I read somewhere once that Losing My Religion by R.E.M. was the number one song to make men cry. I have to admit, I haven’t listened to the words so I don’t know if it is the lyrics that tear into men’s souls. It could be the mandolin. You just don’t get enough songs with a good mandolin in them. Cow bell, yes. Mandolin, no. Mandolin’s are a little haunting. With little to no research on the subject, I want to believe that the lyrics talk about a man who was in a routine that provided him happiness. A routine that he was comfortable with. Perhaps a cup of coffee in a small café beside a busy street. Whatever it was, it no longer is part of his life and he mourns the loss. Tears ensue.
In business, you get the same kind of religion. The religion of mundane tasks. Paying bills, looking at costs, cutting costs, writing proposals, organizing your desk, invoicing, planning the next day. These are all the things that as you stand on the island of sole proprietorship you get to do and you hate. You can’t wait until someone else does them. These are the tasks that take place after hours. When the battles are over. The buzz of commerce has been put to sleep until the next day. Until you grow. Then those tasks are delegated to others. The tasks that remind you of the old days, when the kids were finally put to bed, are handed to someone else with a good luck and good riddance. The tasks lose their nocturnal innocence and are now moved into the broad daylight of the 9-5 business day. They are what make a business grow. They take on a life of their own as they are surrounded by process and training. One day you look up and paying the bills is a department of its own. This is success. Every once in a while I like to wander over and see how much the process has changed since I was alone at my desk in the basement. It only takes about 30 seconds before the nostalgia passes and I remember I need to get on the phone in order to pay those things.
No matter how big you get, don’t lose your religion. The days of the desk in the basement are the very core of your culture.