“Our grand business in life is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.”
— Thomas Carlyle
One morning I got an email from one of my best friends with a question about a business situation, one she has found herself in more than once. I was able to call her immediately and talk through the problem. Right after I hung up, I realized how grateful I am that I am not on the road, working on someone’s big project; instead I’m living in Dallas full time and available to my friends and family to be a part of their lives, and be able to help them from time to time.
I sort of had itchy feet for the last twelve years, starting in 1997 when close friend moved to London. I started visiting her four times a year, ended up working with her partner’s architectural firm doing team building, coaching the owners and spending the rest of the time learning about England. Then in 1999 I started going to Paris several times a year, working with clients there, coaching and doing team building. All that time I was still running my sales agency and had coaching and business consulting clients on the side here in the States. After I sold the rep firm in 2006, I plunged full force into working with Count Me In in NYC and spent over half my time traveling with that project.
It was an interesting life–and I loved it. But I wasn’t home much, and when I was, I was extremely busy. When my mom almost died in the fall of 2007, I rearranged my life so I could be there for her. It has been a challenging and fascinating journey to shift from business being my main focus to this new persona that I’m still getting to know and understand. The concept of being a Life Entrepreneur really stems from that–I found that I’m still the same basic person, but the choices I make and the way I live are vastly different from two years ago.
I’ve written about this journey in many of my Living Life entries in this blog. But what I’m realizing today is that it has always been about being a Life Entrepreneur. That is not a designation for only certain individuals who are expanding from a “business” perspective into a more integrated “life” perspective. To me, it means seeing ourselves as fully responsible for our lives, taking care of the business of being ourselves no matter what we’re doing. This includes being a stay-at-home mom, a teaching assistant, a scientist, an engineer, a clerical worker, a factory worker, mechanic, garbage collector, utility worker, CFO of a major corporation, sales person, manager, retail store owner–I’m just scratching the surface of the number of jobs people can have.
I once heard Lily Tomlin speak to a large audience of business women, and my biggest surprise was that she saw herself as separate from the business world–as an entertainer, she took her work seriously, but didn’t see what I thought was evident. She had built a business–the Lily Tomlin business–and the only thing keeping her from feeling like a successful business woman was recognition. Can you imagine the number of people who are involved with the booking, producing, writing and execution of her shows and appearances? Just because she may have not put her hands on every aspect of that, because much of it could have been delegated, it didn’t mean that she wasn’t the head of it.
So I’m encouraging people to see themselves as Life Entrepreneurs, not become Life Entrepreneurs. As far as I’m concerned, to be a functional human being in this complex, stressful, demanding world we live in, we are all Life Entrepreneurs carving our way along.
Circling back to Thomas Carlyle, when people ask me how I make choices each day, I usually say something like this: I repeat my life vision to myself each morning, affirm what I would love to be, do and have in my life, then I do what is in front of me. Thank you, Thomas Carlyle for saying that so beautifully.