Simplicity – autonomy – flexibility
About 8 months ago I was weary and seriously looking at selling my reticulation business. I didn’t have another plan. I was just over it and decided that if I could sell it for the cost of our mortgage then I’d ‘jump’ and see where I landed.
As it turned out there were no takers and I got over the summer blues and started to enjoy it again. Summer is always busy, the phone rings non stop and it’s hard to keep up. Last summer I actually forgot a few appointments because I just couldn’t manage it all. I got gnarly and grumpy and was hanging for holidays. But I made it thru and managed to re-invigorate yet again.
So I had just planned to fire up again this spring but try to temper the pace a bit – easier said than done. But then along came ‘B’ and said ‘Are you interested in selling half of the business – the Joondalup and south section?’ That sounded like a great idea. I’d love to not have to travel that far even! So we began talking and pondering.
I set a price for half the business and we began to discuss how it could work. I was excited.
Early in the conversation I listed 3 critical factors for me that had to be in place for me to get involved. Those things were simplicity, autonomy and flexibility. They rolled off the keyboard quickly and without much deep thought but as I saw the words I realised that they were what I now value in my work life…
Simplicity – I run my own show and do some very specific things. No staff means no responsibilty for other people’s lives, no payroll, no complications.
Autonomy – means I answer to myself on a daily basis and I get to choose the jobs I do, the hours I work and the pace I work at.
Flexibility – means I take holidays often, knock off when I’ve had enough and can work an extra day here and there too if I want to.
We began talking about some form of partnership but the more we spoke the more we both felt like these core values would be casualties of a joint venture. I would be responsible to some degree for his family’s livelihood. We would be answerable to each other and we would need to work together in many ways. There would be shared bills, shared responsibility and shared liability.
As we spoke I realised this was not what I wanted. The big cash hit would have been nice and would have knocked the mortgage into next week, but in the end we decided that what we wanted wasn’t worth that amount of money. We would give up simplicity, autonomy and flexibility and take on some new and unknown dynamics and challenges.
There may be a time when this is a right thing to do, but it isn’t now – for either of us. We met today and agreed that they value those things highly also and wouldn’t want to be tied to us.
So instead I am working with B and helping him get up to speed to run his own business. Yes – he will be my direct competition, but that’s not a concern – it’s a big city. He’s also a brother and a mate who is part of our church and is a refugee from corporate world, trying to re-order his life so that he gets to see his family and gets to actually ‘live’ rather than just working.
Another complicating / ethical issue is that I am a pastor in his church and should things not work out well that would have issues both for our relationship and the wider community. It’s not that such a partnership couldn’t work or shouldn’t be attempted but rather that it comes with some extended risks and implications.
The part of this venture that really inspires me is that we get to help someone find the life they are seeking and escape from the rat race they have felt trapped in. We get to walk with another Jesus follower who is keen to challenge the status quo and help his family find a different way to live in Aussie suburbia.
So this summer I am a retic guy again… Not so reluctant, but maybe a little smarter and less likely to feel totally jaded by December. My goal is to knock off around 2 pm and be home in time to hit the beach and have some fun before dark. The phone will not get answered on Sundays and ‘B ‘ will get a stack of work south of Joondalup as he does some sub-contract for me. It’s a win/win and not much to dislike, so hopefully by December I won’t be posting my annual ‘resignation’ but will be enjoying the different approach to life.
But just writing those 3 words helped me see that ‘partnership’ was not what I was seeking .
What 3 words would you choose to describe the way you like to work and operate?