I actually made the decision to turn pro on April 24th 1989 at the age of 31. It was the day, after three years of inner turmoil and soul searching, that I finally printed, signed and handed in my resignation letter that I had composed eighteen months earlier. It was the day I committed to my calling. I was at my desk in Holborn London, the offices of the Digital Equipment Corporation where I had worked for nearly three years. My heroic journey started in a cubicle! I left on July 23rd 1989. Those three months were full of excitement and fear, wondering if I was being courageous or crazy.
I had been “programmed” for safety, conservatism and security, as my father stayed with one company for 49 years. But my soul was unprogrammed and urging me to an adventure, a different destiny. It was time to dare, to be more bold and audacious on my own behalf. I wanted to see where my soul would take me. The real reason I wanted to leave my corporate job was to find out who I really was; I felt if I didn’t make a bid to satisfy that curiosity, I would die.
When I left on July 21st 1989 I was still full of fear and anxiety and full pride in myself for answering the call to adventure in my own heart. I had decided to dedicate my life to the dream that was whispering in my heart. In mythological terms, it was the day that I said, “Yes,” to my heroic call to adventure after refusing it for so many years. As an amateur until then, I had been arguing for my limitations, and wanting prove that my limits were true rather than self-imposed. I had treasured my excuses and I have wanted to prove that I couldn’t do things or that possibilities were beyond my reach. I wanted to believe that I was justified and being sensible by clinging to my corporate career. But I was tired of myself and my own stories, I was tired of feeling imprisoned by my own fears. However sensible I tried to be, that voice of inspiration within me just wouldn’t stop encouraging me to leave. I figured out if I got to be sixty or seventy and I hadn’t changed, I would hate myself even more than I did at the age of 31. So I mustered my courage and quit.
I probably could have stayed in corporate jobs for the rest of my life. I was a good communicator and I created good relationships. But I was putting my communication skills in service to a shadow purpose: telling the story my employer wanted to tell and building their dream. I wanted to give voice to the thoughts and feelings stirring in my own heart and soul. I wanted to build my own dream, not the dream of my employers.
I already dabbled with speaking and coaching and found I loved them so much that I decided I wanted to pursue doing them full time, even though I had a precious little idea how I would ever get paid for doing them.
So what happened when I turned pro?
Did my fear disappear when I resigned and turned pro? Heck, No! My fear got worse, but that isn’t the real question. Being a pro is not about whether we have fear, being a pro is about what we do in response to our fear. As a pro, we expect fear, we even welcome fear, and we learn to handle ourselves in the face of fear. We no longer use fear as a stop sign but as a pointer and an invitation to growth. As an amateur, what we fear we avoid; as a pro, what we fear is what we move towards. As an amateur, we believe our own limits; as a pro, we enjoy dismantling our own sense of limitation.
Did turning pro guarantee my income? Heck, No! Turning pro is not primarily about money, it is about commitment to doing your work and showing up in the world. And it is also about your commitment to being entrepreneurial and intelligent in how you can get paid for doing what you love. The wonderful distinction is that when you turn pro, you don’t work for money, you work for love, and you love doing what you do so much that you want to be paid for doing it so you can keep doing it. You receive money for doing the work you love, but you don’t work for pay.
Turning pro is not a short-cut or an escape from your having to deal with your ego; quite the opposite actually. It is actually your commitment to face layer after layer of your ego programming and conditioning, shed skin after skin, and to grow spiritually so you can keep unwrapping yourself and showing up authentically and continue your own journey of Self-leadership. It is not for the faint-hearted!
My next post is called Being who I was born to be and doing what I am on earth to do – the result of turning pro