Aside

"Lifing" the Summer Away

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Image by doug88888 via Flickr

I killed my company to find my life.

Yes, I led a multi-million dollar consulting company that I loved. I loved the CEOs and leaders I worked with. I loved the amazing companies and their technologies. I liked to imagine the next marketing making move and to put that into motion. I loved publishing the book that shared my methodology of creating real strategies that worked. I thrived for a long time in that context.

But what I realized is that it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to be intellectually fulfilled and not emotionally joyful and physically renewed.

So I shut down my company to find my life.

Unbeknownst to many people as I don’t like to talk about kid stuff in work forums…My son was having serious, and regular problems at school. My husband and I were struggling with the related tensions that brought including how to get on one page about ways to parent. While I had written my first book, I couldn’t summon the energy to celebrate it and then I started getting impatient and grumpy with the people and businesses I wanted to serve. I was tired. I loved the work but in many ways my life just seemed “off”.

So I decided to stop “working” for a bit and get to “lifing”. The firm, unfortunately, couldn’t run without me, and when it came right down to it…i needed to get my life in order and stop working JUST on the firm. Lifing includes working for sure. But I’m not absolutely sure that working includes the larger set of “lifing”. Working harder and harder over several years time didn’t seem to be fixing things. Perhaps not working … Would.

With the help of an 8 week sabbatical, I think I found my life again. I certainly found my family, my smile, and some creativity again.

Perhaps I’ll restart the company or a new one. Perhaps I’ll serve on some public boards as there are far few women in those roles. Perhaps I’ll just pick a few companies (like Shwowp) and see how I can add growth value. Perhaps I’ll  …

The future is not 100% clear right now but I have the energy, creativity, and curiosity that will help me figure out what’s next.

And that’s “lifing”.  I think I could get into it. You?

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9 Responses:

  1. Douglas Edwards. August 26, 2010 at 5:28 pm  |  

    Fabulous and courageous. You have my endorsement, support, and anything else I can offer. You are making the right decision, as some say putting first things first. Our children are a gift, and trust that must be embraced fully. The rewards are far greater than any temporary loss in the transient world of work. Congratulations on being wise, which is no surprise to me, but also on putting into your own life the kind of insight that others pay you for. Most of us never have the courage to see what may be obvious to others. That’s why consultants can make a living I suppose, but it’s much harder to act to do the right thing for yourself and even for your family when you think the world is watching. Enough from me. Thanks for the posting. It moved me to think deeper about my own obligations that matter most.

    Reply
  2. Anonymous. August 26, 2010 at 10:39 pm  |  

    Well said! It is rare to find people with the courage to make this kind of change, let alone share the decision in public.Best of luck on the next leg of your journey!

    Reply
  3. TinaMBean. August 27, 2010 at 12:03 am  |  

    Bravo, my friend. Looking at you now, I sense inner peace and a “still” that i had not seen in the past. There’s a knowing and glowing too. Ahh, so much to learn from you.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous. August 27, 2010 at 7:02 pm  |  

    This is a BIG move – and if it’s right for you and your family, then it’s great to see you willing to do what it takes to get your life back.I know how hard it can be to balance career and kids. Reality is, we only have the time with our kids for a very short time, what a pity if we miss those moments and opportunities with them.Thanks for sharing!Please keep us posted on your next venture Nilofer!

    Reply
  5. SemperFiValues. September 8, 2010 at 10:58 pm  |  

    Wow! You really walk the walk. That must have been a hard adjustment. I imagine it took courage and commitment to pull of that. Way to stick to your values.Marty

    Reply
  6. Anonymous. September 10, 2010 at 2:08 am  |  

    This is amazing, brave and incredibly uplifting to hear…and wow…I’m honored that we may be part of this process. xo

    Reply
  7. Steve Prestegard. June 22, 2011 at 8:53 pm  |  

    I hate to pour cold water on this … but there are tens of millions of Americans who are “lifing” not by choice. (Including, unfortunately, me; my story starts at http://presteblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/beginning-at-the-end/.) How many employees did your company have? What happened to them? Most people in this country, I would argue, work because they have to, not because they love what they do. I may be misreading this (this is the first time I’ve heard of you), but this is how you come off in what I read.

    Reply
    • Nilofer Merchant. June 23, 2011 at 1:14 am  |  

      Steve -

      Steve – I’m sorry for your news.

      I was grateful to have a talented team at Rubicon that was VERY involved in the final decision; while the blog post doesn’t 100% reflect that, we came to a decision more than I came to a decision. Their choices were linked to mine. At our height we were 6 full time people and 20 or so part time people who lost Rubicon as a source of income. In closing, I was able to actively help everyone except 1 land in something even better for them. The one I couldn’t help is a different story. But they are all happy, and all good.

      I hope your story turns out well. I’ve gone through tons of transitions (including the one I’m doing right now) and it’s never easy but we get through it.

      Reply
  8. Tia. June 28, 2011 at 5:05 am  |  

    Amen sister! We’re a culture driven to distraction. The best things in life, really are free (including air, water, food and love). :-)

    Reply

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