Ten Years Ago Today I Quit My Job!

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Ten years ago today I did one of the most courageous things I’ve ever done, I quit my job. It was a good job. I was a Global Web Strategist for the worlds largest telecommunications company.

I was making a good six-figure income. I worked from home when I wanted. My clients loved me. They called me their “Web Guru.” And while everyone else was getting laid off on “Lay-Off Thursdays” I had several job offers on the table from other parts of the company.

The only problem was that… it was killing me. It was killing my soul. I hated that job, the impossible deadlines, the competition, the egos, the meaningless conference calls, VPs that didn’t get it, needing to constantly manage my bosses... But really it came down to the fact that I wasn’t inspired or aligned with the product I was creating or the mission of the company. More importantly, although I was really good at what I was doing, it wasn’t anywhere near my sweet spot or my brilliance. I was spending my precious life energy not really getting anything important done and not bringing the best of myself. I was getting paid to be mediocre!

A year earlier I had done enough of my healing and personal growth work that I gave myself permission to say what I truly wanted, which was to become a Life Coach. It was a huge moment for me. When I uttered my desire, my coach at the time got up and did a dance! She said, “I’ve been waiting for you to say that!” A week later I was enrolled in a coaching training program. When I completed the training I was ready to take the big leap to launch a coaching business.

But I was truly terrified to leave the safety of my corporate mommy and daddy. In fact, one evening I tried to tell my friends that I was going to quit but instead I said, that I was going to "take that marketing job" that I'd been offered. I was so completely, to my core, terrified to leave that job that I couldn't get my mouth to say I was going to quit.

All the fears came up… safety and security. Can I do it? At least I’m safe here. Isn’t the known misery better than the possible failure? Who am I to quit? Who am I to be a coach? Why don’t I just wait to get laid off like everyone else? (That’s what my colleagues would later say anyway.)

Even though I had two careers under my belt, done my Master’s work in Organizational Development and was certified as a coach I was still scared. I still had so much doubt.

But even with all that fear, I knew deep down that I had to quit. I had to let go. I had to say, “yes” to what I knew was my calling, my next step. The pain pushed me out the door while the vision gently pulled at my heart.

I quit my job on September 7th, 2007. The subject of my goodbye letter was, "Quitting My Job to Follow My Dreams!"

And that’s what I’ve been doing, following my dreams. I stopped settling for being mediocre. For the past ten years I’ve continually strived to create what is uniquely mine to offer. It has been a hell of a journey.

That’s why this 10th Anniversary is so important to me. I’m going to be celebrating by sharing as much as I possibly can about what I’ve learned. I’m going to share everything that I wish someone had shared with me. I’ll share my most important lessons. I’ll share the mistakes I’ve made. Most importantly I’m going to share what I’ve created.

So, stay tuned and get ready to join me on this ride. I know you will really love and benefit from it.

Love,
Michael

Sitting On A Volcano

Are you sitting on a volcano of passion, desire and expression? 

That’s what it felt like to me for years, this intense energy wanting to be released. And you know what? I used all my energy to keep it in. I was afraid to express it. I didn’t trust that my desires were acceptable. I was afraid of what would happen when I let it all out. Would I embarrass myself? Would I be out of control?

And you know what happens when you use all your energy to keep all that in? Depression, discouragement, anxiety, anger/rage, despair, hopelessness and on and on…

 And you don’t bring your very best to your business and your clients. 

Years ago my therapist said that depression is misnamed. It should be called compression. We are using our energy to compress what wants to be expressed. We shut down because of all the energy we are expending to stay in control. We wear ourselves out managing keeping in the energy that wants to be expressed. It feels like sitting on a volcano.

Maybe your lava is flowing. You are out there in the world doing your thing. And I still ask, “Are you sitting on a volcano?” 

What needs, gifts, talents, desire, and values are still not being expressed?

What amazing Superpower are you just using a little? What gifts or talents have you deemed too unworthy or weird to really own and express? What is the world not getting because you’re holding it back?

When you sit on all that energy, talent and power the world misses it. There are people who are not being served by you right now that NEED you.

Yes, it may feel scary, you might not know exactly how to do it but you know that the alternative is far worse. The alternative it to keep it bottled up, to keep the cork in it. This is the path of living in Smallville. It's the path of regret and dissatisfaction. And THAT'S NOT YOU and you know it.

The Modern Day Martyr

It breaks my heart that so many talented, brilliant caring people giving themselves away, are suffering, living in scarcity and burning themselves out!

The traditional martyr is a person who suffers endlessly or is killed for their religious beliefs.

I work with mission-driven entrepreneurs, do-gooders - your work is an expression of your vision for the world; you are someone who is working to serve, heal, transform, create peace and wholeness. This type of endeavor comes with many perks (feeling good about what you do, enjoying your work, feeling on purpose) but it also has its pitfalls and drawbacks.

One is to martyr yourself to your mission - The modern-day martyr is someone who sacrifices their sustainability for the sake of their mission; someone who puts their mission ahead of their own well-being.

You may not know that I martyred myself to my first career. I was an environmental activist for ten years. I ran campaigns for clean water, clean air, toxic waste reduction and recycling all over the country. I was nationally known and respected for my work. However, there was only my work. A regular work-week was 80 hours and often much more. And, no surprise, I was paid very little for my work. When I left I was completely burned out. There wasn’t much of me left. Not only did I suffer but so did my cause, the mission to which I had dedicated myself. I was no longer able to carry on that mission.

I see a similar martyrdom in my clients and colleagues. I see my clients undercharging. I see you giving your services away. I see you working so hard and wondering if you will be able to stay in business or working so hard for so little that you need to work even harder. Or sometimes you just work yourself to exhaustion because so many people need you. These are all symptoms of the martyr syndrome. My stand is that the martyr syndrome must end! Will you take that stand with me?

There are two roots of the martyr syndrome:

1.   Not understanding your true value

2.   Believing that your service and mission are more important than your own well-being

These roots stem from our historical spiritual context and the notion that service to others is to be given without compensation. Every religion has a form of the Sanskrit word Seva, selfless service, a service which is performed without any expectation of result or award for the person performing it. Selfless service has its place. It is a beautiful gift. But do not mistake your business or your life for an act of selfless service. (Unless that is what you are choosing.)

Often when I’m working with a client on this issue what comes up is that if they charge what they are worth they will become, or even worse appear, to be a mercenary, someone motivated solely by a desire for monetary or material gain. What happens is that they are so afraid of appearing to be a mercenary they perpetuate being a martyr.

I propose a new relationship to this martyr/mercenary no-person’s land. I’d like to propose that the service you provide is priceless. It is critical to your clients and to the uplifting of humanity. I’d like to propose that what you have to offer when compared to many of the things people spend money on is significantly more valuable. You provide health, mental well-being, a sense of purpose, relief from pain, relief from stress and worry, connection to the divine, and the list goes on.

I challenge you to claim your true value. I challenge you to hold your gifts as precious. You don’t see Apple giving away iPads. They don’t say, “People really need them but probably can’t afford them. So, let’s give them away.” No, they charge a premium because they know that their product is that good.

How about you? Isn’t what you have to offer way better and more valuable than an iPad? Isn’t it time to stop giving it away or discounting it? Because when you give your services away you give yourself away. Isn’t it time to start charging it’s true value? I challenge you to believe in yourself.

Next I want to propose that your sustainability and prosperity is the most important part of your mission. The more of you there is, the more of your gifts you get to give to the world. A tired, worried about money, harried, frazzled, wondering if you will be able to do your work for the long haul version of you isn’t going to have the impact that’s possible. I’ve been there. I know first hand.

When you value your personal sustainability and prosperity over your mission the craziest thing happens… your ability to serve your mission grows. I challenge you to put your own well-being, health and prosperity before your mission’s and watch your impact take off.

Smallville

Did you know that Superman grew up in Smallville? Yeah, and his parents told him that he should never leave. They told him, “Your powers are dangerous. You will hurt people. You will be hated and feared for your powers. You and your friends and family will not be safe and targets of ridicule and potential violence. Stay here in Smallville where it's safe!”

Of course he couldn’t do it. He knew his powers were to be used for good. So he left Smallville and became Superman. And the rest is history. (Okay, I know it’s not history because Superman is a fictional character but you know what I mean.)

What’s your version of Smallville?

When you stay in Smallville you are trading safety for the life that is actually possible for you. Some people call Smallville your comfort zone. I hate that term because it’s not comfortable at all! It’s full of despair, hopelessness, anxiety, fear and discouragement. It’s a place of chronic dissatisfaction.

And no matter how big you are already playing you can still see how it's small for you. It’s the place where you are still settling. It’s the place you are still choosing the familiar over what you truly want or have to offer.

Smallville is the land of the familiar... familiar thoughts, feelings, activities, relationships, levels of success. It's a way of being that you've become used to but not really the life that you want.

To leave your Smallville you need to get uncomfortable. Even more so you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable! And as you know that discomfort is so much more rewarding and much easier to handle than you imagined. In fact, it's exhilarating!

And if you are here to make a difference you absolutely must leave Smallville! If you are going to serve your clients to the best of your ability you must leave Smallville. If you are going to share your unique gifts, point of view, medicine, wild crazy, boat rocking, life changing self with the world YOU MUST LEAVE SMALLVILLE!

Are you ready?