“Not to dream boldly may turn out to be simply irresponsible.” – George Leonard
Changing the wallpaper. That’s how I used to describe the job changes I’ve had over my career. I would start a new position being very excited about the possibilities and before too long, the old way of thinking would creep in. Just like changing the wallpaper in your home, at the beginning of a new job, it’s exciting and different. But over time, you begin to realize it’s still the same room in the same house in the same neighborhood in the same town. Before I knew it I was out looking at samples again. I was changing the wallpaper hoping for a different outcome but I was neglecting the structure I was living in. The very foundation of my career is what needed to change. I thought another new position would be enough. But it was never enough. It was only enough to quiet the yearning in my heart for a year or two or three. No matter how long it took, that little voice in the back of my head would start whispering again.
And in moments when I was truly honest with myself, it wasn’t merely a little voice whispering in the back of my head. It was what God had written on my heart that was speaking. How long did I want to continue to go through life ignoring what God has written for my life? Not much longer than I already have.
So I took a few small steps that have changed everything.
When I was unemployed earlier this year (fortunately only the months of March and April) I attended several networking groups regularly. During one meeting, one of the facilitators was speaking and he said something to the effect of “You are all here looking for a job. Many of you have gifts that can be used in other ways. Maybe it’s time you stopped looking for a job and you BECAME the job.” For those of us in attendance with a certain mind-set or inclination, we knew he was talking to the aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners; those wanting to step out on our own.
The seed that had been planted in my heart long ago had just been fertilized. And that seed sprouted. Over the next several months that sprout continued to grow almost to the point it became a weed. I couldn’t stop it from growing and sprawling. I knew well enough I wasn’t going to pull it or cut it back. I was going to let it grow. And before too long I had created a LLC for my own company. I was talking to attorneys and accountants and health insurance brokers and I was out looking for clients, building a web site and creating marketing materials. Most importantly, I submitted my resignation. That small act was actually huge and incredibly significant. I am no longer an employee. What I am now is a free agent and business owner.
All the fears I had carried through the years about being my own boss held me down. They prevented me from acting. They prevented me from liberating my gifts and sharing them with the world. Taxes? Healthcare? Insurance? Company-formation documents? In a previous life all those factors tied me down. All it took was a few phone calls and asking a few questions of people I already had in my life and trusted. You would be surprised what it takes to start a company. The short answer is not that much.
My 7-year old son asked me several weeks ago as I was tucking him into bed “is your company going to be a big building?” I love the perspective kids can provide. His question brought me into his world and how he sees it. I value that perspective. I told him a company isn’t necessarily a big building. A company is simply a few signed pieces of paper sitting in a file folder in some office somewhere. The reason there are big buildings is that some companies have lots of employees and they all need somewhere to work. I won’t have lots of employees so I won’t need a big building.
The person I am today is not the same person I was even 4 weeks ago. The switch that gets flipped in your brain when you make the decision and change from employee to business owner creates a whole new paradigm. The changes I have gone through have been profound. The way I view and think about things are what have changed the most. How I view myself has changed. I’ve had to get comfortable and re-acquainted with who I am in my new role.
Up until several weeks ago my wife and I were talking about how difficult Christmas was going to be. Money has been very tight and two of our kids have December birthdays. We were wondering where the money was going to come from.
What a difference a few weeks and a little preparation make. Now, we’re having discussions on how we’re going to get Gustafson Power Recruiting, LLC to be a $500,000 company. When we get that figured out and reach that goal, the next step is a $1,000,000 company. With a company like that I can bless many people in many ways I could never dream of in my previous life.
Being an employee with an employee mindset was restrictive. Now, the possibilities are limitless. Now, I get to spend time thinking about the person I must become to create a million dollar business. I like that thought. I like the idea of the person I will be when that day arrives. Clearly, the person I am today is not the same person I will be years from now.
I walked through my fear. I let it fool me almost my entire life up to this point. Shame on me. Now I know better. Fear is a vapor.
I’m under no illusions there won’t be storms and rough water in the days and years ahead. But I’m prepared. Louisa May Alcott said it best: “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”
Be abundantly blessed!
And please let me know how I can help you on your journey.