December 26, 2011

What I Learned in 2011

2011 was the year of change. New experiences forged a range of emotions, but there is much to learn from the previously unknown. Let me share with you my takeaways:

Achilles Injury: In late January I tore my left Achilles tendon playing basketball. It wasn't painful when it happened, but immediately I knew something was wrong. After resting it for a couple of days I got a couple of opinions and if I ever wanted to play sports again, I had to have surgery. The next two months were spent in a cast and I felt helpless. I fought to be independent, but needed care especially from my wife. I figured my business would be on hold for a while, but to my amazement I was provided a couple of opportunities in the next several months. 

Serial Entrepreneurs: During a monthly network event that I started at the beginning of the year, a friend who owns several companies asked if I would consider helping him out. At first I thought he was kidding, but after confirming, I took the opportunity. Limping around from meeting to meeting was a chore, yet I was able to sit with numerous entrepreneurs and hear stories that you can't read in a book. A couple of months later I stepped down and tried a new venture, joining a sales team for a new product. Being part of a strategic new launch is exciting and tedious at the same time. In the end, both weren't a good fit, but I took the blame for my skill set not being a good "fit" and maintained my professional and personal relationships with two men I consider business mentors. 

Shift in Mindset: One of the main reasons I've wanted to have my own business is for freedom and flexibility of schedule. What I've learned over the past 4 years is businesses survive and thrive based on cash flow. Since selling isn't a natural strength of mine I've been applying to university positions in hopes to land a more stable position and expand my current platform. It took me a while to tame my ego and fully pursue a job that would essentially replace my own business. I now understand what it feels like to be in my clients' shoes (I'm a career coach). Through networking I have some leads and will continue to build my connections because that is what I believe is your greatest career asset.

Looking back there was a lot to be thankful for. My faith and dependence on others was tested while I was recovering. I learned a lot (and was humbled) by working with two serial entrepreneurs. I'm now comfortable pursuing a position, then eventually swinging my business on the side. One of the highlights of 2011 was starting a monthly network event geared towards young professionals, called Career Synergy. There I've experienced the power of networking and met some great people I respect both professionally and personally. I look forward to 2012 with much optimism, but take time to pause and thank God for all I've experienced this year. What did you learn in 2011?  

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