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Tips & Talk 78 -10 Things I Learned as a Chicago Bears NFL Cheerleader
31st August 2022 • Gift Biz Unwrapped • Sue Monhait
00:00:00 00:15:49

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This cheerleading thing probably comes as no surprise if you’ve been hanging out with me for a while. I’m an eternal optimist. I love to cheer people on. I’m okay with attention and I love football. I’ve thought about sharing this NFL cheerleading experience with you for a while. As I reflect on my journey there, I realize so much of what I experienced and learned applies to being a small business owner too. I’m going to drop the lessons here but listening to the show will give it context and better understanding.
  • Learning 1 – To accomplish anything you need to put yourself out there. Take the chance.
  • Learning 2 – Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you have the passion to invest a major portion of your life to it.
  • Learning 3 – Don’t force your passion onto someone else if it doesn’t resonate with them.
  • Learning 4 – Jump on opportunities when they spring up.
  • Learning 5 – It’s truly who you know at various points along the way.
  • Learning 6 – Work through setbacks and swallow your pride if you have to in pursuit of your goals.
  • Learning 7 – The work doesn’t end when an achievement is reached.
  • Learning 8 – Don’t ever get overly confident of your position or expect the same results time after time. They aren’t guaranteed.
  • Learning 9 – Observe the roles you naturally gravitate to. You may discover new potential.
  • Learning 10 – The value is in the journey, it’s not discovered only when you reach your destination.
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Transcripts

Speaker:

Hi there.

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It's Sue.

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And thanks for joining me for tips and talk day.

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These are bite-sized topics that I pull from community questions and

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things that I'm observing in the world of handmade small business.

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If you'd like to submit a topic,

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DME, over on Instagram at gift biz unwrapped,

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gosh, this year I've rolled out a number of new opportunities

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for you here.

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There are the bashes where you have a chance to showcase

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your business to this entire listening audience.

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There's the new owl app.

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When you have a quick question where you'd like my input,

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and now I'm excited to bring you gift biz boosts.

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Think of these as free strategy sessions,

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leaving you with a clear action plan to boost you forward.

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Whether you're at the beginning of your business journey and need

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concrete steps on how to start,

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or you've been doing this for a while and could use

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a fresh approach.

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These boosts are for you you'll know,

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a podcast is a boost.

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If you see that word in the title,

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want to get your own free boost.

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I'm taking these on a first come first serve basis.

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Head over to gift biz,

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unwrapped.com forward slash boost,

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and sign up for your session today.

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Hey, Hey,

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perfect timing football season is upon us.

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This cheerleading thing probably comes as no surprise to you.

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If you've been hanging out with me for a while,

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I'm an eternal optimist.

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I love to cheer people on I'm okay with attention.

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And I love football.

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My entrance into professional cheerleading was prompted by my lack of

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excitement for my career situation.

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Right after college,

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I worked at an advertising agency in downtown Chicago,

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starting at the bottom and determined to rise up those ranks.

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While I picked up a lot of great learning by observation,

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my tasks were mundane and challenging.

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I knew my stint.

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There would be short-lived by my own choosing,

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but I wanted to put in the time and get what

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I could out of it.

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So really this cheerleading idea was to add some spice to

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my life because my slow career start,

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wasn't cutting it.

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The possibility of making a spat on the Chicago beers cheerleading

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team was a long shot.

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I admit it,

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but who cares?

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My parents were the only ones who really knew about it

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since I was still living at home,

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newly out of college and all they'd always supported me in

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the past,

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but I could tell they were uncertain about this plan of

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mine. No parent wants to see their child hurt or disappointed,

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but my attitude was so what if I don't make it

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it's worth a try.

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Anyway, I made the first cut.

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Then the second only one more to go.

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This really got my parents nervous because they knew my hopes

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were rising too.

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I was beginning to believe that maybe I could make the

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squad, the pinnacle of my cheerleading career.

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It would be really fulfilling to reach the top of that

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cheerleading pyramid as I saw it anyway,

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I tried to play it cool,

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but clearly I wasn't.

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The final day of tryouts.

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I was so nervous that I left my keys in the

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car and kept it running by the way,

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as I walked away for the final tryouts,

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without even getting a valet pickup ticket.

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Luckily my car was still there.

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When I returned hours later,

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I was lucky in another way that day too,

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I made the team.

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It was pretty surreal with all the TV cameras interviews and

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the new team photos highlighting the quote unquote new girls had.

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I doubted my abilities or been afraid of taking the chance.

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I would never have tried out at all.

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Learning number one to accomplish anything.

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You need to put yourself out there.

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You need to take the chance.

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I'll tell you more about my time with the Chicago bears

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later, but let me back up to the beginning because as

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I reflect my learnings started there as a child.

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My time was spent taking piano and violin lessons.

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My mom not so secretly wanted me to be first violin

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in the Chicago symphony,

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a passion.

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I didn't share somewhere along the way.

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One of my teachers said I had musical talent.

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That should be pursued because of my mom's interest.

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I was accepted into a violin focused study at Northwestern university.

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I was nine at the time.

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And mind you included in my program was an hour of

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music theory,

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an hour of quartet practice one hour in solo lessons,

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not to mention daily hour practices every single day of the

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week. That along with schoolwork,

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didn't leave much time for me to expand my horizons,

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to try other things.

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This story could go on and on.

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So I'm going to cut it off here and jump straight

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to learning number two,

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just because you're good at something doesn't mean you have the

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passion to invest a majority of your life to it.

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I love my mom,

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but one of the happiest days of my youth was finally

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breaking free of music,

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which didn't completely happen until I was a junior in high

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school. And I'll say a connected learning here is don't force

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your passion onto someone else.

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If it doesn't resonate with them now to pacify me,

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my mom did let me take acrobatics at the local park

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district. I love the challenge of working hard at a new

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trick, pushing past the fear of getting hurt and finally conquering

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it. Aerials.

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Flip-flops all of that was so fun and rewarding,

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but not in the beginning.

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It took weeks for me to actually do some of the

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tricks, much less perfect them learning number three,

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you aren't good at things right from the start.

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Although that development and expertise will click in my cheerleading experience

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started at the early age of 10 early for those times.

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Anyway, there were no cheerleading camps or competitions back then,

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like there are today.

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These were the days when you fought with your siblings over,

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who could use the house phone in one of my hours

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long chats with my dear friend Patty,

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she asked me a life-changing question.

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So can you do the splits?

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Yeah. All versions.

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I was in acrobatics.

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Remember upon confirmation,

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she explained that she was forming a cheerleading squad for the

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fifth grade and asked if I wanted to be on it.

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Yes, of course.

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This was a life changing question because it led to so

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many other things that happened in my life after that new

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friendships and learning how to perform in front of a crowd,

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our book,

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two wonderful outcomes of my saying yes to cheerleading learning number

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four, jump on opportunities when they spring up and five,

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it is truly who,

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you know,

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I knew Patty.

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She knew me and the offer was made.

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My cheerleading career was launched.

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It would be nice to say that it was all smooth

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sailing from there,

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but I hit a major road bump in seventh grade in

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middle school.

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That was the start of having to try out for cheerleading

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teams much to everyone's surprise.

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I didn't make it.

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In fact,

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I was the very next one on the list.

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Devastated is an understatement.

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All my friends were on the squad and you know how

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it is in your teen years,

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friends are everything.

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Not only was it embarrassing?

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I was afraid I'd lose the closeness that we had established

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because I'd no longer be spending hours with them at practice

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and the games to my good fortune.

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I was offered the job as manager,

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not my favorite thing,

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but at least a way to stay involved.

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It was hard though.

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I have to say seeing my friends in their uniforms on

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Fridays and being with them,

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but not if that makes any sense.

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Plus I just loved the cheering part.

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This part of my journey ended well though.

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Oh, maybe I shouldn't say that.

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One of the girls,

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my dear friend got hurt and had to sit out the

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rest of the year since I was next in line,

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halfway through the season,

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I was on that basketball court cheering again.

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In those days you cheered for both football and basketball,

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learning number six,

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work through setbacks and swallow your pride.

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If you have to in pursuit of your goals,

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I'm happy to say that from here on out,

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I made every team I tried out for,

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but due to the experience of not making the team,

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I never took for granted that a spot would be mine.

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I worked hard before every tryout stayed humble.

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When my name was on the list and lifted up those

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who had their heart set and didn't make it.

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I knew how it felt.

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I'd been there learning number seven,

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the work doesn't end when an achievement is reached,

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you must continue to put in the energy to stay where

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you are and even more to advance and learning number eight

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don't ever get so overly confident in your position or expect

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the same results.

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Time after time.

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They're not guaranteed.

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I cheered all the way through high school and put myself

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out there again in college.

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That was a scary proposition because it's a level up.

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I was an unknown amongst everyone else.

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So my chances of claiming a spot dropped back to neutral,

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at least in my prior years,

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I had a track record going for me to migrate fortune.

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I made it Eastern Illinois,

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pink Panthers here I come at the university level.

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It's different.

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Again, new friendships were formed and my love of cheering was

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still there.

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Something else came to the forefront then to my interest in

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leading the team,

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being a captain,

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actually, there were always two of us.

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Co-captains being in charge,

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having responsibility over actions of others,

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learning to manage and work through interpersonal issues were all skills

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that I learned then that served me well in my professional

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world, I was a co-captain for three years,

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so had plenty of time to do things wrong.

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Perfect. My ways and test my leadership capabilities that leads to

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learning number nine,

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observing the role you naturally gravitate to in group settings could

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lead to new opportunities that you may not have considered before.

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And finally,

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let's get back to the Chicago bears experience.

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This is the big leagues,

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right? The golden nugget,

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the pinnacle of success.

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Okay, true.

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And I did enjoy my time on the squad.

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There were nuances of being on a professional squad that were

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fun, way more upscale and sophisticated dance choreography,

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which I found really challenging and exciting stretched my limits.

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Being in the limelight and being asked for autographs and recognized

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on the street,

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gave me a peek into being a celebrity on a small

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level. Didn't feel comfortable with that at all.

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Too much.

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Recognition is a little unsettling to me.

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I will say that being on the field and the energy

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that you only understand if you're there was unbelievable.

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The impact of pads on pads is really intense when you're

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close up to the action.

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And our locker room at soldier field was right across the

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hall from the opposing team.

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So running out onto the field with them was so exciting.

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Their size and strength was incredible.

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Here we are these small girls moving alongside these massive beasts.

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And I say that in only a good way,

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these were experiences.

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I am so happy to have had.

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And then there was the business end of being an NFL

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cheerleader, no fraternizing with the players because they have a much

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bigger job to do.

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Of course,

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the rules,

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the unhealthy girl,

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competitive drama,

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and the safety concerns that I hadn't expected.

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This comes with the big leagues of any profession,

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I guess,

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but it's the first time I encountered it,

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which leads to the biggest learning.

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I want to tell you,

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I discovered in my cheerleading journey,

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the farther along I progressed,

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the more complicated and less fun it was my grade school,

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middle school and high school,

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years of cheerleading where the best college was fine too,

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but it didn't have the same feel as before.

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And being an NFL cheerleader was also fun,

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but truly a job.

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One that I didn't control,

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do I regret doing it?

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Not for a second.

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My pompoms still sit in my basement and many decades later

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is this.

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And it's also really helped me to understand something super important.

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Learning number 10,

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the value is in the journey.

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It's not only discovered when you reach the destination,

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no matter where you are today in your handmade product business

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experience. Please take the time to reflect and bring joy to

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each stage.

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It's not necessary to rush,

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to get to the next level and do a happiness check

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along the way.

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Unlike my final stop with the Chicago bears,

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where I had no control over the demands,

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we were required to live up to.

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You have complete control over your business experience,

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check in with yourself regularly and make sure it feels right,

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that you're still excited about the possibilities.

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And if not make some changes,

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that's the true beauty of owning your own business.

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There's reward at each step,

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along the way and enjoying it all is the key to

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fulfillment and joy in your journey.

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That's a wrap.

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I'm a get to the point kind of girl.

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And this is what you can expect from these quick midweek

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sessions. Now it's your turn go out and fulfill that dream

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of yours.

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