Does the world ever seem like a strange place to you? That was my first thought this morning.
It's been eight weeks since I left my corporate job of 16 years to start a company, and the biggest lesson learned thus far is not the one I expected. After spending what seems like a lifetime working for others, I've learned that the hardest job for me right now is learning how to be myself. In previous jobs, I often found myself doing things that weren't "me," and somewhere along the way, I lost sight of myself. I can literally see the mental regression that took place gradually over the years. This realization is especially present now, as an entrepreneur, where I need to express myself and all I can think about is how rusty I am at being me.
Growing up I was encouraged to work hard and apply myself in everything I pursued. And I did it well many times over -- even changing careers several times just to stay on my toes and keep things exciting (see below for just how many jobs I've had). I only wish I could have seen how much of me was being denied in the pursuit of money, career, status, nice things and security. Even though I didn't understand it at the time, I can see how this pursuit was taking a toll on me every step of the way.
All of this makes me wonder why we've allowed our unique qualities and attributes to often be hidden from sight in the work we do. Each of us has a great deal to offer the world, and this specialness is present everyday, just waiting to burst out. Artists, entrepreneurs and other creative people should not be the only ones expressing themselves in inspiring ways by promoting out-of-the-box ideas and unique points of view in the workplace. Unfortunately, this sort of behavior in many jobs is frowned upon, or at least not encouraged.
The most valuable lessons come through experience, and so perhaps that was the only way I could figure it all out. At least now I can encourage my kids to consider many different paths before they get stuck like I did. I can also hope by the time they are ready to start a career, they'll have far more choices to be themselves in all they do. And whether they decide to work for a company or become an entrepreneur, I will be encouraging them along the way to always stay true to themselves and follow their passions.
Part of the reason I'm surprised to learn this lesson now is that since 1999 I have been on a quest to gain mindfulness in all areas of life, and I thought I already figured this stuff out. Alas, it seems this teaching wasn't coming until I finally quit my job.
What started as a meditation practice to help me cope with a family tragedy has evolved into teaching and facilitating mindfulness workshops and retreats, first as a hobby, and now as a business. Because of my experience with mindfulness, combined with working in financial services for 22 years, I knew something wasn't right with how we, personally and as a society, engage with money. And how often money comes to the top of the priority list even though we are searching for something much greater than what money can buy. This awareness led to several conversations and interviews, which led into creating tele-seminars focused on uncovering the limiting beliefs we hold about money, using that knowledge to improve our life and becoming wealthier in the process.
Quitting my job as a financial adviser was especially difficult because I had to change some personal beliefs first. One was believing in myself and my potential as an entrepreneur, which wasn't easy, even though I have several advanced degrees and tons of experience from which to pull. I had to know I was worthy of taking on this role, even if I didn't have all the answers. And now this newly uncovered belief is helping me realize that just because I'm rusty at being myself, doesn't mean it will always be this way.
To be able to teach people how to lead wealthier and more fulfilling lives, I have to figure it out for myself first. Already I can see the greatest wealth comes from knowing who you really are, following your passions and realizing how you fit into the world. I look forward to sharing more ideas for living a wealthier life in future posts.
My jobs over the past 37 years: babysitter, hair salon cleaner, fast food worker, department store attendant, nanny, table busser, casino waitress, blackjack dealer, seamstress, waitress, cocktail waitress, bartender, health club attendant, receptionist, money counting specialist, beer garden waitress, garment cost specialist, assistant clothing designer, clothing designer, house painter, fit model, property and casualty claims adjuster, marketing director, life insurance specialist, direct mail marketer, new business development, credit card program manager, mortgage underwriter, mortgage banker, financial planner and now the absolute best one of all -- me!
I've licensed the editorial rights to the photo by KarenRoach/Bigstock.com.