The Socio-cultural myth continues to be with us even today. If you don’t punch the clock at 8:00 and leave at 5:00, have benefits, and a retirement plan, you are not a success. Those of us who have chosen to leave the “real job” behind in the quest for financial independence through self-reliance typically are thought of as being irresponsible and doomed for failure. The socio-cultural myth involves what one speaker called the 40/40/40 Plan. You work 40 hours a week for 40 Years and then retire with an income equal to 40% of your former earnings.
The myth promulgates the theory that if you work hard enough, long enough it will pay off. Hard Work, typically in Government or in Corporate America, is what society expects of you and if you do it long enough and hard enough, you can have everything you ever dreamed of. This plan is exemplary, worthwhile and the path the offspring are expected and often required to if they expect to receive the respect and admiration of family and friends. Since many entrepreneurs are college “dropouts” it follows then that it would be foolhardy and irresponsible to break away from the ordinary and carve out a creative niche and to stand up and declare that “if it is to be, it’s up to me”!
Society declares you must be mad if you are not either working at a “real job” or pounding the pavement looking for one. I am not suggesting that you arbitrarily leave college or that education is not important. What I am saying is that for the “creative entrepreneurial mind and spirit” it is not an absolute or a pre-requisite for success and those who have chosen this path should not be ridiculed, looked down on, be labeled an idiot, or an ignoramus and outcast forever into eternal perdition.
Think about it – Corporate offices are clogged with people in cubicles working in their tightly controlled environment without a breath of fresh air or a fresh thought. Take heart, management promises, “if you work hard enough, long enough, and do a good job you will get ahead’. In the meantime, you will enjoy the respect of your peers who you meet each morning in the local Starbucks or after work at Happy Hour at the local watering hole.
My father-in-law, bless his soul, worked at the Smith and Wesson Gun Manufacturing Company in Springfield, Mass. An honorable man, with an honorable job. He paid off his house and retired in 1970; died in 1995 leaving his house and all his worldly goods to a Charitable Service Organization. His children, both entrepreneurs not having a “real job” were apparently not trustworthy to manage such a “large estate”.
My maternal grandfather worked every day in a Textile Mill at a job he absolutely abhorred. Found solace “down the line” at the local pub with his friends where “everybody knew his name”. An honest hard working man with a “real job” for over 50 years. This Grandfather, detained at Ellis Island, NY, and became a naturalized citizen in 1910, though it was somehow un-American and/or un-Patriotic if he did not “get a job” as soon as possible. He died in 1961 at the age of 72 before his errant and only grandchild and her husband left their cushy “jobs” to launch a career in Real Estate and Finance.
Perish the thought that one can actually enjoy what they do and get paid for it. You know, like Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer said, “Find something you love to do, and you’ll never work another day in your life”. Tom and I have “not worked another day” for over years now. My favorite saying is “If it is to be, it’s up to me”. Not long after we broke out of the mundane in search of our dream, we often heard our friends say, “It won’t work”. Then when we experienced a small success or two, we heard, ‘it won’t last”. From time to time, we fell flat on our face and when we did, our critics chanted, “I told you so”. Fortunately, we have lived long enough to hear the same people pat us on the back and declare, “I knew you’d make it”. Funny isn’t it?
I know it may seem hard for some to grasp the idea that it’s O.K. to break away from the ordinary and do extraordinary things, to get involved in doing what you absolutely love to do, or in finding a “niche” and making things happen. Sure, you take chances, but with strong definite goals, a burning desire to succeed in a business plan, and support from your family, you can succeed. This is, after all, the American Dream.
So, if you haven’t already done so, maybe it’s time you give some serious thought about “breaking away” from your real job in search of your dream. I implore you not to die with the song still inside you. There are no re-runs to this life and we cannot simply push the rewind button when we have lived the last scene. Life is not a rehearsal. The curtain is up; the house lights are dimmed so why not get out there and enjoy the absolute best performance of your life – because that is exactly what it is.
This article was modified from an article originally written by Roberta Standen and posted to this site on 2006/09/10.