I entered the workforce over 30 years ago and early in my career I learned some things that shaped where I am right now.
Professionally, I’ve changed jobs seven times—only once voluntarily. So I’ve been through layoffs, downsizing, reductions in force (RIFs), and probably some other terms I’ve forgotten.
But there was one particular job where on day one—my first day on the job—the manager of that facility informed all of us engineers that he had made a decision that was going to make work a lot harder for all of us. He made the decision unilaterally without consulting anyone and it ultimately cost the company millions of dollars. It was a really unwise, really bad decision.
So later on, partly due to the extra hours I had to put in to compensate for this mistake, I ended up sitting at my desk being exhausted—I was so tired I really shouldn’t have even been there. I should have called in sick. But I was at my desk and I nodded off and fell asleep. Someone saw me and because of that I was dismissed from that job.
That’s something I have not talked about publicly until now but I feel like it’s time to share it because it was an experience that really shaped who I am now.
By the way, the manager who made the decision that cost millions of dollars still got to keep his job. They “reorganized” and put someone else in his old position and moved him around—It may have been considered a demotion—but he still drew a paycheck. He was not dismissed.
Please understand I am not at all making any excuses for myself. I take full responsibility for the mistake I made. I earned a dismissal from that company. I completely accept that. But if I earned a dismissal from that company, I felt the manager who cost the company millions earned one too.
And I had not been silent about my criticisms.
I was extremely outspoken. I did not bite my tongue at all. I was much younger and more idealistic at the time. I was warned by a more seasoned professional that I should not be so vocal.
I ignored the advice.
I was just speaking what I felt was the obvious truth. The business would not survive if we didn’t stop wasting millions because of stupid decisions.
I couldn’t help feeling that my refusal to play the political game cost me my job. Sure, I messed up, but I couldn’t shake the suspicion that I might have been shown mercy if I hadn’t ruffled the wrong feathers.
So I learned the workplace isn’t fair.
From that point on, my number one priority at work—wherever that might be—was to manage my image.
I changed the way I interacted with people. I became more guarded and cognizant of my managers’ perception of me.
And it paid off. I got good reviews, promotions, raises…all those good things.
But inside I was dying.
I wasn’t being my true self. I realized if I kept going on this path, I would get better and better at playing the role of “Professional Julius”. Worse yet, I was losing the real me. If nothing changed, I would have no shot at becoming the best “me” I could be. It was killing me.
So when I went into business for myself, I brought more than a decade of experience rehearsing the role of “Professional Julius”. I slowly realized it did not serve me in the business world.
I remember distinctly looking myself in the mirror one day because I felt people were not taking me seriously. I recalled meeting with a prospect, doing a full presentation of my offer and after it was over being asked “so, you’re doing this business?” I wondered, “how is it not obvious that I’m doing this business?”
Why weren’t people taking me seriously?
As I stared at my reflection the answer hit me. I pointed my finger at the mirror and I answered my own question.
“It’s because you don’t take you seriously.”
So that’s when I realized I had to work on myself. I had to build belief in myself so I could take myself seriously.
I poured myself into personal development. I read books. I listened to audio. I hired coaches. And that’s brought me to where I am now.
I wouldn’t say I’m now 100% authentic in my business but I’ve come a long way since I started.
You see, I learned that people do business with people they know, like, and trust. Being an authentic person is a way to increase your “KLT” factor.
Sure, you could build your business by being cutthroat, ruthless, and manipulative. You might even make a lot of money. But if you choose the path of authenticity, you can build your business and build yourself at the same time. The authentic path is more aligned with my idea of true success.
As I strive to become a better version of myself, my business gives me feedback as to how I’m doing. And I can measure my success objectively—in dollars and cents.
It’s way better feedback than I ever got on a job. On my job, people can make million-dollar mistakes and still get a paycheck. In my business, if I act like a jerk to people, fail to improve my skill, or just plain do stupid stuff, I don’t make money.
It’s kinda like instant Karma. And I dig that.
Using my business as my mirror, I feel like I’m on a path where I at least have a shot at becoming the best version of myself. Kinda like I’m less likely to cut myself if I look in the mirror while I’m shaving. And you’re less likely to put your lipstick on crooked.
So if you don’t already have your own personal development mirror, I invite you to look at mine. If you’re open and you want to know more about what I do, I’m excited to share with you.
I have been fortunate enough to connect with some fantastic people and get the inside scoop on a really exciting piece of technology that’s going to be coming out really soon. It’s going to shake things up in several different industries.
If that sounds intriguing to you and you want to know more, just follow this link and I’ll deliver the details to you in Facebook Messenger.