I am great at work. I was born to dream up big ideas and then sell them. I love a meeting—as long as I’m talking the whole time. So, actually, I love a lecture. But the only time it’s socially acceptable to lecture is in the context of work. So I really love work.
And I’ve had to really adjust my worklife in order to accommodate homeschooling. Just a few years ago I was delivering dozens of speeches each year for $15K a pop. I traveled two weeks out of every month. For most of my career I was running a startup. I ran three. They were all absolutely exhausting and I love that this guy calls it entrepreneurshit. He’s right. Running a startup is so difficult that when I was reading his post about how difficult it is, I had to stop in the middle. I think I might have post-traumatic stress syndrome from being a startup founder. But still, I was gearing up to do another startup until I realized that I was going to have to homeschool. I was going to have to homeschool because it’s the right thing. I decided it’s like breastfeeding. You do it because it’s right.
So here are three mental shifts I had to make so I could do the right thing:
1. Change my assumptions about work.
The key for me was being able to dream up career ideas for myself that work well with homeschooling the kids. At first it was a disaster. My career tanked and I started losing my mind. But then I started rethinking career options.
For example, people have always asked me to coach them, and for years, I have said I don’t do that. But then I realized that coaching people via phone works really well for the lifestyle I have with the kids. So now I do tons of coaching and it’s worked well for me because it also allows me to talk with smart, interesting people all the time.
Everyone has things they are good at that they think they will not do. No one is good at only one thing. Jobs are like men: there are lots of fish in the sea.
2. Change my assumptions about success.
When I was at the beginning of my career and my boss wanted me to save his flailing company, he gave me the book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful. The book is by the insipid Marshall Goldsmith, who appears to have become irrelevant in the Internet Age because I keep getting emails from public relations people about why he’s not irrelevant.
So you will not buy his book. Because I just told you that it’s stupid. Even though I linked to it and I will make money from Amazon if you buy it. But not a lot. Which is why I thought of trying to make a living by reading books and getting you to buy them. And then I rejected that as being too much like a used car salesman but the kind of used car salesman who isn’t even selling expensive cars.
I tell you this to tell you how many ideas I had to sort through before I landed on the one that would be good for my career. I am giving a webinar this month: How to Write About Yourself. It’s a great business for me because I can do it from home, and I can set the schedule, and I made a lot on my last webinar. Hooray for me. But I didn’t know it would be a great business. I totally procrastinated on the first webinar I did because I was scared no one would sign up.
My idea of success today is being able to have interesting work, with interesting people, while I homeschool my kids. And at the same time, making sure we don’t starve. I would not have defined this as success before I started homeschooling. And, to be honest, I might have snubbed my nose at this version of success. But I like to think it shows a strong ability for me to adapt. Or something.
3. Change my assumptions about homeschooling.
The unschooling movement really rocked my world. I realized that kids do not need parents teaching them all the time. The photo up top is me at the beginning of homeschooling. Realizing there was nothing for me to do and I should have brought my laptop. It took a while before I realized that this was true for a good chunk of each day. It was up to me to choose to focus on work in the available time.
In the spectrum of homeschoolers, the smartest kids end up being the ones with the least number of hours of a parent directly teaching them. Smart kids learn fine on their own – through play, exploration, asking to take a class, and so forth. As someone who loves work you probably know this intuitively – you are probably an excellent self-learner and get bored being lectured to by a teacher. Well, your kids are probably the same way, which is good: it frees you up to do more stimulating things during the day, for yourself.