For a year I watched Rick while he gave his life – and soul -- away to his job.
The straw came one week when the project deadline loomed, and Rick put in 116 hours. I actually had to do the math, because I didn’t think there were that many hours in a week. I was wrong. There’s a 168 hours in a week and he worked 116 of them – and that didn’t include his commute.
He was expected to consistently work 90 to 100 hours a week.
But 116 hours is roughly seven 16.5 hour days.
The “joke” from the “leaders” around him the next week was that now 90 hours wouldn’t seem so bad.
A human isn’t built for that.
A human shouldn’t be treated like that.
Over dinner one night at one of our favorite restaurants in Chicago, we talked about it and we said: Is this what we are living for? Is this what we can look forward to for the next 30+ years?
We wanted more than that.
Our lives deserve more than that.
Our lives are too short to tolerate it.
You just get to a point where you know something must change.
That’s when we decided to leave the grind behind.
If we were going to work that hard, it would be for us.
That was in 2000.
We’ve had our ups and downs. We’ve had to confront our fears, our comfort zones, and ourselves. There were things that we had to learn that we didn’t even know existed before we took the plunge.
That was one of the hardest parts of it because some of the new things we were learning were things that we weren’t good at – yet. That’s when we had to keep trusting in ourselves and in each other AND in our capacity to learn what we needed to learn.
We got intimate with our strengths. It’s one thing to take an assessment – and that’s great don’t get me wrong. But it’s another when you are tested when the stakes are high and your strength shows up – repeatedly – like an old friend to help you through.
For Rick, that’s his calm, steady presence. It’s his ability to think big. And it is his passion for exploration and curating resources.
For me, it’s dogged resilience coupled with intense grounded optimism. I never ignore what is but I believe that there is ALWAYS a way forward. We joke that a brickwall is nothing but a puzzle for me. Give me a brickwall and I will find a way around it, through it, under it or over it – or I’ll make it irrelevant.
So, yes, there were ups and downs and the road was often rather crooked.
But . . .
We’ve had one hell of an adventure. And the adventure continues to inspire us and surprise us and keeps us excited for what’s next.
And most importantly, we’ve had OUR life.
Our path, our way.
I share this story today as I hope it will inspire you on your journey. Never give up on being you.