We, as humans, spend a lot of time struggling with our pasts, struggling with what to do with our time, our resources, our lives. We can find ourselves wallowing in the mistakes made in life, kicking ourselves for missed opportunities and embarrassing moments, looking at ourselves in the mirror replaying our past like old home movies in our head. We define ourselves by our history. “Look what I’ve done!” Or, “I can’t believe I did that, said that.” The highlight reel of our lives can be a cruel companion sometimes. Don’t get me wrong. Our histories are important. But they’re only part of the journey.
I believe it’s a good thing to take time and take stock of our lives occasionally. Look back at what we’ve made of our time on this planet and decide what to change, and what to keep. But, after that, keep the lessons learned and the memories, but bury the rest and walk on. Decide who you want to be from this moment on. We all make mistakes. But if we’ve learned from them, keep that and ditch the rest.
On the other hand, everything that we’ve come through, all our missteps, all our failures, embarrassments, and bridges burned have led us to where we are today. The wisdom you have today would not be possible without those trials. Use it. Not just for your life and pursuits, but for the benefit of others. I read a quote the other day that read, “You have been assigned this mountain to show others it can be moved.” When we get in the habit of thinking of others, alongside and even before ourselves, mountains to climb become momentous opportunities.
As I look back on the history of William Alexander, it could be easy to get stuck in the moments we were down. I could and have very easily kicked myself for the days when we had 2 partial boxes of cigars on the shelf, or even the days we had none. But I have to remind myself that many of you, our customers, stuck with us during those days. You still came to the shop and hung out like it was a normal day. You taught me that it’s more about the person sitting next to us at the shop, and less about what’s sitting on the shelf. You showed me that you believe in loyalty, camaraderie, grace, and sticking with your friends and family even when the chips are low.
It’s those memories that I still hold on to when I feel like I don’t measure up. I know that the history of the shop is only part of the story. There’s still a lot left to be written. My wife, Kate, and I have a lot of big dreams for the shop, the club, and much, much more, and we’ve decided we’re in this for the long haul. When you consider the long game, and not get caught up in reaching for the quick win all the time, you start to realize that doing the right things, the small things consistently and regardless of the current conditions pays off in the long run. So that’s what we’re doing. We will continue to foster an environment that feels like home. We will continue to put people first and work hard to inspire a culture of generosity. Community is what attracted me to this industry, and community is what will write our future history.
So as this year is coming to an end, we still have far to go, and I for one am excited for the road ahead. I believe the road is often more fulfilling than the destination. So here’s to another 5 years and more of serving each other, loving each other, and doing life together in and outside of the shop!