The other day I was walking into the school and starting to get various things ready for the day. I had a few phone calls to make, a few contracts to enter, and some general upkeep that needed to be done. There was also the generally unglamorous task of cleaning all the bathrooms and giving the floor a good once over with a vacuum and mop.
Oh, the heady freedom that is owning a business. I get to clean toilets, but they are MY toilets.
When I bought into this whole karate school thing, I had a general idea in my head of what running a school would entail.
There was a vague notion of teaching children and adults, of having a meaningful impact on the world, and of doing karate all the time, never being tired, and, sure, having a pet unicorn to ride to work.
Not to say these things aren’t happening. As with any endeavor. The dream and fanciful notions of it are usually a couple of orders of magnitude away from what the activity will actually entail. Yes, I teach children and adults, I would like to think I’m having a meaningful impact on the world, and I do appear to be doing karate most of the time. However, there was a whole bunch about taxes, finances, contracts, shares, and cleaning toilets that I hadn’t really factored into the equation.
The thing is, I’m running what basically amounts to my dream job. But on the sidelines I’m competing, writing, getting a Masters, getting married, figuring out my life and generally attempting to succeed in enough minor ways that eventually will bring about some type of major change.
And that’s the stickler, even in my “dream job” I’m working harder and doing more than I ever have before. It’s exhausting, routinely frustrating, and occasionally terrifying. I’m always looking for a new angle to teach, to write, to sell, or to promote, and I’m in a constant state of worry that one day I’ll wake up, and everything I do, won’t be what everyone else wants anymore.
After all, this whole karate-writing-life-interactions based activities-thing is completely and wholly based on others perceptions and opinions on whether or not what I do has value. Really, all of the economy is based on this concept which, when you get right down to it, is completely ridiculous and will occasionally make me sit down for a moment and think quiet thoughts.
Ridiculous as it may be. It’s also remarkably motivating. Realizing that the only thing deciding your success, or lack thereof, is yourself, has a wonderful side effect of absolutely kicking your ass into gear and making the old noggin churn out new ideas to keep yourself, and your livelihood, marketable (THIS is not marketable…).
Being marketable, being current, even being “hip,” all determines whether or not my business, and by extension, myself, will be successful. It’s terrifying, it’s awesome, and I’ve never felt more alive. It also means I’m playing more Pokémon Go than I’m comfortable admitting, I can have discussions about Minecraft, and I happen to think Minions are hilarious.
Part of staying current and keeping up with whatever kids are doing is that I get to hear new ideas, new dreams, and a whole lot of ridiculous stories every single day. All of them imparted with the absolute conviction only a seven-year-old can muster. Hearing how to create free energy (couched in different terms) or what is the very best pokémon EVER may be slightly ridiculous, but it also motivates me to be more creative and try thinking out of the box the next time I’m writing, or competing, or in a meeting about what we could do better as a business.
That, more than anything else, tells me I’m doing the right thing.
So, I’ll clean my toilets some more, I’ll mop the floors, and I’ll dive into the world of finance and develop a more refined distaste for the IRS.
And it’s all ok. Because working for something you love and believe in means that even the boring parts have meaning and are worthwhile.