“We are going to have to let you go”.
I heard the words with the surreal realization that I was saying them.
I was firing someone.
As a person who feels deeply, one of my greatest challenges in business was separating my empathy from what had to be done. This employee had received several warnings and probations, but simply refused to or was incapable of complying with our customer service policy.
She had to be let go. I hadn’t made the decision but I supported it and I had to be the one to do it. As operations manager of a fairly small grocery store, the bulk of personnel management duties fell in my lap. I knew it wouldn’t have been a pleasant experience, yet I was not prepared for the begging, the tears, the promises to improve.
At this point, my hands were tied. I had to let her go.
I tried exploring options with her. “What will you do?” (That empathy thing again)
Between sobs, I happened to pick ip a few distressed phrases.. “hairdressing” “beautician certified”…
You’re telling me you have a very practical and high-demand skill yet you choose to stay here and work for someone else as a cashier? Why would you want to do that instead of starting your own business? You could work from home, decide on your own hours, set your own prices… I was taken aback. I had always wished I had a skill that could bring in an extra income..
I couldn’t understand the rationale of this employee. After almost an hour locked in my office, I convinced her to set up her business, offered to print her first set of 100 business cards and to get a few customers (my sisters) to support her initial efforts.
She had the opportunity to easily earn twice what she did now, tax free, working less hours and days than she currently did. Bonus, she didn’t have to operate in a constricting slave like environment or suffer an insufferable boss. My dad wasn’t the most human-asset friendly business owner. He is from an outdated era.
I call this the “Shiny Job Syndrome”. We have been fed the false idea that success is defined as ‘being employed’. We mentally pedestalize this belief and automatedly follow a programing that is outdated.
No matter how impressive the salary, a company can never accurately pay you for the value that you add and the time that you give. No matter how secure the position, there is always the possibility of being laid off, fired, or of the company going bankrupt or out of business. No matter how prestigious the title, depending on the whims and decisions of others steals your creativity. No matter how much initiative you are allowed to exercise, you will never be at the helm.
We spend our lives trying valiantly to protect ourselves from the same crises that will catapult us towards freedom and financial independence.
For years, I wanted to write. I was dissatisfied with my job. Yet, it wasn’t until I lost it all; the income, the security, the great apartment… Not until then did I find the courage to follow my dream with the only thing I had left. Me. I had nothing but myself, my time, my creativity, my initiative, my goals, my dreams, my desires.
It felt strange not having someone to answer to; not having a boss telling me what to do. How would I know when I was doing something wrong?
“You never realize how bound you are until you feel the heavy responsibility of freedom”.
And, it’s scary.
It is a scary thought knowing that, without instructions, every failure, every fumble is your own. There is no one to blame, no company policy to fall back on, no employee assessment to scrape through. But, beyond that fear, lay exhilaration. The thrill that I was creating something that was all me… No template, no rules.. no standards, no limitations. No commission. All mine. Loss or win, I owned the outcome completely.
And, to me that was worth it.
I had to carve out an identity. My old one was lost on having to answer to bosses, fit into corporate images and absorbing job-ideal expectations. I determined that if there ever was a business culture I wanted to support it would be one built on freedom. On the right of every human being to discover and pursue his or passion.
Instead of passively disciplining people, I wanted to help them discover the courage to start their own businesses using skills and interests and passions. So I wrote a book and started this blog.
I made a decision that the risks were worth it, the initial rejections – worth it. The up hill struggle to get that first client – totally worth it. Just to gain my independence, live my passion and do something meaning to me on a personal level.
It’s not easy, but with a little guidance and lots of determination, it can be done.