I have had a lot of jobs in my life. In the early days, it was scooping ice cream at Baskin-Robbins, making sandwiches at the mall food court deli, and somehow working on the staff of a Washington DC wedding vendor magazine. And over the years, I found my calling to work with kids and adults experiencing disabilities. I have directed 6 different summer camp programs, worked for a residential school program for abused and neglected children, and founded my own business as a jack-of-all-trades for the disability services field.
And across all the jobs I have had, I have come to respect one truth more than most, I am no good at working for the man! In my mind, this term has always come with the visual imagery of a ball and chain, confinement, labor, and the visceral sensation of being trapped. Having to take orders from those “above you” has never been my groove. To a fault, I’ll admit. Now, I will stand by the fact that I have had some less-than-ideal bosses over the years. I have also had several decent bosses who just didn’t understand how to manage my controlling and dominant personality. The ones who have succeeded the most, ironically, never tried to overpower me. They usually were some of the milder mannered, but straight-shooting supervisors. Ones that understood to give me the space I needed to navigate my own big personality. They still supervised me, but in a complementary way. Never a competitive way. As a result of the challenges of working for the man, I have had to move on from several jobs. Eventually, out of sheer and organic necessity, I decided to start my own business. The Rhythm Within. I was going to work with kids and adults with disabilities, one on one. In my own way, at my own pace, and to my own beat. And it was a success. I built it from the ground up and one single client. Necessity was the mother of invention at every step. When I realized I needed more clients, I because a marketing and PR guru. When I started to get more clients, I became an accountant. When I got bored, I added programs and services. When I stumbled across a need, I went right to work on meeting it. And 15 years later, The Rhythm Within grooves on. I have served a few hundred clients, developed two classes for adults with Autism and working on a third, started a drumming program for schools and libraries, and am working on building the motivational speaker hat I have always dreamed of wearing. Most of all, I am happy. I have never worked harder and yet, it truly doesn’t feel like work. It feels like a part of my heart.
I’ve always said that you learn as much, if not more, from knowing what you DON’T want than knowing what you do. In fact, I feel like I found what I wanted by a series of experiences in areas I didn’t want. If what you are doing just doesn’t feel right, if you feel like you are constantly working against the grain, then maybe the world is pushing you towards making a change. That’s what happened to me. And after time, I listened to the call. I acted bravely and blindly on its behalf. And I have ended up happier than I have ever thought I could be in employment. I am working for a visionary. I am working for a true spirit. I am working for someone who is not going to be told how it should be done. Especially if he knows better. I am working for someone who has learned to not freak out during the droughts and not get over-excited during the floods. I am working for someone who has had to face his career without a guaranteed paycheck or path. I am working for a lucky man. I am working for someone brave enough to sense his journey. Turns out, I am working for The Man after all.