Integrate what you believe in every single area of your life. Take your heart to work and ask the most and best of everybody else, too.
- Meryl Streep
The most devastating thing I’ve ever done, which led directly down the path to self-sabotage, was to think I needed to separate who I was at work and who I was in my personal life.
To have to try to be someone else in a work setting (when we are all so engulfed in our work!) is a sure way to either:
- a) fail, or;
- b) become isolated and pretty much begin living two separate lives.
In business school, we’re told “be a professional”. This meant to wear a specific attire, use certain diction, and act a certain way. We’re not necessarily taught to bring our personality and personal values to work. So, when I started Pantry Fuel, there was always this pull on my heart to, quote, “be a professional”, not necessarily myself. This was an ongoing internal struggle.
I enjoyed community outreach events such as farmers markets and conventions (many of which I’ve met some of you at, at the beginning of the Pantry Fuel days), but as soon as I checked out for the day (do entrepreneurs really check out?) I would get completely out of work mode. Friends and family would seldom hear me talking about Pantry Fuel, leaving little room to get excited with anyone about the milestones we’d reach when it was a smaller show.
This created a lot of isolation. When friends and family were talking about their new jobs or work projects, my anxiety would increase because I had a hard time switching from personal life-to-work mode in a personal setting. I avoided work questions - not because I was ashamed, but because I had separated the two, increasingly, over the first two years of being in business. This is probably a similar isolation frequently talked about by many start-up entrepreneurs. It’s a hard, long road to be a passionate small-business owner. Luckily, there is a happy ending here, though!
Slowly, a few close friends would ask about Pantry Fuel in a sincere way that came from a place of curiosity. A few friends would order here and there and actually try us out as a real customer. You see, I think I worked backwards to most start-ups. I sought out unknown customers first, then my friends and family finally hopped onboard (haha). This could have been the problem from the start...
So, now that dear friends and family were starting to become customers, talking about what I did for work and answering genuine questions made it a lot easier to start integrating what I did for work into my personal life. It was a more natural flow of conversation.
Thank you to all our early supporters, whom many continue to be fantastic customers today! Also, a huge thank you to the family and friends who have taken the time to support Pantry Fuel - and my livelihood. Those dinners I like to make and have you over for, or the wine I bring to our Friendsgivings - well, it is you that is allowing me to be able to do those things. Your true support is priceless! Small businesses are truly someone’s passion turned into livelihood, hopefully to help serve a community need. That is what I know we do here at Pantry Fuel.
So now that I have integrated my core values and beliefs into all that I do at Pantry Fuel, what does that really look like?
Well, here’s a few things I (we at Pantry Fuel) believe:
- Food should fuel our bodies - this means we use whole food ingredients without added white table sugar.
- Great tasting food does not need to be complicated.
- Food tastes best (and is most nutritious) when in-season - we source as much seasonal produce from the Pacific Northwest as we can. Our menus change 4X/year with the seasons.
- Food is medicine - Pantry Fuel meals include a variety of whole food ingredients with an abundance of nutrients needed for our wellbeing.
- We should feel good after we eat - meals are portioned to make you feel satiated, but not too full (no one likes that bloated “ate too much” feeling). We also play with food pairing to provide additional benefits for satiety.
- Team is everything - I take input and work with each of our culinary team members to create the most delicious dishes, paired with the advice of our community health leader partners such as dietitians and doctors.
- We deeply value community - everything we do at Pantry Fuel is critically thought through and we ask, “How will this affect our community?” We want to be a leader in making our Spokane community - our home - a healthier, stronger place to live for everyone.
- We love what we do - we don’t have to compromise our values to work at Pantry Fuel. We get to show up with integrity and bring that home with us at the end of the day.
Our team encourages you to think about your values. In this trying time in the world, it seems like values are being shaken up left and right. Remember, your values are your own. Not something to be argued about, but simply based on your own experiences, critical thoughts, and deductive reasoning.
Being open minded, respectful, and tolerant of others values is important, though. No one has the same experiences or thoughts as you, which is, at the end of the day, what forms our values.
I would love to hear from you! Strategic questions are a great way to help us find our own areas to work on. Here are a few questions that have helped my own journey to integrating my core values into Pantry Fuel and at work. Maybe these can help you do the same - or if you’re already there, great!
- What are your top ten values that drive your decisions to do what you do daily?
- How can you integrate your personal values with your work?
- How will this affect your work?
- What are your blocks to integrating your values into work?