My wife, Val, finally had that meeting with her manager. It should’ve been a simple conversation.
Just a simple question of how to submit paperwork to get promoted to the next higher position in her department, with the corresponding pay increase (roughly $3k) that comes with the move.
Val met all the posted qualifications, and she had more experience and certified competency than literally every other person at that higher position.
But her manager knew something my wife didn’t.
There are a lot of ways to change someone’s state.
You can change state with more wealth, for example. A promotion at work, or a pay raise, makes you feel like you’ve increased your sense of state.
Another way is to get praise or accolades.
A better way is to change your context about your state.
In physics, it’s know as the Observer Effect
. But it applies in your life as well. Mere observation of your context affects your state.
If you take a look at what you have in your life (what you’ve attained or achieved), what you need (vs. what you merely covet), while also being honest about what you truly value—you’ll have undoubtedly also changed your state.
Every single time.
And once you’ve changed your state, it’s nearly impossible to go back.
My wife’s manager knew why he hadn’t suggested this promotion before.
Frankly, this manager has pressure from his superiors to keep department payroll down, and to avoid granting overtime or promoting employees—even those who are over-performing in their current roles. Even those who have been over-performing literally for years.
That’s his context.
By denying promotions left and right, he’s protecting his status. He’s in this state because of his seemingly immovable context.
And in the meeting with my wife, perhaps this guy was a bit too candid about all this…
“I can’t promote you, because you’re too profitable for us at your current level. I’ll actually get bad marks in my review if I do it.” he said.
If I’m honest, I can say that probably would’ve been my last day on the job at that place, but… my wife took the level-headed approach. She didn’t do anything rash.
But she did start immediately looking for other jobs.
And what she found completely changed her context…
Other people doing exactly what she was doing, and were making almost twice what she was bringing home.
Better hours, better benefits, better pay.
It was an eye-opening epiphany for her.
And after any epiphany like that, after that context change, after that paradigm shift, there’s just no going back.
There’s just no way for a person to un-learn that crucial tidbit and go back to being content where they were.
Her state had changed.
If her manager came to her today, hat in hand, and begged her to stay—even if he offered her that raise and that promotion—she’d laugh and say no.
You can’t un-bake the bread. You can’t de-epiphany.
I treated my wife to a date night two weeks ago, and we got a chance—without kids or distractions—to really dig into how this epiphany and context shift affected her.
Maybe your marriage is a bit like this, too…
For years my wife had been reluctantly supportive of my entrepreneurial endeavors. It’s been a real stress for her, and she just didn’t understand why, if after a couple years and a half dozen attempts at starting a business of my own, why I couldn’t just go back and be content in my day job.
I mean, I hear what she’s saying. I do understand.
You tried. It didn’t work out, so maybe just double down on being the best that you can be in your day job and stop spending so many nights and weekends working on these other things.
Logical, safe, pre-epiphany thinking.
But during our date night, I finally had a chance to make her understand why I couldn’t just be content with my day job, with where I was, with all that I have attained. I got to show her why, for me, there was just no going back.
My context had shifted, years ago. I had seen what was on the other side of the curtain.
I had had my epiphanies, too.
I told her about listening to podcasts like Startups For The Rest Of Us during my 162-mile-a-day commute to work, hearing people just like me share their stories of how they created their own businesses, using skills exactly like the ones I used at my day job.
I told my wife how eye-opening it was to learn on these podcasts how people just like me were using skills just like mine to build businesses for themselves.
They were using the same skills that I used every single day to build software and services companies for other people, and help make other people rich.
These people on these podcasts were just like me, but their context was very different.
I told her about the time I walked into my first MicroConf in Las Vegas and thought: “omg, THESE are my people.” I told her the epiphanies I had talking to and learning from these amazing people at these conferences.
I shared with her what my thinking had been before these epiphanies, and how my views had so drastically changed that I could never again be content where I was.
I simply had to keep trying.
And, during dinner—during this intimate conversation, over expensive cocktails, with no kids to bother us—she finally understood.
Like, really got it.
She finally understood what my epiphany felt like.
For her, as well, there was just no going back. It was visceral.
And she could now understand why, despite all logic to the contrary, I couldn’t go back, either.
I could tell by the look on her face that she finally understood what drives me—better than she had in the previous six or so years.
Date night turned into epiphany night.
I’ve experienced epiphanies of this sort a few times before. Times in my life where my state changed because something unexpectedly changed my context.
Like a lot of people, I grew up incredibly poor. A single mom, raising two boys, without much money.
For the three of us, our context was living on less than twelve thousand dollars a year.
Our context was waiting in long lines for government surplus food.
Our context was making a pot of soup (mostly water) on Sunday and eating it for seven days in a row.
Our context was powdered milk.
One time, our context was going a week without food.
For me, growing up, I always dreamed of a day where I knew without a doubt that I had “made it” and I had a clear vision of what that would look like.
I had a Success Metric that was unmistakable.
I just knew, if I could reach this one milestone, I would be set, I’d be happy. That “I’ve made it” moment we all daydream about.
You know that dream. Everyone has a Success Metric like that.
Some people dream of what car they want to own someday, and for them, that dream car is their Success Metric.
Other people want to have a big family, or a huge house, or an attractive spouse, or a fancy downtown corner office with a secretary. A tangible representation of their status, a trophy for having arrived.
A success metric is incredibly powerful.
We all make these mental images of what success looks like. It’s never right or wrong, it’s just a very simplified reflection of your context interacting with your state.
Me… my dream and Success Metric was a bit different from most people.
I always laugh when I think back on this…
For me, I always thought that me having “made it” would be when I could do this one thing, whenever I wanted.
Growing up, my context—my family’s context—was such that this one thing was always out of our reach. It was out of most of my friend’s families reach, too.
I’ll tell you next week what my one thing was.
In the meantime, click reply and tell me what your Success Metric was, and how it’s changed over time.