There’s two things I’m keeping my eye on at the moment. The first holds a morbid fascination, like driving past a car crash, you can’t help look – The Apprentice. The contestants profess to be at the top of their game, top flight business men and women who, if they are to believed, are bursting with the entrepreneurial spirit. The aim of the game is to win a job working for Lord Alan Sugar, the hard-nosed business supremo with a spiky exterior but hidden cuddly side (ok that last bit might be just because he reminds me of my Dad – it’s the beard!).
Like true car-crash tv you squirm with discomfort while watching some of their appallingly bad behaviour, the manipulation, back-stabbing, bitching and bold-faced lying laid out for all to see on widescreen in your living room. I’m sure I’m not alone in finding myself shouting at the telly as they roll from one bad decision to another – like a back seat driver it’s always so much easier to make the right decision from the comfort of the couch! But, when I sit back and think about what these people are actually doing I’m always astounded. Quite a few of them come from a background of running their own business and yet they are humiliating themselves on national television with the aim of working for a large corporation. Maybe it’s just me but…….why? Why give up the autonomy of running your own business to “go and work for the man”?
I guess for them the answer to that might be that they do it for the status, for the money, for the prestige of being able to say they won a sought after position. I think my younger self would have completely understood this view, coming from a family where my parents worked really hard to give my sister and I the opportunities that they didn’t have it gets hardwired in to you. You must study hard, you must work hard to get the right job, a career, work your way up, be successful etc etc. I did all that, I got my degree, I worked my way up in the financial sector, I went in early, I came home late, I was successful……I was miserable. After eight years I had, what the wonderful Pam Slim calls, my “Jerry Maguire moment” – I grabbed those Goldfish and I walked!
I took some time out and I went travelling. I didn’t go away to “find myself”, I went away to challenge myself, to take a step away from the rut I was stuck in. I took jobs I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing, I forced myself to be more outgoing, to speak to people, to make friends. I came back to Scotland and I started again from scratch, with nothing. Friends helped me out with a place to stay and I worked a few different jobs until I got one in the voluntary sector. My priorities have changed so much since I was a young graduate, I don’t work for the money or the status, I work because I believe in what I do and I enjoy it. I learn new things every day and I’m storing them up for the day when I take the final step and work for myself. When that happens I hope I’ll make enough money to feed myself, put a roof over my head, but I won’t be doing it to get rich, I’ll be doing it because I love it, and because it’s worthwhile and it makes me and others happy in some small way.
This leads me to the second thing I’m keeping an eye on at the moment. It’s infinitely more interesting and more inspiring than car-crash telly. I’d go as far as to say that it is the antithesis of The Apprentice. It is Rise of The Cubicle Farmer, a journey being undertaken by a small group of entrepreneurs from NYC who run a company called The LAC Project. They’re driving across the US and stopping off to talk to small businesses and entrepreneurs to find out what makes them tick, and share their stories. These guys, unlike me, have all taken the leap and are running successful small, or not so small, businesses which use social media and cool cloud technology along with a massive helping of innovation and passion to make them work. Rise of the Cubicle Farmer is documenting this journey using their blog, youtube, vimeo, twitter and facebook so if like me you dream of one day running your own business you should take a look, I guarantee you’ll pick up some good tips.
Or, maybe you stumbled on this blog by mistake and your reading while shaking your head and thinking that not everybody can do a job they love, you just have to get on with it – I still hear that voice, most often when I talk to my folks – well, you should definitely go have a look.
Sometimes when the voices of so-called reason keep telling us to keep our nose to the grindstone and keep pushing, you miss the chance to do or be something great because you’re looking at your feet. If somebody is calling your name and wanting to share their story with you, look up! You might just catch that little ray of light peeping over the horizon that can allow you to change your life for the better. Right now I’m envying the entrepreneur, but I’m walking on the right path to one day be the entrpreneur and while I’m walking I’m keeping my eyes wide open and taking in the view.
Photo credit: royalconstantinesociety