The value of your life is up to you. The world does not owe you anything. There is nothing that you cannot work for. Intellect, education or money does not define you. You define yourself. You always have a choice. If you think you can, you will. If you think you are beaten, you are. Your goals are original and obtainable. They are your responsibility. Daydreaming and hoping do not achieve goals. Grit, hard work, and smart actions will. Believe fiercely in your passion and define success as living the life you want to live.
My entrepreneurial journey began over 40 years ago while working part-time during high school for A & E Electric Company, a contracting firm owned by my father. A Nashville native, I grew up in the Donelson – Hermitage area but attended school across town. Transportation to and from school was always a difficult issue. Between bus rides and carpooling, most afternoons ended with hours spent at my Dad’s office. During these years, I received a good education but more importantly, I learned the principals of business.
After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lipscomb University, I went to work full time for A & E Electric. For five years, I served in various roles within the office which gave a tremendous opportunity to learn all aspects of operating a small business. After my father closed this company, I continued to work in the electrical contracting industry. For the next ten years, I was a partner in two business ventures and both were ultimately unsuccessful. These business failures taught a great lesson in my finding both personal and business success.
In 1990, I founded Stones River Electric without cash or financing options. This is not something I recommend in business. Yet, there are some advantages to not having money at the start. That scarcity forces you to be more resourceful. It means you have to sell yourself and your ideas to others. This can be a difficult task, but one that pays huge dividends in the long run. What I did possess was an intense drive to succeed and a deep sense of personal destiny. I was determined to be successful.
Since that time, Stones River Electric has grown into a large, national electrical and lighting service organization. It took many years of struggle, perseverance and hard work to obtain my goals. I achieved the American Dream that so many people hear about and don’t understand how to attain it. It is my wish that others can be helped by hearing my story and believing that all things are possible regardless of your position in life.
For most of my career, people have made comments that I am too focused on business and that I only care about the pursuit for financial gain. This was the case even when I was so destitute that we did not have a car and could not pay the house mortgage. For true entrepreneurs, being in business is not about making money. Money is the way of keeping score and sometimes the end result. Truthfully, all deep fulfillments in my life have come from my family.
My father, Walter Edwards left a legacy of an intense drive to succeed. Perhaps, this is why so many of our family members have become entrepreneurs. In addition to this passion, I also have a sense of personal destiny. This is more than just a strong desire to influence the future. It is the belief in my ability to create destiny by choices and actions. Clearly, this entrepreneurship mindset can be seen in my own son, Rob Wilson. An only child, Rob has given me so many reasons to appreciate the importance of life’s purpose. Through his childhood, work career and giving our family five incredible grandchildren, there is no doubt genuine happiness comes from a lifetime filled with meaning, joy, clarity and centeredness.
After being single for over twenty five years, Gary Hall and I married in 2005. It has been wonderful to have a person in my life in which to share everyday experiences. He has three children which has grown our family expediently. Gary is a spiritual man, a writer and life coach. He has helped me live each and every day in God’s oneness knowing that all things are working together for our good continually. His love and caring for others demonstrates God’s grace. Before Gary and I met, there was a missing link in my life purpose. Now, I am living a life fulfilled.
My mother, Ruby is now well into her nineties and still the most innovative entrepreneur I know. She challenges and inspires me every day. The electrical construction business is a male dominated occupation. Being a part of this industry had its challenges during the early years of business. Ruby gave me a quote by Charlotte Whitton thirty years ago that still is displayed in my office. “Whatever women do, they must do twice as good as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.” I have come to realize that this statement needs not be gender specific. It applies to everything a person does in that success comes by outworking everyone else. Not a day in my career have I thought about being a woman in a man’s business. I’m too busy thinking about how to get the job done.
My family has been essential in contributing to my overall success and determining my life purpose. Your life purpose is what you are meant to take with you from this life. It is a knowing of what brings you joy, what are your gifts and how you can impact others. Many of my family members are entrepreneurs in their own right. You can find their great stories in my Cool Entrepreneurs page.