“Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want a chance to change the world? — Steve Jobs
If you prefer an audio podcast version of this story, listen to one here.
Happy to Have a Job
Finding a job and working for spending money came fairly early to this Midwestern raised boy. There was always something I wanted and my parents just kept repeating “get a job.”
So, I did.
Not knowing anything better, the first 15 years or so went along fine. I held many limiting beliefs yet, had not learned the term yet. It was enough that someone could tolerate having me around, let alone paying me for it. I was grateful most of the time earning just enough to pay the rent, but not much else.
You have not had thirty years of experience.You have had one year’s experience 30 times. — J. L. Carr
Coming to a Head
About the age of thirty, after my work had taken me across the country relocating several times, I landed in Philadelphia.
I was working as a restaurant manager for a large nationwide Irish themed chain, that also had late night drinking clientele.
Late into the night after a long 12 hour shift, an altercation began near where I was working. Things escalated, a mob struggle ensued. We bounced the men responsible out, they were drunk, 6 total. The police were called, upon arrival they did nothing to arrest the lone man who was still lunging and taking swings at the staff.
The next day, a Sargent from the station called to inform me they were off duty police officers. He wanted to do an investigation, we cooperated and it resulted in 6 arrests, all members of my staff, including me.
The charges would be aggravated assault, disturbing the peace, over serving, and various other fabrications. The fiasco cost the company tens of thousands and effected my mental well being profoundly. It went on for two years before they finally dropped all charges.
My retraining around the idea of the safety and security at a JOB had begun.
Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar. — Drew Carey
Evolution Takes Time
With the JOB imprint still strong inside me, searching for another was all I knew to do. SO I did, in a similar industry with differences I thought would make for more happiness.
Landing a job at a local retirement community as a Director of Food Service, I couldn’t have been happier, for a minute.
Daytime hours, a small staff of 8, along with my own office that had a door, and we didn’t serve booze.
Then one day the site director walked into the kitchen, there was an issue she wanted to discuss. I didn’t work directly for her, we were contracted, but she was the client. Inviting her into my office, we sat down.
She took no time getting to the issue informing me that some residents had been seen enjoying two milks at meal time. This was forbidden, there were cost constraints. When I asked what she would like me to do, she explained. “Chris, I would like to see you at the end of the buffet making sure that only one milk carton is taken.” There was a small help yourself reach in cooler at the end of the meal counter. Many residents didn’t take any at all, but those who took two had gotten under her skin as wasteful.
That man is as hateful to me as the Gates of Hades, who hides one thing in his heart and says another. — Homer
Getting Pushed Ever Closer
My brain began to crunch the numbers, how much a did half pint carton of milk cost back then. It was pennies, plus we had anticipated the costs of each person taking one milk. Half were taking none, so half could take two and all would be well.
Very few were taking two. I smiled and complied thinking she would rarely be around to see if indeed I was policing the milk.
I was wrong.
She was there the next day checking and was intent on my compliance with her wish. Something welled up inside me as I tried to find a way to appease her. It was a non issue to me, and there was simply no way I was going to be taking from and scolding a human soul who had made it 90 years on this earth.
I would give whatever was asked for, if it would help one person feel more satiated and happy leaving my dining room.
She would not be swayed, and I wasn’t doing it, time to bum again. Low on cash, fear about the future was creeping in on me.
There is an enormous number of managers who have retired on the job. — Peter Drucker
At a Fork in the Road
For me, knowing change is needed, but not being clear on what it is, brings discomfort.
Looking back now, something had cracked open in my thinking. New possibilities were about to appear in my viewfinder.
Deciding a little recovery was needed, I took a few days off and drove down to Washington DC. I was interested in all the history and amazing architecture. On the drive down from Philadelphia, I heard some news on the radio. The Klu Klux Clan had scheduled a rally through downtown, ending on the capital building steps.
My minds eye made an image instantaneously, even though I had never seen a clansman in person, or at the capital. My imagination posed The Grand Imperial Wizard adorned in his white robe and headdress, standing on marble steps with the capital dome behind him.
One of the most important things that I have learned in my 57 years is that life is all about choices. On every journey you take, you face choices. At every fork in the road, you make a choice. And it is those decisions that shape our lives. — Mike DeWine
The significance of my vision and what had just happened eluded me for the time being.
A plan was made to be downtown for the rally the very next day. Another realization came fast at that moment, I didn’t own a camera.
Having had several most of my life, it was confusing, what had happened to them? No matter, I went straight to the store connected to the only credit card I owned, Montgomery Wards. Once there, I quickly picked out a camera, an X700 Minolta kit, still owned today.
The next day, I made my way downtown, parked and set out on foot. If you have never been in the District of Columbia on the day of a march, it’s quite the spectacle.
Masses of people were on the street downtown. Police were out in full force outfitted in ominous riot gear. My heart began racing while making my way towards the route. Commands could be heard coming from amplified voices.
I had never felt an excited rush or strong anticipation like that in the food service industry.
“They burnt crosses every night all around us, and a man who’ll burn what he prays to, he’ll burn anything.” ― Shelby Foote
Literally, I could smell evidence of a fire burning.
As I got closer to the march of Klansman, the crowd thickened. It became very dangerous and just like that, a loud bang rang out.
This led the hordes of people to just start running in a panic. People got knocked over, being stepped upon as I ducked in behind a car for protection.
I could go on about this story all day, but that is for another time.
Soon, I decided it was too dangerous retiring back to the hotel, I had never made it to the capital steps.
The next morning as I went for continental breakfast in the hotel lobby, I saw the headline. Front page, the Washington Post had ran a story with the exact picture I imagined, it had occurred and someone had captured the moment.
Then I realized, they also got PAID!
The limiting belief epiphany hit right there…just how many marketable skills did I already have that may be more valuable than a job? What if I had multiple income streams instead of one paycheck? I was off to the races.
“Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do).” ― Stephen R. Covey
The Next Three Actions
It was decided on the spot, forget college, or retraining, I would be an artist, a photographer.
Having always been creative, suddenly I wondered how I had forgotten, pushing a known passion far in the background.
It had come so fast and so clearly, I didn’t bother questioning it. Along with crushing self limiting beliefs we must learn to intensely believe some other divine directions, vibrations if you will.
What am I attracting naturally, that would be a good fit as a professional pursuit? Ironically, I was about to look to the classified ads again, the limited belief still informing me.
So I went to look if there were any photography jobs listed. There were none, but literally hundreds of restaurant and retail management openings.
I felt an urge to answer some, going back in to the abyss.
Then decided to sit down, asking myself some important questions?
How can I be a photographer? How do they spend their days? Who buys photography? In the next few days I picked a business name, had cards printed, and purchased a Radio Shack police and fire scanner.
I remembered the Grand Wizard photo and the realization that someone had made money for braving that crowd and I hadn’t. Yet, I did all of the same things. Another epiphany I would carry on with me for use to this day.
There is so much more material there to share, I’ll put it in another story.
Just let me say that the few days following my three decisions were extraordinary.
The universe stepped in and people showed up to have me working at a newspaper as an independent stringer just days later.
I just realized, that was my first entrepreneurial act, creating something new where there was nothing before.
My first lessons around supply and demand along with the importance of novelty were learned back then.
I believe, because I was finally paying attention to what my vibrations attracted, acceleration appeared where arrest had existed before.
Nothing could seem to happen that didn’t support my creativity.
“If you’re waiting until you feel talented enough to make it, you’ll never make it.” ― Criss Jami
Summing it Up
The experience just shared occurred 31 years ago.
Today creativity is a part of each day from dawn until dusk.
My life has changed in more ways than I can share here. The decision to create and distribute my own work has not only saved my soul, but has given me a whole new life beyond my wildest dreams.
I’d just like to finish this by leaving you two more quotes, the first I made up decades ago:
I can do what I want, right where I’m at, with only what I have, right now. — Christopher Boswell
And one more from the late great Joseph Campbell:
“Just sheer life can not be said to have a purpose, because look at all the different purposes it has all over the place. But each incarnation, you might say, has a potentiality, and the mission of life is to live that potentiality. How do you do it? My answer is “follow your bliss”. There’s something inside of you that knows when you’re in the center, that knows when you’re on the beam or off the beam. And if you get off the beam to earn money, you’ve lost your life. And if you stay in the center and don’t get any money, you still have your bliss.”
And you could have BOTH!
Cheers, for now, Christopher!
©℗®™Copyright Christopher Boswell 2020 All rights reserved.