A few weeks ago, I made some personal goals for the first quarter of 2019—an exercise that each member of the mastermind group I am in did. Before I get to the goals, a quick shout-out to mastermind groups. I have been in mine for a few months now, and I can honestly say it has been one of the best decisions I have made for my business.
One of the goals I set for myself was to read a book. Cover to cover. This goal might sound strange, but I have never been a “book” person and can count the number of books I have started over the last couple of years on one hand. You might also have picked up on the phrase “…number of books I have started…” that I wrote. Another peculiar thing about me is that I have trouble finishing books that I start. Like I said, not a “book” person.
Anyway, it’s no secret that my wife and I are huge fans of Chip and Joanna Gaines—so much that we took a road trip this summer down to Waco, Texas to visit Magnolia Market.
Side note: We are avid viewers of the show, Fixer Upper, and had the pleasure of staying in the Shotgun House while we were there. It truly is a cute and cozy place. See for yourself: Interior photo, Exterior photo.
Capital Gaines and Inner Voices
All this to say, it was easy for me to pick out the book to read for my Q1 goal: Capital Gaines by—none other than himself—Chip Gaines. The book’s subtitle, “Smart things I learned doing stupid stuff,” seemed apropos considering over my years as an entrepreneur, I’ve done plenty of the latter. (Of course, an argument can be made that I’ve also been the source of the former, but I won’t—wink, wink—say that about myself.)
Midway through the book, Chip talks about “inner voice” and shares the story of how he decided which photo of himself to use on the cover. Chip and Joanna were traveling in an ATV on their way to a staged area where they were trying to take “the perfect shot” for the cover. Chip’s buddy Jeff snapped a candid picture of him, with messy, windblown hair and a grainy close up of the huge scar that sits on his forehead.
The scar, which Chip is especially proud of (see “stupid things” he refers to in the tagline) is there for all to see. Earlier in the book he tells the story of how he got it. And I have to admit that it’s a good one. They reviewed hundreds of photos from the shoot, but he kept coming back to that “on-the-fly” shot his buddy took. He said it felt sincere, unexpected, and—most important—raw and authentic.
In an attempt to appease Joanna and the marketing team, Chip held a vote with two photos from the shoot, and much to her chagrin, the impromptu one. They had all kinds of folks vote—among them the FedEx guy and a woman who had come into their office by mistake, just looking for the dentist.
Before he knew it, the vote count was 74, 16, and 1. Only one person had voted for the close-up, scar-focused shot on the ATV. It was Chip. He listened and tried hard to like the other ones. From him:
“And then—bam! I yanked the Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines™ rug right out from underneath their feet and choose the third option.”
Chip continued talking about “inner voice” and how he seldom goes against his gut—especially for the cover of his “juicy tell-all.” Then he said something that spoke to me:
“It’s very important to take other people’s opinions into consideration. It’s crucial, even. You can’t operate in a vacuum. But in the end, it’s your life. It’s your work. The conclusions you come to reflect you, and it’s critical that it reflects you honestly.”
In 2007, I could have listened to my friends and family who told me who told I was crazy to leave my (very stable) job as a project manager at an architectural firm. I had 401k, health insurance, and a decent road ahead of me there. In 2010, those same people encouraged me not to merge my already-successful company into Copyblogger Media. Why would you give up all of that revenue for something that was unproven?
But both times my “inner voice,” as Chip calls it, spoke loud enough and made me feel that—even against the advice of others—I was making the right decision. And in both instances, I was right. That’s not to say that I’m always right, but when my gut tells me that I will be, I tend to listen. It’s not always easy, and in both cases, there was plenty of risks.
I honestly can’t say where I would be right now if I had chosen the easy road in either of those decisions. I could still be estimating projects and arranging installations, who knows? And if I were, I’d be living a “safe” life—not a “fulfilling” life.
Never Quit Your Day Dream
Later in the book, in a chapter called Never Quit Your Day Dream, Chip admits how stressful their life can sometimes be. With four kiddos at home, a farm to maintain, a retail business to run, and a show that takes nine months to film—it just gets that way, he says.
He also says that he wouldn’t trade it in for the world, because—as grueling as some seasons are for them—they truly feel they are living the life they were called to live. Chip asks this set of questions:
“What makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning? What puts a smile on your face, the kind you can’t type off if you tried? What fascinates you and overwhelms you in the very best sense?“
If we don’t know, he suggests not wasting one more single day until we find out. He says there’s a difference between our “job” and our “work”:
“A job is something you do for money. Your life’s work is done for a bigger purpose, to fulfill a calling or a dream. And when you manage to find that work—that’s when it starts feeling like play.”
I am fortunate, as I get to spend my days doing two things I love: design and write. I wake up each morning with joy for what I do, and more importantly, who I do it for—and that makes me feel pretty lucky. Chip closes out the chapter with this:
“You’re going to spend approximately ninety-two thousand hours of your life working, so figure out what drives you and run, don’t walk, in the direction of making real, fulfilling work out of that dream.”
The world needs your art. The world needs what you have to give. I hope that my blog is a source of inspiration and helps you overcome the fears that stand in your way. I hope that our stories—of successes and failures—make a difference and help guide you with your journey.
It’s your life. It’s your work. And as Chip says, the conclusions you come to ultimately reflect you, and it’s critical that it reflects you honestly. Here’s to following advice from a guy who believes that our purpose is big and important—from a guy who wants us to quit messing around and “go get ’em.”