I always thought of myself as a “genius-behind-the-scenes” kind of guy. Twenty years as a corporate writer did a lot to reinforce this introspective view of what I did. It kept me in my safe, secure, predictable little corporate office, churning out package content and trade ads and press releases and brochures and whatever else the vice-presidents of marketing and sales and operations and human resources and product development could come up with at any given meeting to throw at me. In my less appreciative moments, I refer to roughly the last few years of this existence as my “corporate coma.”
It was fine. I was in my comfort zone. I was good at it. Very good. I was an integral part of every sales campaign, every new product launch, and every new marketing push. I was the guy called upon to fire the first product-to-the-world volley on every project. I shaped perception, “spun” image, persuaded the doubtful, sparked sales…but I did it from the back row (sometimes the back room, sometimes the back forty).
My face, my voice, my appearance, my social savvy were never part of the equation. I was a beloved (read “consistent,” “reliable,” “productive”) corporate bubble boy with a magic pen.
Until I decided to go out on my own.
Now I’m outside the box. I own, operate, and manage my own business. I’m an entrepreneur. I know…everyone’s dream. Be your own boss. Make your own way. Blaze a trail to greatness. Well, all that is at least partially or potentially true, but the bottom line is always there…
If I don’t get cracking in the morning, I don’t get paid in the afternoon.
Scary proposition at the outset. Always a scary proposition. But wow, what an adventure. Because now I only get to shape consumer perception of a client’s product or service after I sell the client on me. And that’s okay…because it turns out I’m very good at that, too. Therein lies another salient benefit of being out on your own: discovering talents you didn’t know or thought you knew or might never have known you had.
That’s a big one.
I’ve tried more, started more, finished more dreams in the last two years than I did in the previous ten…maybe even twenty. Tell you the truth, I don’t keep score any more. And in case it hasn’t dawned on you yet, that’s another checkmark on the “plus” side.
So what’s the point, the lesson, the wisdom issuing forth from this little side trip into my work history and personal growth saga?
Just this. Step out of your comfort zone. Do it every day, even if only for a little toe-in-the-water temp test. It makes you better. It makes you stronger. It makes every day different…and it keeps your work (in my case, your writing) honest.
Even I’m not sure what that means exactly…but I know it to be true. If life isn’t an adventure – seasoned by adversity, salted with surprises, spiced with uncertainty – then it’s not.