When I finally had the courage to quit my blue collar job and start my business I thought I was creating a life I wanted. (Here I am on a forklift on my last day at Kraft Foods.) Notice the uniform and hairnet! Couldn’t wait to get rid of those!
It was exciting to have the freedom to use time how ever I wanted. I was determined to love my work,
use my talents and create a wonderful life. No longer was I going to be motivated only by security or a steady paycheck. No longer was I tied to a production line looking up at the clock knowing the best part of the day is realizing it’s time to rotate. No, I was going to become the master of my destiny. 🙂
I named my business ICARE, which stood for Improving Communication and Relationships Everywhere. The idea came from my understanding of how difficult it is to be “in relationship” in the workplace when you are at the bottom of the food chain and your boss only sees you as a number. My mission was to change the dynamics of communication and relationships in the world of work. I believed life could be good in every area, no matter what your job, status or position.
It didn’t take long before I got speaking engagements across the United States. I got my first national engagement the second year.
Then I started getting articles published in trade journals and magazines.
I started writing for the Springfield Business Journal on a regular basis. I developed products and then I started developing training programs. I even got in to places like NASA and Brookhaven National LAB. The Detroit Free Press even bought my booklets and handed them out at their career fairs. The more opportunities I got the more ideas I had and the harder and longer I worked. People commended me for my determination, my work ethic and my tenacity.
What I and others failed to recognize is that the dream had become an addiction. I became a workaholic. I had traded one type of prison for another. I didn’t’ know where I ended and the business began. Being a creative type and working out of a home office didn’t help.
Even on weekends, there was always another article to write, more research to do, another self-help seminar to sign up for, another product to create and another internet marketing technique to learn. I was compelled to do more, produce more, learn more.
I thought I was disciplined when in fact I was addicted. Now that I’ve come through the other side of withdrawal, (taking weekends off, scheduling time for fun and working only 25 hours per week) I see addiction all around me.
Being busy is the new status symbol. The busier you are, the more worthy you feel. Being busy is an excuse you can use to avoid involvement, relationships and previously agreed upon commitments. In addition busyness is a story others buy into without much argument. After all, they too are busy.
The cure for addiction is discipline; however most of us get the two confused because on the surface addiction and discipline have a lot in common. Both are habits and both discipline and addiction have a push-pull feel of competing desires.
The way to determine if you are disciplined or addicted is to ask yourself two questions.
1. Am I the servant or the master of (fill in the blank).
2. When it comes to (fill in the blank) I selling my soul or feeding my soul?
When you are addicted your urges control you. When you are disciplined, you control your urges. When you are addicted you are the servant. You feel splintered, out of control. You have no choices.
When you are disciplined you are the master. You are in charge. You are aligned. You get to decide.
One of my favorite authors, Gary Zukav in his book Heart of the Soul, lists some ways to know if you are ruled by your workaholic compulsions:
- Projects are more important than people
- No time
- Feeling fatigued but still can’t stop
Addiction and discipline have an impact on your soul. When you are addicted you sell your soul. When you are disciplined you feed your soul.