Saturday, November 3, 2012

What Got Me There Didn't Get Me Here

In the mid 1990’s I was working as a Zone Manager for a manufacturing and distribution company in Salt Lake City, Utah. An outside company came and did a presentation to our territory sales reps for a group of evening seminars featuring well-known personal development and sales trainers. Only two people signed up, one of them was me. As a gift for signing up that evening we each received a set of cassette tapes of about a dozen previously recorded presentations.

One of the presentations was a two cassette presentation by Jim Rohn. I remember listing to the presentation once and didn’t think too much about it. Then I decided to listen again and by the time the second cassette tape was finished, I had a shift in my thinking that has changed everything.

Stephen R. Covey writes, ““Many people experience fundamental shifts in thinking when they face a life-threatening crisis or step into a new role (a husband or wife, parent or grandparent, manager or leader) and suddenly see their priorities in a different light. It becomes obvious that if we want to make relatively minor changes in our lives, we can perhaps appropriately focus on our attitudes and behaviors. But if we want to make significant, quantum change, we need to work on our basic paradigms.”
(Steven R. Covey; 7 Habits Calendar.)

So what was so significant that Jim Rohn said in that presentation that had such a profound affect on me to change my basic paradigms. I had reached the point that I was at in my career by drawing on my education and experience, but had felt like I was at a plateau. Jim Rohn was challenging his audience to never stop learning and to take personal responsibility for continuing their education by reading at least one book a month. After I graduated from college, I stopped studying up to this point. Now with a new paradigm, I became a student again. So what got me to the point of being a Zone Manager isn’t what got me to where I am today.

As a Zone Manager I remember thinking about how nice it would be to be able to only work five 10 hour days a week instead of the 60 to 80 hours a week I was typically working. As a “reborn” student I stumbled across a book entitled “Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. Another significant paradigm shift arrived in the prologue. I didn’t have to even get to the first chapter to benefit from my commitment to learn. Here are the words that created that paradigm shift for me:

“Once upon a time “earning a living” was the means to an end. The means was ‘earning’; the end was ‘living.’

Over time our relationship with money—earning it, spending it, investing it, owing it, protecting it, worrying about it—has taken over the major part of our lives.

Most of us spend much more than 40 hours out of the week’s total of 168 hours earning money. We must take time to dress for our jobs, commute to our jobs, think about our jobs at work and at home, “decompress” from our jobs. We must spend our evenings and weekends in mindless ‘escape entertainment’ in order to ‘recreate’ from our jobs. We must occasionally ‘vacate’ our jobs, or spend time at the doctor’s office to repair our job-stressed health. We need to plan our ‘careers,’ attend job seminars or union meetings, lobby or picket for our jobs.

We must spend money to maintain our jobs—job costuming, commuting costs, food bought expensively at the workplace. We must spend so that our neighborhood, house, car, life-style and even life mate reflect our “position” in the work world.

With all that time and money spent on and around our jobs, is it any wonder that we have come to take our identities from them? When asked, “What do you do?” we don’t say, “I do plumbing.” We say, “I am a plumber.”

When we are not taking our identity from our jobs, we are identified as ‘consumers.’ According to the dictionary, to consume is to “destroy, squander, use up.” We consider shopping to be recreation, so we “shop till we drop.” We want a good future for our kids, so we work harder or become a two-income family and relegate raising the kids to day-care centers or nannies. We buy them the newest toy to prove our love. We earn for their college educations but relinquish the opportunity to spend time with them during their formative years. We bemoan the influences of “bad company,” but we ourselves have never been in their company long enough to influence them. We are spending so much of our precious time earning in order to spend that we don’t have the time to examine our priorities.

Our old financial map, instead of making us more independent, fulfilled individuals, has led us into a web of financial dependencies. From birth to death we have become financially dependent—on our parents for our first financial sustenance, on “the economy” in order to get a good job after graduation, on ‘the job’ for our survival, on “unemployment” handouts to tide us over between jobs, on our corporate pension to pay our way in old age, on Social Security to supplement our corporate pension (or supplant it if the corporation or its insurer goes bankrupt) and on Medicare or Medicaid if we get sick before we die. The old road map has hit the end of the road. The material progress that was supposed to free us has left us more enslaved.

Conditions have changed, but we are still operating financially by the rules established during the Industrial Revolution—rules based on creating more material possessions. But our high standard of living has not led to a high quality of life—for us or for the planet. Remember that the old road map had nothing wrong with it—it was wonderfully useful in 1890 and for many years afterward—but the territory has changed. New tools for navigation are needed. What we need now is a new financial road map that is based on current global conditions and offers us a way out."
(Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez & Vicki Robin, Prologue xxvi-xxviii)

Wow! Here I was spending at least half of my 168 hours a week officially working or recovering from the work effort, and who knows what the real number was based on the definition from that prologue. I remember on the weekends struggling to stay awake long enough to experience a little bit of life away from work with my family. My children were beginning to grow up and I was missing everything. How do we measure the cost of regret and lost opportunities? So I decided to stop making a “dying” and start figuring out how I could make a living.

After a lot of twists and turns and an large investment of resources into my own personal development, I was able to discover what my life’s purpose is and find joy and abundance by being ‘on purpose’ in my career and business pursuits.

With each day of personal development I have many of the small shifts in thinking that continue to make a difference and occasionally have a significant shift in mindset and anticipate having many more as I continue to accept Jim Rohn’s challenge to be a life-long student.

When you discover a life of joy and abundance, a universal desire is to share that path of discovery with others. My work now is a culmination of that path of discovery. And it all started with a challenge from a person I’ve never met, but made it his mission to help others learn from his experience. My personal mission is living an extraordinary life of joy and abundance, and to help others to do the same. And from that mission DTE Consulting and Desert Toad Expeditions were created.

© DTE Consulting 2012 “Helping You Do The Extraordinary!”