It was day two of shutting down my last store.

This was the store that started it all. The store that launched my brand and built my resume. I had been working alone with the one gal that I had left on the payroll for the past couple days. The racks were empty, the phone was disconnected and I was no longer wearing a well put together outfit – I was in a t-shirt and jeans, my hair pulled back and out of my face.

I was taking five minute break in the back room every once in awhile when the tears began to flow and I needed to step away from the lines of customers who were showing up to use up the rest of their gift cards or pillage the racks to find any last deal.

After another bout of crying, I was back out on the floor when” she” walked into the store to take a peek around. Let’s call her Molly. Molly had worked with me for a short time several years back. She had gone through a grueling interview process, as we were trying to find just the right fit for our young and vibrant team. That was back in the years when my business was thriving and growing at at rapid pace.

When Molly walked into what was left of my store that afternoon, it took my breath away. Why? Because Molly was one of the few employees I ever let go. Time had passed and she found something much better than her previous position with me. But every once in a while a thought would come to mind , “Had I looked at every angle of the story? Had I let her go with dignity, or could I have done better?”

And so when Molly walked in that day I decided that if she was brave enough to come back to shop, I would be brave enough to tell her I was sorry. Not sorry for the action I had taken, but sorry for the way I had never followed up, never checked in. Sorry for not being the kind of leader she should have had when she was around. When I walked up to her and started the conversation she was a bit surprised. I shared my heart, she listened graciously and I felt that through all the ugly that was going on around me, at least I had taken the opportunity I was given in that moment to speak kindness and show humbleness into the heart of someone. Maybe this time around I could show her what leadership looked like, even if only through a five minute chat.

You see, as our lifetime story unfolds, we are called to learn through it.

We need to learn through the little movements and the big explosions. We need to learn through the exciting wins but also through our perceived failures. It is our duty to observe where we have fallen short and to discover how we can rise higher the next time around. Our story weaves itself into the stories of everyone around us, and to simply look inward and think our story only affects us, is to give our story the power to devastate, the power to bring us low and the power to discourage us from taking the next step forward.

When we stop and ask ourselves where we could change and how we could do things differently if given the chance, we use our story to breathe life and change into the story of someone else.

And that little breath has a ripple effect we may never know.

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