I got chatting to Tony. We were both standing watching our lads play football. As we blokes tend to do, once the conversation on the game had exhausted itself the next topic on the agenda was business.
Turns out Tony isn’t a happy bunny. Or at least that’s the way he sees it. He’s currently a consultant working for one of the “big four”. Six years he’s been there, but according to Tony, he wants out. He’s got a “dream” and it doesn’t involve his current employer.
He told me all about his business idea. He told how well researched his market is. Both, as you might expect from a guy doing what Tony does for a living, appeared sound in their reasoning. You can’t question the man’s ability to research and analyse. Inevitably, after listening intently to Tony for five or ten minutes and feeling the passion and excitement emanating from him, I asked if his business was operational.
The answer was “no”.
An air of familiarity filled my nostrils.
I then asked how long he’d had the idea. He paused briefly to do some maths and replied he’d been “working on it” for just over three years. I could tell by how Tony communicated the last point that he was “proud” to have taken so long to do his research and analyse the opportunity. “Spoken like a true consultant,” I thought to myself.
“So when is the business launching?” I asked.
“Hopefully next year,” Tony replied. “The timing isn’t right now”.
And there it is. I’d bet every penny I have that Tony’s spun that line between his own ears a few hundreds times in the last three years and I’ve got no doubt it’ll be spun a thousand times more…all the way until Tony retires.
I didn’t point any of this out to Tony. It’s not my place. I’d only just met him and regardless, he didn’t ask for my advice or input. He doesn’t even know what I do (he didn’t enquire). As I wished him great success with bringing the idea to market, another parent approached to discuss something related to the football club, so our conversation ended.
Tony reminded me of a man I once knew.
Once upon a time, in a dark, distant and soulless land called employment, a thirty-one year old man had a dream. He longed to be free of work that filled his bank account and emptied his soul. He yearned to live his purpose and be free of the shackles of working on someone else’s agenda. He craved to be the master of his own destiny, doing what he loved serving people who loved what he did for them.
He’d even equipped himself with the knowledge and technical ability to do it.
But the timing wasn’t “right”. Not in 2001. After all, he was getting married the following year and that takes money. And he’d not long bought a house. That takes money too. Then there was 9/11. Only a fool starts a business when the world’s gripped with fear, right?
It was no different in 2002. The timing wasn’t “right” then either. For a start there was the previously mentioned wedding. Then there was a honeymoon to fund. Plus he got new position in the company. Well, a new title in another sales department. He convinced himself the new role spelled progression and in fairness it did represent a stretch…but really, all that changed was the dynamics of the sales relationships (selling via third parties) and the deal numbers were much, much bigger. The reality was he was doing the same old thing wearing a different hat.
Then came a thunderbolt. The business announced to the city, out of the blue, it had breached its banking covenants…and overnight it went from being the darling of its sector to a basket case heading for bankruptcy. Surely it’s time to ship out and “do your thing”? You’d have thought so. I mean, just how hard does life have to work to get this guy to wake up and smell the coffee?
And guess what? The timing wasn’t “right”…and anyway, a new management team arrived with the “promise of a brighter tomorrow”…so things could only get better, right?
2003 brought the joyous, life-changing arrival of a first child. What kind of man rocks the boat and walks away from a six figure salary, company car allowance and all the other corporate trimmings when there’s another mouth to feed? Not this guy. He takes his responsibilities very seriously. And let’s not underestimate the advantages of remote working – nothing better than a big slice of “work life balance” for a family man.
No, in 2003, the timing just wasn’t “right”.
Just like it wasn’t in 2004. The new father landed a very large deal with a very healthy five figure payout. Great news…unless you work for a bunch of economists smart enough to devise a commission plan built to protect cashflow and to prevent talent leaving the business by drip-feeding earned commissions over a 12-month period. Only an idiot walks away when there’s that kind of money on the table, right?
So the timing wasn’t “right” for the vast majority of 2005 either. “Sit back and let the money roll in,” he told himself. All very “cushty” if you’re not the guy ultimately selling out on your dream.
By the autumn of 2005, those in the know knew the business was being shaped to sell. Senior management had some big dollar signs in their eyes. Further down the pecking order, rumour had it if you played your cards right, they’d be willing to pay people to get off the books.
The man who sold out on his dream dealt his cards perfectly and on March 31st, 2006 he finally stepped out to live his dream.
Was the timing “right”?
Was it bollocks. The timing couldn’t have been any worse. The man who sold out on his dream had just learned child number two was on the way…AND he’d just tripled the size of his mortgage.
For four years this guy had convinced himself the timing hadn’t been “right” and yet, in the ironies of all ironies, at no point in those four years had the timing been worse than when he finally did what he should have done.
The man who sold out on his dream did so for four years. Many sell out for a lifetime. But that’s no benchmark to behold and it’s scant consolation to the man who denied himself – and his dream – the growth, learning and experience of 4 precious years.
Put a price on that.
The problem with the man who sold out on his dream was his thinking. He thought in reverse. He stayed for the money…and sacrificed four years of his life for it.
You see, he’d got his priorities entirely the wrong way around. Sacrifice is letting something go of a lesser value to attain something of a higher value. The money will always be there to be earned. He could have earned it over and over again and in fact, he has….
…but the years are lost to him forever. He’ll never earn them back.
“The timing’s not right” is the calling card of those who, despite their rhetoric and granduous plans, are NOT up for the success they’re convinced they are and claim to be.
Believe me, I know. I’ve been one them. Because I’m the man who sold out on his dream.
A mind unconsciously controlled by a limiting belief and its warped priorities will NEVER tell you the timing is right. And in a way it’s right. The timing is NEVER right – which is why it’s so utterly idiotic to wait until it is. I know, I lost four years because of it.
How many must you lose?
Christian Simpson is the UK’s leading coach and mentor to business owners and entrepreneurs. For COMPLIMENTARY ACCESS to tried, tested and proven entrepreneurial success strategies, click here