I was speaking with my sister Karen Reyburn today (she inspires accountants to actually do marketing), and it occurred to me that business owners are schizophrenics with multiple personality disorder.
Truly, we sign up for the oddest things. We’re not only the Head Boss, we’re also the Head Slave. We also labor under the delusion that the pretty picture/vision inside our heads is our actual reality. This leads to really interesting conversations inside your own head. (Feel free to admit this reality.)
B-Self: “I order ye to get back in that field, and hoe those potatoes (i.e. prospects). If thou dost not pick the field this week, by next Odin’s Day, you and the children will be crying for hunger.”
S-Self: “No! For you have worked me too long, and too hard, and I need rest. Furthermore, the coffee machine is broken.”
B-Self: ” Is there not a great and mighty discount store called Goodwill, at which you have access to great tools and clothing at 50% off? Take then thy wages, and go buy a new coffeemaker.”
S-Self: *gasp* “But, o my Master, that would take time away from the potato field! Hast thou not said that picking the field is of top priority?!”
B-Self: “So I did. I shall buy the coffeemaker, whilst thou goes out to pick in the field.”
…..and then you realize that you’ll have to do both tasks.
Whether you realize this in front of the mirror, or find yourself muttering under your breath in Goodwill, it’s all one and the same. A good Forbes article on Micropreneurs (any business of 5 employees or fewer) pointed out that most ‘small business’ owners get lumped in with those running a thriving company pulling in millions. When you’re struggling with the Mac ‘N Cheese options for dinner, after talking loftily to prospects about your skills, it’s hard to relate to Company Culture or HR headaches.
Seriously, why do we do this to ourselves? We have to pay more taxes, fill out more forms, hassle with people who think we have limitless amounts of time, and all for the glory of fighting our competitors tooth and nail for scraps of income. Then, we get to fight with our own brains. One side of the brain wants to do one thing, and the other doesn’t think it’s a good idea, so you have all of the joys of committee meetings with no one to delegate to.
“For freedom”, we say, with a big smile. “Someday, our ships will stop collapsing before reaching shore, or stop getting looted by the Spanish Armada on their way to Scotland (maybe Sir Francis Drake will save us).” Some of that is true. I can take a walk outside at any hour of the day, bring my phone and check emails, or just stare at the big sky above me and thank the Lord that I don’t have to live in an office.
Alternatively, I don’t have money to pay for gym membership, because my necessary office equipment needed a major overhaul.
We do this to ourselves because a cushy, well-paid position helping somebody else’s ship to come into their harbour is just not our idea of a life well-lived. That’s all. As schizophrenic MPD pioneers, we get to haul our own water from the stream, hoe weeds in the hot sun, pick our own potatoes, and train the horses (contractors/employees) in the way they should plow.
Yes, sometimes we deal with depression and self-worth issues and a few addictions, per a Forbes article on the Dark Side of being an entrepreneur. That’s still better than running around at the harbour, talking to the same dock workers about the same old problems, and waiting for management to get back to us about the pier that’s falling apart.
Mental illnesses are serious, and I don’t mean to diminish their effect. I deal with stress by prayer, and reading a very well-worn Bible, which keeps me out of all sorts of mischief. However, there is no panacea. Stress and addictions don’t go away away when you have a full-time job, because those jobs often cause a great deal of other types of stress.
It’s important to accept the fact that you’ll have crazy days, and ‘hat hair’ days from wearing too many hats, and sometimes you’ll just have to let other people in to help with the messes you’ve created. Accept help, say “no” when necessary, say “yes” when it’s slightly uncomfortable, and keep going.
Back to the potato field!