“What do you do for a living?” is often the second question people ask when meeting. I wanted to answer this question. Those last couple of years in college were all about having an answer that I believed in. I finally got an answer by the time I graduated, but not an answer I believed in.
I graduated with a degree in accounting, and I was desperate to find my first professional job. I joined a small CPA firm in Hallandale Beach, Florida. I still hung around with my college buddy and proceeded to establish my lifestyle as work hard, play hard.
I loved my CPA mentor, Jack. He taught me how to be a good public accountant. I learned tax preparation, auditing, and how to prepare a set of books from scratch, all within a year. It was a great education. The problem was, I didn’t want to be an accountant.
My discontent led me to the newly forming packaged software industry. I joined my first startup which developed and sold software to CPAs.
Celebrating Like Millionaires
My new mentor was the entrepreneur, Richard Brock. He changed the course of my life. He taught me entrepreneuring and how to build a successful startup through marketing, sales, programming, teaching, support, presentations, and administration. We worked ridiculous hours and then partied like crazy. We became partners and best friends.
We sold that business when I was 28 years old. The day we signed the letter of intent, we were in Los Angeles. We went directly to Marina del Rey and celebrated like there was no tomorrow while overlooking the beautiful marina. I remember it like yesterday. We kept saying to each other, “We’re millionaires!”
But that wasn’t enough. I wanted something else. I wanted more. I set my sights on running bigger and bigger software companies and making more money. And off I went selecting some of the best and the brightest mentors to help get me there.
One of the most influential mentors I ever had was Jim Porter. He was a quiet senior manager who taught me how to be a general manager. He was the first God-fearing man I ever met in business. I had great respect for him and his lovely family. To that end, I had to be careful how I acted around him. No cussing, no drinking, and no smoking. Until, of course, he went back to LA.
Purpose Takes Time
I haven’t met anybody in business who found their purpose right out of college. Even friends who joined executive training programs with Fortune 500 companies flopped around trying to find purpose.
Now that I’m 60, I look back and realize how we uncover our purpose.
Step 1: Work, Work, Work
You have to get up, show up, and work hard every day. Whatever you do, even if you know it isn’t what you’ll do forever, do it with every bit of commitment and energy you have in you. Developing a work ethic is the first step in finding purpose.
Step 2: Search for Truth
“Seek and you will find,” Jesus tells us in the Bible. He’s right. I don’t know why this works, but it does and always has for me. Seeking is the result of being true to your discontent.
You know you haven’t found your purpose if you continue to experience discontent. I have met too many people who squash their discontent. They suck it up and go on. After all, they say, “You have to make a living.” These are the people who work to make money so they can do what they enjoy when they are not working.
Discontent in what you are doing is a truth-filled emotion. It doesn’t mean you need to quit and go somewhere else, but it does mean you need to keep seeking. You should be asking the question, “What else is out there for me?”
Step 3: Attach to Mentors
People came into my life. People I didn’t know, but people with whom I had an appointment. It was an appointment with destiny. Richard Brock, Jim Porter, Sterling Williams, Bill Leonard, and Regi Campbell to name a few. These men showed up, and I just knew I needed to attach to them. I needed their help to get me to the answer.
When these people come into your life, you’ll be challenged by something inside you that says, “Call him. Talk to him. Ask him for help.” Do it!
If they are the people God sent your way to get the question answered, then they will respond. After all, you are also a part of their destiny.
“So what do you do for a living?”
Also published on Medium.