I lost a friend to sudden death in the last number of weeks and it has caused me to be introspective about life, work, the future, and why we seem to do the things we do to make a living. Years ago, I made a decision that I want to share with you it’s this; that if you hate what you are doing, or have a dream that you want to pursue but are afraid to do it, stop now and chase that dream because you are not getting any younger.
Now I’m not advocating that you walk away from a good job you actually enjoy in search of satisfaction by selling Pizza in a Cup, and I would generally discourage you from joining the circus, and I’m not pitching you on dropping it all to head to NFL tryouts in August. Because the truth be told, you were not THAT good of a player in High School, and there are not many chances for 40 something people to break into the pros.
What I do want you to think about is this, “Do you REALLY like what you are doing?” Do you wake up Monday morning knowing the frustrations of the week will be worth it? I do, and I want to share a little about why I do, and give you a glimpse into what we at DCIG think about jobs, work, and why we “do what we do.”
To start off I will give you my story of the search for job satisfaction. I did the whole chase the paycheck game in sales before job hopping every few years growing my resume and trying to swell my checkbook.
I flew all over the country to meetings, corporate strategy summits, went on sales calls with my sales staff, took people out to Broadway Shows, baseball games, golfing, even a curling match once, and generally traveled anywhere required to close a deal. The following Monday, I got up grudgingly and did it all again not really sure if I was satisfied in doing that job but doing it because I thought it was what I was supposed to be doing.
I think that I just thought people expected it of me. Earn a ton of dough, and people will respect you. Wear expensive clothes, talk about how busy you are, and people will want to be like you. Know how to navigate every airport from memory, reach diamond status on an airline, and learn how to hail a cab in 20 languages and certainly you will be elevated to “Rock Star” status by your kids and neighbors.
Wrong! Nobody cares really. Your kids want you home. Your spouse would like to wake up next to you not an empty half of the bed. Your neighbors might actually like you if they get a chance to know you if you are home. I learned that lesson once I got some perspective on why we “do” for work what we “do”.
I used to run sales divisions for some big companies, with big and lofty goals each year, and increasing pressure every month end, quarter end, and year end, and I have to say that honestly…it sucked! I don’t mind pressure, in fact, I sort of like it, but the pressure they created was unhealthy and not worth the effort and not worth the” gigantic” paycheck really.
I realized one afternoon on a lake with one of my 6 kids that my job is to instill into them a sense of faith and values, a solid of work ethic, a drive to succeed, but never at the expense of the people who I am working to provide for. So, I took a step back, and made some changes.
Now I can tell you that I love what I do here at DCIG, I love talking to you about bringing value to your organization, helping position your company through our analysis into a more viable market leader, delivering fantastic products, all from my basement office.
I get to hear my kids upstairs during the day. I get to have lunch with them and see them when they deliver the mail. I get to wander upstairs and see my wife anytime I want, all while “working.”
In taking a step back, I also found that I had time to pursue a lifelong dream of running for elected office, and now I am the Mayor of the city I live in after having also run for and winning a City Council race. I get to leave during the day to read to 3rd graders, go on field trips, attend meetings with citizens, cook dinner for my family, run an errand for my wife, fish on the spur of the moment, and I think that is just about the best thing a guy could ask for.
I may have missed all of this if I had continued to climb the ladder to the point where I was an old man who missed out on his life or worse yet, died suddenly like my friend. Because here is another piece of truth for you….we have no idea when our time is up. You could die tomorrow, or in 50 years you have no idea, so you may as well enjoy what you are doing while you are here.
All of us at DCIG do what we do having learned that the corporate world is great, and the “right place” for many, but I am happier here and wake up looking forward to being productive and valuable but without the drama.
I was talking to Jerome Wendt our President one day about this very thing, and he echoed the same thought, we enjoy what we do, work out tails off for our clients, and then go have fun with our families, friends, and get up the next day ready to do it again…with a smile on our faces.
I encourage you with the admonition to ask yourself are you doing what you really love. Will you wake up Monday looking forward to the day? Will you look back 20 years from now kicking yourself for not trying to start your own company, invent the next “great thing”, run for office, or just chase a dream? Life is short, we are just a vapor here for a little while and then disappear quickly, make the most of your time.
Take a look at this short film, this guy went to school to be a writer, and wound up making high end knives….Joel Bukiewicz chased his dream, and became satisfied I think. I appreciated his story, and hope you do too. He enjoys what he does, works hard, but has found what he enjoys and that is a great message.
I spoke to my friend Chris just a day or so before he died, he was sort of a political mentor to me, and I was weighed down over a pending decision. He told me “Jim, you have to enjoy what you are doing or the machine will eat you up! Don’t stress out, have fun!“, he was so right. Thank you Chris!