My Strange 'Cat Food' Lesson (What It Takes To Be An Entrepreneur)
I was just in the kitchen sweeping the floor when a thought came to me that I had to share with you, quick, before I forgot it.
You see, every morning when I wake up, I head into the kitchen first thing to pour myself a big glass of water.
And every morning, I find a mess on my floor.
Is it mice? Cockroaches? What could be making this strange mess each night?
Nope, it’s not mice.
And cockroaches? Eeewwww. I would move out so fast there’d be flames lining my exit path.
No, what’s making the mess on my floor is my cat.
And he doesn’t just make the mess at night. He makes it throughout the day, every time he snacks on his crunchy food.
He has this strange (at least in my experience) habit of scooping the food out of the dish with his paw and then eating it off the ground.
And then he leaves little bee-bee sized crumbs scattered around his food dish.
Now, if I were to sweep up the crumbs every time he ate? No big deal. The kitchen floor would remain pretty clean and probably only need sweeping once or twice a week.
But because I DON’T sweep after his every meal—well, the crumbs spread all over the kitchen floor throughout the day as we trudge in and out for various meals and beverages. I’m constantly picking them off the soles of my bare feet and throwing them into the trash can.
(And washing my hands with soap afterward, thank you very much. I’m not a barbarian.)
But heaven forbid I should sweep up the crumbs each time I find them on my kitchen floor!
Nope. The crumb fairies’ll handle the job.
So what does this have to do with entrepreneurship?
Well, as I was sweeping up yet again today (those lazy crumb fairies are fired) I realized I had this dialogue running in my head.
Like, I just swept yesterday! Why is this mess on the floor again?
And suddenly, I began to chuckle.
Because I realized that this ‘crumb-y’ situation (hardy har har) was teaching me a little something about entrepreneurship—and LIFE.
Now that I’m in business for myself, I sometimes forget what life was like during the 20+ years when I worked in either a gray cubicle or (gasp!) even a fancy light-filled corner office.
Now that I’m an entrepreneur? I sometimes find myself complaining ‘cause I have so much WORK to do.
“I can’t even take a quick jaunt out of town without the work getting out of control!”
What a mess, right?
I mean, how god-awful is it to actually have clients and customers who want my time, attention, and talents.
It’s just terrible. I should go back to work in Corporate Ameri…
I should stop complaining and start LOVING the damn life I have.
If I’m sweeping up those cat food crumbs and forgetting how cute my little feline friend is…
…and how much I love when he snuggles up next to me on the couch or climbs onto my lap and starts purring like a doll-sized, slightly-muted jackhammer (now there’s a simile you don’t hear every day)…
Then I’m waaaay far away from love and smack dab in the middle of suffering—no matter how mild that suffering may be.
Instead of lamenting my lot in life, and hoping the crumb fairies will do my work for me, I could simply accept that sweeping up crumbs is part of owning, and loving, Percy.
If I want to own and love a cat, I have to do things like feed it, and clean its litter box, and take it to the vet when needed.
And clean up after the cute little furball.
And if I want to own and love my business and be a REAL entrepreneur…
Like, the kind who doesn’t sit around whining because I have to do actual work instead of spending my day getting massages and lying in the sun with an umbrella drink in my hand…
Then I’m going to have to do such things as help my clients achieve their goals, help students in my programs learn new things, design products, plan marketing campaigns, write sales copy, handle irritating technological issues, try to find good help, and a host of other things that a person in business for herself must do.
In other words, work.
I’m going to make a horrible admission here and say that I hadn’t really thought of that back when I was in my cushy corporate job.
I mean, of course I had to get plenty of work done (most of it was of an ilk I detested—sorry former bosses, now you know the truth).
But I think somehow I linked up ‘work’ with having a job, and ‘fun’ with striking out on my own.
And honestly? Now that I’ve been on both sides of the coin, I see that there are advantages and disadvantages to each.
Which is an entirely bland way of saying:
Life will never seem easy, no matter what your situation. Deal with it.
It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you’re on, the grass is ALWAYS greener over at the neighbor’s.
As long as you let your mind convince you that it is.
Now, lest you think I’m being cynical about life here—let me explain that I do NOT mean, Life sucks.
In fact on most days I think life totally rocks.
(Like everyone, I of course have those days where I want a refund, or to exchange my life with, say, a princess. No, scratch that. Everyone gives princesses a hard time when they don’t lose the baby weight within 48 hours of giving birth.)
What I mean about ‘dealing with it’ is that life is actually set up for our growth (figuratively, once we’re adults).
It’s designed to further our personal + spiritual evolution.
That’s why it doesn’t seem easy.
‘Cause if it did, then we’d get all slothful and quickly become bored.
And the sooner we realize that, the sooner we can actually start to ENJOY the process of dealing with life’s curveballs.
They’re keeping us on top of our game, after all.
Now you don’t have to take my word for it on this theory. In fact, I’m not even going to build a case for it.
The advantages to embracing life’s curveballs, however, are many.
For one? You can stop complaining every time something happens that disagrees with what you thought you wanted.
And when you stop complaining, you have more time for creating.
And when you have more time for creating, you find yourself thrust into exciting new situations you had no idea existed.
With each new situation come joys + sorrows (I know that sounds a little sermon-ish, but it’s true).
And with those joys + sorrows come opportunities for growth.
Yep, pretty sure I’m the first to have said all this. You can send me a private message if you want to know where to send my Nobel Prize.
The BIG advantage to accepting life on its own terms is best summed up in some words I read recently from Michael Singer in his brilliant book The Untethered Soul(a must-read if you ask me).
You have given your mind an impossible task by asking it to manipulate the world in order to fix your personal inner problems. If you want to achieve a healthy state of being, stop asking your mind to do this. Just relieve your mind of the job of making sure that everyone and everything will be the way you need them to be so that you can feel better inside. Your mind is not qualified for that job. Fire it, and let go of your inner problems instead.
In other words…
Stop trying to control the world, and learn to control your mind instead.
Now, I realize I’m getting a little deep here.
The cat food crumbs on my kitchen floor are not causing me deep inner turmoil.
But they are an amusing entrée into my sometimes painful thoughts about being in business for myself—and frankly, enjoying my freakin’ LIFE.
I think that’s why God put them there.
Anyway, I ran over here to my computer to write you this message so I could share it with you, just in case you needed the entrée into your own thoughts.
And because cat photos are always a pleasant diversion.
So, I’ve got to get back to sweeping up those crumbs and finishing up my work.
Until next time, here’s to being on top of our game.