May 13, 2019
The struggle is real

Stop micromanaging your life. I mean it.

Renee Diaz

In 2017, Renee Diaz moved her upstart cupcake business The Queen's Cups from Millbury into a larger space in Worcester's Canal District. With a year of lessons learned, she now writes the monthly advice column The Struggle is Real to help entrepreneurs and business owners navigate their own trials and tribulations.

Since I was asked a couple of months ago to be the 2019 commencement speaker for Worcester State University on May 18, I've done a lot of research on life goals. Whether it has been listening to motivational podcasts, past commencement speeches from the likes of Steve Jobs and J.K. Rowling – or my personal favorite "Your Dream is Possible" by Les Brown – you name it and I have done it. But the best research I've done is observing and listening to others.

I have attended a couple leadership conferences in the past few months, and the one thing that stuck out the most is how we all micromanage our lives. After listening to a couple dozen women describe their day-to-day lives, it's no wonder why we are all stressed, competitive and burnt out. I used to throw the book at myself, which is how I have lived throughout most of my career. But unless I wanted to be a could-of, should-of, would-of person who missed out on living, I had to change my ways.

Almost everybody, myself included, have a hard time giving up control, because we don't think anyone else on our team can do as good of a job as we can. The keyword in that sentence is think. How do we know they won't rise to the challenge? We don't. We are constantly setting up our employees to fail when we do not believe in their talents. There is a chance they won't do as good of a job, but there is an even greater chance they will succeed when we trust in them.

My research also showed our to-do lists were so long, they are impossible to finish. Because of this, these women worked longer hours, missed out on time with their families and still went home to cook, clean and do laundry. When the weekend rolled around, they spent their time running errands and then experienced the Sunday Scaries about going back to work on Monday. I did this for a long time. I am not great with lists, because I typically lose them, but I had to do every single thing at The Queen's Cups before I could go home. After living pretty miserably, I realized there is just no way I could continue on that way. So, I started giving up my tasks. Do I need to be the one to change the trash, start the drawer, do all the dishes, bake, decorate and sell the cupcakes to customers? No! There is no way with the business we have now I could continue on that way. When I get home, I want to be with my husband or go out with friends. I do not want to go home every day and do laundry and cook. Those things will always be there.

What I've learned in my evolution as an employer is the day does not have enough hours to get everything done. You can never have enough staff to accomplish every single task. But, you can get the most important things done by learning how to trust yourself to be a leader and trust those around you to excel. We are all different learners. You may do things a certain way, and your coworker or employee may do it differently. However, you end up at the same result. I work in organized chaos, and my assistant is the most organized person I've ever met. Her lists have lists. She has changed my life by allowing me to trust her. She has proved herself to me, but I had to allow her to. I stopped showing up at 5 a.m. when I was training my kitchen manager. At 23 years old, she proved to me she can run my business and delegate tasks. She never complains about what is on her plate. I gave her the chance, and she has knocked it out of the park. I have a whole staff of people who have allowed me to sleep more than four hours a night now. When I let go, my business held on! And is better than ever.

Not everyone is born a leader, but it is important to learn how to trust. Do not set people up to fail because you haven't given them a chance to succeed. And if they do fail, what can you learn from it? What can they? Try not to play the blame game, no one likes that. Ask yourself what you can do better, what you can do better as a team and what you would change the next time around. When trust and compassion is evident, your tribe is going to flourish. And maybe, you'll have more time to do the things you love rather than stress about things out of your control.

Renee Diaz is the owner of The Queen's Cups bakery in Worcester, which generated more than $1 million in revenue last year.

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