With the announcement of our new licensing program, I’ve heard from many old friends. It’s awesome to hear how people have kept Mama Beasts on their radar over the years, and been quiet cheerleaders even from afar.
One friend and very original Mama Beast wrote an email to me saying she was impressed with how much the business had grown, and that I had remained “authentic and awesome.”
This felt like the best hug.
And I have to say – I felt really proud. Not that she recognized the growth of Mama Beasts, but that she saw and felt that I remained true to myself. Even in the highlight reel of social media. Even in the pressure cooker of a competitive industry where you better do all the things and look damn good while you document it, too. (Cry/laugh emoji here. But also crying because it’s true and tiring)
Being authentic is freaking scary.
This friend was someone who knew me as an overwhelmed new Mama, a new instructor, a new runner, new to social media, just new at all the things – but passionate. But even new, I knew what I wanted to create and why. I always thought moms were unsung super heroes. I loved building their confidence, their strength, and seeing them succeed. I loved giving them an hour that was about them, showing what that were capable of, and providing a community of support.
From my own life and from the genuine friendships and sharing at Mama Beasts, I also knew motherhood was messy. Not the blow-out diapers or stomach bugs – but the mess from the emotional warzone that overtakes you. And leaves behind confusing pieces of who you used to be. I didn’t think this should be left to ugly cry fests alone in your car. As Mama Beasts grew, I felt stronger that the darkness should steadily creep out into the light. I could be honest. I could be vulnerable. And I have been so lucky to have had an audience to be honest and vulnerable with.
At first, this honesty was in the mission and message of Mama Beasts. Shirts from one of our early 5Ks read, “I workout to burn off the crazy” – so fun and silly. But also, so true. We aren’t working out because we gained weight; we are working out so we don’t lose our damn minds. It may have been started as light-hearted and joking, but this became a battle cry at Mama Beasts. At class, I encouraged Mamas with “this is your hour” versus “let’s get summer ready” and the like. The clear intent resonated with moms. And that intent carried over into our highlight reel on social media.
It was soon after a pretty brutal struggle with postpartum depression and anxiety (during which, I often coped with light-hearted posts about my third son’s antics) that I felt a little unauthentic. Even though I was sharing the shit show that motherhood could be, it was certainly only part of the picture. It was funny and self-deprecating, but wasn’t the darkness and heaviness that encapsulated me. When it was time to launch our new website with my first “bio,” I decided to use it as a chance to share the real version of that period of my life since it was very much experienced as Mama Beasts grew. This rawness started to feel more natural and I worked a mental health and self-care component into a bigger role of our popular challenges. It was a way to take on some of the harder issues in an approachable way. And now in the Mama Beasts’ Metamorphosis personal training program, I have the opportunity to delve into the emotional side of “getting in shape” as a mother when I work with moms in small groups. Because dear lord – the burpees and protein are like two percent of it.
Anyway, I think I still I represent what that new Mama and instructor was about. The one my friend knew years ago. I’m just braver now (thank you age, frat house, and tribe) And if we are keeping it real – thanks to some success, too.
I guess what I am trying to say that even with a trademark, a lawyer, bright new logos, more locations – I try to remain real. And vulnerable. I find it easier these days to do it as a mother. From a business perspective, that vulnerability can be a risk. But I’ve made a decision that being a vulnerable leader is better than wasting energy on trying to be something I’m not.
Motherhood and starting a business have so much in common. They are hard in a way you can’t be prepared for. But there is an expectation (though I think the tides are turning) that it should be easy – or made to look easy.
Consider the pictures you see on social media. For every cute baby photo, there is some degree of pain and sacrifice behind it. A million different stories. With every big, exciting step for Mama Beasts, there is so much stress and effort behind it. A million doubts and late nights. I like to think I share both sides. It’s a hard balance – I mean, who doesn’t love a good highlight reel, a good success story, or some adorable baby photos? I don’t want to take that away from myself or anyone. But can’t we share both?
I intend to share both as I work with moms to bring Mama Beasts to their communities with our licensing program. I think that is what makes working with me and the overall program different. I will lead moms to big wins and celebrate with them – but I will also have advice, solutions, and just commiseration when things get challenging.
On the same day I received the email from my friend, I saw this quote from Brene Brown.
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
A choice. It’s work. I think (and my friend confirmed at least) that over the years, I have done that work. And while scary, it’s been critical in the success of Mama Beasts. And it’s a choice I will encourage my licensees to make during their journeys.
As I start interviewing moms interested in our licensing program, I am excited (and a little nervous!) to keep the authentic conversations going. To talk about the possibilities, but also the fears. To talk about the splashy marketing side, but also the nitty-gritty details that make bigger dreams a reality. I truly believe it will be a business and personal experience like no other.
If you are want work where you are respected and successful because you are authentic, then Mama Beasts is the place. That’s a choice I will continue to make everyday.
Thanks to all you real Mamas out there, making the choice day in and day out to show your authentic selves. I see you.