Fans of Three Simple Steps tell me that one of the main benefits for them has been gaining the confidence to reinvent themselves. Prior to reading the book they thought of themselves as too young, or too old, insufficiently qualified, inexperienced, unfit, and/or lacking support whether financial or emotional, to stop what they do for a living and follow their passion. All of those excuses seem legitimate when we make decisions for our lives based on the opinions of the people, media and environment around us. I can tell you from experience, however, that reinvention is a simple thing to achieve, far from easy and it takes courage, but simple nonetheless.
I grew up happy but poor in a family held together by the power of a mother’s tenacity and a monthly check from the welfare service. At the tender age of seventeen, however, I won a rare place at naval officer training college, an award normally reserved for the sons of society’s elite. Within three years I found myself being fast-tracked in the fleet, and my friends and family back home were proud. I had a twenty-five year commission to look forward to. At no point in the three years, however, did I ever feel that my chosen career matched who I was. I felt like a fraud deep down in the pit of my stomach, a feeling that people who dislike their current jobs often describe as like gravity tugging at their insides. So, I decided to reinvent myself. It was simple decision, but a terrifically difficult thing to do. The cascade of criticism that followed was loud and fierce.
It was tough to deal with that feeling of having let everyone down, but inside I felt light as a feather for the first time. I reinvented myself using the Three Simple Steps into a hospital radiographer. For several years I felt in the right place at the right time, but eventually began to feel that I could do and be so much more. After six years I reinvented myself again, this time in the biotechnology field. For the next fifteen years I had a fun, fulfilling, and lucrative career. Then as I nudged up against the top of the staff pyramid, I began to feel confined again.
My fourth reinvention was to start my own, and unique, company. It was such a fulfilling experience, I repeated it. After the sale of my second company within eight years, I reinvented myself for a fifth time and you are reading the results. I am a writer with a New York Times bestseller on the shelves, another book in the process, a screenplay in editing, and lots of other projects waiting for me to get to them. I may be a writer for a few years. Certainly time disappears when I write and that is a good indication of being in the right place, doing the thing that is right for me. I know, however, that at some point in the future, I’ll want to reinvent myself again. When I do I will follow the three steps outlined below.
Step one requires that you develop thick skin.
I have never met a self-made person who got that way by making decisions based on the opinions of other people about him or her. Psychology says there are three ways of viewing . . . the way we see ourselves, the way we think others see us, and the way others actually see us. Most people are so desperate to be loved and approved of that they focus their energy trying to achieve the send view . . . how they think others see them. Instead the only view that matters is how we see ourselves. You cannot reinvent your career if you care more about what others will think than what matters to you. Think of it this way . . . The true measure of freedom is to be independent of the good opinion of others. To get that thick skin requires work and in Three Simple Steps there are lots of techniques to help you.
Step two is to actually decide what it is you want to do.
Sounds simple but I rarely meet anyone who can answer this question:
“If anything were possible, and there were no impediments to a guaranteed success, and all you had to do was decide for yourself what you really, deep down, want to do, what would it be?”
Most people can’t answer that or are afraid of the answer. In all likelihood it would not be a slightly better job, more money, or a promotion. In all likelihood it would be something entirely different. You do, however, have to answer the question, and the best way to do it is to take yourself to your favorite natural place, perhaps beach or a park, find a quiet spot where you can be alone. Lie back and recall what it felt like to be a kid dreaming about what you wanted to be when you grew up. Remember that excitement. Try to recapture that feeling because in doing so you fire up a neural pathway in your 100 billion neurons that can help you find your true passion. Then think about the big questions and don’t filter what comes to mind. Your sub conscious knows what you should be doing.
Step three involves taking action.
Most people have great ideas or passionate tugs in their stomach from time to time, but they rarely take any action, and soon the power of that fades away. It is imperative to take action when you complete step two. I am not saying you should pack in your day job and take a one-way ticket to Tibet . . . although if that is what you want to do, go ahead. I’m saying take some small action that puts you in the direction of you reinvention. For instance, when I was enjoying a good career but feeling I wanted to be my own boss, I was short of ideas of what sort of company I good start. One day an idea came to mind. I took action by immediately going online and incorporating the idea. I called the company TGB International LLC. It costs me $100 to do the online paperwork. What was the point? Well, a few days later the corporate paperwork arrived in the mail. There in big letters was my company name and my title as its CEO. I placed the papers on my desk and that was the first thing I saw every morning and last thing at night.
Seeing that paper every day forced my mind to focus and imagine. I started playing around with ideas, doodling so to speak. Within eighteen months it was a real company, and I changed the name to Quality of Life LLC to better suit its mission. So, when you get your great reinvention idea, take some sort of action that causes your mind to think about it every day. That might mean visiting companies in another field, attending night classes to improve knowledge and understanding, or doing preceptorships (shadowing someone for a day in the career or role of your dreams).
© 2013 Trevor Blake, author of Three Simple Steps: A Map to Success in Business and Life
Trevor Blake, author of Three Simple Steps: A Map to Success in Business and Life, was founder and CEO of QOL Medial LLC, a specialty pharmaceutical company he started in 2002 with a few thousand dollars and sold in 2010 for over 100 million. In 2006 he founded ANU, a unique not-for-profit dedicated to developing low side-effect cancer drugs. Prior to this, Blake was VP Commercial Development at Ceptyr and Director Commercial Development at Orphan Medical. He has worked in the UK, Europe, and the USA with companies such as Biogen, 3M, and Lipha, and has won many industry awards, including marketing professional of the year. For more information please visit http://www.trevorgblake.com, and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.
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Category: Startup Advice