I am going to take you for a ride. First a path down memory lane, how I got at the point which took me where I am today.
I would say I had a rather challenging childhood. Loving parents and a sibling, sure, but then my dad, my hero, died of cancer when I was 13 years old. I lost my role model and would only realize many years later what the impact of that would be. Mum did a great job raising me and the other monster, we went off to school and into the world.
I chased my dream at that time; becoming the best car sales man in The Netherlands. (little men have little dreams). I was provided with the right education and started of a flying start in selling brands like Ford, Rover, Lancia, Jaguar and Ferrari. I was young, ambitious and with my job money came rolling in. I bought my first apartment and felt on top of the world. This was living the good life! Little did I know at that time….
I found a Mrs., we married, bought a big house and started our own business together. We followed her father’s footsteps and went into advertising. At the top of the hour, we employed 40 staff, worked 60 hours a week and became preferred suppliers of companies that mattered in the advertising world. We bought an even bigger and better house, cars and I was able to finally start car racing, a passion I inherited from my dad. Money was no object, we had everything we desired and if we didn’t have it, we would buy it.
All my friends, her friends, our business relations and family pictured us as the perfect couple. However, from inside, I felt lonely more often than once. My life was revolving around my business, my wife had become my coworker instead of lover and the big fancy house felt without a soul. Despite our efforts, we could not fix this. Breaking up was inevitable.
So, there I was, at age 37 in a bachelor apartment with a few cups and candle wax holders that I was so gently given. I lost life as I had known it, but I hadn’t lost my spirit. Once divorced, we tried to continue our business as we had done in the past, but for reasons now so clear, this was not working out.
I had to give up my pride and turn away from the company that felt so much mine, as it was hers. Sure, I was bought out, sent off with a big bag of money. But without purpose. My inner sparkle now only presented itself when I was driving my Alfa Romeo race car on racing tracks throughout Europe.
A logical step at that time was to pursue the path well-travelled by me; so, I partnered up with two hotshots in advertising and was copying what I had done so many years with my wife. I was looking for reassurance; next to selling cars, managing an advertising agency was the only thing I had ever done.
Sounds like one big success story, right? Let me now tell you about the down side…. Sure, I started a new business in advertising after I left my wife, but that didn’t turn out to be such a good idea… We had different ideas where we should take the company and I had little influence on my business partners. I got irritated and lost my joy in work. I felt mediocre and hated myself for it. I actually believe this is the moment where I had my first wake up call.
When I wanted to go back to the feeling of being on top of the world again, I had to start working on myself! If you always do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten, said a wise man once.
And then, on one of my lonely nights in my bachelor pad in 2008, I saw a great man on TV and he said; IT IS TIME FOR CHANGE!
Spot on! It was time to take life head on. I said farewell to my new business partners and founded a sole proprietorship, Actual Sales Solutions. I was focussing on sales jobs on a freelance basis, which took me to interesting places. One period I was involved in the printing industry, the next period I would travel Europe to hook up new distribution partners for IT solutions. And working in a company focused on sustainability gave me loads of new insights. Not only was it dynamic and was I rapidly learning new skills, it taught me one very important other thing: FREEDOM WAS ESSENTIAL TO ME.
Being able to set your own agenda, pick your own employers and decide on your own working times was becoming of mayor importance to me. I now had a taste of it and wanted more.
Meanwhile, my personal life was getting back on track. I trusted love once more and found a perfect wife, we married 5 years later and decided we would never work together. We are still going strong and have welcomed a Labrador puppy into our household, who we lovingly called Max. Of course, after the brilliant young Dutch F1 race driver.
I realized I was able to accomplish anything I would focus on when I successfully quitted smoking on Nov 16, 2017. I had tried it before, but this time it was different. I felt an unstoppable desire to prove to myself that even at my age, 12 years older than my dad had ever become, I was able to throw this towel in the ring.
After 3 months, I started working out. I soon felt healthier, more energized and fuller of life. In fact, I had so much energy that my 10-year younger wife had trouble keeping up. And then at once it hit me. I had to use this energy to help me become even more successful in business. I am a sales prof, but how about exploring other fields of expertise? Check out here what helped me do it.
Almost a year has passed since my renewed energy; and with the insights I gained from this incredible network, I can truly say I wished I had discovered them many, many years earlier. That would have changed my life, as it did today, but then years earlier.
Do you want to experience the feeling of freedom? Freedom in work, freedom in work place, freedom in working times? I can tell you, it’s dangerous, because once you are used to it, there is no turning back. But guess what?! There is no need to return. You can do this, you are just one step away from the new you!
I sincerely hope you will find time, like I did, to explore this path. You won’t regret it.