I am not supposed to be self employed.
At age 15, as I watched my father have his first heart attack, I made the decision that I would never EVER be self employed.
The eldest of 3 girls, I grew up in a family where I was led to believe that we lived on the edge of bankruptcy. Scarcity was the culture statement of my family of origin. This is despite my father working 3 jobs when I was a small child. And one of those jobs was being self employed. So, being self employed made you poor – right?!
So I grew up thinking that I was a burden. I watched as Mum and Dad worked late into the night. The pressure of money impacted everything we did as a family. There was simply this belief that there was never going to be enough money. But if we just worked harder and longer then somehow by magic the money would come and everything would then be OK.
As a teenager and into my adult years I learned that self employment was so hard. It was always hard. Dad was always at work………and, in the end, Mum also had to go and get another job with another company. We were told it was because Dad’s business couldn’t support both their wages.
In reality, we were really well cared for. We didn’t want for anything except a father who could remember our names when he got home from work.
So I vowed I was NEVER going to be self employed. It was too hard, too painful. I was going to be “normal” and have a steady job, a career and a family that was wonderfully loved, nurtured and supported. There would never be any money problems in a stable career based job where someone else did all the hard work.
The good girl I was I decided I needed to go to university and do a degree that would get me a job at the end. I completed a degree in health science majoring in rehabilitation counselling. I became an exceptional rehabilitation counsellor. I specialised in helping people return to work following injury illness and trauma. I was and am very good at this. I always have been. However what may be interesting for you to know is that this excellence took a tremendous toll on me.
Because being an exceptional clinician meant that I would:
So I did what so many other exceptional clinicians do when burning out, I became a manager and
So I did what most burned out clinicians who have stepped into management do – I Managed and did more clinical work – and I
I convinced myself that this was the cycle of life; the way of the allied health professional.
Another decision was duly made – I decided I was going to be the best 2-I-C I could be because that’s all I could aspire to. That would just have to be enough because there was something obviously wrong with me if I couldn’t work out how to keep from burning out all the time.
I was also convinced that in order to be a successful business woman that you needed to be ruthless, hard, uncaring, volatile and you had to treat people really poorly –because that was what I had been exposed to. So I quite obviously cared too much about people and that’s why I couldn’t get this right.
Sometime in the mid 2000’s I found myself leaving one management- cum- clinical job feeling used, abused, under appreciated devalued and like there was something wrong with me. I self funded a 6 week “break” where I started to volunteer –because you can’t burn out when you are volunteering– right?
I knew I loved people – all types of people. I missed being with professional people and I missed the thrill and buzz of achievement. I knew I was a good clinician and I knew I was a good manager of people but there was something wrong with my ability to do both. I wasn’t hard enough. I wasn’t aggressive enough.
I was then head-hunted for another role, with a bigger company – one that sounded so aligned to what I thought I was supposed to want.
I found myself in a job, where I achieved dramatic results. They told me they wanted me to build a team and culture that supported and nurtured professional staff while supporting and nurturing accountability and loyalty.
But again there were more sticks than carrots and I was soon working longer and longer hours. I was drinking more and more coffee and sleeping less and less. I would spend most Saturdays in bed because I was so tired, which is pretty poor because I was now a single parent with joint custody so my son was learning that work made mummy sick!
I again felt used and abused by the directors, yet I took it because that’s what I was supposed to do. One of the directors was ruthless, highly volatile and incredibly inconsistent. I thought it was my job to simply “manage“ her.
And then one day I found myself treating staff in a completely disrespectful, undignified and illegal manner. I realised I was becoming a ruthless, hard, volatile business woman and a workplace bully. It was awful – AND I quit.
I am so incredibly embarrassed by my behaviour during this time. I have never been so untrue to my values nor acted in a way that was so not me. I would welcome the opportunity to apologise to the people I was working with at that time for the way I spoke to and treated them.
I took myself out of the paid workforce and volunteered again for 3 months. I found I hated that too.
So I started consulting because I needed the cash, while I was going to learn how to trade the US stock market. I wasn’t very good at trading, so the cash flow soon became the full time “job”.
I was doing everything I knew just so I didn’t have to go back into consulting as a Rehab Counsellor because that just burned me out. I was approached for some pretty darn awesome roles. However, I had been so burned that I feared that being employed wasn’t a good fit for me – because every business I had worked for was run by female aggressors who would eat their young.
Imagine my surprise when 6 weeks into consulting I had more work than I knew what to do with? I started knocking back referrals and letting it be known the kind of work I really wanted to do. Referrals kept coming. Within 3 months I was subcontracted to 4 different companies. I was busy.
Then I had a talk to my mum. She was pretty awesome. She helped me to see I could actually build a business doing the work I loved the way I loved to do it.
Purple Co was born– the Purpose For People Company.
I was self employed – and I chose what work I did. I chose who I worked with and who I brought into my company. Within 12 months I had pretty much stopped all subcontracting and was receiving work directly from referral sources that made others in the industry envious. I had broken the mould. I had done what the experts said could not be done.
Purple Co officially started in 2009 and I have experience a minimum of 40% growth every year……………. NICE work for something that couldn’t be done.
In 2011 I was asked to mentor a couple of people starting their own allied health consulting practices. This was so much fun! They too have built incredible businesses and I am honoured to have been a part of their journey.
In 2011/12 I started to see how I could build a mentoring, coaching company that helps health professionals build successful sustainable consulting practises.
YEAH! Imagine a health care industry where professionals are not burnt out and where they have the time and financial resources to actually care for people! That’s what I want to create. So when you need an OT, speechie, psychologist, PT, exercise physiologist, physiotherapist or massage therapist, they actually give a damn and are so secure in who they are they can deliver the treatment and therapy you need. BRING that on!
So, to recap I was never supposed to be self-employed. And, I was certainly never supposed to be gainfully and successfully self-employed. I am, and I love it and I’m teaching others how! And together we are changing lives and who knows, we might just change our industry!