This conversation came up this week with a friend of mine who runs a ‘successful’ business. To the world here is how her business looks. It is busy. New clients are being recommended almost on a daily basis – so they don’t need to do any advertising. The team has grown by 450% in the past 12 months. She is frequently recognised when out and about – she is from up north but last week someone stopped her in Euston Station, handed her a card, and said ‘You won’t remember me but I saw you on Sky TV. Can you give me a ring sometime, I need some help with….’
All great that isn’t it? Only it isn’t really. She is working from 7 in the morning till midnight, doesn’t see her kids most days apart from when they come into her home office to tell her something, and – probably more importantly even than that – she doesn’t have any time for herself. So she is tired and frustrated.
However, I don’t want you feeling sorry for her. She has had 3 holidays this year already with 2 more to come. And as for the business – she has it in hand. She said to me ‘Cheryl – in order to have what most people will never have, you have to be prepared to do what most people will never do. You, of all people, know that! This is a short-term problem, while I am re-engineering my business not to need me full time.’
And so I’m not worried for her – she is working “in” her business, so she can eventually work “on” her business, does that makes sense? However, here’s the thing there are too many people like her, for whom that reality is permanent and even worse. In many cases the people I meet are working too hard for too many hours with little reward. Either because they have a job, or because they have a self-employed job with a shit boss (that’s right – it’s them). Some of them are in golden handcuffs (they earn a lot and think if they stop working so hard they will lose everything), and some are in iron handcuffs – they don’t earn good money, are STILL working too hard, probably hate what they do, but have no idea how to change it.
I was that person.
For way too long, I worked at a job that I did not love, I was good at it so I was building someone else’s business up, putting in extra hour after extra hour for no thanks, In fact, I shot myself in the foot. Thinking that if I put extra effort in my boss would love and appreciate me all the more was an error of the highest magnitude, which I realised one night in 2011.
I’m sitting at home with my 2 best friends Gordon & Stella, that’s right they are my “support system” they help me un-wind, maybe you have a friend like that called Prosecco or Carling???? Well, what can I say – long hours coupled with the “chilling” after effects of the drinks and I’m asleep in no time! When I wake up in the morning I’ve got a missed call (a missed call from my boss) and then I check my messages … unacceptable, should be on call 24 hours blah, blah, blah. It appeared that despite me putting in over and above for so long, that counted for nothing against this one missed call.
And it was at that moment that I knew things had to change. I realised that I was creating and building OTHER people’s businesses and helping create THEIR dreams, and where was I in all of this? Unappreciated and unrewarded – that’s where.
And you know what…. I realised that was not good enough. I’d like to tell you I made a change straight away, the truth was I moaned to family & friends and they all agreed how unacceptable it was, so I felt “in the right” but of course they couldn’t change anything. I decided to speak to my boss and he replied, “It’s a business and I need you to be on call 24 hours a day, if you don’t like it ..”
So, I decided things needed to change. It took a few months to refocus, was it easy? No it wasn’t, I needed new tools and I needed people to help me to find a new way, I needed others to be honest. Slowly but surely after retraining, refocussing and reminding myself that I could put all that effort into my own life – things started to change.
Now I live the life that I choose. Is it perfect? Not every day – but if you follow me on Facebook then you will know that this week IS pretty perfect. I have been flown out to Senegal by an ex International footballer who I am coaching. He didn’t have time to come to the UK, so here I am – sitting by the beach, with the laptop, running my business my way (as Frank Sinatra would say). And when you have the space in your life, opportunities arise. Take them, would be my advice, with both hands. Because new things expand your comfort zone, they expand your network, and they give you the chance to learn, and to teach. And that’s what life is about isn’t it? Continual learning and passing that learning on to others.
Even when my life ISN’T perfect – because nothing is ALL the time is it? – even then, I love what I do. And life is for celebrating. It is for being with the people who lift you up. It is for new experiences. It is for adding value and serving others (and if this is your focus, trust me, the money will come). It is for laughter.
And if you agree with me, then I would like to invite you to join Mazza (Marion Bevington co-author of “Find Your WHY!”) and myself for our 1 year anniversary party. Yes – can you believe it’s 1 year since we launched the Live Love Laugh Lounge and began growing our WHY’s women and men. Well on July 22nd at the lovely Tankersley Manor, we will be celebrating and partying the night away.
We will be spending time with people we love and who lift us up, to celebrate. It will be a new experience (because we haven’t done one of these before). And I promise there will be lots of laughter. And in the spirit of adding value and serving others, one person will win a free place on our next retreat in January (valued at £2,000), now if you like the sound of that, then come and join us.
If you would like to join us for a night of fun, frolicks and frikkin’ awesome people (and we would LOVE it if you can), then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to book your spot – there are a limited number of seats, so please act now.
The details are
Saturday 22nd Julyy, arrival 5pm for 5.30 start, Tankersley Manor, Sheffield
3 course meal £49 per head or £79 for 2
Current and future WHYs Men & Women welcome
See you there!