“Can I be of service to you and your team as an informal advisor?”
It was an email I didn't want to have to send.
I had been working off and on with Dan for years now. Dan was the ideal client. The CEO and founder of several big-time, multi-trazillion dollar companies you've heard of, he was whip smart, had his shit together, employed a brilliant team, and was somebody I respected and admired very much.
Phone conversations with Dan were sacred.
I would listen in awe of his strategies and try to soak up any and every drop of wisdom. (Which, for the record, looks a lot like the face of constipation…with a touch more wonder.)
Most recently, we had been working on my favorite thing in the world—product naming—for a new series of apps his company was developing. I loved my role consulting on brand messaging, and my opinions mattered. Dan would always make sure to ask for my perspective, or loop me into other discussions where I might be able to offer something of value. And bonus? I was getting paid very well to do this. My monthly retainer was handsome, to say the least, and it was work—and money—that felt good.
So why in the bootmaker's shoe would I send Dan—the best client on earth—an email stepping down from my role? Why would I propose that he stop paying me, and allow me to become an informal advisor, instead?
Eventually you're going to get to a point where you have to make a decision between wonderful and phenomenal. These are the hardest decisions to make.
Working with Dan was wonderful in every way. However, there's always an opportunity cost involved with dedicating your time to anything. If the opportunity cost is equally wonderful, then you choose based on preference. But if that opportunity cost is something phenomenal? There is no choice: You must choose your dreams.
Right now, I've got a lot of phenomenal up to bat:
And regrettably, you've got to choose:
Wonderful or phenomenal?
Years ago, I would have tried to do both. Everything. All. Go, go, go from dawn to dawn, pushing myself to make everything happen all at once and never let any balls drop. That is, until I realized that you can't drop balls if you voluntarily put them down, first.
Wonderful or phenomenal?
It's the hardest choice to make because no matter what you do, you're giving up something you didn't want to…but that's precisely where the word integrity comes in.
If you honor your obligations to the world, you'll have a resume.
If you honor your obligations to your work? You'll have a career.
And if you honor your obligations to yourself? You'll have a chance.
A chance at not only doing phenomenal, but being it.