The Easy Place

The Quest for Self Awareness One Moment at a Time

The Wild West of Self Employment

I remember watching the activities of entrepreneurs when I was comfortably employed.   From my know-what-I’m-going-to-do-today, two-paychecks-a-month perspective, they looked crazy.  They seemed to flit from project to project, from idea to idea, and they never seemed to make much money.  They talked about what they were up to next, and glossed over what they’d just done that hadn’t worked out.  It appeared to me that they dragged a string of soggy failures behind every new venture.

I’m now on the other side of that equation, and I get it.  I’ve found that working for myself requires a whole new mindset, a very different one from what was needed as an employee.  I’m learning a kind of agility and a willingness, maybe even an eagerness, to try new things, see what I like, see what works and what doesn’t, and then move on without judgment if it’s not right.  

I talk a lot about failure in my book/blog because it’s the biggest, and hardest, lesson I’ve had to learn since I’ve gone out on my own.  One thing I’ve learned is that failure looks different out here.  In corporate life, failing was something to avoid at all costs, we were punished when we failed, we lost status and compensation.   But here in the wild west of self-employment, if we treat failure as defeat rather than just information, we won’t succeed.  Here, failure is good, it usually contains the knowledge needed for our next step.

When I was learning to be a coach I attended Coaches Training Institute which was co-founded by Henry Kimsey-House.  Henry’s sister Helen was one of my instructors and I asked her how the school got started.   “Well, Henry finally did something that stuck,” she said.  And that’s the secret.  Entrepreneurs are failures until they’re not.  Once they find traction there’s no stopping them.  We look at people like Walt Disney, Vera Wang, and even Steve Jobs as huge successes, but before that they were like the rest of us in the wild west – trying to figure out how to hit it big.  

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3 responses to “The Wild West of Self Employment

  1. De June 15, 2010 at 8:21 am

    So very true but also one must learn that it takes a lot of courage to learn the lesson from the failures and not be afraid to move on.

  2. Dawnika July 12, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    This blog entry- right on.

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