I am going to open the door today and invite you in my home. As I write this it is exactly 2 days after the Packers won the Superbowl, though it's likely a few months after when you are reading it. That makes today the Tuesday after Superbowl Sunday.
I guess the date isn't really important, I am just trying to set the scene. As it turns out I had to take 2 days off this weekend, I normally only take one, so Monday was REALLY busy. On top of that My beautiful wife, Rachel, had dinner done 30 minutes earlier than usual. Ouch!
She came in my office at 5:30 (I usually work until 6:00) and told me dinner was ready. Then she said the most wonderful words, “If you're not done yet don't worry about coming out.”
YES! Score, I can work a bit later and catch up!
I can tell you, that was a mistake. It became obvious she was very stressed hearing her trying to get the kids through dinner. I stopped working and went out to help get things under control and the kids to bed.
By the way, I should mention my children are very well behaved. That said, there are 4 of them, one only 4.5 months old. Handling that many children by yourself, even if they're well behaved, can be stressful. Anyway, back to the story.
During the time I was out with the family it became abundantly clear I had made a bad decision in working late. Well what's done is done. I tried to be in good humor, but it just wasn't going over. We got the 3 older kids to bed and Rach took Amber (4.5 mos) in the other room to feed her.
I got my dinner out of the refrigerator and heated it up. One of the hints she's mad at me is when she puts dinner away before I can get some. If she's not, she'll leave it out or make me a plate before she puts everything away. Then, following my bad decision with a good decision, I decided to go back to work. (When my beloved is mad it's far better to leave her alone to calm down for a few hours than to insist on trying to make things better.)
While I was in the office working, Rach came back and proceeded to let me know about all the mistakes I had made in the last few days. I had asked to her take care of petty cash for one of our businesses, but not given her any information about what to do, and I was spending to much time working on non-profit generating businesses, instead of the business that's “paying the bills.” I should spend more time with our contracting company and not with this consulting/publishing business I am working on.
See, on December 8th, 2010 I woke up, got out of bed and walked into my bathroom in my 3500 sqft “McMansion” and looked at myself in the mirror. When I did I thought, “I don't want to go to work! I don't want to talk to insurance adjusters, deal with the unreasonable customers who I am married to until the job is finished. I didn't want to get a call from a subcontractor, like I normally do, telling me they couldn't get to the job because…oh I don't know…they lost their keys. (No joke that was one of the excuses one time.)
I saw myself in the mirror and I knew our business was sucking out my soul. I hated it, hated what I did for a living, and I was starting to hate the people I employed-who are good people and don't deserve it. I was getting to the point where I saw them as mooches showing up every other Friday with their hand out. I hated it!
Just to be clear, my feelings about that are completely unfair to the people who work for me. They're hard working, smart, dedicated people who deserve better than to be seen in the light I was seeing them in.
I was becoming a grump at home, I was miserable to live with, and my life was headed to a bad place. It all slapped me in the face when I looked in the mirror that morning.
That morning I got out of the contracting business. That morning I became a publisher, a consultant, and a business philosopher.
Of course I had been doing all these things, just as a side line. On December 8th, 2010, they became my profession.
So when my wife said I should be paying more attention to my contracting company because it was paying the bills, I thought to myself, “I will not sell my soul for money!”
It occurred to me, it's not us entrepreneurs that sell our souls, it's the working stiff. The employee. The person who hates their job and goes to work anyway. The person who lives 5 days to take off 2.
The person who relates to the song, “I don't have to be me 'till Monday.”
I didn't act irresponsibly. I got together with my employees and told them my decision. They decided they would like me to train them to handle what I did for the company, and I am. The contracting companies are still going at this point. Some adjustments are in order, and a few people are unsure, but all in all they're bringing in money and I don't have to be there.
In the meantime I am setting up systems so I don't have to work in the business. A couple of hours a week in meetings and handling the marketing (which I like anyway) and I can focus on what I love, helping entrepreneurs do better in their business.
It is not we entrepreneurs who will sell our souls for money, it is they who do. We, entrepreneurs, more than anything else, protect our soul. No we're not whimsical, no we don't act impulsively (or at least we try not to) but we do protect who we are at our core. If something is making us miserable, if we are selling our souls for our business, we quickly claim back our soul and go on to the next thing.
Funny thing is, those who sell their soul for money do so for just a pitiful sum compared to our financial rewards.
Next time someone scowls at you for making decisions in your business for financial reasons, reasons that benefit you, just remember, they're the ones who have bartered their soul for a pittance of money dripped in each week. We're the ones who protect our souls and therefore are richly rewarded.
Make your decisions without guilt and without remorse. You're the more moral creature, you still have your soul!
PS. Today, the day after my late night, Rach is her normal wonderful self. She was last night before bed. I got her to laugh a few time, though she tried not to. A few hours to relax and a good night sleep and she's the Love of my Life again. Just thought I'd let you know. Until next month! Oh yeah, she was mistaken about the non-profit generating business as well, but I saw no reason to point out her mistake at the time.