When Work Takes a Different Turn

by Desmond Menz posted in Work, Life and Yourself

A Tale Of Two Masks


It was an appeal with a sense of urgency about it - a phone call in early August by a long-time client in my old business of consulting (my story is on my LinkedIn page at http://au.linkedin.com/in/newtimeshomebizwithdes).

Back in early July he'd been handed on a platter the opportunity to expand his timber roof truss and wall framing manufacturing business. He'd only manufactured his own products for the homes he built for his retirement village, but when a major manufacturer in the region decided to close its doors, he was approached to take on the business. My friend jumped at it - that's the type of person he is.

Seize an opportunity, then make it work. 

Do you see any parallels in major decisions in your life? Do you ever grab opportunities as they arise? Have you made decisions without thinking carefully about potential downsides?

In this article

  • Taking a break from an online business
  • A personal journey into the world of business
  • Self-actualization and other life needs 

Well, after up-scaling his business, things started to go a bit awry for my riend after just a few weeks of operation. Why? 

My friend had taken on a task that he and his small organization were not adequately equipped to manage. The workload was untenable, the pressure to meet production timelines was great, the stress of meeting customer schedules was extraordinary. An unhappy mask emerged!

And that's when I got his call.

But that's also when I had to decide to ...

Take a break from the online business world

Although my friend wanted me to stay on for at least until the end of the year to help his business make the big transition, I could only commit from week-to-week. I still had a number of my own online projects in the pipeline that I was very keen to complete. 

I stayed for 3 weeks. 

My role took me back to my business management days of many years ago. Observing how my friend's business had been structured (or more accurately, had not been structured), it was very instructive to me how some small businesses take huge risks to expand without having the right systems in place at the outset. 

I won't go into details here, but my friend's business opportunity that he took on was done in haste, resulting in un-necessary risk exposure to him and his whole operation. I identified those basic components that are usually applied in business practice, including separation of business entities, employee safety, workflow scheduling, and employee engagement. I put my skills to work and wrote about these issues.

I hope I got my message across, but what it also reinforced was that the real world of work, as distinct from internet-based business, is just as important for those of us who might need to derive income from both camps. We should never isolate ourselves too much from bricks-and-mortar businesses.

"A walk on the other side" … and the journey back

So, after 4 weeks away from my online business, what changed? Not much really. Sure, I hadn't made a post or written an article for weeks, I hadn't put an info-product online, and I hadn't continued with affiliate marketing either.

I looked at my stats at Google Analytics for New Times Home Biz, and although there was a serious dip during my absence, there was also a pleasant rise towards the end of my time away. 

That's interesting, because the whole site had not been touched for a month and yet I was still getting traffic. 

But I digress. Although I travelled nearly 900 km across the Australian landscape to my friend's town, I still had my computer to tap into the online world. But do you know what happened? 

My role was so consuming that I had no time or little energy to devote to my own online activities at night. 

It also made me think how dis-engaged people involved in small business can become from other important facets of society, not only when they are under pressure, but also at any other time. All employees in that truss manufacturing business were devoted, but at the end of the day, they were spent. Their day was done.

A dominant focus on "making money" can lead to undesirable outcomes, whatever the intentions might be. 

And for what purpose? To meet the schedules of customers. My friend's business had become a captive of others. It was wearing an unhappy mask.

My advice was to gain greater control of time and work by refusing some jobs. He really didn't need to take on every job that came his way. Release the pressure valve, or it will all become too much to withstand.


My other advice was to measure as much relevant information about the business as was needed and was practical, because without doing this is not to know. 

To know is to understand.

And so, my return journey home - all 900 km of it - gave me much time to reflect about all sorts of things, including my own objectives about the future and my online activities. Driving long distances - as is often the case in Australia - is liberating. Freedom of thought occurs. Here's what came into my head.

Self-actualization and other life needs

Each and every one of us is affected by our surroundings, by the people around us and their behaviour, by the trivial and the important, by the need to survive and thrive, by a need to be happy, and by a desire to achieve. 

All this reminded me of Maslow's Needs Hierarchy that I learnt about more than 30 years ago.

There's an informative entry in Wikipedia on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, and there is also a lot of other discussion online if you're interested to examine human 

psychology in greater depth. 

Whether you agree or not with the theory and concepts doesn't matter much. 

The vast majority of people - including my friend above - live their lives without having heard of Maslow. Ask your friends if they've heard of Maslow. 

If you look at the graphic above, you'll most likely acknowledge all the elements in the hierarchy. But how does this relate to you? What are your life needs?

At New Times Home Biz I've made it a key objective to help people with their life stories (online and offline) in Work, Life and Yourself

I'll continue to add to that list, and I hope readers will return often and take away a useful thought or two.

Here's what else I'm going to do. I'm embarking on a project very soon about combining all these articles into a Kindle publication. Indeed, this is my plan for each of the nine core components at NTHB Blog.

That is leveraging the power of writing. Try it yourself. Have an influence on others. 

Start a blog if you haven't got one. If you have a blog, divide it into subject areas where you can easily assemble all your articles. 

FILL YOUR NEEDS! Put on the happy mask!

Be the change that you wish to see in the world. (Mahatma Gandhi)

I'd appreciate your views on work and life.

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