Serving Two Gods

choices“Did you ever have to make up your mind?
You pick up on one and leave the other behind
It’s not often easy and not often kind
Did you ever have to make up your mind?”

(Words and music by John Sebastian of the Lovin’ Spoonfuls)

I don’t know if this happens to you. I see it frequently in my daily life. I’m put in a position where I have to decide between two events, or philosophies, or people, and there’s just no middle ground…pick one; get rid of the other. My Knower/Judger always has a problem with this dichotomous dilemma. I always want to say, “I can do both!” (or in other words, “I can do it all!”).

Perhaps people who don’t test life or take chances or get passionate about things don’t run into these crises as often. Seems to happen to me a lot. So what do you do when you find yourself trying to serve two gods?
I recently coached a young man who’s desperately trying to serve two gods. He has a job that has the potential to make him a very good living over his lifetime. And he has a hobby that produces some monetary compensation and lots of ego satisfaction.

I clearly observed him using one as an excuse for why the other was suffering, and then switch roles and offer the excuse in reverse. What’s with that?

Then I realized I’ve done the same thing. It’s socially noble to suggest that my hobby (choose any activity) isn’t working well because my day job is getting in the way. And I’ve actually been fired from a position because I made an unauthorized road trip (which sorta kinda involved running a PRO rally in Michigan…how did they know? Maybe the bashed-in roof!).

When I was fired, I was at a crossroads in my life. Any format of rallying—TSD, GreatRace, or PRO—was my identity. I was good at it. I actually got paid from time to time. It stroked my ego. I remember mentioning once that rallying was like a good mistress…gave me everything I wanted and left me time to handle my duties at home. But did it?

It took long weekends, travel, and money. I had to engineer ways to make the money required for rallying as well as the money needed for other important things, like a house, food, and family. For some reason or other, most companies I worked for were not particularly sympathetic to my mistress. They actually wanted me to be at work on Friday when I had to be en route to Texas for twin national rallies. The nerve.

So I made a life decision.

“Pick up one and leave the other behind…” I left the job behind.

I didn’t leave making a living behind. I chose to pursue contingent income based on my performance, as opposed to my hours on site. I became a commissioned salesperson. The data told me that a career with a company was not compatible with my chosen mistress…and I was clearly addicted to her. The job had to go.

So how has this worked out?

I’ve been rallying in one sense or another for 45 years. I expended the effort to complete two degrees in psychology, and I own seven companies in industries like manufacturing, distribution, software, and service. I’ve also had a long and rewarding career as a leadership and executive coach. These were all options that did not require me to report to anyone but me.

To make all this work, I had to be a very mature director. It would have been easy to rally until I was out of money. But owning businesses and tracking profits, losses, and expenses for a long time left me with a good sense of how and when income would arrive and how and when I could spend it.

Today I have clients who enjoy my mistress right along with me, and there’s peace in my world. It took the better part of 30 years to sort it out.

When I found myself with two young daughters to care for, it was an easy decision to put the mistress on the back porch…which I did for eight years. She’s a patient gal, however, as she welcomed me back with open arms when I decided I could spare the time and resources. When the “why” is big enough, making that call is not at all difficult. When the motivation is fuzzy, the decision is equally fuzzy.

Others I know have found different ways. Dozens of my rally friends have resorted to owning and operating their own auto facilities (sales, service, rally prep) in order to maintain their mistress. Others have risen so far in their companies they can tell their bosses when they will be at work and when they will entertain their mistresses.

Day to day, week to week, and moment to moment, we have to “make up our minds” and “leave the other behind.”

Unless we can do that, neither our need for income nor our mistress will be truly satisfied.

Is there something you need to leave behind?scottbloomdecisions

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