Will you hire yourself every day?

To what extent do you believe in yourself? Or maybe the better question is how much do you believe in your calling? 6918903804_50f44c58a8_z

A majority of my friends have employers just like me, I have an employer. Having an employer means we spend most of our work life producing something that meets a collective goal. Some folks work to produce springs in pens and other people work to help us travel. Some people work to create laws and other people work to see lives have transformation.

What I want to ask you today is what does your work produce in you? Not to be confused with what you’re producing at work today. But what actually happens in your spirit while you work? The question is worth answering because if you don’t like what is produced in you through your work there is a solution.

Hire yourself.

“I can’t quit my job.” This was the first thought in your head. I know it was because your brain is hardwired to flee in order to survive. And yes, your job helps you on a daily basis survive but to survive in misery isn’t much of a life either. Right now, right as you read this you need to make the decision to hire yourself. And you’re going to start to moonlight on your current job by sitting in your free time with a pen and paper and asking your new employee (yourself) the following questions:

  1. What do I love to have conversations about?
  2. What do I do naturally that my friends and family have to work really hard at?
  3. When I work on __________________ I experience joy?
  4. What do my friends and family come to me for advice about or need me to help them with?

Congratulations, you officially have a business idea or a new job description. Nothing is going to change today but things might be very different a year from now if you lean forward. Here comes the biggest factor in your work life changing: Would you hire yourself? Any employer knows the critical question in hiring - “Will this potential employee do the work.”  So I ask you - will you do the work?

Will you hire yourself every day? Will you start the job today you want in a year? Will you do the work in your free time? Will you produce something now that can be seen in the future? There’s no pay, there’s no benefits.

Except something new being produced in yourself, something that feels like life.

What’s that worth to you?

How a hobby job might save your calling

By far the best thing I did in the past year and half was start my own business, which was a product of a hobby. And if I were honest I think having something else to work on has protected my calling to my first job. Most employers fear moonlighting and for good reason, one can forsake the responsibilities of their first job to chase opportunity in the second job. An employer could lose money on a wayward employee so most companies and organizations have moonlighting policies to guard against this type of situation.  A "hobby job" is different than moonlighting in my opinion. moonlighting

I know I'm treading on thin ice here, both definitions have the word "job" in them.  But here is the distinction between the two - A second job is something I show up to.  I'm committed to an employer to do work they have assigned me.  Whereas a hobby job is a hobby I have learned to monetize.  I have no formal work commitments nor a physical location I have to spend a certain amount of hours at doing the work.

So why did I start a "hobby job"?

After 11 years in the same role things can get stale. And the bigger issue was not the role but it’s how I’m wired. The Strength Finder 2.0 test identified my strengths in this order: Ideation, connectedness, maximizer, activator, and command. The landscape of non-profit work has drastically changed in the post financial crises era, at least in the midwest it has caused most non-profits to downsize. I started my career in an office of five people in 2000 and after 9/11 have spent over half the time working alone. Not necessarily an atmosphere of idea sharing nor a large amount of connecting with others, at least not working with peers. So for many years there has been a tension inside me that I could never seem to push away. It was this place that I longed for the opportunity to work on creative ideas and solutions while connecting with others.

Out of this place came a consulting business where I help others through creative solutions in communication and story telling. I get excited just typing that. Our relationship to work is similar to our relationships with people. Doing the same thing over and over again in routine can kill our interest in any relationship. But here are four ways I found out having a “work hobby” saved my calling:

  1. I was energized - Getting to work with more people brought energy to my every day. As a person who craved connection, starting new relationships and coaching new people energized me.
  2. It made me focus - Maybe this isn’t true for everyone but having something else helped me manage my time better. I was one of those student athletes who had better grades in season then out of season. Having a limited amount of time pushed me to be better with prioritizing and goal setting. I didn’t want to cheat my full time job because I believe strongly in what we do. I have become a better manager of my daily task list because I want a hard stop on the work day so I have space to be creative towards something else that renews my mind.
  3. Financial gain - Even a little revenue increase is better than nothing. And that has proven true in my case, in my first year of business I didn’t set any revenue records but I did make a little money. Most of the revenue has gone to furthering the business or purchasing tools that help me be more creative, which makes me happy.
  4. It’s kept me balanced - It’s so easy to burnout when you’re really passionate about what you do. In my professional role many burn out because they're passionate and there is a lot of autonomy in the job. For many in non-profit work the office doesn’t close and I know this is true for folks in the business sector as well. It is far to easy to work yourself out of your calling by never ending your work day. Even in my own head the equation doesn’t make much sense:

Full time job + hobby job = balanced work life.

But this has been my experience because at some point I have to turn my brain off on one and work on the other and vice versa.

What do you have that makes you push away from work? What do you have that is challenging you to sharpen your skills? We live in a different time and e-commerce is changing our economy and it’s also changing revenue opportunities for the individual. Can it be possible investing in a profitable hobby will make you better at your current job? I believe it can and it might breathe life into the calling you want to protect instead of hindering it.

What do you think?  Please leave your comments below!

How hating lawn mowing is changing the way I work

  I have a confession.

I hate lawn mowing.  I know, seems petty doesn't it?  The summer is upon us here in Missouri, which means humidity and grass growing like crazy for at least two months.  Mowing weekly is not uncommon until the scorching heat gets here and then those of us without sprinkler systems will watch our yards turn to dust.  I've already mowed my lawn four times this May.  But the last time I was out mowing I began to realize something.

I was angry and uncomfortable.

After 45 minutes of mowing my front yard and then 45 minutes into my backyard I realized I was freaking out.  This is probably killing my lawn cred but it happened.  I realized my shoulders were tight, I was gripping the lawn mower like it was trying to race away from me, AND I was gritting my teeth!  I was also feeling a great deal of anxiety.  What in the world was going on with me!?

That's when it dawned on me: I hate mowing the lawn.  It's repetitive.  Back and forth.  Back and forth.  Same results every time I go out to mow the exact same space.  And you're not going to believe this: The grass grows back.

This realization is a small bit reassuring because it cancels out the chance I'm OCD...on the other hand there's a strong chance I have ADD.  What I have learned is I am not built to do the same thing in the same space every single day.  I'm just not wired that way.  Sometimes you have to give yourself permission to work in the manner your wired and make sure your environment is cohesive as well.  What have you done to change your work environment to make you more effective?

Here are some ways I've learned I work best:

1.  I actually need windows - A bright and airy space helps me relax and focus.  If I'm in a smaller, walled environment it feels like the walls are just getting closer.

2.  My day has parts - I think of my work day as segments.  The first third of the day is for me.  It might be drinking coffee, catching some GMA, playing golf, working out, having a devotional time, working on my business, and blogging.  The first part of the day is all mine.  The second third of my work day is for people.  More often than not this is the time I meet with people.  I rarely eat lunch alone.  The remaining third of my work day is administrative.  This is where I get work admin and communication done.  I often use a great tool to schedule emails through Gmail called Boomerang.  Boomerang has multiple uses but my favorite is it allows me to schedule emails to people.  I use this so my communication is received in what's known as the "First touch" window.  Meaning people are more like to interact with your communication if it is viewed in the window they first check their email instead of it getting buried in their day.

3.  I move around a lot - It's not uncommon for me to move locations anywhere from two to three times a day.  Why?  Because every time I change locations it helps me refocus.  Of course, everyone may not have a job where you can physically change locations but here is a recent inforgraphic that might help you think creatively.


Lawn mowing is changing the way I work.  I have to be aware of my environment as well as the way I structure my day.  Everyone of us needs to find the environment that we can work the best in.  To make the most impact we need to not just work but create and create solutions.  What are you doing to have the best work environment you can?

Groupon is like crack

I'll just come out and say it...I love Groupon.  How could a person not love Groupon?  It's marketing genius!  A company decides to put an item or service on sale for a single day, and in return Groupon advertises that deal on social networks to thousands of subscribed members.  Groupon is like the Home Shopping Network on crack! (And safer.)

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I've realized, however, that Groupon brings out a very negative truth about me.  I don't like to work as hard to get something at its full value.  Think about it, that is why Groupon is so attractive.  I'd be willing to bet that most people buy a Groupon, even though they shouldn't be spending the money, ONLY because they are afraid of paying full value for something.  This same thought process is infiltrating my life in other places, too.  I'm sure it is effecting my work and my leadership.

Are you a "Groupon stlye" leader?  Are you a "Groupon style" worker/employee/student?  Do you go after something only when it requires less work and costs you less? The Groupon strategy is effective at moving a product or service, but less work and less cost will never move people past an obstacle.