A Shift in Thinking
It is hard to believe it has been one year since the Occupy Wall Street campaign began. The Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011-2012 made headlines and on many facets divided a nation. This division most notably concerned the idea of the minority that have actual monetary wealth and perceived power compared to the majority, which on the surface, do not; the impoverished 99% vs. the high rolling 1%. Frankly it was disgusting to watch a large portion of our nation embrace the idea that hard work, ingenuity, sacrifice, learned failure and creativity are not worthwhile achievements. It saddened me to discover, as major news agencies reported, that nearly half the nation feels they are owed something by our government and those that earn a higher wage than they do.
Work: a Four Letter Word
Why is it, those that have worked hard to become successful (by worldly standards) are vilified? What has changed in our society that we curse those people that have persevered and achieved some level of personal greatness outside of Hollywood? I have always been taught to do your best regardless the task at hand. I must say, that has not been easy. There have been some jobs in which I needed to remind myself daily to not become lazy, to not cut corners, to do my best even though no one was watching and I felt the task was beneath my ability or was just plain old boring. Perhaps this conviction stems from a deeper truth that has been tossed aside by our nation. Even when I had to rely on worker’s compensation for a debilitating injury, it felt wrong to be paid to essentially sit at home. Well, I confess, the first couple weeks it felt like a vacation, but that soon passed when the pain medication was gone and it was replaced by the Occupy Wall Street prescription. This new persona left me feeling depressed, lazy and discontent. Contrary to popular belief, work was the answer.
I may be a CEO now and thus by default lumped into the 1%, irregardless of my actual financial standing, but a few short years ago I was unemployed. My extended time being on worker’s compensation ultimately left me unemployed. Prior to this, I was under employed and dreamed of striking it rich. I started entertaining many the same thoughts as the Occupy Wall Street crowd as I struggled to make ends meet and make sense of how a college graduate (Magna Cum Laud) could be earning the same wage as a high school dropout. In my burgeon laziness I expected and perhaps demanded a “Kings Harvest” with minimal effort. It was my right, after all, it was not my fault I was now unemployed! The self-fulfilling downward spiral was depressingly alluring. But I couldn’t shake the ever fading voice in my head, “there had to be a better way.” I needed to change my thinking.
“What changed?” you might ask. Well, let me start by framing my belief system by referencing a couple of proverbs or wise sayings: All cats love fish but fear to wet their paws…The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over yet expecting different results…Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.
I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and realized I was the only one with the power to effectively bring about a genuine change to my situation. I was determined to make something of myself; to allow myself to feel proud again. To feel satisfied rather than depressed. To feel like I could contribute to the family instead of relying on my wife to be the primary bread winner. I needed to stop blaming others for my failures and current social economic status. I needed to stand up and act! Great thoughts, right? But up until this point nothing has changed, they are just empty thoughts!
The hardest part in any decision is actually getting up the nerve to start! The fear of failure for me was overwhelming and almost self-defeating. The security of having at least a small pay check and miserable job was better than possibly no pay check and a “career”. The realization that I was giving up 8 hour work days and overtime for 10, 12 and, 16 hour days sometimes without pay was tiring just thinking about it! The fear of failure was stifling. FEAR is what prevented me from taking action in the past. FEAR is what paralyzed me and reinforced my dependence on the “hand out” mentality. FEAR nearly became my downfall!
Fast forward several years…Impact Battery today is a successful small business with 4 full time salaries, a strong national online presence working with a host of professional systems integration, development teams and business betterment experts. Has it been smooth sailing? No. Have I made real money choices? Yes. Have I made some awful choices that impacted sales negatively? Yes. Have I thought about quitting? Yes. Have I felt depressed and inadequate and a failure at certain points? Yes, yes, and yes. Has it been worth it? Absolutely! Would I do it again? In A Heart Beat!
The feeling of accomplishment is addictive. Having a sense of purpose propels me forward. Contributing to society in a positive and constructive manner is a great feeling. Learning from my mistakes is humbling. Knowing that mine and my employees’ yearly raise (or lack thereof) is directly tied to how well I can execute our business strategy is sobering. Life is no longer about only me and what I can get out of this world. It is no longer about what it owes me. It now includes what I can give back—what I can contribute. It’s about bettering myself and those around me; freely sharing the resources at my disposal with those that desire the same.
I would consider myself part of the 99%—the 99% that desire the best and have the ability to work hard and achieve success. I don’t think that the majority of Americans truly want to be a slave to the government and its free handouts. I don’t think we truly desire redistributed entitlements or really understand the implications of such practices. That thinking comes from desperation, fear and a detached reality. It pits classes of people against each other and pushes citizens deeper into poverty and dependence. Teaching a man to fish is far more rewarding and productive than handing him a fish day after day after day. Deep down inside, I think Americans long for a better life, just like I did, and are simply hamstrung with fear and know no better than to wallow in self-pity. This depressing self-pity then starts demanding a “King’s Dinner” as a way to mask over the sorrow of failure and provide temporary relief to the sadness. I get it, I was there! But the question is, “When will we collectively stand up and say enough! “? When will we take personal responsibility and make a change? When will we face our fears to start down the path of our full potential?
At Impact Battery we are not perfect. We make mistakes. But we acknowledge them and strive to not make the same mistake twice. We enjoy challenging our team to continually find ways to become more efficient and create a better work flow. We understand that work is a necessary component of life to put food on the table. We recognize the importance of giving back the first fruits of our labor to charities our customers select and we fundamentally agree with. When the focus is no longer about self and shifts to how we can make life better for those around us, you will begin to experience true freedom and joy devoid of fear and trepidation. Taking responsibility for ones actions, desiring change and acting on those desires is essential to achieving something greater. It takes discipline. It takes work. The only person that owes you something is yourself—not your neighbor, not some multi-national business, and not your government! It is up to you, go and make a positive difference in your world!