“I’m going to start a coaching business,” I said to my wife Angie after a period of looking for another executive position after my most recent termination.
“A what kind of business?” Angie said, almost laughing. “So we’re just going to lose everything because you can’t find a job?”
Although Angie initially had trouble believing in my dream to build a coaching business, the only thing I ever enjoyed in my almost 20 years in a corporate environment was coaching and developing people and teams. The rest of my responsibilities were just activities that I felt I needed to endure in order to continue doing what I loved—coaching. I could spot talent and develop people with the best of them.
I grew up professionally in the high-tech world leading and managing teams. I worked for Tektronix, Inc., a Fortune 500 company, who was bought by Danaher Corp, another Fortune 500 company. Together I worked for those two companies for 13 years in ascending roles. I was recruited to manage a $65MM plant for Stanley, Black, & Decker in Portland, Oregon, and three years later I was recruited to an Operations Manager position for a $350MM energy company named SunCoke Energy as the second in command. The plant was basically mine, while the General Manager managed our relationship with the corporate office.
Twenty months after I began working for SunCoke I was looking for another position as my health and home life began to take a nosedive. I was hired to run a small firearms factory in downtown St. Louis, and that position lasted 15 months as my health and home life continued to spiral.
I was basically unemployable, and I finished second in many interviews. I had no other choice but to embark on a new chapter. Inside, I was excited because I had always wanted to work for myself and start a business. But I met with resistance from Angie. She was scared. My kids were scared. I was scared.
Materially we had built an above-average quality of life, and none of us wanted to lose that. I had worked my ass off and sacrificed myself to create a materially comfortable life. Now it was all in jeopardy. Of course we were scared.
I had confidence that I could learn how to start a business. At this point I had no options, so there was really nothing to lose. But Angie thought that by applying more guilt and shame to me she could eventually bully me back into finding another job to satisfy her materially comfortable life.
“I’m done looking for a job, Angie,” I said, as I continued to study and learn new concepts in order to enrich my own life so that I could enrich the lives of others. Angie continued to challenge me, not because she was a bad person—she loves me infinitely—but because she was scared of the unknown and had grown up with drug-addicted parents. She had nothing, and she and her sisters had to steal food to live. They also moved from one abandoned building to the next while her parents searched for their next fix.
Angie was just acting from fear when she tried to manipulate and control me. She felt helpless and just wanted the familiar life we knew for our 17 years together. I was committed to building a business, and she just didn’t believe in me because she had never been exposed to the entrepreneurial life before this point.
“I got hired to perform a workshop today,” I said when I was hired for the first time on my own. This was the very first time in my life that someone paid me directly for a service. It was awkward and definitely took some getting used to. The unfamiliar was uncomfortable, but the uncomfortable would soon become comfortable. From the workshop I signed two 1-on-1 coaching clients, and from there my business took off. That year, I made about $32,000 coaching, and my first full year in business I crossed double-six-figures, and I surpassed anything I made in a corporate setting. Two years after I decided to begin a coaching business, despite Angie’s protest, I had a full-fledged coaching and consulting business. The business continues to grow today.
Ultimately we know the life we want to live. We know how we want to show up. I experienced it first-hand, and I see it everywhere; people sacrifice their own vision and the life they want to live for the life others want them to live—and they continue to die inside, little at a time.
At some point, despite the protests of family and friends, you just might want to consider stepping out and beginning to live your life for you. Most people I encounter—especially those I coach, have led shrunken lives to this point. They reach a point, sooner or later, when they are ready to hit the reset button and start over. The materials and wealth we think will make us happy can only provide experiences, not happiness.
Happiness comes from living life on your terms, not according to someone else’s agenda for you. You have gifts and talents that you want to fully express in the world, and your soul will not stop dying until you do. And when you do finally express all of yourself—when you live soul-out in the world—you’ll finally experience the happiness and freedom you always thought that you’d find in sacrificing yourself for the life that others wanted you to live. Then you’ll begin to live.
This morning, Angie and I had a call with our coaches and staff for The Misfit Soul, the coaching community we are building. Later I had a phone call and I signed a new private client. While I was sitting at my kitchen table finishing up paperwork and processing the new member of my coaching family, Angie was on the phone with our marketing team. When she got off of the phone with the team of people who are helping us grow our business she went back to planning the launch party of my first book The Imposter In Charge (Stonebrook Publishing), which will be released on October 22, 2019.
We are business partners. When we started this journey she was scared to death of the idea of starting a business. We both were—but I believed. A few years later, we’ve started two businesses, live the life of our dreams, and I’m still unemployable. There’s no way I could ever work for anyone again. I’ve found true freedom. And part of that freedom is to sit across from my amazing life and business partner building new ways to make a bigger difference in the world.
All it took was me knowing that the only way I could be happy was to live the life of my dreams without allowing the judgement or fear of others to impact my decisions. Because I live life my way and allow everyone to do the same—then we all get the ability to find our own true north.
Only you know what’s best for you. Do that.