Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Road Less Traveled

You may have noticed I've not posted anything here over the past couple of days. I've spent some time thinking after reading a few books.

I recently finished Think and Grow Rich, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and I just started The 4-Hour Workweek. I tell you, if you want to break the bonds of employment and start a life of financial freedom, these books give you a good start. They're all very inspiring.

All three books focus on financial freedom through business ownership. Mind you, this is not the same thing as self-employment. I won't get into much detail on the difference between the two, except that the latter denotes being an individual contributor and the former is about productivity increase and knowing how to make money work for you while enjoying all that life has to offer.

As I finished Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and started reading The 4-Hour Workweek last night, I had a short conversation with my wife. I told her she too should read at least Rich Dad, Poor Dad. She asked me for a synopsis of the book. That eventually lead to a discussion on how I've had three powerful business ideas over the last 10 years and hadn't acted on any. In fact, the first two ideas have lead others to prosper and resulted in nothing except the "could've," "would've" talks, worth less than the time spent telling them.

That made me think, "what's holding me back from acting on the third." The third idea is fairly new. It's something that was triggered by hearing a speaker at Chapman University and some follow up conversations I had at home. It's a great idea, if I may say so. In fact, we started the company earlier this year, but because of my unemployment, I focused on finding my next employer instead.

In any case, the conversation with my wife last night eventually lead to a couple of stark questions from her: "You've had three ideas so far. Are you going to let this latest one get away too? What's holding you back?"

Those were sledge-hammer of questions.

They made me wake up and pause...until 2:30 this morning. I was still afraid...of starting something that I couldn't finish...of losing everything, including the shirt on my back. But then I asked another question of myself: am I afraid of failure, or success?

Failure I can cope with. After all, that's our natural state of learning. When I was born, I didn't just start running. I crawled, tried to stand and fell many times before I could take the first step, let alone run. Failures I cherish. They always get me a step closer to where I need to be and, by learning from them, I insure I never repeat them.

What about fear of success? You're likely asking, "how can you be afraid of success?" Simply, fear of success is fear of having to let go of the illusory safety of working for someone else. It's the fear that I'll be so engulfed in our business that I won't have time for family, friends or anything else in life outside of work.

This is where the book The 4-Hour Workweek comes in. Focusing on productivity, rather than time management, on the 80/20 rule will save me from a life spent only to work. Yes! If the book's 30 year old author can do it, be wealthy, and live his dream life, so can I. I have nothing less than him.

That which sits between my ears will be as creative, thoughtful, ingenuous as the next guy. Where I find I'm weak in a business area, I won't loose time trying to strengthen it. I won't sink endless hours focusing on a weakness that, at best, I'll change to a mediocre skill. I'll find the information and hire the best person to do it. I'll focus on my strengths of planning, organization and quality execution to insure my successful and balanced life, not to mention life of plentiful wealth.

I'll close this entry with Robert Frost's famous lines from the poem "The Road Not Taken:"

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.