In November 2011 I decided to do something I hadn’t done in 6 years; I took a job to work for someone else. Crazy right? even my friends looked me in the eye and told me flat out “this isn’t you”.
I spent a full month with my wife discussing the pros and cons of taking the job and leaving the business at the hands of my then inexperienced staff. I thought about how I would get some much needed relief from being the person everyone depended on for their livelihood, how I wouldn’t have to think about where the next source of income would come from. I thought I would feel relieved adding a new stream of income to my family – one where I didn’t have to work so hard to keep. Running a company had its pecks but I could do with the break – if nothing else, to get some perspective.
We agreed that it was good for my growth. On the 1st of November 2011 I walked in to an open plan office and was directed towards my cubicle where I would literally become a “gatekeeper” for the department and had to lift my head to acknowledge everyone who walked in to the department and greeted us because I was so close to the entrance.
I dearly missed my own space, my big office where I ruled and reigned like the King that I was. I tried to negotiate a better space with the department administrator but she recited a memo telling me why she was not in a position to assist me. So I was stuck as a gatekeeper.
It was a real out of body experience for me. I almost quit the first few days but forced myself to stick it out for a while to learn all the valuable lessons I needed to learn in order to become a better boss, business leader & team player.
Up until I took the job I thought I was a natural early bird; early to wake up to start work and quick to spring out of bed. I thought I was a morning person and a working machine who could go for 12 hours straight without a break, Berrocca or coffee. I hated public holidays because they meant a wasted day to do more work. I thought money didn’t drive me and I could do more for less as long as I enjoyed what I did. I thought I was a very patient guy who could work with even the laziest of them all.
Then I realized when I took the job that I was just like them all. I dreaded going to work, pulled myself out of bed and literally chased deadlines by their tails. I was tired by 12:30pm and couldn’t stop looking at the watch to go out for lunch. I took short naps during lunch breaks and got home exhausted still. I was a monster in the morning before Berocca or taking a cup of coffee. I highlighted holidays on the calendar and lived for the weekend. I couldn’t wait for payday and memos telling us about half days.
I was reeling in the corporate grind.
I took a long hard glance at myself and realized how far I had stepped out of myself. I had not only lost my way but myself in the process. I started reminiscing about the good old days where I owned my own time and controlled my own destiny. I wanted to get back there as fast as I could.
So one silly day I packed the lessons & corporate experience in my small box – tucked them in nicely alongside my lost hope & quit the job after 8 months; packed my stuff and returned back to what I knew best. The one thing I knew how to maneuver and brought me the greatest return way beyond money. The one thing that once lost can never be recovered…Time.
I remember the first day to my office, after quitting the job felt very unusual. I was driving in town around 10am and the streets were empty. I felt a bit guilty and for a second wondered if I had told my boss, ‘I would be late.’ I laughed at my stupidity as I took a right turn by the traffic lights and headed straight to my Kingdom.
Given a choice again, I choose the business grindstone any day.