On Not Becoming the Noun

2009 August 21
by Sam Davidson

Tag 16 - My Secret Identity
Creative Commons License photo credit: chanchan222

Regardless of what you think of football or Brett Favre, you’ve seen the same song and dance happen in different sectors. You’ve seen the CEO who hops from one large company to the next, even after his judgment and ingenuity have left him. You’ve seen the teacher who needs to retire instead of hang on one more year. You’ve seen the designer who no longer has a knack for creating compelling book covers.

But none of them can let go. Financial needs aside, some people can’t walk into the sunset peacefully, knowing when to call it quits and to move on.

I’m sure there’s a little bit of Brett Favre in most of us. Something is telling us to move on, but we just can’t do it.

I’m reminded of a stellar article written by Dr. Jeff Cornwall, Director for the Center for Entrepreneurship at Belmont University. He challenges the entrepreneur (and the non-entrepreneur, too) to not “become the noun of what you do for a living.”

He continues:

One of the risks of using nouns to describe what we do in our work is that it can reinforce the tendency we all have to get carried away with our work. I loved starting a growing businesses (most of the time, at least). I love teaching and writing. It is indeed a blessing to love what one does for a living and enjoy the hard work that goes along with it. But, with every virtue there is a vice looming in the background. Although hard work is a good thing, it can be taken to excess and become a vice if it keeps us from all the other things we should be doing with our lives.

Go read the rest of the article and come back here and tell us how you resist becoming the noun of what you do for a living. How do you keep things in check and know when it’s time to exit gracefully?

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