I was offered a chance to join forces with my friend and become a customer facing sales rep who spoke to business owners directly to sell the service and products. Luckily the system and structure of what we provided was very straightforward and simple, not to mention the value it added for any business who utilized the service. So for me learning to speak to the products and services wasn’t a difficult process. And if memory serves me correct, Panera Bread was the only company that had wifi established in all of their locations at that time. There were no major competitors. I jumped all over the opportunity!
You can imagine my feelings of inadequacy as I became an instant failure in this new venture. At first I had trouble figuring out why I couldn’t seem to land any deals. I was delivering a good pitch. Potential customers showed a high level of interest. There was a huge opportunity in the market and our product, process, and support structure were easy to convey and understand. The benefits of adding our services were extraordinary. It was a win-win. So what was wrong?
One day it finally hit me, I wasn’t connected to the mission of the company. I didn’t have an ounce of passion for this work. As grandiose as the idea was of being a part of my friends startup company that had tons of potential, it didn’t connect to my purpose. Due to this I wasn’t giving 100% of myself to the process, and it was causing me to fail.
I think it is a tragedy that so many of us spend portions (many times large chunks) of our personal and professional lives completely disconnected from our purpose.
As poet Samual Johnson observed, “Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to display qualities which he does not possess.”
That perfectly sums up my time working for that company. I was attempting to display something that I did not possess. I didn’t realize it at the time but I basically fell into someone else’s plan for my life for a period of time, because I didn’t have clarity on my own plan.
I admire the courage in Mr. Johnson’s observation. Any time we engage in attempts to be someone, or to be a part of something that is not directly tied to our vision, goals, or purpose, it is indeed a waste of life. That is heavy!
At the end of the day I’m very thankful for that experience, as well as other experiences that highlight this important life lesson. I’m a forward thinker and I don’t want to waste any more of the time that I have left on this planet. I’m learning that I have to be very intentional regarding my choices and taking a higher level of ownership in how I spend my time both personally and professionally if I’m going to reach my full potential and accomplish my life’s purpose.
I would encourage you to do the same.