There are several ugly truths about life that most of us ignore. I want to cover two of those ugly truths today. The first is that the path through life is fraught with uncertainty. The second is that by the time we’re mature adults, we have had experience with the first truth, but most of the time, we tuck it away into a deep dark corner of our minds. Then we go on with our lives behaving as though the first truth does not exist.
By tucking away and ignoring the first truth, a belief is formed within us that we have the ability to create for ourselves a life that is secure. This belief is called the “illusion of security.”
The illusion of security becomes evident when we assume that our future — next week, next month, next year — will only get better. This illusion is also evident when we ask questions like, “Can you guarantee that I’ll still have my job a year from now?” or “If I follow the governor’s stay-at-home order to shelter in place for the next five or six weeks (because of the COVID-19 virus), will you guarantee that I’ll be able to go back to work and that everything will return to normal?”
We desire security in our personal lives, our work, our relationships, our finances, and all the other areas of our lives. In fact, we crave and expect security.
The politicians who run our local, state, and federal governments are fully aware of our illusion of security and are masters at manipulating us by promising money and goodies that will be perceived as helping us to be more secure.
But what happens when we are forced to admit that the illusion of security is a lie, which is what has happened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?
In January of this year, my 24-year-old daughter, Teresa, quit her secure, 40-hour-a-week job, so she could dedicate all her time to her wedding photography business. By the time she quit her job, she had grown her business to the point where it was a second full-time job for her. At that time, she was getting a consistent flow of new couples on a regular basis, and she had developed relationships with several individuals whom she could count on to assist her with her business.
When Teresa started her photography business (more than two years ago), whenever she ran into a problem, she would call and ask my opinion about what she should do to resolve the problem. I would ask her what she thought the solution to the problem was, and then we would discuss whether I thought her solution was appropriate or whether there was a better solution.
Whenever she complained about the difficulty of running her own business, I reminded her that she was choosing the life of an entrepreneur, and even though I had warned her about the risks of owning and operating her own business, she had chosen to move forward with the goal of someday quitting her job and going full-time with the business.
The dictionary defines “entrepreneur” as “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.”
Before Teresa quit her full-time job to run her own business, I reminded her of what I had previously told her about going full time with the business. Here’s a summary of what I told her:
You need to understand that you’re giving up the predictability and security of a full-time job with a reputable company for the uncertain, chaotic, and insecure future of an entrepreneur. You will not have any security other than what you can bring to the table in the form of knowledge, experience, creativity, resilience, and hard work.
Unlike the person who is employed by a company, your income will be completely dependent on your ability to attract customers, persuade them to pay your prices, and then provide them with excellent service.
The most difficult thing about being an entrepreneur is that you know that one mistake can bankrupt your business. You also know that if you get sick, your business will suffer, and no one will be around to pay you for “sick time.” And you know that you can’t waste any time playing victim or blaming someone else for your problems because you will no longer have a boss or any fellow employees that you can blame.
An employee doesn’t have the problems that an entrepreneur has. As long as the economy is stable, an employee who works diligently and puts in an honest day’s work, can go home at the end of the day without any worries about where the next client or customer is going to come from. And an employee doesn’t have to worry about whether a competitor is going to chip away at their business or whether the employee is going to have enough money in the bank at the end of the month to make payroll.
But despite the difficulties that you will experience as an entrepreneur, if you’re willing to take the risk and put in the time that is necessary to be successful, you will eventually develop a special power — the power to look at problems and difficulties in a calm and strategic manner, while using your knowledge, experience, and creativity to come up with solutions that will actually benefit you and your business in the future.
I’ll be more than happy to help you in your journey as an entrepreneur. The only thing that I ask in return is your commitment that you will pray your Rosary every day. If you do that, we will both be assured that the Mother of God will be assisting you with your business, just as she has assisted me with my business for the past 37 years.
As I expected, Teresa decided to choose the path of uncertainty, chaos, and insecurity over the perceived path of predictability, certainty, and security. Her last day of employment was January 16, 2020. Within two months, the COVID-19 crisis was in full bloom.
She now has bridal couples that she committed to last year who are in panic mode because they are being forced to reschedule their April and May weddings. Her biggest problem is that she has already booked the new dates that the couples are choosing for their rescheduled weddings.
Neither one of us expected that this kind of uncertainty, chaos, and insecurity would come at her in such a short period of time. But you know what? It’s all going to be okay because she’s going to learn more about people and business in the next six months than she learned during her four years in college. And when she comes out on the other side, her business will be stronger than it would have been if the crisis had not occurred.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profoundly negative effect on all of us. In less than a month, our lives have been turned completely upside down. Schools have closed. The stock market crashed and wiped out billions of dollars in retirement investments. More than 10 million people have been laid off from their jobs, with more layoffs on the way. Thousands of businesses have been forced to shut down. And most of our population has been ordered by their state governors to stay home until further notice.
What can we do to navigate through this time of uncertainty, chaos, and insecurity? I’ll cover that topic next week.