I opened up the back of my van tonight to shamefully show my wife what a mess it is and more importantly that I have found myself back in a van with tools strewn from here to breakfast. She immediately turns to me and says, “its in here” as she points to my head. “Your van is like this because that it was its like in your head” BAM- Right between the eyes! I am officially a man who does not know who he is anymore.
I have been suffering from an entrepreneurial seizure for 14 years now and recently I’ve trying to retreat back into my old ways as the “Technician” as defined by Michael Gerber in his famous book “E Myth” I have been trying for many years to run my business as opposed to letting it run me, but recently I feel as though I am failing. I seem to spend all my days putting out fires or literally moving 2×4′s from one end of the job site to the other. This type of activity I have nicknamed “moving rocks” after my mothers habit of using river rocks in some sort of landscape element in her garden only to grow tired of it after some time and then sitting on the ground and placing them in a bucket to be used somewhere else. (Sorry Ma, but its burned into my memory)
My mind is simply a mess. I can’t figure out or decide where to put the rocks. One day I’m at peace with the world and my job as I drive from job to job in my clean truck and then finish the day in my rented office on Main Street feeling all big and important.
The next day I’m in a van with no shelves and piles of unorganized tools and air hoses with no fittings slogging my way to a job that I have decided for some reason that only I can do. Whether its re frame a wall, dig a hole with the excavator or simply shuffle my shit around all the while dressed like a homeless guy with plaid shorts and old hiking boots that should have been burned months ago.
Like I said, I’m a mess. But I know I’m not alone. I’m fighting the same battle that most self employed contractors fight every day.
What the hell do I do with myself? Its not because there’s nothing to do, its the exact opposite. There’s so much to do that I have no idea where to begin and so I fall back into my primitive monkey brain and simply start putting out fires. The problem with that is two fold.
1. Putting out fires is by it’s very nature 100% reactionary. There is nothing strategic happening other than the strategy of putting each fire out. There is no strategy for the growth of the business or anything for that matter beyond my current view in front of me.
2. If you spend all your days putting out fires, eventually you are bound to get burned.
But if my beautiful wife Naomi is right (and I know she is) “dot.com” How the hell do I fix the inside of my head? How do I fix this problem, my business, myself from the inside out? And to make matters worse, I’ve been asking this question for over 2 decades now and sometimes I feel like I’m back at the starting line. Except now I’m 41 years old, 25 Lbs overweight and I own a teenager.
Nathan Dishington has been a General Contractor in the greater Boston area since 2002. He shares his experience, advice and anecdotes from the wild world of residential remodeling to TRY and help bring some sanity for both contractors and homeowners alike.