Every problem is a gift - without problems we would not grow – Tony Robbins
Life is filled with problems. In the early days of starting my first business, I learned to call them challenges since those sounded easier to overcome. Among the worst are career problems. Nearly all people are fortunate to have within their grasp the ability to choose the set of challenges with which they want to grapple. Unfortunately, most don't exercise this choice.
When I talk with people about career problems they tend to air the same complaints. Not necessarily in order of frequency, they are:
- I don't make enough money.
- I have to work too many hours.
- I miss too many family events.
- I dislike the people with whom I work.
- My boss doesn't know what he's doing.
Do any or all of these sound familiar? Most were on my list back in 1985. During that year I committed to finding a solution. On February 28, 1986, I started my first business. Being an entrepreneur eventually solved all of these challenges. Here is a rough timeline:
- Money: It took less than two years to generate an income similar to the one I gave up and about five years to get my income to a comfortable level.
- Hours: The first eight years I worked long hours, though rarely as many as at the company I left. But after ten years this issue was under control.
- Family events: From day one I controlled my schedule. The flexibility of being self-employed is one of the top reasons for taking this step.
- Co-Workers: Since I had the final say on hiring and firing, I never worked for very long with someone I didn't enjoy working with or who was incompetent. This is another excellent reason for starting a company.
- Boss: The truth of the matter is my boss, me, often didn't know what he was doing. In the beginning, I was pigheaded about my ignorance. But after a disappointing first year, I admitted to myself that I had a lot to learn and started filling in the gaps. And while I constantly found my knowledge lacking it was within my power to get trained.
Entrepreneurship won't solve your career challenges overnight. But the ability to find and implement solutions will be in your hands. While the business press tends to focus on the financial benefits of startups, I think the lifestyle benefits are much greater. They will lead you to a more enjoyable life whether or not you have a multi-million or billion dollar IPO.
What is your biggest career challenge?
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