This Advice From My Dad Made Me Change Careers
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
At the age of thirty, I was, as the beginning of the Divine Comedy says , in a kind of dark jungle. He had many questions, but few answers. By then, he was married with a baby on the way. I had a bachelor's degree and even a master's degree, but I had not found a professional space in which I felt like a fish in water. The finances were not lifting and I kept looking for what to do, where to do it and how to advance my professional, personal and family goals.
I was stuck and scared.
I asked many people for advice. I asked for work, too, in different places. But things weren't fitting. I had a part-time job that could barely pay minimum expenses and my debts kept piling up. My friends recommended me one business, then another. Import furniture? Sell insurance? Sell on the internet? Go back to an office? They all seemed like good options, but they weren't calling out to me powerfully.
On paper, he had done everything "right." I had been a good student, I had prepared hard, and apparently I was on the right track. But he still couldn't find answers. So, I talked to my dad. It all started with a parental question:
- How are you doing with everything?
- Not very well. I don't know which business is better or where to look for work.
My dad thought about it a bit and then he sentenced:
- Do not complicate yourself. There are many businesses. But you, only one. As in the parable: God gave you some talents, and of those talents he will ask you to account. Your job is to put your talents to work. The rest will come alone.
I thanked. At first, I didn't pay much attention. I thought it was one more tip. Typical of my dad, I thought. And for a while, I didn't think about it anymore.
And… what are my talents?
The next day I brought the advice to mind. "Put my talents to work", but what are my talents? When I asked, I myself did not know.
I had to sit down with my wife and some friends to unravel this mystery. To my surprise, it was clear to all of them what was surprise to me. They responded almost immediately: you are terrific at this and that!
But… "this and that" was not what he had studied; nor the subject of my master's degree. Apparently, I had been in a career for ten years that, perhaps, was not mine.
The doubt assailed me more strongly. Even if I was wrong ... can I change my career ten years later, thousands of pesos later, already married and almost with children ...? Isn't this crazy? Aren't people going to make fun of me? Won't you give my mother a trick?
The answer came from my brother, who told me: "It is not." And he gave me a book to read.
Like fish in the water
The book in question was The Element by Ken Robinson, one of the most notable best sellers of recent times, and the subject of one of the most viewed Ted Talks in history. I devoured the book in one sitting, because it was full of answers to my questions. With examples and stories supported by scientific discoveries about neuroscience and psychology, Robinson is drawing a clear window where we find success and happiness in our lives. He calls that window The Element , and it is the place where your passions and talents meet.
Image: Author's illustration
To be "in your element" is to swim like a fish in water; Finding the place where you can excel while enjoying yourself, reaching further and helping more people in the process. So, after all, my father's advice was not wrong. On the contrary: it had hit the nail on the head.
Now he knew what he had to do.
After talking about it with my wife -who supported me without reservation-, the next day I quit a job (the one that “played” for my career) and opened my own business, without a single peso; without a single client, with nothing but a free website and a mailing list of my friends and acquaintances.
That same afternoon I sent my first promotion: "Friends, I share this new business with you." And so it all began. I had one client first, another later. Things started to take shape and in less than a week he had completely changed his career, career and professional goals.
My personal goals remained the same: to have a family, to dare, to have fun and to help others. But the path would be very, very different. No one scoffed, nor did anyone find it strange. If anything, they asked me why it had taken me so long.
That happened eight, almost nine years ago. In this time, as the improvement books say, “I have not been bored one day”, and I have achieved things that fill me with pride in the company of my family, my children (now I have four) and my friends.
It is the best decision I have made, and I did it thanks to some advice. My dad passed away three years ago, and he left me many, many things. This tip is one of the best.
I leave you here with three ideas to find your way:
- Don't just ask for work or money; ask for advice. People who know and love you only want the best for you. Also seek advice and mentorship from successful men and women you admire. I have never met someone who would deny me advice.
- Give advice to whoever asks for it. Don't just say things for the sake of saying them, or deliver white lies. If someone asks you for advice, they do it because they seek the truth. Try to help him with honesty and integrity. You can be the one who, among thousands, helps him see the light.
- There are many “good” businesses, but there is only one “you”. If you discover what you are (that is, your talent), then you will have half the problem solved. What remains is consistency and learning.
- When you have nothing to invest, invest your time. Design a business from "your element", from the place where your talents and passions meet. Learn, improve, take risks and face falls with your head held high. I don't believe in "easy money". I believe in happiness and purpose.
- Put your talents at the service of others. That is your big business.