My college mentor told me once, “You don’t want to work in a church.” And he worked in a church for decades.
He told me to do everything I could possibly think of before working in a church. Explore every opportunity. Do everything that interests you before working in a church.
Then–and only then!–if I still felt like working in a church, I should do it.
So I tried different stuff. Some planned. Some unplanned.
I was a waiter. Loved the socializing. Hated the work. Literally could not do two things at once. Which, if you’ve ever waited tables you know this, is a huge problem.
I was a courier for a law firm. This was a total blast. But there wasn’t a lot of “upward” mobility for a law firm courier.
I painted houses, stained decks, and mowed lawns. Again, not a bad gig. But not necessarily what I wanted to count as my life’s work.
Then I was an audio-visual technician for about two weeks. I was so miserable at that job I would drive home on my lunch break just to lie down for 20 minutes. I was depressed. I drove audio-visual equipment to businesses across the city. Most of my day was spent in a windowless office, picking speakers off the shelves and loading them into vans. One of my co-workers was obsessed with Avril Lavigne. He listened to her non-stop. In the office. In the vans. It was weird.
The job was crushing my soul.
So one day I decided it was going to be my last day. I bundled up my uniform into a plastic grocery bag. Put it on my boss’s desk after he left for the day. And never came back.
They weren’t exactly sad I was gone, either. No one even called the next day. Or the day after that.
So after all these horrible jobs, I took it as a sign I was supposed to work in a church.
So I did.
And I lasted a lot longer than I thought I would. Almost seven years.
I liked what I was doing. A lot of my responsibilities formed the foundation for what I’m doing with Think Digital. But at the end of the day…it was working to fulfill someone else’s vision. Not mine.
So I left. I had a great job right after the church. But two years into that gig my boss–who I now look to as a mentor–confirmed what I knew to be true all along: I can’t work for other people.
So I left again. I consulted and bounced around with some contracts. But then, with a tiny child at home and zero dollars in the bank–I knew it was time to start my own business.
It’s certainly harder than working for someone else. That’s for sure. When I worked at the church I often thought of myself as “busy” or “never having any time”. I look back at it now and realize “busy” was something I had never actually experienced. “Busy” meant answering a few emails or having a meeting or two.
When you have your own business, there’s no one else to make decisions.
Sometimes you have to pull the trigger even when you don’t know where the target is. Or sometimes you have to give the gun to someone else and let them fire. (And you’re holding the target hoping they don’t miss!)
But it’s life-giving.
I’ve tasted the nectar and am forever changed. I can never go back.
Since then I’ve been approached at various times to work at nearly a dozen organizations. Some of the salaries are much larger than what I make right now as a business owner. It’s tempting, but only for a moment.
It certainly would be easier. Let other people pick up the slack. To take a day off without feeling like all the spinning plates are gonna come crashing to the ground.
But I can’t do it. I just can’t pull the trigger. I can’t go work for someone else.
I know no matter how amazing the opportunity, I’d be itching to go in just a few short years.
My mentor had it right. But instead of churches, now I look at it from a business perspective…do everything you can BESIDES opening up your own business. Try every job imaginable. Work for as many different people and organizations as possible.
If you still have the itch, if you still have the fire, if you still see the vision, well…maybe it’s time to jump.