Here's what I learned this year

I've been running this business for a long time. What started out as a scrappy swimwear company that I ran while traveling to various kite competitions around the world (seriously, I used to answer customer service emails during down time at kite contests), has turned into a scrappy brand with a loyal following and product that we're proud of. The hustle has always been real. I've worked my tushy off to continue to make better and better product, to stay relevant in a saturated market and to empower YOU, our customer, to feel awesome. 

Whenever things get hard, which they do, a lot, I always come back to: How can I make someone feel awesome today? YOU have always been on top of my mind. 

Therefore in an effort to serve you, my favorite people, I took some time to digest what I learned this year in hopes that it helps you.  I love looking back over seasons past. There's so much juicy goodness to be found. You know what they say--hindsight is 20/20.

This year marked ten years in business for Sensi Graves Swim. A decade. I find that hard to believe for a lot of reasons. 

One of which is that this business is not yet at the level that I know it can be at. To be honest, throughout much of the time while running this brand, I've struggled with that. When will I feel like I'm doing enough? When will I feel successful?

The answer, I now know to be true, is that I will never feel that way, until I allow myself to feel that way now. Until I cultivate that feeling of success within myself right where I'm at. Until I stop letting external factors and validation dictate how I feel about myself. 

One way that I've learned how to do that is by making effort the reward and by acknowledging myself for how hard I try (lesson #3 below). This year, there was a lot of trying and a lot of showing up for myself. Excuse me while I reward myself and take a nap. 

In looking back over this past year, I took some time to percolate on the big takeaways, the big learnings, the growth, the expansion that inevitably occurs on this path of human hood. 

Here they are. I hope you enjoy. I hope they serve you. Most of all, I hope they help you feel awesome. 


1) The point is not to be happy all the time. The point is actually to feel all the feelings. 😬😩The point is to allow for compassion when things get hard. The point is to allow for self-empathy and to hold space for the feelings that come up. In fact, there can't be happiness without sadness and the more we can allow ourselves to feel all the feelings, the more we can hold ourselves with compassion and help guide ourselves toward the light. 

2) You can't control the actions, you can only control your reaction. We hear this one over and over again and yet it remains one of the practices that I must continue to... practice. It starts with noticing your reactions. We can't change what we aren't aware of. This year, especially, I've focused on noticing my reactions to things--whether that be mishaps that happen in the business or (annoying) things my partner does. As I've started to notice what my reaction is to a production hiccup for example, I can hold that reaction a little more loosely and ask--do I need to react this way? Is it serving me? How can I see this as happening for me and not to me?

3) All you have to do is show up and try. This year I competed in a Big Air Kiteboarding event. Big Air is not my specialty discipline but nonetheless, I'm am excellent kiteboarder and I wanted to try. I blew up. And not in a good way. I came in last place. The next day I had a really sore neck and a really bruised ego. Sometimes you show up and you try fail. And it's all ok. It would've been easy for me not to try--to say, "this isn't my thing" and to not show up. But by pushing out of my comfort zone, I inspired others to do the same. I received messages like this:

"You did not hold back and that’s what the big air is about! I was inspired watching you go for it!" 

Now that's something to be proud of. 

4) It all starts with being. The work is in being first and then doing. What do I mean by that? I mean, when we embody the next level us and ask "How would I act if I ran a multi-million dollar company?" or "How would I show up if I was a successful speaker?", I generate the energy needed to produce great work.

When we're in scarcity or "I'm not there yet" mode, the sympathetic part of the brain becomes activated. When the sympathetic (fight or flight) part of the brain activates, blood flow decrease in the frontal lobe, the area of the brain responsible for logical thinking and planning. 

When we shift into being first, we learn to regulate our stress hormones and can show up more creatively, more in flow and feeling more confident and expansive, which leads to a whole host of other things. 

5) Boundaries are good. I tend to be a yes woman. I say yes to opportunities that flow my way, yes to travel, yes to jobs, yes to coaching, yes, yes, yes.  In 2022 I said yes a lot and by the time June rolled around, I had back to back trips on the calendar and no capacity to enjoy them. This year, I really learned that I can't and shouldn't say yes to everything. 

Therefore, in 2023, I vow to keep a "said no to" list and to wait 24 hours before saying yes to big trips or opportunities. A "no list" is a running list of things that you say no to. This will strengthen your ability to say no, enable you to reflect on what and why you said no and provide accountability to actually say no. 

Establishing your values is another way in which you can't help determine what you should say yes to. 

6)  It's not about you. It's never about you. Oftentimes we are afraid of putting ourselves out there because of how we'll look or how people will judge us. Or we feel the need to produce to make money or "get something" out of it. 

When we step back from making the work about ourselves and instead lean into how useful our product is or how potent our teaching is, we make it about who we are serving. 

When we make it about who we are serving, our customer, we operate from a much different energy. We operate from a place of--how can I make the people around me feel awesome? How can I make this thing super excellent for them? 

It’s about sharing what we know with others. It’s about helping others feel awesome and amazing and lit up. It’s about service.

What if your job was to make the people around you feel awesome? How would you show up? What would you do differently? How would this make you feel?

What if we made everything we did about helping other people?

Wow. What a much different energy to create from. It feels…better.


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