Confessions of a ‘Job Creator’
Am I ALL-IN, or did I create a JOB for myself?
You see, I had a bit of a fairly unique business owners’ problem. I was never all-in. A consultant who helped us out of a pickle about 3 years ago helped me clarify why I was in business. I created a job for myself. Most business owners who struggle with their business and leadership and team development, according to this consultant, are “all-in”. But if there are issues, it might stem from the fact that they are ‘ALL-IN’ for the wrong reasons. Those reasons could be legion. Maybe the leader has selfish ambition, or the leader struggles being primarily profit-motivated, or a number of other ills. I never really had any of those or other motivations, mine was much less creative or ambitious. I created a job for myself.
You see, my previous three employers hadn’t, well…done that very well. My longest tenure was shy of 4 years. I endured one down-size, one bankruptcy and one office relocation (to Indiana – while not a bad place, it wasn’t a good time for us. We were expecting our first child, just bought a house, and well, we had already been smitten by a love for Troy). These three job failures together had me considering how I could do this employment thing better on my own, thank you very much. The emotional roller coaster knowing there wasn’t any job security in this field (at the time), as well as coming to grips with gone were the days of finding a job for life, had me looking to see if I could create job security another way. That’s how Groff NetWorks was born. I created a job for myself.
A new friend of mine helped clarify a different posture. Owner of multiple businesses, he said, “I don’t want a job. I don’t want to have to work if I don’t have to – I want to be able to gather the resources to do what I want to do–without needing to work.” Now there is a motivation to build profitable investments and businesses that pay him for not working, or working very little. It’s an interesting counter-point to my original “create myself a job” task. And maybe I had never known that this was even possible, or desirable – doesn’t everyone tell you to find something you are passionate about and the money will follow? Of course, that advice often doesn’t have a solid suggestion to how that works in practicality. The examples I was always given seemed to be rarities. I would much rather find the passion in what my hand finds me doing and then uncover how that fits into the greater good.
So the challenge of creating a more successful job for myself was quickly met (officially by about 2009, when Groff NetWorks turned 4 –4 years of employment! Ha!). However, my growing interest in creating a great business made my life interesting. The cognitive dissonance, between wanting a job and a great business, was felt by many of my peers whenever I was struggling in business. During peer reviews they would try to figure out why I didn’t really care whether the business was growing or becoming more profitable. Sure I had this growing desire for better, but I didn’t seem to care if we got there. This is a huge problem when accountability meant finding the passion in something that, in the end, only needed to be good enough. A job only needed to create a certain amount of income. Making the business, not just my job, bigger or better actually challenged this create a job posture.
So now what? Moving from good enough to wanting to create one of the best companies was a hard tension to live in. Then moving to make this THE best Managed Services company in the region, involved a decision. And that decision finally happened for me a year ago.
Of course creating ‘a job’ business and then hiring people into that business culture involved averting accountability. I reflect on the challenge of growing accountability in this context in a previous blog article (link here)
But that comes out of the result of another important aspect of being all-in. “All In” as a business decision means for me now: a much clearer vision, meaningful company goals, accountability (see link here for a separate post on that), more motivated staff. But what’s been most important for me – was purpose and meaning and how it felt. I have a reason to be alive. I didn’t even understand it at first, but it was empowering. This posture at its core, provides the motivation to overcome all other obstacles – even when I slip back into old habits – it helps get me back up and get at it once I realize that.
In the words of one of my mentors: “Let’s Go People”