Thursday, June 16, 2011

Taking stock (8 months into leaving...)

8 months... It actually seems like a lot more...

I served notice back in January 2010, then left in October. So I think it is fitting that 18 months later, I should give you an update on how things are going for me.

Let me start with the positive: I feel wonderful, and I wake up in the morning with a smile eager to take on the day. As I keep saying: freedom is priceless!

Now for the tough stuff...

Leaving the business had a serious financial toll and as would be expected when leaving a highly-paid position, the mortgage and monthly bills become a "little" to hefty. The thing is, I come from a very rich family, which made leaving all the more difficult. But once I decided to leave, the "rich" (and family) left me. And so we ended up selling our house and moving to a more affordable location.

I spent 6 months job-hunting to find a job that pays me less than half what my family-business-salary was.

On top of this, the families broke apart and we were no longer part of the "business family".

Fun, eh?

I am not trying to get you down here. Really, I'm not. Keep in mind that I started by saying that I couldn't be happier.

The trick? If you let yourself find it, there is always a silver lining:
  • Our new home turned out to be a great step forward in quality of life. We love it for so many reasons.
  • Even though I am earning less, I can't wait to get to work in the mornings. Yes – it's amazingly interesting, but more importantly I get to create real relationships with people (without the "I'm the son of the owner" feelings), and I do work that matters.
  • On a personal level, I have become a better and more relaxed father and husband.

Like everything in life, leaving was a lesson. A lesson in growing up, in becoming more self-worthy, in being a better father and husband and in finding my own way. I can safely say that I'd do it all over again if I had to.

Remember: stay positive, stay focused and look for the silver lining. It's there.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Buddha left the family business...

He was born prince Siddharta: An only son to king Suddhodana, a demanding father and fearless warrior who fought long and hard to keep his kingdom's borders in check.

The other thing Suddhodana fought hard to do, was keep Siddharta in the "business", isolating him from the real world, forcing him to become a warrior-prince and pushing the crown on to him.

But no matter how hard his father tried, Siddharta's calling was stronger, and eventually he gave up his crown and all possessions to become Gautama the monk.

Free at last to follow his calling, he went on to become Buddha, the enlightened one.

This is the story in a nutshell, a teeny tiny nutshell. But it is interesting to look at from our point of view (us leavers): A prince who had it all, yet felt empty and without purpose. A family generously applying guilt, pushing the kingdom (their own dream) on to him. What does he do? He leaves, and following his inner voice he goes on to do great things.

The only question left to ask is: Are you following your inner voice?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

(mis) judging people

When you look at someone (or at a situation) and decide whether he/she/it are good or bad (in basic terms), you are basing your decision on your own personal set of values.

These values have developed in you since childbirth and have been largely effected by your parents, your peers and your own self-developed beliefs. But the key point is that they are yours. Your own.

Sure, we share values like Thou shalt not kill (well, at least most of us do). But the day-to-day values, the ones that decide whether that guy is a 'schmuck' or not, are solely yours. And herein lies the problem.

You see the guy—who you just decided is a schmuck—is working on a whole different set of values: his own. My guess is that they are not identical to yours. So judging him (or her), in most cases, won't get you anywhere good.

Instead of being (mis-)judgmental, try being constructive and positive. Tell yourself a story that fits-in with your value-set, such as: the guy is probably having a really bad day—like I have some times—which is why he is acting that way.

The purpose of this exercise is getting you into a constructive mindset (regardless of the guy's behavior), because in this mindset you are calmer, your fighting instincts have subsided and you are open to opportunity.

In 9 times out of 10, you will find out that the guy isn't really a schmuck, he's just being misjudged.

In Enchantment, Guy Kawasaki talks about accepting others as a way to achieve likability. He sums it up in 4 points:
  • People are not binary
  • Everyone is better than you at something
  • People are more similar than they are different
  • People deserve a break
I think these points go a long way past likability, touching on the basics of human interaction: we all want to be loved, resected and appreciated; approaching people this way (with Guy's advice in mind) will open doors you never knew existed.

Monday, June 6, 2011

It's all about keeping the balance

Life is a pedulum: always swinging back and forth. One moment you're up, the next you're down.

If you think of it this way you'll see that just as the pendulum can't defy gravity and only swing up, so can't life be going in one direction. If you're up now, it'll balance out; if your down, it'll also change.

This doesn't mean that we should stop swinging the pendulum. We might as well be dead.

It means that we need to be ready and/or hopeful: if you are having a great run and everything is working out for you, be ready for the reverse swing.
If you're having a tough time—at work, at home, in life—be hopeful! The reverse swing is coming...

If you try and fight this, you'll only get hit harder. The higher you swing the pendulum, the mightier the swing back will be. Call it equilibrium, call it ying & yang, light & dark; call it whatever you want. The balance—whether you like it or not—will always be kept.

Accepting this will lead to a better life. A life where you enjoy the peaks to the fullest knowing they will end soon, and weathering the downs knowing those too shall pass.

If you are "stuck" in a family business because of guilt or someone else's dream then your life is not balanced. You are pushing the pendulum in one direction, and ignoring that inner-voice that is telling you this, will only push it further until one day it will swing back with all its force and might.

Tell yourself this: If the reverse swing is coming anyway, might as well be today that you decide to swing it back.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Hi there!

So, it's been a while...

I'm sorry. I got caught up in my new job and moving house and everything related to, well, post-family-business stuff...

I'm back and I'll update soon with more takes on life.