Do You Feel Free… or Trapped?

Do You Feel Free… or Trapped?

When I started my first business, I was nervous but excited. The main word emblazoned in my mind was FREEDOM. Yes, I wanted a solo desk for myself where I could do a better job for candidates and clients than the places I’d experienced before, but I really, really wanted to be free. You know, free from:

  • Long, inane morning meetings
  • Company “team building” activities
  • Creepy recorded phone calls / monitored phone time
  • Sitting in a loud, obnoxious bullpen
  • Vanity metrics
  • Bad sales scripts from 1985
  • Horrible training materials
  • Being dragged along to awkward client visits/lunches
  • Forced volunteerism
  • Doing things because your boss told you that you have to

Looking back, I didn’t really think about what I wanted to create in my business. I had a list of things I felt were wrong with the agencies I’d already been in and it was a bit like, “Well, OK. This stuff is awful. I suppose I’ll do the opposite of those things and see what happens.” And because I believe in being honest in my posts, I’ll also admit to you that I wanted revenge. I was teeming with emotions like disappointment, depression, anger, and a desire for vengeance. “Ha ha! I’ll show them! They’ll all wish they had treated me better. They will rue the day.” The only one doing any day-ruing was me.

Do you feel free or trapped?

In thinking about your own business, how do you feel? Don’t overanalyze it or start back-pedaling. What is the first word that pops into your mind? For me, the word “trapped” was accurate. I set out hoping to find freedom and instead felt like the proverbial coyote willing to gnaw its own leg off to escape. I’d considered the laundry list of poop I wanted to be free from; I had not contemplated what I wanted to be free to do. There is a vast difference and, sadly, I don’t think a lot of trainers go into this type of coaching and development.

Running from or running to?

As I’ve written before: wherever you go, there you are. Assuming that leaving a bad job will automatically change who you are is not gonna happen. That’s not to say we can’t experience things like situational anxiety or depression. Or that we have to knuckle down and stay in a toxic relationship or a frustrating office. My point is that you don’t need to spend your precious time taking everyone else’s inventory and dwelling on the negatives. Starting a business or a new job from a place of spite is kinda like a married couple with a failing relationship deciding that bringing an innocent human life into the world will magically heal all of their problems.

When you first went into business or started the job you currently have, what motivated you? Did you run away from a toxic environment seeking an escape or had you truly ironed out what you wanted to create for yourself and others?

You can have a bad business model even with good intentions.

I know it doesn’t seem fair. It sucks when the bad guy wins and the hero loses. You may look around and think, “How can that crappy company still be in business?” Or “how can that slimeball get new clients?” I understand it’s frustrating. This is something else that I believe is overlooked in many training and coaching programs: it doesn’t do you any favors to focus on what everyone else is doing, good or bad. Some people are excellent on the phone. Others write fantastic emails. Some are best meeting face-to-face. True story: I once had to watch a series of recruiter training DVDs recorded somewhere in Britain in the 1990s. I mostly remember a guy about like Ricky Gervais’ David Brent calling people and saying, “Hey. D’you want a job today, mate?” šŸ‘Ž Anyway, it is your responsibility to determine your own personal style, what you are good at, what you can/should outsource, etc. I spent time talking to other self-employed recruiters thinking I could just emulate what they were doing that seemed to work well for them. I met with “experts” for business advice who didn’t have any relevant experience. I was on a quest for some magic potion that would solve all my problems and I was convinced someone else had it for me. There were elements of my business that worked well and made money for me and others that didn’t. I made some bad business and financial decisions and even though they were made with good intentions, they still didn’t work. So even if you don’t begin with negative emotions swirling around, you can still create a bad business model even with good intentions and noble goals.

Your business also has to work for YOU.

It’s great to help other people and solve problems. But it is not only about everyone else; your business also has to work for YOU. You matter. You are the one getting up every day and working. You are the one raising the capital and/or bootstrapping the business. It is incredibly exhausting and maddening when this entity you’ve created and financed lets you down. When your own business doesn’t work for you, it’s a feeling of being trapped that no one can understand unless they have been there themselves. The freedom you hoped for becomes the worst prison you’ve ever had.

Do you feel trapped? Is your business draining you emotionally and financially? Are you missing the freedom you really wanted? Let’s talk about it.

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