I quit my job.
It’s not something I did on a whim. This decision was motivated by the combination of a lot of different things. I didn’t feel challenged anymore. I didn’t feel heard. I felt underpaid. And I just plain felt like things weren’t moving. I felt like my life wasn’t moving–not in the way I wanted it to. I knew I was doing things; I was solving problems and helping team mates and building new things and improving old ones. But it all just felt boring and predictable, like walking a hallway I’d been through so many times before.
I started to ask myself the question many of ask of ourselves, “What do I want? What do I really want?”
For me, the answer is found in a storm of feelings that surges within me, feelings trapped behind a wall that I tap on and put my ear to. I’m not talking about bottled up rage or regrets, I’m talking about that inner voice that pulls at you like a current. That inner voice that always knows what your purpose is but never tells you in words. That inner voice that tantalizes you with all the things you’re meant to do. Call it destiny, desire, ambition, or a seed planted in our souls by God. Call it the raging storm.
Regardless of what you call it, I think anyone can hear this voice. I think every time we pose the question, “What do I really want” the voice speaks to us. However, I think we are quite practiced at ignoring it and even more practiced at telling ourselves why it’s wrong. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve swallowed this storm of ambition to stick with what is safe, and normal, and comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to encourage you to throw caution to the wind and act upon every whim. I’m just saying that my life is probably a lot like the next person’s–lived by someone afraid to take chances, to swing big, and to acknowledge their innermost yearnings and go for them without fear.
When I answered the question, “What do I want?” I concluded that I wanted a new job; more money, fresh problems to solve, and exciting connections to make. As I thought on this, the questions shifted into, “What is your ideal job? If you could work anywhere in the world for any company in any position, what would it be?” I didn’t have a good answer to that but it was something like, “I would be the CEO of ‘All My Employees Love their Jobs and All My Customers Love our Product’ Inc.”
In essence, what I really wanted was control. Control over my life. The power to make decisions and direct a vision and help others feel accomplished.
I wanted to create a business.
It was with this understanding that I started to play around with how I might actually chase this feeling. Get more education? Work five more years in a specific job role? Complete a list of requirements and then start down the real path, the one my inner voice is guiding me towards. The path that all this other stuff helps with but isn’t actually what I want.
And the questions shifted again. “So, when will you know all the things you need to know to succeed at what your inner voice is guiding you towards?” That’s a difficult question to answer because there is a part of me that understands the need for planning, preparation, and patience. But there is also another part of me that understands that you can figure things out as you go and sometimes it’s more important to just start.
The more I thought on this and my other questions the more my inner voice would pull at me, begging me to create something all my own. If I managed to push my inner voice away to make room for more reasonable thoughts like, “Just start a little something on the side and let it grow until you can quit your job.” an event would occur, or a memory would enter into my mind that seemed to prompt me not to ignore my feelings.
In one instance I had a friend I hadn’t spoken to in 7 years call me out of the blue and say, “I have a business idea and last night I had a dream that you could make it a reality, so I’m calling you.”
While walking one day, a memory came vividly back to my memory of being 10 years old and doing career day at school. I remember my teacher explaining why she thought I should be an entrepreneur; it was the first time I had heard the word.
In another instance I ended up in an awkward, mostly silent, walk with the founder of the company I work for. Quite abruptly he turned to me and said, “Everyone has dreams and great ideas. The difference between the entrepreneur and everyone else is the entrepreneur actually does something.”
The list goes on and on.
As I collected these moments, they were more than just coincidences or fleeting memories. Each one felt like a rap on a snare that grew louder and faster until it turned into a drum roll and my heart raced.
I was at work thinking through my latest business plan and feeling frustrated I couldn’t be at home working on it, when it dawned on me: I had already made my decision. It wasn’t a matter of if I would leave but when.
I quit the next day.
No sooner had I done this, than I felt that my inner storm wasn’t something I ignored, but something that fueled me. It was as though we were finally on the same page, as though it would give me all its passion and power if I just kept listening.
Let me start by answering one question you may have. “The blog is called, ‘The Road to One Billion’ so…is it actually your intention to attain a net worth of one billion dollars?”
Yes. But I don’t actually care about the money. The money is just one indicator of how well things are going. What I really care about is creating a place where employees love to come to work and creating a life where I am in control and doing something I love. And just so there are no lingering doubts, if I ever make it to one billion dollars, I will give away 90% of the money.
Now let me answer your second question. “Did you just say you’re going to give away 900 million dollars?” Yup. Obviously, that means I’ll be keeping some but I feel like by that point I’ve earned the right to keep a little. As for the reason I set such a ridiculously high value, that’s because I know that to get to heights like that means you need to be performing at the highest levels. And that’s what I’m excited about: working with great people, building something incredible, and learning a ton.
So, while this blog is called “The Road to One Billion,” remember that it’s really a blog about developing yourself, developing a business, listening to your inner voice, and maybe one day, giving away a stupid amount of cash.