It was raining yesterday morning when I left the house to go running.
Not sort of raining, either. I’m talking full out, full blown, Cecil B. DeMille* raining.
The kind where you drive your kids to the bus stop even though it’s directly across the street. The kind where you hesitate at the door of the post office, preparing to run to your car. The kind where you’re too lazy to go back in the house for an umbrella, so you wrap yourself from head to toe in a blue, plastic tarp that you found in a corner of the garage, just so you can go down the driveway for the newspaper. (Or is that just me?)
Anyway, you get the picture. R – A – I – N … rain.
Now the truth is, when it comes to running, I don’t mind the rain. In fact as long as it’s reasonably warm, I kind of like it. There’s something fun about deliberately getting soaked on a day when everyone else is doing all they can to avoid it.
So out I went.
All was fine for the first half mile or so. That’s when I left the comfort of my quiet neighborhood and ventured out into the windy, hilly, nearby country road that makes up my usual route.
The problem was that with all that rain falling so fiercely, both shoulders of the road had become flooded with three-foot wide, fast-moving rivers of water. There aren’t any sidewalks and with cars speeding by on a regular basis, I wasn’t sure where to run.
I couldn’t run in the middle of the road (that would be stupid) and I didn’t want to just turn around and go home (that would be disappointing). So I did what you would probably do: I put my head down and decided to just slog through the ankle-deep water along the shoulder.
Blah. Pretty miserable. But I eventually made it home safely.
After shedding my 20 pounds of water-logged clothing and hanging it to dry in the bathroom (see honey, I’m learning), I got to thinking that my running in the rain experience held some pretty good lessons for me and my fellow mid-life solo professionals.
- There’s always going to be rain. I used to think that the day would come where I’d be “successful” as a solo and my worries would be over. I finally realized that no matter how much experience and good fortune you achieve, there are always going to be rainy, miserable days.
So don’t worry about it; put your head down and keep running. The sun always comes back out.
- Safe is the wrong choice. If the “safe path” and the “scary path” led to the same place, you wouldn’t have a decision to make. It’s only because the more difficult road holds so much more promise (and deep down you know that), that you can’t easily walk away from it.
But not only does scary lead to better results, it’s where all the fun, interesting, juicy action is too. There’s a reason Nike doesn’t make t-shirts that say, “Just Think About It.”
- We don’t regret failing; we regret not doing. I got a call last week from a guy who told me he was thinking of leaving his boring job and doing what he really wanted to do instead. Then he made a mistake. He said (out loud), “If I knew I’d be successful at it, I’d do it in a second.”
Uh oh. If ever there was a phrase that paints you into a solo professional corner, that’s it. Because once you hear yourself say it, there’s no putting the lid back on.
Every poet, musician, writer, philosopher and old person at the coffee shop will tell you the same thing: Take more chances; follow your dreams; don’t trade your life for money. (Of course, I suppose they could all be wrong.)
Here’s the bottom line. Working for yourself, particularly if you begin in mid-career, isn’t always fun and it isn’t always easy. There will be plenty of rainy days, plenty of times you’re tempted to take a safer route, and plenty of anxiety along the way.
But I can guarantee you this: It sure beats working.
*Look him up, youngster.