The Reluctant Entrepreneur
I’ve always wanted to …
I’ve always wanted to … start my own business. Have you ever said that about anything – “I’ve always wanted to do …” this … or that. One thing that becomes very evident when you get round to doing this … or that, is that it’s so much easier to say than to do!
The opportunity to start my own business came quite unexpectedly. I had recently embarked on a new career as a sales engineer with the Control Systems company where I had been a project manager for over 10 years.
“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
~ George Elliot
I had taken over this sales role from a very experienced sales engineer who was entering his retirement, and I was looking forward to my new career. Today, I was entertaining the Director of the British Nuclear Industry Forum, and just before we went out to lunch the MD asked if I could pop in to see him during the afternoon. During that afternoon meeting, I was given a life-changing opportunity.
It turns out that the sector that I was selling in to was in decline, and my company had decided it no longer wanted to pursue that line of business, and that I had the opportunity to return to project management, and there was quite a nice project lined up for me to take on. The alternative was to take a redundancy package if I preferred.
Well, I had the weekend to think about it, and that phrase “I’ve always wanted to …” was a constant companion. I spent those two days with those I love and trust and explored what “might be”, and the direction my life could take. We had recently moved to a new larger home (with a new mortgage) and taken on some other commitments, and so this was a challenging opportunity.
“If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, then you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life”
~ Abraham Maslow.
Despite having no clue what I would find to do, we decided to embrace the opportunity, and I figured it this way: I would have a lump sum that would act as a bridge to the new career that would last a few months. If I could find some income to extend the bridge at the far end, while I consumed the bridge at the near end to pay for day to day living, then all would work out okay.
During the course of the next few months and years, I found a variety of opportunities to extend that bridge, mainly in teaching and lecturing, and also in commission based sales, that helped to make sure that the far end of the bridge kept getting further away. I discovered that “what I always wanted to do” was incredibly rewarding, incredibly challenging, and incredibly terrifying in equal measure.
“The greatest stretching seasons in life come when we do what we have never done, push ourselves harder, and reach in a way that is uncomfortable to us.”
~ John Maxwell
I will talk about some of these challenges in other blog posts, however, what I wanted to share here was about the rewards that are available when we are stretched, as we embrace new opportunities and new challenges. I wanted to share some of the exhilaration of being stretched beyond what is visible and to embark on a journey that takes you into personally unchartered paths. I know that I have faced and overcome challenges that I didn’t even know existed, and that I have faced and failed at things that I thought I could achieve. I also know that I wouldn’t want it any other way.
“If you are no closer to your dream this year than you were last year, you can choose to accept it, defeat it, cover it up, and explain it away. Or, you can choose to change it, grow from it, and forge a new path.”
~ John Maxwell.
I have discovered that growth doesn’t happen in the Comfort Zone; I have found that the inspiration to achieve significance and the opportunity to be able to genuinely help others achieve significance is found at the far end of the bridge. I have found that there is a purpose to living and that we have the opportunity to stretch to find that purpose or choose instead to take the comfortable route.
Please hear my heart in this – I am not saying that the comfort zone is not a pleasant and enjoyable place to be, and I am not saying that we must all strive to reach our dream to achieve significance. I am not saying that everyone must stretch to risk what is, in order to reach for what might be. I am saying that for me, that journey has been immensely rewarding. I have learned to embrace these words from Rabbi Nathan, who says:
If you won’t be better tomorrow than you were today, then what do you need tomorrow for?”
~ Rabbi Nathan of Bratislav
About Roger Fairhead
Roger is a Leadership specialist and uses the PRIZE Winning Leadership model to help leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams, through remote and on-site delivery of keynotes, group training events and individual coaching sessions.
He is the author of several books including "PRIZE Winning Leadership" and “Personal Productivity Planner”, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK with extensive experience in Project Management and Sales.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Roger also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.