Keep Moving Forward

 

Jennifer Murphy-2013Today we have a guest blog from Jennifer Murphy, the vice president and COO at NetPlus Alliance.

Two years ago at the Industrial Supply Association Product Show and Conference, I was fortunate to attend one of the educational tracks hosted by a former Navy SEAL, Eric Greitans. His presentation related his experiences as a SEAL to the challenges we face in life, both personally and professionally.

Greitans served abroad first as a humanitarian, and then on the front lines in Afghanistan post-9/11. His book, The Heart and Fist, has a permanent place on my nightstand and I reread the pages that I’ve dog-eared whenever I need a reminder to keep my head up and continue to move forward.

I have many years to go before I am a veteran of this industry. I’ve worked at NetPlus Alliance, a buying group for industrial and contractor supplies distributors, for only seven short years. This pales in comparison to my father, Dan Judge, who’s been around the industry for almost 50. I’ve learned from him, though, about the tough times that our family distribution business, Ward Beals & McCarthy, faced over the years, and how hard it was for him to sell the assets of that business to a bigger company back when I was in college. He kept the corporation intact, and now I am the fifth generation of an industrial business that was started by my great uncles in 1931.

During the recession in 2009, we also heard from many of our distributors about the challenges that they faced. Our members that survived fought hard to gain back the ground that was lost, but the road ahead is still uncertain. The challenges many of us face now, although different from what my great uncles faced, are no less frightening than the rapid-paced social and digital media environment that distributors compete in today.

In The Heart and the Fist, Greitans describes Navy SEAL training: marathon swims in freezing water, followed by miles of running in combat boots and countless other physical and mental challenges. All of this happening in a chaos-driven environment where you don’t know what is going to happen from one hour to the next. Sound familiar?

Throughout the training, they don’t call these exercises tests or challenges; they call them ‘evolutions.’ Because every time you make a decision to accept pain, take on a challenge, put someone else’s needs in front of your own, confront your fear or move through defeat, your character evolves. And eventually you get to a place where you lead.

He said, “Everyone has a front line in life and in business. You are not going to win everyday. You need to work through the challenges and find the people that will be a part of your own front line who will push you through the tough stuff.”

So on the days when I need a reminder to move toward my fears, I pick up that dog-eared book, and reread the words that Eric Greitans put down in his memoir.

Certainly, the economy is better now; its taken time and we’ve gained some of the ground that was lost. But the business environment is also evolving beyond my father’s generation of running a distribution business. The new digital playing field evolves at a rapid pace, and social has new meaning for an independent business owner.

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