February is all about love: of others, romantic love and hearts and flowers. For your pet business you are probably already decorated and are doing some in-store events to capitalize on the love we have for our four-legged friends. We love our pets and freely admit it.

Do you also love being a leader? Are you in love with being a leader? Does that make a difference?

Are you in love with building your leadership skills, becoming a better communicator and allowing your team to be more engaged and involved? If we’re honest with ourselves (and sometimes that’s less than easy), we will admit that putting in effort to become better is not something sustained by falling in love with it.

So let’s unpack this and look at it with a different lens:

In Love Versus Loving

When I was a younger woman and getting married, I asked a man who had been married for more than 30 years what was the secret to sustaining a relationship, and I will always remember his advice. He said, “Know the difference between being in love and loving.”

Of course I thought I knew the difference and was marrying the man I was because I was “in love” with him.

The gentleman continued, “Being in love is great, but it’s the loving that will keep you in the game.”

This is profound: Being in love will fade in and out, but loving something can carry you long term.

I have found that to be true about nearly everything, including leadership. Having a business is one of the hardest things a person can do, with its ups and downs and all the people you work with and serve.

So if you opened your store because you fell in love with the pet industry, or you are in love with being around dogs, are you also committed to loving your business through thick and thin?

This month, ask yourself. Am I in love with leadership, or and do I love it for the long term?

Because if you love it — love your business, love your team and love your customers — for the long term, it will be easier on you, and more important, you’ll stay the course. It also means you will nurture it, learn more, become the expert so all parties benefit.

If you are simply, “in love” with the idea of leadership, of business building — which of course means building your best asset: you — then, just like February and the candy and flowers that are so prevalent right now, those things will not last.

Your commitment to loving for the long term will last, and I hope it’s a joyous experience and maybe, sometimes, filled with hearts and flowers!

Shawna Schuh  is a certified speaking professional, an executive coach, master neuro linguistic programming practitioner and president of Women in the Pet Industry Network. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This article originally appeared in the February 2018 edition of PETS+.

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