In my 20’s I heard someone say that a job was a temporary inconvenience until you find out what type of business you want to own and run yourself. That sort of stayed with me into my 30’s.
After bouncing around with a few companies I realized that I had a real passion for the telecommunications vertical. I really enjoyed sitting down with a business owner or CIO and finding out what they liked and disliked about their voice, data, and WAN services. I was successful in my job(s) and found that I was good helping customers with this part of their business. I have many friends that are very successful in their jobs working for someone else – if that’s you, that’s great. Just don’t cheat yourself doing something you don’t love and have a passion for. After 6 years with the same company and about 12 years in the industry I almost got stuck, but something really crazy happened.
Sometimes when crazy things happen we all see the “short-term” crazy, not the long term crazy that an event might cause. I had a headache – a really bad headache. It was a Friday afternoon and my primary care doctor had already given me migraine medicine that did nothing – the headache was worse when I left his office. Three hours later the emergency room doctor said, “I think we should do a cat scan and see what’s going on”.
At that point the little lady and I pretty much broke down thinking about all the possible things that might be causing my pain. I did what every responsible individual would do at that point – I called my boss and left her a lengthy voice mail explaining that she might not see me again – ever. Once they identified that I had a tumor in the third ventricle of my brain the surgeon asked if I wanted a scar that looked like a giant Band-Aid across the center of my head, or a clean cut from one ear to the other. Thanks Doc!
3 months later the headache and tumor were gone and I had recovered enough to go back to work. Although I was physically prepared to go back into the workplace, I wasn’t ready emotionally.
In the world of sales the beautiful people (usually) win. The really hard working, not so young and not so attractive people can make a living at sales, but it’s not always easy. It’s kind of like being a stripper. If you don’t have the goods maybe you should be working in the back! Thankfully in my industry we’re usually working with smart people that value knowledge and expertise above just good looks.
Because I’m folically challenged there was no way to hide the fact that I had just been under the knife. I was tested on a regular basis by the customers that I supported – some did millions of dollars worth of business with my company. Although I had supported some of these customers for 2-3 years, they wondered whether I could still do the job.
It was tough having to regain everyone’s trust, but I worked harder than I ever had. When I used to prep an hour for appointments before my surgery, now I was prepping 3-4 hours for each appointment. I had to prove that I was good and could be trusted as an expert in the Telecom space. Before, I spent a day or two pulling together an RFP response, now I spent two to three weeks to make sure things were perfect. It took a while, but I grew more confident in my ability, grew my revenue base and was less focused on my good looks (LOL).
To this day my closest friends and family tell me that since my surgery everything about me is the same, but I’m a bit more serious; YOU THINK? Now that I was back in the saddle, I had a different set of priorities. I had been given a slap across my face. I woke up from the 8-6 daily grind where I had spent the last 15 years.
I knew I wanted to control my own time, and my own destiny. You see, when you come really close to having everything taken away, you cherish life more and you cherish your role in this world more. After a year of planning, on June 19th, 2006 I opened Cottonwood Communications, a telecom consulting agency. Today business is great and I look back at my surgery as a blessing, not a curse.
Everyone knows the story of Lance Armstrong. Pretty incredible what that guy did, and what he continues to do. Have you ever heard of Sean Swarner? www.seanswarner.com. Sean is the first cancer survivor to climb Mt. Everest and be able to talk about it; He did it with one lung. Like them, I wish that I never had to go through the tough times that my health caused, but I’m happy with the final outcome. I tell my friends that Lance had it easy – he has hair to cover up his scar!
Hopefully you don’t need a major health issue to snap you out of the daily grind – hopefully you’ll come to your senses in a non-surgical way and find that passion that is inside of you. That passion to do the thing you love in life, and somehow get paid for it. Don’t you think this is what all of us are here to do?
Ultimately you’ll be doing the best for yourself, your family, and the planet when you find out what that “thing” is.
What events have shaped you and your desire to live an “untemplater” life?