Why work for yourself?
Certainly there are benefits to being an entrepreneur. Lets face it some of us just are not cut out to work for someone else. I spent over 23 years working as an employee. Yes there are benefits and many perks that make such a lifestyle alluring.
But at what price?
I come from good honest hard working middle class people. When I was growing up there was no other mindset than to be an “employee”. In fact the first career advice I received occurred as an early teenager when I was encouraged to find a J O B. You see generations of ancestors had been “employed” that is all they knew. You cannot get encouragement and wisdom on being an entrepreneur from perennial employee people, frankly they just don’t get it.
Despite my best efforts my early years as an employee were miserable. I did not quite fit in. I had my own ideas and people did not care about them. I found ways to cope and eventually thrive. At times I even found the path to excel but it always seemed short lived. Organizations have their own sense of consciousness and they don’t like people who would rather think and act their own way rather than conform.
Have you ever felt like you were a half step out of cadence and just couldn’t get into line?
I have and as I matured I came to value being unique and different more than trying to fit in. In fact it is this very uniqueness that I came to value most. In my late 30’s I began to seriously explore what this meant to me and came face to face with a concept I now love that of leadership. I discovered that I had no end of passion for leading and for learning how to lead better. In fact the more I discovered this gift, the better I got, the more quickly I was promoted. My last days as an “employee” were in a senior management position of general manager overseeing a facility with 150 employees and a $60M budget. But even this level of responsibility paled against the reflection of uniqueness, independence and personal growth I had come to demand of myself. And yet being the leader gave me the opportunity to be responsible and accountable for things. I really cherished this aspect of leadership.
Funny though that as I learned more and grew as a leader I found that my heart’s desire was to be a number 2 to a great leader for a cause I was sold out for. I had no real desire to be the number 1. No don’t have the ego or the stamina for that. My real desire is to make a great leader even greater, help them see beyond their own abilities. The problem is I never found that person, that one leader I wanted to follow. So I always seem to end up in the number 1 chair. I believe this is an exact match with why I now am so comfortable with the concept of being an entrepreneur. Since there is no one I currently want to follow, and I am very comfortable leading myself. Ultimately the decision to become an entrepreneur running my own business is about freedom, independence and leadership. There is no one to tell me when to arrive, when to attend, what to wear, what to think, what to say. I get to make all those choices. Some days I make excellent choices, others I blow it. Regardless I look in the mirror and remember something written by one of America’s founding fathers a few centuries ago
I do not choose to be a common man,
It is my right to be uncommon … if I can,
I seek opportunity … not security.
I do not wish to be a kept citizen.
Humbled and dulled by having the
State look after me.
I want to take the calculated risk;
To dream and to build.
To fail and to succeed.
I refuse to barter incentive for a dole;
I prefer the challenges of life
To the guaranteed existence;
The thrill of fulfillment
To the stale calm of Utopia.
I will not trade freedom for beneficence
Nor my dignity for a handout
I will never cower before any master
Nor bend to any threat.
It is my heritage to stand erect.
Proud and unafraid;
To think and act for myself,
To enjoy the benefit of my creations
And to face the world boldly and say:
This, with God’s help, I have done
All this is what it means
To be an Entrepreneur.
With that Week 1 ends on a dignified note. Next up the travels and travails of week 2