A Different Kind of Life
While searching for an ideal career I began stumbling upon people who seemed to find their sense of fit after becoming entrepreneurs with a social or creative focus. Following their lead, I discovered my passion centred around helping others find theirs. I had experienced all levels of job satisfaction and upon finding my niche I became of the same mind of Buckminster Fuller when he said, “The Minute you Begin To Do What You Really Want To Do, It's Really A Different Kind of Life.”
Self-Employment over Employment
Working for someone else suits certain people.
Sometimes it even delivers a high level of job satisfaction. Although they are a rarity, progressive employers do exist. Take the example of Pixar who wants to see their workers fulfilled just as much as they want their company to succeed. In his book, Creativity Inc, Pixar president Ed Catmull reveals the company’s atypical approach. “We start from the presumption that our people are talented and want to contribute. We accept that, without meaning to, our company is stifling that talent in myriad unseen ways. Finally, we try to identify those impediments and fix them.”
The alignment between suitability to standard employment and working for an enlightened employer do marry up at times but for most people, this isn’t the case.
The consultancy firm Deloitte report that 1 in 5 people are engaged in their work, the activity they spend most of their lives doing. Taking into account that half of those who report being engaged are self-employed, only 10% of employed people are engaged in their jobs.
Imagine the creative potential and social change that would occur if the genius of that other 90% was unlocked?
The level of engagement or passion we feel toward our job should always be our core consideration when it comes to our work. Ultimately, however, financial compensation is also important. No matter how much we may adore what we do for work, if we have to do it 80 hours a week to survive we are going to burn out. Passion and practicality is the goal.
Population growth, globalisation, increasing mechanisation and bottom line driven economies are just a few reasons that wage growth has been flat for so many years now, with little change in sight.
While visiting New Zealand I read a business report, which stated that the number of people in permanent employment remained flat that year, while the figures for self-employment had doubled.
While an employee might love their work, many feel stifled by having to fulfill the dictates of a boss rather than freely choose where to direct their energy.
In an article posted on News.com.au (14.8.2014), it was claimed that around 40% of Americans either work independently or have worked independently. It went on to say that this would increase to 50% by 2020. MBO Partners is an American company that offers management services for independent professionals. In September 2012 they carried out a survey of independent workers and found that 71% were highly satisfied with their jobs - a significantly higher proportion than employed workers (around 20%). The survey revealed the key motivator for becoming independent was to “Do what I love.”
A Real World Example
After meeting Mark, a popular New Zealand children’s author, I became curious about his journey to find work he loves doing. Being creative by nature he worked his way into a graphic designer role that expressed his artistic side. While he enjoyed the work he quickly realised that he was using his gifts to fulfill other people’s dreams rather than his own. This prompted him and his wife to break out and publish their own books. While they have never looked back, it has been a gutsy and arduous journey.
Taking a Methodical Approach
After meeting It is true that the first step is the hardest. Entertaining the vision that he could make a living pursuing his own creative projects was a critical first step. But then came the hard grind of actualising it.
He wrote the words to a children’s book, which his wife illustrated and they found a publisher. Although it became a top-selling book the nature of the publishing industry left them with the financial crumbs after everyone else took their piece of the action.
Marks crossroads moment was whether or not to self-publish. Using a publisher had led to success just not financial benefit. He must have considered just plugging on and hoping things improved. But he had the foresight to realise that there was something really amiss in the existing paradigm and decided to raise the stakes.
After buying back the rights to his first book he sourced an overseas printer, which would make it profitable for him to sell his own books.
Replacing the middleman, he negotiated with bookstores and did all the grunt work in terms of warehousing stock, posting orders and the whole gamut of invoicing and associated paperwork.
On the weekends he would set up a market stall leveraging off the fact that he lived in an area that had a large influx of tourists each weekend. After all, who could be more passionate about promoting a book than the author who lovingly produced it?
Like most enterprises, the return on effort was less than stellar to start with but over time momentum built. Networking and seeking out avenues to showcase his work locally and abroad also helped.
In addition to the creative satisfaction of producing new books, Mark travels with his wife and son to promote their work and share their passion. Recently they began touring their homeland of New Zealand in a purpose-built motorhome. Atop of increasing book sales, they receive steadily growing royalties from having their books in the library network.
Not Settling for Ho-hum
We tend to be rather conservative and conformist by nature. A report on corporate behavior done a few years ago found that only 3% of 35 000 employees reported a high level of self-governing behaviour (being independent, autonomous etc) in their companies.
Rather than peering up the hierarchy of human needs we are more prone to looking back to see how far we might fall. Compared to many jobs that creatively minded people might find themselves doing, freelance graphic design must have been pretty rewarding. If Mark’s gamble on book publishing hadn’t paid off it is likely he would have regretted his decision to leave his job.
Thankfully he chose to avoid one of the top 5 regrets of the dying (I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me). As Mark says:
“You could say we are just a couple of dreamers - happy to be doing something that floats our boat.”
T.S Eliot famously pointed out that Between the idea and the reality. Between the conception and the creation. Falls the Shadow.
Having a vision and imagining grander possibilities for your life can be life changing but only when grounded in the practical aspects needed to achieve it. Our Birth Your Business program is designed to help with both the imagining of possibilities phase as well as step by step practicalities involved to see you transition into self-employment.
The following article link about Marks adventure captures the sense of courage needed to forge your own path, while his short video epitomises how rich life becomes when you strive to do what you really love.
Some people have an iron will and others a fortuitous time of it but for most of us, we need support and guidance to realise our creative dreams and build a life of our own making.
Take a look at our Birth Your Business program and consider taking a Write of Passage that may reshape your future.