This coming weekend, Memorial Day 2022, is a milestone for me personally. It will mark 20 years ago that I told my then boss I was leaving to venture out on my own, to start a new business in IT consulting. It was a huge decision and not one I took lightly. I told my family to give me three months to see if I could make this work. I poured my heart and soul into ramping it up. It worked. Countless hours, sacrifices at every turn, trial and error, and putting myself out there!
The reflection of the past 20 years is one of vulnerability and putting myself out there. It is an interesting reflection considering I have had two successful companies, which should be my focus. When you start your own business, you don’t know what you are doing or getting into. You are NOT in control. You are navigating the external environment. On a major scale, I have navigated the aftermath of 9/11, the recession of 2008, and a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. Many more small, daily issues have presented challenges. When things are going smooth, you cannot run on autopilot; it does not work this way. Anyone who is thinking about starting their own venture in any industry cannot think like that.
So, let’s get back to putting myself out there. Being vulnerable is one of the toughest lessons not taught in class, podcasts, seminars, webinars, or anywhere you look. Being the owner comes with a stigma; you are judged differently regardless of what you project or say. There is a saying, “It is lonely at the top.” That holds true. You can surround yourself with the brightest, most talented people, which is a blessing. But you are still vulnerable. When a client becomes an overwhelming challenge to your business, you have to decide to let them go or work through the challenges. Then you have to accept the consequences of your decision, both internally and externally. When employees make bad life decisions beyond your comprehension, you, the company, become vulnerable. When good employees with good intentions get lost, and you see it happening, you have to make tough decisions with people you built solid relationships with over the years. When external forces such as COVID put pressure on you like has never been seen before, you are forced to make decisions to the best of your experience and ability. It is a highly vulnerable position to be in. The consequences of your actions are based on the perception of others. As a business owner, I deal with each individual’s reality and put mine aside. I have put myself out there for the past 20 years.
In closing, I have grown and had experiences that no one can teach you; you just have to live it. Being vulnerable is an expectation of a good leader. It is not something taught but something I learned to accept in the past 20 years. Understanding and accepting this has made me a better person for the next 20 years.
Make someone’s day…smile,