit Hutchin, called, "Oops!" By the end of our time together, the group could fix an errant pearl in a sea of knits without ripping out our work. We could rescue stitches unraveling mid-work and on the edges. We could do forensics on our work to ferret out errors. 

It was a class, Kit said, about the essence of knitting. If she could impart one lesson to all knitters, this would be it: relax your death grip on your work and enter into a new zone of understanding where mistakes become no big deal. For me, someone whose main knitting strategy was not to make any mistakes, the class was a revelation.

During the class, Kit dramatically increased our chances of knitting success with simple life lessons. For example, don't try to fix a problem when you are tired, since our brains have a daily quota for decisions.  That's why people who eat the same thing for breakfast or wear a uniform may have a leg up. This from resources like The Organized MindPower of Habit and the Five Second Rule

After spending that little bit of time with John and taking that class with Kit, it wasn't hard to see why their business was doing so well. In knitting and in business, they have practiced long enough to become masters at their craft. 

Theirs is the inspired wisdom we don't hear enough these days: have a measured approach and take the long view while you strategically apply yourself to the tasks at hand. As for the prospect of making a mistake or heading in the wrong direction, don't be afraid. Being afraid stunts our potential. Plus, when we correct our mistakes with minimal fuss and worry, they speed us on our journey.