For the past 32 years, I have owned and operated my own company. I have come to understand how business works. It really all boils down to one simple fact of economics: If your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep will be your downfall! In other words, you must stay focused on generating profits, paying your bills, keeping cash in reserve, not getting in over your head, and planning ahead daily. It is a wonderful experience, but it is also very, very challenging!
I have often said that for most of my life, I was a “talking capitalist” but a “functioning socialist.” What do I mean by that? For the most part, I believed in capitalism (standing on your own two feet and becoming successful by being your own boss) without any outside help – I had just never experienced it! When I had a 9-5 job, I had a paycheck and security. However, I was always wondering things like how I could get a financial raise. I wondered how much time I would get off each year. I also wanted to know what my benefits might be. And I wanted to know how opportunities for advancement might occur. All of that is the experience of a socialist because someone else is in charge of your life! Please hear me well! There is nothing wrong with any of those things. We have all been socialist at one time or another. All of those qualities are important, and every company needs employees to work together so that the team might succeed. The only problem with me was that I had absolutely no idea how to experience being a business owner. I thought I was a capitalist. I thought I knew what it meant to be self-employed, but all of those were just truths that were spoken that had not yet been experienced. When I had a payroll, everything suddenly changed!
In June of 1991, I “bit the bullet.” I walked away from a paycheck, job security, benefits, and everything else that went with it. There were some scary moments during those days. Sometimes, I would wake up in the night in a cold sweat, wondering where my next income would come from since I had cut those ties. It took me a long time, and I do mean a LONG time, to get comfortable with the fact that owning and running a business with a payroll is a whole different “ballgame.” It required me to have a fundamental shift in my heart, realizing that nothing was for sure any longer. I had no guarantees. I had no bankroll. What I did have was an opportunity, a mission, and many good people around me. I could use several examples, but the point of this Tip really is not about whether you are a socialist or a capitalist. The point is that you really cannot learn anything by simply hearing about it and believing it. There must be some level of experience to discover what business reality is truly all about.
I have often used a simple illustration of what it means to have faith in something or someone. I believe with all my heart that there are two chairs in my office right this minute. I can see and touch them both, and I believe my eyes are not playing tricks on me. The truth of the matter is, although there are two chairs in my office, I am only having an experience with one of them at the present moment. That is the one I am sitting in. Things are different with this one chair. I have discovered it is a trustworthy chair through my experience because it holds me up.
I would like to ask you a question. Have you really had an experience with what you say you believe is true? Or is it just something you have learned to “parrot” because someone else said it was true? There is nothing more valuable than actually experiencing a truth because that is what shapes and molds our lives each day.
This week, consider some of the things that you have believed to be true in the past and maybe re-examine them for their validity. I am a strong believer in things that I know to be true from personal experience. And I continue to “shake off” the things in my life that I find are not true. Let me give one more quick example.
My mom used to tell me that if I swallowed watermelon seeds, a watermelon vine might grow out of my ears, and a watermelon could possibly grow on it. I loved my mom with all my heart, and even though I lost her several years ago, I discovered that what she told me was not exactly true. I have swallowed a lot of watermelon seeds over the years, and no vines have ever appeared! I learned that from experience. (I know some of you laugh because your mom told you the same thing. I hope none of us start seeing vines coming out of our ears this week!)
When you have personally experienced what you say you believe, that is when everything will suddenly change. That is when you will discover what is real and what is really trustworthy. You can take that to the bank!
Tip: A truth spoken is not necessarily a truth experienced!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm