It was ingrained into my head at a very early age that true success (and therefore wealth) is derived almost exclusively from hard work. It was told to me over and over again that there’s just no other way to go about it. The rich are just lucky and that’s all there is to it. In order to make a good living, you have to find work somewhere and be diligent. Eventually you’ll be rewarded…right?
Over time, I realized that this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The Prime Example – My Dad
My father went off to his 9-5 job every day during my entire childhood. He worked his butt off for over forty years but never made over $40,000 a year in his life. Although I have more respect for that man than anyone on this Earth, his job stressed him out to the point that he had a stroke when he was 60 and had to retire early.
Work Hard and Get At It
As soon as I was old enough to understand what money was, it was explained to me that in order to get it, you have to work, and work hard. If I wanted any kind of money beyond the small allowance my parents provided us kids with (which we worked for too, by the way) then I had to put in the work. “What? You don’t know what work to do?” Well, here ya go, sonny. You can cut grass in the summer, you can rake leaves in the fall, and you can shovel snow in the winter. “Don’t know where to find work?” Well, we’ve got a neighborhood full of people. Start knocking on doors!
Knocking On Doors
So I knocked on doors as a kid, and in a lot of ways, I’ve been “knocking on doors” ever since. I knocked on several doors right after college looking for good jobs, and not many people answered. I guess they weren’t too interested in the English Literature degree that I had earned in school. So then I knocked on the “restaurant biz” door and spent about 15 years there, busting my butt every single day as a manager. I made some decent money but I was literally killing myself to get it.
Wait a Minute…
Around that time, I heard about people who didn’t “work” for a living so to speak, but I didn’t really think much of it initially. As had been burned into my psyche, I assumed that they were just “lucky” or had rich parents. I never even bothered to find out much about them because I knew I would never be one of them. Then, through pure coincidence, I began to meet some of them.
Hey, They’re Just Like Me!
I began to meet some of these wealthy people and got to know them a bit. To my shock, awe, and surprise, I found that most of them were just like me. For the most part they were just regular people who had found something they loved to do, and found a way to make a lot of money doing it.
So what was the difference between them and me? Why could I not be like them? Well, that was a breakthrough in itself. I needed to get over the “outside looking in” mentality and it didn’t take long, especially after I realized how similar I was to “them.”
Next, how could I be like them? Do I quit my job, sell my house, live my passion and pray for the best? Not hardly. As a matter of fact, I found that that wasn’t the blueprint for success the people I came in contact with were using at all.
Most originally had regular jobs like me. They took their idea (or their passion) and developed it and worked at it on the side while maintaining their “regular” jobs.
The Dreaded Leap of Faith
Their only leap of faith came when they knew that maintaining their regular job was impeding the progress of their passion. Their businesses were already bringing them revenue. Sometimes not a whole lot, but usually close to what they were making at their day jobs.
What I didn’t see much of was risky cliff jumping. In other words, diving off the deep end into some uncharted waters with no forethought, preparation, or planning. To the contrary, most had some sort of blueprint mapped out and they were following it step-by-step. It’s always going to be a big decision, but being prepared with some sort of game plan helps to minimize risk and take the fear out of starting your own business full time.
Stop Knocking On Doors and Open One Yourself
So after a while I decided to do what they did – working towards the goal of starting my own business and being financially free. I had no secret formula, but I emulated their game plan as best as I could. My ideas were slightly different and unique, but the path was tried and true. Additionally, there are common characteristics of successful entrepreneurs that I’d like to develop more of in myself.
I haven’t completely gotten there yet, but I’m close. For those already there working for yourself doing what you love, I salute you. For those by my side, keep on keeping on because the goal isn’t as far off as you might think. I truly believe that leaving your day job and being able to work for yourself is simply amazing and definitely worth the effort. For those behind me, have no fear because no longer must you be on the outside looking in. Instead of spending your time knocking on doors, why not go ahead and just open one yourself? There has never been a better time, with a ton of reasons to start your own business now.
I’d love to hear more of your stories about where you are in the process of working for yourself and building wealth. Share in the comments below!