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Growing from Challenges

Jackie Stapleton
Posted by Jackie Stapleton on 2 March 2021 10:00:00 AM

We are all going to be challenged in life, and at different ages and stages. It’s these experiences that take us out of our comfort zone that push us to grow.


Overcoming Challenges to Learn Valuable Life Lessons

It’s interesting to look back on your life’s experiences and see how they have shaped you. You can even go as far back as your childhood and see the influences that come through to you as an adult.

I’m going to share my story about a significant childhood event or trauma even, if I’m being funny about it all.

I often tell the story about how, at the age of 16 I was running a country General Store which included a service station, newsagent, post office agency, Commonwealth Bank agency, take away and of course the general store. It was a remote country store located about 2 hours west of Brisbane – just a lonely store on the side of the highway.

isolated shop

My parents owned this store and we lived at the back of the store. It opened at 4.00 am and closed at 9.00 pm. My Mum and Dad ran it mostly with me helping around school.

So, one school holidays, Mum and Dad decided that they needed a holiday – you can’t blame them really, as they worked long hours.

And it was decided that I was going to look after the store. I was up for it – not what I had as an idea to spend my school holidays, but I was promised a stereo system as payment – so that was enough in those days!

Anyway, the day had come, and Mum and Dad left for the holiday. From memory it was for about a week or 10 days – something like that.

So, up I hop at 4.00 am every morning and work through until 9.00 pm every day. I honestly didn’t think anything of it. Looking back on this I just laugh and think how funny it was. I was opening and closing in the dark on my own. I have forgotten to mention that my younger brother was there somewhere, but he wasn’t helping or working in the store.

Each night after closing, I would sit down at the dining room table in our house – remember this was attached to the store – and I’d update the ledger.

In those days the days takings (cash and cheques) were updated manually into a ledger book. Mum had 

Pretty brunette writing on couch at home in the living room

taught me how to do this so the bookkeeping was kept up to date and also so that the cash and cheques could be

banked. Mum had organised for the local policeman to pick up the banking each day and take it to the bank in the next town.

Looking back on this, I truly did enjoy running the store – this was obvious early signs of me having my own business and taking responsibility and ownership.

I do remember a particular challenge though that I wasn’t so happy about.

Now, I can’t remember if this incident occurred during this ‘holiday’ break or it was another time when Mum and Dad were away and I was in charge. I remember that it was a Sunday and we had been particularly busy and had moved a lot of fuel that day. I was constantly checking the tanks to see what we had left as I knew a delivery wasn’t due until later in the week.

At some point on Sunday I realised that I needed to organise a fuel delivery sooner than this as we were not going to make it. I got on the phone.

So, let me paint you a picture – I am still serving fuel (yes, that’s what you did in those days), making burgers and milkshakes and serving customers in amongst trying to stay on top of the imminent fuel shortage I was aware of. Oh and don’t forget, somewhere between this I had to try to eat and go to the toilet myself! Oh and now I had to find a time to phone the Fuel Depot.

If you are imagining phoning a fuel depot is on a mobile phone and I could go hands free and still cook and serve – well you’re wrong!

This was in the mid 80s, there were no mobile phones. I had to call the fuel depot from the house on a phone that was attached to the wall! I was not going anywhere else while I was making that phone call!

To put more context to this, I was phoning on a Sunday, when back in those days, long distance phone calls were cheaper after a certain time, so a lot of families got on their phones to call each other. isolated shop (3)

In the country, the phone lines or exchanges could not cope with the amount of people making calls and you would get a ‘busy tone’ until there was a free connection. Now you can see how challenging this was back then.

So, of course this is what was happening – I was taking every chance I could take to phone the fuel depot but every time the line was busy. I could not get through at all!

So, eventually you all know what happened, I ran out of fuel!

Now to add to this, I had cranky customers yelling at me because they were stuck in the middle of nowhere needing fuel and I couldn’t help them!

The first thing I thought of doing was that I had to phone Mum (so I reverted back from a responsible 16 year old running my own empire of a general store to a small child needing her Mum).

For some unknown reason I managed to get in contact with Mum and the first thing I did was burst into tears! It wasn’t the angry customers, or the running out of fuel that got to me – I just didn’t want to disappoint Mum and Dad and make a mess of their business!

Anyway, of course this story ends in me finally getting in touch with the fuel depot and because we lived in a country town and everyone knew everyone, the depot owner made a special Sunday evening trip out to fill our tanks – after all, we didn’t close till 9.00 pm so he had heaps of time! And Mum and Dad returning from their well-earned holiday to find a store still in one piece and running smoothly.

I often reflect on this time in my life and know that while it may seem like a lot of responsibility was put on me back then, it was something that I was very capable of doing at a young age. It hasn’t scarred me, it’s made me stronger. It’s given me experiences that I took into my own life as an adult and a business owner now.

We are all going to be challenged in life, and at different ages and stages. It’s these experiences that take us out of our comfort zone that push us to grow.

I would love to work with you through any challenges that you might be confronting with changing your career path or building your system or business.

Note this is excerpt from ATOL.tv video, Growing with Challenges. Check out the video here.

Topics: Careers

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