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What’s Outside Your 10 Foot Circle?

As we grow older and start realising that we are fast getting to the stage when we can no longer do what we did back in the day, we can easily stop looking very far beyond what is familiar.  All too often, we start doing this to ourselves far too early. What a waste that is?

A psychologist friend of mine told me  that the average person lives their entire life only looking at what’s going on within 10 feet of where they are. My initial response to that statement was, as you can imagine, “bunkum”. No one lives like that. The challenge to me was immediate. He asked me a simple question. “what’s at the top of that tree?” The terrible truth was that I couldn’t tell him. Come to think of it, I didn’t even know the tree was there.

“OK”, he said, “now you know its there. So what can you tell me about it?” To say I was a bit taken aback is not putting too fine a point on it. So I began looking at the tree.

At first, I found the experience a bit challenging. For one thing, I had to start looking up. And up. And up. Without noticing anything about the tree, my first experience was that I felt my neck muscles start to stretch in a different direction. No sudden pain or effort. Nothing like that. Just a rather novel experience for me.  The second thing I noticed was that my breathing became a little bit easier. Natural enough, I suppose,  since I had removed a crimp in my nasal passages and thus the airway to my lungs.

The next thing I noticed was that the sky was a blue grey colour, and that there were a few small clouds hovering about. Nothing new there either. Its just that I hadn’t bothered to look before. I don’t really remember, but it must have been sometime in the Spring.  The tree had flowers on it. Finally I noticed that there was not just one tree. There were several of them. Ranging in height from quite small to really towering.  Some were so high that I had to lean back to see the tops of them.

My friend then suggested that I pick the biggest tree to focus my attention on. “Why?”, I asked. “In a minute you will understand”, was his laconic reply. Jeesh!

Then I was asked to describe what I saw in the tree I had focused my attention on. What colours were in its leaves? Did it have any flowers? Were there any birds perched in it? Was the wind rustling it’s leaves? Then the big one:

How did it make me feel? Happy? Sad? Overwhelmed? Ready to admit that I really had been living within a 10 foot circle?

Wow, what a revelation! Here I was, staring down the barrel of  retiring age, and I had to admit that my psychologist friend was right. I had been living my life without seeing what was going on around me. Much of my life had passed me by while I was living within a 10 foot circle. Not physically perhaps. But certainly emotionally.

OK, said my friend, ” Now you should start using that big tree as a metaphor for your dreams for your future”.

“When you dream your dreams”, he said, “MAKE THEM BIG!”

As we move thorough our daily lives, aren’t we all similar? Don’t we all live our lives according to some recipe or formula that is ingrained in us? We are born, we go to school, we get a job or start our own business, we marry, we raise a family. We put in our 45 years at work, we retire, we grow old.

Then we die. What sort of a life is that?

After this experience, I decided that I really had to do something to make the rest of my life more meaningful. For me at least. For others if I could.

But how? That was the elephant in my  room. What could I, an ordinary person, do that would make my life and the lives of others just a little bit more worthwhile?

Author and one-time entrepreneurial businessman, Bob Mumford, in his book titled “Half Time” uses the analogy of a football match to describe our lives. He says that in the first half of our lives we are striving to become Successful. We go get ourselves educated. We get jobs or go into business.  We marry and raise our families. We buy the best home we can afford.  We get pretty good at whatever we do.

Then comes half time. We get complaisant. We may burn out. We might trade our partners in for younger models. We start driving the little red sports car. We become quite the party animal. Not necessarily in reality. But certainly in our minds.  As an example from me, this is the time when my mind said that I could hit a 300 yard golf drive off the tee. My body said, like hell you can.  All of this sound like someone you know?

Then comes the second half. Where Mumford says we strive to become  Significant. How we do that differs from person to person. Some don’t change at all. For them its more of the “same ol’ same ol”. Others change jobs, yet are still be doing essentially the same type of work. Some may change direction altogether. Yet others completely re-invent themselves.

My decision was to reinvent myself. Sort of. I had put in  my years as a public accountant and  small business adviser. I was sure enough over all of that. But what could I do? That was the burning question.

Bob Mumford was the CEO of a cable television network. When he reinvented himself, he became a mentor to church pastors and their financial leaders. To me, that sounded like a plan. I could do something like that. Well, not exactly, but I could make my knowledge and experience available to those who may want to reinvent themselves by starting a retirement business. Lots of people have, you know. I mention a couple in my FREE ebook, “Passion to Profit”.

Thus was Small Business Elementals born.  Like the mighty oak tree that starts out as an acorn, Small Business Elementals was created out of one very small encounter with a friend. A friend who has my best interests at heart. Who challenged me to look outside my 10 foot circle. Someone to whom I am profoundly grateful.

In my short ebook, “Passion to Profit”  you can read about the challenges that are facing anyone who has already retired or who is looking to retire sometime soon. Its only about 40 pages long so you can read it in one sitting. It includes a challenge for you, the reader.  You can either accept the challenge or you can ignore it. That’s your choice. Personally, I hope you take my challenge. If only to find out what the elephant in your lounge room looks like.

You can download a FREE copy of my ebook by requesting a copy NOW. 

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