That’s what I wanted… and I had just said it out loud.
Where did that come from?
I was sitting across a small table from my friend Barrett who also happened to be my business partner at the time. One day earlier we had agreed to shutdown Living for Monday, an online education company for millennials that had filled the last year of my life and the last 2+ of his.
At that time, emotions were mixed (although ask either of us now and we know 110% that under the circumstances we made the right decision). Barrett and I had one thing in common. Once we made a decision, it was made and it was time to move on.
Since we no longer had to run around Atlanta Tech Village like the roadrunner having meetings, we had taken part of a day to just slow down, process what was happening, and talk about what our next chapters might look like (a genius suggestion from Barrett’s mom).
Barrett and I started going back and forth on what life might look like 1 year, 5 years, 10 years out for each of us. Everything from careers to travel to spouses and children. It was an oddly vulnerable conversation. Although LFM was ultimately a successful project (even if not as a business), that day it had a slight sting of failure so we were just talking until that sting wore off.
I’ll admit I was not as clear on my 1, 5, 10 year plan as Barrett, but I gave it a decent shot and kind of nodded approvingly with the future I had projected for myself.
But there was more.
I still don’t remember exactly what the preceding comments were, but I remember starting a sentence with “I just want…” and then out of nowhere it bubbled up through my brain and out came “…a life not scalable.”
The funny part is Barrett kind of nodded and smiled almost as if he 1) somehow knew exactly what I meant when at the time I wasn’t fully sure what I meant and 2) seemed to like the phrase itself. Almost like I had composed lifestyle poetry.
To this day, I deem that moment and that one phrase to be the most raw and genuine thought I have ever spoken out loud.
So what does that phrase mean? How can something that sounds so ambiguous be the one thing I want most?
“Scalable” is such a business word. You never hear it in any context outside of growing a business. I probably hear the word or say it 3-5 times a day. Especially in a SaaS company. We are always talking about, “now how would that scale”? Basically, can you make an action repeatable in such a way that you or a team (or a computer program) can provide the same outcome and the same satisfaction around that outcome for a hundred, hundred thousand, hundred million people?
This might shock you, but I cannot accommodate a hundred million people… and quite frankly I don’t want to try. So many people in my business circles think that if they can only earn another $100K or double how many demos they book in a day or learn all the shortcuts to get through their email faster then they can continue to spread themselves further and further and do more and more. I’ve run on that hamster wheel and it just made feel like I needed to throw up.
I want to sit and have the two hour long coffee if I think the person merits it. I want to be okay waiting a day to respond to an email without anxiety. I want to only have one project I’m working on at any given time and not feel like I should have more going on. I could probably come up with at least 20 more, but I think you get the point.
Western culture says, “MORE MORE MORE!” I say “Do less and go deeper.” You can make every day better without necessarily making it bigger.
So let the search begin for this elusive “life not scalable”. It will take time. Right now I definitely don’t live that life and it works for now.
One day at a time. After all… taking them two at a time just makes you sound crazy.