About three months ago, I was fine. Everything was going well. Truth be told, it was, has been and still is going well, but that’s not how it felt. I came to several realizations and crossroads that caused me to question whether or not I was on the right course of my life at its midpoint. I hadn’t been on vacation in five years. I hadn’t seen my grandparents in a few years, grandparents who I am fortunate to still have with me this far in. My body began its downward motion physically telling me I could not do the physical work that I had been doing forever since I courageously started my business in 2001. I took action five years ago to change the course of my professional life, but it has been a dead end ever since (I have no desire to pursue it). But I must be doing something right because all is still well despite some feelings getting in the way.
The other day scratched an itch, mustered up some courage, and I went and talked to one of my competitors about the potential opportunities someone like me had if I decided to shut down my business and go to work for a company like his. He graced me with an hour and a half of his time at the end of the day before he left to go to celebrate his son’s 16th birthday. He didn’t miss the party, but he spent that much time with me. That meant a lot and I learned so much.
He reflected on his own younger years in business when he worked by himself, long before being responsible for 28 other warm bodies under his employment. He told me of many struggles and decisions he faced along the way and how he just kept pushing through one day at a time, often as planned though not without a fair share of daily detours and obstacles. He said to me, “Look at where you are now; you must be doing something right.” I continued listening. In answer to the question I asked him above about what opportunities someone like me has, he told me a story of his most recent business ventures and about his most recent employee, someone who was in the same situation I am in, self-employed for nearly 20 years, breaking down, and falling apart. He shared how he scooped him up and put him in charge of part of his operation and told how well he had been doing for his company. Then he told me that over the course of the next year he would be making changes to his company that might require another experienced leader to take some reigns within, someone possibly like me. That was good to hear.
It all started with a little courage, a simple question, and an ear for answers. No promises; none were necessary. Just a connection and a discussion that could lead to possibilities down the road. Between now and then, however, much can change. For now all is well. I took a detour and went to see my grandparents. I took a long-needed vacation away from being in control of business outcomes. Now I am back and everything is proceeding well. I must be doing something right.