The Courage to Say Yes

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Selected excerpts from Building Value to Last: Four attributes Crystal Maggelet says helped her pursue new business ventures. 

I have lived a life with a theme that was more about taking opportunities along the way then having goals and a direct path to get me there. The following attributes gave me the courage to jump in when the opportunity presented itself.

Book cover for Building Value to lastSelf-Confidence

Even though I was only 10, I learned that everything would be okay by just going along with whatever happens and making the best of a bad situation when necessary. My parents’ divorce taught me to push through the tough times. It taught me that a circumstance might seem very bad when it happens, but worrying about it just takes time away from moving on and making it better. With time, almost everything works out if you keep trying and believe it will get better.

Taking on Challenges

There’s no doubt that the Flying J bankruptcy tested my stamina and grit. I remember thinking back to my mother’s experience when she was starting her Diet Center franchises in Texas. I remember asking her where she got the guts to start up a business that she knew nothing about. Her reply was, “Nobody told me I couldn’t do it, so I just did it.”

Surrounding Yourself with the Best People

Some would argue that leading Flying J through bankruptcy was beyond my abilities. They were correct. It was a huge undertaking and having smart, capable people around me was critical to my success. Being able to accept and ask for help does not mean you are weak. It means you recognize that others may be better qualified for certain things than you are. My career has been possible because of the individuals who have worked by my side.

Finding Balance Over a Lifetime

When I became president and CEO of Flying J, I made the decision to put life as I knew it on hold and work until we were out of bankruptcy and our creditors were paid … Finding and maintaining balance in one’s life is not easy, and I believe cannot be measured day by day. Instead, my belief is that balance is accomplished over a lifetime. I remember being a young mother with four children trying to have it all. I’d look at my life and think that everything was great. I had beautiful children. Our holidays and vacations were memorable. I had dinner on the table most nights. I was the mom I always wanted to be—and I still kept one foot in the door at Flying J and Crystal Inn. It seemed as if I had it all, yet I wasn’t completely happy. I remember thinking to myself, “What is your problem? This is balance.”

When the bankruptcy hit and I became president and CEO, the exact opposite happened. I threw myself into the business 100 percent, sacrificing my family and home life. Though I didn’t have much of a choice, I began to realize that making short-term sacrifices, whether it be at home or work, was key to long-term fulfillment. I couldn’t balance every single day, but I could find balance over a lifetime. For me, my success will be measured very far in the future, when I can look back and feel that I led a balanced life that included a great family and a productive career, and that I left a positive mark on the world because of the things I accomplished and gave back.

By Crystal Maggelet
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