CAUGHT IN A RAT RACE?
Feeling like you’re stuck in a rut? More rodent metaphor: like you’re on a hamster wheel spinning too fast to jump off. Spending part of your time wound up like a cornered rat who jumps straight at an attacker before running away? Are you like most November vermin, coming in from the cold looking for free food and lodging to survive winter?
I like to catch and kill rats, not feel like I’m in a race for survival with other rats where my chances are slim. Like these dead fuckers in my traps.
But I have indeed felt this way for some time now. Caught in a race, and not one of my choosing. You see, this is a post about reinvention. Mine, yours, anyone’s.
I thought I was doing well in the newspaper industry. Despite its faults, it’s a product I could get fully behind because in many ways it matched my values. The idea of informing a voting public about the executive, judicial and legislative aspects of gov’t so they could make informed decisions at the voting booth seemed like worthwhile. Though I could see the corporate influence eroding its power under a concentration of newspaper ownership, it was still idealistic at its core. It is still necessary for democracy.
After running a team, I managed to rise to Canadian senior vice president of the largest paid sales subscription service in North America. With over one hundred reps and a dozen managers spread over seven cities to mentor (some of whom helped train me), it was a job I loved. My intention was to sail into the sunset on its low six-figure compensation.
Things didn’t work out. After the last big recession, advertisers migrated online, and the papers lost their financial base. By 2015, they’d shrunk even more and become desperate. The public turned away from the format, unwilling to recycle something that purports to cut down trees, nor sacrifice the convenience of digital news on demand.
I’d had a little boy in 2013, a child to add to my daughter, born in 2011. The boy had medical problems. Just as I contemplated moving to Chicago to take on a market and replicate a large and successful campaign we’d managed in Los Angeles, the medical insurance alone meant I had to turn it down. Regrettably, all this left me no option but to look elsewhere for work.
The energy business in Ontario had become appealing once again as the provincial government added 50 billion in spending on renewables, a cost borne by ratepayers. With a legislative majority in charge, locking in electricity prices in the face of steady increases made sense for my business customers. It helped me get out of the newspaper business, and after a couple of years, I was doing well. But there was little room for developing the kinds of teams which characterized my role in anything I’ve ever done. I’m a builder, first and foremost.
Added to this, in time a change of government stopped adding costs to the operation of the electrical grid and the public expected a roll back of pricing. Regulators also tightened up the consulting side of things with new policies. The company used this to justify cutting CPA compensation in half. Instead of taking any of this seriously, they demanded people “do whatever it takes” to be successful. Suddenly, I saw a high turnover of reps, led by an echo chamber of managers who were little more than Machiavellian opportunists.
When I broached the idea that the kind of pressure the company is putting on sales with such dubious fundamentals was bound to attract martyrs (high conscientiousness, people pleasers) and personality disorders (narcissists, psychopaths, etc.) the company CEO’s flippant response was “we all have a personality disorder.” Well no. We don’t.
So here I am, sixty-years old, about to reinvent myself once more. I have a young wife and two small children. Times like this are perfect to really take stock and try to get it right. Rather than consider this a trial, it’s a blessing. I’ll tell you why.
First off, Corrie put me onto The Boy Crisis a few months back, and I finally got around to reading it. In it, there are 55 ways dads contribute immensely to a child’s life. In fact, it’s better to have a mom and dad in the home, but if you could choose only one, the studies say the kids are better off with dad. I can’t tell you what a shot in the arm this has been.
I wish I knew earlier because I tease missus I’m the baby whisperer. When my daughter was a born, she was difficult to put to sleep. No one had her number like I did. Not her mom, not her favourite auntie. Give the child to her dad and I’d put her out in no time.
Around the house, I noticed I was much better getting the kids to pick up their toys, help with chores and at settling disputes. I was excellent at getting them to eat, put to bed, and a myriad of other ways necessary for effective parenting. Yet, I felt a little sheepish about it and I know why. I had bought into the stereotype that “mommy knows best.” Truth is, sometimes she does, especially when the kids are sick, spotting it days before I do. Almost everywhere else, I’m ahead.
Ideally, it takes two parents to raise a kid, so her contribution is huge. Mine is too.
For example, I’ve been cooking some meals. We eat healthier when I take care of supper. My boy has a collapsing trachea and was on 70% liquid diet. In a few weeks, I have him on 90% solid food. I’ve even gotten him to use a fork the odd time—the little savage. My daughter is excelling at school in two languages. We get to speak French together, so it’s like a secret communication between us no one else in the house can understand for now. Pretty cool.
I’ve been the advisor to men for many years. I used to be a counsellor, but that freaks guys out. Then I called myself a coach, now everyone’s a coach. So, I’m an advisor—takes the pressure off us both. But ever since I graduated first in my class in the behavioural sciences, I like doing it no more than half of my time. Anything more burns me out. This keeps me fresh.
As some of you know, I’ve solved the riddle of addiction. On top of that, there’s a few other key teachings which benefit men I’ve found, especially with personal relationships, parenting, and managing life in general. I’d like to get my message out somehow to larger audiences. I think every man should be in a continuous growth process. It’s why I figure the best deal for men is in a low-cost monthly mastermind like Board of Directors or something like it.
Outside of being a dad, nothing is more satisfying that when a man tells you the work we did together changed his life. I’d do it for free because I can, but without skin in the game, it’s not as effective. People should pay something for value so that they value it more. I’m a bargain they tell me, though, I wouldn’t know and part of me says it’s not for me to decide.
So, at my age, I’m going to take a real estate license. I think it might be just the way for me to go. I’m a hustler—meaning I’m not afraid of work—and I’m good with people. I act diligently as their champions, so selling houses and businesses should be up my alley. I once had a real estate license in the early 1990s but let it go. I’m familiar with its basics.
Missus is doing photoshoots on the weekends and cleaning houses for cash during the week. I admire a gal who can roll up her sleeves and get to work. Financially, we’re fine but she likes to stay busy now that the kids are both in school. I’m happy to have time in front of the computer during the day. Maybe I can write those two books waiting for me.
All this to show that no matter what age, a reinvention of self should be the norm, and not in any way something to fear or worry about. I’m excited about it. I’m encouraged I’ll be able to choose who I work with and who I don’t. I know real estate has its share of the unscrupulous. I intend being the best I can be.
I’m telling you all this so that if you find yourself wondering if you should stay or go in whatever work you’re in now, know that you can and will reinvent yourself. I suppose you could say I’m trying to inspire you, by showing you there are smaller versions of Colonel Sanders happening all around you. He didn’t go anywhere in life until his late fifties.
We never lose the ability to be something else. When we played cops and robbers, doctors and nurses and monsters and whatever else as children, we were those characters. Self-concept is destiny. How I see myself measured up against how I believe others see me is a key driver of human activity.\
LISTEN AND FLOW
And that’s the thing. Like acting, reinventing your life and self-concept is always possible. Circumstances often force your hand, and sometimes you decide to play cards you weren’t sure you even had. As you know, a man who finds his power and uses it in service of himself and others will find a life of meaning. It is here where his freedom lies.
To this end, I’ve spent a few weeks listening to my body. I’ve spent some time in tune with my chain of being, paying attention to interoception—the messages sent to my brain by the body—and decoding its consequential thoughts. Thoughts are reflections of the body.
It’s through this examination I’ve been able to find my way forward. You may have heard me say I suspect what lies locked away in your body by way of epigenetic methyl groups passed along from your ancestry, and the totality of emotional states from your life’s history, constitutes your soul.
Indeed, they call this process soul-searching for good reason. If you find yourself similarly challenged, try going within, understanding the answers are in your body. Move, move more, and move more again. The chances are revelations will appear as you sweat, while exerting yourself. Or soon after, quietly calling forth influences of distant lineages, as answers begin appearing as ethereal whispers. And you will know.
The body is the universal address of your existence. It is there, where ancestral past meets feelings carried from experience, where being calls for full expression of passions and talents, fully engaged, content and focused, where you stop time. This is your zone. The more I search for it, the more I find my flow. You can too.
It was Horace Mann who said:
“Be ashamed to die until you have scored a victory for mankind.”
Life has a purpose for us all. We cannot seek to question its wisdom in ultimate deceit. The gift of our humanity is in the way we rise to create order from chaos. We must not ask what we shall receive. We only seek to answer how to use the gift of this life, so we may repay what we owe.
Where shall you find victory my brother?
Where shall you find freedom?
© CKWallace Nov, 2018 all rights reserved
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