The art of being gracious

Setting up your own business certainly teaches you many things, and not necessarily what you initially think. For in setting up Ginger and Fraggle the biggest lesson I've learned, and am still learning, is the art of being gracious.

Graciousness was a quality I'd never considered I was lacking but there it was, when presented with unsolicited advice and well-meaning guidance from friends and family, I felt this overwhelming sense of hurt and injustice at people thinking they knew better. It brought out some of my biggest insecurities, did these people not think I knew what I was doing? They clearly thought I wasn't capable, thought I wasn't quite good enough to make my own decisions and do it myself.

Writing it down, I realise how bloody ridiculous it sounds and also how wrong. But these were ingrained emotional reactions on my part. Some deep-rooted negative sense of self that stopped me from seeing the truth of this advice and guidance.

These were the people that care about me more than anyone else does. In fact, they just wanted to see me do well, to show me encouragement and support and to signal to me that they were behind me every step of the way. And when I stepped away from the emotional reaction, I saw this. I also realised there couldn't be more truth in the theory that how you treat someone says more about you as a human being than it could ever say about them. How I was reacting and responding said far more about my insecurities than it ever did about their intentions in the first place.

It's made me reflect on all the areas of my life that I've not only not shown graciousness but also reacted in the completely opposite way. Quite frankly I was shocked at myself, shocked that someone people consider to be kind and caring can actually be so unmannerly. I'm a values-led individual and here I was, not expressing compassion and consideration for other people's views.

Having learned that being gracious does not come naturally to me my biggest task now is not to think that it's a quality I don't have at all. I must learn to be mindful of why it's not my first port of call in times when it should be. Many of us, for one reason or another, don't allow ourselves to be loved and that presents itself in a multitude of different negative behaviours and actions. We can only change what we want to change and we can only be loved if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

I'm working on that one and I'm working on accepting the advice of my loved ones with courtesy, whether I follow it or not. People's guidance is often wrapped in love, and that's the most important message from it.