I’ve suffered Culture Shock many times. Each one made an impact – a life-changer. Each Culture Shock shook me up, forcing me to think differently and work differently. Culture Shock makes a difference but which type is not guaranteed. It can make a positive difference or a negative difference. The difference is the decisions you make when it happens and after.
My most recent Culture Shock affected the way I perceive leadership once again. I’ve had paradigm shifts about leadership but nothing has had a bigger impact than starting high-risk businesses from scratch and becoming a full-time business owner. I’ve walked away from two public sector professions during my prime. I didn’t leave because I was over-the-hill. I left because I needed to grow. I needed to escape conflict. I needed to control my destiny, my potential, my mood, my happiness, and the totality of the one life I’ve been blessed with. I could no longer justify having my life controlled by strangers, many of whom I would not invite into my house and would not hire to work in my businesses in any capacity whatsoever.
Moving from public sector to full-time business owner is a seismic blast that measures near the top on the Culture Shock Scale. It has to be experienced to be believed. While I worked in public sector, one of my favourite lines I shared with colleagues almost came true” “If we get fired, we’ll be in big trouble because we won’t be able to survive on our own in the real world.” Self-fulfilling prophesy. I made a mess of my business that didn’t just need cleaning, it needed major re-construction and major surgery. I thought I had learned a lot about leadership. I thought I was fit to lead two high-risk businesses. I was wrong. Public sector and private business are worlds apart. I had to re-invent myself. And I did. It wasn’t pleasant. Growing pains hurt.
Nothing is better than the psychological freedom of being a full-time business owner. Nothing. The difference is the darkness of night and brightness of day. But there’s a cost, a heavy price has to be paid to be a full-time business owner. The price tag is a type of crushing pressure that can make you or break you into pieces. Business is a ruthless, unforgiving, ongoing Darwinism that will either build you up or bust you up. Business is a true test of your leadership capacity. Chickenshit leadership in private business will never cut it. I learned my lesson early on. My business almost became a casualty. But coaching football taught me that every setback is an opportunity for a miracle comeback. It all depends on how bad you want to fight for it.