For most of my life… I have kinda been trained to believe that there was only 3 ways that one could survive or make a living in the world:
- You’re unemployed – and you rely on someone else to provide for you.
- You have “a job” – and you rely on your boss for a monthly salary.
- You start your own business.
That’s about as far as my… understanding… went.
There was no “option 4”. There was no “other way”.
And – within the framework of those three choices, there were additional, limited stereotypes that I believed to be true:
If you fell into the “unemployed” category – then, you were either a child, a student or a sick person with a disability. Or an old person living off a pension. Or – you fell into some grey area of nothingness… ranging from drunken, drug-addicted street-dweller.. to criminal who-just-wants-to-steal-instead-of-work… to lazy leech-person who doesn’t want to work… or maybe just “poverty-poor” person from a poverty-poor part of the world. Shame. Tut-tut.
(Don’t worry. I have since grown up, my understanding has expanded… and with it, my empathy).
And when I used to think of “jobs” or “people-who-work-for-a-boss” – this is how my brain filed it: a dull, hateful experience of full-time hoop-jumping, brown-nosing, box-ticking, mask-wearing, clock-watching and many dismal hours spent in rush-hour traffic. (And sure – this may be true to a large degree – but I now realise that there’s a whole other universe out there… including – but not limited to… people who work remotely, people who work for bosses whilst sipping cocktails on island beaches, people who love their jobs, are friends with their bosses and – well – let’s just say – ENDLESS other “ways” of being employed that do NOT to conform to the tiny limitations of what I initially believed)…
And – of course – then, there were the various limited stereotypes that I placed on this whole idea of what it meant to “start a business”.
And that’s what I want to chat about in this post.
Because the time has come for me to jettison ALL of those limiting, narrow-minded stereotypes – and to completely re-think and re-imagine ways that I can earn money – doing what I love – whilst remaining true to my HAT’ness… and by NOT trying to become something or someone that I’m NOT.
I used to believe that you had to be a certain kind of person if you wanted to run your own business. This belief system of mine was birthed by witnessing the life of my father and grandfather. They behaved in a manner that I believed was – well – kinda the ONLY way to be (if you wanted to run your own business and be your own boss).
- They were stern and no-nonsense.
- They were good with money, production schedules and budgets (both of them owned factories where stuff was manufactured and sold).
- They were good with sales (or working out commission structures and managing various sales reps).
- They weren’t afraid of “managing” people. They didn’t baulk at the idea of giving orders or telling people what to do.
- They believed that business should be run as a hierarchy.
- They weren’t afraid of conflict… or firing people… and they didn’t hesitate to chastise employees who had done something wrong.
- They were very self-disciplined. They got up early in the morning, they stuck to a strict daily routine. They opened up their factories on time. They arrived at business meetings on time. Their offices and desks were meticulously neat and organised.
- They had great negotiation skills. They negotiated successfully (and confidently) with clients, suppliers, bank managers, whoever…
- And – of course – they were HARD workers (and very proud of this fact). They invested many, many, MANY long hours in to their respective businesses. They despised laziness and mooching. They didn’t suffer fools. Granddad had a sign on his desk which read: “A friend in need is a bloody nuisance!”
Dad and Granddad both believed that if you wanted to “get ahead in life”… you needed to “work bloody hard, make sacrifices” and not be “a lazy little shit”.
Then, along comes me. And if you know me – you’ll know that… well – I pretty-much-suck at all of the “good business person” attributes listed above.
And for years – I have been effectively bullshitting myself… by trying to convince myself that if I can just change-this…. or fix-that… about myself… and if I can JUST be more self-disciplined… or “more-organised”…. or “more-responsible”…
Then – maybe – just maybe… I, too, can finally run-a-business “successfully” (like Dad or Granddad)… (or – come to think of it, Great Granddad too!)
This particular mindset has set me on a not-too-pleasant (or productive)… (or fulfilling)… life-journey of numerous business start-up’s (and business F-up’s). I would venture to say that MOST of my so-called “business” decisions have NOT been good ones. Not because the business itself (or the product or service I was selling at the time) was bad…but – rather – because… for most of my adult life, I have been trying (very-very unsuccessfully) to FIT into that small, limited little box-of-a-stereotype that my brain has clung to so desperately for all these years!
This is what The Mindset says:
“If I want to earn decent money – I need to start my own business. And, to do that, I should learn to become more like Dad. Because Dad is disciplined, Dad is good-with-money, Dad budgets sensibly, Dad is organised, Dad isn’t afraid of conflict, Dad can manage people, Dad is responsible and works hard – Dad is a REAL businessman!”
But… see… I am not Dad… and I will never (and can never) be like Dad. Simply because Dad is Dad… and I am ME.
And only (very) recently has it has been SLOWLY dawning on me… that there are actually MANY, endless, limitless other ways to do-business and make-money WITHOUT needing to become “like-Dad”.
(For example, there’s a book called The Four Hour Work Week – and it’s a complete mind-screw for those of us accustomed to the usual understanding of what it means to earn an income):
So – this post is to let you guys know that I am taking baby-steps in the right direction… learning (slowly) to be completely HONEST with myself (and with those I work with) about:
- What I AM… and what I’m NOT able to do.
- The kind of work that energises me, excites me, interests me and gives me a sense of purpose (as opposed to the kinds of tasks that suck the life out of me and leave me feeling exhausted and resentful).
- The dreams and goals that are my actual dreams and goals… versus the “goals” that I kinda feel I “should” or “ought-to” pursue (out of some twisted sense of ‘duty’ or ‘responsibility’).
And once I have figured all that stuff out (making it crystal-clear both to myself and anyone else I work with)… the next step is to figure out ways to work around my limitations – or outsource them entirely – instead of attempting to convince myself to “fix” my perceived ‘weaknesses’ and try to FORCE myself to do stuff and perform tasks that drain me, irritate me and mess with my creative mojo.
A plan is underway. I haven’t figured it ALL out… but…
“Deliberate actions… (no matter how small)… are better than *drifting* with no dreams at all!” – (H)
No more “normal” business for me. I’ll keep you posted on how it all works out… X