Friday was ‘Boss’s Day.’ If you are a boss you received flowers, balloons or gifts as an expression of gratitude from your staff. If you have a boss you were the one who did the giving, or at least you had to organize someone else to do the giving.
For those of us who don’t have a boss and aren’t a boss of others…in other words, free agents, we did neither. In fact, I didn’t even realize it was Boss’s Day until I stopped by my son’s school to surprise them with lunch and saw two girls in the office with flower bouquets.
“For me?” I asked innocently. “No! For the principal, it’s Boss’s Day!” they said.
At first I thought, “we don’t have a holiday for free agent entrepreneurs! Where is our holiday?” And then I realized since I make my own hours, I live everyday as a holiday. In fact, not many people with a job have the flexibility or freedom to do what I did last week…stop by my children’s school in the middle of the day and surprise them with hot wings. I am grateful for this freedom. I am also grateful I have become a boss I like.
When I first started my business years ago, I used to work so hard and have very high expectations. I was frequently disappointed and critical of myself. Now, after working with hundreds of other free agents and self-employed business people, I realize I am not the only one who has done this. I was a bad boss, never satisfied.
Then I learned to be a better boss. I began to forgive and accept my results, and acknowledge myself no matter what. Over time, I even learned to focus my core business on the people, environments and activities that I really enjoy. I learned to take my pleasure very seriously! That is when I went from being a good boss to a great boss.
Unfortunately, despite the many boxes of candy, balloon bouquets and flowers that were given out on Friday, there are not very many truly great bosses.
In fact, many people are afraid to give up health insurance because they are afraid of their medical costs. But, when one lives and grows a business or career with an awareness of the activities and people that bring pleasure rather than stress, sickness and injury are much less likely. Therefore, medical insurance is under-utilized rather than the other way round.
“Disease happens when the repair process is not keeping up with the damage process,” says Esther Sternberg. She found in her research this damage/disease cycle is happening “in the majority of companies in the U.S. and the majority of American’s lives.”
How to address this? Well, someone is benefitting from the American tendency to earn income in ways that make us stressed and sick. But not the people getting sick!
A telltale sign your job or work environment is causing irreparable damage is that on your day off, you need a day or two just to detox yourself and get your energy back. If you are frequently sick, that is another sign. If either of these situations describes you, your first question for yourself is what is it you do to restore your energy? (do NOT say ‘watch TV’, TV only increases your numbness and diminishes your awareness of how to restore your vitality.)
Maybe you answered you like to garden or play with your pet, or tinker in your garage…whatever it is you do to restore your spirit, must be integrated into your daily life, preferably as a project or a part of your job. Only then, have you turned around the odds that your job stress is causing more damage than you can ever repair. In this scenario, your healing process is built into your daily routine.
Now, you (hopefully) are wondering, ‘what if what I do to restore my energy has no place in my business or job?’ That’s ok! I have an answer for that too.
Every successful business that lasts grew out of someone’s need to do activities that heal themself. In many cases it came out of a desire to serve others in a way that feels good and moves money. Sometimes money doesn’t even move in the beginning.
When my partner and I first moved our home base and our business from New York to Austin 11 years ago, one of our first projects was to interview successful and innovative business people with a live audience and film it. We edited and sold these both as singles and DVD sets afterward. People often asked what was the business model for that project…not understanding at first that it was a project that fed our business and us in a way other than direct payment.
“Organize your business to earn profits and you will work very hard for dwindling returns. Grow
your business around people, and they will heap benefits on you for years to come,” says Business Coach and Career Architect Martin Sage.
With this line of thinking, we were banking on people rather than profit. We were expanding our business by expanding our connections with people. The connections did lead to profit, in some expected and in many unexpected and delightful ways.
For one thing the project lead to many friendships that I still enjoy today…like Gary Hoover who was one of our interviewees. He was also at one time a customer who bought the set of Austin Stars of Business for $100. It was a great pleasure to make that sale and I felt honored to have him as a friend and customer! And I still do!
That was the beginning, now I find every day meeting with my clients, whether it’s in person, in groups or over Skype with someone far away, it always feels like something heals in me because of the connection. It is truly a pleasure when I can be of service. It feels good. I want to be used because I want to be useful. It just so happens my business has grown out of these pleasurable relationships. Many successful entrepreneurs who value their well-being like me are also creating and growing businesses and business projects out of a desire to serve.
For example, when I interviewed Gary Hoover he talked of starting his first bookstore ‘Bookstop’ around the time his friend John Mackey was expanding his organic grocery business, now known as Whole Foods. “We were talking about the various challenges we faced and I was drinking a soda. John started imploring me to stop drinking soda; he was trying so hard to convince me of the negative effects of the chemicals in my can of soda. That’s real passion for his mission…and his mission is his business.”
His passion may actually come from a desire to reverse the damage process…a desire to heal. His product in itself is healing and repairing our bodies. And his stores provide a healing and healthy environment for both his employees and his customers. I do know several people who work there and they confirm the environment and systems all support healthy organic human connection, as well as physical health. It is, in short, a place to feel good. I think he is a good boss and perhaps even a great boss.
George Bernard Shaw said, “…I’m of the opinion my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.”
If it feels good to you, it can feel good to others, and your service may be to find a way to provide this feeling to others. Over the weekend, my sons when to a party where a nerf gun specialist dropped off bags of ammo, all the guns you can imagine and a whole set up of inflatable barricades all over the yard. Within minutes about 15 boys were in hog heaven shooting and dodging foam bullets. That’s what one man calls fun, and look how he turned his fun into a business!
While guns are not my cup of tea, I have nurtured, honed and fine-tuned my business in a way that only extremely fulfilling relationships and services are necessary for me to engage in. That’s how I have learned to be my own boss.
In fact, to reward myself for completing this blog post, I’ll go have a smoothie at Whole Foods. On second thought, maybe I’ll take a coffee instead. Yes, coffee it is! And that’s the hardest decision I’ve had to make all day!
Tips for being a good boss to yourself:
If you are tired, rest.
Make appointments with yourself for what you want to get done
Integrate time for movement and being outdoors into your day
Acknowledge what you accomplish, even if it seems like nothing.
Reward yourself each time you complete a task.