Last year I wrote an article here about being in a season of not having a business card. I have enjoyed the feeling of not having to be ready with an answer to the popular question, what do you do? Last week I encountered two scenarios that required me to think of how I would answer that boring question. One was a situation where I had to say what I do and the other was a response that freed me from the pressure of conforming.
I was invited to the Four point Sheraton hotel in Hurlingham for a presentation and dinner. It was a meeting of businessmen inviting us to join a global body that aims at influencing the marketplace positively. As is the norm in most meetings, we were asked to introduce ourselves. Guys seemed to very easily say what they do than who they are. I wondered what I will say about myself or what I do. Do I talk about what I’m leaving or what I’m starting? Or both? Initially when I was invested heavily in my business I found it very easy to say what I do. Nowadays I hang kidogo.
When my turn came, I stood up (visibility is key folks) and introduced myself with the three names that represent my future. Mentorpreneur, public servant and story teller. It felt odd saying what each of this names mean. I think I need to practice my introductions more. Maybe the discomfort was caused by the fact that it didn’t sound like I make money from what I do. Especially compared to the heavy weights in the room who had two businesses (and some three) on average. Though I long for the time when I will earn from what I now love doing.
The second encounter was last Saturday during a halftime dinner at the Residency, Best Western on River side drive. I love this venue for small group meetings and trainings. The staff are so friendly it feels as though they will go home with you when leaving the place. Robert the chap who served us was ever smiling and dotted on us throughout our evening session.
Susan, one of the participants told us how she has made peace with the question – what do you do? She answers, ‘’nothing, I live’’. I was the facilitator for this dinner cum discussion. I mentioned that I wear many hats when introducing myself. Susan emphasized her I – do – nothing response by saying that in her current season she has no hat on. She has put down all her hats so as to figure out which one will serve her best going forward. Once she’s clear she will put that hat on. If that is not thinking far away from the box, then I don’t know what is
One of the other participants confirmed that she’s at the space where she also doesn’t have business cards to give out and that is a place she wants to remain for a while. Sometimes after many years of being on the fast (mostly faster) lane, halftime strikes us and all we want is to get off the stage, away from the lime light and enjoy being a nobody. We want people to stop relying on us and leave us alone to figure ourselves out. I call it being irresponsible and loving it.
This is a key motivation for me to leave my business. So that my staff, suppliers and clients are not dependent on me. That’s the only way I’ll get a good chance to fully explore and discover how this life of public service will pan out. In fact, learning new things excites me. Anything that seems to pull me back into my business is hardly exciting. A WhatsApp forward put it really well. This whole having a job thing is really getting in the way of me living my best life. That said reality dictates that we have to sometimes do boring stuff to make ends meet. Adulting, i call it. So I’m working on my business as I seek my new life.
It’s funny how at this stage of our lives all we want is to align what we do with what we love. That’s the driving force for most of the folks at 40. We seem to have little or no regard of how we will be perceived in public. Image is no longer everything as it used to be earlier.
So next time you have to introduce yourself, don’t fake it folks. You can still mention what you do because it may lead to some business. But keep in mind that even by saying your name and that you’re an explorer in search of your second half calling is sufficient. You may be surprised how your authenticity will bring out other searching souls from the closet. After all I believe many folks at 40 hide behind their titles and job descriptions. These mostly serve as screen savers for many because they are scared of letting go and being seen as clueless. Deep down they want to leave the highway that they have always been on and get onto the unbeaten and unfamiliar path to discover why they are on this earth.
It will take time and consistency to acquire a new identity. For me the Lucas- wa- tent brand is very strong and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m trying to move that brand from me and into my business in the hope that it will benefit my business even as I exit. I was mistaken to think I’d have replaced my identity in a short period of time forgetting that I took almost twenty years to build it. But let that not worry you folks. Just work hard in silence towards your new dreams and passions and your new fresh identity will chomoka. Success will eventually make the noise for you.