Herrington: A Message to Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Chris Herrington, Contributing Writer

     Something I have personally struggled with all my life is the concept of being paid for working. I know, this sounds like a very strange affliction. At first. Let me give you some back ground and maybe, just maybe, I can shed a little light on why this has been such a haunting anomaly in my life.

     I’ve talked about this before, so I am treading on old ground, but we did not find out that my dad was bi-polar until I was in my 30’s. The diagnosis was not even available until then since it was not totally on the radar of the medical profession. Despite his illness, my father was a brilliant doctor and was a savant when it came to networking people; if only he had had a conscience.

     He was also good at making money. The boy could hunt some bucks. In the 1970’s he made in excess of $1000 a day, which I still consider good money, even 45 years later. That’s nearly half a century, and the man was capable to doing incredible things. Yes, my mother was very organizing and could assist him with his presentations, but my dad was a piece of work as well as a real showman.

     The issue was that he would blow through it as fast as he made it. I always kidded that if he had stayed anywhere long enough to learn his lessons he would have gotten where he was going by not going anywhere. The trouble was, as soon as he had the seed money to do something incredibly stupid and far out, he took a rocket ship to total destruction, and so I came to see money as not a good thing because money will mess you up. I knew all too well, because it had happened to my family over and over and again and again.

     What happens in Vegas really does not stay in Vegas; it follows you home like a dog you feed. The emotions you hide, the tolerance you created for aberration, the need you created for added stimulation. The list goes on and on. And the memory is like the last scene from “Damn Yankees.” And money would mess Dad up like a bag of heroine.

     Mom and Dad never got their relationship back on track. And the beginning of the end was always money. So, when I got a job and the check came in, I looked at it and I knew my life would soon be over. I have always worked very hard at my jobs, and part of it was the guilt I carried because of the worry I had over being paid. I worked extra hours, and I studied way too hard. For any class I taught, I tried to have 3 times the amount of material I would need, and eventually I put it all on a thumb drive and I was able to teach 7 whole courses in their entirety from my key chain, and I still carry that with me, even though I have been retired for a year.

      I did grow to feel less guilty over taking the money, but I have always been big on volunteering. And the things I signed up for we some pretty difficult tasks. I wanted to please and I wanted to be needed, and I wanted to help, and, no, you don’t owe me a dime. That can make a fellow pretty popular, and wise to how much people need you versus needing your abilities and services. Over the years I pretty much just plain gave it away. I have had some pretty catastrophic failures. I have helped many other people get up, stand up, and walk proud, but the cost to me personally was sometimes pretty high, although there is the satisfaction of a job well done and being able to see people get turned around and head on down the road of life. Don’t get me wrong; I have enjoyed that part of my life and do not regret it. But, as in chess, the end game is everything.

     I have had to obtain my own mentors. I’ve entrusted some very savvy people over the years and tried to ask these sorts of questions all along, but this particular one seems to have come to the foreground as I have to begin making more choices about where to spend those remaining hours of quality work time. People who survive to a certain level in life are often lucky to have done so. I don’t believe in luck. But I also can’t say that I did it all by myself. What I will say is that I was at least smart enough to ask a lot of good questions of a lot of pretty smart folks, and that has made some difference in my life.

     I have a friend who is the president of a company, a smart guy with a tremendous insight into the workings of work related things and how to charge for services and products. He asked me a very simple lead in thing when I bought all this up: “Why are you having a problem charging people for what you do?” I told him my story and then I was faced with this simple question: “You love what you are doing, so what is holding you back from doing more of it and doing it better?”

     I told him flat out, “I’m providing the best service I can afford.” Huh.

     If I charged people, I could use their money to help provide even better service, and they would actually be buying into their own recovery. I had to really think about that. I had been throwing the door open and trying to air condition the entire planet. Providing service and being paid and using the money to provide better service and pay for my education for needed updates in my own education to provide even better service? What a concept.

     Okay, I’m not a lawyer, or a doctor, or a scientist, but I do have a $100,000 education. If that was an investment, then it has to make a return; otherwise it was a bad investment, right? I can still volunteer, but I need to work on the clock. If anything this last 10 months has proven, I can stay busy. I just think it’s about time that my intervention/mediation hobby pays for itself. Tools cost money, and I can’t afford to just rent them out for free. At this point, if I could just break even on the investment, I would be pleased as punch. And I don’t want my effectiveness as a life coach to be limited by the amount of my own money I can afford to use serving others; they deserve better than that.


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